1 Kings Chapter 8: Dedication of Solomon’s Temple, Solomon’s Prayer

Nov 17th, 2009 | By | Category: 1 & 2 Kings, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

1 Kings Chapter 8: Dedication of Solomon’s Temple, Solomon’s Prayer

1 Kings 8:1 Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel, and all the heads of the tribes, the chief of the fathers of the children of Israel, unto king Solomon in Jerusalem, that they might bring up the ark of the covenant of the LORD out of the city of David, which is Zion.

1 Kings 8:2 And all the men of Israel assembled themselves unto king Solomon at the feast in the month Ethanim, which is the seventh month.

When all the articles of furniture were completed, Solomon called together the elders, the heads of the tribes, and the “chief of the fathers” for the dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem.

The assemblage took place in the month of Ethanim (or Tishri), the seventh month, which was approximately October. Generally speaking, spring and fall were important in prophecy and in the happenings of the Old Testament. This “feast” was the Feast of Tabernacles, which began on the fifteenth day of the seventh month. In preparation for the dedication of the Temple, the Ark of the Covenant had to be brought from Zion, the City of David.

1 Kings 8:3 And all the elders of Israel came, and the priests took up the ark.

1 Kings 8:4 And they brought up the ark of the LORD, and the tabernacle of the congregation, and all the holy vessels that were in the tabernacle, even those did the priests and the Levites bring up.

In addition to the Ark of the Covenant, the appurtenances of the Tabernacle (the curtain and all the holy vessels) were brought by the priests and the Levites to the Temple site in Jerusalem.

The curtain was folded up and put in the Temple treasury, or storage rooms, which were in a separate building abutting the sides of the Holy and the Most Holy. There was a definite cleavage between the building and the Temple Holy and Most Holy, but the separation could not be seen, so to the viewer, they looked like one building. Included in the storage rooms were items that were needed for the services—such as incense, oil, and ropes to pull up the animals for flaying. David had contributed a tremendous sum of metals, and the excess was also put in the treasury. Of course the Ark itself was put into the Most Holy.

Q: Since the Feast of Tabernacles pertains to the world, is the thought that if Solomon’s Temple had not been sullied, it would have represented the true Church, and when the true Church is complete, blessings will go out to the world?

A: Yes.

1 Kings 8:5 And king Solomon, and all the congregation of Israel, that were assembled unto him, were with him before the ark, sacrificing sheep and oxen, that could not be told nor numbered for multitude.

In connection with this transfer of Tabernacle appurtenances into the Temple, the house of permanence, there was not only rejoicing but also sacrificing, as though to seek the Lord’s blessing—including on how the Ark was being handled and even when it was put into the Most Holy. The reason for such circumspection is that years earlier when David was bringing the Ark from Gibeah to another part of Jerusalem where a tent had been erected, the Ark was transported improperly in a wagon. At one point, Uzzah reached out his hand to steady the Ark, and he was struck dead as a result (2 Sam. 6:3-7). Since the sacrifices are mentioned here, we assume that everything was done correctly under Solomon and that the lesson had been learned. In the previous transporting of the Ark, the priests were responsible for not following God’s instructions.

1 Kings 8:6 And the priests brought in the ark of the covenant of the LORD unto his place, into the oracle of the house, to the most holy place, even under the wings of the cherubims.

1 Kings 8:7 For the cherubims spread forth their two wings over the place of the ark, and the cherubims covered the ark and the staves thereof above.

1 Kings 8:8 And they drew out the staves, that the ends of the staves were seen out in the holy place before the oracle, and they were not seen without: and there they are unto this day.

The Ark was brought into the “oracle” (the Most Holy) and put under the wings of the large Temple cherubim, representing Love and Power, their wings outstretched as they stood side by side, facing outward.

Staves were used to transport the Ark and carry it into the Most Holy. The staves were slid through rings on the side of the Ark so that it could be carried without being touched. When the Ark was brought in and set down, the staves, which were fairly long, were pulled out so that they could be seen in the Holy but not outside of the Holy. Also, they were positioned so that they could be seen without being an obstacle. The staves were much longer than the Ark, so being elevated, they could have been in the way. However, to keep that from happening, the staves were put down on the floor and then pushed out so that they protruded into the Holy. Their being seen in the Holy was the evidence that the Ark was in the Most Holy and that it had been taken in there by this means.

Q: Do the staves have any particular symbolic significance?

A: The Ark, called God’s “chariot,” or vehicle, is what bears Jesus and the Church (1 Chron. 28:18). Therefore, if the two staves are a type, they probably represent the Old and New Testaments.

