THE IMPORTANCE OF THE TEMPLE DERIVES FROM THE ABIDING GLORY OF THE LORD – REQUIRING COVENANT FAITHFULNESS
Andrew Hill: The circumstantial clause denoting the cause-and-effect relationship between Solomon’s prayer and God’s response clearly marks the beginning of a new section of the narrative. This portion of the Chronicler’s story of Solomon’s reign contains two major units: the dedication of the temple (7:1–10) and the report of the Lord’s appearance to Solomon (7:11–22). Each section in chapter 7 begins with the name “Solomon” since he is credited as the builder of Yahweh’s temple (7:1, 5, 7, 8, 11). The chiastic structure of the narrative recounting Solomon’s reign (chs. 1–9) is further enhanced by the inclusio formed by the repetition of the hymn of thanksgiving (5:13 and 7:3).
Thomas Constable: This record of the dedication of the temple emphasizes both the importance of the temple and the character of Israel’s God who indwelt it. Solomon reunited the ark, the symbol of God’s grace, and the altar, the symbol of human sacrificial response to that grace. It was now possible for Israel to fulfill the purpose for which God had created her as never before in her history (cf. Exod. 19:5-6). The temple was the key to this possibility. That is one reason the temple was so important in the national life of Israel.
I. (:1-11) DRAMATIC RESPONSE TO SOLOMON’S PRAYER OF TEMPLE DEDICATION
A. (:1-3) Dramatic Response of Divine Approval of Temple Dedication
1. (:1-2) Manifestation of the Glory of the Lord in the Temple
a. (:1a) Offerings and Sacrifices Consumed by Fire from Heaven
“Now when Solomon had finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices;”
b. (:1b) Overwhelming Presence of God Filling the Temple
“and the glory of the LORD filled the house.”
Frederick Mabie: The appearance of fire from heaven at the completion of Solomon’s prayer visually showcases God’s power and signifies his approval of Solomon’s dedicatory prayer and offering. Similarly, fire came down from heaven following a number of important events, including David’s sacrifice at the threshing floor of Ornan (the future location of the Jerusalem temple; cf. 1Ch 21:26), the inauguration of priestly service at the Tent of Meeting at Mount Sinai (cf. Lev 9:23–24), and Elijah’s showdown with the prophets of Baal (cf. 1Ki 18:16–39, esp. 38).
Raymond Dillard: This second report of the appearance of the fire and glory of Yahweh parallels the earlier account (5:13–14) and probably refers to the same incident, narrated twice to achieve the literary balance of a chiasm. It should be compared with other appearances of fire from Yahweh showing approval of a sanctuary or sacrifice (1 Chr 21 // 2 Sam 24; Exod 40:34–38; 1 Kgs 18; Judg 6:20–22).
A second approach to the two passages construes them in chronological sequence rather than as a duplicate account for purposes of literary balance; in this case the initial appearance was confined to the priests inside (5:13–14), while the latter incident was visible to all the people (7:3).
Mark Boda: The final section of Solomon’s prayer (6:41-42) invites God to “enter your resting place,” a request that is fulfilled immediately at the outset of chapter 7. Just before the glorious presence of the Lord fills the Temple, however, the Chronicler records that God sent down fire from heaven to burn up the sacrifices that had been prepared.
c. (:2) Occupation of the Temple Totally Filled by the Glory of God
“And the priests could not enter into the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD filled the LORD’s house.”
2. (:3) Motivation of the People to Worship God for His Goodness and Lovingkindness
“And all the sons of Israel, seeing the fire come down and the glory of the LORD upon the house, bowed down on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshiped and gave praise to the LORD, saying, ‘Truly He is good, truly His lovingkindness is everlasting.’”
Andrew Hill: The simultaneous events of fire from heaven falling on the bronze altar and the cloud of Yahweh’s glory filling the temple prompt a predictable reaction from the people—prostration in worship (7:3).
B. (:4-6) Dramatic Response of Celebratory Worship
1. (:4-5) Abundant Sacrifices
“Then the king and all the people offered sacrifice before the LORD. 5 And King Solomon offered a sacrifice of 22,000 oxen, and 120,000 sheep. Thus the king and all the people dedicated the house of God.”
2. (:6) Accompanied by Musical Praise
“And the priests stood at their posts and the Levites, with the instruments of music to the LORD, which King David had made for giving praise to the LORD—‘for His lovingkindness is everlasting’– whenever he gave praise by their means, while the priests on the other side blew trumpets; and all Israel was standing.”
