Parallel Passage: 1 Kings 8:1-53
The seven year building project was complete, and the temple was dedicated during the fall festival of the Feast of Tabernacles. In this special case, the celebration lasted for two weeks instead of just one. This feast commemorated Israel's years of wandering in the wilderness (Leviticus 23:33, 41-43). How appropriate to have the dedication of the temple happen during this feast since the permanent temple marked the end of Israel's wanderings. It is also fitting because the Ark had led Israel during their wanderings in the wilderness.
The temple is referred to as the "house" of God thirty-seven times in 2 Chronicles 5-7. It was the place where the presence of God dwelt between the cherubim above the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies (Psalm 80:1). This is why Solomon's first act needed to be the placement of the Ark of the Covenant in the temple.
After the Ark was placed in the Holy of Holies with much praise and worship, the cloud filled the temple representing the glory of God. This also happened at the tabernacle dedication (Exodus 40:34-35). The temple was not a "container" for God because God is everywhere, but it was a place where His presence and character would be evident.
Following this, Solomon blessed God and dedicated the temple in prayer with his hands spread toward heaven. Rightfully, Solomon acknowledged that God could not be contained in a temple, but he asked the Lord to recognize the temple as a focal point of communion with His people, Israel. Solomon also prayed regarding crime, enemy attacks, drought, famine, foreigners, war, and sin.
I wanted to point out one thing in regards to Solomon's prayer for the foreigners. These were people who would come to Israel because they had heard of the greatness of the Lord and His temple. Israel was to be a "light" of the glory of the one true and living God to all the Gentile nations, not just hoard God's presence for themselves. Note what Solomon prays in 6:42-43:
Also concerning the foreigner who is not from Your people Israel, when he comes from a far country for Your great name's sake and Your mighty hand and Your outstretched arm, when they come and pray toward this house, then hear from heaven, from Your dwelling place, and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to You, in order that all the peoples of the earth may know Your name, and fear You as do Your people Israel, and that they may know that this house which I have built is called by Your name.Remember that a predominant theme in the Scriptures is God's desire that all the peoples would know His name. Our God is a missionary God!
He is good; his love endures forever.
I have been rejoicing in God's goodness lately. How about you?
Take some time to reflect on God's goodness in Your life and praise Him today!
Lord, You are good. We praise You for Your goodness to us today. Amen.