Chapter 8 contains three sections: 1) the Ark is brought into the temple, 2) Solomon’s prayer and 3) the initial sacrifices and celebration.
1. The Ark Brought to the Temple
Solomon certainly knew the history behind transporting the Ark, its proper transport and the problems that would arise if not handled well. The poles that are used by the priests to carry it were important. In this case, the “poles were so long that their ends could be seen from the Holy Place in front of the inner sanctuary” (1 Kings 8:8). I guess then were extra long to protect the carriers!
There was nothing in the ark except the two stone tablets that Moses had placed in it at Horeb, where the Lord made a covenant with the Israelites after they came out of Egypt. 1 Kings 8:9
The Ark was placed in the inner sanctuary of the temple. Once the priests left, a cloud filled the temple and Solomon pats himself on the back: “I have indeed built a magnificent temple for you, a place for you to dwell forever.” (1 Kings 8:13) There are a few places here where King Solomon uses this personal pronoun that seems out of place. He conscripted thousands of men to labor for years, yet there is no hint of “we” in the description. Perhaps this is just indicative of the time, but it’s odd to read.
2. Solomon’s Prayer of Dedication
Solomon’s lengthy prayer covers a lot of ground. The “bookends” for this section show his heart for the Lord:
Lord, the God of Israel, there is no God like you…
…may your hearts be fully committed to the Lord our God, to live by his decrees and obey his commands, as at this time.
1 Kings 8:23, 61
Here are some key points to remember:
- Your promise to David is fulfilled this day
- Don’t forget you promised there would always be a successor from David’s bloodline
- The heavens cannot contain you, much less this temple
- Hear from heaven and forgive us when we fail
- When (not if) we wrong our neighbor
- When we’re defeated by an enemy
- In times of draught
- When famine or plague comes
- When foreigners come and pray
- In times of war
- When they sin against you–for there is no one who does not sin
- May your eyes be open to your servant’s plea
It is clear that God is the center of all, Solomon is not trying to take the limelight, all glory to God.
3. Initial Celebration
Having said all of that, let the party begin! Not just a week, but two weeks of celebration and sacrifices. Some 22,000 cattle and 120,000 sheep and goats are sacrificed!
So the king and all the Israelites dedicated the temple of the Lord. 1 Kings 8:63
Burnt offerings, grain, fellowship offerings, on and on. It was a great celebration.
On the following day he sent the people away. They blessed the king and went home, joyful and glad in heart for all the good things the Lord had done for his servant David and his people Israel. 1 Kings 8:66
Well done King Solomon. Israel has come a long way since leaving captivity in Egypt.