Reading the account of Solomon preparing for the building of the temple, I was struck by the humble thoughts that come from the king as he sought out skilled craftsmen to help him build. Solomon, at this point, recognized a few important things about the project he was undertaking. He knew what the temple could and could not be. And Solomon knew what he was not himself.
2 Chronicles 2:4-7 – 4 Behold, I am about to build a house for the name of the Lord my God and dedicate it to him for the burning of incense of sweet spices before him, and for the regular arrangement of the showbread, and for burnt offerings morning and evening, on the Sabbaths and the new moons and the appointed feasts of the Lord our God, as ordained forever for Israel. 5 The house that I am to build will be great, for our God is greater than all gods. 6 But who is able to build him a house, since heaven, even highest heaven, cannot contain him? Who am I to build a house for him, except as a place to make offerings before him? 7 So now send me a man skilled to work in gold, silver, bronze, and iron, and in purple, crimson, and blue fabrics, trained also in engraving, to be with the skilled workers who are with me in Judah and Jerusalem, whom David my father provided.
Two things should speak to us in this section, I think. One is the fact that Solomon knew, from the very beginning, that, no matter how great was the temple, it could never come close to being a house for God. The temple could not be the place where God resided. All the temple could be is the place where God was worshipped. But the entirety of the heavens could not contain the glory of the Lord.
Solomon also asked a significant question, “Who am I?” Who indeed is Solomon to lead in this undertaking? Who is Solomon to build something for God? Solomon knew that he did not have the skill to make anything worthy of the Lord. This is why he was sending out for the greatest goldsmith and craftsmen he could possibly get.
I think that we could learn something from Solomon that would impact how we worship today. When the church of the living God is gathered together, Peter tells us that we are living stones being built together into a temple of our God. We, the people of God, are now where God is worshipped. This is a glorious honor, something we cannot deserve. Worshipping our Lord is a privilege. We should see the concept that God would ever receive praise from us as the highest honor available to humanity.
At the same time, some of the humility Solomon displayed would be good for us. We should ask, “Who am I?” Who are we that the God of the universe would hear our prayers? Who are we that the God of the universe would accept a song from our lips as worship? Who are we that the God of the universe would be pleased when we speak truth about him? Who are we that the God of the universe would give us his word so that we might know his ways?
Remember, when asking those questions, that the answer to the “who am I” question is never correct if the answer starts with what we bring to the table. We were sinners, rebels against the Lord. We were lost and hopeless. God, in his great mercy, chose to love us, save us, and adopt us. Now we know that we are in Christ, children of God, and allowed access to him in our Savior. We should not hide from worship, because God welcomes us. But we also should know that he welcomes us, not because of the good that we bring him, but because of the good he has given us.
Christians, worship the Lord with joy. Remember what an honor it is to be allowed to speak his praise. And be humble, knowing that God has given you a grace that you could never have earned on your own.