1 KINGS CHAPTER 8.
The Dedication of the Temple.
THE CEREMONY OF DEDICATION. — V.1. Then Solomon, the Temple being completed in all its parts, assembled the elders of Israel and all the heads of the tribes, the chief of the fathers of the children of Israel, the princes of the father-houses, all these being representatives of the entire congregation, 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, the summit of Moriah being higher than Mount Zion. V.2. And all the men of Israel assembled themselves unto King Solomon at the feast in the month Ethanim, also known as Tishri, which is the seventh month. The festival here referred to is the Feast of Tabernacles, which seems at that time to have been better observed than the other two great festivals, and it was very appropriate that Solomon chose just this season of the year. V.3. And all the elders of Israel came, and the priests took up the ark, the bearing of which was their special work, Num. 4, 15. V.4. And they brought up the ark of the Lord and the Tabernacle of the Congregation, the tent which seems finally to have been located on a hill near Gibeon, and all the holy vessels that were in the Tabernacle, even those did the priests and the Levites bring up, the latter carrying the coverings of the Tabernacle, Num. 3, 31; 4, 5 ff. V.5. And King Solomon and all the congregation of Israel that were assembled unto him were with him before the ark, in a procession which went ahead of the priests, sacrificing sheep and oxen, that could not be told or numbered for multitude, nobody thought it worth while to count the great number of sacrifices, for there was no regard to expense. V.6. And the priests brought in the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord unto his place, in to the oracle of the house, to the Most Holy Place, even under the wings of the cherubim, evidently setting the ark so as to have it stand with its length north and south. V.7. For the cherubim, chap. 6, 27, spread forth their two wings, those which touched in the middle of the room, over the place of the ark, and the cherubim, bending forward as did those on the cover of the ark, covered the ark and the staves thereof above. V.8. And they drew out the staves, that is, the staves were very long on account of the great weight of the ark and on account of the fact that the bearers were not allowed to touch the sacred vessel, that the ends of the staves were seen out in the Holy Place before the oracle, that is, if any one approached very near to the Most Holy Place; and they were not seen without; and there they are unto this day, this account having been written before the destruction of Jerusalem. V.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. It seems, then, that “the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded,” Heb. 9, 4, had been removed from the ark or were again deposited later. V.10. And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the Holy Place, that the cloud, the visible token of the presence of Jehovah in the fullness of His majesty, as in the wilderness, filled the house of the Lord, v.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. Cp. Ex. 40, 34. 35. The entire Sanctuary was filled with this gracious manifestation, making it impossible for the priests, for the time being, to perform their work. The Church of the New Testament is assured of the continual merciful presence of Jehovah, until at last we shall progress from believing to seeing.
SOLOMON’S ADDRESS. — V.12. Then spake Solomon, evidently from the platform which he had prepared in the midst of the court, 2 Chron. 6, 13, The Lord said that He would dwell in the thick darkness, Ex. 19, 9; Lev. 16, 2. The cloud which he beheld was to Solomon a sign that Jehovah had come down to dwell in the Temple. V.13. I have surely built Thee an house to dwell in, a settled place for Thee to abide in forever, a firmly established Sanctuary, He had in mind the merciful relation of Jehovah to the true Israel as it would continue, according to the Messianic promises, throughout eternity. V.14. And the king, who had uttered this exclamation with face turned toward the Sanctuary, turned his face about, and blessed all the congregation of Israel; (and all the congregation of Israel stood, out in the great court toward the east;) v.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, cp. 2 Sam. 7, 5-13, v.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, He had ordered only the Tabernacle to be built for His warship; but I chose David to be over My people Israel, under whom Israel entered into the full and quiet possession of the Promised Land. V.17. And it was in the heart of David, my father, to build an house for the name of the Lord God of Israel, 2 Sam. 7, 2. V.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. V.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. Cp. 2 Sam. 7, 4-16; 1 Chron. 22, 6-11; 28, 2-7. V.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. This explanation was given in such detail in order that the people might understand the situation exactly and appreciate the goodness and mercy of Jehovah. V.21. And I have set there a place for the ark wherein is the covenant of the Lord, for the Ten Commandments on the two tables of stone represented the core, or nucleus, of the entire covenant between Jehovah and Israel, which He made with our fathers when he brought them out of the land of Egypt. “It is worthy of notice that at the beginning and the conclusion of the address the building of the Temple is placed in relation to the deliverance from Egypt.” (Lange.)
