What does it say?
The brief introduction of 2Chr 5 is now followed by the details of Solomon’s address to the people (6:1-11) and his dedicatory prayer for the temple (6:12-42). Seven days of the Feast of Tabernacles follow the seven days of the temple dedication (7:1-10). God appears to Solomon and gives him special revelation promising to answer his prayer and listing the blessings of obedience and the curses of disobedience (7:11-22).
Psalm 136 is a celebration of praise focused on God’s greatness in creation and history. Our chronological reading inserts it here as fitting the dedication of the temple. However, the author and occasion of the psalm are not known. Many Jewish traditions read this psalm on the Passover, and it is often called the Great Hallel (praise).
What does it mean?
We remember that the books of Chronicles introduce a generation of Jews returned from exile to their history and heritage. To hear of the grand dedication of Solomon’s temple must have been a great encouragement. His address, his prayer and God’s admonition was a powerful reminder of God’s purposes for Israel, his faithfulness to his promises and the consequences of disobedience.
God’s purpose in blessing Abraham and his descendants in order to bless the families of the earth is still valid. The mission is the same, even today. God’s name is to be known and exalted among the peoples of the earth. Today, just as God’s glory inhabited the temple, his glory indwells his church. We, too, are blessed to be a blessing.
Psalm 136 is one of several Hallel (Hallelujah) Psalms. Hallelujah is the imperative form of hallel (to praise) with Jah (Jehovah) added to it. Literally, Hallelujah is a command to worship Jehovah. The content and structure of this psalm is very similar to Psalm 135 with the addition of a refrain repeated after each phrase – for his mercy endures forever. The people probably sung this psalm originally in an antiphonal or responsive form with the great congregation repeating for his mercy endures forever after each phrase. Though some criticize praise songs today that repeat certain phrases, the practice is solidly biblical as evidenced in this majestic psalm.
How will I respond?
Like Israel, no matter how many times I fail God’s mission and promises remain. How will I respond to this account of the temple dedication? What prayer, action or attitude will I address because of what I see here?