Script for the April 30th episode of the “Enjoying the Bible” podcast.
1 Kings 8
It was time for the ambitious building project to become more than just a beautiful conglomeration of materials. It needed to be seen as a lively place of worship. And that required ceremony. Solomon would provide the resources and atmosphere of celebration for two weeks as the Jerusalem Temple was dedicated to the Lord.
1 Kings 8:1-2 (CSB): “1 At that time Solomon assembled the elders of Israel, all the tribal heads and the ancestral leaders of the Israelites before him at Jerusalem in order to bring the ark of the Lord’s covenant from the city of David, that is Zion. 2 So all the men of Israel were assembled in the presence of King Solomon in the month of Ethanim, which is the seventh month, at the festival.”
In verses 3-8, we read that the priests and Levites brought the Ark of the Covenant and the other items in the Tabernacle to the new Temple. Solomon led in an enormous amount of animals being sacrificed as those worship items were placed in the Temple, the most important of which was the Ark that was placed in the Holy of Holies.
Then, we read about the items in the Ark when it was first placed in the Temple…
1 Kings 8:9 (CSB): “Nothing was in the ark except the two stone tablets that Moses had put there at Horeb, where the Lord made a covenant with the Israelites when they came out of the land of Egypt.”
So the jar of manna was gone. Aaron’s rod that budded was gone. The only thing in the Ark was now the 10 Commandments. When we look back at the information in verse 1, we are reminded that these stone tablets are now almost 500 years old.
Then, we read that the Lord filled the Temple with His presence…
1 Kings 8:10-11 (CSB): “10 When the priests came out of the holy place, the cloud filled the Lord’s temple, 11 and because of the cloud, the priests were not able to continue ministering, for the glory of the Lord filled the temple.”
So the glory cloud of the Lord filled the Temple. This made it clear that the Lord had accepted Solomon’s Temple as the place that He would live among His people.
Well, Solomon saw this and couldn’t keep quiet. He had to lift up his voice in praise.
Verse 12 begins a long time of praise and prayer to the Lord God and blessing upon the people of Israel.
He begins by acknowledging that he has built a place for the Lord and welcomes the Lord to dwell in it even though the Lord has said that he dwells in total darkness (or invisible to mankind).
Then, after this proclamation, Solomon turns to the people…
1 Kings 8:14 (CSB): “The king turned around and blessed the entire congregation of Israel while they were standing.”
In verses 15-21, Solomon gives an abbreviated history lesson. He told the people that God had called them out of Egyptian slavery but had not selected a city in which to build a Temple for worship. His father, David, had a desire to build the Temple, but God made it clear that he would not build the Temple – his son would. Now, the city of Jerusalem stands above the rest, and the Temple to Almighty God has been constructed.
1 Kings 8:20-21 (CSB): “20 The Lord has fulfilled what he promised. I have taken the place of my father David, and I sit on the throne of Israel, as the Lord promised. I have built the temple for the name of the Lord, the God of Israel. 21 I have provided a place there for the ark, where the Lord’s covenant is that he made with our ancestors when he brought them out of the land of Egypt.”
Then, after providing this history lesson (and it may have been much longer but was shortened for the print edition in Scripture), Solomon now leads the people in prayer…
1 Kings 8:22 (CSB): “Then Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord in front of the entire congregation of Israel and spread out his hands toward heaven.”
There are at least four themes that show up in this prayer.
First, Solomon expresses his pleasure in the fact that God has kept the promise that He made to David. Solomon has completed the magnificent Jerusalem Temple, which the Lord promised David would happen.
A second theme that is briefly but powerfully acknowledged in this prayer is that God, whose immense presence saturates the Heavens, has chosen to fill a very relatively small place – the Temple…
1 Kings 8:27 (CSB): “But will God indeed live on earth? Even heaven, the highest heaven, cannot contain you, much less this temple I have built.”
These words of Solomon expressed amazement at God’s omnipresence and at God’s humility in filling the Temple with His presence that the Heavens themselves cannot contain.
The third theme in this prayer is that Jerusalem is set apart like no other city on earth. Over and over, Solomon brings up scenarios where people would cry out to the Lord for forgiveness, help, or deliverance. King Solomon says that the Israelites would cry out “toward Jerusalem.” Then God, who is in Heaven, will hear. So, this is the first instance where we have Israelites praying toward a specific location.
The fourth and final theme in this prayer is that Solomon acknowledges that God’s plan is not only for the Israelites. God’s desire is not merely for one nation but for the peoples of all nations to know Him, enjoy Him, and submit to His loving authority. Just listen to this portion of Solomon’s prayer…
1 Kings 8:41-43 (CSB): “41 Even for the foreigner who is not of your people Israel but has come from a distant land because of your name—42 for they will hear of your great name, strong hand, and outstretched arm, and will come and pray toward this temple—43 may you hear in heaven, your dwelling place, and do according to all the foreigner asks. Then all peoples of earth will know your name, to fear you as your people Israel do and to know that this temple I have built bears your name.”
After Solomon finishes his prayer, he engages in a celebration of pronouncing blessings upon the people and the Lord…
1 Kings 8:54-55 (CSB): “54 When Solomon finished praying this entire prayer and petition to the Lord, he got up from kneeling before the altar of the Lord, with his hands spread out toward heaven, 55 and he stood and blessed the whole congregation of Israel with a loud voice:”
Solomon blesses the Lord and expresses his desire that the Lord bless His people with His presence. He acknowledges that the Lord is the one who ultimately will enable the people to obey Him.
