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2 Chronicles 5:2-7:22 – Temple Dedication

Summary

Sharing a central position with the construction of the temple is the worship service in which the ark is finally placed in the temple and the temple itself is dedicated.

Analysis

In contrast to the Chronicler's drastic abridgment of the temple construction in 1 Kings 6-7, the account of its dedication is over twice as long as the account in 1 Kings 8-9.

The transfer of the ark to its final resting place (5:2-6:2) strongly echoes David's transfer of the ark to Jerusalem (1 Chronicles 13-16). After the deadly lesson of David's failed first attempt to transfer the ark (1 Chronicles 13:9-11), the ark is carried by Levites (5:4; 1 Chronicles 15:2), who sing, "For he is good, for his steadfast loves endures for ever" (5:13; 1 Chronicles 16:34). This becomes the focal point of a national assembly (5:2-3; 1 Chronicles 13:1-5), replete with sacrifice (5:6; 1 Chronicles 15:26), music (5:12-13; 1 Chronicles 13:8), and the blessing of the king (6:3; 1 Chronicles 16:1-3). As at the dedication of the tabernacle by Moses, the temple is filled with a cloud marking the divine presence (5:13-14; Exodus 40:34-38).

Solomon's dedicatory prayer (2 Chronicles 6:12-42) closely follows 1 Kings 8:22-53. It is framed by a brief address (2 Chronicles 6:2-11)--in which Solomon claims that, in his accession to the throne and the construction of the temple, God has fulfilled his promise to David (vv. 4, 10)--and a description of God's response and the festival itself (7:1-11). In the depiction of God's response as fire falling from heaven, the Chronicler recalls several cultic events, including the inauguration of Aaron's priesthood (Leviticus 9:22-24) and Elijah's triumph over the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18:38). These pale to insignificance, however, when compared to the Chronicler's own narrative of heavenly fire falling upon David's altar at the threshing floor of Ornan when God designated it as the site of the very temple now being dedicated (1 Chronicles 21:26). Thus, the framework presents the Chronicler's twin tenets of king and temple.

The prayer itself falls into two segments. The first (vv. 14-17) continues the theme of God's dynastic promise to David. Unlike previous appearances of this important theme in Chronicles, Solomon here prays for those who will follow him, claiming God's promise that "there shall never fail you a successor before me to sit on the throne of Israel" (v. 16, see also 1 Chronicles 17:14, "his throne shall be established forever"). Significantly, the Chronicler concludes the verse with the condition of obedience to God's law, a condition that will loom large in the following royal accounts and, ultimately, in the Chronicler's explanation of the exile (2 Chronicles 36:15-16).

The second segment (6:18-42) deals with the purpose of the temple. Since the temple is not a "house" for God (v. 18), Solomon realizes that it is a house of prayer (compare to Isaiah 56:7). The rest of the prayer sets forth a series of situations that might occasion prayer, complete with appeals that God would hear from heaven and forgive.

Of greatest significance, however, is the expression of the Chronicler's central theological conviction that appears in chapter 7:12-22 and especially in the crux of that text (v. 14): God will forgive and restore those under judgment when they humble themselves, pray, seek God's face, and turn from their wicked ways. Each of these four verbs will figure prominently in the Chronicler's evaluations of the kings of Judah. Together with God's promise of a dynasty to David (1 Chronicles 17), this verse forms the theological heart of the Chronicler's work.

2 Chronicles 5:2-7:22

The Ark Brought into the Temple

2 Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel and all the heads of the tribes, the leaders of the ancestral houses of the people of Israel, in Jerusalem, to bring up the ark of the covenant of the Lord out of the city of David, which is Zion. 3And all the Israelites assembled before the king at the festival that is in the seventh month. 4And all the elders of Israel came, and the Levites carried the ark. 5So they brought up the ark, the tent of meeting, and all the holy vessels that were in the tent; the priests and the Levites brought them up. 6King Solomon and all the congregation of Israel, who had assembled before him, were before the ark, sacrificing so many sheep and oxen that they could not be numbered or counted. 7Then the priests brought the ark of the covenant of the Lord to its place, in the inner sanctuary of the house, in the most holy place, underneath the wings of the cherubim. 8For the cherubim spread out their wings over the place of the ark, so that the cherubim made a covering above the ark and its poles. 9The poles were so long that the ends of the poles were seen from the holy place in front of the inner sanctuary; but they could not be seen from outside; they are there to this day. 10There was nothing in the ark except the two tablets that Moses put there at Horeb, where the Lord made a covenant* with the people of Israel after they came out of Egypt.

