The Temple has been built and the Lord was faithful to fill it with His presence. Now Solomon dedicates and prays over this House of God. What a seismic moment in their history and ours. To speak into such a profound moment had to come from the Lord. No human, even the wisest one can do that without God's guidance.
I Kings 8: 12-66
When Solomon saw the cloud, he recognized it from their collective past and knew that God's Glory and grace had filled this Temple.
Then he blessed the assembly as they stood:
- He blesses the name of the Lord.
- In verse 16, I've multiple translations and he seems to be saying, the Lord said he could have built his House in any city since he saved them from Egypt, but he did not. Instead He chose David to lead His people. It's a little confusing; but it seems, as you read further, that it was David's heart for the Lord that lead to this Temple.
- Solomon goes on to provide a general history regarding the development of this Temple. v. 19-21
- Verse 22 transitions to a prayer to the Lord while standing in front of the altar.
- It's a weird little thing for me to comment on, but when Solomon began to spread he spread out his hands toward heaven. I end up expressive in my worship, (less so in church to avoid being a stumbling block; but still expressive) and a small prat of my brain questions whether that kind of hand raising is necessary or helpful or even sincere. It's nice to see this man, who is far from the expressive worshiper that his father was; but there is some innate instinct in us to reach to the heavens. Look at a modern concert. Louis Giglio writes about this a lot. We are made to worship. Whether is be at a sports game, a concert, or our Lord, we pick who we will worship and we throw up our hands in praise and worship.
This starts out in verse 23 and is quite long.
- He praises the Lord for who He is.
- He praises the Lord for keeping the Covenant with the people and with David.
- He goes on to pray that the Lord will continue in the covenant to keep David's throne established forever.
- He acknowledges that this Temple cannot contain the Lord; but that He will hear the prayers brought here.
- He prays the Temple can also be a place where people can come and have their sins forgiven, take an oath, and have the Lord decide between punishing the guilty and upholding the righteous.
- Then he prays that if the people are defeated by an enemy or rain ceases to come to water the land because the people have sinned, then they would be able to pray toward the Temple, confess and repent of their sin, then he asks that the Lord forgive and restore them. This was not an incantation. You don't just point east and say magic words, This was Solomon asking God to recognize when there was a sincere realization of sin, and a confession and attempt to be blameless going forward.
- He goes on to list many maladies that may come from sin and asks the same, saying men know in their hearts when the malady comes from their sin. That's interesting. That may speak into that mystery of when bad things are consequences of sin and when the rain falls on the just and the unjust. Job knew in his heart he was blameless. And the opposite is often true...we know what we're doing and we can either harden our hearts or repent.
- He transitions to the topic of foreigners and sojourners who will hear of the Lord's great work and come to Israel and prays towards "this house" (Temple). He asks that God would answer their prayers. The Ryrie Study Bible footnote indicates that the word used for foreigner wasn't a settled alien, but someone just coming as a pilgrim to worship.
- Verse 43 sows that Solomon does "get it". He does know in his heart what all of this is supposed to be about. The reason he wants God to answer all of these pilgrim's prayers is that he wants all of the people of the earth to know God's name and to fear Him, as do the people of Israel. This Temple is one more tool or project from the Lord that is intended to shine His light through His people to the world. That's what He has asked of them from the beginning of His interactions with them.
- And for just a minute, Solomon seems to get it. Then the second half of verse 43 he reinserts himself into the story again by emphasizing that he built this house.
- In verses 44-45 he prays that the people would seek the Lord's direction in war and God would give them the victory.
- Then in verses 46-50 he speaks of things that I truly believe must have come directly from the Holy Spirit.
- He points out that every man sins and when Israel sins, it will anger God and He will allow them to be taken captive and hauled off by the enemy. (which is going to happen multiple time even through the modern age.)
- If then, in this state of captivity, they 1.) "take thought", repent, and take supplication to the Lord by confessing all three type of their possible transgressions: sins (missing the mark), iniquity (deliberate disobedience), and wickedness (failed to confirm a true standard) (v. 47) [The three types from the Ryrie footnotes.]
- and if the 2.) return to the Lord with their whole hearts and souls (while still in the land of captivity) and 3.) if they toward Jerusalem and the Temple, (v. 48)
- THEN (when those conditions have been met) he prays that the Lord will hear their prayers and maintain their cause. (v. 49)
- and FORGIVE them and cause those who took them captive to have compassion on them. (v. 50)
- In verses 51-53 Solomon gives a reason to ask this of God by reminding the Lord that these are His people who He brought from Egypt. This verse reminds me of the kinds of things that Moses said to the Lord to make a case for upholding these people, even when they fail Him through sin and iniquity.