But then, Solomon gets back to the notion that this isn’t merely about one nation. It’s about the world.
1 Kings 8:60 (CSB): “May all the peoples of the earth know that the Lord is God. There is no other!”
Friend, when Jesus told us in Matthew 28:20 to “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, …”, He wasn’t changing plans. Jesus was simply acknowledging what God’s plan had been all along. God invited the Israelites into a relationship with Him as a means of calling them AND the people of all nations to Himself.
As this time of blessing came to an end, we read that it was taking place as sacrifices were offered up to the Lord. This was an Old Testament act of worship. It demonstrated that all people are sinners that are worthy of a death sentence. Yet, God graciously allowed a substitute to die in the worshippers’ place. But as New Testament believers, we are so grateful that Jesus was the ultimate and final sacrifice. The endless sacrifices of the Old Testament are no longer needed.
Hebrews 10:18 (CSB): “Now where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer an offering for sin.”
As 1 Kings 8 comes to a close, we are informed that this time of celebratory dedication lasted two weeks. It is something the Israelites who attended would never forget.
1 Kings 8:65-66 (CSB): “65 Solomon and all Israel with him—a great assembly, from the entrance of Hamath to the Brook of Egypt—observed the festival at that time in the presence of the Lord our God, seven days, and seven more days—fourteen days. 66 On the fifteenth day he sent the people away. So they blessed the king and went to their homes rejoicing and with happy hearts for all the goodness that the Lord had done for his servant David and for his people Israel.”
1 Kings 9
1 Kings 8 was wonderful. But it was a monologue. Solomon was talking and saying a lot of wonderful things. We read in 1 Kings 8:10-11 that a cloud (the Lord) filled the Temple so it sure seems that the Lord approved. But we haven’t heard from Him. What does the Lord think of all of this? That answer is provided in 1 Kings 9.
1 Kings 9:1-3 (CSB): “1 When Solomon finished building the temple of the Lord, the royal palace, and all that Solomon desired to do, 2 the Lord appeared to Solomon a second time just as he had appeared to him at Gibeon. 3 The Lord said to him: ‘I have heard your prayer and petition you have made before me. I have consecrated this temple you have built, to put my name there forever; my eyes and my heart will be there at all times.’”
Wonderful! The Lord made it clear that He approved of the Temple. Then the Lord gives another conditional promise…
1 Kings 9:4-5 (CSB): “4 As for you, if you walk before me as your father David walked, with a heart of integrity and in what is right, doing everything I have commanded you, and if you keep my statutes and ordinances, 5 I will establish your royal throne over Israel forever, as I promised your father David: You will never fail to have a man on the throne of Israel.”
But then the Lord warns Solomon that if he or the people of Israel fail to keep His commands, He will wipe His hands clean of them. They will be “cut off from the land” (in other words, taken into captivity), and He will reject the magnificent Jerusalem Temple.
As we reflect upon these words, with our knowledge of the Assyrian and Babylonian invasion and captivity, we can’t help but realize that Solomon thought the Lord was speaking about a possibility. Instead, the Lord was speaking of an inevitability.
And we are just like those Israelites. We are far too easily tempted into sin which is simply disobedience of God’s clear Word. And we, like the Israelites, often experience the negative consequences of our sins just as they did. So many people can piously look down on the Israelites in the Old Testament. Yet, we are just like them. And we need the Lord just as they did.
Well, when we get to verses 10-14, we leave the joys of speaking with and hearing from God. In its place, we are brought into a business deal. Boy, there’s nothing that can shake us from the joys of experiencing God like a business deal.
The Temple was built with skilled labor. If you’re going to do something, do it right! So Solomon had hired Hiram of Tyre to build the beautiful Jerusalem Temple. So, the business deal with this – Hiram provides the wood and gold for the Temple and Solomon would give him twenty towns in Galilee.
I suspect that after Hiram participated in the Temple dedication with all of his excitement, and since Hiram knew HE was the one who oversaw most of the project, he could only imagine how wonderful the cities that Solomon gave him must be.
1 Kings 9:12-14 (CSB): “12 So Hiram went out from Tyre to look over the towns that Solomon had given him, but he was not pleased with them. 13 So he said, ‘What are these towns you’ve given me, my brother?’ So he called them the Land of Cabul (literally “good for nothing”), as they are still called today. 14 Now Hiram had sent the king nine thousand pounds of gold.”
Was Hiram being picky and ungrateful? Or did Solomon pull a fast one over him? We don’t know.
In verses 15-23, we read of how Solomon was able to successfully complete his ambitious building projects. It was through forced labor. Verse 16 also tells us that Egypt, who had been and would eventually be an adversary of Israel, was helping Solomon’s cause.
1 Kings 9:16 (CSB): “Pharaoh king of Egypt had attacked and captured Gezer. He then burned it, killed the Canaanites who lived in the city, and gave it as a dowry to his daughter, Solomon’s wife.”
As 1 Kings 9 comes to a close, we continue to read about Solomon’s ambitious leadership.
1 Kings 9:25-27 (CSB): “25 Three times a year Solomon offered burnt offerings and fellowship offerings on the altar he had built for the Lord, and he burned incense with them in the Lord’s presence. So he completed the temple. 26 King Solomon put together a fleet of ships at Ezion-geber, which is near Eloth on the shore of the Red Sea in the land of Edom. 27 With the fleet, Hiram sent his servants, experienced seamen, along with Solomon’s servants. 28 They went to Ophir and acquired gold there—sixteen tons—and delivered it to Solomon.”