SOLOMON’S INVOCATION. — V.22. And Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord, the great altar of burnt offering in the Court of the Priests, in the presence of all the congregation of Israel, and spread forth his hands toward heaven, in a gesture of the most eager supplication; v.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; all the so-called gods of the heathen could simply not stand the comparison, they could not come into consideration; v.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, visible before the eyes of all men. V.25. Therefore now, Lord God of Israel, keep with thy servant David, my father, also in the future, that Thou promisedst him, saying, There shall not fail thee a man in my sight to sit on the throne of Israel, so that, this expressing the condition of Jehovah for the fulfillment of His promise, thy children take heed to their way, that they walk before Me as thou hast walked before Me. In that event the family of David would be assured a continual rule over the kingdom of Israel. V.26. And now, O God of Israel, let thy word, I pray Thee, be verified which Thou spakest unto Thy servant David, my father. It is an urgent petition as the careful repetition shows. V.27. But will God indeed dwell on the earth? making even such a splendid palace as the Temple His habitation among men. Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens, all the space which the imagination of man can reach, cannot contain Thee, even their all-embracing extent was insufficient for the infinite God; how much less this house that I have builded! Though Jehovah could not be confined to this one house, yet He was appealed to reveal His merciful presence, especially in hearing the prayers of His children there. V.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 to-day, v.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, Deut. 12, 11; that Thou mayest hearken unto the prayer which Thy servant shall make toward this place, He should be alert to hear and to fulfill the prayers of those who would call on Him in this Temple. V.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 dwelling-place, as the prayers rise to the Throne of Grace; and when Thou hearest, forgive, for forgiveness of sins is not only the greatest blessing which man may have here below, but man can hope for the acceptance of his prayer only when his sins are forgiven, since every answer to prayer rests on the sin-pardoning grace of God. V.31. If any man trespass against his neighbor, and an oath be laid upon him to cause him to swear, and the oath come before Thine altar in this house, the place of divine witness and presence, v.32. then hear Thou in heaven, and do, and judge thy servants, condemning the wicked, to bring his way upon his head, punishing him for his false oath, and justifying the righteous, to give him according to his righteousness. The name of Jehovah, to whom this Temple was dedicated, was by all means to be kept holy. V.33. When thy people Israel be smitten down before the enemy because they have sinned against Thee, Lev. 26, 17; Deut. 28, 25, and shall turn again to Thee, and confess Thy name, and pray, and make supplication unto Thee in this house, seeking the face of the Lord in true repentance, v.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, taking away their captivity for the sake of His mercy. V.35. When heaven is shut up and there is no rain because they have sinned against Thee, Lev. 26, 19; Deut. 11, 17; 28, 23; if they pray toward this place, and confess Thy name, and turn from their sin when Thou afflictest them, for drought, especially in Palestine, was rightly considered a sign of curse and punishment, v.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. Because God teaches, educates, His people, tries to bring them back to the right way by means of punishments, therefore He is asked to forgive if His people acknowledge the punishment and plead for forgiveness. V.37. If there be in the land famine, if there be pestilence, blasting, mildew, locust, or if there be caterpillar, Lev. 26, 19-26; Deut. 28, 22. 23; if their enemy besiege them in the land of their cities, in all their gates, throughout their land; whatsoever plague, whatsoever sickness there be; v.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, if they acknowledge the punishment as a chastisement of God directed at their heart, and spread forth his hands toward this house, v.39. then hear Thou in heaven, Thy dwelling-place, 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;) v.40. that they may fear Thee all the days that they live in the land which Thou gavest unto our fathers. God, who knows the heart of every man, can treat each individual case as its merits demand. V.41. Moreover, concerning a stranger, that is not of Thy people Israel, not a member of the chosen nation by birth, but cometh out of a far country for Thy name’s sake, as a proselyte of the gate, if not of righteousness; v.42. (for they shall hear of Thy great name and of Thy strong hand and of Thy stretched-out arm, even as the surrounding nations had heard of it at the time of the wilderness journey;) when he shall come and pray toward this house, v.43. hear Thou in heaven, thy dwelling-place, 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, convinced of the supremacy of His divine power by the fulfillment of their prayer; and that they may know that this house, which I have builded, is called by Thy name, that His almighty power was manifested in the midst of Israel. V.