Dedicated to the writings of Saint Luke.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Solomon’s Prayers at the Consecration of the Temple

The first prayer of Solomon as narrated by Josephus was uttered by him immediately following the infilling of the Temple with the cloud of glory of God. Those present believed that God had descended into this Temple. Solomon in his prayer acknowledged that God has an eternal dwelling in the heaven yet is not contained anywhere. Solomon notes that even though God may be present in the Temple He is just as accessible as before to all who ask for “good omens.” Solomon indicates that God is not the God of Israel exclusively. God is “present and not remote.” A similar sentiment is expressed in Paul’s Areopagus address in Acts 17:27 when he says, “he is not far from each one of us.”

In his second prayer, Solomon states that the Temple was built for prayer, making sacrifices and seeking omens. According to the Josephean Solomon, God is in need of nothing. For Josephus, there is no contract concept of prayer. Therefore praise is the only proper response in prayer. The idea of praise in prayer, as a form of sacrifice, is found both in Psalm 69:30-31 and Hebrews 13:15.[i] The second aspect of the prayer stresses the universal accessibility of God to all who seek him. For Josephus, God is not the exclusive God of Israel.

Following the ceremonies in the Temple and after everyone had left, Josephus reports that God had appeared to Solomon in a dream and informed him that God had heard his prayers and that He would not only preserve the Temple but also would abide in it.
In 1 Kings 8:27 we read: "But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain thee; how much less this house which I have built!” In fact, one reading I Kings 8th chapter, comparing it with what Josephus had written, would note that Josephus had followed closely what the Bible had recorded. In the 9th chapter of first Kings, God appeared to Solomon saying, “I have heard your prayers” at which time the conditional covenant is made with Solomon. Unlike Josephus, there is no mention of God “appearing in a dream.”

[i] The words of the refrain of a popular Christian hymn states: “Christ, our Lord, to you we raise, This our sacrifice of praise.”

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