Temple and Its Dedication
long-cherished plan of David to erect a temple to the Lord, Solomon wisely
carried out. For seven years Jerusalem was filled with busy workers
engaged in leveling the chosen site, in building vast retaining walls, in
laying broad foundations,--"great stones, costly stones, and hewed
stones,"--in shaping the heavy timbers brought from the Lebanon
forests, and in erecting the magnificent sanctuary. 1 Kings 5:17.
with the preparation of wood and stone, to which task many thousands were
bending their energies, the manufacture of the furnishings for the temple
was steadily progressing under the leadership of Hiram of Tyre, "a
cunning man, endued with understanding, . . . skillful to work in gold,
and in silver, in brass, in iron, in stone, and in timber, in purple, in
blue, and in fine linen, and in crimson." 2 Chronicles 2:13, 14.
Thus as the
building on Mount Moriah was noiselessly
"stone made ready before it was brought thither: so that there was
neither hammer nor ax nor any tool of iron heard in the house, while it
was in building," the beautiful fittings were perfected according to
the patterns committed by David to his son, "all the vessels that
were for the house of God." 1 King 6:7;2 Chronicles 4:19. These
included the altar of incense, the table of shewbread, the candlestick and
lamps, with the vessels and instruments connected with the ministrations
of the priests in the holy place, all "of gold, and that perfect
gold." 2 Chronicles 4:21. The brazen furniture,--the altar of burnt
offering, the great laver supported by twelve oxen, the lavers of smaller
size, with many other vessels,--"in the plain of Jordan did the king
cast them, in the clay ground between Succoth and Zeredathah." 2
Chronicles 4:17. These furnishings were provided in abundance, that there
should be no lack.
beauty and unrivaled splendor was the palatial building which Solomon and
his associates erected for God and His worship. Garnished with precious
stones, surrounded by spacious courts with magnificent approaches, and
lined with carved cedar and burnished gold, the temple structure, with its
broidered hangings and rich furnishings, was a fit emblem of the living
church of God on earth, which through the ages has been building in
accordance with the divine pattern, with materials that have been likened
to "gold, silver, precious stones," "polished after the
similitude of a palace." 1 Corinthians 3:12; Psalm 144:12. Of this
spiritual temple Christ is "the chief Cornerstone; in whom all the
building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the
Lord." Ephesians 2:20, 21.
At last the
temple planned by King David, and built by Solomon his son, was completed.
"All that came into Solomon's heart to make in the house of the
Lord," he had "prosperously effected." 2 Chronicles 7:11.
And now, in order that the palace crowning the heights of Mount Moriah
might indeed be, as David had so much desired, a dwelling place "not
for man, but for the Lord God" (1 Chronicles 29:1), there remained
the solemn ceremony of formally dedicating it to Jehovah and His worship.
The spot on
which the temple was built had long been regarded as a consecrated place.
It was here that Abraham, the father of the faithful, had revealed his
willingness to sacrifice his only son in obedience to the command of
Jehovah. Here God had renewed with Abraham the covenant of blessing, which
included the glorious Messianic promise to the human race of deliverance
through the sacrifice of the Son of the Most High. See Genesis 22:9,
16:18. Here it was that when David offered burnt offerings and peace
offerings to stay the avenging sword of the destroying angel, God had
answered him by fire from heaven. See 1 Chronicles 21. And now once more
the worshipers of Jehovah were here to meet their God and renew their vows
of allegiance to Him.
chosen for the dedication was a most favorable one--the seventh month,
when the people from every part of the kingdom were accustomed to assemble
at Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. This feast was
preeminently an occasion of rejoicing. The labors of the harvest being
ended and the toils of the new year not yet begun, the people were free
from care and could give themselves up to the sacred, joyous influences of
appointed time the hosts of Israel, with richly clad representatives from
many foreign nations, assembled in the temple courts. The scene was one of
unusual splendor. Solomon, with the elders of Israel and the most
influential men among the people, had returned from another part of the
city, whence they had brought the ark of the testament. From the sanctuary
on the heights of Gibeon had been transferred the ancient "tabernacle
of the congregation, and all the holy vessels that were in the
tabernacle" (2 Chronicles 5:5); and these cherished reminders of the
earlier experiences of the children of Israel during their wanderings in
the wilderness and their conquest of Canaan, now found a permanent home in
the splendid building that had been erected to take the place of the
to the temple the sacred ark containing the two tables of stone on which
were written by the finger of God the precepts of the Decalogue, Solomon
had followed the example of his father David. Every six paces he
sacrificed. With singing and with music and with great ceremony, "the
priests brought in the ark of the covenant of the Lord unto his place, to
the oracle of the house, into the most holy place." Verse 7. As they
came out of the inner sanctuary, they took the positions assigned them.