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, the outward turning of the face and body being a sign of the inward turning of the heart, v.45. then hear Thou in heaven their prayer and their supplication, and maintain their cause, causing right and justice to take their course upon them. V.46. If they sin against Thee, (for there is no man that sinneth not, a truth which is properly emphasized at all times,) 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, deportations of this kind being the custom in Oriental lands at that time; v.47. yet if they shall bethink themselves in the land whither they were carried captives, return to sense and reason, 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, such a free and unequivocal confession being required in case of real sorrow over sins, v.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: v.49. then hear Thou their prayer and their supplication in heaven, Thy dwelling-place, and maintain their cause, uphold their right, v.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; v.51. for they be Thy people and Thine inheritance, Deut. 9, 29, which Thou broughtest forth out of Egypt, from the midst of the furnace of iron, Deut. 4, 20; v.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. V.53. For Thou didst separate them from among all the people of the earth, chose them out of all nations, 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. Thus Solomon, in seven petitions of his dedication prayer, had brought before the Lord the principal needs of his people, as they would find expression in prayer. Note: Christians call upon the Lord in the name of Jesus Christ, asking forgiveness and help for the sake of His redemption, being sure that He will in no wise cast them out.
THE FEAST OF DEDICATION. — V.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. V.55. And he stood, facing the people once more, and blessed all the congregation of Israel with a loud voice, saying, v.56. Blessed be the Lord, that hath given rest unto His people Israel, all the uncertainty of the last centuries now being exchanged for the certainty of a definite capital and of an established Sanctuary, 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. Cp. Deut. 12, 10; Josh. 21, 45; 23, 14. V.57. the Lord, our God, be with us as He was with our fathers, for with His gracious presence in their midst, they were sure of continued blessings. Let Him not leave us nor forsake us, rather granting help against their enemies always, v.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, all His instructions to His people, in whatever form they may have come to them; v.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, as the needs of every new day require it; v.60. that all the people of the earth may know that the Lord is God, and that there is none else. V.61. Let your heart therefore be perfect with the Lord, our God, being dedicated to Him in undivided allegiance, to walk in His statutes, and to keep His commandments, as at this day. A real prayer, made in the fervor of a heart trusting in the mercy of Jehovah for Christ’s sake, is always acceptable in His sight. V.62. And the king, and all Israel with him, offered sacrifice before the Lord, in a grand and impressive service of worship. V.63. And Solomon offered a sacrifice of peace-offerings, to emphasize the soundness of the covenant relationship and to have the people partake of a great sacrificial feast which he offered unto the Lord, two and twenty thousand oxen and an hundred and twenty thousand sheep, a number of sacrificial animals which could easily be handled by the housefathers present, who undoubtedly made use of their priestly prerogatives at that time in assisting the priests by slaughtering animals. So the king and all the children of Israel dedicated the house of the Lord. V.64. The same day did the king hallow the middle of the court that was before the house of the Lord, consecrating it as a place where sacrifices might be offered on temporary altars; for there he offered burnt offerings and meat-offerings and the fat of the peace-offerings, of which only the fat was burned, the rest being used for food, because the brazen altar that was before the Lord was too little to receive the burnt offerings and meat-offerings and the fat of the peace-offerings. V.65. And at that time Solomon held a feast, the Feast of Tabernacles, in connection with the dedication of the Temple, and all Israel with him, a great congregation, from the entering in of Hamath, in the extreme north, on the Orontes, unto the river of Egypt, in the extreme southwest, before the Lord, our God, seven days and seven days, even fourteen days, doubling the usual number, seven days being devoted to the dedication festival and seven days to the Feast of Tabernacles. V.66. On the eighth day, namely, of the Feast of Tabernacles, he sent the people away. And they blessed the king, wishing him the fullness of good fortune, and went unto their tents, returned to their homes, joyful and glad of heart for all the goodness that the Lord had done for David, His servant, and for Israel, His people. He who has sincerely given thanks to the Lord for all His kindness and mercy may return to his work in cheerfulness and peace.