SHEKINAH GLORY FILLS SOLOMON’S TEMPLE AS THE ARK OF THE COVENANT FINDS ITS HOME FOR THE JOYFUL MANIFESTATION OF THE PRESENCE AND BLESSING OF GOD ON HIS COVENANT PEOPLE
This dedication of the temple with the installation of the ark of the covenant is a very meaty section in terms of both theology and Israelite history. The special manifestation of the Shekinah glory encourages the nation regarding God’s covenant commitment and provides a worldwide testimony to the exclusivity and sovereignty of the God whose worship is focused around the sacrificial system in the new temple in Jerusalem. Solomon extols the faithfulness of God and exhorts the people to continue in the path of covenant obedience. The apex of joy is realized in the dedication sacrifices and celebratory feast associated with this climactic moment in Jewish history. The future promises regarding the ultimate fulfilment of the Messianic kingdom will certainly be fulfilled. But the present situation reflects God’s sovereign blessing.
August Konkel: After the building’s completion, its function as a temple must be established. The articles dedicated to God by a vow are brought to its treasuries (7:51b), and the ark is placed in the Most Holy Place. David devoted to sacred use gifts he had received and the spoils of war (2 Sam. 8:10–11). He also brought to Jerusalem the sacred chest called the “ark of the covenant of the Lord Almighty, who is enthroned between the cherubim” (1 Sam. 4:4; 2 Sam. 6:2; 1 Chron. 13:6). The “song of the ark” in the days of the wilderness gave testimony to its function (Num. 10:35–36). When the ark set out, Moses would say, “Rise up, O Lord! May your enemies be scattered,” and when it halted he would say, “Return O Lord, to the countless thousands of Israel.” When the priests bring the ark into Solomon’s sanctuary, the glory of the divine presence takes possession of it (1 Kings 8:11), just as the glory accompanied it in the desert.
Ceremony is the means by which ordinary objects receive sacred significance. The prophets regularly ridiculed the worship of idols made by human hands (Isa. 40:19–20; Hab. 2:18–19), because the gods supposedly present in the idol either had no real existence or were insignificant before Yahweh in his holy temple (Hab. 2:20).
Iain Provan: Solomon’s prayer is of the utmost importance, for it places both the temple and the law in wider perspective. The temple is an important building, to be sure. For much of the remainder of Kings it will play a central role in Israel’s story, as bad kings corrupt its worship and good kings seek to reform it. But God, who is not confined by a building and who is certainly not dependent upon it, will survive even its destruction and hear the people’s prayers in exile. Likewise, obedience to the law is very important. In Kings, monarchs are judged good or bad in terms of their adherence to the law, particularly on matters of worship. Yet Solomon holds out hope for restoration beyond failure, for he holds out hope that grace will have the last word. It is a prayer upon which we shall have cause to reflect further before the story is finished.
Mordechai Cogan: The overall structure of 1 Kgs 8 is easily discernible and follows an agenda typical of such ceremonies (in view of similar celebrations in Mesopotamia, as shown by Hurowitz 1992, 260–77). Three acts are played out:
(1) the Temple is formally inaugurated by the introduction of the Ark in the Holy of Holies (vv. 1–13);
(2) the king offers blessings for the assembled and a prayer to YHWH concerning the role of the Temple (vv. 14–61);
(3) celebration (vv. 62–66).
I. (:1-13) SOLOMON’S INSTALLATION OF THE ARK INAUGURATES THE TEMPLE
A. (:1-4) Transportation of the Ark to the Temple
1. (:1) Sole Objective = Bring the Ark to the Temple
a. The Major Players
“Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel and all the heads of the tribes, the leaders of the fathers’ households of the sons of Israel,”
b. The Location
“to King Solomon in Jerusalem,”
c. The Goal
“to bring up the ark of the covenant of the LORD
from the city of David, which is Zion.”
Donald Wiseman: David had moved the ark from Obed-Edom’s house to newly captured Jerusalem (2 Sam. 6:1–12; 15:24–29) and now it moved on from Zion on the south hill of Jerusalem to the ‘citadel’ (jb ‘city’, cf. 2:10) to the new city extension to the north. The whole city would from now on be referred to as Zion (2 Kgs 19:31; Ps. 9:11).
