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THE ARK AND TABERNACLE FURNITURE
The temple being completed, there was one matter of importance remaining. Thus, for the bringing of the ark to the temple Solomon assembled the elders of Israel and the heads of tribes (v.1). The ark is the symbol of Christ as the Sustainer of the throne of God (the mercy seat), and it had dwelt in tents for many years, speaking of Christ being a Sojourner with His people until the day when He will take His rightful throne in the millennial kingdom.
It was at the time of the Feast of Tabernacles in the seventh month that the ark was carried by the priests into the temple (vs.2-3). This feast itself pictures the peace of the millennial kingdom of the Lord Jesus. Together with the ark, all the tabernacle furnishings were brought to the temple (v.4). This teaches us that all the lessons of the tabernacle are incorporated into the advanced teachings of the temple. Nothing was to be lost. The veil is not mentioned here, but 2 Chronicles 3:14 speaks of the veil being made of the same materials as the veil in the tabernacle, though of course the veil in the temple would be larger.
The occasion of the ark being brought into the temple is the last we read of the ark in the Old Testament except in Jeremiah 3:16, "They will say no more, 'the ark of the covenant of the Lord.' It shall not come to mind, nor shall they remember it, nor shall it be made any more." Thus, the ark, though it was of greatest significance in Israel when it was made, was only symbolical of Christ, and the symbol must vanish away while the One of whom it speaks remains eternally in all the excellence of His beauty and glory.
At this time Solomon, together with the people, offered sheep and oxen in such great numbers that they could not be counted (v.5). This seems amazing, but it is typical of the great work of grace that God will accomplish among His redeemed people when the millennial kingdom of the Lord Jesus is established, for it pictures the appreciation of the people in remembering the one great sacrifice of the Lord Jesus at Calvary Their praise will be virtually unceasing.
The priests then brought the ark into the holiest of all, placing it under the wings of the cherubim that were engraved on the wall (v.6). Thus the cherubim, with their wings, overshadowed the ark and its poles (v.7). The poles were permanently placed so as to be seen in the holy place as a permanent reminder of the Lord Jesus having been a Sojourner with His people until the day of His reigning in glory (v.8).
At this time only the two tablets of stone were in the ark (v.9). The Lord Jesus has said, "Your law is within My heart" (Psalms 40:8). In His heart the law was safely kept. The golden pot of manna and Aaron's rod that budded were put in the ark as a provision of grace when Israel failed to keep the law. But the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31; Jeremiah 31:34) will have nothing to do with Israel's obedience or disobedience, for it will be God's sovereign work in blessing to Israel. Thus the provision for cases of disobedience will 110 longer be emphasized, but the sovereign work of God in grace. In Christ Israel will see the covenant perfectly kept.
Having placed the ark in the holiest of all, the priests came out, and immediately the cloud of God's glory filled the house of the Lord (v.10). Thus God was indicating His presence in approving of the temple as His dwelling place among Israel. At that time the priests could not minister in the temple (v.11). The glory of the Lord was paramount, and man's work must then cease.
Solomon's words, however confirmed the truth of God's dwelling. He said "The Lord said He would dwell in the dark cloud. I have surely built You an exalted house, and a place for You to dwell in forever" (vs.12-13). How good for us to learn well the lesson that since Israel was still under law, God dwelt in thick darkness. Though in very nature "God is light," yet Israel did not see Him revealed in light. In the New Testament we are told that "He is in the light " (1 John 1:7), for He is now revealed in the person of His Son. How wonderful is the difference for us!
SOLOMON'S ADDRESS TO ISRAEL
In dedicating the temple Solomon addressed the people briefly before praying publicly at length to God. He blessed the people (v.14) and ascribed to God the blessedness of fulfilling His word to David in giving David's son the wisdom and ability to accomplish the work of building the temple (v.15). Solomon realized that it was God who put into David's heart a desire to build the temple, but though God approved of David's desire, He did not allow him to do this (vs.15-19), but told him his son would do the building.
Solomon took pleasure in recognizing that God had both promised and carried out His promise in having Solomon build the temple. Solomon had not conceived this project, but God had, and Solomon simply obeyed the Word of the Lord in building the temple and thus providing a place for the ark which contained the covenant the Lord had made with Israel when He brought them out of Egypt (vs.20-21).
Solomon's prayer at this time is fully quoted, for it was to be kept always in Israel's memory. He spoke in the presence of all the assembly of Israel, and addressed God as "the Lord God of Israel." How much more full and precious are the prayers of the New Testament epistles, such as Ephesians 1:17, addressed to "the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory." Such a prayer goes far beyond the scope of the one nation, Israel, so that it centers our thoughts, not on the blessing of a nation, but on the one great source of blessing, the Lord Jesus Christ.
"But," Solomon adds, "will God indeed dwell on the earth?" David realized that God's dwelling in the darkness of the holy place did not by any means infer that God was confined there. In fact, "heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You" (v.27). God is infinite (unlimited) and omnipresent (present everywhere), yet in pure grace He specially signified the temple as the place of His dwelling in order to concentrate Israel's thoughts on Him as the Center of all Israel's interests.
Solomon pleads with God to regard his prayer and supplication, which is voiced particularly on behalf of Israel whose interests were centered in the temple in Jerusalem (v.28), the place in which God had said He would place His name (v.29).