Q: The staves being pulled out signified that they would never again be used because the Ark had reached its permanent home. Were the staves left there to show that the Ark had previously been on a journey?

A: Yes, the Ark was now in a position of rest; it was a finished work.

Q: What happened to the Ark of the Covenant?

A: Jeremiah 3:16 tells that the Ark will never be found. “And it shall come to pass, when ye be multiplied and increased in the land, in those days, saith the LORD, they shall say no more, The ark of the covenant of the LORD: neither shall it come to mind: neither shall they remember it; neither shall they visit it; neither shall that be done any more.” The Ark is probably something like Moses’ body in that it will never be found. The golden Ark of the Covenant represents the glorified Church, a complete class that will not be seen because it has been developed and transported to its house of rest. Appropriately, there will be no Ark in Ezekiel’s Temple, which will supplant both the Tabernacle and Solomon’s Temple. Only one little article of furniture will be in the Holy, and nothing will be in the Most Holy of that new structure. To have an Ark would distract from Ezekiel’s Temple.

The Ark being in Solomon’s Temple helps in the understanding of Revelation 11:19, which says that the Ark is in the Most Holy (in symbol). “And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.” The reference is to this dedication service of chapter 8 with Solomon, for antitypically, when the Temple class is finished, the Ark will be brought in. Jeremiah 3:16 shows that the Ark will lose its significance in the next age.

1 Kings 8:9 There was nothing in the ark save the two tables of stone, which Moses put there at Horeb, when the LORD made a covenant with the children of Israel, when they came out of the land of Egypt.

Nothing was in the Ark at this time except the two stone tables of the Law. The golden pot of manna and Aaron’s rod that budded were purposely omitted. When the Ark was brought into the Most Holy of Solomon’s Temple, why was it fitting that these two articles were missing?

Comment: Aaron’s rod pictured the election and selection of the Church. Since the Church was now finished in the antitype, it was appropriate that Aaron’s rod not be there, for election and selection will cease after the 144,000 are found.

Reply: The budding of Aaron’s rod showed God’s elect in connection with the Tabernacle services. The Aaronic (sacrificing) priesthood pictures a different arrangement than the Melchisedec (reigning) priesthood. To qualify to be of the future Melchisedec priesthood, one must be faithful as a priest now, in the present age. The Aaronic priesthood wears white linen sacrificial garments, whereas the Melchisedec priesthood, which combines the offices of king and priest, wears garments of glory and beauty. In other words, in the Mosaic arrangement, the offices of king and priest were separate—the king was not a priest, and the priest was not a king—but in the future, both offices will be combined. At present, church and state are to be kept separate, but in the Kingdom, they will be united.

The golden pot of manna was a picture of immortality. In the type, the manna did not corrupt.

The fact that it was missing in the Ark in Solomon’s Temple tells us that when the Church is complete, there will be no more opportunity to run for the high calling of the divine nature.

The calling to glory, honor, and immortality will have ended (Rom. 2:7).

The Scriptures do not say when or how the golden pot of manna was taken out. It is just stated as a historical fact that when the Ark was put in the Most Holy of Solomon’s Temple, the only residual article in the coffer was the tables of the Law. The two tables tell us that God’s Law will always be in effect. The New Covenant will likewise require obedience to God’s will—but under a new age and arrangement. The Grace Covenant is in harmony with the principles of God’s Law, but it is a higher law than even the literal Law of Moses, especially for those who make their calling and election sure. God’s Law will be taught to mankind in the Kingdom.

Solomon’s Temple was beautiful, and it taught wonderful lessons pertaining to the finished antitype. We should keep God’s original design in mind, for what happened later is another matter. In the Book of Revelation, a virgin with brilliant white clothing and a golden diadem on her head and the moon under her feet pictures the Church in pristine beauty in the beginning.

But as time went on, the Church developed into two women. One was Jezebel, who seduced Christians, and the other was the pure Church, which had to flee into the wilderness. Hence the defilement of Solomon’s Temple pictures what happened during the Gospel Age with the true woman (the true Church) and the false woman (the false, or nominal, Church).

Up to this point, the general lesson of Solomon’s Temple is very important in understanding the Book of Revelation. In the antitype, there will come a time in history when the true Church is complete, yet some of the consecrated will remain in the flesh. The Little Flock will all be on the other side of the veil, but the Great Company will still be in the Holy. The Great Company will perceive, ahead of the world, that the marriage of the Lamb has come (Rev. 19:7). The type of Solomon’s Temple brings the picture up to that situation and then stops.

