Good morning! Today’s passage (1 Kings 8-9) has many long paragraphs concerning King Solomon’s dedication of the temple and other activities, so your normally verbose writer here will *try* to keep my comments short. 🙂
Now that the “house of the Lord” has been built, Solomon gathers the people of Israel and processes the ark in pageantry from Jerusalem into the temple. The contents of the ark are here supposed to have only been the tablets of God’s covenant from Exodus. Apparently this narrative does not know of the other stories which included Aaron’s budding rod and a container of manna in the ark as well. Once the ark is placed in the temple, the cloud that fills it is an unmistakable sign of God’s presence. Solomon’s speech declares this to be the fulfillment of God’s will to David (just as Solomon’s presence on the throne is also taken to manifest divine will). His long prayer to God declares that nothing on earth can contain God, yet asks God to bless the temple and the people who call on God in this place. The invocation for God to respond to the prayers directed here even from those who are not Israelites suggests that perhaps the temple could become a pilgrimage site for non-Jews, and Solomon doesn’t want to miss an evangelistic opportunity. The king offers sacrifices along with his prayer (both of them priestly functions). He gives an exorbitant number of sacrifices, too big for the altar that Solomon himself had asked Hiram the bronze worker to make. A week of celebration follows this conspicuous piety, and we’re told that everyone left afterward with gratitude.
God appears to Solomon at the beginning of chapter 9, exhorting him to faithfulness. This sounds similar to what God has said to other leaders, as does the warning against unfaithfulness. If Solomon does not follow in God’s paths, the temple will become a heap of ruins and Israel will become a lamentable byword, a warning to other nations of what happens when Israel fails follow God. (I wonder how this might have been interpreted a century later after Jerusalem does fall to enemies, who reduce the temple and everything else in it to ruins.) Miscellaneous other things are mentioned as the chapter comes to a close: a gift of twenty cities that displeases King Hiram of Tyre, an account of forced labor under Solomon (including the assertion that only non-Israelites were enslaved), and Solomon’s successful importing of gold from Ophir. Happy reading!
Please join discussion of this passage at the Daily Bible Facebook group, or comment below. The passage for tomorrow is 1 Kings 10-12. Thanks for reading!