The Dedication of the Temple
1 When Solomon finished praying, fire flashed down from heaven and burned up the burnt offerings and sacrifices, and the glorious presence of the Lord filled the Temple. 2 The priests could not enter the Temple of the Lord because the glorious presence of the Lord filled it. 3When all the people of Israel saw the fire coming down and the glorious presence of the Lord filling the Temple, they fell face down on the ground and worshiped and praised the Lord, saying,
“He is good!
His faithful love endures forever!”
“O Spirit, sent from heaven
On that day long ago,
Rekindle faith among us
In all life’s ebb and flow.
O give us ears to listen
And tongues aflame with praise,
So folk in every nation
Glad songs of joy shall raise.”
–Jane Parker Huber, 1981
4 Then the king and all the people offered sacrifices to the Lord. 5 King Solomon offered a sacrifice of 22,000 cattle and 120,000 sheep and goats. And so the king and all the people dedicated the Temple of God.
This huge amount of meat would have perhaps been used in part for the people as the nation feasted together for two weeks — the dedication of the temple and the Feast of Tabernacles/Shelters. What a joyful celebration!
6 The priests took their assigned positions, and so did the Levites who were singing, “His faithful love endures forever!” They accompanied the singing with music from the instruments King David had made for praising the Lord. Across from the Levites, the priests blew the trumpets, while all Israel stood.
7 Solomon then consecrated the central area of the courtyard in front of the Lord’s Temple. He offered burnt offerings and the fat of peace offerings there, because the bronze altar he had built could not hold all the burnt offerings, grain offerings, and sacrificial fat.
8 For the next seven days Solomon and all Israel celebrated the Festival of Shelters. A large congregation had gathered from as far away as Lebo-hamath in the north and the Brook of Egypt in the south. 9 On the eighth day they had a closing ceremony, for they had celebrated the dedication of the altar for seven days and the Festival of Shelters for seven days. 10 Then at the end of the celebration, Solomon sent the people home. They were all joyful and glad because the Lord had been so good to David and to Solomon and to his people Israel.
We remember that it was David’s heart and vision that started the work of the temple.
The Lord’s Response to Solomon
11 So Solomon finished the Temple of the Lord, as well as the royal palace. He completed everything he had planned to do in the construction of the Temple and the palace. 12Then one night the Lord appeared to Solomon and said,
Commentators say this conversation with God may have occurred years after the temple was completed.
“I have heard your prayer and have chosen this Temple as the place for making sacrifices. 13 At times I might shut up the heavens so that no rain falls, or command grasshoppers to devour your crops, or send plagues among you. 14 Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. 15 My eyes will be open and my ears attentive to every prayer made in this place. 16 For I have chosen this Temple and set it apart to be holy—a place where my name will be honored forever. I will always watch over it, for it is dear to my heart.
Verse 14. It’s a familiar verse and easy for us to think we know it. Plus, I have seen this verse so often with an American flag behind it that it almost sounds political. But let’s take a fresh look and examine ourselves in the light of this verse:
humble ourselves: a change in attitude in regard to one’s self, a change from an arrogant rejection of God
Where am I still arrogantly doing what I want to do even when in my fine Christian humility I pretend I am being obedient?
pray: to recognize the right of God over one’s life
What inadequate concept of God do I have which prevents me from fully trusting God with every detail of my life?
seek my face: the desire to determine what God wants
Can I turn my back on my cherished hopes and dreams for myself? for my children? for my future? — and give it all to God?
turn: the will to do what God wants
Can I say with Mary, “Be it unto me according to thy word”? Can I say with Jesus, “Yet not what I will, but what You will”?
HERE Avalon sings “If My People Pray.”
17 “As for you, if you faithfully follow me as David your father did, obeying all my commands, decrees, and regulations, 18 then I will establish the throne of your dynasty. For I made this covenant with your father, David, when I said, ‘One of your descendants will always rule over Israel.’
After a positive promise comes a negative promise . . .
19 “But if you or your descendants abandon me and disobey the decrees and commands I have given you, and if you serve and worship other gods, 20 then I will uproot the people from this land that I have given them. I will reject this Temple that I have made holy to honor my name. I will make it an object of mockery and ridicule among the nations. 21 And though this Temple is impressive now, all who pass by will be appalled. They will ask, ‘Why did the Lord do such terrible things to this land and to this Temple?’
22 “And the answer will be, ‘Because his people abandoned the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who brought them out of Egypt, and they worshiped other gods instead and bowed down to them. That is why he has brought all these disasters on them.’”
In the end, we will all have chosen one or the other:
2 Kings 17:15 (NIV)
They followed worthless idols and themselves became worthless.
Colossians 1:9-11 (TNIV)
We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way.
New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.