ACCESS TO THE PRESENCE OF GOD SHOULD CAUSE US TO JOYFULLY CELEBRATE AND PRAISE GOD FOR HIS FAITHFULNESS
Frederick Mabie: The dedication of the temple is essentially one literary unit, beginning with the assembly of the leaders of Israel in 5:2 and closing with the dismissal of this assembly in 7:10, followed by a postscript indicating Yahweh’s appearance and response to Solomon’s temple-dedication prayer (7:11–22). The stress of Yahweh’s response to Solomon’s dedicatory prayer is that Deuteronomic covenantal blessings can be obtained and renewed through repentance, humility, and prayer. This emphatic message of hope and available reconciliation with God would have special significance for the Chronicler’s postexilic audience, whose Sitz im Leben (life context) follows on the heels of the outworking of the divine threats noted in 7:19–22.
Andrew Hill: The reports of the installation of the ark of the covenant in the Most Holy Place and the dedication of the temple constitute the climax of the Chronicler’s narrative of Israelite history. Historically, the reign of King Solomon was the zenith of Israelite political power and influence in the biblical world and the “golden age” of Israelite history culturally. The narrative reporting the events of the reign of Solomon, however, is important to the Chronicler for another reason. Theologically, this literary unit emphasizes the themes of the ark of the covenant, the temple, and the Davidic dynasty—the essential building blocks in the theology of hope he lays for his audience in the retelling of the history of Israelite kingship.
This section contains three distinct movements:
– the transfer and installation of the ark of the covenant (5:2–6:11),
– the dedicatory prayer for the temple (6:12–42), and
– the concluding ceremonies (7:1–11).
Solomon’s dream theophany (7:12–22), in which God voices his approval of the king’s temple-related initiatives, provides a natural closure. The parallel that provides the primary historical source for this section of the Chronicler’s narrative is 1 Kings 8:1–9:9.
Mark Boda: With the summary note at the outset of chapter 5, the Chronicler moves into a new phase of his account of the Temple building, a section that will continue until the end of chapter 7. While the Chronicler abridged the previous section from his source in Kings, in the present section he expands his account. The result is that greater emphasis is placed on the dedication of the Temple than on the construction of the Temple. This suggests that the Chronicler was more interested in the functioning of the Temple and its services than in its construction, as he addressed readers after the second Temple was completed.
J.A. Thompson: With the completion of the temple it was time to bring the ark to the temple because once the ark was in place, the temple rituals could proceed. The bringing of the ark to the temple, Solomon’s prayer of dedication, and the concluding ceremonies of dedication brought the climax toward which the Chronicler had been moving throughout his story.
I. (5:2-10) THE ARK IS BROUGHT INTO THE TEMPLE
A. (:2-3) Gathering of Israelite Leaders to Transfer the Ark into the Temple
“Then Solomon assembled to Jerusalem the elders of Israel and all the heads of the tribes, the leaders of the fathers’ households of the sons of Israel, to bring up the ark of the covenant of the LORD out of the city of David, which is Zion. 3 And all the men of Israel assembled themselves to the king at the feast, that is in the seventh month.”
John MacArthur: The ark was in Jerusalem in a temporary tent (2Sa 6:17), not the original tabernacle, which was still at Gibeon (1 Ch 16:39).
Frederick Mabie: Solomon’s gathering of leaders underscores the image of national unity and oneness at the dedication of the temple. A similar group of national leaders accompanied David in moving the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem (cf. 1Ch 13–16; cf. 28:1–8). The ark of the covenant is being relocated the short distance (about 500 meters) from the City of David (Zion) to the new palace-temple complex.
Iain Duguid: These few verses are packed with details affirming the people’s identity as the Lord’s covenant people, “Israel.” While other nations would bring an idol in procession to a new temple, Israel brings the Lord’s throne, the “ark of the covenant of the Lord” (the first mention of the “covenant” in Solomon’s reign, repeated in v. 7). The “feast that is in the seventh month” is the Feast of Booths, remembering the wilderness journey that shaped the life of the people as they traveled with the ark in the “tent of meeting” at their center. That “tent,” which had been at Gibeon (1:6), is now also in the temple in Jerusalem; continuity with the past is affirmed.
