Friday, February 5, 2010

Dedicatory Prayers- Solomon's Temple and Kirtland

As the Kirtland Temple was nearing completion, Joseph Smith was given the task of composing the Dedicatory Prayer. Can you even imagine being given an assignment like that? What steps would you take to begin the project?

I believe I would do a little research before I even started. Perhaps that is exactly what Joseph Smith did. The only other Dedicatory Prayer for a temple that could have been used for a reference at that time, was the one given by King Solomon. The Dedicatory Prayer offered to the Lord regarding Solomon’s Temple was recorded twice in the Old Testament, in 2 Chronicles Chapter 6, and 1 Kings Chapter 8.

It is interesting to note that both of the Dedicatory Prayers, Solomon’s and Kirtland, started in a similar fashion.

1 Kings 8:23 And he said, Lord God of Israel, there is no God like thee, in heaven above, or on earth beneath, who keepest covenant and mercy with thy servants that walk before thee with all their heart:

Doctrine and Covenants 109:1 Thanks be to thy name, O Lord God of Israel, who keepest covenant and showest mercy unto thy servants who walk uprightly before thee, with all their hearts—

Not only are the words similar, but they are similar in form too. The very beginning of both of the prayers reminds the Lord of the promises that He made to them for obedience to His command to build the Temple. They prove their worthiness by way of sacrifice to “bind” the Lord to bless them further.

1 Kings 8:24 Who hast kept with thy servant David my father that thou promisedst him: thou spakest also with thy mouth, and hast fulfilled it with thine hand, as it is this day.

25 Therefore now, Lord God of Israel, keep with thy servant David my father that thou promisedst him, saying, There shall not fail thee a man in my sight to sit on the throne of Israel; so that thy children take heed to their way, that they walk before me as thou hast walked before me.

26 And now, O God of Israel, let thy word, I pray thee, be verified, which thou spakest unto thy servant David my father.

Doctrine and Covenants 109:2 Thou who hast commanded thy servants to build a house to thy name in this place [Kirtland].

3 And now thou beholdest, O Lord, that thy servants have done according to thy commandment.

4 And now we ask thee, Holy Father, in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of thy bosom, in whose name alone salvation can be administered to the children of men, we ask thee, O Lord, to accept of this house, the workmanship of the hands of us, thy servants, which thou didst command us to build.

In other words, they basically say, we have done what you have asked, now fulfill your promise to us for doing it. This reminder, of the law of obedience and sacrifice, allows them to further petition the Lord for the promised blessings that are attached to that law. What would those blessings be?

Doctrine and Covenants 95:8 Yea, verily I say unto you, I gave unto you a commandment that you should build a house, in the which house I design to endow those whom I have chosen with power from on high;

1 Kings 8:27 But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded?

28 Yet have thou respect unto the prayer of thy servant, and to his supplication, O Lord my God, to hearken unto the cry and to the prayer, which thy servant prayeth before thee to day:

29 That thine eyes may be open toward this house night and day, even toward the place of which thou hast said, My name shall be there: that thou mayest hearken unto the prayer which thy servant shall make toward this place.

Doctrine and Covenants 109:5 For thou knowest that we have done this work through great tribulation; and out of our poverty we have given of our substance to build a house to thy name, that the Son of Man might have a place to manifest himself to his people.

The Lord instructed both groups of people to build a house. This house would be a place that they would be “endowed” with additional power from on high. It would be a place for the Lord to “put His name” and a place for Him to manifest himself to his people. These blessings, and many more, were desired because of the consecrated efforts and sacrifices they had made to build the house.

Another thing I thought was interesting was the similarity that Joseph Smith had with King Solomon in regard to giving the actual prayer.

2 Chronicles 6:12 And he stood before the altar of the Lord in the presence of all the congregation of Israel, and spread forth his hands:

13 For Solomon had made a brasen scaffold, of five cubits long, and five cubits broad, and three cubits high, and had set it in the midst of the court: and upon it he stood, and kneeled down upon his knees before all the congregation of Israel, and spread forth his hands toward heaven,

It is recorded that Joseph Smith also delivered the prayer with both of his hands raised toward Heaven.

This brief discussion of the comparison of the two prayers is simply the “tip of the iceberg” when it comes to similarities. I believe that by studying both of these inspired Dedicatory Prayers, side by side, insights of beauty unfold right before one’s eyes. How grateful I am to have them recorded so that I can do just that.

Have you seen any other similarities in these Dedicatory Prayers? If you have...please share them in the comments.

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