Constable: The Israelites regarded the ark as the throne of Yahweh. It was the place where He manifested His presence in a localized way and where He received the blood that atoned for the Israelites’ sins on the Day of Atonement. The ark had rested in David’s tabernacle in Zion since David had brought it from the house of Obed-edom (2 Sam. 6:17). It was the only item in the temple that was not new. Perhaps God did not change it to help the people realize that He, symbolized by the ark, had not changed. His person and methods of dealing with them at the mercy seat were the same as they had been.
2. (:2) Special Timing
“And all the men of Israel assembled themselves to King Solomon at the feast, in the month Ethanim, which is the seventh month.”
MacArthur: Solomon finished building the temple in the eighth month of the previous year (6:38; see 2Ch 5:1); all its detail signifying the magnificence and beauty of God’s nature and His transcendent, uncommon glory. The celebration, then, did not take place until 11 months later. Apparently Solomon intentionally scheduled the dedication of the temple to coincide with the Feast of Booths or Tabernacles held in the seventh month, when there would be a general assembly of the people in Jerusalem. That was also a Jubilee year, so it was especially appropriate (Lv 23:33-36, 39-43; Dt 16:13-15).
Constable: The ceremony of installing the ark in Solomon’s temple took place during the Feast of Tabernacles. This was one of the feasts that the Mosaic Law specified that all Israelite males had to attend (Lev. 23:33-36). This feast was a commemoration of the Lord’s faithfulness during His people’s wilderness wanderings. It looked back to their slavery in Egypt and forward to their establishment in the Promised Land. The bringing of the ark into the temple symbolized the fulfillment of that hope. Evidently Solomon waited for this feast in order to celebrate the dedication of the temple, and used the months following the completion of construction to furnish it and to prepare for the celebration.
3. (:3-4) Sacred Accomplishment
a. (:3) Sacred Task
“Then all the elders of Israel came,
and the priests took up the ark.”
b. (:4a) Sacred Objects
“And they brought up the ark of the LORD
and the tent of meeting
and all the holy utensils, which were in the tent,”
c. (:4b) Sacred Execution
“and the priests and the Levites brought them up.”
MacArthur: The ark of the covenant was transported by the priests and the Levites from the tent that David had made for it in Jerusalem (2Sa 6:17). They also brought to the temple the tabernacle and all its furnishings which had been located in Gibeon (2Ch 1:2-6). The ark was placed into the Most Holy Place (v. 6).
B. (:5-8) Installation of the Ark in the Holiest of Holies
1. (:5) Multitude of Sacrifices
“And King Solomon and all the congregation of Israel, who were assembled to him, were with him before the ark, sacrificing so many sheep and oxen they could not be counted or numbered.”
2. (:6-8) Majestic Home for the Ark
a. (:6) Most Holy Place Provides the Home for the Ark of the Covenant
“Then the priests brought the ark of the covenant of the LORD to its place, into the inner sanctuary of the house, to the most holy place, under the wings of the cherubim.”
b. (:7) Cherubim Provide Covering over the Ark and its Poles
“For the cherubim spread their wings over the place of the ark, and the cherubim made a covering over the ark and its poles from above.”
c. (:8) Poles Provide Point of Reference for the Location of the Ark of the Covenant
“But the poles were so long that the ends of the poles could be seen from the holy place before the inner sanctuary, but they could not be seen outside; they are there to this day.”
Constable: Perhaps the poles that carried the ark, and were fastened to the sides of the ark (cf. Exod. 25:15), were oriented so that they ran east and west. They were so long (more than 30 feet long; cf. 6:20) that they evidently extended out of the most holy place (“the inner sanctuary”) into “the holy place” (v. 8). Apparently the veil that separated the holy place from the most holy place hid the ark from sight, but not the eastern ends of the poles. They were visible from the holy place, but not from “outside” the temple building.
C. (:9) Contents of the Ark = Covenant Tablets of the Law
“There was nothing in the ark except the two tablets of stone which Moses put there at Horeb, where the LORD made a covenant with the sons of Israel, when they came out of the land of Egypt.”
MacArthur: The pot of manna (Ex 16:33) and Aaron’s rod that budded (Nu 17:10) were no longer in the ark. See Heb 9:4.
