When Solomon Prayed about Jesus Christ
1 Kings 8:22-30, 41-43
When I think of the first Christians—recent converts from Judaism—going back and reading their Scriptures (the Old Testament) after believing in Christ, I think how they must have been astounded to see how their God had been at work throughout all his time with them, pointing them to the watershed moment in Christ. I have no doubt that they would be sitting in the synagogue (now the assembly for the church), listening to the Scriptures, when suddenly they received a jolt in their gut. “WOW! Can you believe how that mentions the Christ, and how God brought that to fulfillment in Jesus? I never knew that was there before or I never knew that it meant that. Now that I see it though, I’m amazed and astounded. How did I not see that before? Praise God for his wisdom and his forethought!”
If we would be diligent in reading the Old Testament, I am sure that we would encounter moments just like that, just like the one that we see in this passage about Solomon’s dedication of the Temple. It is the sort of passage that we are likely to gloss over because the Temple is part of the old dispensation and we have nothing to learn from it; but this passage is filled with information about Jesus the Christ and what he means for us and for our world. Solomon may be praying to God, but his words have a prophetic quality as they stretch forward to the new age which Christ would inaugurate in his person.
What things does Solomon mention? Aside from the recitation of God’s promise of an heir on David’s eternal throne (8:24-25), Solomon makes mention of how God cannot be contained by the things of the earth (8:27). Where could God dwell among men, where would his name be such that the people could make their requests to God (8:28-30)? Solomon suggests that the Temple would be just such a place (because God deigns that it should be so), but we know that this prayer ultimately finds its fulfillment in Jesus Christ, who is God incarnate, in whose name we pray. As Solomon continues his prayer, he lists people who might come to this Temple to make their requests known, and most of the people and the requests are the everyday stuff of the people of Israel. They are ordinary, that is, until Solomon says that even a foreigner might come to make their request because they have heard of the wondrous name of God and of the deeds he has done (8:41-43). Even that person’s requests are to be heard by God. How scandalous to the Jews! And yet, in Jesus Christ, the Gentiles—foreigners to the people of Israel—are brought in when they hear of Jesus.
I constantly find myself in awe when I come across passages like this. How amazing is our God that he has been at work on our salvation since the time of our Fall! Who has known his mind or who can understand his mysteries but that he reveals them to us! How wondrous are his works, and how great a salvation has he made for us in Jesus Christ! May we always be in awe of our great God! -TL