The singers --Levites arrayed in white linen, having cymbals and
psalteries and harps--stood at the east end of the altar, and with them a
hundred and twenty priests sounding with trumpets. See verse 12.
even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound
to be heard in praising and
Lord; and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals
and instruments of music, and praised the Lord, saying, For He is good;
for His mercy endureth forever: that then the house was filled with a
cloud, even the house of the Lord; so that the priests could not stand to
minister by reason of the cloud: for the glory of the Lord had filled the
house of God." Verses 13,14.
significance of this cloud, Solomon declared: "The Lord hath said
that He would dwell in the thick darkness. But I have built an house of
habitation for Thee, and a place for Thy dwelling forever." 2
between the cherubims;
Let the earth
Lord is great in Zion;
And He is
high above all the people.
praise Thy great and terrible name;
For it is
holy. . . .
ye the Lord our God,
at His footstool;
For He is
midst of the court" of the temple had been erected "a brazen
scaffold," or platform, "five cubits long, and five cubits
broad, and three cubits high." Upon this Solomon stood and with
uplifted hands blessed the vast multitude before him. "And all the
congregation of Israel stood." 2 Chronicles 6:13,3.
be the Lord God of Israel," Solomon exclaimed, "who hath with
His hands fulfilled that which He spake
mouth to my father David, saying, . . . I have chosen Jerusalem, that My
name might be there." Verses 4-6.
knelt upon the platform, and in the hearing of all the people offered the
dedicatory prayer. Lifting his hands toward heaven, while the congregation
were bowed with their faces to the ground, the king pleaded: "Lord
God of Israel, there is no God like Thee in the heaven, nor in the earth;
which keepest covenant, and showest mercy unto Thy servants, that walk
before Thee with all their heart."
God in very deed dwell with men on the earth? Behold, heaven and the
heaven of heavens cannot contain Thee; how much less this house which I
have built? Have respect therefore to the prayer of Thy servant, and to
his supplication, O Lord my God, to hearken unto the cry and the prayer
which Thy servant prayeth before Thee: that Thine eyes may be open upon
this house day and night, upon the place whereof Thou hast said that Thou
wouldest put Thy name there; to hearken unto the prayer which Thy servant
prayeth toward this place. Hearken therefore unto the supplications of Thy
servant, and of Thy people Israel, which they shall make toward this
place: hear Thou from Thy dwelling place, even from heaven; and when Thou
hearest, forgive. . . .
people Israel be put to the worse before the enemy, because they have
sinned against Thee; and shall return and confess Thy name, and pray and
make supplication before Thee in this house; then hear Thou from the
heavens, and forgive the sin of Thy people Israel, and bring them again
unto the land which Thou gavest to them and to their fathers.
the heaven is shut up, and there is no rain, because they have sinned
against Thee; yet if they pray toward this place, and confess Thy name,
and turn from their sin, when Thou dost afflict them; then hear Thou from
heaven, and forgive the sin of Thy servants, and of Thy people Israel,
when Thou hast taught them the good way, wherein they should walk; and
send rain upon Thy land, which Thou hast given unto Thy people for an
there be dearth in the land, if there be pestilence, if there be blasting,
or mildew, locusts, or caterpillars; if their enemies besiege them in the
cities of their land; whatsoever sore or whatsoever sickness there be:
then what prayer or what supplication soever shall be made of any man, or
of all Thy people Israel, when everyone shall know his own sore and his
own grief, and shall spread forth his hands in his house: then hear Thou
from heaven Thy dwelling place, and forgive, and render unto every man
according unto all his ways, whose heart Thou knowest; . . . that they may
fear Thee, to walk in Thy ways, so long as they live in the land which
Thou gavest unto our fathers.
concerning the stranger, which is not of Thy people Israel, but is come
from a far country for Thy great name's sake, and Thy mighty hand, and Thy
stretched-out arm; if they come and pray in this house; then hear Thou
from the heavens, even from Thy dwelling place, and do according to all
that the stranger calleth to Thee for; that all people of the earth may
know Thy name, and fear Thee, as doth Thy people Israel, and may know that
this house which I have built is called by Thy name.
