Scriptures

1 Kings 8

Introduction

‘Then King Solomon summoned into his presence at Jerusalem the elders of Israel, all the heads of the tribes and the chiefs of the Israelite families, to bring up the ark of the LORD’s covenant from Zion, the City of David. All the Israelites came together to King Solomon at the time of the festival in the month of Ethanim, the seventh month. When all the elders of Israel had arrived, the priests took up the ark, and they brought up the ark of the LORD and the tent of meeting and all the sacred furnishings in it. The priests and Levites carried them up, and King Solomon and the entire assembly of Israel that had gathered about him were before the ark, sacrificing so many sheep and cattle that they could not be recorded or counted. The priests then brought the ark of the LORD’s covenant to its place in the inner sanctuary of the temple, the Most Holy Place, and put it beneath the wings of the cherubim. The cherubim spread their wings over the place of the ark and overshadowed the ark and its carrying poles. These poles were so long that their ends could be seen from the Holy Place in front of the inner sanctuary, but not from outside the Holy Place; and they are still there today. There was nothing in the ark except the two stone tablets that Moses had placed in it at Horeb, where the LORD made a covenant with the Israelites after they came out of Egypt. When the priests withdrew from the Holy Place, the cloud filled the temple of the LORD. And the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled his temple. Then Solomon said, ‘The LORD has said that he would dwell in a dark cloud; I have indeed built a magnificent temple for you, a place for you to dwell forever.’ 1 Kings 8:1-13

The Ark Brought To The Temple

Solomon requests that the ark of the covenant be brought from the tabernacle which was located in the city of David and placed inside the temple, when the temple was finished being built, 2 Chronicles 5:2-6:11.

The festival in the month of Ethanim was the feast of tabernacles, Deuteronomy 16:13, this was one of the great feasts where everyone was required to attend. It would have been roughly a year between the dedication of the temple and the complete work of finishing it.

The feast of tabernacles took place on the seventh month, and, Solomon had finished the building work on the temple on the eight month, 1 Kings 6:37-38. When the Israelites returned from Babylonian captivity the month of Ethanim, would be changed to the month of Tishri.

After sacrificing so many sheep and cattle, which couldn’t be counted the priests lay the ark in the inner sanctuary of the temple. After the ark of the covenant was placed inside the inner sanctuary, the text tells us that ‘the cherubim spread their wings over the place of the ark’. These cherubim described here were different from the ones from the time of Moses, the ones in the time of Moses were firmly fixed to the lid of the ark, Exodus 37:7.

Notice that the poles, which were used to carry the ark were so long, they could be seen from the Holy Place. This again, tells us that Solomon never put a curtain between the holy place and most holy place, Exodus 26:31-35 / 2 Samuel 7:2 / Matthew 27:51.

Notice also that inside the ark were only two stone tablets, these would have been the ten commandments which Moses received at Mount Sinai, Exodus 25:16. It’s possible that Aaron’s staff, Numbers 17:10 / Hebrews 9:4, and the golden pot of hidden manna, Exodus 16:33-34 / Hebrews 9:4, were placed in front of the ark, Exodus 16:33-34 / Numbers 17:25.

The priests could perform their service because of the Lord’s glory, the cloud represented God’s presence, Exodus 40:34-38. It appears that the Lord’s glory was too much for the priests, just as it was for Moses, Leviticus 16:2-13 / Deuteronomy 4:24 / Exodus 40:35.

Solomon says, ‘the LORD has said that he would dwell in a dark cloud’. It would be dark in the holy of holies because there were no windows, and here this darkness is associated with the dark storm cloud which came over Mount Horeb at the giving of the Law, Exodus 20:18 / Psalm 18:10-11.

Common sense tells us that God wouldn’t literally dwell in the temple, 1 Kings 8:27-30 / Acts 7:48. Solomon is basically saying that the temple would represent God’s presence among His people.

