Day 80—A Building Project for God—“God’s Promises” 1 Kings 5:1 – 8:66
March 21, 2021, 5:46 AM

Day 80—A Building Project for God—“God’s Promises” 1 Kings 5:1 – 8:66

Why am I so comforted by a building project (although it was a bad day to be a sheep or an oxen)? I loved reading all the details of the temple that Solomon was building. I felt like we were back in the book of the Exodus, and we were reading about the Tent of Meeting and the construction of the portable place of worship for the people of Israel. The descriptions felt familiar and meticulous, and the building took place during a time of peace, or rest, in Solomon’s reign. After reading about David’s exploits as a warrior king, it’s calming to see that peace is still possible, although we know it cannot last.

Interestingly we don’t see that God is involved in the same way. Perhaps once the model had been stablished, there was no need for God’s intervention. The permanent temple is constructed in the same way that the temporary temple had been which includes the courts of worship and the holy of holies.

Measuring 90 feet by 30 feet, the temple was 2700 square feet and took 7 years to build. This temple stood as the center of the kingdom for 400 years, and is commonly referred to as the First Temple. (Do note that Solomon’s palace was over 11,000 square feet, nearly 4 times the size of the temple.) This First Temple was built on the Temple Mount, the place where the Second Temple was built, and where the Dome of the Rock is today, an Islamic mosque

Unlike the portable tent, this temple is permanent! And that is a direct sign that God is pleased with Solomon and with his people. He is willing to stay and to dwell with them in the house that Solomon builds for him. Solomon forges a new friendship with King Hiram of Tyre, and Hiram (high born), and Hiram does all the bronze work in the new house of the LORD, so much that it cannot be weighed or measured accurately.

But I see cracks in the walls, so to speak, already. In chapter 5, beginning at verse 13 we read: “King Solomon conscripted forced labor out of all Israel; the levy numbered 30,000 men.”  The passage goes on to record several thousand more men who were conscripted into service. Conscripted means that the men had no choice; they were drafted into service, and the word used was ‘forced’. Any time we see that level of servitude, we should pay attention. While a king carried great power, when we note that the majority of the men in a society have been enlisted to build the king’s projects, including his home, we should pay attention to what the outcome will be of such mass servitude.

But for our purposes, all is well today. The Ark of the Covenant is brought into the Temple and “the glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD.” (8:11)  In other words, God was pleased with the Temple and graced it with the shekinah glory, or the overwhelming presence of God, a presence like a cloud that overwhelmed even the priests who had brought in the Ark and who were serving there.

(One quick note—the Ark was stated to contain only the tablets, not manna, or the rod of Aaron. These items were mentioned as being in the Ark only in the book of Hebrews.)

Solomon then prays to God, dedicating the Temple and presenting his nine supplications before God. I found this one to be interesting in 8:46—“If they (the Israelites) sin against you—for there is no one who does not sin…” and he goes on to ask that forgiveness will be granted to those who repent. If the definition of sin is turning away from God and God’s ways, this is a refreshing awareness of the flawed humanity of which Solomon is a part. While our entire reading today celebrates this new era of peace, and the wisdom of this son of David, the tide will soon change as power, desire and possessions once more claim the heart of a king.

Be blessed, and be a blessing to others,

ML

 

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