After Solomon became King of Israel, the Lord gave him rest from his enemies. During this time of peace, Solomon built the Temple. He gathered a large workforce from Israel to quarry stone and gather other supplies. Solomon also imported cedar from a friend of the late King David.
When the Temple was complete, it was a sight to see. The inner walls, floors, and even the ceilings were lined with cedar. Each surface was ornately carved with cherubim, palm trees, and open flowers. All of the vessels and furnishings were made of pure gold. The Holy of Holies - that inner room where the ark of the covenant would reside - was lined with pure gold. Solomon’s men worked for seven years to complete the Temple.
In time, Solomon gathered all of the leaders of Israel to Jerusalem to dedicate the Temple. Solomon created a grand procession from the Tent of Meeting - where the ark of the covenant was - to the Temple. Priests carried all of the vessels and furnishings from within the tent, the tent itself, and the ark of the covenant. All along the way, priests sacrificed oxen and sheep to the Lord. So many animals were sacrificed that they could not be counted.
The priests placed the ark of the covenant in the Holy of Holies. As they were leaving the Temple, the entire building filled with thick smoke. This was the glory of the Lord residing in that place.
Solomon addressed the leaders of Israel. He proclaimed that he completed what his father had started. Solomon fulfilled the prophecy made to David that he would build the Temple.
Then Solomon turned to face the altar and raised his hands to heaven. He prayed, “O Lord, God of Israel, there is no other God like you. You have kept your promises that you have made with your people, including the promise of this Temple. May you always keep a descendant of David on the throne.
“This Temple cannot contain you! May you listen to the prayers of your servants in this place. When people come here to confess their sins and make amends, may you judge them appropriately. When your people are suffering under foreign enemies, from drought, or from plague, may you heed their prayers and bring them relief. When you respond to prayer, your people will fear you.
“With this Temple, your name will become great even beyond your chosen people. When these foreigners come to pray at your house, listen to their prayers. Show them your might so that all people across the world will know and fear you.”
Then Solomon turned once again to the people and said, “Blessed be the Lord who has given rest to his people as he promised. Every promise made to Moses and our ancestors has come to pass. O Lord our God, continue to be with us and lead us to follow all the commandments.”
Solomon proceeded to offer more sacrifices to the Lord, including thousands of oxen and sheep. He also offered grain, fat, and burnt offerings. Then the people feasted and celebrated for seven days.
On the eighth day, Solomon sent the people to their homes. Some time later, the Lord appeared to Solomon saying, “I have heard your prayers. I have consecrated the house you built for me. My eyes and heart dwell in the Temple. If you stray from me and no longer follow my statutes, I will destroy the Temple so that foreigners will mock you. But if you remain upright and follow my commandments, I will keep David’s line on the throne.
Word of God, word of life. Thanks be to God!