1 Kings 8

1 KINGS CHAPTER 8

The Ark Brought to the Temple

      • Then Solomon called together all of Israel’s elders, all the heads of the tribes, and the leaders of the Israelite families to come before him at Jerusalem, in order to bring the ark of the covenant of Yahweh from the City of David (that is, Zion). All the men of Israel assembled before King Solomon during the festival in the month of Ethanim- the seventh month. When all the Israelite elders arrived, the priests lifted the ark. The priests and the Levites brought the ark of Yahweh, the tent of meeting, and all the holy furnishings in the tent. King Solomon and the entire assembly of Israel who had gathered with him went in front of the ark, sacrificing so many sheep and cattle that they couldn’t be counted.

        • HCSB writes, “’Ethanim’ was the Canaanite name for a month later known as Tishri, covering part of September and October. This was the Festival of Booths [aka Feast of Tabernacles] (see Num 29).”

        • ESV Study Bible notes, “The ark of the covenant of God, the great symbol of the Lord’s presence with his people and the place where the tablets of the law were kept (Ex 25:10-22; Deut 10:1-5; Josh 3-6), had hitherto remained in a tent sanctuary somewhere in the old city of David (2 Sam 6:16-17; 7:2; 1 Kings 3:15), apart from the brief trip described in 2 Sam 15:24-29.”

        • NLT Illustrated Study Bible adds, “Although the Temple was completed in the eighth month (6:38), Solomon apparently delayed the dedication until the following year so it could take place at the annual Festival of Shelters [aka Feast of Tabernacles, Festival of Booths]…As prescribed in the law, Solomon and the people expressed their gratitude to God for the completed harvest season. They also celebrated the fulfillment of Moses’ song of deliverance, which promised that God would one day settle his people in the Promised Land and make his dwelling there (Exod 15:17; Deut 12:10-14). Solomon’s dedicatory prayer and blessing may indicate that he was consciously leading his people in covenantal renewal, as prescribed in Deut 31:10-13, in the seventh month of the seventh year of his reign.”

      • The priests brought the ark of Yahweh’s covenant to its appropriate place- in the inner sanctuary of the house, in the Most Holy Place, underneath the wings of the cherubim. The cherubim’s wings extended over the place where the ark sat, so that the cherubim overshadowed the ark and its carrying poles. The carrying poles were so long that they could be seen from the Holy Place in front of the inner sanctuary, but not from outside the Holy Place. They are still there to this day. There was nothing in the ark except for the two stone tablets that Moses had put there at Horeb, where Yahweh made a covenant with the Israelites after they came out of Egypt. When the priests came out of the Holy Place, a cloud filled Yahweh’s house. Because of the cloud, the priests were unable to stand to minister- for the glory of Yahweh filled His house.

        • NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible makes this point, “…The expression and pattern of theophany seems to be replicated in a range of cultures, regardless of the deity in question. This indicates that the presence of Yahweh in his temple was expressed to Israel in terms that were familiar not only to them, but to anyone in the ancient Near East. Thus, the function of the temple, the architecture of the temple, and the ideology of the temple were all elements that the Israelites held in common with their neighbors. All of this similarity does nothing to minimize the unique nature of Israel’s God.”

        • HCSB writes, “’They are there to this day,’ that is, the days when the books of Kg were first written…The disappearance of the ark of the covenant was anticipated by Jeremiah (Jer 3:16).”

        • ESV Study Bible says, “Though the ark had once contained the jar of manna and Aaron’s rod (Heb 9:4; see Exod 16:32-34; Num 17:10-11), there was now nothing in the ark except the two tablets of stone on which were written the Ten Commandments…The presence of the Lord was so powerful that the priests lost even the strength to stand (Cf Ex 40:35; Rev 15:8).”

        • Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges explains further, “The Old Testament narrative (Exodus 16:34) says that the pot of manna was laid up ‘before the testimony’ and the same expression is used (Numbers 17:10) concerning Aaron’s rod. This does not define whether they were put inside or on the outside of the ark. But it is most probable that during the time when the ark was moved from place to place they were kept inside it, but as soon as it was placed within the Temple they were removed. For the tables of stone were alone intended to be stored in the ark, being ‘the testimony (Exodus 25:16) which God had given to Israel.’ The other things would still be ‘before the testimony’ if they were placed outside.”

