After the introduction to the prayer we hear in verses 22-3922“If a man sins against his neighbor and is made to take an oath, and he comes [and] takes an oath before Your altar in this house,23then hear from heaven and act and judge Your servants, punishing the wicked by bringing his way on his own head and justifying the righteous by giving him according to his righteousness.24“If Your people Israel are defeated before an enemy because they have sinned against You, and they return [to You] and confess Your name, and pray and make supplication before You in this house,25then hear from heaven and forgive the sin of Your people Israel, and bring them back to the land which You have given to them and to their fathers.26“When the heavens are shut up and there is no rain because they have sinned against You, and they pray toward this place and confess Your name, and turn from their sin when You afflict them;27then hear in heaven and forgive the sin of Your servants and Your people Israel, indeed, teach them the good way in which they should walk. And send rain on Your land which You have given to Your people for an inheritance.28“If there is famine in the land, if there is pestilence, if there is blight or mildew, if there is locust or grasshopper, if their enemies besiege them in the land of their cities, whatever plague or whatever sickness [there is],29whatever prayer or supplication is made by any man or by all Your people Israel, each knowing his own affliction and his own pain, and spreading his hands toward this house,30then hear from heaven Your dwelling place, and forgive, and render to each according to all his ways, whose heart You know for You alone know the hearts of the sons of men,31that they may fear You, to walk in Your ways as long as they live in the land which You have given to our fathers.32“Also concerning the foreigner who is not from Your people Israel, when he comes from a far country for Your great name’s sake and Your mighty hand and Your outstretched arm, when they come and pray toward this house,33then hear from heaven, from Your dwelling place, and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to You, in order that all the peoples of the earth may know Your name, and fear You as [do] Your people Israel, and that they may know that this house which I have built is called by Your name.34“When Your people go out to battle against their enemies, by whatever way You shall send them, and they pray to You toward this city which You have chosen and the house which I have built for Your name,35then hear from heaven their prayer and their supplication, and maintain their cause.36“When they sin against You (for there is no man who does not sin) and You are angry with them and deliver them to an enemy, so that they take them away captive to a land far off or near,37if they take thought in the land where they are taken captive, and repent and make supplication to You in the land of their captivity, saying, ‘We have sinned, we have committed iniquity and have acted wickedly’;38if they return to You with all their heart and with all their soul in the land of their captivity, where they have been taken captive, and pray toward their land which You have given to their fathers and the city which You have chosen, and toward the house which I have built for Your name,39then hear from heaven, from Your dwelling place, their prayer and supplications, and maintain their cause and forgive Your people who have sinned against You. what Solomon prays. It is a prayer consisting of seven parts or seven prayers. In these seven prayers we can make a subdivision. The first four prayers belong together and the last three.
The prayers one to four have to do with the relations of the people among themselves and the problem of sin. It concerns
1. the personal relationship between two members of God’s people (prayer 1),
2-3. the whole people (prayers 2 and 3) and
4. the individual Israelite, who personally cares about the general state of decay and with this in mind tests himself (prayer 4).
The prayers five to seven are more outwardly directed and more about the peoples around them. It concerns
5. the fate of the alien and the testimony which comes from the help he receives from the LORD (prayer 5),
6. the struggle of the people and the support of the LORD which they experience (prayer 6),
7. the people in exile because of their sins and their return to the land (prayer 7).
In these prayers, the confession of sin occupies a large place. We see that the prayers one through four and also the seventh prayer relate to sin. Much need in God’s church is caused by sin. It is also worth noting that the various prayers do not say: ‘If they ask for forgiveness’, but: ‘If they confess their sins, will You forgive’ (cf. 1Jn 1:99If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.).
We can learn from the prayers and make an application for the present time, the time when the kingdom of God exists as a mystery. This kingdom includes all those who place themselves under the authority of Lord Jesus, Who is now the praying King-Priest with God and there says His prayers for our benefit. His prayers are also echoed in His church, for the church is first and foremost a house of prayer (1Tim 2:11First of all, then, I urge that entreaties [and] prayers, petitions [and] thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men,; Acts 2:4242They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.; Isa 56:77Even those I will bring to My holy mountain
And make them joyful in My house of prayer.
Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be acceptable on My altar;
For My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples.”
