1 Kings 8
1 Kings 8 Kingcomments Bible Studies

The Ark to the Temple

The dedication of the temple takes place at “the feast, in the month Ethanim”, that is the Feast of Booths. This feast is the great closing of all harvest feasts in “the seventh month” (Lev 23:34). This feast points to the kingdom of peace, where the people are in possession of all the blessings of God, at the end of all the ways of God. We, New Testament believers, already possess “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly [places] in Christ” (Eph 1:3) and therefore have so much more reason to praise God.

The ark is placed in the midst of the people and then in the temple. The ark has not been in the tabernacle since Eli’s days. David brought the ark to Zion and placed it in the tent he had pitched for it (2Sam 6:17), while the tabernacle was at Gibeon (2Chr 1:3-5). Solomon brings the ark from that tent to the temple.

The bringing up of the ark to the temple and the associated sacrifices are a picture of Christ in the midst of His people, the church, where the people bring Him sacrifices of praise and thanks. In 1 Chronicles 28 we see the Spirit of Christ among His people through Whom David says what was in his heart, the wish he had (1Chr 28:2)

The ark, which has travelled around for so long, has come to the end of its wanderings and comes into the tranquility of the temple. This is about priests and Levites giving it that place. In spiritual application this means that only if the spiritual conditions are present in us the Lord Jesus can be in the midst of us as His own and we can raise our voice to God in praise.

The ark is in itself also a resting place, the footstool for God’s feet. God finds His rest in the Lord Jesus and the Lord Jesus finds His rest in the midst of His church.

Here Solomon leads everything. The Lord Jesus wants to lead everything through His Spirit. Through the leading of Solomon the ark is given its place in the temple of God. The ark is brought to its place, into the inner sanctuary of the house, to the most holy place, under the great wings of the cherubs. The poles are not pulled out according to the prescription (Exo 25:15). They remain in the rings and are seen. This is to remind us that the journey is over and rest has been reached. The wilderness journey is over. The Lord Jesus went into the rest after accomplishing His way and work on earth, but we will always be reminded of His life on earth.

How it is possible that the poles can be seen from the holy place, while the ark finds itself in a fully enclosed sanctuary, is not clear. In the spiritual application it is clear. It shows that the believer has confidence to enter the holy place and sees Christ there (Heb 10:19).

From the letter to the Hebrews we can conclude that there was a time when there were three objects in the ark (Heb 9:4). Here we only speak about the two tables of the covenant, i.e. the law. The other two objects are directly related to the wilderness journey – the manna, and rod which budded as the activity of the high priest – but the journey is over here. The law continues to keep its meaning, even in the realm of peace. The perfect will of God remains forever. Also the Lord Jesus remains the dependent Man, in Him the will of God remains completely present.

In 1Kgs 8:10-11 we are reminded of two events that are similar. It concerns the dedication of the tabernacle (Lev 9:23-24) and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:2). Now the temple gets its meaning. God takes His residence in the temple as His dwelling place. Thus the Holy Spirit has come to dwell in the believer individually, but also to form the church, to form the members as a whole “into a dwelling of God in the Spirit” (Eph 2:22).

Solomon Blesses the People

Solomon begins by saying something that is characteristic for the Old Testament and what is opposed to the New Testament. For Solomon the LORD dwells in darkness, although God is light. But God is also love, and for that very reason He lives in darkness, for if He showed His light, it would mean the end of the people and of man. Hence the veil is there, behind which He has withdrawn Himself. This is no longer the case in the church. There He dwells in Christ, in Whom He comes to man.

Solomon blesses the people (1Kgs 8:14). He is here the king-priest, for blessing is what the priest does. We see that with Melchizedek (Gen 14:18-19). The Lord Jesus is the perfect King-Priest (Zec 6:13; Heb 7:1-3).

Solomon begins by praising God as the God Who speaks and does (1Kgs 8:15). Whatever His mouth speaks, His hand carries out. He spoke to David about his election. He has not chosen a city, but David. It seems as if David is a city, but city, temple and king are so connected that David and the city are one. The king and his city belong together. The Lord Jesus is the Son of David and is forever connected with Jerusalem.

Solomon often speaks of the Name of the LORD. The name expresses what someone is or should be. His Name expresses His whole glory. The throne of the LORD shows Who erected the throne. The throne of David shows who sits on the throne. The throne of Israel shows what is ruled.

The covenant lies in the ark, recorded and represented in the two tables (1Kgs 8:21).

The Prayer of Solomon

The prayer of Solomon is the highlight of the dedication of the temple. The place of intercession is at the altar (1Kgs 8:22). There is no intercession separate from the altar, which means to us, separate from the Lord Jesus and His work on the cross. The foundation is the sacrifice of Christ. The king-priest intercedes (cf. 1Sam 2:35, where the priest is in the service of the anointed). He does it for the church of Israel and also in the presence of the people; the people are listening. He speaks frankly about all the dangers to which the people can be exposed.

Solomon addresses God in His incomparability (1Kgs 8:23). It is also good for us to think about what a God we have to do with. There is no comparison with Him, no gods or demonic powers. They are all subject to Him. It is also true that there is no one else LORD but God (1Kgs 8:60).

