I Kings 7:1–12; 8:1–66. Solomon Dedicated the Temple.
Key Notes: A cloud filled the Temple. Seven petitions in Solomon's prayer; the fifth petition. His prayer was prospective and intercessory. Seven attributes of God were heard.
This lesson is in two parts. We return to the building of Solomon's palace in chapter 7, and conclude with a climax of Israel's spiritual life, the festival of the dedication of the Temple in chapter 8.
IK.7:1–12 After, or perhaps during, the building of the Temple, Solomon spent 13 years constructing the several buildings of his palace complex. I think there is no insinuation from the time spent that Solomon gave less to the Temple than to himself. The Temple was much smaller by design and much more expensively furnished than his personal buildings.
The House of the Forest of Lebanon is a humorous name for a huge hall 150ft. long and 75ft. wide that was supported by 3–4 rows of cedar posts. There would probably be 25–45 of these standing pillars, looking much like a forest. This building would be the armory (IK.10:17) and an assembly hall. There was another smaller Hall of Pillars, the Judgment Hall of the Throne, and finally, his private residence and a house for Pharaoh's daughter. Expensive masonry using 12 and 15ft stones was laid in three courses. There was also a court-yard, probably adjoining the Temple and the Palace. 7:8
IK.8:1–2 The Temple was dedicated in the 7th month, although completed in the 8th month. (IK.8:2). It appears that Israel waited 11 months for the next Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkoth, the Feast of Booths). It was a time when the people were commanded to live outside in arbors or booths for a week as a reminder of their ancestors' years in the Sinai desert. It was a perfect opportunity for a great celebration. It did not commemorate the first Tabernacle, which was finished in the first month. Ex.40:17
IK.8:3–9. The priests brought the ark of the covenant from the tent in Jerusalem where David had installed it. The other articles of furniture were brought from the Tabernacle at Gibeon. The ark was set so that its poles faced outward toward the Holy Place. The poles were left in place. Permanence was not to be assumed. The Ark contained the tablets of the Ten Commandments brought down from Mount Sinai. The pot of manna from wilderness days and Aaron's rod that budded were evidently gone.
IK.8:10–13. The glory of the Lord filled the Holy Place and the priests had to leave. Although the reaction of the crowd is not mentioned, there would likely be two responses: awe, and the awareness that God was present in a predictable way. It was a divine condescension. Solomon noted that God had chosen to dwell in thick darkness.
Solomon was well-informed. The cloud which hides--and reveals--God's glory is an important image to retain. The cloud of God's presence accompanied Israel on the journey through the wilderness. (Num.10:34). It filled the Tabernacle at its dedication (Ex.40:34), the dedication of the first Temple (IK.8:10), and the Temple in Isaiah's vision. (Isa.6; see also Isa.4:5). The cloud was part of the vision of God to Ezekiel (Ezek.1:4), and he saw it leave the Temple (Ezek.10:4) before the Temple was destroyed.
The cloud is part of God's presence.
"He made darkness his covering around Him, His canopy thick clouds dark with water. Out of the brightness before Him there broke through His clouds hailstones and coals of fire." (Psa.18:11–12).
"Clouds and thick darkness are around about Him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne. Fire goes before Him....His lightnings lighten the world." (Psa.97:2–4).
Jesus departed with the clouds (Acts 1:9) and will return to the Mount of Olives in the same way. Acts 1:11; Matt.26:64
IK.8:14–21. Solomon turned and blessed Israel, reminding them that he was carrying out his father David's mandate.
IK.8:22–53. Solomon then turned again before the Altar, first standing (8:22) and then kneeling (8:54) in prayer. He pled for further fulfillment of God's promises. He included the plea that David's sons remain true to God. Then he begged God, who cannot be contained in any house, to hear his prayer.
He made seven requests of God. Five petitions have sin as their focus (1,2,3,4,7); 5 is on behalf of strangers; and 6 is a request for help in war. The prayers have a consistent refrain: "Hear Thou from Heaven...."