The active involvement of “Israel” as a whole is emphasized (four times in 5:2–6); “Solomon” may be in charge, but he is named only twice, both together with the leaders (vv. 2, 6). Finally, while 1 Kings 8:1 has the leaders coming “before King Solomon in Jerusalem,” Chronicles’ simple “in Jerusalem” provides another example for postexilic hearers: it is “all . . . Israel” coming to the place, not to the king, that is most important.
Mark Boda: This [Festival of Shelters (Tabernacles)] was one of the three key festivals (Passover/Unleavened Bread, Weeks/Pentecost, Tabernacles) that coincided with the three harvest periods in Canaan and to which all Israelites were to journey to Jerusalem to offer their tithes and offerings (Exod 23:14-17; Deut 16:16). It is not surprising that Solomon would plan his dedication to coincide with a major festival with so many people gathering in Jerusalem to celebrate the harvest.
B. (:4-6) Transporting the Ark According to God’s Good Pleasure
1. (:4-5) Proper Use of Levites
“Then all the elders of Israel came, and the Levites took up the ark. 5 And they brought up the ark and the tent of meeting and all the holy utensils which were in the tent; the Levitical priests brought them up.”
Frederick Mabie: Solomon employs both Levites and priests for the handling and moving of the sacred objects, including the ark and the Tent of Meeting (the tabernacle in the wilderness). The mention of these groups implies differing responsibilities. In short, every priest must be a Levite; yet not every Levite would function as a priest.
Andrew Hill: The rest of the sacred furniture from the Tent of Meeting, as well as the tent itself, is also transported to the temple precinct (5:4–5). Previously, the Tent of Meeting was located in Gibeon (cf. 1 Chron. 16:39). There is no mention of the Tent of Meeting being relocated in Jerusalem, so presumably these materials have been dismantled and transported from Gibeon to Jerusalem for the installation ceremony. The ark itself undoubtedly leads the procession from the temporary structure David erected in Zion to the Jerusalem temple (2 Chron. 5:2; cf. 1 Chron. 15:1–2).
2. (:6) Abundant Offering of Sacrifices
“And King Solomon and all the congregation of Israel who were assembled with him before the ark were sacrificing so many sheep and oxen, that they could not be counted or numbered.”
C. (:7-10) Stationing the Ark in the Holy of Holies
1. (:7-8) Stationed under the Protection of the Cherubim
“Then the priests brought the ark of the covenant of the LORD to its place, into the inner sanctuary of the house, to the holy of holies, under the wings of the cherubim. 8 For the cherubim spread their wings over the place of the ark, so that the cherubim made a covering over the ark and its poles.”
Bob Utley: v. 5:8 — Apparently in Solomon’s temple there were two sets of these angel guardians.
– two large pairs that faced toward the altar of sacrifice; they filled the entire inner room
– two smaller ones on the lid of the ark, facing inward
Frederick Mabie: The imagery of the expanse of the cherubs’ wingspan over the ark likely reflects God’s complete protection over the ark and the sacred inner sanctum (as holy space). This protection over the ark would visually portray God’s protection over his Word, especially his covenantal relationship with Israel as inscribed on the two tablets placed within the ark (v.10).
No remark is made concerning the other two items previously kept in the ark, namely, the omer of manna (Ex 16:32–34) and Aaron’s rod (Nu 17:10). It is possible that these items were removed or lost during the ark’s transient period (including years in Philistine possession).
2. (:9) Stationed in Verifiable Reality
“And the poles were so long that the ends of the poles of the ark could be seen in front of the inner sanctuary, but they could not be seen outside; and they are there to this day.”
3. (:10) Stationed with a Focus on Obedience to the Law of the Covenant
“There was nothing in the ark except the two tablets which Moses put there at Horeb, where the LORD made a covenant with the sons of Israel, when they came out of Egypt.”
