5.47 1 Kings -- Solomon's Prayer
Solomon gave a lengthy prayer at the dedication of the Temple (1 Kings 8:22-61):
-- there is no God like the God of Israel
-- He upholds His covenant of love and His promise to David
-- but even this grand Temple cannot contain the God who exceeds the heavens. Here Solomon distinguished the true God from the territorial deities of the pagan nations: "even though God had chosen to dwell among his people in a special and localized way, he far transcended containment by anything in all creation" (NIV, footnote p. 487).
-- yet God has put His Name in this Temple. Therefore, may His eyes be open toward it, and towards those who pray in it (or towards it, if they are far away).
-- oaths made before the altar are binding.
-- when Israel is defeated by her enemies and repents, may God forgive and restore the prisoners
-- when there is a drought due to sin, and Israel repents, may God send rain.
-- when there is any calamity of nature or war, and an Israelite prays, "spreading out his hands toward this Temple" (1 Kings 8:38), may God hear, forgive, and act. Here we have an almost "Islamic" concept of praying towards a holy site -- the Temple instead of Mecca. This is deemed to be a substitute for actually being physically in the Temple, and in the presence of God.
-- when a foreigner arrives from afar, because he has heard of God's name and mighty deeds, and comes to pray at the Temple, then may God do what he asks, so that "all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you" (1 Kings 8:43). This is a very important provision, and a new attitude to the non-Israelite. Although the Law of Moses specifically enjoined the Israelites to welcome the sojourner and allow him to participate in the holy days (see Num 9:14, Num 15:14, Deut 16:11-14, Josh 8:35), Solomon went beyond these verses and authorized (limited) access of Gentiles to the Temple, and to the God within it. He was acknowledging that the Temple was for all mankind, and was asking God to work outside of the physical (and racial) boundaries of Israel. This verse did not apply to local Canaanites or slaves, but to those from distant lands who came not for trade but "because of your name" (1 Kings 8:41).
-- when Israel goes to war, and prays toward the Temple, may God give them victory.
-- if Israel sins and is exiled to a foreign land, but repents and prays toward their homeland and the Temple, then may God forgive and grant them compassion on behalf of their captors:
"For you singled them out from all the nations of the world to be your own inheritance, just as you declared through your servant Moses when you, O Sovereign Lord, brought our fathers out of Egypt" (1 Kings 8:53).
Solomon repeated the age-old teaching of the distinctiveness of Israel, which God had been trying to get across to the Israelites ever since the days of Moses. When times were prosperous and the land was at peace, Israel tended to forget its unique status with God, and to eagerly pursue foreign customs and practices. But when hardship and defeat occurred, then they remembered: "Wait, this shouldn't happen to us, we are God's special treasure on earth." They then pleaded with God to rescue them, and like a punished toddler they cried out, "We'll be good, we promise."
Solomon then blessed the people, and again referred to foreigners:
"that He may uphold the cause of his servant and the cause of his people Israel according to each day's need, so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God and that there is no other" (1 Kings 8:59-60).
Again, this is the right note: Israel did not exist for itself, it was a "light to the nations," an example of God's favor, and a custodian of God's words. It represented Him to the Gentiles