1.If a person sins and judgment is required, may God condemn the guilty and vindicate the righteous. [Solomon could not be ultimately responsible for justice.]
2.If Israel is defeated in war because of sin, and there is repentance and prayer, hear and forgive and bring them back. [This implies that there will be an exile and return.]
3.If there is drought because of sin and they repent, hear and grant rain.
4.If there is famine or pestilence or siege, hear the individual petitions that are made because God knows the hearts of all. [This implies that God's judgment and response would be personal and not simply corporate.]
5.There may be a stranger who comes from afar and prays toward the Temple; may God hear so that all the world may know God's name. [Solomon was praying in advance for foreign visitors, believers not yet known! He anticipates that they will spread the knowledge of God to other nations.]
6.He pleads the cause of Israel in battle.
7.If there is sin (and there is no one who does not) and Israel is exiled, and they turn and ask forgiveness, grant them compassion from their captors. [This implies exile without return.]
IK.8:54–61, Then Solomon turned and blessed the people, with the fervent hope that God would incline the hearts of His people toward Him, and that Solomon's words would be near to God. He exhorted the people to be true to God and His commandments.
IK.8:62–66. A feast followed, with meat offered to God feeding thousands of people congregating all over the land for seven days.
Comment: David was frustrated in his high ambition to build the Temple. Like him, we also may fail to accomplish the goal we believed we could achieve. But David had cleared the path that Solomon now walked. We too, are building on the incomplete work of our fathers. And our children will continue what we have left undone. Missionaries may go without any apparent reward for a lifetime of effort, believing that God was using them to prepare a harvest in the next generation. Accept what God has given you to do and make the most of it.
It was the king, not the priest, who led his people in worship. He was rich, powerful and on his knees before God. He tacitly acknowledged his weakness and inability. Solomon's prayer was not a simple blessing, but a heart-felt appeal to God. He could have made two or three petitions, but gave an seven-fold appeal for God's mercy. He clearly understood the basis of the Covenant, God's promises and his and Israel's obligations. Solomon sounds like a saint.
The second aspect of the prayer is that it was all prospective, and it was intercessory. There were no immediate needs. He asked forgiveness for sins yet to be committed. Naaman the Syrian leper did the same for his sins in IIK.5:18. We do not usually pray prospectively. We pray for immediate needs. We may wonder why we should or whether we may ask in advance for God's mercy.
There is one prospective prayer in the NT. Jesus, in John 17, prays for the future, after He has gone.
He asks that the Father keep the disciples in His Name. 17:11
He prays that they may have His joy fulfilled. 17:13
He prays for their protection from the Evil One. 17:15
He asks for others down the ages who will believe, that they might be unified. 17:20
He prays that the disciples might be with Him in Heaven to behold His glory. 17:24
A third note is that the fifth petition is on behalf of unknown strangers, non-Jews, who will seek the Lord in Jerusalem. It is an evangelistic prayer. We have learned that God loves strangers and that we should treat them well. That we might intercede in advance for unknown internationals who will come to faith in the US is a large step we should be prepared to take.
Prospective prayer requires vision, a long view of history, and a large heart.
We should not let the opportunity to go by without noting the attributes of God in this passage.
GLORY."...the glory of the Lord filled the house...." (8:11)
FAITHFULNESS. "Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who with His hand has fulfilled what He promised with His mouth to David my father...." (8:14)
TRUTH "...keeping covenant and showing steadfast love to His servants...." (8:23)
OMNIPRESENCE. IMMENSITY. "Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain Thee; how much less this house which I have built." (8:27)
JUSTICE. "...judge Thy servants, condemning the guilty and vindicating the righteous...." (8:32)
MERCY. "...grant them compassion in the sight of those who carried them captive...." (8:50)
GOODNESS. "..Blessed be the Lord who has given rest to His people Israel according to all that He promised...." (8:56)
As Solomon said in his last word: "...that all the people of the earth may know that the LORD is God; there is no other. Let your heart therefore be wholly true to the Lord our God...." (IK.8:60–61)