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Bible Commentaries
1 Kings 8

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-11

First Kings - Chapter 8 AND Second Chronicles - Chapter 5, 6, 7

Ark Brought In, 1 Kings 8:1-11 AND 2 Chronicles 5:2-14

It appears that the feast of the seventh month, at which time the temple was dedicated, was the feast of the Passover. Since the temple was completed in the eighth month (1 Kings 6:38) it would follow that it had been almost a year since its completion. Or it may be they gathered a month early in anticipation of its completion, which seems less likely. The elders and heads of the tribes and chief men of the kingdom were summoned to Jerusalem for the occasion. Whereas, the Passover was originally said to be in the first month, of Abib (later called Nisan), this month of the religious year corresponded to Ethanim, which was the seventh month of the civil year. This could be confusing for one who failed to realize that the Israelites observed both a religious and civil year.

The purpose of this gathering was to bring the ark of the Lord from the place where David had put it, along with the holy objects which had been in the old tabernacle at Gibeon to the newly-constructed temple and to enshrine them there. So it was brought up by the priests and Levites in the manner prescribed by the Lord. The lesson learned by David in a hard way was not forgotten (2 Samuel 6:1 ff). Associated with this move were countless sacrifices of sheep and oxen, for it was a festive time.

The bearers of the ark carried it into the oracle (holy of holies) and set it underneath the wide, overshadowing wings of the golden cherubim which Hiram had constructed. It and the staves by which it was carried were completely overshadowed by the cherubim, exemplifying the protective care of the Lord over the place of mercy for His people (cf. Hebrews 9:5). The English translation of verse 8 (Kings; 9, Chronicles) is confusing, for it does not mean that the staves were pulled out of their kings, but that they were drawn out in length, or lengthened, so that they were observable from the holy place, either protruding into the vail, or seen around the end of the vail. The reason for the lengthening of the staves can only be surmised. The fear that one of the bearers might inadvertently touch the ark and suffer death, as did Uzza (2 Samuel 6:6­7), may have caused them to lengthen the staves so the men would be farther from it. Or they may have been lengthened so that more men could have the privilege of bearing it. This condition continued until the time of the writing.

Another question arises about the objects in the ark itself. It is explicitly stated that it contained nothing save the tablets on which were engraved the ten commandments, which God had engraved by His own hand and given to Moses at Mount Horeb. Indeed the ark was constructed as the special vessel in which to enshrine the law (Exodus 25:16). The mercy seat which comprised the lid of the ark, and the overshadowing cherubim, show the intercession of the Lord to grant mercy in man’s favor over against the law. Some. have surmised from Hebrews 9:4 that the rod of Aaron which budded and the pot of manna which the Lord had Israel to preserve were also placed in the ark. But the ark was not large enough to contain these things. Careful reading of the Hebrews passage will show that the meaning is that these two things were put into the "Holist of all’ behind the second veil (Hebrews 9:3). The Lord’s instructions originally were simply to lay these things up before the testimony (Exodus 16:33-34; Numbers 17:10), not in the ark.

The Lord manifested His presence and acceptance of the temple by filling the sanctuary with the cloud of His presence, so much that the priests could not stand there to minister for the glory of the Lord which filled it. What need was there for the ministration of the priests in mediation, when the assembly was in the very presence of the Lord! The Levitical singers were also there, arrayed in their white linen robes. These were Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun, their sons and brothers, with their musical instruments at the ready, along with a hundred and twenty priests with trumpets waiting to sound. The priests were sanctified, or dedicated, to serve the Lord in the temple; the singers and musicians were as one, or in perfect harmony. The people were expectant, to praise the Lord for His goodness and enduring mercy. This brought down the presence of the Lord among them, indwelling the house erected for Him, disallowing the ministry of the priests, and Himself spreading His glory around them.

What a glorious occasion was this! It is well for all the Lord’s servants to observe the particulars which precipitated this demonstration of the Lord. Note 1) the priests, the leaders of the people’s worship, sanctified themselves (2 Timothy 2:21); 2) singers and musicians were in harmony (Ephesians 5:19); 3) the people were expecting a blessing from the Lord (Hebrews 10:24-25). When these are present in the Lord’s service today similar results can be expected.

Verses 12-21

Solomon Speaks, 1 Kings 8:12-21 AND 2 Chronicles 6:1-11

The two accounts of Solomon’s address, at the dedication of the temple, are quite parallel, except for minor differences. The reference to the Lord’s dwelling in "thick darkness" is a reference to His dwelling in the cloud, as on Mount Sinai, and in leading Israel in the wilderness. His appearance in the cloud at the very moment of Solomon’s speaking was a reminder that the Lord had often appeared thus to the people. It was not the last time either (see Matthew 17:5; Acts 1:9). Now, says Solomon, he had constructed the temple [or the Lord’s everlasting abode with Israel.