        • NLT Illustrated Study Bible adds, “…Previously, the glorious presence of the Lord had filled the Tabernacle…Now it filled the Temple to show that God was again dwelling among his people. Ezekiel recorded its later departure from the Temple (Ezek 10:18-19), to return at a blessed future time (Ezek 43:1-5). In the NT, John wrote that God dwells among his people through his son, Jesus Christ (John 1:14). Paul affirmed that Christ now dwells in each believer (Col 1:27) as a foretaste of a future when ‘God’s home is…among his people’ (Rev 21:3).”

Solomon Blesses the Lord

      • Then Solomon said:

        • Yahweh has set the sun in the heavens, but has said that He would live in a thick dark cloud. I have built an exalted house for You- a place for Your dwelling forever.”

        • I have with the Septuagint rendering of this verse which includes the first phrase, while the Masoretic does not.

      • While all the assembly of Israel was standing there, the king turned around and blessed them saying:

        • Blessed be Yahweh, the God of Israel. By His hand He has fulfilled the promise He spoke to my father David. He said: ‘Since the day that I brought My people Israel out of Egypt, I have not chosen a city from any of the tribes of Israel to have a house built for My name to dwell. But I have chosen David to rule My people Israel.’ My father David desired to built a house for the name of Yahweh, the God of Israel. But Yahweh told my father David, ‘It is right for you to desire to built a house for My name, but you are not the one to build it. Instead, your very own son will build the house for My name.’ Now Yahweh has fulfilled the promise He made: I have succeeded my father David, I sit on the throne of Israel as Yahweh promised, and I have built the house for the name of Yahweh, the God of Israel. I have provided a place there for the ark, which contains the covenant which Yahweh made with our ancestors when He brought them out of the land of Egypt.”

          • NLT Illustrated Study Bible says, “Solomon’s blessing was expressed as praise to God, who had kept his covenant promises and blessed his people…”

Solomon’s Prayer of Dedication

      • Solomon stood before the altar of Yahweh in front of the entire assembly of Israel and spread his hands toward heaven. He prayed:

        • O Yahweh, God of Israel, there is no god like you in heaven above or on earth below, keeping Your covenant and steadfast love for Your servants who walk before You with their whole hearts. You have kept Your promise to Your servant, my father David. With Your mouth You promised and with Your hand You have fulfilled it today. Now O Yahweh, God of Israel, keep Your promise to Your servant, my father David, when You said, ‘If your descendants pay close attention to their steps and walk before Me as you have walked before Me, then you will never fail to have a descendant sitting before Me on the throne of Israel.’ So then, O God of Israel, let the promise You made to Your servant, my father David, be confirmed.”

          • ESV Study Bible writes, “The ark of the covenant has arrived in the temple (vv. 1-13), and Solomon has addressed the people about the meaning of the event (vv. 14-21). Now he turns to address God, reflecting on the nature of God’s ‘dwelling’ in the temple and offering a sevenfold petitionary prayer (each section involving a plea that God should ‘hear from heaven’; vv. 32, 34, 36, 39, 43, 45, 49) for those who will approach him in the temple. The prayer is important for understanding the books of Kings as a whole, for it places both the temple and the law in wider perspective. The temple is an important building, but God is not confined by a building and is certainly not dependent on it. He will survive even its destruction, and will hear his people’s prayers when they go into exile. Likewise, obedience to the law is very important, but Solomon holds out hope for restoration, even when the people fail to obey.”

        • But does God really live on earth? Heaven, even the highest heaven, cannot contain You. Much less this house I have built. Yet give attention to Your servant’s prayer and his plea. O Yahweh my God, listen to the cry and the prayer that Your servant is praying in Your presence today. May You watch over this house night and day. This place of which You said: ‘My name will be there,’ so that You will hear the prayer Your servant offers toward this place. Listen to the plea of Your servant and of Your people Israel, when they pray toward this place. Hear from the place You dwell in heaven, and when You hear, forgive.”

          • ESV Study Bible notes, “Though God will dwell in the temple (vv. 10, 13…), it is not to be thought of as the only place where God is, but as a special place where his name is, a place toward which his eyes are open (1 Kgs 8:29; cf Isa 66:1-3). The hearing of prayer is done in heaven (1 Kgs 8:30), which is (if anywhere is) the dwelling place of God. Even then, however, God cannot be limited to any one place; he cannot, strictly speaking, dwell in even the highest heaven (v. 27). He cannot be confined by space.”