11 Now when the priests came out of the holy place (for all the priests who were present had sanctified themselves, without regard to their divisions), 12all the levitical singers, Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun, their sons and kindred, arrayed in fine linen, with cymbals, harps, and lyres, stood east of the altar with one hundred and twenty priests who were trumpeters, 13it was the duty of the trumpeters and singers to make themselves heard in unison in praise and thanksgiving to the Lord, and when the song was raised, with trumpets and cymbals and other musical instruments, in praise to the Lord,
‘For he is good,
   for his steadfast love endures for ever’,
the house, the house of the Lord, was filled with a cloud, 14so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud; for the glory of the Lord filled the house of God.

Dedication of the Temple

6Then Solomon said, ‘The Lord has said that he would reside in thick darkness. 2I have built you an exalted house, a place for you to reside in for ever.’

3 Then the king turned round and blessed all the assembly of Israel, while all the assembly of Israel stood. 4And he said, ‘Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who with his hand has fulfilled what he promised with his mouth to my father David, saying, 5“Since the day that I brought my people out of the land of Egypt, I have not chosen a city from any of the tribes of Israel in which to build a house, so that my name might be there, and I chose no one as ruler over my people Israel; 6but I have chosen Jerusalem in order that my name may be there, and I have chosen David to be over my people Israel.” 7My father David had it in mind to build a house for the name of the Lord, the God of Israel. 8But the Lord said to my father David, “You did well to consider building a house for my name; 9nevertheless, you shall not build the house, but your son who shall be born to you shall build the house for my name.” 10Now the Lord has fulfilled his promise that he made; for I have succeeded my father David, and sit on the throne of Israel, as the Lord promised, and have built the house for the name of the Lord, the God of Israel. 11There I have set the ark, in which is the covenant of the Lord that he made with the people of Israel.’

Solomon’s Prayer of Dedication

12 Then Solomon* stood before the altar of the Lord in the presence of the whole assembly of Israel, and spread out his hands. 13Solomon had made a bronze platform five cubits long, five cubits wide, and three cubits high, and had set it in the court; and he stood on it. Then he knelt on his knees in the presence of the whole assembly of Israel, and spread out his hands towards heaven. 14He said, ‘O Lord, God of Israel, there is no God like you, in heaven or on earth, keeping covenant in steadfast love with your servants who walk before you with all their heart— 15you who have kept for your servant, my father David, what you promised to him. Indeed, you promised with your mouth and this day have fulfilled with your hand. 16Therefore, O Lord, God of Israel, keep for your servant, my father David, that which you promised him, saying, “There shall never fail you a successor before me to sit on the throne of Israel, if only your children keep to their way, to walk in my law as you have walked before me.” 17Therefore, O Lord, God of Israel, let your word be confirmed, which you promised to your servant David.

18 ‘But will God indeed reside with mortals on earth? Even heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you, how much less this house that I have built! 19Have regard to your servant’s prayer and his plea, O Lord my God, heeding the cry and the prayer that your servant prays to you. 20May your eyes be open day and night towards this house, the place where you promised to set your name, and may you heed the prayer that your servant prays towards this place. 21And hear the plea of your servant and of your people Israel, when they pray towards this place; may you hear from heaven your dwelling-place; hear and forgive.

22 ‘If someone sins against another and is required to take an oath and comes and swears before your altar in this house, 23may you hear from heaven, and act, and judge your servants, repaying the guilty by bringing their conduct on their own head, and vindicating those who are in the right by rewarding them in accordance with their righteousness.

24 ‘When your people Israel, having sinned against you, are defeated before an enemy but turn again to you, confess your name, pray and plead with you in this house, 25may you hear from heaven, and forgive the sin of your people Israel, and bring them again to the land that you gave to them and to their ancestors.

26 ‘When heaven is shut up and there is no rain because they have sinned against you, and then they pray towards this place, confess your name, and turn from their sin, because you punish them, 27may you hear in heaven, forgive the sin of your servants, your people Israel, when you teach them the good way in which they should walk; and send down rain upon your land, which you have given to your people as an inheritance.

28 ‘If there is famine in the land, if there is plague, blight, mildew, locust, or caterpillar; if their enemies besiege them in any of the settlements of the lands; whatever suffering, whatever sickness there is; 29whatever prayer, whatever plea from any individual or from all your people Israel, all knowing their own suffering and their own sorrows so that they stretch out their hands towards this house; 30may you hear from heaven your dwelling-place, forgive, and render to all whose heart you know, according to all their ways, for only you know the human heart. 31Thus may they fear you and walk in your ways all the days that they live in the land that you gave to our ancestors.

