New International Reader's Version

1 Kings 8

The Ark Is Brought to the Temple

1Then King Solomon sent for the elders of Israel. He told them to come to him in Jerusalem. They included all the leaders of the tribes. They also included the chiefs of the families of Israel. Solomon wanted them to bring up the ark of the Lord’s covenant from Zion. Zion was the City of David. All the Israelites came together to where King Solomon was. It was at the time of the Feast of Booths. The feast was held in the month of Ethanim. That’s the seventh month.

All the elders of Israel arrived. Then the priests picked up the ark and carried it. They brought up the ark of the Lord. They also brought up the tent of meeting and all the sacred things in the tent. The priests and Levites carried everything up. The entire community of Israel had gathered around King Solomon. All of them were in front of the ark. They sacrificed huge numbers of sheep and cattle. There were so many animals that they couldn’t be recorded. In fact, they couldn’t even be counted.

The priests brought the ark of the Lord’s covenant law to its place in the Most Holy Room of the temple. They put it under the wings of the cherubim. Their wings were spread out over the place where the ark was. They covered the ark. They also covered the poles used to carry it. The poles were very long. Their ends could be seen from the Holy Room in front of the Most Holy Room. But they couldn’t be seen from outside the Holy Room. They are still there to this day. There wasn’t anything in the ark except the two stone tablets. Moses had placed them in it at Mount Horeb. That’s where the Lord had made a covenant with the Israelites. He made it after they came out of Egypt.

10 The priests left the Holy Room. Then the cloud filled the temple of the Lord. 11 The priests couldn’t do their work because of it. That’s because the glory of the Lord filled his temple.

12 Then Solomon said, “Lord, you have said you would live in a dark cloud. 13 As you can see, I’ve built a beautiful temple for you. You can live in it forever.”

14 The whole community of Israel was standing there. The king turned around and gave them his blessing. 15 Then he said,

“I praise the Lord. He is the God of Israel. With his own mouth he made a promise to my father David. With his own powerful hand he made it come true. He said, 16 ‘I brought my people Israel out of Egypt. Ever since, I haven’t chosen a city in any tribe of Israel where a temple could be built for my Name. But I have chosen David to rule over my people Israel.’

17 “With all his heart my father David wanted to build a temple. He wanted to do it so the Lord could put his Name there. The Lord is the God of Israel. 18 But the Lord spoke to my father David. He said, ‘With all your heart you wanted to build a temple for my Name. It is good that you wanted to do that. 19 But you will not build the temple. Instead, your son will build the temple for my Name. He is your own flesh and blood.’

20 “The Lord has kept the promise he made. I’ve become the next king after my father David. Now I’m sitting on the throne of Israel. That’s exactly what the Lord promised would happen. I’ve built the temple where the Lord will put his Name. He is the God of Israel. 21 I’ve provided a place for the ark there. The tablets of the Lord’s covenant law are inside it. He made that covenant with our people of long ago. He made it when he brought them out of Egypt.”

Solomon Prays to Set the Temple Apart to the Lord

22 Then Solomon stood in front of the Lord’s altar. He stood in front of the whole community of Israel. He spread out his hands toward heaven. 23 He said,

Lord, you are the God of Israel. There is no God like you in heaven above or on earth below. You keep the covenant you made with us. You show us your love. You do that when we follow you with all our hearts. 24 You have kept your promise to my father David. He was your servant. With your mouth you made a promise. With your powerful hand you have made it come true. And today we can see it.

25 Lord, you are the God of Israel. Keep the promises you made to my father David. Do it for him. He was your servant. Here is what you said to him. ‘A son from your family line will sit before me on the throne of Israel. This will always be true if your children after you are careful in everything they do. They must live in my sight faithfully the way you have lived.’ 26 God of Israel, let your promise to my father David come true.

27 “But will you really live on earth? After all, the heavens can’t hold you. In fact, even the highest heavens can’t hold you. So this temple I’ve built certainly can’t hold you! 28 But please pay attention to my prayer. Lord my God, be ready to help me as I make my appeal to you. Listen to my cry for help. Hear the prayer I’m praying to you today. 29 Let your eyes look toward this temple night and day. You said, ‘I will put my Name there.’ So please listen to the prayer I’m praying toward this place. 30 Hear me when I ask you to help us. Listen to your people Israel when they pray toward this place. Listen to us from heaven. It’s the place where you live. When you hear us, forgive us.

31 “Suppose someone does something wrong to their neighbor. And the person who has done something wrong is required to give their word. They must tell the truth about what they have done. They must come and do it in front of your altar in this temple. 32 When they do, listen to them from heaven. Take action. Judge between the person and their neighbor. Punish the guilty one. Do to that person what they have done to their neighbor. Deal with the one who isn’t guilty in a way that shows they are free from blame. That will prove they aren’t guilty.