Then Solomon pronounces to God what he had previously pronounced for the people (1Kgs 8:24; cf. 1Kgs 8:15). What he has spoken for the people, he offers here to God as a peace offering.

He reminds God of His promise to always put a son of David on the throne and prays that God will do the same (1Kgs 8:25). This will become a reality when the eternal Son sits on the throne as Man.

However, the fulfillment of the promise is made dependent on the responsibility of man. Both Solomon himself and his sons have failed and therefore there has been no son of David on the throne for a long time. According to God’s sovereignty, He will give the Son in grace. For this Solomon appeals to the grace of God when he asks that God still lives up to His Word (1Kgs 8:26).

God is so great that no part of creation can comprehend Him, not even the largest, most extensive parts (1Kgs 8:27). He spans everything Himself (Deu 10:14). It is also a delusion to think that God lives in handmade temples. This delusion is held by an apostate people, for which the prophets sharply condemn them (Jer 7:4; Mic 3:11).

Faith acknowledges that God cannot be closed up in a human building. However, at the same time faith sees that God’s presence is connected with the temple, because He has said that His Name dwells there. On this basis we may, despite His greatness, so far elevated above His dwelling, ask Him to listen to the prayer that comes from His dwelling on earth to Him in heaven (1Kgs 8:28).

Each time the word ‘hear’ comes back. With this in mind, Solomon prays. Thus we may pray to God. He hears from His dwelling in heaven. But Solomon also speaks of “forgiveness” (1Kgs 8:30). He is a practical king and knows that most prayers are prayers for forgiveness. Should not our prayers also often be accompanied by confession of sins? Solomon asks if the LORD wants to hear “the supplication of … Your people Israel”. He assumes that God’s people will be a praying people.

First Prayer

The prayer seems long, but it can be prayed in about six minutes. It is a prayer rich in content. It’s not about the length, but about the content.

The prayer contains seven prayers. The first four reflect on the inner condition of the people, the last three on the danger from outside. Many of the prayers are about sins and forgiveness. It is a prayer from and for the people of God. It presents God’s people, now the church, in her responsibility.

We see this in Matthew 18 where the church has problems, sins, to deal with locally (Mt 18:15-20). It is a people who need prayer and an Intercessor in Christ, like here in Solomon. We must also be intercessors. God is astonished that He has not found anyone who, through prayer, closes the gaps through which the enemy can come among God’s people (Isa 59:16a; Eze 22:30).

The first prayer is about someone sinning against his brother. The judge takes an oath in the presence of God (“altar”) with a self-cursing to find out the truth. The matter must be resolved. Only God can reveal the truth. Solomon asks for that. He asks that the oath be fulfilled if the accused is guilty, or, if there is no guilt, the oath will not be fulfilled.

The counterpart of this can be found in Matthew 18, where the Lord Jesus says: “If your brother sins” (Mt 18:15). The Lord also gives instructions there on how we should personally and as a local church deal with this (Mt 18:15-20). It is about restoring the brother who sinned into fellowship with the Lord and the church. The way this work is to be done is depicted by the Lord in the verses preceding this section (Mt 18:1-14) and the verses following it (Mt 18:21-35). It comes down to an attitude of humbleness, care and forgiveness.

Second Prayer

This prayer concerns the sin of all people (Lev 26:17; Deu 28:25). The whole people have sinned, for example when sin is tolerated. God then sends enemies as judgment, so that the people will confess and call to God with remorse for their sin. He will then give restoration.

In an application to the church we can think of allowing a carnal, worldly mind, or not condemning liberal or sectarian habits. We can also think of intruding public sins or false teachings without disciplining them. We then will be defeated by the enemy. The only thing that can deliver us from the enemy is confession of our unfaithfulness. Then the Lord forgives and gives again the enjoyment of our spiritual blessings in the heavenly places.

Third Prayer

The third prayer concerns the situation that God must withhold His blessing from His people if they deviate from Him (Lev 26:19; Deu 11:17; Deu 28:23). This judgment was asked of God by Elijah, that the people might return to Him (1Kgs 17:1; Jam 5:17). This indeed happened. Without rain there is no harvest and no harvest feast.

If the people of God humble themselves, the LORD can show them the good way again. Every humiliation leads to new insight to go the good way.

In a local church death can be in the pot. If spiritual blessing is no longer enjoyed, it is the result of a deviation from the Word of God. As Elimelech we can head for places where we think we can find food (Rth 1:1). However, God’s purpose is that we humble ourselves before Him and confess our deviation. Then the Lord can show us the good way again. If we then go that way, the result is that blessing comes again.

Fourth Prayer

Here disease and hunger strike the land (Lev 26:19; 25; Deu 28:22-23; 38). Sin is not mentioned directly. Hunger is the result of plagues and enemies that come upon the people because of the plagues of the hearts of each of the members of God’s people. They pray to God to ask why He makes these plagues come. The plagues are instruments that God uses to discipline His people. They become the reason for self-examination of every member and it will lead to the discovery that life is not as God wishes. This has nothing to do with whether there are concrete sins, but that there is slowness in serving God.