Comment: The exposed staves lying in the Holy indicate the Great Company’s recognition that the door to the high calling is shut.

Reply: Yes. The Great Company with present truth will tell others about the closing of the door.

1 Kings 8:10 And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the LORD,

1 Kings 8:11 So that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of the LORD.

The “glory of the LORD,” a “cloud,” or smoke, filled the “house of the LORD”; that is, the cloud filled both the Holy and the Most Holy. The priests could not minister the sacrifices on behalf of the people until the glory subsided. Like the Passover, this is a double picture. The priests could not perform the earthly service until the dedication was complete. The dedication was held before all Israel, for King Solomon had summoned all the notables, and as many as were interested could come to witness the dedication of the Temple. But before Solomon offered his prayer, there was this manifestation that the Temple was acceptable to God. In one sense, the Temple was ready for service, and in another sense, it was not ready. God had put His hand on the Temple to say, “It is acceptable.” The very fact the cloud filled the house signified God’s presence. Now the expeditious thing to do was to have a prayer and a formal dedication before the people.

1 Kings 8:12 Then spake Solomon, The LORD said that he would dwell in the thick darkness.

1 Kings 8:13 I have surely built thee an house to dwell in, a settled place for thee to abide in for ever.

Solomon spoke, “The LORD said that he would dwell in the thick darkness.” Apparently, while Solomon was out in the court by the altar, facing the Temple, some of the “glory” came out of the seams of the house, which was not open to public view. Knowing that God’s glory had filled the house, Solomon then acknowledged what had happened, so he turned around to the people to give them a blessing. Whether the glory was above the Temple to a certain extent, showing that it had penetrated, or whether it just came out the seams of the structure, there would have been some evidence to the king that this had happened.

No one could enter the Temple. And if there was any doubt and someone tried to go in, he would have found that the glory was too bright. At any rate, there was some way the people knew that God’s glory had filled the Temple.

Comment: The people knew the history of the dedication of the Tabernacle—that the Lord’s glory had filled it when the structure was complete. With that event in their memory, there would have been a great reverence.

Reply: In a discourse, one brother said that if those listening to his talk knew the Lord was in the next room, they would all rush into that room, and he would be left talking to no one.

However, we question that reasoning, for if we knew the Lord was in the next room, we would first stop and ask, “Am I in the proper heart condition to enter?” There is reverence and decorum with the divine office.

With regard to the Tabernacle, a cloud covered the whole nation. From that main body cloud, an appendage dropped—like a dark column, or pillar, of smoke—and attached itself to the Tabernacle. As long as the pillar was attached, the Israelites knew they were to stay in that place. The pillar indicated that God’s presence was in the Tabernacle, but since no man can see God and live, the people knew that inside that cloud, or pillar, was an overwhelming glory no man could look upon (Exod. 33:20). The glory went into the Most Holy as the brilliant Shekinah light above the two cherubim. Only the high priest could go into the Most Holy under that circumstance. When it was time for the Tabernacle to move, the pillar was drawn up into the main body cloud, and the people knew they had to prepare for a journey. Therefore, as soon as the pillar retracted, the people started to pack their belongings. At that point, the Shekinah light was not in the Most Holy. Then the high priest went in and took down the veil between the Holy and the Most Holy and covered the Ark. Now the other priests could go into the Most Holy to carry out the Ark with staves. When everything was packed and the people were ready, the cloud began to move. In whatever direction the cloud went, the people followed and stayed under it.

That cloud of smoke was called the “angel of God,” for it represented Jehovah’s presence among His people (Exod. 14:19). The Israelites would say that God’s power and glory were in the cloud, that His presence was manifested there. On occasion, judgment came forth from the cloud. For example, lightning came out of that dark cloud and killed Nadab and Abihu. After a while, the Israelites felt that the cloud was like an “angel,” for it seemed to have knowledge and to know where to go.

Hence Solomon said in effect, “It is true that God’s glory is robed in darkness lest we see Him.” Smoke was the evidence that a connection had been made with the Temple and that it was acceptable to God. In regard to the dedication of the Tabernacle, Exodus 40:34,35 states, “Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.

And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.” Thus many years earlier the Tabernacle was filled with smoke—and now the same thing happened at the dedication of Solomon’s Temple. In the future Ezekiel’s Temple, there will also be a dedication, and again God’s glory will fill the structure.

