King Solomon called for the older leaders of Israel, the heads of the tribes, and the leaders of the families to come to him in Jerusalem. He wanted them to bring the Ark of the Agreement with the Lord from the older part of the city.
So all the Israelites came together with King Solomon during the festival in the month of Ethanim, the seventh month.
When all the older leaders of Israel arrived, the priests lifted up the Ark.
They carried the Ark of the Lord, the Meeting Tent, and the holy utensils; the priests and the Levites brought them up.
King Solomon and all the Israelites gathered before the Ark and sacrificed so many sheep and cattle no one could count them all.
Then the priests put the Ark of the Agreement with the Lord in its place inside the Most Holy Place in the Temple, under the wings of the golden creatures.
The wings of these creatures were spread out over the place for the Ark, covering it and its carrying poles.
The carrying poles were so long that anyone standing in the Holy Place in front of the Most Holy Place could see the ends of the poles, but no one could see them from outside the Holy Place. The poles are still there today.
The only things inside the Ark were two stone tabletsn that Moses had put in the Ark at Mount Sinai. That was where the Lord made his agreement with the Israelites after they came out of Egypt.
When the priests left the Holy Place, a cloud filled the Temple of the Lord.
The priests could not continue their work, because the Temple was filled with the glory of the Lord.
Then Solomon said, "The Lord said he would live in a dark cloud.
Lord, I have truly built a wonderful Temple for you -- a place for you to live forever."
While all the Israelites were standing there, King Solomon turned to them and blessed them.
Then he said, "Praise the Lord, the God of Israel. He has done what he promised to my father David. The Lord said,
'Since the time I brought my people Israel out of Egypt, I have not chosen a city in any tribe of Israel where a temple will be built for me. But I have chosen David to lead my people Israel.'
"My father David wanted to build a temple for the Lord, the God of Israel.
But the Lord said to my father David, 'It was good that you wanted to build a temple for me.
But you are not the one to build it. Your son, who comes from your own body, is the one who will build my temple.'
"Now the Lord has kept his promise. I am the king now in place of David my father. Now I rule Israel as the Lord promised, and I have built the Temple for the Lord, the God of Israel.
I have made a place there for the Ark, in which is the Agreement the Lord made with our ancestors when he brought them out of Egypt."
Then Solomon stood facing the Lord's altar, and all the Israelites were standing behind him. He spread out his hands toward the sky
and said: "Lord, God of Israel, there is no god like you in heaven above or on earth below. You keep your agreement of love with your servants who truly follow you.
You have kept the promise you made to your servant David, my father. You spoke it with your own mouth and finished it with your hands today.
Now Lord, God of Israel, keep the promise you made to your servant David, my father. You said, 'If your sons are careful to obey me as you have obeyed me, there will always be someone from your family ruling Israel.'
Now, God of Israel, please continue to keep that promise you made to your servant David, my father.
"But, God, can you really live here on the earth? The sky and the highest place in heaven cannot contain you. Surely this house which I have built cannot contain you.
But please listen to my prayer and my request, because I am your servant. Lord my God, hear this prayer your servant prays to you today.
Night and day please watch over this Temple where you have said, 'I will be worshiped there.' Hear the prayer I pray facing this Temple.
Hear my prayers and the prayers of your people Israel when we pray facing this place. Hear from your home in heaven, and when you hear, forgive us.
"If someone wrongs another person, he will be brought to the altar in this Temple. If he swears an oath that he is not guilty,
then hear in heaven. Judge the case, punish the guilty, but declare that the innocent person is not guilty.
"When your people, the Israelites, sin against you, their enemies will defeat them. But if they come back to you and praise you and pray to you in this Temple,
then hear them in heaven. Forgive the sins of your people Israel, and bring them back to the land you gave to their ancestors.
"When they sin against you, you will stop the rain from falling on their land. Then they will pray, facing this place and praising you; they will stop sinning when you make them suffer.
When this happens, please hear their prayer in heaven, and forgive the sins of your servants, the Israelites. Teach them to do what is right. Then please send rain to this land you have given particularly to them.
"At times the land will become so dry that no food will grow, or a great sickness will spread among the people. Sometimes all the crops will be destroyed by locusts or grasshoppers. Your people will be attacked in their cities by their enemy or will become sick.
When any of these things happen, the people will become truly sorry. If your people spread their hands in prayer toward this Temple,
then hear their prayers from your home in heaven. Forgive and treat each person as he should be treated because you know what is in a person's heart. Only you know what is in everyone's heart.
Then your people will respect you as long as they live in this land you gave to our ancestors.
"People who are not Israelites, foreigners from other lands, will hear about your greatness and power. They will come from far away to pray at this Temple.
Then hear from your home in heaven, and do whatever they ask you. Then people everywhere will know you and respect you, just as your people in Israel do. Then everyone will know I built this Temple as a place to worship you.
"When your people go out to fight their enemies along some road on which you send them, your people will pray to you, facing the city which you have chosen and the Temple I have built for you.
Then hear in heaven their prayers, and do what is right.
"Everyone sins, so your people will also sin against you. You will become angry with them and hand them over to their enemies. Their enemies will capture them and take them away to their countries far or near.
Your people will be sorry for their sins when they are held as prisoners in another country. They will be sorry and pray to you in the land where they are held as prisoners, saying, 'We have sinned. We have done wrong and acted wickedly.'
They will truly turn back to you in the land of their enemies. They will pray to you, facing this land you gave their ancestors, this city you have chosen, and the Temple I have built for you.
Then hear their prayers from your home in heaven, and do what is right.
Forgive your people of all their sins and for turning against you. Make those who have captured them show them mercy.
Remember, they are your special people. You brought them out of Egypt, as if you were pulling them out of a blazing furnace.
"Give your attention to my prayers and the prayers of your people Israel. Listen to them anytime they ask you for help.
You chose them from all the nations on earth to be your very own people. This is what you promised through Moses your servant when you brought our ancestors out of Egypt, Lord God."
Solomon prayed this prayer to the Lord, kneeling in front of the altar with his arms raised toward heaven. When he finished praying, he got up.
Then, in a loud voice, he stood and blessed all the people of Israel, saying:
"Praise the Lord! He promised he would give rest to his people Israel, and he has given us rest. The Lord has kept all the good promises he gave through his servant Moses.
May the Lord our God be with us as he was with our ancestors. May he never leave us,
and may he turn us to himself so we will follow him. Let us obey all the laws and commands he gave our ancestors.
May the Lord our God remember this prayer day and night and do what is right for his servant and his people Israel day by day.
Then all the people of the world will know the Lord is the only true God.
You must fully obey the Lord our God and follow all his laws and commands. Continue to obey in the future as you do now."
Then King Solomon and all Israel with him offered sacrifices to the Lord.
Solomon killed twenty-two thousand cattle and one hundred twenty thousand sheep as fellowship offerings. So the king and all the people gave the Temple to the Lord.
On that day King Solomon made holy the middle part of the courtyard which is in front of the Temple of the Lord. There he offered whole burnt offerings, grain offerings, and the fat of the fellowship offerings. He offered them in the courtyard, because the bronze altar before the Lord was too small to hold all the burnt offerings, the grain offerings, and the fat of the fellowship offerings.
Solomon and all the Israelites celebrated the other festival that came at that time. People came from as far away as Lebo Hamath and the brook of Egypt. A great many people celebrated before the Lord for seven days, then seven more days, for a total of fourteen days.
On the following day Solomon sent the people home. They blessed the king as they went, happy because of all the good things the Lord had done for his servant David and his people Israel.