1 Kings 8:46-60 – Week Three
If you recall, last week we discussed how God appeared to Solomon in a dream and asked what He could give to Solomon. Solomon, in response, offered praise and gratitude to God for the favor that was shown to King David as well as himself. Solomon was very humble and said he was like a little child and needed God’s help to be king. He asked God for wisdom, a discerning and listening heart, and his request was pleasing to God. As a result, King Solomon was known for his wisdom not only in Jerusalem but in the surrounding areas as well. 1 Kings 4:34 ERV “People from every nation came to listen to Solomon’s wisdom. Kings all over the world sent their people to listen to him.”
About four years into King Solomon’s reign, the construction of the temple begins. It’s completed in seven years. He would have had eleven years of being a king under his belt. If we were to assume that Solomon was between the ages of 15 and 20 when he became king, that would mean he was between the ages of 26 and 31 when 1 Kings 8 takes place.
David had wanted to build the temple himself, but God wouldn’t permit it because David had shed too much blood. God had promised King David that He would allow Solomon to build the temple. David, prior to his death, tells Solomon that he’s already amassed a bunch of material. David has supplied seven and a half million pounds of gold, seventy-five million pounds of silver, and so much bronze and iron that it can’t be measured. He’s also provided wood and stone as well as skilled workmen. And David gives Solomon very detailed instructions down to how much pure gold is to be used for the forks. “David said, “All these plans were written with the Lord guiding me. He helped me understand everything in the plans.” (1 Chronicles 28:19 ICB)
No expense was spared when it came to building the temple and furnishing it. Only the finest resources were used. “According to Biblecharts.org, the cost of building the temple today has been estimated to be equal to three to six billion dollars. The debt was so huge, Solomon had to pay off King Hiram by giving him twenty towns in Galilee (1 Kings 9:11).”[i]
1 Kings 6:2-6 GNT gives us the dimensions. “Inside it was 90 feet long, 30 feet wide, and 45 feet high. 3 The entrance room was 15 feet deep and 30 feet wide, as wide as the sanctuary itself. 4 The walls of the Temple had openings in them, narrower on the outside than on the inside. 5 Against the outside walls, on the sides and the back of the Temple, a three-storied annex was built, each story 7½ feet high. 6 Each room in the lowest story was 7½ feet wide, in the middle story 9 feet wide, and in the top story 10½ feet wide. The Temple wall on each floor was thinner than on the floor below, so that the rooms could rest on the wall without having their beams built into it.”
That’s pretty detailed, isn’t it? And then verse 7 gives us another nugget of trivia. 1 Kings 6:7 GNT “The stones with which the Temple was built had been prepared at the quarry, so that there was no noise made by hammers, axes, or any other iron tools as the Temple was being built.”
It’s believed that, outside of the Temple, at the quarry, the stones were cut and shaped to fit together. They would have been marked, like a puzzle, so that when the stones were brought to the building area, it was simply a matter of putting them together where they belonged. The stones served a purpose. They each had their own place. The stone to the left depended on the stone to the right and vice-versa. The stone above relied on the stone beneath it. But each stone was prepared and cut to fit before coming to the Temple.
The Lord guided David on all the plans for this temple and David shared those with Solomon. And we know that there are no coincidences with God. Everything is purposed and meaningful and I do believe this is one for us to stop and take notice of.
The temple was a place of reverence. Its purpose was to provide a permanent place for worship, sacrifice, and “as a protection against idolatry. It stood for the covenant between the Lord and Israel and was the place where God might be approached in celebration and propitiation.”[ii] The stones which were the foundational elements of the Temple were prepared prior to being transported to the Temple. As a result, the Temple was quiet and peaceful as God’s work was being done. Isn’t there something to be said about us preparing ourselves before entering God’s House? How often are our churches and places of worship filled with noise and clatter because we aren’t taking the time to be cut and shaped by God outside of church? What does it say about the relevance of God in our life when our hearts, our minds, and our entire beings aren’t prepared for worship? And just like those stones, each one is important. Each stone was carved specifically to fit. Simon Peter even refers to Jesus and His followers as living stones. 1 Peter 2:4 GNT “Come to the Lord, the living stone rejected by people as worthless but chosen by God as valuable. Come as living stones, and let yourselves be used in building the spiritual temple, where you will serve as holy priests to offer spiritual and acceptable sacrifices to God through Jesus Christ.”