II. (5:11-14) THE GLORY OF GOD FILLS THE TEMPLE
A. (:11-13a) Musical Celebration of Praise in Glorifying the Lord
“And when the priests came forth from the holy place (for all the priests who were present had sanctified themselves, without regard to divisions), 12 and all the Levitical singers, Asaph, Heman, Jeduthun, and their sons and kinsmen, clothed in fine linen, with cymbals, harps, and lyres, standing east of the altar, and with them one hundred and twenty priests blowing trumpets 13 in unison when the trumpeters and the singers were to make themselves heard with one voice to praise and to glorify the LORD, and when they lifted up their voice accompanied by trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music,”
Geoffrey Kirkland: 9 Distinctives of the singing of God’s people (from verses 12-13):
• It’s CONGREGATIONAL —- many priests, leaders, 120 priests, the singers
• It’s PURE — they sanctified themselves
• It’s LOFTY — they were dressed/clothed in fine linen (Rev.19.8)
• It’s ORCHESTRAL — cymbals, harps, lyres, trumpets, cymbals, instruments of music
• It’s LOUD — cymbals and trumpets
• It’s VOCAL (singing/one voice) — singers were to make themselves heard
• It’s GOD-CENTERED — with one voice to praise and to glorify the LORD
• It’s WORSHIPFUL —they praised the LORD
• It’s BIBLICAL — quoting previous biblical truth from Psalms (e.g, Ps 136:1, etc).
B. (:13b) Memorized Psalm Extolling God’s Everlasting Faithful Love to His Covenant People
“and when they praised the LORD saying,
‘He indeed is good for His lovingkindness is everlasting,’”
Martin Selman: The quotation from the Psalms (v. 13b) encapsulates in a sentence what the entire temple project was about, that over the years since God’s first promise to David (1 Ch. 17:12), God’s faithful love (Heb. hesed) had ensured the project’s success. Underlying the temple was the person of God. He is good. That is why he responds to Israel’s worship with what later Jews called the shekinah glory (vv. 13c-14).
Mark Boda: This phrase links God’s characteristic goodness with the enduring quality of his love. The term “faithful love” (Heb. khesed) refers to God’s faithfulness to the covenant he had established with Israel. Before God favored Israel with his manifest presence in the first Temple, the Levites rehearsed the covenant values that made this experience possible.
C. (:13c-14) Majestic Climax = Glory of the Lord Filling the House of God
“then the house, the house of the LORD, was filled with a cloud, 14 so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled the house of God.”
Iain Duguid: The coming of the “glory of the Lord” meant that, as at the tabernacle (Ex. 40:34–35), human activity could not continue as usual. For his presence to come so clearly was evidence that the Lord accepted the temple as a settled replacement for the mobile tabernacle (1 Chron. 17:3–6, 12). “Clouds” appear often in Scripture as a sign of the glorious presence of God, visibly present yet veiled from human eyes (e.g., Ex. 13:21–22; 40:34–38; Pss. 97:2; 104:3; Ezek. 1:4; 10:3–4; Dan. 7:13; Matt. 17:5; 24:30; Rev. 10:1).
Importantly for the Chronicler’s hearers, for whom the ark is no more, it was “when the song was raised” that “the glory of the Lord filled the house of God” (2 Chron. 5:13–14). Song continued to accompany God’s glory as the people later joined in praise (7:3). God’s presence as King was indeed surrounded by praise (Pss. 9:11; 22:3). Here is encouragement to continue praising God: in song God’s glory is proclaimed as people pray for his glory to return.
Frederick Mabie: Music was an important dimension of worship in ancient Near Eastern cultures, and a wide variety of musical instruments were employed. Music was also used to motivate work, as attested in the use of music in the repairing and restoration of Yahweh’s temple during Josiah’s reforms (34:12–13). Stringed instruments ranged from those with three to ten strings mounted on wooden frames and having various shapes and sizes. Cymbals were typically forged from bronze, while trumpets were made of various metals, such as seen in the large silver trumpet found in King Tutankhamun’s tomb.
Vs. 14 — After the declaration of God’s attributes of goodness and love (ḥesed), the temple is filled with a cloud, reminiscent of the cloud that filled the tabernacle in the wilderness following its completion (cf. Ex 40:34–35). Similarly, at the beginning of ch. 6 Solomon notes that “the LORD has said that he would dwell in a dark cloud” (6:1). The cloud communicates the awesomeness of God’s presence and his unapproachable glory.