C. (:7-10) Dramatic Response of Dedicating the Altar and Celebrating the Festival of Booths
August Konkel: The third section provides details of the whole festal period (2 Chron 7:7–11). The two events of dedicating the altar and celebrating the Feast of Booths lasted for fifteen days (7:9), double the usual length of the fall festival.
The Festival of Booths began on the fifteenth day of the month and concluded on the twenty-second day (Lev 23:34–36). An eighth day, called (like the first day) a solemn assembly, concluded the celebration. The people were dismissed on the twenty-third day (2 Chron 7:10), after the conclusion of the eighth day. In the Chronicler’s version of events, the dedication of the altar had begun seven days before the commencement of the festival. The Chronicler never makes mention of the Day of Atonement, which occurs on the tenth day of the seventh month (Lev 16:29–31) and would have been during the first week of festivities. This was not a usual circumstance. It would not have been possible to observe a customary Day of Atonement since the ark itself was being dedicated in its new location.
The sacrifices served for the entire fifteen days of the two festivities. The large numbers correspond to the size of the assembly. Pilgrims to the festival came from the farthest reaches of the Davidic kingdom. . .
The main function of these offerings was to provide food for the table. These sacrifices were meant to be joyous occasions of celebration (Milgrom 1991: 220–21). Worshipers and priests share the peace offerings, providing a bonding of the community and a celebration of the covenant (Lev 7:11–15, 30–36). The blood, fat, and entrails of the peace offering are all devoted to God.
1. (:7) Volume of Sacrifices Required Consecrating the Middle of the Court
“Then Solomon consecrated the middle of the court that was before the house of the LORD, for there he offered the burnt offerings and the fat of the peace offerings, because the bronze altar which Solomon had made was not able to contain the burnt offering, the grain offering, and the fat.”
Frederick Mabie: Solomon also consecrated the broader area of the temple complex with a great number of different types of offerings (fellowship, grain, and burnt; cf. Lev 1–3). The burning of the fat portion of the fellowship offering implies that the broader animal was used as part of the fifteen-day feast described in vv.8–10 (cf. the stipulations in Lev 3).
J.A. Thompson: It was not possible to present all the offerings on the bronze altar that Solomon had made (4:1), so he consecrated the middle part of the courtyard in front of the temple, and there he offered burnt offerings and the fat of the fellowship offerings (traditionally peace offerings). The details of this arrangement are not given.
2. (:8-9) Dedication of the Altar Required Extended Duration of the Feast
“So Solomon observed the feast at that time for seven days, and all Israel with him, a very great assembly, who came from the entrance of Hamath to the brook of Egypt. 9 And on the eighth day they held a solemn assembly, for the dedication of the altar they observed seven days, and the feast seven days.”
3. (:10) Overwhelming Joy Focused on God’s Goodness and Covenant Faithfulness
“Then on the twenty-third day of the seventh month he sent the people to their tents, rejoicing and happy of heart because of the goodness that the LORD had shown to David and to Solomon and to His people Israel.”
Iain Duguid: David and Solomon are again joined together (2 Chron. 7:10), the Chronicler seeing their reigns as intertwined, with both kings being significant in the building of the temple and the settling of the ark in its place. While the Hebrew term tobah (“goodness”) often includes a sense of “prosperity” (as ESV), it is likely that for the Chronicler this is a fulfillment of God’s promise to David concerning both a son and the temple. After David received the Lord’s message through Nathan, he prayed, “You have promised this good thing to your servant,” referring specifically to the dynasty (1 Chron. 17:26), but for the Chronicler the most important task was the building of the temple. What was “good” to David has continued to be “good” to “Solomon and to Israel his people. A similar linking of God, king, people, and temple is seen in the later commendation of Jehoiada: “He had done good in Israel, and toward God and his house” (2 Chron. 24:16).
D. (:11) Closing Summary Celebrating the Completion of the Building Projects (both the Temple and the Palace)
“Thus Solomon finished the house of the LORD and the king’s palace, and successfully completed all that he had planned on doing in the house of the LORD and in his palace.”
