1 Kings 8-9 • Chapter Study
The temple which had been planned & prepared for by David, was built by his son Solomon, the 3rd king of Israel.
As we saw last week, it took 7 years to build it & it was a truly breath-taking structure.
It was made of massive blocks of nearly white limestone trimmed with gold on the outside & completely paneled with cedar overlaid with gold on the inside so that no stone showed.
1Now Solomon assembled the elders of Israel and all the heads of the tribes, the chief fathers of the children of Israel, to King Solomon in Jerusalem, that they might bring up the ark of the covenant of the Lord from the City of David, which is Zion.
Most of the furniture for the temple was remade, except one piece – the ark of the covenant.
The ark had attained an epic reputation as being utterly sacred.
It was the heart of the temple, without which the temple was just another building.
It would take the ark’s placement in the Holy of holies for the temple to truly become THE temple.
2Therefore all the men of Israel assembled with King Solomon at the feast in the month of Ethanim, [September-October = Tabernacles] which is the seventh month.
V. 1 makes it clear by “all the men of Israel” doesn’t mean every single male – it means all the leaders of the nation.
3So all the elders of Israel came, and the priests took up the ark. 4Then they brought up the ark of the Lord, the tabernacle of meeting, and all the holy furnishings that were in the tabernacle. The priests and the Levites brought them up. 5Also King Solomon, and all the congregation of Israel who were assembled with him, were with him before the ark, sacrificing sheep and oxen that could not be counted or numbered for multitude. 6Then the priests brought in the ark of the covenant of the Lord to its place, into the inner sanctuary of the temple, to the Most Holy Place, under the wings of the cherubim. 7For the cherubim spread their two wings over the place of the ark, and the cherubim overshadowed the ark and its poles. 8The poles extended so that the ends of the poles could be seen from the holy place, in front of the inner sanctuary; but they could not be seen from outside. And they are there to this day.
This means this was written when Solomon’s temple still stood, so contrary to modern liberal scholars who say this wasn’t written till long after the Babylonian captivity, which took place nearly 500 years AFTER Solomon’s time.
That the writer says this indicates he was probably a priest who’d been into the holy place and seen the poles sticking through the curtains separating the Holy of holies form the outer sanctuary.
9Nothing was in the ark except the two tablets 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.
By this time, the pot of manna & Aaron’s staff that had budded had been removed from the ark & all that was left was it’s most important contents – the 2 tablets containing the 10 commandments.
10And it came to pass, when the priests came out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the Lord, 11so that the priests could not continue ministering because of the cloud; for the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord.
The parallel passage in Chronicles tells us the installation of the ark in the Holy of holies was attended by the most intense worship on the part of the priests.
As soon as the ark was in place & the priests backed out, the Shekinah, the manifest-presence of God’s glory, appeared & filled the temple.
God’s presence was so pervasive, the people could do nothing but fall on their faces & worship.
12Then Solomon spoke: “The Lord said He would dwell in the dark cloud. 13I have surely built You an exalted house, and a place for You to dwell in forever.”
Solomon reminded the people how God’s presence had been manifested among their ancestors in the Exodus; in just this way, a pillar of smoke.
What happened in the days of Moses was happening again, signaling God’s acceptance of the temple as His own. Solomon welcomes Him to it.
14Then the king turned around and blessed the whole assembly of Israel, while all the assembly of Israel was standing. 15And he said: “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, who spoke with His mouth to my father David, and with His hand has fulfilled it, saying, 16‘Since the day that I brought My people Israel out of Egypt, I have chosen no city from any tribe of Israel in which to build a house, that My name might be there; but I chose David to be over My people Israel.’ 17Now it was in the heart of my father David to build a temple for the name of the Lord God of Israel. 18But the Lord said to my father David, ‘Whereas it was in your heart to build a temple for My name, you did well that it was in your heart. 19Nevertheless you shall not build the temple, but your son who will come from your body, he shall build the temple for My name.’ 20So the Lord has fulfilled His word which He spoke; and I have filled the position of my father David, and sit on the throne of Israel, as the Lord promised; and I have built a temple for the name of the Lord God of Israel. 21And there I have made a place for the ark, in which is the covenant of the Lord which He made with our fathers, when He brought them out of the land of Egypt.”
Solomon wanted to make sure the people understood what was happening had been foretold & stood within the will of God.