‘While the whole assembly of Israel was standing there, the king turned around and blessed them. Then he said: ‘Praise be to the LORD, the God of Israel, who with his own hand has fulfilled what he promised with his own mouth to my father David. For he said, ‘Since the day I brought my people Israel out of Egypt, I have not chosen a city in any tribe of Israel to have a temple built so that my Name might be there, but I have chosen David to rule my people Israel.’ ‘My father David had it in his heart to build a temple for the Name of the LORD, the God of Israel. But the LORD said to my father David, ‘You did well to have it in your heart to build a temple for my Name. Nevertheless, you are not the one to build the temple, but your son, your own flesh and blood—he is the one who will build the temple for my Name.’ ‘The LORD has kept the promise he made: I have succeeded David my father and now I sit on the throne of Israel, just as the LORD promised, and I have built the temple for the Name of the LORD, the God of Israel. I have provided a place there for the ark, in which is the covenant of the LORD that he made with our ancestors when he brought them out of Egypt.’ 1 Kings 8:14-21

After blessing the people, Solomon then goes on to quote God’s words to his father, David, 2 Samuel 2:13 / 2 Chronicles 6:3-11. However, if God had originally planned to choose a city and build a temple in the land of one of the tribes, then that tribe would have taken ownership of a visible symbol of God’s presence, but it never was God’s plan.

God didn’t want a temple in the first place, 2 Samuel 7:5-7, this temple was built for Solomon’s father, David because it was David’s dream to build one, 2 Samuel 7:1-2.

Solomon’s throne wasn’t established forever and the temple he built which bore God’s Name, was claimed to be such by Solomon and the Israelites and God appears to allow the temple to be built and used for worship at this time, but the house which God was speaking about was referring to the Lord’s church, Acts 15:16-18.

Solomon goes ahead and expresses his gratitude that he was set upon the throne of David in fulfilment of the promise that God made to David, 1 Chronicles 28:6.

Solomon’s Prayer Of Dedication

‘Then Solomon stood before the altar of the LORD in front of the whole assembly of Israel, spread out his hands toward heaven and said: ‘LORD, the God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth below—you who keep your covenant of love with your servants who continue wholeheartedly in your way. You have kept your promise to your servant David my father; with your mouth you have promised and with your hand you have fulfilled it—as it is today. ‘Now LORD, the God of Israel, keep for your servant David my father the promises you made to him when you said, ‘You shall never fail to have a successor to sit before me on the throne of Israel, if only your descendants are careful in all they do to walk before me faithfully as you have done.’ And now, God of Israel, let your word that you promised your servant David my father come true. ‘But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built! Yet give attention to your servant’s prayer and his plea for mercy, LORD my God. Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is praying in your presence this day. May your eyes be open toward this temple night and day, this place of which you said, ‘My Name shall be there,’ so that you will hear the prayer your servant prays toward this place. Hear the supplication of your servant and of your people Israel when they pray toward this place. Hear from heaven, your dwelling place, and when you hear, forgive.’ 1 Kings 8:22-30

In 1 Kings 8:22-53, we read about Solomon’s prayer of dedication, 2 Chronicles 6:12-40. Some suggest that Solomon prayed for the wrong thing, instead of praying that God will keep His word, he should have prayed and he himself and his son would keep the Lord’s Word.

It’s possible that his prayer was written down and kept in The Book of the Acts of Solomon, 1 Kings 11:41, or in The Book of Nathan the Prophet, 2 Chronicles 9:20.

It’s incredible to think that here, Solomon openly declares that ‘there is no God like you’, but as he approaches his later years of reign, he commits idolatry, 1 Kings 11:5-12. He also quotes God’s words again in saying, ‘you shall never fail to have a successor to sit before me on the throne of Israel’, this of course was God’s promise to David, that from him only God would recognise someone as the rightful king of Israel.

Although Solomon declared earlier that the temple will be God’s dwelling place forever, 1 Kings 8:13, now Solomon answers his own question, when he asks, ‘will God really dwell on earth?’ He certainly knows that no-one can confine God to one place, never mind a temple, Deuteronomy 10:14 / 2 Chronicles 6:18 / Acts 17:22-31.

The name of God, or authority of God, was once displayed through the presence of the tabernacle, and now Solomon asks God to display His Name through the presence of the temple. The problem, however, is seen in this, if the temple demonstrated God’s presence and it also displayed God’s authority over His people, then all the nations around could claim the same thing about their temples.

