1. God is holy, so he cannot dwell with sin. But God loves his people and desires friendship, so he makes a way to forgive (sacrifices) and purify his people from sin (i.e. God lets Israel taste the futility of their sin so they will turn away from sin to him). We are okay with the first part, but the second part can make us uncomfortable. Discuss why God’s discipline is actually “good news” and why it would be “bad news” if he just left us alone.
2. Solomon’s long prayer (verses 22-53) treats repentance as the way to life and the way of life in the presence of God. Through repentance, we grab hold of God’s grace, train our hearts to love God’s presence more than sin, and experience transformation by God’s grace. As a group, take some time to reflect on this question: In what areas of my life am I deepening in repentance and in what areas can I grow in repentance?
3. Our relationship with God thrives most when our hearts are set on him and we are invested in the relationship. Solomon’s prayer has good news for sinners like ourselves whose hearts are often bent in the wrong direction: God’s presence bends our hearts to him so we can love him (1 Kings 8:58). What are some ways we can keep close to God’s presence so he can do that work in our hearts?
4. Israel enjoys a giant feast with the Lord at the end of chapter 8, showing that God does not want to just live around us but with us in rich fellowship. Do you naturally think of God’s heart toward you in this way? What are some not-so-true impressions of God that we often believe? Discuss how this picture of God from 1 Kings 8 encourages you to pursue deeper fellowship with Him.