He was setting their experience in the counsel of God – locating what they were seeing & hearing in God’s Word.
This is important because not everything supernatural is from God.
Satan is able to work counterfeit miracles, so we need to be on guard.
What had just happened was so totally of the Lord it was stunning, but Solomon showed himself to be a good & wise leader in that he placed it within the context of the Scriptures.
Now Solomon is going to make a prayer to the Lord on behalf of Israel.
The theme is a request for God to show mercy when Israel returns to Him after turning away.
Solomon knew from his people’s chequered past that they were a stiff-necked & rebellious lot who were prone to wandering away from God.
22Then Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord in the presence of all the assembly of Israel, and spread out his hands toward heaven; 23and he said: “Lord God of Israel, there is no God in heaven above or on earth below like You, who keep Your covenant and mercy with Your servants who walk before You with all their hearts. 24You have kept what You promised Your servant David my father; You have both spoken with Your mouth and fulfilled it with Your hand, as it is this day.
This is the 2nd time Sol has used this phrase to describe God; He has “spoken with His mouth & done with His hand.” He said the same in v. 15.
It’s an idiom which speaks of integrity, faithfulness, fidelity.
What God says, He does. What He promises, He keeps.
It’s based on this fidelity of God to His Word His people are called to be marked by integrity.
We are called to be like God in terms of our moral character.
Since he keeps His promises, we must keep ours.
What this means is that not only ought we do what we say we’ll do, but before we make an oath or give a promise, we need to exercise the wisdom of discretion to make sure that we intend to do what we say.
That we have the capacity to keep our promises.
25Therefore, Lord God of Israel, now keep what You promised Your servant David my father, saying, ‘You shall not fail to have a man sit before Me on the throne of Israel, only if your sons take heed to their way, that they walk before Me as you have walked before Me.’ 26And now I pray, O God of Israel, let Your word come true, which You have spoken to Your servant David my father.
Based on God’s past faithfulness in fulfilling His promises, Solomon asks that He continue to fulfill that which He has promised.
This is a great way to pray – to remember God’s past faithfulness then to lift His promises before Him & ask that He make good on what He’s said.
Sol’s thoughts now go in a different direction.
How is it God would condescend to inhabit a temple when even the skies cannot contain Him?
27“But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You. How much less this temple which I have built! 28Yet regard the prayer of Your servant and his supplication, O Lord my God, and listen to the cry and the prayer which Your servant is praying before You today: 29that Your eyes may be open toward this temple night and day, toward the place of which You said, ‘My name shall be there,’ that You may hear the prayer which Your servant makes toward this place. 30And may You hear the supplication of Your servant and of Your people Israel, when they pray toward this place. Hear in heaven Your dwelling place; and when You hear, forgive. 31“When anyone sins against his neighbor, and is forced to take an oath, and comes and takes an oath before Your altar in this temple, 32then hear in heaven, and act, and judge Your servants, condemning the wicked, bringing his way on his head, and justifying the righteous by giving him according to his righteousness.
Sol asks that God’s righteousness will be the basis of civil law among the people of Israel.
33 “When Your people Israel are defeated before an enemy because they have sinned against You, and when they turn back to You and confess Your name, and pray and make supplication to You in this temple, 34 then hear in heaven, and forgive the sin of Your people Israel, and bring them back to the land which You gave to their fathers.
Solomon was well aware of the words of Moses in Deut. when he enumerated the blessings that would come on Israel’s faithfulness along with the woes that would come as a result of her turning from God.
When God’s discipline of Israel comes through defeated in battle & the people repent, coming to the temple to pray, may God hear & restore His protection.
35“When the heavens are shut up and there is no rain because they have sinned against You, when they pray toward this place and confess Your name, and turn from their sin because You afflict them, 36then hear in heaven, and forgive the sin of Your servants, Your people Israel, that You may teach them the good way in which they should walk; and send rain on Your land which You have given to Your people as an inheritance.
When God uses drought to discipline His wayward children & they return, may He restore the rains.
37“When there is famine in the land, pestilence or blight or mildew, locusts or grasshoppers; when their enemy besieges them in the land of their cities; whatever plague or whatever sickness there is; 38whatever prayer, whatever supplication is made by anyone, or by all Your people Israel, when each one knows the plague of his own heart, and spreads out his hands toward this temple: 39then hear in heaven Your dwelling place, and forgive, and act, and give to everyone according to all his ways, whose heart You know (for You alone know the hearts of all the sons of men), 40that they may fear You all the days that they live in the land which You gave to our fathers.