Andrew Konkel: The ceremony concludes with a confessional statement made by Solomon, which follows very closely its source in Kings. The words of Solomon in Kings reiterate the main themes of the Chronicler concerning the covenant with Israel and the election of David as king. This central theme from Scripture is the basis of the Chronicler’s history. The temple, which David had intended to build, is now the place where the name of God dwells. Name indicates possession; in the Amarna letters it is an idiom for ownership [Amarna Tablets, p. 464]. Just as the Pharaoh owned Jerusalem by placing his name there, so the Lord now owns the temple and all that it represents. The repeated reference to name in this promise is to establish a memorial to perpetuate a reputation. It was customary for kings to establish the legitimacy of their rule by building or refurbishing a temple as an affirmation of the god that enabled their rule. David was denied this assurance, but in its place he received a divine promise now fulfilled. Solomon utilized the name to make the temple the ultimate symbol of the faith of the Israelites: it fulfills the promise, is the place of covenant preservation, and embodies the land promised to Israel and owned by God. The temple signifies the election of David and the choice of Jerusalem as the central place of worship.
J.A. Thompson: A cloud symbolizing God’s presence filled the house (cf. Exod 40:34–35; Ezek 43:4). This marked the acceptance by God of the temple as the place of sacrifice. The priests were not able to take their place to perform their service because the glory of the Lord filled the temple. The cloud as a symbol of the presence of Yahweh is mentioned several times in the Old Testament (Exod 13; Num 9; Ezek 10:3–4). The Chronicler’s expanded account places the Lord’s filling the temple in the context of a great celebration of praise and affirmation of faith as if to encourage future generations of Israel to continue praising and worshiping God until his glory returns.
III. (6:1-11) SOLOMON ADDRESSES THE ASSEMBLY OF ISRAEL
A. (:1-2) Theological Paradox: Mystery of Transcendent God Dwelling in His Earthly Temple
“Then Solomon said, ‘The LORD has said that He would dwell in the thick cloud. 2 I have built Thee a lofty house, And a place for Thy dwelling forever.’”
J.A. Thompson: These two verses are Solomon’s response to the appearance of the divine glory in the shape of a dark cloud. The cloud formerly had appeared at Sinai (Exod 20:21; Deut 4:11; 5:22). There God revealed his presence. The darkness of the most holy place was a dwelling suited to a thick darkness (Exod 20:21). The picture is thus linked with the cloud of 5:13–14 and also with the thick darkness of Sinai. Once again the Chronicler points out a continuity between past revelation and the temple. This small structure in Jerusalem, moreover, was the place where divine transcendence and divine immanence would meet. On the one hand, no building, not even the whole earth, could contain God. He dwells in thick darkness, and indeed he fills all. On the other hand, in some special way God would be here, in this temple, more than in any other place. Perhaps this helps us understand the mystery of the incarnation of God in Christ—while God fills the whole universe, he also is specially present in the person of Christ. This is why Jesus referred to his body as a “temple” (John 2:20–21).
Martin Selman: This brief statement, which is part testimony and part prayer, evokes a sense of wonder that the same God whose glory fills the temple (5:13-14) also dwells in “thick darkness” (v. 1, NRSV, RSV, REB, NEB). This latter phrase is associated with the cloud of God’s mysterious presence at Mount Sinai (Exod. 20:21; Deut. 5:22) and with his appearing on the Day of the Lord (Joel 2:2; Zeph. 1:15). Solomon is amazed that this intangible, sovereign deity whose mystery is symbolized by the darkness of the windowless Holy of Holies now promises to dwell in this temple (v. 2). The theme of God’s dual residence cascades through the chapter, without ever being logically resolved. It is enough to know that God lives on earth as well as in heaven. Even though the temple is “exalted” (NRSV, RSV, KB; cf. REB, NEB), it cannot physically contain God any more than he can be confined by human philosophy. And yet anyone can approach him in prayer (vv. 18-40).
B. (:3-11) Thanksgiving for the Faithfulness of God to His Promises
1. (:3-6) Faithful in His Choice of Israel, of Jerusalem and of David
“Then the king faced about and blessed all the assembly of Israel, while all the assembly of Israel was standing. 4 And he said, ‘Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, who spoke with His mouth to my father David and has fulfilled it with His hands, saying, 5 Since the day that I brought My people from the land of 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, nor did I choose any man for a leader over My people Israel; 6 but I have chosen Jerusalem that My name might be there, and I have chosen David to be over My people Israel.’”
Frederick Mabie: Solomon’s temple-dedication prayer begins with expressions of praise and thanksgiving that focus on God’s faithfulness to fulfill his promise to David (compare vv.4–10 with 1Ch 17). Solomon’s declaration of God’s covenantal faithfulness within a context of prayer and thanksgiving would be a significant reminder to the Chronicler’s postexilic audience.