1 Kings 8:14 And the king turned his face about, and blessed all the congregation of Israel: (and all the congregation of Israel stood;)

Solomon would have beckoned the people to stand.

1 Kings 8:15 And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Israel, which spake with his mouth unto David my father, and hath with his hand fulfilled it, saying,

1 Kings 8:16 Since the day that I brought forth my people Israel out of Egypt, I chose no city out of all the tribes of Israel to build an house, that my name might be therein; but I chose David to be over my people Israel.

1 Kings 8:17 And it was in the heart of David my father to build an house for the name of the LORD God of Israel.

It was commendable and proper that Solomon gave his father David the credit for wanting to build God a “house.” The Tabernacle was in Shiloh for several hundred years and was also temporarily in a private home, but the Temple was now a permanent dwelling place in the city of Jerusalem. Solomon gave credit to the relationship between God and Israel—that David’s relationship was unique—and to the fact it had been on David’s heart, rather than on his own heart, to build the Temple. As David’ son, Solomon entered into that spirit subsequently, but he made sure the credit went to his father.

1 Kings 8:18 And the LORD said unto David my father, Whereas it was in thine heart to build an house unto my name, thou didst well that it was in thine heart.

1 Kings 8:19 Nevertheless thou shalt not build the house; but thy son that shall come forth out of thy loins, he shall build the house unto my name.

1 Kings 8:20 And the LORD hath performed his word that he spake, and I am risen up in the room of David my father, and sit on the throne of Israel, as the LORD promised, and have built an house for the name of the LORD God of Israel.

1 Kings 8:21 And I have set there a place for the ark, wherein is the covenant of the LORD, which he made with our fathers, when he brought them out of the land of Egypt.

Solomon acknowledged his responsibility now, as head of the nation, to carry out the purpose of the Temple, which was of Divine Providence.

Comment: David could not build the Temple because he was a man of war.

Reply: Yes, David pictured the Church in the flesh during its period of warfare struggling against the problems of life. Solomon represented the reign of rest and peace—the Church beyond the veil.

Notice that Solomon identified the covenant with the two stone tables  of the Law that were in the Ark. “I have set there a place for the ark, wherein is the covenant of the LORD [the stone  tables], which he made with our fathers, when he brought them out of the land of Egypt.” In other words, the two tables of stone symbolized a covenant. On them were written God’s cardinal commandments.

1 Kings 8:22 And Solomon stood before the altar of the LORD in the presence of all the congregation of Israel, and spread forth his hands toward heaven:

“Solomon stood before the altar … in the presence of all the congregation … and spread forth his hands toward heaven.”

Comment: Verse 54 of this chapter states, “And it was so, that when Solomon had made an end of praying all this prayer and supplication unto the LORD, he arose from before the altar of the LORD, from kneeling on his knees with his hands spread up to heaven.” 2 Chronicles 6:12,13 reads, “And he stood before the altar of the LORD in the presence of all the congregation of Israel, and spread forth his hands: For Solomon had made a brasen scaffold, of five cubits long, and five cubits broad, and three cubits high, and had set it in the midst of the court: and upon it he stood, and kneeled down upon his knees before all the congregation of Israel, and spread forth his hands toward heaven.”

Reply: Earlier, when blessing the congregation, Solomon faced the Most Holy. Now he turned around and faced the people, as described here. In doing that, he first drew attention to himself by standing prominently. Then he got down on his knees and uttered the prayer.

1 Kings 8:23 And he said, LORD God of Israel, there is no God like thee, in heaven above, or on earth beneath, who keepest covenant and mercy with thy servants that walk before thee with all their heart:

Solomon began the prayer with a qualifying factor: God “keepest covenant and mercy” with His servants who walk before Him “with all their heart.

1 Kings 8:24 Who hast kept with thy servant David my father that thou promisedst him: thou spakest also with thy mouth, and hast fulfilled it with thine hand, as it is this day.

1 Kings 8:25 Therefore now, LORD God of Israel, keep with thy servant David my father that thou promisedst him, saying, There shall not fail thee a man in my sight to sit on the throne of Israel; so that thy children take heed to their way, that they walk before me as thou hast walked before me.

Again Solomon gave credit to David, with whom God had especially dealt. Of David’s many sons, Solomon was selected to be the next king, so it was proper for him to appreciate that the God of David, who was also the God of Israel, was involved in his being on the throne.