Solomon is not trying to turn the temple into some kind of magic relic they can rub like a rabbit’s foot to get goodies from God.
The temple was unique in that is was the place God had manifested His presence & glory.
It was a moment in history when His glory became visible – invading time & space, & showing to all that He was real & had entered into covenant with Israel.
The temple was really nothing more than a contact point for people as they came back into fellowship with God.
41“Moreover, concerning a foreigner, who is not of Your people Israel, but has come from a far country for Your name’s sake 42(for they will hear of Your great name and Your strong hand and Your outstretched arm), when he comes and prays toward this temple, 43hear in heaven Your dwelling place, and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to You, that all peoples of the earth may know Your name and fear You, as do Your people Israel, and that they may know that this temple which I have built is called by Your name.
God’s desire was for all people to come into relationship with Him, not just the Jews.
Of course we know how Israel misunderstood this mission God appointed her and hoarded their knowledge of God.
They came to despise Gentiles instead of seeing them as people God loved & wanted to reach through Israel.
What’s sad is that so many Christians today are making the very same mistake.
They take pride in their being the “chosen few.”
They look at the lost with disdain & avoid them at every turn lest they become polluted by their unbelief.
At the dedication of the temple, Sol asked that when Gentiles witnessed Israel’s blessing by God and came to the temple to check out the cause/source of that blessing, God would reveal Himself to them & draw them to Himself.
May our lost family, friends, a& neighbors see the blessing of God so abundantly on our lives that they come to church to check it out and realize God’s ove & offer is real to them!
44“When Your people go out to battle against their enemy, wherever You send them, and when they pray to the Lord toward the city which You have chosen and the temple which I have built for Your name, 45then hear in heaven their prayer and their supplication, and maintain their cause. 46“When they sin against You (for there is no one who does not sin), and You become angry with them and deliver them to the enemy, and they take them captive to the land of the enemy, far or near; 47yet when they come to themselves in the land where they were carried captive, and repent, and make supplication to You in the land of those who took them captive, saying, ‘We have sinned and done wrong, we have committed wickedness’; 48and when they return to You with all their heart and with all their soul in the land of their enemies who led them away captive, and pray to You toward their land which You gave to their fathers, the city which You have chosen and the temple which I have built for Your name: 49then hear in heaven Your dwelling place their prayer and their supplication, and maintain their cause, 50and forgive Your people who have sinned against You, and all their transgressions which they have transgressed against You; and grant them compassion before those who took them captive, that they may have compassion on them 51(for they are Your people and Your inheritance, whom You brought out of Egypt, out of the iron furnace), 52that Your eyes may be open to the supplication of Your servant and the supplication of Your people Israel, to listen to them whenever they call to You. 53For You separated them from among all the peoples of the earth to be Your inheritance, as You spoke by Your servant Moses, when You brought our fathers out of Egypt, O Lord God.”
Sol looks forward to the greatest national calamity of all – when Israel would lose their land & be carried away captive.
When you read Daniel’s prayer in ch. 9 you realize he was applying these words of Solomon as he prayed for the return of the Jews to their land.
54And so it was, when Solomon had finished praying all this prayer and supplication to the Lord, that he arose from before the altar of the Lord, from kneeling on his knees with his hands spread up to heaven. 55Then he stood and blessed all the assembly of Israel with a loud voice, saying: 56“Blessed be the Lord, who has given rest to His people Israel, according to all that He promised. There has not failed one word of all His good promise, which He promised through His servant Moses. 57May the Lord our God be with us, as He was with our fathers. May He not leave us nor forsake us, 58that He may incline our hearts to Himself, to walk in all His ways, and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, which He commanded our fathers. 59And may these words of mine, with which I have made supplication before the Lord, be near the Lord our God day and night, that He may maintain the cause of His servant and the cause of His people Israel, as each day may require, 60that all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God; there is no other. 61Let your heart therefore be loyal to the Lord our God, to walk in His statutes and keep His commandments, as at this day.”
Just as a rudder steers a huge ship, so our hearts determine our course in life.
This is why what Sol says in v. 58 is so important –
May He incline our hearts to Himself, to walk in all His ways.
How we need to pray for the grace of God to seal our hearts in loyalty to God.