J.A. Thompson: vs. 5 — in Solomon’s address to the assembly he was stressing the fulfillment of God’s promise to David more than the exodus. The building of the temple and the establishment of the Davidic dynasty as a consequence of the divine promise was the important focus for the Chronicler (cf. 1 Chr 17).
2. (:7-9) Faithful in His Choice of Solomon to Build the Temple
“Now it was in the heart of my father David to build a house for the name of the LORD, the God of Israel. 8 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. 9 Nevertheless you shall not build the house, but your son who shall be born to you, he shall build the house for My name.’”
3. (:10-11) Faithful to Locate His Glorious Presence in the Completed Temple
“Now the LORD has fulfilled His word which He spoke; for I have risen in the 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. 11 And there I have set the ark, in which is the covenant of the LORD, which He made with the sons of Israel.”
Andrew Hill: After Solomon has turned from the dazzling spectacle of the cloud of Yahweh’s glory filling the temple (5:14), he addresses the “whole assembly of Israel” (6:3). Like his father, David, Solomon assumes a priestly or pastoral role when addressing the nation of Israel (cf. 1 Chron. 16:43). The Chronicler, however, portrays Solomon as one who represents the interests of the people more than the office of the Levitical priesthood. He blessed the populace as one of them. The king’s blessing underscores God’s selection of David as Israel’s ruler and the city of Jerusalem as the site for the temple (6:6). The succession of Solomon to David’s throne and the completion of the temple inaugurate the Davidic covenant announced previously by the prophet Nathan (cf. 1 Chron. 17:3). The people are blessed by these developments because through the Davidic covenant God has made provision for righteous leadership over the people and established a national “house of prayer” for Israel. Through prayer (whether praise, confession, petition, or intercession) Israel will maintain her covenant relationship with Yahweh. . .
The second half of Solomon’s address to the people of Israel is basically a prayer of thanksgiving, acknowledging God as a “promise-keeper” (6:7–11). The king specifically cites his succession to David’s throne (6:10a), the completion of the temple (6:10b), and the installation of the ark of the covenant (6:11) as proof positive that Yahweh is faithful to his word. The ark of the covenant is the symbol of God’s presence among his people and a tangible witness of his special relationship with Israel. The installation of the ark in the Jerusalem temple signifies that these theological truths now undergird the Davidic covenant as well.
Raymond Dillard: The accession of Solomon and the completion of the temple were for the Chronicler stages in the inauguration of the Davidic covenant. Instead of exhausting God’s promises so that the Chronicler would show no eschatological expectations or royalist hopes in the post-exilic period, these realizations of God’s promises were but the beginning of an unending dynasty (6:14–17; 13:5; 21:7; 23:3; 1 Chr 17:12–17, 23–27; 22:10; 28:7–8).
Martin Selman: Four emphases stand out in the speech.
– Firstly, the focus on God’s choice in verses 5-6 is emphatic and unusual (it is paralleled in Chro. Only in 1 Ch. 28:4-6). Here God’s original choice of David and Jerusalem is in mind, rather than of Solomon as in 1 Chronicles 28. This specific link of chosen king and chosen city is rare in the Old Testament, being found mainly in the Psalms (e.g. Pss 2:6-7; 78:67-72).
– The second emphasis is the rather surprising commendation for David’s heartfelt desire to build the temple, in contrast to his previous disqualification because of his wars (v. 8; cf. 1 Chr. 22:8-9; 28:3). In fact, this is a complementary rather than contradictory statement. It confirms that David’s disqualification was not due to sin, but because the concept of God’s rest must be regarded as the unique and final stage in building the temple (cf. v. 41). David’s motives actually set a pattern for others to follow, for a right attitude of heart is essential for any worship (vv. 14, 30; cf. 1 Chr. 29:17-19; Mark 7:6).
– Thirdly, the temple was especially associated with God’s Name (vv. 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10). This typically Deuteronomic idea fits in well with the chapter’s overall sense of God’s presence in earth and heaven, though here it extends to the idea of God’s choice.
– Finally, there are more frequent reminders than usual in Chronicles that the Sinai covenant underlies all that God is doing.