If one or more of those stones weren’t in their proper place, the temple would not have been as sturdy. It wouldn’t have been as solid as it was intended. The same is true for us, as living stones. If we aren’t allowing God to prepare us daily, then we won’t “fit” where He is placing us. If we choose not to be used by God, then our testimony and our work for God’s Kingdom aren’t going to be as sturdy and solid as God intended. We, as believers, are the foundational elements of God’s Kingdom on earth. “There can be no Kingdom of God in the world without the Kingdom of God in our hearts.” – Albert Schweitzer
That’s not the only thing we can learn from the building and dedication of the temple.
As completion of the temple was nearing, God speaks to Solomon. 1 Kings 6:11-13 ICB “The Lord spoke his word to Solomon: “Obey all my laws and commands. If you do, I will do for you what I promised your father David. And I will live among the children of Israel in this Temple you are building. I will never leave the people of Israel.”
Solomon proceeds to finish the temple. He has the stone walls covered with cedar, and the floors with juniper (or pine, in some translations). 1 Kings 6:22 NIV “So he overlaid the whole interior with gold. He also overlaid with gold the altar that belonged to the inner sanctuary.”
1 Kings 6:23-23 ICB “Solomon made two creatures (other translations refer to them as cherubim) with wings from olive wood. Each creature was 15 feet tall. They were put in the Most Holy Place. Each creature had two wings. Each wing was 7½ feet long. So it was 15 feet from the end of one wing to the end of the other wing. 25 The creatures were the same size and shape. And each was 15 feet tall. These creatures were put beside each other in the Most Holy Place. Their wings were spread out. So one creature’s wing touched one wall. The other creature’s wing touched the other wall. And their wings touched each other in the middle of the room. The two creatures were covered with gold.”
We are told that there were intricate carvings all throughout the walls. A man by the name of Huram was hired to create from burnished bronze many items with which to furnish the inside. These included two large pillars which measured 27 feet high and 18 feet in circumference; bowls that were placed on top of the pillars. He created interwoven chains, 400 pomegranates that hung from the chains, 10 water carts, along with other items.
Other furnishings included the gold altar, the gold table, the 10 solid gold lampstands along with other items made of pure gold.
1 Kings 7:51 NLT “So King Solomon finished all his work on the Temple of the Lord. Then he brought all the gifts his father, David, had dedicated—the silver, the gold, and the various articles—and he stored them in the treasuries of the Lord’s Temple.”
Once all was completed and Solomon was pleased with the outcome, it was time to bring in the Ark of the Covenant and place it in the Holy of Holies. The priests brought it in and placed it underneath the cherubim and verses 10-13 of 1 Kings 8 (NLT) tell us, “When the priests came out of the Holy Place, a thick cloud filled the Temple of the Lord. The priests could not continue their service because of the cloud, for the glorious presence of the Lord filled the Temple of the Lord. Then Solomon prayed, “O Lord, you have said that you would live in a thick cloud of darkness. Now I have built a glorious Temple for you, a place where you can live forever!”
This would have been an exciting and triumphant moment, not only for King Solomon, but for those in attendance. An elaborate and extravagant place for God to dwell had been completed and God showed up. No detail had been left to chance. No expense had been spared. And because God shows up, it would be assumed that He was delighted in what had been accomplished. For any onlooker, it may have seemed that all was perfect. It was time to bring out the big scissors, cut the ribbon and clap with enthusiasm.