We sing a song,
Prone to wander , Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love.
Here’s my heart Lord, take & seal it, seal it for They courts above.
For some time now my consistent prayer is, “Father, produce within me a great longing, desire; a thirst & hunger for You.”
62Then the king and all Israel with him offered sacrifices before the Lord. 63And Solomon offered a sacrifice of peace offerings, which he offered to the Lord, 22,000 bulls and 120,000 sheep. So the king and all the children of Israel dedicated the house of the Lord. 64On the same day the king consecrated the middle of the court that was in front of the house of the Lord; for there he offered burnt offerings, grain offerings, and the fat of the peace offerings, because the bronze altar that was before the Lord was too small to receive the burnt offerings, the grain offerings, and the fat of the peace offerings. 65At that time Solomon held a feast, and all Israel with him, a great assembly from the entrance of Hamath [Way up north] to the Brook of Egypt, before the Lord our God, 7 days and 7 more days—14 days.
This was a week before the Feast of Tabernacles, then the feast itself which lasted another week.
There was a continuous parade of people from all over Israel who came to see the temple & enjoy the offerings that were made.
66On the 8th day he sent the people away; and they blessed the king, and went to their tents joyful and glad of heart for all the good that the Lord had done for His servant David, and for Israel His people.
This is the apex, the epitome of Israel’s Golden Age right here.
Everything is good & right because Solomon is at this point right with God.
But God knows the future, so He comes to Sol with a warning . . .
1And it came to pass, when Solomon had finished building the house of the Lord and the king’s house, and all Solomon’s desire which he wanted to do, 2that the Lord appeared to Solomon the second time, as He had appeared to him at Gibeon. 3And the Lord said to him: “I have heard your prayer and your supplication that you have made before Me; I have consecrated this house which you have built to put My name there forever, and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually. 4Now if you walk before Me as your father David walked, in integrity of heart and in uprightness, to do according to all that I have commanded you, and if you keep My statutes and My judgments, 5then I will establish the throne of your kingdom over Israel forever, as I promised David your father, saying, ‘You shall not fail to have a man on the throne of Israel.’ 6But if you or your sons at all turn from following Me, and do not keep My commandments and My statutes which I have set before you, but go and serve other gods and worship them, 7then I will cut off Israel from the land which I have given them; and this house which I have consecrated for My name I will cast out of My sight. Israel will be a proverb and a byword among all peoples. 8And as for this house, which is exalted, everyone who passes by it will be astonished and will hiss, and say, ‘Why has the Lord done thus to this land and to this house?’ 9Then they will answer, ‘Because they forsook the Lord their God, who brought their fathers out of the land of Egypt, and have embraced other gods, and worshiped them and served them; therefore the Lord has brought all this calamity on them.’ ”
God promised Solomon that if he and his descendants remained faithful to Him, their dynasty as the rulers of Israel would endure.
But if they turned away from Him, no only would they lose their dominion, but the entire nation would suffer.
Israel would either bear witness to the power & righteousness of God through blessings on her obedience or judgments on apostasy.
10Now it happened at the end of twenty years, when Solomon had built the two houses, the house of the Lord and the king’s house 11(Hiram the king of Tyre had supplied Solomon with cedar and cypress and gold, as much as he desired), that King Solomon then gave Hiram twenty cities in the land of Galilee. 12Then Hiram went from Tyre to see the cities which Solomon had given him, but they did not please him. 13So he said, “What kind of cities are these which you have given me, my brother?” And he called them the land of Cabul, as they are to this day. 14Then Hiram sent the king one hundred and twenty talents of gold.
It’s difficult sorting out what’s going on here.
Galilee is the Israelite land that borders with Lebanon.
There was a long time friendship between Hiram, the king of Lebanon & the house of David.
Hiram sent lumber, gold, & skilled craftsmen to Solomon while Israel sent grain & oil to Lebanon in exchange.
In order to ensure continuing goodwill between the 2 nations, Sol gave 20 border settlements to Hiram.
Israel’s influence was growing all over the Middle East at this time and by sheer weight of her wealth & power her borders we expanding.
It may have been that Solomon didn’t want Hiram to think he would try & take any of Lebanon’s territory by actually giving up some of Israel’s along their common border.
If that was his intent, it was wrong because that territory was not Sol’s to give away; the land belonged to God & had been portioned out to the tribes of Israel.
