Hello Sunday school teachers, preachers, and students! Happy New Year and welcome to SundaySchoolPreacher.com. In this first lesson of the new decade Solomon finally has a place for the Ark. Solomon summons the Ark from Zion to the newly built Temple in Jerusalem. Cherubim and the shekinah glory of God are highlighted in the text as the nation of Israel participates in the dedication of the new Temple. About 40 years earlier King David dreamed of a great Temple for God’s permanent dwelling place. David had the dream, but his son Solomon would fulfill the dream. After worshiping at the non-permanent tabernacle for about 500 years the elders, the heads of the tribes, and the leaders of the ancestral houses lead the procession and dedication of this magnificent new permanent Temple. The tabernacle was the symbol of God’s presence among the Hebrew people, now that symbol would be the Temple. This Temple would become the national sanctuary. Some of the ideas surrounding this week’s text include the terms:
In this week’s lesson we remain in the Old Testament moving from First Chronicles to First Kings. In the same way First and Second Chronicles were originally one book, First and Second Kings were originally one book also. The New Interpreter’s Study Bible explains, Chronicles like Kings, were divided into two books when the “Hebrew Bible was translated into Greek” by the septuagint.
As I discussed last week, the book of Chronicles comprises two of the twelve books of history in the Old Testament. Just as in Chronicles, the book of Kings also comprise two of the twelve books of history in the Old Testament. The NISB explains how Kings covers “almost 400 years of Israel’s history, from the ascension of Solomon to the throne, before the death of David, to the fall of Jerusalem in 587 BCE.” I also noted how the books of Samuel and Kings were sources the Chronicler used to write Chronicles. So in some ways, the Chronicler retells the same stories as Samuel and Kings but the Chronicler is focused on different aspects of those stories. The Chronicler retells these stories because he wants his listeners to know that this God – the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob and the God of King David and King Solomon is still their God and that they are still God’s people.
The NISB notes Kings covers almost 400 years of Israel’s history. To comprise this history, Kings uses several sources. Those sources include “the Book of the Acts of Solomon (I Kings 11:41); The Books of the Annals of the Kings of Israel (mentioned 18 times beginning with 1 Kings 14:19; and the books of the Annals of the Kings of Judah (mentioned 15 times beginning in 1 Kings 14:29). The NISB also explains “Other unnamed sources were also used, some of which provide information about the prophets Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah, and other prophets.” Those 400 years of history include familiar stories such as Solomon’s wisdom as he deals with two women and a baby, how the united monarchy divided, Ahab and Jezebel, Elijah Ascending to Heaven, Elisha and the widow’s oil, the fall and captivity of Judah and many others.
This eighth chapter of First Kings deals with the dedication of the Temple, Solomon’s speech at the dedication, his prayer of dedication, his blessing of the assembly, and his sacrificial offerings. The focus of our lesson today tells the story of how the Ark of the Covenant was brought up from David’s tent to the completed Temple Solomon prepared. Some important words to consider from this text include:
Review of Last Week and How it Connects to This WeeK:
In last week’s lesson the Chronicler wrote about King David’s prayer. As David sat before the Ark of the Covenant, he was probably in awe of what God was doing in his life. He was probably in awe of what it meant for God to establish an eternal dynasty that would bear his name. I mentioned how I had a picture in my mind of David entering the tent, sitting down, and simply saying God, you’ve been good to me. David went into the tent, sat down in front of the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord and he prayed his prayer. He began by thanking and praising God for the present, then he looked back on what God had done and where God had brought him and the nation of Israel from. And then he closed his prayer by looking toward the future. I also mentioned that as this decade draws to a close, David’s prayer is a good model for us. With the new decade on the horizon, entering the new decade in prayer should be a good way to get it started.
Last week, David sat in the tent and prayed his prayer where the Ark of the Covenant was housed. This week Solomon, David’s son, brings that same Ark of the Covenant up from his father’s tent to the magnificent temple he has built for the Ark. What David dreamed of doing, his son now does. Townsend and Boyd’s commentary title this week’s lesson “A Place For The Ark”. Standard Lesson Commentary titles this week’s lesson “Solomon Summons The Ark”. The scripture text comes from 1 Kings 8:1-13.
What Takes Place in This Passage:
The Lesson opens at Chapter 8 verse one with the word “then”. Then Solomon assembled the elders… In the verse immediately preceding the eighth chapter the writer tells us in 7:51 “Thus all the work that King Solomon did on the house of the Lord was finished. Solomon brought in the things that his father David had dedicated, the silver, the gold, and the vessels, and stored them in the treasuries of the house of the Lord.” THEN Solomon assembled the elders of Israel, the heads of the tribes, the leaders of the ancestral houses of the Israelites. It seems obvious to me that Solomon would call the leaders and the heads of the tribes. What is not so obvious is why he would also call the elders of Israel. These elders are senior citizens, not persons holding a religious office. I think this is an important recognition. We would be wise to acknowledge the shoulders upon which we stand today.