This concludes Solomon's prayer. In verse 54 he arose from kneeling before the throne with his hands raised. To me, that means that, at some point, Solomon fell to his knees while he was praying before the altar, with his hands still lifted high.
Then, starting in verse 56, he blessed the people.
- In Verse 56, he blessed the Lord. Ironically, he blessed the Lord for giving His people rest. Even though Solomon had taken away that rest in lieu of forced labor and taxation. Although, the Lord had warned them that would happen if they chose to have a king lead them instead of the Lord being their only king.
- In verses 57-58, he asked that the Lord not leave them or forsake them. And to walk with them with His heart inclined to them.
The Feast and Festival
In verses 62-64, the king and the people offered sacrifices. Solomon offered a peace offering and dedicated the Temple. He also consecrated the middle of the court where the people would bring their sacrifices and he offered a burnt offering, a grain offering, and a fat of the peace offering.
The dedication of the Temple lasted 7 days and then Feats of the Tabernacle lasted another 7 days.
On the 8th day of the feast, Solomon sent everyone home and everyone "joyful and glad of heart for all the goodness that the Lord had shown David and Israel.
After all of that, if was David on their minds who had been the conduit to God to make this happen. That's pretty telling.
II Chronicles 6
Verse 1-4 include the same information as I Kings, regarding the events after the cloud (presence of the Lord) filled the Temple.
Verse 5-6 seem to express much clearer what confused me in I Kings. Before now, the Lord hasn't picked a city or a leader to be over My people. But I have now chosen Jerusalem and David.
This seems little confusing, because there had been leaders such as Moses and Joshua; but they were more of guides, not rulers. David was the first king of God's choosing. And He had never selected a single city to be the capital; maybe because there were 12 tribes and it wasn't time yet for the Lord to select one single city to be the single hub.
Verses 7-11 include a similar summary of the history to that point.
Starting in verse 12 is Solomon's prayer. This is very similar to the I King's version, although it seemed to be simplified a little bit. That may just be my second reading of it.
Chapter 7: 1-11
The Glory of the Lord-Fire
Chapter 7, verse 1-3 adds a very significant element to the story that I did not see in the I Kings version.
When Solomon was done praying, a fire came down and consumed the burnt offerings and sacrifices, and
...the Glory of the Lord filled the houseII Chronicles 7:1b
This prevented the priests from even entering the Temple.
This caused all of the sons of Israel to bow down with their faces on the ground and they worshiped and praised Him.
Verse 42 ends the Chapter and starting in Chapter 7, verse 4 begins the parallel story of the dedication sacrifices. (These must be additional sacrifices and offerings?)
Instruments and trumpets played and people praised the Lord.
Verse 10 adds Solomon to the things people were joyful about when they left. (In I Kings it was just David and Israel.)
Verse 11 indicates that all work had been complete on the Temple and Solomon's palace.
- "Solomon realized that God's willingness to dwell with His people was wholly an act of grace."
- Wiersbe catalogs the seven requests Solomon made to the Lord:
- Justice in the land
- Military Defeat
- Drought in the land
- Other Calamities: here Wiersbe makes an interesting observation that the Lord always first discipline sinners on the land. Giving them an opportunity to repent in their own backyard. However, if they continue to sin, He takes them out of the land via military captivity. A more severe and stronger lesson in obedience.
- Foreigner who come to pray: Our blessings should always be seen as God's light shining on us as a reflection of Him so that others may know Him. Not as a storehouse and a boast for ourselves.
- Armies in battle
- Defeat in captivity
Usually the priests blessed the people, but on special occasions, just as David did, Kings could bless the people.
Wiersbe ends this section with a great quote that aslo serves as my So What? for the section:
When the Holy Spirit is in control, both rejoicing and reverence will characterize the gathering.Warren Wiersbe, Be Responsible pg 78
Coming back to the modern application, we are His Temple for now. It's appropriate to pray and worship and praise and go to war and to work the land we've been given and fellowship and feast and sacrifice and offer ourselves to God. In all of it, we will sin, but He has made a way for us to confess, repent, and cry out to Jesus- the author and finisher of our faith. We will weep and laugh and sing and fall silent. Both rejoicing and reverence will characterize our gatherings- if we submit to the control of the Holy Spirit.