people go out to war against their enemies by the way that Thou shalt send
them, and they pray unto Thee toward this city which Thou hast chosen, and
the house which I have built for Thy name; then hear Thou from the heavens
their prayer and their supplication, and maintain their cause.
sin against Thee, (for there is no man which sinneth not,) and Thou be
angry with them, and deliver them over before their enemies, and they
carry them away captives unto a land far off or near; yet if they bethink
themselves in the land whither they are carried captive, and turn and pray
unto Thee in the land of their captivity, saying, We have sinned, we have
done amiss, and have dealt wickedly; if they return to Thee with all their
heart and with all their soul in the land of their captivity, whither they
have carried them captives, and pray toward their land, which Thou gavest
unto their fathers, and toward the city which Thou hast chosen, and toward
the house which I have built for Thy name: then hear Thou from the
heavens, even from Thy dwelling place, their prayer and their
supplications, and maintain their cause, and forgive Thy people which have
sinned against Thee.
God, let, I beseech Thee, Thine eyes be open, and let Thine ears be attent
unto the prayer that is made in this place. Now therefore arise, O Lord
God, into Thy resting place, Thou, and the ark of Thy strength: let Thy
priests, O Lord God, be clothed with salvation, and let Thy saints rejoice
in goodness. O Lord God, turn not away the face of Thine anointed:
remember the mercies of David Thy servant." Verses 14-42.
ended his prayer, "fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt
offering and the sacrifices." The priests could not enter the temple
because "the glory of the Lord had filled the Lord's house."
"When all the children of Israel saw . . . the glory of the Lord upon
the house, they bowed themselves with their faces to the ground upon the
pavement, and worshiped, and praised the Lord, saying, For He is good; for
His mercy endureth forever."
Then king and
people offered sacrifices before the Lord. "So the king and all the
people dedicated the house of God." 2 Chronicles 7:1-5. For seven
days the multitudes from every part of the kingdom, from the borders
"of Hamath unto the river of Egypt," "a very great
congregation," kept a joyous feast. The week following was spent by
the happy throng in observing the Feast of Tabernacles. At the close of
the season of reconsecration and rejoicing the people returned to their
homes, "glad and merry in heart for the goodness that the Lord had
showed unto David, and to Solomon, and to Israel His people." Verses
The king had
done everything within his power to encourage the people to give
themselves wholly to God and His service, and to magnify His holy name.
And now once more, as at Gibeon early in his reign, Israel's ruler was
given evidence of divine acceptance and blessing. In a night vision the
Lord appeared to him with the message: "I have heard thy prayer, and
have chosen this place to Myself for an house of sacrifice. If I shut up
heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the
land, or if I
pestilence among My people; if My people, which are called by My name,
shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their
wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and
will heal their land. Now Mine eyes shall be open, and Mine ears attent
unto the prayer that is made in this place. For now have I chosen and
sanctified this house, that My name may be there forever: and Mine eyes
and Mine heart shall be there perpetually." Verses 12-16.
remained true to God, this glorious building would have stood forever, a
perpetual sign of God's especial favor to His chosen people. "The
sons of the stranger," God declared, "that join themselves to
the Lord, to serve Him, and to love the name of the Lord, to be His
servants, everyone that keepeth the Sabbath from polluting it, and taketh
hold of My covenant; even them will I bring to My holy mountain, and make
them joyful in My house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their
sacrifices shall be accepted upon Mine altar; for Mine house shall be
called an house of prayer for all people." Isaiah 56:6, 7.
with these assurances of acceptance, the Lord made very plain the path of
duty before the king. "As for thee," He declared, "if thou
wilt walk before Me, as David thy father walked, and do according to all
that I have commanded thee, and shalt observe My statutes and My
judgments; then will I establish the throne of thy kingdom, according as I
have covenanted with David thy father, saying, There shall not fail thee a
man to be ruler in Israel." 2 Chronicles 7:17, 18.
continued to serve the Lord in humility, his entire reign would have
exerted a powerful influence for good over the surrounding nations,
nations that had been so favorably impressed by the reign of David his
father and by the wise words and the magnificent works of the earlier
years of his own reign. Foreseeing the terrible temptations that attend
prosperity and worldly honor, God warned Solomon against the evil of
apostasy and foretold the awful results of sin. Even the beautiful temple
that had just been dedicated, He declared, would become "a proverb
and a byword among all nations" should the Israelites forsake
"the Lord God of their fathers" and persist in idolatry. Verses
in heart and greatly cheered by the message from heaven that his prayer in
behalf of Israel had been heard, Solomon now entered upon the most
glorious period of his reign, when "all the kings of the earth"
began to seek his presence, "to hear his wisdom, that God had put in
his heart." 2 Chronicles 9:23. Many came to see the manner of his
government and to receive instruction regarding the conduct of difficult
people visited Solomon, he taught them of God as the Creator of all
things, and they returned to their homes with clearer conceptions of the
God of Israel and of His love for the human race. In the works of nature
they now beheld an expression of His love and a revelation of His
character; and many were led to worship Him as their God.
