“Let us go to his dwelling place; let us worship at his footstool—” (Psalms 132:7 NIV)
First the tabernacle, and then later the temple were especially significance in that they brought home the truth that God dwelt among his people,
“So I will consecrate the Tent of Meeting and the altar and will consecrate Aaron and his sons to serve me as priests. Then I will dwell among the Israelites and be their God. They will know that I am the LORD their God, who brought them out of Egypt so that I might dwell among them. I am the LORD their God.” (Exodus 29:44–46 NIV) (see also 1 Ki. 8:10-27).
Even more specifically the mercy seat or atonement cover was the place where the Holy God ‘touched’ earth,
“There, above the cover between the two cherubim that are over the ark of the Testimony, I will meet with you and give you all my commands for the Israelites.” (Ex 25:22, see also Lev 16:13-14)
The ark of the covenant represented four main concepts. First it was viewed as representing the footstool of God’s throne that was, in fact, invisible.
Secondly, the footstool was seen as part of the throne. In this way it represents the closest accessibility to the king for a normal subject.
Thirdly, the footstool is significance because it expresses the king’s ability to keep his enemies in check.
Fourthly, by prostrating oneself at the feet (footstool) of the king, or God, one was showing appropriate reverence. An example of this can be seen in the British Museum,
On the black stela of Shalmaneser III (above) king Jehu is shown kissing the ground in front the Assyrian king. This was the common act of submission offered to kings and gods. Taking hold of the feet was a way of showing self-abasement and entreaty.
What does all this add up to? The Psalmist is calling on his fellow-pilgrims to remember where they are headed. They are going to the place, the Temple, which reminds them of God’s presence with His people. It is where God ‘touches’ earth and it is the place where the pilgrims ‘touch’ Him.
This call is also to a position of humility, a place of surrender. As we come to our prayer times we would do well to adopt the same attitudes – a gratitude for the opportunity to connect with God, and a humble surrender in His presence. Like the song says,
All to Jesus I surrender, humbly at His feet I bow; worldly pleasures all forsaken, take me, Jesus, take me now.
I surrender all, I surrender all, all to Thee, my blessed Saviour, I surrender all.