The assembly stood while Solomon uttered blessing on them, He blessed the Lord for His promise to David, whom He did not allow to build the temple as he had desired. Yet God had promised David that Sol­omon would build it, and now that promise was come to pass. Solomon reminded the people of the Lord’s words to David that, He had not sought a city in which to have Himself a temple built, just as He had also not chosen a king for Israel. Yet He had chosen David in acceding to Isra­el’s desire, and now He had also sought to be pleasing to the Lord. The ark which had been centuries among them, with the other revered arti­cles from the old tabernacle, Solomon had brought into the temple. He re­minded the people that the covenant, written upon the tables by the fin­ger of God, were still in the ark. God would expect them to abide by that law still.

Verses 22-30

Dedicatory Prayer, 1 Kings 8:22-30 AND 2 Chronicles 6:12-20

Solomon had arranged to make himself conspicuous in the assembly, to lead them in worship and dedication. Chronicles tells of a bronze scaffold, or kind of pulpit, which he had made, from which to address the people. From this he speaks, standing and uplifting his hands toward heaven, leading them in a prayer of dedication.

The king began by glorifying the Lord as a keeper of promises, as evidenced in His promise concerning the temple to David. On this basis Solomon then continued to pray that the Lord would further fulfill the promise made to his father concerning the continuance of his family reigning on the throne of David. That Solomon was fully aware of the contingency attached to this promise, relative to the spiritual walk of his children in the way of the Lord, is apparent from the words of verses 25 (Kings) and 16 (Chronicles). This makes all the more astounding the later apostasy of Solomon in his walk before the Lord. God does not abrogate His promises (Hebrews 13:5).

From this prayer of laudation and praise Solomon turned to con­fession and admission. The temple, though great and magnificent in the eyes of Israel, was but nothing in the eyes of the Lord. In applying to Hir­am for the materials to build the wonderful temple Solomon had admitted the impossibility of containing the Lord in a house of Man’s making (2 Chronicles 2:6). Here he reiterates these words to the people. This was cautionary and should have been accepted by the people, for later generations certainly forgot, or disbelieved, this fact (Jeremiah 7:4; Jeremiah 7:11-14).

Still Solomon prayed that the Lord would be merciful to Israel when they prayed toward this temple, dedicated to His name, which the Lord had acclaimed by His descent upon it in the indwelling cloud. The closing words of the Kings account are the fitting climax to the king’s prayer, "When they shall pray toward this place: ... hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place: and when thou hearest, forgive" (1 Kings 8:30).

Verses 31-45

Many Petitions, 1 Kings 8:31-45 AND 2 Chronicles 6:21-35

Solomon’s petitions number seven in all, which he addressed to the Lord in the presence of the assembly. All of these were confessions of guiltiness likely to arise in Israel, and recognition that repentance would be necessary for the Lord to show them His mercy. When the peti­tioner came in repentance the Lord is asked to hear and grant his petition.

The first petition dealt with a condition where a neighbor is sinned against by trespass, or false oath, and such. If the matter is brought be­fore the Lord in the temple He is requested to hear in heaven by recom­pensing evil on the guilty and by justifying the righteous. This may have had direct application in the trespass offering (note law of the trespass offering, Leviticus 6:1 ff).

The second petition deals with the situation when Israel shall have sinned against the Lord and He has allowed them to be smitten by their enemies. They may then turn and confess their sin and seek for­giveness of the Lord. When they do this Solomon asks the Lord to hear their petition and grant them freedom in their land once more. Their fail­ure to do this has presently kept them out of their land of Palestine many centuries (Leviticus 26:32-35).

The third petition concerns drought in the land, when the Lord shall withhold the rain for the sin of the people. Israel may then turn and walk according to the way of the Lord and look toward the temple and pray to Him to heal their land and give again the rain. Solomon asks the Lord in that event to hear their petition and grant it.

The fourth petition describes various devastations which may come upon the land and which produce famine and want on the sinful people of Israel. This may come from pestilence, blasting (of the grain by a hot wind), mildew, locust and caterpillar infestation, all common events in the near East. In such conditions there was also likelihood of an enemy invasion, taking advantage of the physical weakness. Whatever the plague or sickness should be, the petition besought the Lord to hear those who would spread forth their hands to Him and seek His succor, whether individuals, or all the people and to grant them relief.

The fifth petition deals with the request of foreigners who might come to call on the God of Israel, even from a far away country. Solomon surmised that people of foreign lands would hear of the greatness of Israel’s God and would come to Jerusalem with their petitions (see Acts 8:27). In such case he prayed that the Lord would grant the foreigner’s request, that all the earth might learn to fear the name of the Lord.

