1 Kings 8:1-21 (New International Version)
The Ark Brought to the Temple
1 Then King Solomon summoned into his presence at Jerusalem the elders of Israel, all the heads of the tribes and the chiefs of the Israelite families, to bring up the ark of the LORD’s covenant from Zion, the City of David. 2 All the Israelites came together to King Solomon at the time of the festival in the month of Ethanim, the seventh month.
The temple was finished in the eighth month, but Solomon had the festival 11 months later, during the seventh month. It could be because at that time the harvest was in and people were more free to come to Jerusalem. Some scholars have also suggested that the seventh month was part of a Jubilee year. At any rate, the temple was not complete until the ark of the covenant was put in place in the Most Holy Place.
So bringing the ark to the temple was a big occasion! Think of a beautiful public spectacle — like the opening ceremony for the Olympic Games!
3 When all the elders of Israel had arrived, the priests took up the ark, 4 and they brought up the ark of the LORD and the tent of meeting and all the sacred furnishings in it. The priests and Levites carried them up,
Remember in 2 Samuel 6, when David moved the ark with ordinary people and one of them touched the ark and died? Solomon does not make that mistake! He moves the ark and the temple furnishings the way God commanded them to be moved.
5 and King Solomon and the entire assembly of Israel that had gathered about him were before the ark, sacrificing so many sheep and cattle that they could not be recorded or counted.
Solomon went far beyond custom and expectation in his effort to honor and praise God on this great day.
Aren’t we glad that we do not need to bring sheep and cattle to sacrifice as part of worship! Christ’s sacrifice on the cross is all sufficient, so I am grateful to bring my sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving. HERE is “We Bring the Sacrifice of Praise” by the Maranatha! Singers.
6 The priests then brought the ark of the LORD’s covenant to its place in the inner sanctuary of the temple, the Most Holy Place, and put it beneath the wings of the cherubim. 7 The cherubim spread their wings over the place of the ark and overshadowed the ark and its carrying poles. 8 These poles were so long that their ends could be seen from the Holy Place in front of the inner sanctuary, but not from outside the Holy Place; and they are still there today. 9 There was nothing in the ark except the two stone tablets that Moses had placed in it at Horeb, where the LORD made a covenant with the Israelites after they came out of Egypt.
What happened to the container of manna (Exodus 16:33) and Aaron’s rod that budded (Numbers 17:6-11)? These items were formerly in the ark, along with the two stone tablets. The reason is lost to history.
10 When the priests withdrew from the Holy Place, the cloud filled the temple of the LORD.
This was the cloud of glory, seen often in the Old and New Testaments, sometimes called the cloud of Shekinah glory. It is hard to define the glory of God; we could call it the radiant outshining of His character and presence. Here it is manifested in a cloud.
- This is the cloud that stood by Israel in the wilderness (Exodus 13:21-22)
- This is the cloud of glory that God spoke to Israel from (Exodus 16:10)
- This is the cloud from which God met with Moses and others (Exodus 19:9, 24:15-18, Numbers 11:25, 12:5, 16:42)
- This is the cloud that stood by the door of the Tabernacle (Exodus 33:9-10)
- This is the cloud from which God appeared to the High Priest in the Holy Place inside the veil (Leviticus 16:2)
- This is the cloud of Ezekiel’s vision, filling the temple of God with the brightness of His glory (Ezekiel 10:4)
- This is the cloud of glory that overshadowed Mary when she conceived Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35)
- This is the cloud present at the transfiguration of Jesus (Luke 9:34-35)
- This is the cloud of glory that received Jesus into heaven at His ascension (Acts 1:9)
- This is the cloud that will display the glory of Jesus Christ when He returns in triumph to this earth (Luke 21:27, Revelation 1:7)
11 And the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled his temple.
The sense of the presence of the Lord was so intense, the priests could not continue their work! The presence of our holy God is not a “warm and fuzzy” feeling. Men like Peter (Luke 5:8), Isaiah (Isaiah 6:5), and John (Revelation 1:17) felt stricken in the presence of God. This was not because God forced an uncomfortable feeling upon them, but because they simply could not be comfortable sensing the difference between their sinfulness and the holiness of God.
This glory remained at the temple until Israel utterly rejected God in the days of the divided monarchy. The prophet Ezekiel saw the glory depart the temple (Ezekiel 10:18).
12 Then Solomon said, “The LORD has said that he would dwell in a dark cloud; 13 I have indeed built a magnificent temple for you, a place for you to dwell forever.”
14 While the whole assembly of Israel was standing there, the king turned around and blessed them. 15 Then he said:
“Praise be to the LORD, the God of Israel, who with his own hand has fulfilled what he promised with his own mouth to my father David. For he said, 16 ‘Since the day I brought my people Israel out of Egypt, I have not chosen a city in any tribe of Israel to have a temple built so that my Name might be there, but I have chosen David to rule my people Israel.’
17 “My father David had it in his heart to build a temple for the Name of the LORD, the God of Israel. 18 But the LORD said to my father David, ‘You did well to have it in your heart to build a temple for my Name. 19 Nevertheless, you are not the one to build the temple, but your son, your own flesh and blood—he is the one who will build the temple for my Name.’
20 “The LORD has kept the promise he made: I have succeeded David my father and now I sit on the throne of Israel, just as the LORD promised, and I have built the temple for the Name of the LORD, the God of Israel. 21 I have provided a place there for the ark, in which is the covenant of the LORD that he made with our ancestors when he brought them out of Egypt.”
Out of Egypt, out of the wilderness — there is a sense in which the Exodus is finally finished this day: in the Promised Land, the Lord has a permanent home among his people.