D. (:10-13) Significance of the Ark in the Temple
1. (:10-11) Glory of the Lord Filling the Temple
“And it came about when the priests came from 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 filled the house of the LORD.”
MacArthur: The cloud was “the glory of the Lord” (v. 11), the visible symbol of God’s presence. It signaled the Lord’s approval of this new temple. A similar manifestation took place when the tabernacle was dedicated (Ex 40:34, 35).
David Guzik: This was the cloud of glory, seen often in the Old and New Testaments, sometimes called the cloud of Shekinah glory. It is hard to define the glory of God; we could call it the radiant outshining of His character and presence. Here it was manifested in a cloud.
· This is the cloud that stood by Israel in the wilderness (Exodus 13:21-22).
· This is the cloud of glory that God spoke to Israel from (Exodus 16:10).
· This is the cloud from which God met with Moses and others (Exodus 19:9, 24:15-18, Numbers 11:25, 12:5, 16:42).
· This is the cloud that stood by the door of the Tabernacle (Exodus 33:9-10).
· This is the cloud from which God appeared to the High Priest in the Holy Place inside the veil (Leviticus 16:2).
· This is the cloud of Ezekiel’s vision, filling the temple of God with the brightness of His glory (Ezekiel 10:4).
·This is the cloud of glory that overshadowed Mary when she conceived Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35).
· This is the cloud present at the transfiguration of Jesus (Luke 9:34-35).
· This is the cloud of glory that received Jesus into heaven at His ascension (Acts 1:9).
· This is the cloud that will display the glory of Jesus Christ when He returns in triumph to this earth (Luke 21:27, Revelation 1:7).
2. (:12-13) Dwelling Place of the Lord in the Temple
a. (:12) Dwelling Place Promised
“Then Solomon said, ‘The LORD has said
that He would dwell in the thick cloud.’”
b. (:13) Dwelling Place Provided
“I have surely built Thee a lofty house,
A place for Thy dwelling forever.”
Donald Wiseman: In Hebrew thought there is no incompatibility between divine omnipresence and a local dwelling-place on earth where he made himself known (Isa. 8:18; Ps. 76:2).
II. (:14-21) SOLOMON’S REMINDER OF GOD’S PROPHETIC PROMISE REINFORCES GOD’S FAITHFULNESS
“Then the king faced about and blessed all the assembly of Israel, while all the assembly of Israel was standing. 15 And he said,”
August Konkel: The blessing of the assembly begins with a declaration of the blessedness of God (vv. 14–15). Blessedness is an epithet of God, an acknowledgment that he is the source and dispenser of blessing. The praise addressed to God is actually an exhortation to the assembly. It makes explicit reference to the prophetic word to David concerning the divine priorities of kingdom and temple (vv. 16–19). The delay of temple building was not only a matter of making the transition to one central place of worship; another factor was that David had been continuously embroiled in war (1 Kings 5:17). The rest David achieved was not the time for an undertaking like that of Solomon. The blessedness of God is his fulfillment of the promise that the son of David was destined to build a temple as a focus for Israel’s prayers and worship.
Solomon’s words express the importance of the temple in the history of the nation and the role it will have in future relationships between God and his people. The presence of the temple assures the people that God has secured a royal dynasty for his people (cf. 2 Sam. 7:12–17). The temple is the place where the ark of God’s covenant finds its rest (1 Kings 8:21). The ark represents the special legal bond uniting God and Israel. The presence of the ark of the covenant makes the temple the focal point for prayer, no matter where the prayer is uttered. God’s eyes will constantly be directed toward the temple; prayers directed there will be received by God in heaven. The temple is central from this time forward; it represents the covenant bond and the establishment of the promised kingdom.
Mordechai Cogan: A hymn of praise, thanking YHWH for fulfilling His promise to David (vv. 15–21), precedes the prayer and is complemented by a personal petition imploring YHWH to keep His promise with respect to dynasty (vv. 23–26).
A. (:15) Blessing the Lord for His Faithfulness to David
“Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, who spoke with His mouth to my father David and has fulfilled it with His hand, saying,”
B. (:16) Priority of the Davidic Kingdom
“Since the day that I brought My people Israel from Egypt, I did not choose a city out of all the tribes of Israel in which to build a house that My name might be there, but I chose David to be over My people Israel.”