We cannot deceive ourselves when we are in God’s presence. God will forgive if everyone recognizes the condition of his heart, for only He knows the heart. We often judge our brother as if we know exactly his heart. When self-examination is done – and that is God’s goal by sending hunger – what is in our hearts comes to light. It is about each one searching his own heart and not seeking the solution in all that another has done or could have done. If everyone says this in sincerity, there will be blessing again.

This is a case of personal unfaithfulness. If we see that, the reason for this is often the incorrect setting of our priorities. We then run to our own houses, abandoning the house of God (Hag 1:9b). We must confess this and give God’s house again the first place. God will then give blessing again.

Fifth Prayer

The second series of prayers begins with the fifth prayer. In this first prayer of the second series, the house of God also appears to be a refuge for foreigners (cf. Num 15:14; Isa 56:6-7).

The house of God in the New Testament, the church (1Tim 3:15), is first and foremost a house of prayer, where intercession is done for all people (1Tim 2:1-2). God wants us as His house to have an eye for all who do not yet belong to it and pray for them. There is no exception with God. No one is excluded from the opportunity to enter His house.

Sixth Prayer

Here the people go out against the enemy, contrary to 1Kgs 8:33, and pray to God for it (cf. 2Chr 20:4-12). Praying toward the chosen city and temple means believing in the true presence of the God of the covenant in the temple. Fighting on God’s command does not exclude prayer, but makes it all the more necessary.

We can apply this in connection with the previous prayer to the battle for the gospel (Phil 4:3). It is a battle against the evil powers of darkness to proclaim the good news on their territory. We all have this command (2Tim 4:5b).

Seventh Prayer

Solomon knows the heart of man. There is no man who does not sin. Therefore, it is necessary that God’s discipline must come. This happened in the exile to Babel (cf. Lev 26:33; 44). A return is also possible. In that case, conversion must take place. Then they can supplicate toward “the house”. Daniel did that (Dan 6:11). He has confessed guilt (Dan 9:5). God answered the prayer of Daniel by giving Cyrus in his heart to give His people the freedom (Psa 106:46).

It is one of the “things revealed” (Deu 29:29b) that God puts us aside when we become unfaithful. The “secret things” (Deu 29:29a) means that He will act according to His counsels by first having us call to Him with repentance and then deliver us. With regard to Israel He will do this by working repentance in a remnant and fulfilling His promises to this remnant.

Basis of Prayer

Solomon reminds God that His people are His inheritance and that He lived up to what He spoke through Moses when He led the people out of Egypt. What God does is always connected with what He has spoken and what was from the beginning.

The Faithfulness of the LORD

In 2 Chronicles 7 after the prayer fire comes from heaven to consume the sacrifice and the glory of the LORD fills the temple for the second time (2Chr 7:1). This is lacking here because the emphasis here is on responsibility. We see this after arising from the prayer. Solomon speaks to the people and presents to them their responsibility. Each prayer at the same time gives a responsibility. First he praises the LORD that He has given His people rest. The rest of His people is the result of the rest He Himself found, depicted in the resting place of the ark in the temple.

Further Solomon points to the unchangeable faithfulness of the LORD, His absolute faithfulness which is demonstrated by the fact that He has fulfilled every word He has spoken. He also expresses the wish that He will be with them and guide them. The past is also a guarantee for the future, because as the LORD was with the fathers, He can also be with them (Heb 13:8).

In 1Kgs 8:58 the responsibility comes. In order to meet this, man also needs the help of God, that He inclines his heart to obedience. Day after day, “each day” (1Kgs 8:59), we depend on God’s help. The effect of this will be “that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God” and that “there is no one else” (1Kgs 8:60). Therefore Solomon points out that the heart must be perfect, undivided, with the LORD. There is nothing to share with the LORD that is not His. At the moment Solomon can still say that this is the case with the people. Unfortunately it will not stay that way and with us it is often not undivided.

Solomon Offers Sacrifice

The great dedication of the temple ends with the offering of sacrifices. The temple is also discussed later, because everything in Solomon’s life revolves around the temple. Here the sacrifice is connected to the temple. The other aspect is the temple as a dwelling place. This is about approaching God which is not possible with empty hands. The size of the sacrifice indicates the greatness of the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus.

This multitude of sacrifices cannot, of course, be fully brought on the altar. Therefore Solomon sanctifies the middle of the court of the temple. The whole middle part becomes a large altar. This initiative has God’s approval. It shows us that there is room for spiritual initiatives that arise from a desire to honor God.


The size of the land is described to show that the whole people share in the feast. The feast lasts seven days and seven days, i.e. the Dedication Feast and the Feast of Booths (2Chr 7:9).

The eighth day is the great day of the Feast of Booths (Jn 7:37). When the people leave, they wish the king the blessing of God. It’s the climax: the people are in the blessing of the land.

© 2023 Author G. de Koning

All rights reserved. No part of the publications may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior permission of the author.

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