33 “Suppose your people Israel have lost the battle against their enemies. And suppose they’ve sinned against you. But they turn back to you and praise your name. They pray to you in this temple. And they ask you to help them. 34 Then listen to them from heaven. Forgive the sin of your people Israel. Bring them back to the land you gave to their people who lived long ago.

35 “Suppose your people have sinned against you. And because of that, the sky is closed up and there isn’t any rain. But your people pray toward this place. They praise you by admitting they’ve sinned. And they turn away from their sin because you have made them suffer. 36 Then listen to them from heaven. Forgive the sin of your people Israel. Teach them the right way to live. Send rain on the land you gave them as their share.

37 “Suppose there isn’t enough food in the land. And a plague strikes the land. The hot winds completely dry up our crops. Or locusts or grasshoppers come and eat them up. Or an enemy surrounds one of our cities and gets ready to attack it. Or trouble or sickness comes. 38 But suppose one of your people prays to you. They ask you to help them. They are aware of how much their own heart is suffering. And they spread out their hands toward this temple to pray. 39 Then listen to them from heaven. It’s the place where you live. Forgive them. Take action. Deal with everyone in keeping with everything they do. You know their hearts. In fact, you are the only one who knows every human heart. 40 Your people will have respect for you. They will respect you as long as they are in the land you gave our people long ago.

41 “Suppose there are outsiders who don’t belong to your people Israel. And they have come from a land far away. They’ve come because they’ve heard about your name. 42 When they get here, they will find out even more about your great name. They’ll hear about how you reached out your mighty hand and powerful arm. So they’ll come and pray toward this temple. 43 Then listen to them from heaven. It’s the place where you live. Do what those outsiders ask you to do. Then all the nations on earth will know you. They will have respect for you. They’ll respect you just as your own people Israel do. They’ll know that your Name is in this house I’ve built.

44 “Suppose your people go to war against their enemies. It doesn’t matter where you send them. And suppose they pray to you toward the city you have chosen. They pray toward the temple I’ve built for your Name. 45 Then listen to them from heaven. Listen to their prayer for your help. Stand up for them.

46 “Suppose your people sin against you. After all, there isn’t anyone who doesn’t sin. And suppose you get angry with them. You hand them over to their enemies. They take them as prisoners to their own lands. It doesn’t matter whether those lands are near or far away. 47 But suppose your people change their ways in the land where they are held as prisoners. They turn away from their sins. They beg you to help them in the land of those who won the battle over them. They say, ‘We have sinned. We’ve done what is wrong. We’ve done what is evil.’ 48 And they turn back to you with all their heart and soul. Suppose it happens in the land of their enemies who took them away as prisoners. There they pray to you toward the land you gave their people long ago. They pray toward the city you have chosen. And they pray toward the temple I’ve built for your Name. 49 Then listen to them from heaven. It’s the place where you live. Listen to their prayer. Listen to them when they ask you to help them. Stand up for them. 50 Your people have sinned against you. Please forgive them. Forgive them for all the wrong things they’ve done against you. And make those who won the battle over them show mercy to them. 51 After all, they are your people. They belong to you. You brought them out of Egypt. You brought them out of that furnace that melts iron down and makes it pure.

52 “Let your eyes be open to me when I ask you to help us. Let them be open to your people Israel when they ask you to help them. Pay attention to them every time they cry out to you. 53 After all, you chose them out of all the nations in the world. You made them your very own people. You did it just as you had announced through your servant Moses. That’s when you brought out of Egypt our people of long ago. You are our Lord and King.”

54 Solomon finished praying. He finished asking the Lord to help his people. Then he got up from in front of the Lord’s altar. He had been down on his knees with his hands spread out toward heaven. 55 He stood in front of the whole community of Israel. He blessed them with a loud voice. He said,

56 “I praise the Lord. He has given peace and rest to his people Israel. That’s exactly what he promised to do. He gave his people good promises through his servant Moses. Every single word of those promises has come true. 57 May the Lord our God be with us, just as he was with our people who lived long ago. May he never leave us. May he never desert us. 58 May he turn our hearts to him. Then we will live the way he wants us to. We’ll obey the commands, rules and directions he gave our people of long ago. 59 I’ve prayed these words to the Lord our God. May he keep them close to him day and night. May he stand up for me. May he also stand up for his people Israel. May he give us what we need every day. 60 Then all the nations on earth will know that the Lord is God. They’ll know that there isn’t any other god. 61 And may you commit your lives completely to the Lord our God. May you live by his rules. May you obey his commands. May you always do as you are doing now.”