C. (:17-19) Intention of David Regarding Building the Temple
1. (:17) Recognition of His Intention
“Now it was in the heart of my father David to build a house for the name of the LORD, the God of Israel.”
2. (:18) Rightness of His Intention
“But the LORD said to my father David, ‘Because it was in your heart to build a house for My name, you did well that it was in your heart.’”
3. (:19) Repurposing of His Intention
“Nevertheless you shall not build the house, but your son who shall be born to you, he shall build the house for My name.”
D. (:20-21) Fulfilment of Divine Promise Regarding the Building of the Temple via Solomon
1. (:20) Raising up Solomon to Accomplish the Task
“Now the LORD has fulfilled His word which He spoke; for I have risen in place of my father David and sit on the throne of Israel, as the LORD promised, and have built the house for the name of the LORD, the God of Israel.”
2. (:21) Resting Place for the Ark of the Covenant
“And there I have set a place for the ark, in which is the covenant of the LORD, which He made with our fathers when He brought them from the land of Egypt.”
Iain Provan: One important feature of this speech (vv. 16–20), and also of the prayer that follows in verses 22–53, is the way in which the word Name is used as a way of avoiding saying that God actually dwells in the temple (cf. also 3:2; 5:3, 5). God’s presence in the temple is real enough, and people will get God’s attention by calling the name, but God is not to be thought of as “living” there in any sense that detracts from the reality of God’s transcendence. This is one way of overcoming the problem language presents us with when we want to talk of a God who is both immanent (with us) and transcendent (beyond us; cf. further Matt. 23:21–22).
III. (:22-53) SOLOMON’S PRAYER OF DEDICATION LEVERAGES GOD’S RESPONSIVENESS TO THE ONGOING NEEDS OF HIS COVENANT PEOPLE
“Then Solomon stood before the altar of the LORD in the presence of all the assembly of Israel and spread out his hands toward heaven.”
Mordechai Cogan: he spread his palms heavenward. A gesture expressive of need and help that takes on the sense of prayer and supplication; cf. Exod 9:29; Isa 1:15.
August Konkel: The prayer emphasizes the loyal faithfulness of God in his covenant with those who are faithful (v. 23). “Covenant of love” is a paraphrase for loyalty; the Hebrew word ḥesed is used primarily to describe loyalty to a commitment made by oath. Complete faithfulness is one expression of love, one that is most critical in all relationships. Divine loyalty is evident in the promise to David already fulfilled (v. 24); Solomon’s prayer is that the divine promise might now be fulfilled in the continuity of David’s descendants on the throne (vv. 25–26). The covenant blessing is conditional on the faithfulness of the covenant partners; that is Solomon’s particular concern in this prayer, for there is no person who does not sin and incur divine wrath (v. 46). Solomon pleads for the temple to receive the divine mercy when the people pray.
A. (:23-26) Praise for God’s Covenant Faithfulness
1. (:23-24) Extolling God for Past Covenant Faithfulness
“And he said, ‘O LORD, the God of Israel, there is no God like Thee in heaven above or on earth beneath, who art keeping covenant and showing lovingkindness to Thy servants who walk before Thee with all their heart, 24 who hast kept with Thy servant, my father David, that which Thou hast promised him; indeed, Thou hast spoken with Thy mouth and hast fulfilled it with Thy hand as it is this day.’”
2. (:25-26) Entreating God for Future Covenant Faithfulness
“Now therefore, O LORD, the God of Israel, keep with Thy servant David my father that which Thou hast promised him, saying, ‘You shall not lack a man to sit on the throne of Israel, if only your sons take heed to their way to walk before Me as you have walked.’ 26 Now therefore, O God of Israel, let Thy word, I pray Thee, be confirmed which Thou hast spoken to Thy servant, my father David.”
B. (:27-30) Paradox of the Transcendence of God v. the Immanence of God
1. (:27) Transcendence of God = Can’t be Contained in This Temple
“But will God indeed dwell on the earth?
Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain Thee,
how much less this house which I have built!”
2. (:28-30) Immanence of God = Responsive to His People
“Yet have regard to the prayer of Thy servant and to his supplication, O LORD my God, to listen to the cry and to the prayer which Thy servant prays before Thee today; 29 that Thine eyes may be open toward this house night and day, toward the place of which Thou hast said, ‘My name shall be there,’ to listen to the prayer which Thy servant shall pray toward this place. 30 And listen to the supplication of Thy servant and of Thy people Israel, when they pray toward this place; hear Thou in heaven Thy dwelling place; hear and forgive.”