Mark Boda: Having depicted the joyous closing to the festival in 7:10, the Chronicler brings the building and dedication account to a close with a summary note in 7:11, a technique that has been a regular feature in the Chronicler’s account of Solomon (1:1; 2:1; 3:1-2; 5:1; 7:11; 8:1, 16). This summary note joins with 5:1 to form a bracket around the entire dedication account of 5:1- 7:11. A striking difference between this summary note and the one that began the section, however, is the reference to the completion of the Temple, as well as the royal palace, a feature that the Chronicler found in his source in 1 Kings 9:1 but repeated for emphasis in his rendition. Although the Chronicler left out the account of the construction of Solomon’s palace from 1 Kings 7:1-12, it is interesting that in his recounting of the communication between Solomon and Hiram of Tyre in chapter 2, he inserted three extra references to the building of a palace not found in his source in 1 Kings 5:1-8, two concerning Solomon’s palace (2:1, 12) and one concerning David’s palace (2:3b). Although the focus of the Chronicler’s attention is clearly on the Temple project, this may suggest that the Chronicler was concerned with the enduring role of the Davidic dynasty, the palace being representative of a minor interest in an enduring role for a royal court. The reference to the palace in 7:11, thus, was important enough to retain from his source, as well as to repeat, because it appears in the transition from the dedication events to the concluding speech of the Lord to Solomon, which will focus on the endurance of both the Temple (7:12-16) and the dynasty (7:17-22).
II. (:12-22) DIVINE REVELATION TO SOLOMON OF COVENANT BLESSINGS ON THE NATION WHENEVER THEY SEEK GOD IN REPENTANCE AND OBEDIENCE
Andrew Hill: The Lord’s speech to Solomon on the occasion of his second dream theophany may be outlined in three distinct parts:
– the Lord’s acceptance of Solomon’s prayer of dedication and his approval of the Jerusalem temple as the place for his Name to dwell (7:12b),
– the Lord’s promise to Solomon and the people he shepherds (7:13–18), and
– the Lord’s threat of punishment for disobedience (7:19–22).
A. (:12-16) Significance of the Temple to the Lord
“Then the LORD appeared to Solomon at night and said to him,”
August Konkel: The second night vision at Gibeon occurs after Solomon completed all his building projects (2 Chron 7:11), which was twenty years after the previous assembly at Gibeon (1:3). The first vision was before the seven years of temple building (1 Kings 6:37) and another thirteen years of building projects (7:1; 9:10). If these building projects were in sequence, as seems to be the case in the Deuteronomistic presentation (cf. 9:10), and if the ark installation took place immediately when the temple was completed, this vision is thirteen years after the festivities celebrating the ark.
1. (:12b) Chosen by God as a House of Sacrifice
“I have heard your prayer,
and have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice.”
2. (:13-14) Chastening for Sin Will Require Repentance for Healing to Maintain the Divine Presence
“If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, 14 and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”
Frederick Mabie: This statement is situated within covenantal particulars related to the Deuteronomic covenant (cf. v.13), matters of temple theology (and the interwoven Israelite sacrificial system; cf. vv.15–16), and the Davidic covenant (cf. vv.17–22). Note that all these features are directly applicable to the nation of Israel located within the specific geographical area of the Promised Land featuring a functioning temple in the city of Jerusalem and having a Davidic king on the throne. . .
Notable examples of leaders described as humbling themselves or leading a time of national repentance include Rehoboam (12:6), Hezekiah (32:26), and especially the dramatic example of Manasseh (33:12). Such instances of repentance and humbling frequently accompany times of prayer and an earnest seeking of God.
Andrew Hill: The activities of “humbling, praying, seeking, and turning” should be understood as four facets or aspects of the act (or even process) of biblical repentance (7:14).
Each of these words is theologically charged. The word “humble” (knʿ ) means to subdue one’s pride and submit in self-denying loyalty to God and his will (cf. Lev. 26:41). “Pray” (pll) in this context is a shameless acknowledgment of personal sin and a plea for God’s mercy, much like that of David’s prayer of repentance (cf. Ps. 51:1–2). “Seek” (bqš) is often used in desperate situations in which God is the only possible hope for deliverance (cf. Deut. 4:29–30). “Turn” (šwb) is the Old Testament term for repentance and signifies a complete change of direction away from sin and toward God (or an “about-face” in military parlance; cf. Ezek. 18:30, 32).
Verse 14 is a theological digest of the rest of the Chronicler’s narrative. The history of the monarchy demonstrates how both the kings and the people “humble” themselves before God (e.g., Rehoboam, 12:6–7), “pray” to God in repentance (e.g., Hezekiah, 32:20), “seek” God’s face for restoration (e.g., Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah, 20:3–4), and “turn” from sin to obey God’s commands (e.g., Asa and the people, 15:4). Such behavior will ensure that God’s “Name” or presence will remain associated with the Jerusalem temple (7:16a).
Geoffrey Kirkland: What Does God Want?
1. To HUMBLE – to recognize sin and utter dependence on God; subdue pride; submit in self-denying loyalty to God!
2. To PRAY – a generic term that means calling on God for help in times of need; shameless acknowledgement of sin & desperation for God’s deliverance.