The Temple Is Set Apart to the Lord

62 Then the king and the whole community of Israel offered sacrifices to the Lord. 63 Solomon sacrificed friendship offerings to the Lord. He sacrificed 22,000 oxen. He also sacrificed 120,000 sheep and goats. So the king and the whole community set the temple of the Lord apart to him.

64 On that same day the king set the middle area of the courtyard apart to the Lord. It was in front of the Lord’s temple. There Solomon sacrificed burnt offerings and grain offerings. He also sacrificed the fat of the friendship offerings there. He did it there because the bronze altar that stood in front of the Lord was too small. It wasn’t big enough to hold all the burnt offerings, the grain offerings and the fat of the friendship offerings.

65 At that time Solomon celebrated the Feast of Booths. The whole community of Israel was with him. It was a huge crowd. People came from as far away as Lebo Hamath and the Wadi of Egypt. For seven days they celebrated in front of the Lord our God. The feast continued for seven more days. That made a total of 14 days. 66 On the following day Solomon sent the people away. They asked the Lord to bless the king. Then they went home. The people were glad. Their hearts were full of joy. That’s because the Lord had done so many good things for his servant David and his people Israel.

The Message

1 Kings 8

11-2 Bringing all this to a climax, King Solomon called in the leaders of Israel, all the heads of the tribes and the family patriarchs, to bring up the Chest of the Covenant of God from Zion, the City of David. And they came, all Israel before King Solomon in the month of Ethanim, the seventh month, for the great autumn festival.

3-5 With all Israel’s leaders present, the priests took up the Chest of God and carried up the Chest and the Tent of Meeting and all the holy vessels that went with the Tent. King Solomon and the entire congregation of Israel were there at the Chest worshiping and sacrificing huge numbers of sheep and cattle—so many that no one could keep track.

6-9 Then the priests brought the Chest of the Covenant of God to its place in the Inner Sanctuary, the Holy of Holies, under the wings of the cherubim. The outspread wings of the cherubim stretched over the Chest and its poles. The poles were so long that their ends could be seen from the entrance to the Inner Sanctuary, but were not noticeable farther out. They’re still there today. There was nothing in the Chest but the two stone tablets that Moses had placed in it at Horeb where God made a covenant with Israel after bringing them up from Egypt.

The Temple Finished, Dedicated, Filled

10-11 When the priests left the Holy Place, a cloud filled The Temple of God. The priests couldn’t carry out their priestly duties because of the cloud—the glory of God filled The Temple of God!

12-13 Then Solomon spoke:

God has told us that he lives in the dark
    where no one can see him;
I’ve built this splendid Temple, O God,
    to mark your invisible presence forever.

14 The king then turned to face the congregation and blessed them:

15-16 “Blessed be God, the God of Israel, who spoke personally to my father David. Now he has kept the promise he made when he said, ‘From the day I brought my people Israel from Egypt, I haven’t set apart one city among the tribes of Israel to build a Temple to fix my Name there. But I did choose David to rule my people Israel.’

17-19 “My father David had it in his heart to build a Temple honoring the Name of God, the God of Israel. But God told him ‘It was good that you wanted to build a Temple in my honor—most commendable! But you are not the one to do it—your son will build it to honor my Name.’

20-21 God has done what he said he would do: I have succeeded David my father and ruled over Israel just as God promised; and now I’ve built a Temple to honor God, the God of Israel, and I’ve secured a place for the Chest that holds the covenant of God, the covenant that he made with our ancestors when he brought them up from the land of Egypt.”

22-25 Before the entire congregation of Israel, Solomon took a position before the Altar, spread his hands out before heaven, and prayed,

O God, God of Israel, there is no God like you in the skies above or on the earth below who unswervingly keeps covenant with his servants and relentlessly loves them as they sincerely live in obedience to your way. You kept your word to David my father, your personal word. You did exactly what you promised—every detail. The proof is before us today!

Keep it up, God, O God of Israel! Continue to keep the promises you made to David my father when you said, “You’ll always have a descendant to represent my rule on Israel’s throne, on the condition that your sons are as careful to live obediently in my presence as you have.”

26 O God of Israel, let this all happen;
    confirm and establish it!

27-32 Can it be that God will actually move into our neighborhood? Why, the cosmos itself isn’t large enough to give you breathing room, let alone this Temple I’ve built. Even so, I’m bold to ask: Pay attention to these my prayers, both intercessory and personal, O God, my God. Listen to my prayers, energetic and devout, that I’m setting before you right now. Keep your eyes open to this Temple night and day, this place of which you said, “My Name will be honored there,” and listen to the prayers that I pray at this place.

Listen from your home in heaven and when you hear, forgive.