R. D. Patterson: v. 29 – The expression “have the eye fixed on” (NIV “open toward”) an object is a common and graphic way of signifying care and attentiveness (cf. Pss 31:22; 34:15; 101:6). This verse forms the core of the whole prayer. God had condescended to allow a temple to be built for his name (5:5). He had by this means identified himself with his people. This means that God had through the temple provided a place of contact between man and God, a way for sinful man to approach a holy God, to have his sins forgiven, and to live in fellowship with him. Solomon prayed that God might continue to acknowledge the temple and the one who comes to him by way of the temple as he had promised.
C. (:31-53) Petitions Securing God’s Covenant Blessings for 7 Key Situations
MacArthur: He listed 7 typical Israelite prayers that would require the Lord’s response. These supplications recalled the detailed list of curses that Dt 28:15-68 ascribed for the breaking of the law.
Constable: The remainder of 1 and 2 Kings shows how God answered Solomon’s prayer. That is why this chapter is so significant theologically. The possibilities that the king mentioned here eventually took place in Israel’s history, culminating in the Babylonian Captivity.
Donald Wiseman: Three different words for prayer are used here:
(i) Prayer (tēpillâ); intercession and prayer (vv. 19-30, 33, 35, 38, 42, 44-45, 48-49).
(ii) Plea for mercy (tehinnâ) earnest prayer for help (vv. 45, 52), “entreaty” (JB; REB v.52), ‘supplication” (AV. REB).
(iii) Cry (rînnâ); ringing cry for joy or sorrow, petition (vv. 28, 52).
1. (:31-32) Wronging a Neighbor
a. (:31) Situation
“If a man sins against his neighbor and is made to take an oath, and he comes and takes an oath before Thine altar in this house,”
b. (:32) Petition
“then hear Thou in heaven and act and judge Thy servants, condemning the wicked by bringing his way on his own head and justifying the righteous by giving him according to his righteousness.”
2. (:33-34) Defeated by an Enemy and Led into Captivity
a. (:33) Situation
“When Thy people Israel are defeated before an enemy, because they have sinned against Thee, if they turn to Thee again and confess Thy name and pray and make supplication to Thee in this house,”
b. (:34) Petition
“then hear Thou in heaven, and forgive the sin of Thy people Israel, and bring them back to the land which Thou didst give to their fathers.”
3. (:35-36) Disaster via Drought
a. (:35) Situation
“When the heavens are shut up and there is no rain, because they have sinned against Thee, and they pray toward this place and confess Thy name and turn from their sin when Thou dost afflict them,”
b. (:36) Petition
“then hear Thou in heaven and forgive the sin of Thy servants and of Thy people Israel, indeed, teach them the good way in which they should walk. And send rain on Thy land, which Thou hast given Thy people for an inheritance.”
4. (:37-40) Disaster via Famine / Pestilence / Sickness
a. (:37-38) Situation
“If there is famine in the land, if there is pestilence, if there is blight or mildew, locust or grasshopper, if their enemy besieges them in the land of their cities, whatever plague, whatever sickness there is, 38 whatever prayer or supplication is made by any man or by all Thy people Israel, each knowing the affliction of his own heart, and spreading his hands toward this house;”
b. (:39-40) Petition
“then hear Thou in heaven Thy dwelling place, and forgive and act and render to each according to all his ways, whose heart Thou knowest, for Thou alone dost know the hearts of all the sons of men, that they may fear Thee all the days that they live in the land which Thou hast given to our fathers.”
5. (:41-43) Injustice for the Foreigner
a. (:41-42) Situation
“Also concerning the foreigner who is not of Thy people Israel, when he comes from a far country for Thy name’s sake 42 (for they will hear of Thy great name and Thy mighty hand, and of Thine outstretched arm); when he comes and prays toward this house,”
b. (:43) Petition
“hear Thou in heaven Thy dwelling place, and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to Thee, in order that all the peoples of the earth may know Thy name, to fear Thee, as do Thy people Israel, and that they may know that this house which I have built is called by Thy name.”
