Claim the Lord’s Promises

 

Sunday School Lesson for March 23, 2003

 

Background Passage: I Kings 8:1-9:9

 

Focal Teaching Passage: 1 Kings 8:1-61; 9:1-9

 

Solomon Transports the Ark to the Temple (8:1-13)

 

Verse 1

Following the completion of the temple, Solomon commanded the “elders” and other leaders of Israel to transport the “ark of the Lord’s covenant” to the site of the new place of worship. While the ark had previously rested in the southern part of the city of Jerusalem, or “Zion,” Solomon had it relocated to a newly annexed section to the north. In essence, Solomon had extended the borders of the city beyond the boundaries of David’s Jerusalem [House, 137].

Verses 2-5

Here we see that, in an atmosphere much like that of a parade, the “ark of the Lord and the Tent of Meeting” were carried by the “priests and Levites” to the site of the new temple. Verse 2 tells us that it was during the time of the “festival” when this occurred. Most likely, this was the Feast of Booths or Tabernacles that commemorated God’s faithfulness in the conquest of the promised land.  This would indicate that Solomon actually dedicated the new temple about one year after its completion. House suggests that even though the temple had been finished eleven months earlier, Solomon desired to wait until the feast in order to officially dedicate it to the Lord [House, 137. Also see Wiseman, 117-118].  Verse 5 depicts the glorious scene of national worship, sacrifice, and the adoration of Yahweh led by “King Solomon.” Note that so many sacrifices were offered at this time “they could not be recorded or counted.”

 

Verses 6-13

Here the author describes how the ark was brought safely to “its place in the inner sanctuary of the temple, the Most Holy Place,” where it was strategically positioned “beneath the wings of the cherubim” (v. 6). As suggested earlier in this study, this seems to parallel God’s heavenly throne room above and His holy and awesome presence into which no man may come on his own account. According to verse 9, the only items in the ark at this time were the “Stone tablets that Moses had placed in it at Horeb.”  This fact clearly “underscores Israel’s ties to the Sinai covenant. God’s presence, God’s word, and God’s covenant with Israel are inextricably linked” [House, 139].

 

As the ark was laid to rest in the Most Holy place, the very “glory” of Yahweh, in the form of a “cloud,” literally “filled the temple of the Lord” so that the priests “could not perform their service” (v. 10).  Wiseman reminds us that the glory of the Lord “always marks his presence just as at Sinai (Ex. 24:15-17) and later in the tabernacle when the cloud (Ex. 20:21; Dt. 4:11), a thick cloud whether of darkness or light [appeared].” This apparently signifies that “God is now possessing his house” [118].  In this instance the appearance of the glory-cloud clearly expresses the divine approval of the temple and the location of His holy presence among His covenant people. Paul House explains that in the same way

 

God was with Moses, so now God is with this new generation of Israelites. Such continuity reaffirms the Lord’s never-changing character, [His] desire to have fellowship with human beings, and [His] ongoing commitment to the chosen people. [139].

 

While we might have difficulty reconciling the fact of God’s immaterial and timeless nature with His location in one particular place in time and space, the ancient Hebrews saw no “incompatibility between divine omnipresence and a local dwelling-place on earth where he made himself known” [Wiseman, 119].

 

 

Solomon Speaks of God’s Faithfulness (8:14-21)

 

At this point in the dedication of the temple, Solomon turned to address “the whole assembly of Israel” standing before him.  Having “blessed them,” he made several significant points that needed their careful attention and remembrance. First, Solomon called his people to remember the faithfulness of the God who “with his own hand” had faithfully “fulfilled what he promised with his own mouth” to king David (v. 14).  Secondly, Solomon called the people to recognize that his own kingship was due to the Lord’s sovereign declaration and will (v. 19).  Finally, he clarified the purpose for which the temple was built.  It would serve as the central dwelling place “for the Name of the Lord, the God of Israel” along with “the ark, in which is the covenant of the Lord that he made with our fathers when he brought them out of Egypt” (vv. 20-21).