The King James margin and the Revised Standard are better for verse 25, which is conditional: “Now therefore, O LORD, God of Israel, keep with thy servant David my father what thou hast promised him, saying, ‘There shall never fail you a man before me to sit upon the throne of Israel, if only your sons take heed to their way, to walk before me as you have walked before me.’” Solomon repeated what God had promised David. Of course there was disobedience, and the lineage was changed, so although the “sure mercies of David” did come in the Davidic line, they were not necessarily through Solomon solely (Isa. 55:3).

1 Kings 8:26 And now, O God of Israel, let thy word, I pray thee, be verified, which thou spakest unto thy servant David my father.

Solomon asked that God’s word to David be verified. He wanted a sign of approval, which came later.

1 Kings 8:27 But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded?

“The heaven and [the] heaven of heavens cannot contain thee [God].” Moses said many years earlier, “Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the LORD’S thy God, the earth also, with all that therein is” (Deut. 10:14). Verse 27 is a clue that God dwells above and separate from the entire universe, which is like an oval rug. Actually, various universes are part of the warp and woof of the rug. God’s throne is in the highest heaven.

Comment: Many years later eight Levites acknowledged God as the Creator. “Thou, even thou, art LORD alone; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth, and all things that are therein, the seas, and all that is therein, and thou preservest them all; and the host of heaven worshippeth thee” (Neh. 9:5,6).

1 Kings 8:28 Yet have thou respect unto the prayer of thy servant, and to his supplication, O LORD my God, to hearken unto the cry and to the prayer, which thy servant prayeth before thee today:

1 Kings 8:29 That thine eyes may be open toward this house night and day, even toward the place of which thou hast said, My name shall be there: that thou mayest hearken unto the prayer which thy servant shall make toward this place.

Solomon requested that God’s eyes be open toward the Temple and that anyone who prayed in that direction as a mark of respect and reverence be rewarded because he would be obeying the earlier instruction through Moses, namely, that there would be, at some time in the future, a place where the Lord would establish His nominal residence. “Take heed to thyself that thou offer not thy burnt offerings in every place that thou seest: But in the place which the LORD shall choose in one of thy tribes, there thou shalt offer thy burnt offerings, and there thou shalt do all that I command thee” (Deut. 12:13,14; see also Deut. 12:18; 14:23; 15:20;  16:2,7,11,15,16; 31:11). In other words, when the Israelites would enter the land and build “the place” that God would choose, He would hearken to the prayer.

Q: If we think of the Pleiades as the center of the universe, would those stars be not only in the center but also above?

A: The Pleiades, called the Seven Sisters, are probably the “heaven of heavens.” Jesus is to build a house for the Church, so we are to think of the Pleiades more from that standpoint. Although the movement is not perceptible now, the entire universe revolves around the Pleiades. Every 25,800-plus years there is a complete revolution of the zodiacal heavens, but the heavens beyond them are not necessarily involved.

Verse 29 reminds us of Daniel, who prayed three times a day in the direction of (the destroyed) Solomon’s Temple while he was in exile (Dan. 6:10).

Comment: With the Temple being a symbol of God’s presence and the center of their prayers, we can understand why the Israelites were in despair when it was destroyed.

Reply: Yes, the destruction was a mark of disfavor. The godly Israelites yearned for the Temple to be restored.

1 Kings 8:30 And hearken thou to the supplication of thy servant, and of thy people Israel, when they shall pray toward this place: and hear thou in heaven thy dwellingplace: and when thou hearest, forgive.

Comment: Observing human nature, Solomon realized that the people would have to ask for forgiveness many times. In subsequent verses, he listed specific conditions in which punishments would come for disobedience and forgiveness would have to be asked. Solomon prayed, “Hearken to my supplication and to the supplication of your people Israel, and grant forgiveness when prayer is made toward the Temple.”

1 Kings 8:31 If any man trespass against his neighbour, and an oath be laid upon him to cause him to swear, and the oath come before thine altar in this house:

1 Kings 8:32 Then hear thou in heaven, and do, and judge thy servants, condemning the wicked, to bring his way upon his head; and justifying the righteous, to give him according to his righteousness.

Verses 31 and 32 remind us of when Jesus talked about hypocritical prayer, saying that some would swear by heaven, the earth, Jerusalem, or the Temple (Matt. 5:34,35; 23:16). In time, it was felt that Jews could be almost anywhere in the country and say, “I swear by heaven.” However, they were speaking too loosely. Here the condition was, “If … the oath come[s] before thine altar in this house.” The point was to realize the solemnity of an oath or vow that was made before the altar; the Lord would not take it lightly.

1 Kings 8:33 When thy people Israel be smitten down before the enemy, because they have sinned against thee, and shall turn again to thee, and confess thy name, and pray, and make supplication unto thee in this house:

1 Kings 8:34 Then hear thou in heaven, and forgive the sin of thy people Israel, and bring them again unto the land which thou gavest unto their fathers.

The Law said that when the nation pleased God, a few could chase 10,000 (Lev. 26:7,8). When the nation displeased God, the reverse would be true—a few of the enemy would route 10,000 Israelites (Deut. 32:30). Hence the defeat of Israel in battle meant there was something wrong; it was a sign of disfavor.

Sometimes a profound statement is uttered, and the individual is unaware of the wisdom it contains. As Jesus said, “Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise” (Matt. 21:16). Solomon, Israel’s third king, prayed the words of verses 33 and 34. Throughout the five centuries in which kings ruled Israel, there is no record of that nation’s defeat in the sense of being put out of their own territory and needing not merely forgiveness but also reinstatement in the land, although the ten tribes did go into captivity in time. Evidently, in his own prayer, Daniel reverted back to this thinking in Solomon’s prayer because he seemed to be alluding to certain statements Moses had made shortly before his death. The exemplary Daniel confessed his own sins and then pleaded the cause of his people in harmony with this dedication request: “Hear thou in heaven, and forgive the sin of thy people Israel, and bring them again unto the land which thou gavest unto their fathers.” Of course at that time, there was no Temple, so in trying to get reinstatement, Daniel prayed toward the place where the house once stood—Jerusalem. His faith was profound, for it embraced long periods of time.

1 Kings 8:35 When heaven is shut up, and there is no rain, because they have sinned against thee; if they pray toward this place, and confess thy name, and turn from their sin, when thou afflictest them:

1 Kings 8:36 Then hear thou in heaven, and forgive the sin of thy servants, and of thy people Israel, that thou teach them the good way wherein they should walk, and give rain upon thy land, which thou hast given to thy people for an inheritance.

Notice that Solomon started out with an individual: “If any man trespass against his neighbour….” (1 Kings 8:31). Then he prayed with regard to the nation being taken into captivity and wanting restoration: “When thy people Israel be smitten down before the enemy….” (verse 33). Out of respect for what God had said earlier, he asked that the Temple be a magnet in connection with making the people’s prayers effective. Now he talked about the withholding of rain, which was also a subject in Moses’ dissertation. The withholding of rain, which brought crop failure, also meant that the Israelites had sinned. In that case, Solomon asked for an instructor to show the people the error of their way: “Teach them the good way wherein they should walk [so that they can retrace their steps].” Solomon’s prayer contained a wide range of thinking.

1 Kings 8:37 If there be in the land famine, if there be pestilence, blasting, mildew, locust, or if there be caterpillar; if their enemy besiege them in the land of their cities; whatsoever plague, whatsoever sickness there be;

1 Kings 8:38 What prayer and supplication soever be made by any man, or by all thy people Israel, which shall know every man the plague of his own heart, and spread forth his hands toward this house:

1 Kings 8:39 Then hear thou in heaven thy dwellingplace, and forgive, and do, and give to every man according to his ways, whose heart thou knowest; (for thou, even thou only, knowest the hearts of all the children of men;)

1 Kings 8:40 That they may fear thee all the days that they live in the land which thou gavest unto our fathers.

Famine, pestilence, etc.—a multitude of problems that might arise—would also need repentance. In each case, the focal point was the Temple. As Christians, we have Jesus as our focal point. As he said, “Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it” (John 14:13,14).

Our prayers to God are directed to Jesus in order that they might be effective and heard. Back there the people were being schooled to direct their minds to a channel. The promises made to Israel were material, and so was their focal point, the Temple. Christians look forward to a heavenly abode; hence their promises and focal point (Jesus) are spiritual. In either case, the underlying principle is the same.

Comment: Solomon was asking God to forgive the Israelites based on their repentance and according to their heart condition.

Reply: Yes, and God knows the heart. Solomon was not asking for mechanical forgiveness just because the Israelites might turn toward the Temple, but if they asked for forgiveness out of respect and reverence and with a contrite heart, he prayed that God would be merciful.

1 Kings 8:41 Moreover concerning a stranger, that is not of thy people Israel, but cometh out of a far country for thy name’s sake;

1 Kings 8:42 (For they shall hear of thy great name, and of thy strong hand, and of thy stretched out arm;) when he shall come and pray toward this house;

1 Kings 8:43 Hear thou in heaven thy dwellingplace, and do according to all that the stranger calleth to thee for: that all people of the earth may know thy name, to fear thee, as do thy people Israel; and that they may know that this house, which I have builded, is called by thy name.