6. (:44-45) Success in Upcoming Battle
a. (:44) Situation
“When Thy people go out to battle against their enemy, by whatever way Thou shalt send them, and they pray to the LORD toward the city which Thou hast chosen and the house which I have built for Thy name,”
b. (:45) Petition
“then hear in heaven their prayer and their supplication, and maintain their cause.”
7. (:46-53) Generic Sin Leading to Captivity
a. (:46-48) Situation
“When they sin against Thee (for there is no man who does not sin) and Thou art angry with them and dost deliver them to an enemy, so that they take them away captive to the land of the enemy, far off or near; 47 if they take thought in the land where they have been taken captive, and repent and make supplication to Thee in the land of those who have taken them captive, saying, ‘We have sinned and have committed iniquity, we have acted wickedly’; 48 if they return to Thee with all their heart and with all their soul in the land of their enemies who have taken them captive, and pray to Thee toward their land which Thou hast given to their fathers, the city which Thou hast chosen, and the house which I have built for Thy name;”
August Konkel: Exile is the consequence of a ruptured relationship with God. The passage plays on the words “take captive” (šbh) and “turn” (šwb). These two words become virtual homonyms in their various forms. Captors may take them captive (šabûm šōbêhem) into an enemy land (8:46); if in the land where they were taken captive (nišbû) they turn in their minds (hēšîbû), turn (šābû), and make confession to God (vv. 47–48), if they turn (šabû) wholeheartedly to the city God has chosen, God may hear and forgive (vv. 49–50). Defeat by enemies is an evidence of sin and failure (v. 46); the only recourse in captivity is to turn back to God in repentance, remembering his covenant and his promise. God redeemed his people and made them his special possession at Mount Sinai (v. 53; cf. Ex. 19:5–6). Solomon’s prayer is that God’s work may be completed.
b. (:49-53) Petition
“then hear their prayer and their supplication in heaven Thy dwelling place, and maintain their cause, 50 and forgive Thy people who have sinned against Thee and all their transgressions which they have transgressed against Thee, and make them objects of compassion before those who have taken them captive, that they may have compassion on them 51 (for they are Thy people and Thine inheritance which Thou hast brought forth from Egypt, from the midst of the iron furnace), 52 that Thine eyes may be open to the supplication of Thy servant and to the supplication of Thy people Israel, to listen to them whenever they call to Thee. 53 For Thou hast separated them from all the peoples of the earth as Thine inheritance, as Thou didst speak through Moses Thy servant, when Thou didst bring our fathers forth from Egypt, O Lord God.”
Iain Provan: What is striking about these seven petitions is how different they are in atmosphere from the first part of the prayer in verses 23–26. There the stress was upon the necessity of obedience. Here, however, human disobedience is simply presupposed (esp. in v. 46: there is no one who does not sin), and the prayer moves beyond God’s judgment to dependence upon divine forgiveness and grace. It does so hinting that it is God’s choices, and not Israel’s, that are the crucial element in the God-Israel relationship. The land is the land given to the fathers (i.e., the patriarchs, vv. 34, 40), the land given as an inheritance (v. 36; cf. Deut. 4:37–38)—statements that remind us, like the case of the foreign worshiper in verses 41–43, of the divine promise to Abraham in Genesis 12:1–3; 17:1–8. The people … brought out of Egypt are Abraham’s descendants, delivered from oppression not because of their ability to keep the law but simply because of the promise.
IV. (:54-61) SOLOMON’S BENEDICTION AND CHARGE TO ISRAEL TIES FUTURE BLESSING AND TESTIMONY TO COVENANT OBEDIENCE
A. (:54-55) Transition from Prayer to Benediction
“And it came about that when Solomon had finished praying this entire prayer and supplication to the LORD, he arose from before the altar of the LORD, from kneeling on his knees with his hands spread toward heaven.
And he stood and blessed all the assembly of Israel with a loud voice, saying,”
MacArthur: vv.54-61 – Solomon arose to pronounce a benediction on the people. His words were substantially a brief recapitulation of the preceding prayer in which he affirmed the faithfulness of the Lord to Israel (v. 56) and exhorted Israel to faithfulness to the Lord (vv. 57-61).