32 ‘Likewise when foreigners, who are not of your people Israel, come from a distant land because of your great name, and your mighty hand, and your outstretched arm, when they come and pray towards this house, 33may you hear from heaven your dwelling-place, and do whatever the foreigners ask of you, in order that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your people Israel, and that they may know that your name has been invoked on this house that I have built.

34 ‘If your people go out to battle against their enemies, by whatever way you shall send them, and they pray to you towards this city that you have chosen and the house that I have built for your name, 35then hear from heaven their prayer and their plea, and maintain their cause.

36 ‘If they sin against you—for there is no one who does not sin—and you are angry with them and give them to an enemy, so that they are carried away captive to a land far or near; 37then if they come to their senses in the land to which they have been taken captive, and repent, and plead with you in the land of their captivity, saying, “We have sinned, and have done wrong; we have acted wickedly”; 38if they repent with all their heart and soul in the land of their captivity, to which they were taken captive, and pray towards their land, which you gave to their ancestors, the city that you have chosen, and the house that I have built for your name, 39then hear from heaven your dwelling-place their prayer and their pleas, maintain their cause and forgive your people who have sinned against you. 40Now, O my God, let your eyes be open and your ears attentive to prayer from this place.
41 ‘Now rise up, O Lord God, and go to your resting-place,
   you and the ark of your might.
Let your priests, O Lord God, be clothed with salvation,
   and let your faithful rejoice in your goodness.
42Lord God, do not reject your anointed one.
   Remember your steadfast love for your servant David.’

Solomon Dedicates the Temple

7When Solomon had ended his prayer, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt-offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the Lord filled the temple. 2The priests could not enter the house of the Lord, because the glory of the Lord filled the Lord’s house. 3When all the people of Israel saw the fire come down and the glory of the Lord on the temple, they bowed down on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and worshipped and gave thanks to the Lord, saying,
‘For he is good,
   for his steadfast love endures for ever.’

4 Then the king and all the people offered sacrifice before the Lord. 5King Solomon offered as a sacrifice twenty-two thousand oxen and one hundred and twenty thousand sheep. So the king and all the people dedicated the house of God. 6The priests stood at their posts; the Levites also, with the instruments for music to the Lord that King David had made for giving thanks to the Lord—for his steadfast love endures for ever—whenever David offered praises by their ministry. Opposite them the priests sounded trumpets; and all Israel stood.

7 Solomon consecrated the middle of the court that was in front of the house of the Lord; for there he offered the burnt-offerings and the fat of the offerings of well-being because the bronze altar Solomon had made could not hold the burnt-offering and the grain-offering and the fat parts.

8 At that time Solomon held the festival for seven days, and all Israel with him, a very great congregation, from Lebo-hamath to the Wadi of Egypt. 9On the eighth day they held a solemn assembly; for they had observed the dedication of the altar for seven days and the festival for seven days. 10On the twenty-third day of the seventh month he sent the people away to their homes, joyful and in good spirits because of the goodness that the Lord had shown to David and to Solomon and to his people Israel.

11 Thus Solomon finished the house of the Lord and the king’s house; all that Solomon had planned to do in the house of the Lord and in his own house he successfully accomplished.

God’s Second Appearance to Solomon

12 Then the Lord appeared to Solomon in the night and said to him: ‘I have heard your prayer, and have chosen this place for myself as a house of sacrifice. 13When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, 14if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 15Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place. 16For now I have chosen and consecrated this house so that my name may be there for ever; my eyes and my heart will be there for all time. 17As for you, if you walk before me, as your father David walked, doing according to all that I have commanded you and keeping my statutes and my ordinances, 18then I will establish your royal throne, as I made covenant with your father David saying, “You shall never lack a successor to rule over Israel.”

19 ‘But if you* turn aside and forsake my statutes and my commandments that I have set before you, and go and serve other gods and worship them, 20then I will pluck you* up from the land that I have given you;* and this house, which I have consecrated for my name, I will cast out of my sight, and will make it a proverb and a byword among all peoples. 21And regarding this house, now exalted, everyone passing by will be astonished, and say, “Why has the Lord done such a thing to this land and to this house?” 22Then they will say, “Because they abandoned the Lord the God of their ancestors who brought them out of the land of Egypt, and they adopted other gods, and worshipped them and served them; therefore he has brought all this calamity upon them.”

oremus Bible Browser
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v 2.2.7
10 February 2011

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