In dedicating the Temple to the Lord, Solomon offers up a profound prayer. This is a prophetic prayer in its accuracy of Israel’s future.
Solomon’s prayer for Israel in a nutshell: “God, I know we are going to mess up. I know there will be consequences for our sins. But when we finally realize how far we have fallen and turn back to You, looking to this place as a reminder of Your love, please forgive us. Restore us and bring us back to this place of Your promise.” But this prayer is not the totality of Solomon’s prayer. He has a few personal moments and acknowledgments to see to first.
The first thing Solomon does is assume an attitude and ‘altitude’ of prayer. He turns to the altar where sacrifices will soon be offered, raises his hands towards heaven, and sinks to his knees. He humbles himself, even before the people who stand watching. His heart was in this prayer.
Solomon starts his prayer with an acknowledgment of Who God is and the fact that this is God’s promise fulfilled to his father, David. “There is NO God like You in Heaven above or on earth beneath” (verse 23b, emphasis added by me). If Solomon had stopped there it would have been complete. There is NO God like our God. But Solomon goes on to say how he knows this. “…keeping covenant and showing steadfast love to Your servants who walk before you with all their heart” (verse 23c).
The first promise Solomon focuses on is the one to David concerning the building that is now ready for dedication. He doesn’t come out and name the promise or call specific attention to it until the last moment. “You have kept with your servant David my father what you declared to him. You spoke with your mouth, and with Your hand You have fulfilled it this day” (verse 24, emphasis added by me).
The next promise Solomon focuses on concerns his future and that of his children. From this point on he is looking to the future. His (the monarchy) and Israel’s. Solomon doesn’t ask God to do anything based on his works or interactions with God but on the promises God made to David. “You shall not lack a man to sit before me on the throne of Israel, if only your sons pay close attention to their way, to walk before me as you have walked before me” (verse 25b, emphasis added by me). These are God’s words to David; none other. But their conditional wording impacts ALL of Israel, especially Solomon and his descendants. And Solomon acknowledged his part in this promise being fulfilled.
Solomon now turns to the absurdity of giving God a ‘house’ to live IN. “Heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain You; how much less this house that I have built!” (verse 27b). He speaks such truth here and I’m glad he uses an exclamation point for this revelation certainly deserves one!
After all he has made, the hours the workers have put in, the materials dedicated to this build, and even the extravagance of the work, it is NOT big enough to ‘fit’ God. But that’s not why Solomon made it. This ‘house’ isn’t a place for God to come down and ‘live in’ but for the people to have a place to come to Him. That God would constantly have His eyes on this place. That His ears would be forever listening to the prayers offered here. That His name would always be on this place. And that He would answer AND forgive.
Solomon now turns to specific examples; his prayer becomes a prophecy. God WILL “act and judge” His servants, “condemning the guilty…and vindicating the righteous” (verse 32 exerts). God’s judgments won’t be limited to only those who come to swear an oath in ‘this place’ but in all the earth.
In the very next breath Solomon begins listing acts that WILL befall Israel. “When your people Israel are defeated before the enemy because they have sinned against you” (verse 33a); “When heaven is shut up and there is no rain because they have sinned against you” (verse 35a). Both of these will come to pass because of the reason stated. But that is not the end of the story.
Solomon includes the chance of restoration. The restoration in both begins with one word; “If.” That “if” is attached to a specific requirement. That requirement is turning away from the sin that got them in this trouble to begin with and turning instead back to God. The act that Solomon equates with this repentance is prayer in this house or toward this house from wherever they may be. Not because this building is powerful but because the God who puts His name on it is.
“Whatever prayer, whatever plea is made by any man or by all your people Israel, each knowing the affliction of his own heart and stretching out his hands toward this house, then hear in Heaven your dwelling place and forgive and act and render to each whose heart you know, according to all his ways (for You, You only, know the heart of all the children of mankind), that they may fear you all the days that they live in the land that You gave to our fathers” (verses 38-40).
The ONLY solution to ANY of the problems that befall a man through sin. Did you notice the usage of the word “mankind” by Solomon? He is including the rest of us non Jewish people even before Jesus made it known. Solomon goes on to emphasize that others will come to Him. They will be welcome to pray to Him in His house. And He will listen to their prayers too when their hearts are turned to Him.
We come to the ‘nutshell’ portion I began our time with. In prayer, Solomon seems to know that Israel is going to face times when they will be ‘carried away’ by other nations because of their sins. “If they repent with all their heart and with all their soul in the land of their enemies, who carried them captive, and pray to you toward their land, which You gave to their fathers, the city that you have chosen, and the house that I have built for your name, then hear in Heaven Your dwelling place their prayers and their plea, and maintain their cause and forgive Your people who have sinned against you, and all their transgressions that they have committed against You, and grant them compassion in the sight of those who carried them captive…Let Your eyes be open to the plea of your servant and to the plea of Your people Israel, giving ear to them whenever they call to You” (verses 48-50a, 52).
I’m in that ‘nutshell’ with the rest of the people Solomon is presenting to God. I mess up. I make a mess of my life in SO many ways. But when I call out to Him He hears me. I don’t have to toward or go to a specific place for Him to hear me though. Through Jesus’ blood I can come to Him wherever I am whenever I need to. And the ‘house’ He chooses to put His name on now is my heart.
Father God, I NEED You EVERY DAY. I need Your love and Your forgiveness. Thank You that I don’t have to find a specific place or way to approach You. Thank You that Jesus brings me directly to You.
Thank You Jesus for paying the price for my forgiveness. I could never come to the Father apart from You. There is NO WAY I can EVER express how much I LOVE You and appreciate Your gift of love to me.
Holy Spirit, thank You for filling my heart with the Father’s presence. Thank You for leading me in the ways I should go and for convicting my heart when I’m walking in the wrong ones. Keep me coming to You every day. Make my “temple” a holy place for the Lord.