David’s many wars are ended; Solomon reigns in peace. Though young, he has set his heart on obeying God, and espoused his father’s heart’s desire to build the house of God according to the design given to David, and in the place that God had chosen. The exceeding magnificent structure now stands serene and complete – but yet it is empty.
It is the 7th month, the time of the last of the 7 annual feasts of Jehovah, the Feast of Tabernacles, depicting rest and abundance, and all the men, at least, are gathered in Jerusalem. They stand assembled before the new temple and watch as the ark of the covenant of the Lord, with all the holy vessels, is brought up out of David’s temporary tent in Zion and is placed in its new abode. The long-used staves are now drawn out; the ark has found its resting place. The smoke from untold thousands of sacrifices is rising, with accompanying songs of praise, and the priests come out of the house of the Lord. They stand in silent awesome splendor as the long-unseen cloud of the glory of God now fills the house. The priests cannot minister because of it.
Solomon has been facing the temple and he is filled with exultation, not now at the physical splendor of this expensive edifice but at the powerful reality that Israel’s Jehovah has just presenced Himself in this house. He addresses Him personally, exclaiming, “I have surely built thee an house to dwell in, a settled place for thee to abide in for ever” (1Ki 8:13 KJV).
Then turning, Solomon blesses all the congregation of Israel who have also witnessed this auspicious, unforgettable sight. Has any other nation ever had the privilege Israel had? Surely this matches all that they have heard regarding their fathers of old – God is still for them, and with them! No doubt expressing what is moving their hearts as well, he says, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel” (v15). No human hand could have brought this about, nor could it be replicated by sinful man. God’s work is singular. What was promised to David by God is now performed by God. The promised Prince is on the throne; the Propitiatory is in its proper place – nothing but the Law (the basis of the administration of the kingdom) is in it; the Shekinah glory is seen in their midst. Truly they are a blessed people.
Solomon recognizes the wonderful fact that the foregoing has practical potential for the well-being of the nation, as well as responsibility on its part. Solemnly, he now turns with uplifted hands toward heaven and offers a paean to the God who stands in singular glory above all else. He is a promise-keeping, merciful God; He has fulfilled the promise to David as it is this day. And Solomon now beseeches God to fulfill the further promise that there would not fail to be “a man to sit on the throne.” It is one thing to have a house for God to dwell in, but there must also be men to rule in the fear of God. God is cognizant of those who walk faithfully before Him, a God whom neither heaven nor earth can contain. Will this God indeed dwell on the earth in His people’s presence?
There follows now a seven-pronged prayer in which Solomon envisages seven possible scenarios that could overtake any or all of the congregation of Israel: if any trespass against his neighbor; if the nation be defeated in war; if no rains come from heaven; if there is a famine, pestilence, plague or sickness; if a stranger sojourn in Israel; if the people go out to battle; and the possibility that God could deliver them into captivity for sin. Should any of these things occur, and they pray unto the Lord towards (or in) this place, in this city, and in this house, he pleads with God to hear their prayer when they turn to Him from their iniquity, and to forgive their sin. In other words, when they “call upon the Lord” in whatever distress they find themselves, would He not be pleased to answer in peace? Solomon couples the Living God with the place of His name, and the expectation that God can and will answer genuine prayer under any circumstance, for the glory of His name. They are His people, and there was historical evidence from the unequalled deliverance of Israel from Egypt’s cruel furnace of iron to give confidence now that the nation or person who turns wholly to God in their need will find a sympathetic ear and a strong hand of salvation.
In concluding his blessing of the people, Solomon rises from kneeling. Now standing, he blesses with a loud, confident voice, again extolling Jehovah who had given rest unto His people according to all that He promised through Moses His servant. Thus Solomon, in reminding them of God’s keeping His promises, has included reference to Israel’s greatest prophet, Moses, and its greatest potentate, David, under whose guidance the nation enjoyed its richest times of blessing. With these examples before them, he beseeches God not to leave them nor forsake them, and that He may incline their hearts to walk in all His ways, keeping His commandments (1Ki 8:57-58). They were responsible to this God who would bring the promised blessing. There is no reason for them – nor us – to fail. The result will be that all the people of the earth will know that the Lord is God, and that there is none else (1Ki 8:60).
The rest of the chapter is millennial in character – an added week of feasting throughout the whole land – and the people are sent away “unto their tents joyful and glad of heart for all the goodness that the Lord had done for David his servant, and for Israel his people” (1Ki 8:66 KJV).
But perhaps we can now partake of Solomon’s blessing by careful and fully devoted worship and service in those places where the Lord has been pleased to place His name – His own blessed Son in the midst.