 

 

Solomon Prays at the Temple Dedication (8:22-53)

 

Having addressed the people of his nation, Solomon turned his attention upward to the Lord. With the people gathered as witnesses, he “spread out his hands toward heaven” and offered prayer to God (v. 22).  The significant components of Solomon’s dedicatory prayer are summarized below:

 

 

 

 

 

Solomon Challenges the People (8:54-61)

 

With the conclusion of his public prayer on behalf of his people, Solomon “rose from before the altar of the Lord” and once again “blessed the whole assembly of Israel” (v. 54).  Ultimately, this blessing is in the form of another prayer for “the continuing close relationship between God and his people” [Wiseman, 123].  Three major elements of this blessing/prayer may be discerned [see House, 148-149]:

 

·        First, Solomon calls upon his people to be loyal to the God who has been faithful to them with both His presence and blessings—“may he never leave us or forsake us” (vv. 56-57).

                       

 

 

This section concludes with another plea from Solomon regarding the commitment and obedience of the people of Israel. He passionately calls upon them to “be fully committed” to God and to continually “live by his decrees and obey his commands” (v. 61). His point is quite clear. As a matter of regular spiritual exercise, the covenant people must remember to follow the Lord with whole-hearted devotion, sacrifice, and faithfulness.

 

 

Solomon Sees the Lord (9:1-9)

 

Following the completion of “the temple of the Lord” as well as “the royal palace,” the Lord “appeared” to Solomon again (v. 1). In this vision, or theophany, God assured Solomon that his prayers and pleas had been heard and that He was well pleased with the construction of a central place of worship (v. 2).  The temple that Solomon had faithfully erected for the Name of the Lord had indeed been “consecrated,” or made holy, by God.  Consequently, the Lord then promised that His “eyes” and “heart” would “always be there”(v. 3).  In other words, the Lord Himself would always carefully watch over and love the temple [House, 151]. 

 

Having assured Solomon that the temple was acceptable as a place of dwelling for the divine presence, the Lord once again set forth a weighty challenge and warning to Israel’s king.  The language of this section clearly articulates the conditional nature of both the promises and warnings given to Solomon. 

 

First, the Lord calls the king to “walk before me in integrity of heart and uprightness” (v. 4). That is, Solomon, as the leader of the nation and the divinely chosen example of a covenant-keeping man, was to conduct every facet of his life in the presence of God and His holy law [Wiseman, 125]. The moral/spiritual qualities of “integrity”—being in agreement with the truth—and “uprightness”—meaning honesty and purity—should always characterize his life. Note that these qualities would be primarily manifested as Solomon demonstrated obedience to each of God’s “commands,” “decrees,” and “laws” (v. 4). If Solomon obeyed the Lord as commanded, the result would be manifold blessings:

 

 

 

However, the Lord makes it clear that there would be the most serious consequences for disobedience and idolatry (vv. 6-10):

 

·        Israel will be “cut off” and its temple “rejected” by God (v. 7).

 

·        Israel would become “an object of ridicule among all peoples” (v. 7).

 

·        Both spiritual and physical “disaster” will be brought against them by the Lord Himself (v. 10).

 

 

 

Key Themes for Reflection and Application

 

One:  Carefully read 8:10-11.  What is the significance of the cloud that appeared in the Temple? Hint: Think about how the glory-cloud displays both God’s presence and approval of the newly built temple.

 

 

Two: According to 8:6 the priests transported the ark of the covenant.  What was important about the role of the Old Testament priest, and what, if any, significance does it have for our lives as New Testament believers? Hint: Consider the following possibilities:

 

 

 

 

 

Three: Much can be learned about prayer from carefully examining Solomon’s words in 8:22-53. Consider the following questions:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Four:  According to 8:24 Solomon had a well-balanced view of worship.  Are there errors for us to avoid in our attitude and practice of worship?

 

 

Five:  Look carefully at Solomon’s words in 8:58.  What is the meaning and significance of his prayer that God would “turn our hearts to him”?  If the hearts of the covenant people are in need of turning or bending, what does this imply about us as believers?

 

 

Six: 8:60 clearly states the ultimate purpose of worship, obedience, and service.  What is it?

 

 

Seven:  Consider the divine curses that are threatened in 9:1-9. How do these point us forward and upward to Christ and His work of atonement?