Mordechai Cogan: Solomon’s closing blessing of the people (vv. 54–61) is in effect a further call upon YHWH to grant them the mind to live by His ways. In terms of formal structure, the pattern of two blessings of the people (vv. 14, 55), with an intervening personal prayer, is also reported during the Tabernacle inaugural; cf. Lev 9:22–23 (see Milgrom 1991, 588 ad Lev 9:23; Hurowitz 1992, 287–88).
B. (:56) Review of God’s Past Faithfulness
1. Faithful to Give His People Rest
“Blessed be the LORD, who has given rest to His people Israel, according to all that He promised;”
2. Faithful to Keep His Promises
“not one word has failed of all His good promise, which He promised through Moses His servant.”
C. (:57-59) Requests of Solomon
1. (:57) Request #1 = Favorable Presence of God
“May the LORD our God be with us, as He was with our fathers;
may He not leave us or forsake us,”
2. (:58) Request #2 = Covenant Obedience
“that He may incline our hearts to Himself, to walk in all His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His ordinances, which He commanded our fathers.”
3. (:59) Request #3 = Responsiveness to Petitions for Help
“And may these words of mine, with which I have made supplication before the LORD, be near to 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 requires,”
D. (:60) Motivation = Testimony to the Nations
“so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God; there is no one else.”
David Guzik: Solomon again shows the often-neglected missionary impulse God wanted in Israel. Blessing to Israel wasn’t meant to end with Israel; God wanted to bless the world through Israel.
E. (:61) Charge to the People
“Let your heart therefore be wholly devoted to the LORD our God,
to walk in His statutes and to keep His commandments, as at this day.”
V. (:62-66) SOLOMON’S DEDICATION SACRIFICES AND CELEBRATION FEAST ACCENTUATE THE JOY OF COVENANT BLESSING
A. (:62-64) Dedication Sacrifices
“Now the king and all Israel with him offered sacrifice before the LORD. And Solomon offered for the sacrifice of peace offerings, which he offered to the LORD, 22,000 oxen and 120,000 sheep. So the king and all the sons of Israel dedicated the house of the LORD. On the same day the king consecrated the middle of the court that was before the house of the LORD, because there he offered the burnt offering and the grain offering and the fat of the peace offerings; for the bronze altar that was before the LORD was too small to hold the burnt offering and the grain offering and the fat of the peace offerings.”
MacArthur: To complete the temple’s dedication, Solomon led the people in offering peace offerings to the Lord (cf. Lv 3:1-17; 7:11-21), in which they consumed 22,000 bulls and 120,000 sheep (v. 63). Although the number of sacrifices offered seems high, it was in keeping with the magnitude of this event. Obviously, the single bronze altar could not accommodate such an enormous number of sacrifices. Solomon first had to consecrate the entire middle courtyard, the one directly in front of the temple (v. 64). After consecrating the court, Solomon probably had a series of auxiliary altars set up in the court to accommodate all the peace offerings.
B. (:65) Celebration Feast
“So Solomon observed the feast at that time, and all Israel with him, a great assembly from the entrance of Hamath to the brook of Egypt, before the LORD our God, for seven days and seven more days, even fourteen days.”
References northern and southern borders of Solomon’s kingdom
C. (:66) Joy of Covenant Blessing
“On the eighth day he sent the people away and they blessed the king. Then they went to their tents joyful and glad of heart for all the goodness that the LORD had shown to David His servant and to Israel His people.”
Donald Wiseman: i.e. thanked him (brk). Misunderstanding this, the lxx makes Solomon give a final blessing of dismissal. As in the Assyrian examples, the crowds left ‘happy in heart’ (jb, mt ṭôb lēb, ‘goodness of heart’ ranges from joyfulness and contentment to pleasure at the covenant relationship being celebrated). All the people recognized the good that Solomon had done as the Lord’s action.
Constable: Verse 66 is very significant because it shows that because of Israel’s rededication in this covenant renewal ceremony, King Solomon enjoyed blessing from his people on whom he had brought blessing. The result was joy and gladness of heart for everyone. These are what God had promised in the Mosaic Law as consequences of commitment to His will. God blessed Solomon personally, and he became a channel of blessing to the nation he served because he committed himself to obeying God’s Word.
John Gates: Seven days had been consumed in spiritual service centering around the dedication and the following feast. The people now left for their farms and villages, with a new sense of the divine destiny of the kingdom upon them.