…And all the elders of Israel came, and the priests took up the ark. And they brought up the ark of the Lord, and the tabernacle of the congregation, and all the holy vessels that were in the tabernacle, even those did the priests and the Levites bring up. And king Solomon, and all the congregation of Israel, that were assembled unto him, were with him before the ark, sacrificing sheep and oxen, that could not be told nor numbered for multitude. And the priests brought in the ark of the covenant of the Lord unto his place, into the oracle of the house, to the most holy place, even under the wings of the cherubims. For the cherubims spread forth their two wings over the place of the ark, and the cherubims covered the ark and the staves thereof above. And they drew out the staves, that the ends of the staves were seen out in the holy place before the oracle, and they were not seen without: and there they are unto this day. 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.( I Kings 8:3-9)
It had been twenty years since Solomon had commenced building the temple, and furnishing it.The time had come for the great dedication. In all of that time since the days Eli the Priest and Samuel, when the Ark was captured and recovered, the Ark had been in a separate location from the altar and the remains of the tabernacle. There were two holy shrines, one at Gibeah and one in the “tent of David” in Jerusalem.
The time had come for the Ark, the visible throne of God on earth, to come into the Holy Temple,. With great procession and much sacrifice, Elders, Priests in holy array, and Levites, and the King Solomon, accompanied the ark, carried on staves by Priests, up the steps of the temple, into the courts of worship, and into the holy place and finally into the”oracle” , the Solomonic name for the Holy of Holies. the Ark entered into its rest before the two great, gilded Cherubim, each fifteen feet in height.
As soon as the [priests departed from the oracle, The cloud of Glory filled the temple, so completely, the Priests were unable to stand and minister.
And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the Lord, 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. (1 Kings 8:10-11)
Solomon, the anointed, Israel’s Messiah, is in the Spirit, and can only utter, in awe, “The LORD said He would dwell in thick darkness..But I have built an house of habitation for thee, and a place for thy dwelling for ever..”
Solomon had made for himself a brass platform to stand, kneel and sit upon for the dedication, in the midst of the great congregation. From there He blessed the congregation, reminding them of the faithfulness of God, in choosing Jerusalem as the place for his name, calling David and promising that he would have Son who would reign forever, and for choosing Solomon to build the Holy house for his name.
The placing of that Ark into the oracle, represents the culmination and continuity of all that God had promised to do since he brought Israel out of the wilderness in the days of Moses. No longer would there be a tabernacle, (a temporary dwelling place) . The Ark would enter into the place which God had established as a dwelling place for his name.
Then Solomon spread out his hands and uttered the prayer of dedication,
…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: 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. Therefore now, Lord God of Israel, keep with thy servant David my father that thou promisedst him, saying, There shall not fail thee a man in my sight to sit on the throne of Israel; so that thy children take heed to their way, that they walk before me as thou hast walked before me. And now, O God of Israel, let thy word, I pray thee, be verified, which thou spakest unto thy servant David my father. (1 Kings 8:23-26)
Solomon blesses the faithfulness of God to his servants and especially to David his father. But Solomon asks the LORD to keep the promise of an everlasting reign of one of the sons of David, and to confirm it.
…But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded? ...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 vs 27-28
This is the wisest man who ever lived up to that time, endowed with Wisdom as a gracious gift of God himself. He knew that no man made structure could ever contain the Most High God, who is omnipresent, and self existent. He is acknowledging that for God to inhabit this house is an act of Divine condescension, God is humbling himself to dwell among the congregation, and in no way could he ever truly be limited to time, space or matter.
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: that thou mayest hearken unto the prayer which thy servant shall make toward this place.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: and when thou hearest, forgive. ( vs 29-30)
This great dedicatory prayer of the temple, is a prayer about prayer.
The house of God is a house of prayer for all nations, a place of contact where all people would present prayers, to be received in the person called “thy name” , ( A pre-incarnate reference to the second person of the Godhead). He would gather those prayers and direct them to heaven, the dwelling place of the most High.
So He prayed that God’s eyes would be towards this place, day and night, and that he would be attentive to anyone who prays toward it, ( not necessarily always in it, but even towards it).
The primary prayer must of necessity be prayers for forgiveness. One of the emphasis of this prayer is the reality that men are weak, sinful and prone to wonder. One of the functions of the house would be the constant priestly task of atonement, intercession and the ministry of the mercy of God.
Solomon then sets out seven different scenarios, supplicating that in all of them God would hear and answer prayers directed towards the Holy House of God.
we will look at each of them in the next message.