Solomon assembles these elders and leaders because this Temple would become the national sanctuary. All the tribes contributed to building this great Temple with all of its costly magnificence and grandeur. This was the national sanctuary and it would replace the venerated holy tabernacle the Israelites had used for hundreds of years. This Temple would replace the tent and become a permanent house for the symbolic presence of God.
Verse two notes that all the people of Israel assembled to Solomon at the festival in the month Ethanim, which is the seventh month. Townsend Commentary explains this festival was the “Feast of Booths / Tabernacle and it was a week long celebration remembering the journey from Egypt to a permanent home in Canaan.” Westminster’s Dictionary of Theological Terms explains that there are three Old Testament or Hebrew annual feasts. They are the feast of Unleavened Bread (Passover), Weeks (First Fruits), and Booths (Tabernacles).
Verses three and four explain that the elders came and the priests carried the Ark. Solomon remembered the lesson his father learned about who was permitted to carry the Ark. The priests and the Levites brought up the Ark of the Lord, the tent of meeting, and the holy vessels that were stored in the tent. It was the job of the Levites to handle the Ark of the Covenant and all the relics inside it. The Pulpit Commentary notes that the Ark of the Lord “had been nearly 40 years in the tent that David prepared.” So David may have dreamed the dream of providing a permanent house for the Ark but it would take nearly 40 years between David’s preparation and Solomon’s completion.
Verse five leaves us with a picture of literally hundreds if not thousands of animals being sacrificed on the move from the tent to the Temple. Perhaps Solomon sacrifices these animals in an attempt to please God or perhaps it is an attempt to repent for the sins of the nation.
In verse six the priests bring the Ark of the Lord to its final resting place in the inner sanctuary of the house. This inner sanctuary is also called the most holy place or the holy of holies. The Ark of the Covenant rests beneath the wings of the Cherubim. According to Westminster’s Dictionary of Theological Terms, Cherubim is a Hebrew term for supernatural beings associated with sacred contexts in the Bible (Gen. 3:24; Ezekiel 10:3; Heb 9:5). I encourage you to check out the Angels and Cherubim YouTube video created by The Bible Project. It does an excellent job explaining what these supernatural creatures are.
Verses seven and eight offer more detail about the construction and function of the Cherubim. They spread their wings covering the Ark and its poles. Covering the Ark prevents it’s open appearance and/or provides shadow or darkness for the Ark.
Verse nine tells us there was nothing in the Ark except the tablets of stone Moses placed there on Mount Horeb. Hebrews 9:1-5 adds additional items. It reads:
Now even the first covenant had regulations for worship and an earthly sanctuary. 2 For a tent was constructed, the first one, in which were the lampstand, the table, and the bread of the Presence; this is called the Holy Place. 3 Behind the second curtain was a tent called the Holy of Holies. 4 In it stood the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant overlaid on all sides with gold, in which there were a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant; 5 above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat.
Verses ten and eleven describe the Lord’s presence when the priests come out of the holy of holies. At this point, the Lord has come into the Temple and the Lord’s presence indicates God’s acceptance of the Temple as a permanent dwelling place in the same way God’s presence was represented in the tabernacle. This filling of the Temple with the glory of the Lord in a cloud is God’s shekinah glory.
In verses twelve and thirteen King Solomon closes this lesson telling us the Lord has said he will dwell in thick darkness. This helps us understand that the presence of God is universal. Whether in light or darkness, God can be found and should be sought out. Solomon closes by acknowledging that he has built an exalted house for God to dwell forever.
A new year, a new decade and a new YOU!
Many people bring in the new year with new year’s resolutions. Some people pledge to lose weight, get in shape, budget better, spend more time with loved ones and a host of other meaningful and thoughtful desires. It’s great when those resolutions are actually achieved. You can and should celebrate.
King David dreamed of a permanent Temple for the house of God. But it took about forty years for that desire to come to reality and even then it wasn’t David that completed it. Perhaps, if our dreams and goals are large enough to require family or community effort to achieve them, maybe… perhaps… we might make our world a better place.
Shekinah – A term that in the writings of the rabbis came to mean the presence of God. It occurs as a manifestation (revelation) of God. Though not found in the Old Testament the term may be used in reference to God’s glory filling the Temple.
Cherubim – a Hebrew term for supernatural beings associated with sacred contexts in the Bible (Gen. 3:24; Ezekiel 10:3; Heb 9:5).
Themes, Topics, Discussion, or Sermon Preparation Ideas:
1. Dedicated to You.
2. A new place to meet God.
In the new year and new decade are there new ways for you to dedicate yourself to God?
Now, for the Preview of Next Week’s Lesson:
Next week we continue in the same chapter and pick up where we left off. As we continue studying Unit Two’s theme of “Dedicating the Temple of God” we will see what Solomon has to say as he addresses the assembly of Israel. The lesson for January 12th is focused on Solomon’s speech as he and the nation continue dedicating the Temple in Jerusalem. The lesson is titled “Solomon Speaks To The People” and “Solomon’s Speech”. The text is taken from 1 Kings 8:14-21.
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