1 Kings 8:1-66 – Solomon Dedicates the Temple
SummarySolomon's dedication of the newly constructed temple centers upon his long dedicatory prayer (vv. 22-53) flanked by blessing of the people (vv. 14-21, 54-61). It is introduced by the procession of the ark (vv. 1-11) and concludes with a great celebration (vv. 62-66).
AnalysisThe procession of the ark from private house, to tent built by David, to Solomon's temple brings this theme to its conclusion.
The prayer itself is thoroughly Deuteronomistic and bristles with the theological points stressed in that tradition. It falls into two main parts: praise of God for loyalty to David (vv. 23-26) and petitions modeling the possibilities for prayer directed towards the temple. In praising God's loyalty to his father, David, Solomon asks that God would fulfill the promise of a Davidic dynasty (2 Samuel 7:11b-16). The seven petitions may indicate completeness and they certainly are comprehensive: judicial disputes, defeat, drought, natural disaster, "foreign" prayer, battle, and exile. The first four concern matters inside Israel (1 Kings 8:31-40); the last three matters outside Israel (vv. 41-50). It is striking that in each instance Solomon asks that God would "hear in heaven" and then respond in appropriate ways.
The theme of hearing in or from "heaven" (vv. 32, 34, 36, 39, 43, 45, 49) lifts up the important idea that Solomon never asks God to hear from the "temple," supposedly God's "house." God cannot be contained in a "house." The divine transcendence is maintained without compromising the proximity needed in the prayer. God's "forgiveness" also repeats a number of times (vv. 30, 34, 36, 39, 50). But this forgiveness is always predicated upon one's prayer, confession, or repentance, stressing that the temple is a place of prayer at least as much as it is a place of sacrifice.