of Solomon at the time he began to bear the burdens of state, when he
acknowledged before God,
but a little child" (1 Kings 3:7), his marked love of God, his
profound reverence for things divine, his distrust of self, and his
exaltation of the infinite Creator of all--all these traits of character,
so worthy of emulation, were revealed during the services connected with
the completion of the temple, when during his dedicatory prayer he knelt
in the humble position of a petitioner. Christ's followers today should
guard against the tendency to lose the spirit of reverence and godly fear.
The Scriptures teach men how they should approach their Maker--with
humility and awe, through faith in a divine Mediator. The psalmist has
Lord is a great God,
And a great
King above all gods. . . .
O come, let
us worship and bow down:
Let us kneel
before the Lord our Maker."
public and in private worship it is our privilege to bow on our knees
before God when we offer our petitions to Him. Jesus, our example,
"kneeled down, and prayed." Luke 22:41. Of his disciples it is
recorded that they, too, "kneeled down, and prayed." Acts 9:40.
Paul declared, "I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus
Christ." Ephesians 3:14. In confessing before God the sins of Israel,
Ezra knelt. See Ezra 9:5. Daniel "kneeled upon his knees three times
a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God." Daniel 6:10.
reverence for God is inspired by a sense of His infinite greatness and a
realization of His presence. With this sense of the Unseen, every heart
should be deeply impressed. The hour and place of prayer are sacred,
because God is
there. And as
reverence is manifested in attitude and demeanor, the feeling that
inspires it will be deepened. "Holy and reverend is His name,"
the psalmist declares. Psalm 111:9. Angels, when they speak that name,
veil their faces. With what reverence, then, should we, who are fallen and
sinful, take it upon our lips!
Well would it
be for old and young to ponder those words of Scripture that show how the
place marked by God's special presence should be regarded. "Put off
thy shoes from off thy feet," He commanded Moses at the burning bush,
"for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground." Exodus
3:5. Jacob, after beholding the vision of the angel, exclaimed, "The
Lord is in this place; and I knew it not. . . . This is none other but the
house of God, and this is the gate of heaven." Genesis 28:16, 17.
In that which
was said during the dedicatory services, Solomon had sought to remove from
the minds of those present the superstitions in regard to the Creator,
that had beclouded the minds of the heathen. The God of heaven is not,
like the gods of the heathen, confined to temples made with hands; yet He
would meet with His people by His Spirit when they should assemble at the
house dedicated to His worship.
later Paul taught the same truth in the words: "God that made the
world and all things therein, seeing that He is Lord of heaven and earth,
dwelleth not in temples made with hands; neither is worshiped with men's
hands, as though He needed anything, seeing He giveth to all life, and
breath, and all things; . . . that they should seek the Lord, if haply
they might feel after Him, and find
He be not far from every one of us: for in Him we live, and move, and have
our being." Acts 17:24-28.
is the nation whose God is the Lord;
people whom He hath chosen for His own inheritance.
looketh from heaven;
all the sons of men.
place of His habitation
upon all the inhabitants of the earth."
Lord hath prepared His throne in the heavens;
kingdom ruleth over all."
way, O God, is in the sanctuary:
Who is so
great a God as our God?
Thou art the
God that doest wonders:
declared Thy strength among the people."
dwells not in temples made with hands, yet He honors with His presence the
assemblies of His people. He has promised that when they come together to
seek Him, to acknowledge their sins, and to pray for one another, He will
meet with them by His Spirit. But those who assemble to worship Him should
put away every evil thing. Unless they worship Him in spirit and truth and
in the beauty of holiness, their coming together will be of no avail. Of
such the Lord declares, "This people draweth nigh unto Me with their
mouth, and honoreth Me with their lips; but their heart is far from
Me." Matthew 15:8,9. Those who worship God must worship Him "in
spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship Him."
Lord is in His holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before
Him." Habakkuk 2:20.