But remember what Solomon had asked God for? A listening and discerning heart; wisdom that would reflect God’s character.
1 Kings 8:22 ERV “Then Solomon stood in front of whole assembly of Israel and faced the Lord’s altar. Solomon spread his hands and looked toward heaven and said,
“Lord, God of Israel, there is no other god like you in heaven or on the earth.”
Solomon goes on to reference the agreements God made with the Israelites. He acknowledges God’s kindness and loyalty to those who follow Him with all of their heart. He references the promise God made to David that if his sons obey God as David did, that someone from David’s lineage will always rule Israel.
And then, standing before this multi-billion dollar temple, Solomon addresses the greatness of God.
1 Kings 8:27 ERV “But, God, will you really live here with us on the earth? The whole sky and the highest heaven cannot contain you. Certainly this Temple that I built cannot contain you either. 28 But please listen to my prayer and my request. I am your servant, and you are the Lord my God. Hear this prayer that I am praying to you today. 29 In the past you said, ‘I will be honored there.’ So please watch over this Temple, night and day. And please listen to my prayer as I turn toward this Temple and pray to you. 30 And please listen to our prayers in the future when I and your people Israel turn to this place and pray to you. We know that you live in heaven. We ask you to hear our prayer there and forgive us.”
And Solomon proceeds to dedicate the temple. When something is dedicated, it is set apart for a particular purpose. Solomon recognizes that the temple is simply a building, and it is not enough to contain God. But Solomon wants this temple to serve as a reminder of Who God is and draw people to Him. He wants this Temple to be a visual reminder to live in a manner pleasing to God. And it’s interesting that Solomon goes into a bit of a sobering and alarming part of his prayer. We have the benefit of reading this as a bit of history. But imagine what the Israelites were thinking as Solomon prayed this.
1 Kings 8:46 ERV “Your people will sin against you. I know this because everyone sins. And you will be angry with your people. You will let their enemies defeat them. Their enemies will make them prisoners and carry them to some faraway land. 47 In that faraway land, your people will think about what happened. They will be sorry for their sins, and they will pray to you. They will say, ‘We have sinned and done wrong.’ 48 They will be in that faraway land of their enemies, but they will turn back to you. They will feel sorry for their sins with their whole heart and soul. They will turn toward the land you gave their ancestors. They will look toward the city you chose and toward the Temple I built, and they will pray to you. 49 Please listen to their prayers from your home in heaven, and do what is right. 50 Forgive your sinful people for all the things they have done against you. Make their enemies be kind to them. 51 Remember that they are your people and that you brought them out of Egypt. It was as if you saved them by pulling them out of a hot oven!”
The dedication of the Temple is taking place during the Festival of Shelters or Feast of Tabernacles. So that would mean that a lot of celebration was taking place. Not only that, it just so happens that the Temple is being dedicated during the Jubilee. “Biblically, it is a year of emancipation and restoration. In the book of Leviticus, the Lord declares that a year of Jubilee be held every 50th year and that it be a special year of pardoning of sins. Slaves were to be freed, debts forgiven, and land returned to its original owner (Leviticus 25).”[iii] We’re talking MAJOR celebration here! As in, this is a once-in-a-lifetime event. So, in the midst of all of this hoopla and joyfulness, Solomon gives what could be considered a dismal premonition. Everybody’s going to sin. God, You’re going to be angry and let their enemies imprison them. Your people are going to be sorry for what they did and will repent with their whole heart and soul. They’re going to look back to this land, to the city of Jerusalem, and most specifically to this Temple, we are dedicating to You today. Please forgive them and show kindness.
Talk about a downer!
But King Solomon is correct in what he’s saying. 370 years later, the Israelites will fall prey to their enemies, the Babylonians. This Temple, this visual display of extravagance and elegance will be reduced to rubble.
