Let's get some context before we dive into this because you know what they say, context matters.
At the beginning of this chapter, the ark of the covenant had been brought to the temple that Solomon had built. Prior to the temple, the Israelite's had used the tabernacle which allowed the spirit of God to follow them as they traveled to the promised land. The building of the temple signified that the Israelite's were at peace in their land and that bringing the ark into the temple meant that Gods presence was there.
After the ark was placed in the temple, Solomon then prayed to the Lord and dedicated it. The prayer as a whole is really good stuff and after reading it a few verses stood out to me. Let's take a gander.
Verse 27, "But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!"
Now you can read that in the literal sense that the temple was not big enough, or you can see the temple as a metaphor for you, me, us as people. There might be times that you think that God is not a part of you and there is no way that he wants to be with you, but he does. He wants to be with you all the time but you, me, we have to make room for him in our temples. Our hearts.
Verses 33-34, “When your people Israel have been defeated by an enemy because they have sinned against you, and when they turn back to you and give praise to your name, praying and making supplication to you in this temple, 34then hear from heaven and forgive the sin of your people Israel and bring them back to the land you gave to their ancestors."
Being transparent with ya'll, I took three semesters of Spanish and can't remember much of it other than a few phrases and key words. One of those key words was the word sin. In Spanish sin means without. When we sin we are literally without and separated from God. When we are separated from God the devil comes in and messes with us. That’s the enemy in our lives. When we come before the Lord and repent of our sins we are forgiven because of what Jesus did for us on the cross becoming the perfect sacrifice. All of this being said because that’s what I immediately thought of when I read these verses. Solomon was asking God to forgive his people when they realize their faults against God and took their eyes off of him.
Verses 41-43 give me goosebumps when I read them. “As for the foreigner who does not belong to your people Israel but has come from a distant land because of your name— 42for they will hear of your great name and your mighty hand and your outstretched arm—when they come and pray toward this temple, 43then hear from heaven, your dwelling place. Do whatever the foreigner asks of you, so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your own people Israel, and may know that this house I have built bears your Name."
Unless you were and Israelite, you were a foreigner (aka gentile). I think it is really cool how this is included. That Solomon is asking for God to listen to, and answer, the prayers of anyone who believes in him. Not just the Israelite's. Israel is meant to be a light to the rest of the world so that it may spread Gods love. The end of verse 43 pretty much sets up the great commission in the new testament (Matthew 19-20). This is just some really good and encouraging stuff!
The last verses I want to mention are 56-61
56“Praise be to the Lord, who has given rest to his people Israel just as he promised. Not one word has failed of all the good promises he gave through his servant Moses. 57 May the Lord our God be with us as he was with our ancestors; may he never leave us nor forsake us. 58 May he turn our hearts to him, to walk in obedience to him and keep the commands, decrees and laws he gave our ancestors. 59 And may these words of mine, which I have prayed before the Lord, be near to the Lord our God day and night, that he may uphold the cause of his servant and the cause of his people Israel according to each day’s need, 60 so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God and that there is no other. 61 And may your hearts be fully committed to the Lord our God, to live by his decrees and obey his commands, as at this time.”
Now this is pretty much another separate prayer in itself and its jammed packed with some big takeaways. Solomon asks for five basic things. Gods presence. The desire to do Gods will in everything. Help in everyday tasks. The ability to do as God commands and for the spread of Gods kingdom. If we just prayed these five simple things everyday God would undoubtedly start cooking up some good stuff in our lives.
Solomon nailed that like Rodrigo Blankenship nails 50+ yard field goals.
Again, this whole passage is just amazing the more and more you read it!
God, I thank you for just being who you are. Thank for listening to us. Thank you for always forgiving us and having mercy when we stray off the path towards you. I ask that whoever reads this scripture has new revelations of who you are and that it fills them with joy and encouragement as we continue to move into the new year. Thank you for always being with us. Amen.
Author | Sam Carroll