The sixth petition has to do with the times when Israel shall go out to war. If they call on the Lord to aid them in the battle, He is requested to hear them and to give them victory.

Verses 46-53

In Event of Dispersion, 1 Kings 8:46-53 AND 2 Chronicles 6:36-42

Solomon’s seventh petition to the Lord had to do with the future dispersion of Israel for their sin against the Lord. It seems that thoughts of possible dispersion were ever in the mind of those who sought to serve the Lord. It should have been, for they had been warned of such from the time of Moses’ farewell before his death (De 28:63-68; 31:28­-29). No doubt, had they continued to be mindful of this danger, their time in the land would have been prolonged.

Solomon foresaw the time that Israel would sin, after the natural depravity of all men, and God would be angry with them. At such time as they should be carried away captive by their enemies to other lands because of their sin, they might possibly turn and repent and admit their sin, calling on the Lord for mercy. If this should be a full and wholehearted repentance and return to the Lord, Solomon beseeches the Lord to hear their cries to Him and to turn their captivity from them. If there they should admit their transgression, turn their faces to the Lord’s house which Solomon had built, he desired that the Lord would hear their prayer and supplication, open His eyes to their plight and his ears to their pleading, and forgive them in His compassion.

Solomon plead on the basis of Israel as the peculiar people of the Lord (Exodus 19:5-8), whom He had brought out of the iron furnace of bondage in Egypt. From the time of their forefather, Abraham, God had separated them unto Himself (Genesis 12:1-3). God did not even consider them, as He did the nations (Numbers 23:9), and He willed to exalt them above the nations (De 28:1), but their sins would prevent it.

Chronicles closes Solomon’s prayer with a Messianic tone, based on the relocation of the ark of God’s presence in the temple. It speaks of His strength, the clothing of salvation upon His priests, the face of His anointed (figurative of Christ), and His mercy as demonstrated with David.

Verses 54-66

Rejoicing and Festivity, 1 Kings 8:54-66 AND 2 Chronicles 7:1-10

Parts of the present scripture passages are not as close in parallel as others. Chronicles recounts that when Solomon had completed his prayer God sent down the fire of heaven and ignited the burnt offerings and sacrifices. His glory filled the house of the Lord, so that the priests could not minister, but they did not need to, for the Lord had already accepted the sacrifices. This is similar to what happened in the wilderness at the dedication of the old tabernacle (Leviticus 9:23-24). The assembly of the people observed and fell upon their faces on the ground. They worshipped and praised the Lord for his goodness and enduring mercy.

Solomon burst forth into loud praise of the Lord. First he praised Him for his faithfulness to His promises, from the time of Moses not one of the promises He had made through that man of God had failed. Next He prayed the Lord to be with Israel in his day as He had been with them of old; that the hearts of Israel would be turned to Him, and that the petitions which Solomon had voice in his prayer to Him be heard and near to Him day and night. He prayed that all the earth should know the Lord as the only true God, an evangelistic desire not often uttered by an Israelite of that day. He desired that the people would maintain a perfect work before the Lord, in keeping His commandments and statutes.

Solomon and Israel observed the feast according to the season (Exodus 12:14-20) and added seven more days of dedication in honor of the temple. During this time the sanctified priests were busily engaged in making the various offerings, and sacrifices, while the Levites worshipped with their instruments of music. The king supplied twenty-­two thousand oxen and a hundred twenty thousand sheep for sacrifices for peace offerings. In order to take care of all this offering, which the brazen altar was insufficient to handle, Solomon had the courts of the temple hallowed for the purpose. This festive occasion is said to have extended to the twenty-third day of the month, at the end of which Solomon sent the people away.

The assembly began with Solomon’s summons of the elders, chief of the tribes, and great men to Jerusalem, but it seems by the end of the time great numbers of all people joined in the occasion. The account says a great congregation gathered from one end of Israel to the other. The "entering in of Hamath" is the road leading away to Hamath far to the north and the "river of Egypt" was a large wadi on the southern approaches to that ancient nation. The people seem to have acquired a great deal of spiritual fervor by the event. They departed for their home with praise on their lips and in their hearts for their king, joy and gladness for the experienced goodness of the Lord toward David and toward Israel.

Some lessons from this long study: 1) leaders are needed today who will call their people to worship; 2) when there is compliance with the Lord’s will He still manifests His pleasure on His people; 3) the world needs godly leaders who can humbly lead their people in prayer which will reach the throne of God; 4) people need to remember that the Lord is the one to whom he should go in every difficulty, and that confession is expected before he can be accepted; 5) the dispersion of Israel continues today because they have not complied with the requirement stated in the petition of Solomon at the dedication of the temple; 6) great joy is the result of a people’s revival in matters of the spiritual realm.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on 1 Kings 8". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/1-kings-8.html. 1985.
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