When Hiram went to inspect the settlements Solomon had given him, he put no value in them.
He called them Cabul = Good-for-nothing.
What’s interesting about his assessment of these settlements is that virtually ALL of Galilee is prime real estate and great for raising both crops & herds.
It’s well watered & lush.
What Hiram didn’t like was probably the fact that none of these 20 settlements were well developed.
This was still a frontier & rather wild area; none of Solomon’s vast building projects had been done here.
Despite his displeasure with the region, Hiram sent Sol 120 talents = 8400 lbs. of gold!
15And this is the reason for the labor force which King Solomon raised: to build the house of the Lord, his own house, the Millo, the wall of Jerusalem, Hazor, Megiddo, and Gezer.
We’ve already read about the massive labor force Solomon conscripted for his building projects – over 183,000 men – not including the slaves who were also used.
These all built
· the temple,
· Sol’s palace complex with it’s 5 buildings,
· the Millo, which was a massive terraced retaining wall in the City of David,
· the wall around the now largely expanded city of Jerusalem.
· & the fortress cities of Hazor, Megiddo, & Gezer.
o Hazor guarded the northern approach to Israel.
o Megiddo protected the coastal route
o Gezer was a major Canaanite city west of Jerusalem that had remained in Canaanite control until the time of Solomon.
16(Pharaoh king of Egypt had gone up and taken Gezer and burned it with fire, had killed the Canaanites who dwelt in the city, and had given it as a dowry to his daughter, Solomon’s wife.)
Gezer was really the last major Canaanite center in Israel.
Pharaoh conquered it and gave it to Solomon as his daughter’s wedding dowry.
17And Solomon built Gezer, Lower Beth Horon, 18Baalath, and Tadmor in the wilderness, in the land of Judah, 19all the storage cities that Solomon had, cities for his chariots and cities for his cavalry, and whatever Solomon desired to build in Jerusalem, in Lebanon, and in all the land of his dominion.
Each of the locations mentioned here were at key locations to control the trade routes passing through Israel.
The rule of the ancient world is that whoever controls trade controls the world because of the influence they have on economics.
Solomon understood this so he moved to place strong fortresses at locations that would control the flow of trade between Africa, Europe & Asia.
20All the people who were left of the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites, who were not of the children of Israel— 21that is, their descendants who were left in the land after them, whom the children of Israel had not been able to destroy completely— from these Solomon raised forced labor, as it is to this day. 22But of the children of Israel Solomon made no forced laborers, because they were men of war and his servants: his officers, his captains, commanders of his chariots, and his cavalry. 23Others were chiefs of the officials who were over Solomon’s work: five hundred and fifty, who ruled over the people who did the work.
In ch. 4 we’re told of the men of Israel Solomon drafted into the workforce, but these men weren’t slaves – they were paid for their work. THIS group were slaves.
24But Pharaoh’s daughter came up from the City of David to her house which Solomon had built for her. Then he built the Millo.
There’s a bit of debate among scholars of just what the Millo was but the general consensus today is that it was a massive terraced retaining wall that was built to fill in a gully in the City of David.
This gully had reduced the useable space inside the old City of David so Solomon filled it in so there’d be more room to build.
25Now 3 times a year Solomon offered burnt offerings and peace offerings on the altar which he had built for the Lord, and he burned incense with them on the altar that was before the Lord. So he finished the temple.
This doesn’t mean he offered these sacrifices personally but that he paid for them & had the priests offer them on his behalf.
This verse is placed here to show that at first, Solomon’s heart was loyal to the Lord. Too bad it didn’t remain that way.
26King Solomon also built a fleet of ships at Ezion Geber, which is near Elath on the shore of the Red Sea, in the land of Edom. 27Then Hiram sent his servants with the fleet, seamen who knew the sea, to work with the servants of Solomon. 28And they went to Ophir, and acquired four hundred and twenty talents of gold from there, and brought it to King Solomon.
Historically, the Jews have shunned the sea.
They’ve rarely had a navy & were never even a minor maritime power, except in the time of Solomon.
Sol realized the importance of shipping in trade & fashioned a fleet of ships at the Red Sea port of Ezion Geber.
Once again, Hiram helped Solomon branch out into a new technology by sending some of his sailors & shipwrights to help Israel.
Using this fleet of ships, they sailed to a place called Ophir, probably India, where they acquired about 15 tons of gold through trade.