      • When someone is accused of sinning against his neighbor, and is forced to take an oath before Your altar in this house, may You hear in heaven and act. Judge between Your servants- condemning the guilty by bringing down what he has done on his own head, and vindicating the righteous by rewarding him according to his righteousness.”

        • HCSB says, “’Forced to take an oath’ is literally ‘lifts a curse against him to curse him.’ The Hebrew idiom refers to the ancient Near East practice where one taking an oath calls upon the gods (in this case, the Lord) to punish him if he speaks falsely.”

        • ESV Study Bible adds, “This is the first of seven specific petitions. It concerns a legal case in which difficulties over evidences or witnesses make it impossible to resolve the case in any normal way (cf 3:16-28). A priestly ritual is involved here (cf Num 5:11-31): God himself is invoked as judge to condemn the guilty and clear the righteous individual.”

        • When Your people Israel are defeated by an enemy because they have sinned against You, if they turn back to You and praise Your name, and pray and plead to You in this house, may You hear in heaven and forgive the sins of Your people Israel, and bring them back to the land You gave to their ancestors.”

        • NLT Illustrated Study Bible writes, “Solomon asked concerning future situations when the people of Israel sinned and God allowed an enemy to defeat them (see Lev 26:14-17; Deut 28:15, 25-26, 45, 49; Josh 7) and then the people genuinely repented. Solomon asked that God honor his covenant and forgive them (Lev 26:39-42).”

      • When the sky is shut and there is no rain because they have sinned against You, if they pray toward this place, praise Your name, and turn from their sin because You are afflicting them, may You hear in heaven. Then may You forgive Your servants’ sins, Your people Israel. Teach them the right way in which they should walk and send rain upon Your land that You have given to Your people as an inheritance.”

        • When there is famine, pestilence, blight, mildew, or locusts or grasshoppers comes upon the land, or when an enemy besieges them in their cities, or some other type of plague or epidemic occurs, and a prayer or plea is made by anyone among Your people Israel- as they acknowledge their own afflictions and spread out their hands toward this house- may You hear from Your heavenly dwelling place. May You forgive and act, and repay each man according to all his ways since You know his heart (You alone know every human heart), so that they will fear You all the time that they live in the land that You gave to our ancestors.”

      • Even for the foreigner who is not of Your people Israel, but has come from a distant land because of Your name- because they will hear about Your great name, mighty hand, and outstretched arm- when they come and pray toward this house, may You hear in Your heavenly dwelling place. May You do whatever the foreigner asks of You. Then all the people on earth will know Your name and fear You, like Your people Israel do, and they will know that this house I built is called by Your name.”

        • ESV Study Bible writes, “The fifth petition turns from the Israelites to the foreigner who has heard of the Lord’s great name, mighty hand, and outstretched arm (Deut 4:34; 5:15) and prays toward the temple. Solomon desires that this person, too, would know answered prayer and that all the peoples of the earth should know God’s name and fear him (cf Isa 2:1-5; 56:6-8; Luke 7:1-10).”

        • NLT Illustrated Study Bible adds, “…Solomon realized that Israel must properly represent the Lord to those outside the covenant (see Gen 12:7; Ps 102:15; Hab 2:14; Matt 28:19).”

      • When Your people go out to battle against their enemies, wherever You send them, and they pray to Yahweh, toward the city You have chosen and the house I have built for Your name, may You hear their prayer and plea from heaven and uphold their cause.”

        • ESV Study Bible notes, “The sixth petition, like the second, is concerned with war, but this time the focus is not on defeat as a result of sin but on victory in God’s cause (whatever way you shall send them). The army is envisaged as fighting to bring God’s justice to earth.”

        • When they sin against You- for there is no one who doesn’t sin- and You become angry with them and hand them over to their enemies who take them captive and bring them to enemy lands (whether far away or near), and when they repent and plead with you in the land of their captors saying, ‘We have sinned, done wrong, and acted wickedly,’ and when they return to You with all of their hearts and souls, while in the land of their captors, and they pray to You in the direction of the land that You gave to their ancestors, the city You have chosen, and the house that I have built for Your name, then hear their prayer and plea from Your heavenly dwelling place and uphold their cause. Forgive Your people who have sinned against You, and all the offenses they have committed against You. Grant them compassion in the eyes of their captors so that their captors will show them mercy. Because they are Your people and Your inheritance, whom You brought out of Egypt, from the middle of the iron-smelting furnace.”

