1 Kings 8:28-30 (KJV) Yet have thou respect unto the prayer of thy servant, and to his supplication, O Lord my God, to hearken unto the cry and to the prayer, which thy servant prayeth before thee today: That thine eyes may be open toward this house night and day, even toward the place of which thou hast said, My name shall be there: that thou mayest hearken unto the prayer which thy servant shall make toward this place. And hearken thou to the supplication of thy servant, and of thy people Israel, when they shall pray toward this place: and hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place: and when thou hearest, forgive.
Does God really hear us? As I read through the text, this is one of the first things that entered my thoughts. But it did not end there. This question was followed up by another difficult question, “How can we know for sure“? Everything else left my mind as I began to truly search within myself to know the answer.
In asking myself these difficult questions, I became aware that I may not be the only one who wants an answer to these questions. The answer to these questions can either enhance or strain our relationship with God. Of course, we desire the former effect, but realistically speaking, we ourselves cannot guarantee such an outcome. It can only come from God Himself.
Understanding The Text
In this text, we encounter a very important part of God’s being: His immanence and His transcendence. God’s immanence refers to the reality of His being present in the world He created that we inhabit. God’s transcendence refers to the reality of His Divine essence that is wholly separate from our universe, our universal laws, and His creation as a whole. This leads to an understanding of Solomon’s rhetorical question in the preceding verse, “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain You; how much less this house that I have built” (1 Kgs. 8:27)?
This question demonstrates Solomon’s understanding that God’s Divine presence can be here on earth, but He is not bound by the same time/spatial limitations as humankind and the rest of creation. In other words, because of the vast immensity of God’s presence, He is able to be everywhere present simultaneously without any restriction placed His ability to be Who He is. And because God granted Solomon an understanding of this aspect of His being, Solomon was able to believe that God was present as he uttered this prayer.
How could Solomon be assured of this? Because God promised that He would “dwell” in the place that He had chosen where David’s seed shall build a house for His Name (2 Sam. 7:12-13). Also, in 1 Kings, chapter eight, Solomon stated that God would “dwell in the thick darkness…a settled place for You to abide in forever” (1Kgs. 8:12-13). The word, dwell, is defined by the Hebrew word, shakhan, and is used as a figurative term meaning that God’s name would be associated with the Temple. In other words, the association of God’s name with the Temple was being used interchangeably to describe God’s presence in the Temple because of His covenant relationship with Israel. If the association of God’s Name with the Temple meant that God’s presence was immanent (or, dwelling within), then it would not be a far stretch to believe that because of His proximity to His people, he would be able to hear them whenever they cried out to Him.
“The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and His ears are open unto their cry” (Ps. 34:15).
Why Is This Important To Us?
This is important to us because we have become the “temple of the Living God” and now He “dwells” within us (2 Cor. 6:16). In other words, His name is “associated with us” because He now indwells us by the presence of His Holy Spirit as a result of the covenant relationship we have with Him through Christ. His immanent presence is within us as He transcends through space and time to manifest and reveal Himself to us through Divine revelation.
It explains why we sometimes become so overwhelmed by His presence when we are engaged in the rendering of our personal worship to Him. We enter into a worship experience and we can literally feel the weight of His immanent presence so strongly because His condescension allows us to transcend from the temporal ritualistic atmosphere into a spiritual manifestation of the heavenly throne room of God similar to the priests (1 Kgs. 8:10-11; Jn. 4:23-24). In these moments, God is preparing our hearts for a revelation of Himself by which He enhances our personal relationships with Himself and others.
This becomes possible as we make our hearts the mercy seat where He “will meet with us, and He will commune with us” (Ex. 25:22). These are the moments we experience when we encounter God in prayer and the reading of and meditating upon His Word. Our hearts cry out to Him and because of His proximity to us through His indwelling Spirit, He is able to hear us as His Spirit “makes intercession for us according to the will of God” (Rom. 8:14-16, 26-27).
The enemy of our souls would love for us to believe that our Heavenly Father does not listen to us when we cry out to Him. The Inspired Word of God is filled with passages that proclaim His willingness to hear us when we make the effort to seek after Him wholeheartedly. In those moments, whether painful or joyous, we can be assured that His indwelling Spirit within us will communicate everything we need for Him to hear (Rom. 8:26). In the end, as a result, “we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28). Why? Because “His eyes are upon the righteous and His ears are open unto their cry” (Ps. 34:15; 1 Pet. 3:12).