One of the great accomplishments of King Solomon’s reign was to replace the old Tabernacle, the “tent of meeting” used as Israel’s place of worship since the days of Moses, with the great Temple in Jerusalem. The Temple, an architectural wonder, was stunningly beautiful inside and out. Its importance is reflected in the quality of the craftsmanship, the materials used, and the elaborate opening ceremony.
The Temple was a new construction but its centerpiece, the Ark of the Covenant, was centuries old. When the Ark was set inside the Most Holy Place, God expressed His approval with a “cloud” that filled the entire Temple. This visible manifestation of the glory of God was so thick that the priests could not carry on their work.
Solomon’s speech at the Temple’s dedication ceremony was more a dedication of the people of Israel than of the Temple. Solomon admitted that no building can contain God (v.27), but he asked the Lord to hear the prayers and to accept the sacrifices offered in the Temple. In the presence of the people, Solomon proclaimed that the Temple was to be a place of repentance (v.33-40, 46-53). It was to be a place of evangelism (v.41-43) where “foreigners” could come and find the Lord, and a base for missions from which “all the peoples of the earth” could hear about the one true God (see also v.60).
There is no longer a need for a Temple like the one Solomon built, for now God lives in those who have believed the gospel and received Jesus (see John 1:11-12 and 1 Corinthians 6:19). Like Solomon’s Temple, my life should be a place of repentance where I constantly confess my sins and apply the once-for-all sacrifice of Christ to them. Like the Temple, my life should be a place from which prayers are constantly sent upward on behalf of the hurting, the distressed, the poor, and all the nations of the world. My life should be a place of evangelism and missions — a living, breathing temple that takes the presence of Holy God to those who are lost in their sins. Like Solomon’s Temple I must be filled with the Spirit of God. That comes first.
Solomon’s benediction recorded in verses 56-61 emphasizes the kind of people, families, churches, and nations God blesses: those who seek after Him and are guided by His Word. Verse 61 is just as relevant to 21st Century believers as it was to the Temple worshipers in Solomon’s day: “Let your heart therefore be wholly true to the Lord our God, walking in His statutes and keeping His commandments.” I’m going to live like that today. Are you with me?