“When Solomon had finished the temple of the LORD and the royal palace, and had succeeded in carrying out all he had in mind to do in the temple of the LORD and in his own palace, the LORD appeared to him at night and said: “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a temple for sacrifices.” (7:11-12)
After a massive 3 week dedication celebration in front of the entire nation, Solomon goes home and God meets him, one on one. I cherish this about the LORD. Not only is He powerfully in our corporate midst, but He is also incredibly personal. He meets with Solomon, even though he’s not a priest.
He gives Solomon insight into what to do when things go wrong, when they’re not relishing in a magic moment, happily headed home:
“if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (7:14)
Healing follows humility; being honest with ourselves, and God, about the rabbit hole we’ve fallen down, the things we get carried away with, the good things that become idols. Sometimes it’s hard to see, and often times it’s even harder to admit.
As an American, I feel I always need to watch myself with the idols of safety, security and comfort. These are good things, but if they become the bosses of my life, making decisions for me, they’ve got to be recognized and thrown out for what they are: idols.
Idolatry doesn’t have to be outright. Behind every god in Canaan was the “promise” of something every human desires: food (rainfall in the right times for a good harvest), family (stability, sex and fertility), and favor (success and victory over enemies). Of course God promised to provide those things, if they remained faithful to Him, but doing things the way “everyone else does” starts to make the most sense after awhile.
So God, knowing the tendency of man, tells Solomon what to do when people start wondering why it’s not raining: Humble yourselves, be prepared to be wrong. Look at me, admit you’ve been looking elsewhere, and give it up. Pretty simple. He does all the heavy lifting after that.
I am thankful for the closeness of God, even after everyone goes home and I’m alone. I’m thankful for the grace of God, who lets me start over after I’ve made a mistake. I’m thankful for the power of God, who is able and ready to heal an entire nation. He’s amazing, right?