King Solomon continues in his prayer. 1 Kings 8:52 ERV “Please listen to my prayers and to the prayers of your people Israel. Listen to their prayers any time that they ask you for help. 53 You have chosen them from all the peoples of the earth to be your own special people. Lord God, you promised to do that for us. You used your servant Moses to make that promise when you brought our ancestors out of Egypt.54 When Solomon prayed this prayer to the Lord, he was on his knees in front of the Lord’s altar and his arms were raised toward heaven. When he finished praying, he stood up.”
As Solomon prays to God, he pleads with God. He asks for God to listen to their prayers. He reminds God that the Israelites were His chosen people. He refreshes God’s memory (not that it needed refreshing) of the promises made to Moses. The strength and the power of this prayer come from unoriginality.
We’ve heard all kinds of prayers; we’ve said all kinds of prayers. When we were little children, we would recite, “Now I lay me down to sleep” at bedtime. We’d begin every meal with “God is great, God is good.” We’ve tried to impress God by using words that just don’t sound right coming from our mouths. Have you ever heard a backwoods country preacher who talked at the same speed as molasses pours trying to use the words “thee” and “thou” in their prayers? There’s something insincere about it.
Solomon is using the Words of God, the stories of God, and the promises of God to pray to God, plead with God, to call on God. King Solomon, as he kneels at this golden altar, housed in this multi-billion-dollar temple, with his hands raised towards heaven, knows that it’s his heart that endears him to God. The temple, although magnificent and beautiful, wasn’t what God desired.
Warren Wiersbe: The Lord reminded Solomon, as He must constantly remind us, that He’s not impressed with our work if our walk isn’t obedient to Him. What He wants is an obedient heart (Eph. 6:6). God would fulfill His promises to David and Solomon (2 Sam. 7), not because Solomon built the temple but because he obeyed the Word of the Lord.[iv]
Here’s where I think we can make an application to our own lives. The temple, in all of its opulence and extravagance, was simply the final product of following God’s direction. The temple itself wasn’t important to God. It was the condition of Solomon’s heart. It was the sincerity of Solomon’s worship. It was the recognition of Solomon on behalf of the Israelites that even though they were chosen by God they were still sinners and needed to repent. It was the admission that they needed God. It was the acknowledgment of God’s mercy and His unfailing love and the heartfelt appreciation for them both.
God isn’t fooled by how we “seem” to be on the outside; God is able to see our hearts, our intentions, and our sincerity. God isn’t impressed when we stand before Him as successful, self-sufficient, and strong; but rather He’s touched when we kneel before Him admitting our failures, our need for Him, and our recognition that it’s our weakness that paves the way for His strength. God isn’t pleased when we take His mercy, His love, and His forgiveness for granted. God wants us to come before Him, as Solomon did, and acknowledge Him as the undisputed, unmatched, all-powerful, all-knowing, perfect, almighty, praise-worthy, redeeming, unchanging, merciful, sustaining, the beginning and the end and everything in between, the great I AM!
Hebrews 12:28 GNT “Let us be thankful, then, because we receive a kingdom that cannot be shaken. Let us be grateful and worship God in a way that will please him, with reverence and awe;”
Solomon asked for wisdom; he asked for a discerning and listening heart. God delighted in giving Solomon just that and more. Solomon used the wisdom, the wealth, and the honor that God had blessed him with and used it to further God’s kingdom for God’s people. He, allowed himself to be shaped to fit just where God wanted him to be and then he took his place to do just what God wanted him to do. The same applies to us. He may use a particular struggle, situation, person, habit, or a conviction to shape us, to whittle away the unnecessary in our life. He may have a specific workplace, family situation, or small group in which He intends to place you so that you can be used for His work.
Ephesians 2:20 -22 MSG “God is building a home. He’s using us all—irrespective of how we got here—in what he is building. He used the apostles and prophets for the foundation. Now he’s using you, fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone that holds all the parts together. We see it taking shape day after day—a holy temple built by God, all of us built into it, a temple in which God is quite at home.”