          • ESV Study Bible writes, “The seventh petition returns to the question of defeat and exile, the major concern of the prayer. If exile should take place, and if the people should repent and pray toward land, city, and temple (v. 48; cf Dan 6:10 for the practice), then God is asked to regard them once more as his people and maintain their cause…They are the Lord’s heritage or inheritance, the people brought out of Egypt…Solomon implicitly looks for a ‘second exodus,’ from a different land to match the first one.”

        • NET Bible’s notes add, “From the middle of the iron-smelting furnace. The metaphor of a furnace suggests fire and heat and is an apt image to remind the people of the suffering they endured while slaves in Egypt…The Hebrew term…(kur, ‘furnace,’ cf. Akkadian kūru) is a metaphor for the intense heat of purification…not a source of heat but a crucible (‘iron-smelting furnace’) in which precious metals were melted down and their impurities burned away (see I. Cornelius, NIDOTTE 2:618-19). Thus Egypt served not as a place of punishment for the Israelites, but as a place of refinement to bring Israel to a place of submission to divine sovereignty.”

        • May Your eyes be open to Your servant’s plea and to the plea of Your people Israel, listening to them whenever they call on You. For You, my Lord Yahweh, separated them from all the peoples of the earth, to be Your inheritance, just as You spoke through Your servant Moses when You brought their ancestors out of Egypt.”

Solomon’s Benediction

      • When Solomon finished praying these prayers and pleas to Yahweh, he got up from in front of the altar of Yahweh where he had been kneeling with his hands spread out toward heaven. He stood and blessed the entire assembly of Israel with a loud voice saying:

        • Bless Yahweh, who has given His people rest, just as He promised. Not one of all the good promises He made through His servant Moses has failed. May Yahweh our God be with us as He was with our ancestors, and may He not leave or abandon us. May He incline our hearts to Him, to walk in all His ways, and to keep His commandments, decrees, and laws with which He commanded our ancestors. May these words which I pleaded before Yahweh be near to Yahweh our God day and night, so 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 will know that Yahweh is God and there is no other! Therefore, may your hearts be wholly committed to Yahweh our God, to live by His decrees and to obey His commandments, as you are doing now.”

        • ESV Study Bible writes, “Solomon once again celebrates the fulfillment of God’s promises, though this time more broadly than in vv. 15-21. He refers here to the promises given through Moses, alluding in the word ‘rest’ to the establishment of Israel within the land of Canaan. The ultimate purpose of Israel’s walking in God’s ways is that all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God; there is no other (cf Deut 4:35). This idea of Israel’s role in the world (cf 1 Kgs 8:41-43) goes all the way back to Gen 12:1-3 and is found in passages such as Ex 19:6, where Israel is to be a ‘kingdom of priests,’ mediating from God to his world. Israel’s calling is to be a light for the Gentiles (Isa 49:6), bringing God’s salvation to the ends of the earth.”

Solomon’s Sacrifices

      • Then the king, and all of Israel with him, offered sacrifices before Yahweh. Solomon offered as fellowship offerings to Yahweh: 22,000 cattle and 120,000 sheep. So the king and all the Israelites dedicated the house of Yahweh. That same day, the king consecrated the middle of the courtyard that was in front of Yahweh’s house and offered the burnt offering, grain offering, and the fat of the fellowship offerings there, because the bronze altar that stood before Yahweh was too small to accommodate the burnt offerings, grain offerings, and the fat of the fellowship offerings. So at that time, Solomon and all of Israel observed the festival before Yahweh our God for a total of 2 weeks. This great assembly included people from Lebo Hamath all the way to the Wadi of Egypt. On the 15th day after the festival started, he sent the people away. So they blessed the king and went home rejoicing and with glad hearts because of all the good that Yahweh had done for His servant David and for His people Israel.

        • HCSB explains, “Given the fact that ‘all the Israelites’ were gathered together and that the feast lasted for 14 days (see v. 65), the numbers of the sacrifices are not unreasonable…The large number of sacrifices overflowed into the courtyard in order to handle the volume…Hamath was located at the northernmost boundary of Israel; the Brook of Egypt was at the southernmost boundary of Israel. The festival lasted 14 days: seven days for the dedication of the temple, and then seven days for the Festival of Booths [aka Feast of Tabernacles].”

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