Now Solomon asked on behalf of the “stranger” and those of foreign birth or extraction who were in the land. He looked beyond the Jewish standpoint and was thinking of God’s name, honor, and glory. For a stranger to have an attitude of reverence and respect would indicate that he had a proselyte spirit. He was drawing near to the Lord by even thinking along this line and by making the effort to come and pray toward the Temple. Solomon asked for the prayers of such individuals to be heard.

Comment: The term “stretched out arm” was first used in Exodus 6:6, indicating God’s mighty power. “Wherefore say unto the children of Israel, I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rid you out of their bondage, and I will redeem you with a stretched out arm, and with great judgments.”

Reply: There are several aspects of the “stretched out arm.” God’s stretched-out arm can be a sign of either favor or fury (disfavor). The term can also be viewed the other way around, that is, as the stretched-out arm of the suppliant who importunes in prayer. Whatever a person’s problem may be, he is seeking a connection with God or an evidence of restoration.

1 Kings 8:44 If thy people go out to battle against their enemy, whithersoever thou shalt send them, and shall pray unto the LORD toward the city which thou hast chosen, and toward the house that I have built for thy name:

1 Kings 8:45 Then hear thou in heaven their prayer and their supplication, and maintain their cause.

1 Kings 8:46 If they sin against thee, (for there is no man that sinneth not,) and thou be angry with them, and deliver them to the enemy, so that they carry them away captives unto the land of the enemy, far or near;

1 Kings 8:47 Yet if they shall bethink themselves in the land whither they were carried captives, and repent, and make supplication unto thee in the land of them that carried them captives, saying, We have sinned, and have done perversely, we have committed wickedness;

1 Kings 8:48 And so return unto thee with all their heart, and with all their soul, in the land of their enemies, which led them away captive, and pray unto thee toward their land, which thou gavest unto their fathers, the city which thou hast chosen, and the house which I have built for thy name:

Solomon prayed, “If, before the Israelites go to battle and join a confrontation, they turn to the Temple to seek the Lord’s blessing and guidance, may the prayer be honored.” Solomon added another ramification, namely, if some of the Israelites were taken captive.

This prayer was quite long and intense for Solomon to offer on his knees. Out of respect for their king, the people would have been kneeling too. As part of his prayer, Solomon uttered a profound statement: “There is no man that sinneth not.”

1 Kings 8:49 Then hear thou their prayer and their supplication in heaven thy dwellingplace, and maintain their cause,

1 Kings 8:50 And forgive thy people that have sinned against thee, and all their transgressions wherein they have transgressed against thee, and give them compassion before them who carried them captive, that they may have compassion on them:

1 Kings 8:51 For they be thy people, and thine inheritance, which thou broughtest forth out of Egypt, from the midst of the furnace of iron:

1 Kings 8:52 That thine eyes may be open unto the supplication of thy servant, and unto the supplication of thy people Israel, to hearken unto them in all that they call for unto thee.

1 Kings 8:53 For thou didst separate them from among all the people of the earth, to be thine inheritance, as thou spakest by the hand of Moses thy servant, when thou broughtest our fathers out of Egypt, O Lord GOD.

Q: Why did the Israelites pray toward the Temple?

A: The Temple was more than a building; it was the dwelling place of God. His presence was symbolically pictured in the Most Holy, where the Ark of the Covenant resided. Later, after the Temple was destroyed, the people did the next best thing by facing in the direction of Jerusalem when they prayed.

Comment: The Apostle Paul said with regard to the Christian, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Eph. 1:3).

Reply: The Christian is in a different situation altogether. In speaking to the Samaritan woman, Jesus said that after the Millennium, prayers would be directed heavenward, and Jerusalem would not be the focal point (John 4:21). When mankind is completely restored and all are kings, fully schooled in righteousness, prayers will be directed heavenward in a more physical sense in most cases. Nevertheless, it was good schooling in orderliness and decorum for the Jews back there to pray toward the Temple.

1 Kings 8:54 And it was so, that when Solomon had made an end of praying all this prayer and supplication unto the LORD, he arose from before the altar of the LORD, from kneeling on his knees with his hands spread up to heaven.