The first thing he prays for, both as to himself and the people, is forgiveness (v.30). He knew they were not worthy of God's consideration and unless God forgave them for their sin they would be left desolate. If one sinned against his neighbor and there was any question about the matter, so that the accused offender was put on oath as regards this guilt or innocence, then Solomon asks that God would hear and intervene, absolving the innocent and condemning the guilty (vs.31-32). Because people may be guilty of swearing falsely, Solomon prayed that God would intervene to settle such cases.
Solomon entertained no false hopes that Israel would never be defeated by enemies. He does not say " If," but "When Your people are defeated before an enemy because they have sinned against You, and they burn back to You and confess Your name, and pray and make supplication to You in this temple" (v.33). Many times it was true that Israel was defeated by their enemies because they had sinned against God, so that Solomon's prayer is really prophetic. He asked that God would hear Israel's repentant prayer and restore them by His grace (v.34).
Withholding rain would be another infliction sent by God because of Israel's sin. Again, if this discipline resulted in the repentance of Israel, Solomon prayed that God would hear their prayer, forgive their sin and send rain (vs.35-36).
There would also be occasions of famine, pestilence, blight or mildew, infestations of locusts or grasshoppers. God would send these to draw attention to the plague of sin in the hearts of individuals (vs.37-38), and if this produced self-judgment so that people would pray toward the temple, recognizing God's glory, then Solomon would expect the Lord to hear in heaven and forgive and act in grace toward each individual as He discerned their need (v.39). This forgiveness would instill in hearts a wholesome fear of God (v.40).
Solomon considers also a foreigner in his prayer. If the foreigner had come to Israel because of hearing of the greatness of the God of Israel, then Solomon considered him entitled to be heard when he prayed toward the temple, and asked that God would answer the foreigner's prayer (vs.41-43).
In cases where Israel went out to battle and they prayed to the Lord toward Jerusalem and the temple, then Solomon also asks the Lord to hear their prayer and maintain their cause (vs.44-45).
Again, in verse 46, Solomon says, " When they sin against You," not " If " and God in anger delivers them into an enemy's hand, so that they are carried captive, then they repent and supplicate the Lord, he asked that God may hear in heaven and forgive them. This section (vs.46-53) has direct bearing on Israel's condition at the present time, having grievously sinned against God in rejecting His beloved Son, and therefore carried away into other lands. Solomon likely did not realize that a dispersion would last for centuries, as it has.
One captivity of Judah lasted for 70 years, but in answer to prayer when many were brought down to repentance, God restored them to their land (2 Chronicles 36:20-23). But their present dispersion has lasted for nearly 2000 years, which shows the stubbornness of the human heart, but God will yet work in the hearts of at least a remnant of Israel to cause them to be broken down in repentance and pray earnestly for His restoring mercy. Then He will answer according to the goodness of His heart.
God will indeed then grant them compassion before their enemies who will show compassion to those they have previously persecuted. Solomon pled with God on the basis that the children of Israel were God's people, God's inheritance, whom He had brought out of Egypt (v.51). Though Israel's failures were great, yet Solomon had confidence that God would not give them up. He had in fact separated them from all the peoples of the earth as His inheritance, and this sanctification would not be allowed to come to nothing (v.53). God had spoken of this to Moses, and God's Word will certainly be fulfilled.
SOLOMON BLESSES ISRAEL
After interceding with God, Solomon is free to bless the people, for their blessing is dependent on the pure grace of God for which Solomon had prayed. He spoke with a loud voice so the people would hear (vs.54-55). But he begins by blessing the Lord who had given rest to Israel from all their wars, acknowledging that "There has not failed one word of all His great promise which He promised through His servant Moses" (v.56). How good that the people were reminded of the perfect faithfulness of God to His word, and if we too remember that He has proven Himself true to us in all our history on earth.
In verses 57-58 Solomon expresses the desire the Lord would be with Israel as He had been with their fathers, inclining their hearts to walk in all His ways, to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments. He desired too that the Lord might well remember the words of Solomon's prayer, that Israel might be blessed and that all nations on earth might have this witness that the Lord is God, the only God (vs.59-60).
He concludes his blessing by pleading with Israel to be loyal to the Lord God, walking in His statutes and keeping His commandments. Such exhortations are multiplied throughout the Old Testament, but these did not keep Israel from disobedience. They needed what is revealed in the New Testament - a true knowledge of Christ and the value of His sacrifice.
THE DEDICATION OF THE TEMPLE
The dedication of the temple required sacrifice, just as anything dedicated to the Lord must be accompanied by sacrifice, as was true even in the case of the Lord Jesus when consecrated to God soon after His birth (Luke 2:22-24). The sacrifice then spoke of His own sacrifice, which is infinitely more valuable than 22,000 bulls and 120,000 sheep. These were peace offerings, speaking of the fellowship between God and the people accomplished by the sacrifice of Christ, making the way clear for God to dwell with mankind, as the temple illustrates. When these were offered, the house was dedicated (v.63). At the same tune Solomon consecrated the middle of the court for the offering of these sacrifices, because they were too many to offer on the copper altar.
Following the dedication Solomon held a feast for the blessing of Israel, apparently announced for seven days, but increased to fourteen days. Thus their joy at this time was remarkably sustained, and when the people were sent away, they blessed the king and returned home with joyful hearts, thankful for the goodness of the Lord to Israel. This was the high point of Israel's splendor and glory, for that glory soon deteriorated and will never be regained until the Lord Jesus takes His place as King Of Israel, then the latter glory of this house will be greater than the former (Haggai 2:9).
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Grant, L. M. "Commentary on 1 Kings 8". Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany