Study Notes

1Kings 8:1-66


As you recall from our study of chapters six and seven, Solomon had spend the last seven years building the temple. Now that it is completed in construction, it is time to turn the structure into the house of God.

8:1 Zion

Solomon now has the ark of the covenant brought up from Zion. Now, we haven't heard much of Zion in the Bible so far. As a matter of fact, this is only the second time that the word Zion has been used. The first time was in 2Samuel, when we read of David that

2Sam. 5:6-7 Now the king and his men went to Jerusalem against the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land, and they said to David, "You shall not come in here, but the blind and lame shall turn you away"; thinking, "David cannot enter here." Nevertheless, David captured the stronghold of Zion, that is the city of David.

The city of David is the original Jerusalem, which was much smaller in his day. It is on the south-east corner, set on the same mountain that Solomon built the temple on. So, the city of David is called Zion, the temple is referred to as being on Mt. Zion, and all of Jerusalem is sometimes referred to in the Bible as Zion.

8:2 The Feast

Ay-thaw-NEEM, the seventh month of the Jewish calendar, which is equivalent to about October/November on our calendar. Verse two tells us that there was a feast at the time, which would have been the Feast of Tabernacles, also called the Feast of Booths and the Feast of the Ingathering.

In Leviticus 23, God commanded that the 15th day of the seventh month began a week-long feast, during which time, the Israelites would live in booths as a reminder that God had them live in booths when he brought them out from the land of Egypt. God, too, had Moses build a tabernacle in the center of the camp. Thus, the people tabernacled with God and God tabernacled among the people.

This was just the right holiday on which to dedicate the temple.

8:3-5 Bringing The Ark To The Temple

Solomon had the priests take up the ark, just as the Lord had prescribed it be carried - putting poles into the rings on the sides of the ark. He wasn't about to make the same mistake that his father David had back in 2Samuel 6, by putting it on a new cart.

The utensils and even the tent of meeting were also brought up to the temple on Mt. Zion. There, they sacrificed innumerable offerings to the Lord.

8:6-7 Under The Wings Of The Cherubim

Remember that Solomon had two cherubim made in the Most Holy Place. Each was 15 feet high, made of olive wood covered in gold. Their wings were spread so that they touched the walls on the outside of the room, and each other in the center.

The ark was placed under the wings of these massive statues.

8:8 The Poles

The poles used to carry the ark were never removed from the ark. Because they were long, they protruded from the Holy of Holies enough to be seen from the Holy Place.

At first, I thought that this would make me really nervous. After all, the priests were instructed that...

Lev. 16:2 ...he shall not enter at any time into the holy place inside the veil, before the mercy seat which is on the ark, lest he die; for I will appear in the cloud over the mercy seat.

Only on the Day of Atonement was the High Priest allowed to enter in before the ark (Leviticus 16), on any other day, he would die. And so would anyone else who ever went in there. And in Numbers 4, the Lord warned that the Kohathites, the guys from the tribe of Levi that carried the holy objects of the tabernacle,

Num. 4:20 ...shall not go in to see the holy {objects} even for a moment, lest they die.

After hearing that, I wouldn't want to catch a glimpse of any part of the ark at all!

Now, you would think that seeing the poles would be equivalent to seeing the ark, but the Lord was specific that the poles themselves were not holy.

When He instructed the Kohathites how to carry the ark and other holy objects (Numbers 4), He told them to lay coverings over the ark, the table, the altar, etc. and insert the poles. Then he said,

Num. 4:15 "And when Aaron and his sons have finished covering the holy {objects} and all the furnishings of the sanctuary, when the camp is to set out, after that the sons of Kohath shall come to carry {them,} so that they may not touch the holy {objects} and die...

So the poles themselves were not considered holy.

8:9 Inside The Ark

Remember that the Ark of the Covenant was actually a box covered by a lid of solid gold, called the mercy seat. Inside the ark had been the Ten Commandments (Exo. 25:16; 40:20), which is why it was called the Ark of the Testimony.

Verse nine tells us that "there was nothing in the ark except the two tablets." Many commentators read this as saying that some things are missing. Many believe that the jar of manna and Aaron's rod were originally also in the ark, but I personally don't think that this is the case. The Scriptures say,

Exod. 16:33-34 And Moses said to Aaron, "Take a jar and put an omerful of manna in it, and place it before the LORD, to be kept throughout your generations." As the LORD commanded Moses, so Aaron placed it before the Testimony, to be kept.

The jar was placed before the ark, not in it. The same is the case for Aaron's rod that budded with blossoms and almonds.

Num. 17:10-11 ...the LORD said to Moses, "Put back the rod of Aaron before the testimony to be kept as a sign against the rebels, that you may put an end to their grumblings against Me, so that they should not die." Thus Moses did; just as the LORD had commanded him, so he did.

Now, the reason that people think that these objects were put inside of the ark is because of Hebrews 9:4, which says in the NIV,

Hebr. 9:4 (NIV) ...This ark contained the gold jar of manna, Aaron's staff that had budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant.

The King James says,

Hebr. 9:4(KJV) ...wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron's rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant;

And the NAS renders it,

Hebr. 9:4 which {was} a golden jar holding the manna, and Aaron's rod which budded, and the tables of the covenant.

But the Greek word being translated "wherein," "in which," and "contained" can also be translated "in," "on," "by," or "with."

I personally don't feel that God would have allowed anything to be taken from the ark. Remember that in 1Samuel 6, the men of Bayth SHEH-mesh were struck down simply because they looked inside the ark!

But, as I discovered yesterday with the help of someone who knows math much better than I, the interior of the ark could have accommodated a rod of up to about 53 inches, so at least we know that it could have fit!

8:10-13 The Cloud

After the ark was placed under the cherubim, and the priests came outside, the cloud filled the temple. The glory of the Lord had filled the house of the Lord!

This was the same cloud that had appeared to the Israelites in the wilderness (Exo. 16:10), that had covered Mount Sinai (Exo. 24:16), and covered and filled the tabernacle (Exo. 40:34-35; Num 16:42).

This is no ordinary cloud. In the day, it appears as a cloud, but at night, it would look like fire, as God's glory shone from inside of it.

Num. 9:15-16 Now on the day that the tabernacle was erected the cloud covered the tabernacle, the tent of the testimony, and in the evening it was like the appearance of fire over the tabernacle, until morning. So it was continuously; the cloud would cover it {by day,} and the appearance of fire by night.

I believe it was this same cloud that the Lord led the Israelites out of Egypt with, as we read,

Exod. 13:21 And the LORD was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night.

Thus, the priests could not even stand to minister.

8:15-21 Solomon's Speech

Solomon speaks to the Israelites, and recounted the faithfulness of God to keep His promises.

8:22-54 Solomon's Prayer

Solomon kneels and lifts his hands in prayer, and begins to worship the Lord. In humility, he acknowledges that although this was a huge building project, it is nothing in comparison to a true dwelling place for God. But he knows that God will hear their prayers, and that He will judge before this altar. He knows that this is a place that a sinful people can meet with the Lord to repent of their sin.

In verses 46 through 52, Solomon prophecies of what will ultimately happen to begin and end the Babylonian captivity.

8:55-61 Solomon's Exhortation

Now Solomon stands and blesses the congregation, exhorting them to walk in His ways.

8:62-66 Offerings

Now, instead of sacrificing on the high places as they had done, the people are offering their sacrifices at the house of the Lord. There were so many offerings taking place that Solomon had to consecrate the middle of the court for more offerings.

They tabernacled there with God for so long, that they doubled the length of the feast to 14 days before going home, joyful and glad of heart for God's goodness shown to His people.

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