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Most of us need a place ”a physical yet sacred space ”where we can go to devote ourselves to a focused encounter with the very presence of God. Jesus himself spent considerable time around the Temple in Jerusalem. He recognized and utilized its value as a center for the people of God to encounter the life-changing presence of God.

When most people think of worship, they think of the particular church service they regularly attend. They usually associate worship with a particular place.

The same was true for the people of Israel. Throughout the Old Testament, the people of God associated the presence of God in their midst with certain places that assumed powerful significance: Jacob encountered God in a dream at Bethel. Moses encountered God atop a mountain in Sinai. The twelve wandering tribes carried before them the ark of the covenant as the objective place where God resided, invisible but real, among them. The Tabernacle was a “tent of meeting,” a mobile sacred space where the people met God.

Unlike many of the pagan gods of the day, however, the Lord God was not confined to any one country or place. Ezekiel’s revolutionary vision of God arriving on a throne chariot which rested upon “wheels within wheels” (Ezek 1) meant to teach the Jewish Exiles, marooned in far-away Babylon, that the God of all creation was mobile yet majestic, powerful yet personal, and always present with them no matter where they found themselves.

As a leader, Solomon recognized that worship was crucial to God’s people and committed himself and all the resources he could muster to the building of the Temple. In fact, the building of the Temple in itself represented an act of worship to him. His care and attention to details showed the value he placed on worship. The Temple in Jerusalem was to be God’s own “permanent home” where the people could come to encounter God.

Later, Jesus would lead his followers to understand that authentic worship may occur either in public ritual or in private reflection, in loud praise or in silent prayer, in a crowded sanctuary or in personal solitude.

Still, most of us need a place ”a physical yet sacred space ”where we can go to devote ourselves to a focused encounter with the very presence of God. Jesus himself spent considerable time around the Temple in Jerusalem. He recognized and utilized its value as a center for the people of God to encounter the life-changing presence of God.

Worship of God is an essential trait of faithful leaders and of those who follow them.

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Solomon sent word to Hiram, saying, “You know that my father David could not build a house for the name of the LORD his God because of the warfare with which his enemies surrounded him, until the LORD put them under the soles of his feet. (1 Kings 5:2-3)

For a long time, during their years of wandering, the Israelites carried around the ark of the covenant. But King David envisioned a permanent dwelling, an appropriately beautiful and sacred temple, to house the presence of God in the midst of God’s people. Since the people had settled more broadly into the land promised and now given to them by God, there should be built a house in which God might “settle,” too.

But circumstances prevented David from realizing his dream to build a temple for God (v 3). He had made some big plans. He began the many arrangements well in advance of construction. He even wrote or collected many of the psalms that later would serve as the songs of worship in that Temple. But he did not live to see the Temple as the center for the people’s worship of God.

Following Solomon’s ascension to the throne, King Hiram of Tyre contacted Solomon, because he had “always been a friend” (v 1) of Solomon’s father. In the first of a succession of well-planned moves, Solomon returned the contact, taking advantage of this opportunity to do business with Hiram ¦

Don Garner is professor of religion at Carson-Newman College in Jefferson City, Tenn.

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