When someone hurts a neighbor and promises to make things right, and then comes and repeats the promise before your Altar in this Temple, listen from heaven and act accordingly: Judge your servants, making the offender pay for his offense and setting the offended free of any charges.

33-34 When your people Israel are beaten by an enemy because they’ve sinned against you, but then turn to you and acknowledge your rule in prayers desperate and devout in this Temple,

Listen from your home in heaven, forgive the sin of your people Israel, return them to the land you gave their ancestors.

35-36 When the skies shrivel up and there is no rain because your people have sinned against you, but then they pray at this place, acknowledging your rule and quitting their sins because you have scourged them,

Listen from your home in heaven, forgive the sins of your servants, your people Israel.

Then start over with them: Train them to live right and well; send rain on the land you gave your people as an inheritance.

37-40 When disasters strike, famine or catastrophe, crop failure or disease, locust or beetle, or when an enemy attacks their defenses—calamity of any sort—any prayer that’s prayed from anyone at all among your people Israel, hearts penetrated by the disaster, hands and arms thrown out to this Temple for help,

Listen from your home in heaven.

Forgive and go to work on us. Give what each deserves, for you know each life from the inside (you’re the only one with such “inside knowledge”!) so that they’ll live before you in lifelong reverent and believing obedience on this land you gave our ancestors.

41-43 And don’t forget the foreigner who is not a member of your people Israel but has come from a far country because of your reputation. People are going to be attracted here by your great reputation, your wonder-working power, who come to pray at this Temple.

Listen from your home in heaven.

Honor the prayers of the foreigner so that people all over the world will know who you are and what you’re like and will live in reverent obedience before you, just as your own people Israel do; so they’ll know that you personally make this Temple that I’ve built what it is.

44-51 When your people go to war against their enemies at the time and place you send them and they pray to God toward the city you chose and this Temple I’ve built to honor your Name,

Listen from heaven to what they pray and ask for,
and do what’s right for them.

When they sin against you—and they certainly will; there’s no one without sin!—and in anger you turn them over to the enemy and they are taken captive to the enemy’s land, whether far or near, but repent in the country of their captivity and pray with changed hearts in their exile, “We’ve sinned; we’ve done wrong; we’ve been most wicked,” and turn back to you heart and soul in the land of the enemy who conquered them, and pray to you toward their homeland, the land you gave their ancestors, toward the city you chose, and this Temple I have built to the honor of your Name,

Listen from your home in heaven to their prayers desperate and devout and do what is best for them.

Forgive your people who have sinned against you; forgive their gross rebellions and move their captors to treat them with compassion. They are, after all, your people and your precious inheritance whom you rescued from the heart of that iron-smelting furnace, Egypt!

52-53 O be alert and attentive to the needy prayers of me, your servant, and your dear people Israel; listen every time they cry out to you! You handpicked them from all the peoples on earth to be your very own people, as you announced through your servant Moses when you, O God, in your masterful rule, delivered our ancestors from Egypt.

54-55 Having finished praying to God—all these bold and passionate prayers—Solomon stood up before God’s Altar where he had been kneeling all this time, his arms stretched upward to heaven. Standing, he blessed the whole congregation of Israel, blessing them at the top of his lungs:

56-58 “Blessed be God, who has given peace to his people Israel just as he said he’d do. Not one of all those good and wonderful words that he spoke through Moses has misfired. May God, our very own God, continue to be with us just as he was with our ancestors—may he never give up and walk out on us. May he keep us centered and devoted to him, following the life path he has cleared, watching the signposts, walking at the pace and rhythms he laid down for our ancestors.

59-61 “And let these words that I’ve prayed in the presence of God be always right there before him, day and night, so that he’ll do what is right for me, to guarantee justice for his people Israel day after day after day. Then all the people on earth will know God is the true God; there is no other God. And you, your lives must be totally obedient to God, our personal God, following the life path he has cleared, alert and attentive to everything he has made plain this day.”

62-63 The king and all Israel with him then worshiped, offering sacrifices to God. Solomon offered Peace-Offerings, sacrificing to God 22,000 cattle and 120,000 sheep. This is how the king and all Israel dedicated The Temple of God.

64 That same day, the king set apart the central area of the Courtyard in front of God’s Temple for sacred use and there sacrificed the Whole-Burnt-Offerings, Grain-Offerings, and fat from the Peace-Offerings—the bronze Altar was too small to handle all these offerings.

65-66 This is how Solomon kept the great autumn feast, and all Israel with him, people there all the way from the far northeast (the Entrance to Hamath) to the far southwest (the Brook of Egypt)—a huge congregation. They started out celebrating for seven days—and then did it another seven days! Two solid weeks of celebration! Then he dismissed them. They blessed the king and went home, exuberant with heartfelt gratitude for all the good God had done for his servant David and for his people Israel.