‘When anyone wrongs their neighbour and is required to take an oath and they come and swear the oath before your altar in this temple, then hear from heaven and act. Judge between your servants, condemning the guilty by bringing down on their heads what they have done, and vindicating the innocent by treating them in accordance with their innocence. ‘When your people Israel have been defeated by an enemy because they have sinned against you, and when they turn back to you and give praise to your name, praying and making supplication to you in this temple, then hear from heaven and forgive the sin of your people Israel and bring them back to the land you gave to their ancestors. ‘When the heavens are shut up and there is no rain because your people have sinned against you, and when they pray toward this place and give praise to your name and turn from their sin because you have afflicted them, then hear from heaven and forgive the sin of your servants, your people Israel. Teach them the right way to live and send rain on the land you gave your people for an inheritance. ‘When famine or plague comes to the land, or blight or mildew, locusts or grasshoppers, or when an enemy besieges them in any of their cities, whatever disaster or disease may come, and when a prayer or plea is made by anyone among your people Israel—being aware of the afflictions of their own hearts, and spreading out their hands toward this temple—then hear from heaven, your dwelling place. Forgive and act; deal with everyone according to all they do, since you know their hearts (for you alone know every human heart), so that they will fear you all the time they live in the land you gave our ancestors. ‘As for the foreigner who does not belong to your people Israel but has come from a distant land because of your name—for they will hear of your great name and your mighty hand and your outstretched arm—when they come and pray toward this temple, then hear from heaven, your dwelling place. Do whatever the foreigner asks of you, so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your own people Israel, and may know that this house I have built bears your Name. ‘When your people go to war against their enemies, wherever you send them, and when they pray to the LORD toward the city you have chosen and the temple I have built for your Name, then hear from heaven their prayer and their plea, and uphold their cause. ‘When they sin against you—for there is no one who does not sin—and you become angry with them and give them over to their enemies, who take them captive to their own lands, far away or near; and if they have a change of heart in the land where they are held captive, and repent and plead with you in the land of their captors and say, ‘We have sinned, we have done wrong, we have acted wickedly’; and if they turn back to you with all their heart and soul in the land of their enemies who took them captive, and pray to you toward the land you gave their ancestors, toward the city you have chosen and the temple I have built for your Name; then from heaven, your dwelling place, hear their prayer and their plea, and uphold their cause. And forgive your people, who have sinned against you; forgive all the offenses they have committed against you and cause their captors to show them mercy; for they are your people and your inheritance, whom you brought out of Egypt, out of that iron smelting furnace. ‘May your eyes be open to your servant’s plea and to the plea of your people Israel, and may you listen to them whenever they cry out to you. For you singled them out from all the nations of the world to be your own inheritance, just as you declared through your servant Moses when you, Sovereign LORD, brought our ancestors out of Egypt.’ 1 Kings 8:31-53

The text here is basically saying, if the Israelites don’t remain faithful to God and His Word, then there will be consequences to pay, famines, plagues exile etc, 2 Chronicles 6:22-39.

The terms and conditions that a person be in the presence of the temple to swear an oath or repent couldn’t be a condition for making binding oaths or bringing about personal repentance, simply because the temple was far away from most of the other Israelites.

Notice Solomon ask God to hear their prayers when they are facing the temple, this is mentioned four times in his prayer, but we know God doesn’t ask us to pray in any specific direction, He hears our prayers wherever we are and whatever direction we’re facing.

Over and over again throughout these verses Solomon speaks about God’s dwelling place as heaven, not the temple or any other physical place. Solomon asks that the beautiful temple which he has built be used as evidence for the existence of God when foreigners pass by.

The sending of the rain is in correspondence with their obedience to the Law of God, and so, if they were disobedient, they would be taken into captivity. Solomon says that no one can say they haven’t sinned, and that is still true today, Romans 3:23 / 1 John 1:10.

Coffman says the following about Solomon’s prayer.
1. The omnipotence of God is evident in his conviction that God was able to hear and answer prayer in any land on earth ‘far or near,’ 1 Kings 8:46.

2. Although God’s name was associated with the house Solomon built, God’s ‘dwelling place’ is emphatically declared to be ‘in heaven’, 1 Kings 8:32 / 1 Kings 8:34 / 1 Kings 8:36 / 1 Kings 8:39 / 1 Kings 8:43 / 1 Kings 8:45 / 1 Kings 8:48, that’s no less than seven times.

