I was struck last night with a new understanding.
Solomon clearly understood that God did not exactly live in the temple, but rather established a presence there. The king also knew not only that people from all over the world would hear of the Lord, come to the Temple, and pray, but also that the Lord would hear these foreigners and answer them.
I don’t know why I never got this before. It made me wonder how the attitude changed from that of Solomon to that of the Jewish people in the New Testament era. By that time the people seemed to be very protective of their status as God’s people. They seemed to feel that God was theirs and not for the Gentiles. I’m sure this is an exaggeration, but I was struck last night with how open Solomon was to following God rather than keeping him in a box.
1 Kings 8 – Solomon prays to the Lord at the dedication of the Temple.
27“But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold,heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built! 28Yet have regard to the prayer of your servant and to his plea, O LORD my God, listening to the cry and to the prayer that your servant prays before you this day, 29 that your eyes may be open night and day toward this house, the place of which you have said, ‘My name shall be there,’ that you may listen to the prayer that your servant offers toward this place. 30And listen to the plea of your servant and of your people Israel, when they pray toward this place. And listen in heaven your dwelling place, and when you hear, forgive.
41“Likewise, when a foreigner, who is not of your people Israel, comes from a far country for your name’s sake 42(for they shall hear of your great name and your mighty hand, and of your outstretched arm), when he comes and prays toward this house, 43hear in heaven 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 that I have built is called by your name.