3. To SEEK – in relation to worship and pursuing God’s favor; to passionately, exclusively, resolutely, run after God with focus, tenacity, endurance & joy.
4. To TURN – a changed life, repentance // turning from sin; complete change U-turn in direction in life.
3. (:15-16) Consecrated as a House of Prayer Where God Dwells with His People
a. (:15) Prayers Offered in the Temple Will be Accepted
“Now My eyes shall be open and My ears attentive to the prayer offered in this place.”
b. (:16) Perpetuation of the Divine Presence
“For now I have chosen and consecrated this house that My name may be there forever, and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually.”
Andrew Hill: The reference to the “eyes” and the “heart” of Yahweh being connected to the temple (7:16b) is an unusual expression for the idea of the divine presence in the Old Testament. The eyes and heart of God symbolize his concerned watch-care for humanity in that he sees people in distress and has a compassionate heart for their plight, and he has the power to intervene and deliver his people. One cannot reflect on the association of the “eyes and heart” of God with the Jerusalem temple and not have inklings about the incarnation of Jesus Christ.
Mark Boda: The reason why this Temple receives heightened attention from the Lord is because it is both “chosen” and “sacred” (NLT, “set apart . . . to be holy”). These two characteristics are essential to the Temple’s status. It must be a place that God has chosen, but in order for him to dwell there it must be consecrated for his use.
B. (:17-22) Stipulation of Blessings and Curses Associated with Covenant Faithfulness
1. (:17-18) Stipulation of Blessings
a. (:17) Based on Covenant Faithfulness
“And as for you, if you walk before Me as your father David walked even to do according to all that I have commanded you and will keep My statutes and My ordinances,”
b. (:18) Resulting in Perpetuating the Davidic Dynasty
“then I will establish your royal throne as I covenanted with your father David, saying, ‘You shall not lack a man to be ruler in Israel.’”
Raymond Dillard: But how was the post-exilic community to view the eternality of the Davidic covenant when they were without a king and subject to foreign domination? The second modification the Chronicler has made at this point may address the needs of the post-exilic community: for the “you shall never fail to have a man on the throne of Israel” in 1 Kgs 9:5, the Chronicler has substituted “you shall never fail to have a man to rule over Israel,” language parallel to Mic 5:1 . The author gives expression to his messianic or royalist hopes: though the throne of Israel is vacant, the continuity of the Davidic dynasty remains. The dynastic promise has not lost its validity even with the loss of the throne.
2. (:19-22) Stipulation of Curses
J.A. Thompson: If they turned away and forsook God’s laws to serve and worship other gods, there would be dire consequences. They would be separated from their land (exiled), the temple would be rejected, and they would become an object of ridicule among all peoples. The temple itself would become the object of taunting (Deut 28:37; Jer 24:9). This was to happen in the destruction brought about by Nebuchadnezzar. The Chronicler and the Israel of his day worshiped in a new temple. But though the temple had once been destroyed, God’s choice of Jerusalem was still valid; and though no descendant of David sat on David’s throne, the Davidic line had not failed (7:18).
Raymond Dillard: Having spoken to Solomon, God now speaks to the people; note the shift to 2d person plural in 7:19. At the dedication of the temple in all its magnificence, there is the reminder of what it could and did become: an object of ridicule, the butt of a joke, the point of a proverb (Deut 28:37; Jer 24:9).
a. (:19) Based on Apostasy and Idolatry
“But if you turn away and forsake My statutes and My commandments which I have set before you and shall go and serve other gods and worship them,”
b. (:20) Resulting in Being Uprooted from the Land
“then I will uproot you from My land which I have given you, and this house which I have consecrated for My name I will cast out of My sight, and I will make it a proverb and a byword among all peoples.”
David Guzik: Under the Old Covenant, God promised to use Israel to exalt Himself among the nations one way or another. If Israel obeyed, He would bless them so much that others had to recognize the hand of God upon Israel. If Israel disobeyed, He would chastise them so severely that the nations would be astonished at the judgment of God among His disobedient people, and they would know that the LORD has brought all this calamity on them.
c. (:21-22) Bringing Shocking Shame and Dishonor Among the Nations
“As for this house, which was exalted, everyone who passes by it will be astonished and say, ‘Why has the LORD done thus to this land and to this house?’
22 And they will say, ‘Because they forsook the LORD, the God of their fathers, who brought them from the land of Egypt, and they adopted other gods and worshiped them and served them, therefore He has brought all this adversity on them.’”