Solomon brings the sacred chest to the temple
1-2The sacred chest had been kept on Mount Zion, also known as the city of David. But Solomon decided to have the chest moved to the temple while everyone was in Jerusalem, celebrating the Festival of Shelters during Ethanim, the seventh month of the year.
Solomon called together the important leaders of Israel.3-4Then the priests and the Levites carried to the temple the sacred chest, the sacred tent, and the objects used for worship.5Solomon and a crowd of people walked in front of the chest, and along the way they sacrificed more sheep and cattle than could be counted.
6The priests carried the chest into the most holy place and put it under the winged creatures,7whose wings covered the chest and the poles used for carrying it.8The poles were so long that they could be seen from just outside the most holy place, but not from anywhere else. And they stayed there from then on.
9The only things kept in the chest were the two flat stones Moses had put there when the LORD made his agreement with the people of Israel at Mount Sinai, after bringing them out of Egypt.
10Suddenly a cloud filled the temple as the priests were leaving the most holy place.11The Lord's glory was in the cloud, and the light from it was so bright that the priests could not stay inside to do their work.12Then Solomon prayed:
“Our LORD, you said that you
would live in a dark cloud.
13Now I have built a glorious temple
where you can live for ever.”
Solomon speaks to the people
14Solomon turned towards the people standing there. Then he blessed them15-16and said:
Praise the LORD God of Israel! Long ago he brought his people out of Egypt. He later kept his promise to make my father David the king of Israel. The Lord also said that he had not chosen the city where his temple would be built.
17So when David wanted to build a temple for the LORD God of Israel,18the LORD said, “It's good that you want to build a temple where I can be worshipped.19But you're not the one to do it. Your son will build a temple to honour me.”
20The LORD has done what he promised. I am the king of Israel like my father, and I've built a temple for the LORD our God.21I've also made a place in the temple for the sacred chest. And in that chest are the two flat stones on which is written the solemn agreement the LORD made with our ancestors when he led them out of Egypt.
After twenty years of building, Solomon adds the “coup de grace,” the exclamation point, to his masterpiece. With great ceremony and sacrificial ritual, he brings the Ark of the Covenant to the temple, placing it in the “Holy of Holies.” At this moment something astonishing happens.
A cloud of luminous haze suddenly fills the house as the priests leave the “Holy of Holies.” It’s reminiscent of the “cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night” that led the Israelites through forty years of desert wandering after their exodus from Egypt. It’s a cloud of the “glory” of God, so glorious that the priests are unable to stand in its presence. And it is the sure sign that the Almighty has taken residence, The King of Glory is “home” and in command.
I remember, as a child, attending summer camp “revival meetings” in Saskatchewan. Sometimes, sitting on the wood-shavings floor of “the tabernacle,” playing with a toy or coloring book, I became aware of a “hush” overtaking the usual boisterous singing and worshipping of the adults. There would be an almost unearthly stillness, a quiet that one not only heard, but felt. In that moment of breathless peace, someone would respectfully whisper “Glory!.” The “glory of God ” had “descended” on a devout crowd of farmers and preachers. It was “holy ground.”
This manifestation of “the Presence” is ultimately what “meeting with God” is about. A meeting place should be exactly that: a place where Heaven and earth converge, where the earthling quiets his voice and bows down in the presence of the Holy One.
It’s been too long, O Lord, since I last felt your presence. As I quiet my heart please draw near.