; Mt 21:1313And He *said to them, “It is written, ‘MY HOUSE SHALL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER’; but you are making it a ROBBERS’ DEN.”).
One more practical remark. Reading, or rather: prayerful reading, of this prayer takes about five minutes. That is not long. The value and content are therefore not in the length. It is to be hoped that we will learn to pray in this way, so deeply, without the fuss of words. This is a public prayer. In the inner room we can pray as long as we want.
The first prayer (verses 22-2322“If a man sins against his neighbor and is made to take an oath, and he comes [and] takes an oath before Your altar in this house,23then hear from heaven and act and judge Your servants, punishing the wicked by bringing his way on his own head and justifying the righteous by giving him according to his righteousness.) is about the sin of one against another, a case in which is asked for an oath. If someone is suspected of sin or if it is certain that someone has sinned, but there is no evidence, then the other can demand that the suspect takes an oath. The accused must then declare on oath that he is innocent. By virtue of this oath the judge hands him over, as it were, to the LORD. He even curses himself if he is guilty (Num 5:11-2811Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,12“Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘If any man’s wife goes astray and is unfaithful to him,13and a man has intercourse with her and it is hidden from the eyes of her husband and she is undetected, although she has defiled herself, and there is no witness against her and she has not been caught in the act,14if a spirit of jealousy comes over him and he is jealous of his wife when she has defiled herself, or if a spirit of jealousy comes over him and he is jealous of his wife when she has not defiled herself,15the man shall then bring his wife to the priest, and shall bring [as] an offering for her one-tenth of an ephah of barley meal; he shall not pour oil on it nor put frankincense on it, for it is a grain offering of jealousy, a grain offering of memorial, a reminder of iniquity.16‘Then the priest shall bring her near and have her stand before the LORD,17and the priest shall take holy water in an earthenware vessel; and he shall take some of the dust that is on the floor of the tabernacle and put [it] into the water.18The priest shall then have the woman stand before the LORD and let [the hair] of the woman’s head go loose, and place the grain offering of memorial in her hands, which is the grain offering of jealousy, and in the hand of the priest is to be the water of bitterness that brings a curse.19The priest shall have her take an oath and shall say to the woman, “If no man has lain with you and if you have not gone astray into uncleanness, [being] under [the authority of] your husband, be immune to this water of bitterness that brings a curse;20if you, however, have gone astray, [being] under [the authority of] your husband, and if you have defiled yourself and a man other than your husband has had intercourse with you”21(then the priest shall have the woman swear with the oath of the curse, and the priest shall say to the woman), “the LORD make you a curse and an oath among your people by the LORD’s making your thigh waste away and your abdomen swell;22and this water that brings a curse shall go into your stomach, and make your abdomen swell and your thigh waste away.” And the woman shall say, “Amen. Amen.”23‘The priest shall then write these curses on a scroll, and he shall wash them off into the water of bitterness.24Then he shall make the woman drink the water of bitterness that brings a curse, so that the water which brings a curse will go into her and [cause] bitterness.25The priest shall take the grain offering of jealousy from the woman’s hand, and he shall wave the grain offering before the LORD and bring it to the altar;26and the priest shall take a handful of the grain offering as its memorial offering and offer [it] up in smoke on the altar, and afterward he shall make the woman drink the water.27When he has made her drink the water, then it shall come about, if she has defiled herself and has been unfaithful to her husband, that the water which brings a curse will go into her and [cause] bitterness, and her abdomen will swell and her thigh will waste away, and the woman will become a curse among her people.28But if the woman has not defiled herself and is clean, she will then be free and conceive children.). That curse can strike him in a direct government of God. The LORD shall deal with the consequences of the guilty person. Where people cannot come to clarity, God must provide clarity.
This situation can also be found today among God’s people in the case of sin between two brothers. How difficult it can be to uncover the truth and make a correct judgement. The question is from what attitude the person in question deals with the sinning brother and how the church deals with it. It is important to pray that the Lord makes clear the true facts (Mt 18:15-2015“If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother.16But if he does not listen [to you], take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED.17If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.18Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.19“Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven.20For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.”). The Lord, if the church asks Him unanimously for this, reveals where the matter is wrong and the church does not know.