HIGHEST HEAVEN CANNOT CONTAIN YOU
1 Kings 8
A Cloud Filled The House
King Solomon summoned the leaders of Israel to be a part of the temple dedication. Thousands of people made their way to Jerusalem to be a part of this momentous occasion. Israel was entering a new stage in her history. The temple would replace the tabernacle of Moses and the worship of their fathers for more than five centuries. The ark of the covenant of the Lord was the first thing to find a resting place in the temple. The priests transported the ark, the tent of meeting, and all the sacred furniture. The people of Israel offered so many sacrifices that they could not be counted. The priests bore the ark safely into its rightful place in the most holy place. It came to rest between the two giant cherubim, underneath the shadow of their wings. The poles were long enough that they might be seen from the holy place. When the ark was put in the temple, it only contained the two tablets of stone that Moses had placed there at Horeb. It was there that the Lord made a covenant with his people after he delivered them from Egypt. The priests left the holy place and when they came out the presence of the Lord descended, and the glory of the Lord filled the house so that the priests could no longer minister.
A Heart Of Praise
Solomon was awestruck by this divine manifestation, and he began to bless the Lord, for the Almighty had taken up residence in this new house. Solomon turned from the temple and facing the people; he addressed them. Solomon blessed the Lord before all the people and recounted the Lord's promises and their fulfillment. He declared that God had chosen David to rule Israel and although he desired to build a temple, God had decreed that David’s son would be given the honor of building the temple. Solomon confesses that the Lord had raised him to his station and had helped him provide a place for the ark, the reminder of God's covenant faithfulness. Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord before the people and spread out his hands toward heaven. Solomon proclaimed that there is only one God and he shows steadfast love to those who love him and walk in his ways. The King cited God's faithfulness to his father through the fulfillment of his promises witnessed by all the people, and he asked that the Lord continue to keep that pledge. Solomon acknowledges that highest heaven could not contain him, much less the house that he built, and so he asks the Lord to listen to the earnest prayers of his people offered at the temple. God had designated the temple as the place where his name would dwell. Solomon intercedes on behalf of his people and asks the Lord to respond to penitent prayers with forgiveness. Solomon lists specific situations that might arise. He prays that God would: punish the guilty and justify the innocent, restore those carried away after defeat when they repent, grant rain to the penitent, relieve the people of plagues when they repent, hear the foreigner who prays, listen to the prayers of soldiers fighting wars far from Jerusalem when they pray toward the temple, and intervene for Israel when they are given into enemy hands when they repent of their sins. Solomon implores God to hear and forgive because Israel is his people who he brought out of Egypt, separating them as his heritage.
Words Of Grace And Sacrifices
Solomon rose from kneeling and with hands lifted toward heaven he blessed the people. The Lord had given rest to his people as he had promised. The King asked the Lord to incline the hearts of the people so that they would obey his commandments. Solomon asked the Lord to execute justice for the king and his people so that all the people of the earth would know that the Lord is God. The King exhorts his people to walk faithfully before the Lord. Solomon and the people celebrated with a tremendous sacrifice, offering thousands of peace offerings during the dedication. The bronze altar in the courtyard had a top surface of nine hundred square feet, but it was not large enough to accommodate all of the offerings. Burnt offerings and meal offerings were also offered in the middle court. The people worshiped until the eighth day of the second feast when Solomon dismissed the congregation. The crowd blessed their king and then went back to their homes filled with joy.
Things To Consider:
- Why is corporate worship a part of God's story?
- What did the ark of the covenant symbolize?
- What was significant of the cloud filling the house of the Lord?
- How should we think of God's manifestations?
- How does seeing God's glory cause one to worship?
- Why do you think Solomon spoke so much of repentance and forgiveness?
- How has God given you rest?
- Solomon prays for the Lord not to leave or forsake them. Why don't believers have to pray that prayer?
- What sacrifices should we offer? Why?
- Why should we speak words of grace over each other when we worship?