1 Kings 8:55 And he stood, and blessed all the congregation of Israel with a loud voice, saying,

1 Kings 8:56 Blessed be the LORD, that hath given rest unto his people Israel, according to all that he promised: there hath not failed one word of all his good promise, which he promised by the hand of Moses his servant.

1 Kings 8:57 The LORD our God be with us, as he was with our fathers: let him not leave us, nor forsake us:

1 Kings 8:58 That he may incline our hearts unto him, to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, and his statutes, and his judgments, which he commanded our fathers.

1 Kings 8:59 And let these my words, wherewith I have made supplication before the LORD, be nigh unto the LORD our God day and night, that he maintain the cause of his servant, and the cause of his people Israel at all times, as the matter shall require:

1 Kings 8:60 That all the people of the earth may know that the LORD is God, and that there is none else.

1 Kings 8:61 Let your heart therefore be perfect with the LORD our God, to walk in his statutes, and to keep his commandments, as at this day.

Verses 56-61 were like a postscript or benediction after Solomon and the people got up off their knees. Solomon’s heart was right at this time. How he fell later is a very solemn lesson.

1 Kings 8:62 And the king, and all Israel with him, offered sacrifice before the LORD.

1 Kings 8:63 And Solomon offered a sacrifice of peace offerings, which he offered unto the LORD, two and twenty thousand oxen, and an hundred and twenty thousand sheep. So the king and all the children of Israel dedicated the house of the LORD.

1 Kings 8:64 The same day did the king hallow the middle of the court that was before the house of the LORD: for there he offered burnt offerings, and meat offerings, and the fat of the peace offerings: because the brasen altar that was before the LORD was too little to receive the burnt offerings, and meat offerings, and the fat of the peace offerings.

The peace offerings consisted of 22,000 oxen and 120,000 sheep. At first, this tremendous number might seem like a waste, but it was not, for all the people ate of the animals, and the priests got a portion to eat and then stored the rest for future use. The priesthood would have been very busy preparing the animals. Thus, after Solomon’s prayer, the balance of the day was involved in preparing and offering these sacrifices.

The feast was like the inauguration of a king in another country. Such feasts often lasted a week, and the poor people of the land were invited to the palace for food and merriment.

Q: Additional details are supplied in 2 Chronicles 7:1-3. “Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the LORD filled the house. And the priests could not enter into the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD had filled the LORD’S house. And when all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of the LORD upon the house, they bowed themselves with their faces to the ground upon the pavement, and  worshipped, and praised the LORD, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever.” At what point did God’s glory fill the Temple? Was it after the burnt offerings were consumed by fire or earlier?

A: First, the glory filled the Temple. Then Solomon uttered his prayer. After the prayer ended, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offerings. When the fire came down, all the people bowed down with their faces on the pavement and worshipped. Incidentally, the Tabernacle and Solomon’s Temple were dedicated in the past, and Ezekiel’s Temple will be dedicated in the future.

1 Kings 8:65 And at that time Solomon held a feast, and all Israel with him, a great congregation, from the entering in of Hamath unto the river of Egypt, before the LORD our God, seven days and seven days, even fourteen days.

1 Kings 8:66 On the eighth day he sent the people away: and they blessed the king, and went unto their tents joyful and glad of heart for all the goodness that the LORD had done for David his servant, and for Israel his people.

The Feast of Tabernacles started on the fifteenth day of the seventh month. The feast lasted for seven days and then for an additional seven days on this special occasion, for a total of 14 days.

(Normally the feast was only seven days long.) The “eighth day” occurred after the first week, for “on the three and twentieth day of the seventh month he [Solomon] sent the people away into their tents, glad and merry in heart for the goodness that the LORD had shown unto David, and to Solomon, and to Israel his people” (2 Chron. 7:10). In other words, on the eighth day, which was the twenty-third day, Solomon “sent the people away into their tents.” At that time, at the end of the first week, those who had to go home for various reasons could do so, for they had fulfilled their week, as required by the Law. Then the second period of seven days extended to the end of the month, and those who could, stayed on. Even for those who returned home, the “national holiday” continued.

The Brazen Altar was not sufficient for all the offerings, so Solomon hallowed a section of the court and made a giant altar just for that occasion. “Moreover Solomon hallowed the middle of the court that was before the house of the LORD: for there he offered burnt offerings, and the fat of the peace offerings, because the brasen altar which Solomon had made was not able to receive the burnt offerings, and the meat offerings, and the fat” (2 Chron. 7:7).

Q: Where was Hamath?

A: At that time, Hamath was way up north at the northern extremity of Israel.

1989-1991

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