3. Both the ubiquitousness and the omniscience of God appear in the declaration that God knows ‘every human heart’, 1 Kings 8:39. Also in the view that ‘the heavens, even the highest heaven’, 1 Kings 8:27, cannot contain Him, there is further evidence that God is everywhere throughout his whole universe.

4. The fact of God’s displeasure with sin and the certainty of his punishing it appear in such verses as 1 Kings 8:33 / 1 Kings 8:35 and 1 Kings 8:46.

5. That God’s forgiveness is contingent upon the condition of the sinner’s turning away from his transgressions is a major thesis of the prayer, 1 Kings 8:33 / 1 Kings 8:35 / 1 Kings 8:48.

6. That God is not merely the God of the Jews but of all the peoples of the earth is the burden of 1 Kings 8:41-43.

7. God’s forgiveness of sins is repeatedly promised upon the condition of its being prayed for. ‘If they make supplication, 1 Kings 8:33 / 1 Kings 8:47, ‘if they pray’, 1 Kings 8:35 / 1 Kings 8:48, ‘when he shall pray’, 1 Kings 8:42, ‘if your people pray’, 1 Kings 8:44.

Solomon’s profoundly beautiful and correct thoughts regarding God’s nature and character were recorded in The Acts of Solomon, 1 Kings 11:41.

‘When Solomon had finished all these prayers and supplications to the LORD, he rose from before the altar of the LORD, where he had been kneeling with his hands spread out toward heaven. He stood and blessed the whole assembly of Israel in a loud voice, saying: ‘Praise be to the LORD, who has given rest to his people Israel just as he promised. Not one word has failed of all the good promises he gave through his servant Moses. May the LORD our God be with us as he was with our ancestors; may he never leave us nor forsake us. May he turn our hearts to him, to walk in obedience to him and keep the commands, decrees and laws he gave our ancestors. And may these words of mine, which I have prayed before the LORD, be near to the LORD our God day and night, that he may uphold the cause of his servant and the cause of his people Israel according to each day’s need, so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other. And may your hearts be fully committed to the LORD our God, to live by his decrees and obey his commands, as at this time.’ 1 Kings 8:54-61

Notice that Solomon was kneeling to pray, this is the first mention of kneeling for prayer in the Bible. By the time we get to the New Testament most people stood to pray, Luke 18:11 / Luke 18:13.

In his prayer, he says that God has been absolutely true to His word concerning His promises to Moses, Genesis 12:1-3. Obviously these promises had already been fulfilled but Solomon wants Israel to know that they too must fulfil their part in being obedient to God, hence why they had to walk in all of God’s ways.

Notice if Israel stuck to their covenant agreement with God by keeping His commandments, then ‘all the people of the earth may know that the Lord is God and there is no other’. In other words, since God was the one who gave them the law, if they were obedient to His law, this would show the world that their laws weren’t man made and God was real, John 13:35 / John 14:15.

The Dedication Of The Temple

‘Then the king and all Israel with him offered sacrifices before the LORD. Solomon offered a sacrifice of fellowship offerings to the LORD: twenty-two thousand cattle and a hundred and twenty thousand sheep and goats. So the king and all the Israelites dedicated the temple of the LORD. On that same day the king consecrated the middle part of the courtyard in front of the temple of the LORD, and there he offered burnt offerings, grain offerings and the fat of the fellowship offerings, because the bronze altar that stood before the LORD was too small to hold the burnt offerings, the grain offerings and the fat of the fellowship offerings. So Solomon observed the festival at that time, and all Israel with him—a vast assembly, people from Lebo Hamath to the Wadi of Egypt. They celebrated it before the LORD our God for seven days and seven days more, fourteen days in all. On the following day he sent the people away. They blessed the king and then went home, joyful and glad in heart for all the good things the LORD had done for his servant David and his people Israel.’ 1 Kings 8:62-66

When we read about the amount of sacrifices being made here, there’s no doubt that Israel at this point in time anyway, were totally committed to God and His laws, 2 Chronicles 7:1-10.

Lebo Hamath was the northern region of Palestine between Mount Hermon and Lebanon and the Wadi of Egypt was a small river south of Gaza in the southern part of Palestine.

They celebrated for a total of fourteen days, this would be seven days of celebration at the feast of Dedication and seven more days of celebration for the feast of Tabernacles.

Go To 1 Kings 9

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers."

1 John 3:16

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