Solomon then summoned the leaders of all the tribes and families of Israel to assemble in Jerusalem. They were to bring the Ark of the LORD's covenant from its location in the City of David, also known as Zion, to its new place in the Temple.
They all assembled before the king at the annual Festival of Shelters in early autumn. a3
When all the leaders of Israel arrived, the priests picked up the Ark.
Then the priests and Levites took the Ark of the LORD, along with the Tabernacle b and all its sacred utensils, and carried them up to the Temple.
King Solomon and the entire community of Israel sacrificed sheep and oxen before the Ark in such numbers that no one could keep count!
Then the priests carried the Ark of the LORD's covenant into the inner sanctuary of the Temple -- the Most Holy Place -- and placed it beneath the wings of the cherubim.
The cherubim spread their wings over the Ark, forming a canopy over the Ark and its carrying poles.
These poles were so long that their ends could be seen from the front entrance of the Temple's main room -- the Holy Place -- but not from outside it. They are still there to this day.
Nothing was in the Ark except the two stone tablets that Moses had placed there at Mount Sinai, c where the LORD made a covenant with the people of Israel as they were leaving the land of Egypt.
As the priests came out of the inner sanctuary, a cloud filled the Temple of the LORD.
The priests could not continue their work because the glorious presence of the LORD filled the Temple.
Then Solomon prayed, "O LORD, you have said that you would live in thick darkness.
But I have built a glorious Temple for you, where you can live forever!"
Then the king turned around to the entire community of Israel standing before him and gave this blessing:
"Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, who has kept the promise he made to my father, David.
For he told my father, 'From the day I brought my people Israel out of Egypt, I have never chosen a city among the tribes of Israel as the place where a temple should be built to honor my name. But now I have chosen David to be king over my people.'"
Then Solomon said, "My father, David, wanted to build this Temple to honor the name of the LORD, the God of Israel.
But the LORD told him, 'It is right for you to want to build the Temple to honor my name,
but you are not the one to do it. One of your sons will build it instead.'
"And now the LORD has done what he promised, for I have become king in my father's place. I have built this Temple to honor the name of the LORD, the God of Israel.
And I have prepared a place there for the Ark, which contains the covenant that the LORD made with our ancestors when he brought them out of Egypt."
Then Solomon stood with his hands lifted toward heaven before the altar of the LORD in front of the entire community of Israel.
He prayed, "O LORD, God of Israel, there is no God like you in all of heaven or earth. You keep your promises and show unfailing love to all who obey you and are eager to do your will.
You have kept your promise to your servant David, my father. You made that promise with your own mouth, and today you have fulfilled it with your own hands.
And now, O LORD, God of Israel, carry out your further promise to your servant David, my father. For you said to him, 'If your descendants guard their behavior as you have done, they will always reign over Israel.'
Now, O God of Israel, fulfill this promise to your servant David, my father.
"But will God really live on earth? Why, even the highest heavens cannot contain you. How much less this Temple I have built!
Listen to my prayer and my request, O LORD my God. Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is making to you today.
May you watch over this Temple both day and night, this place where you have said you would put your name. May you always hear the prayers I make toward this place.
May you hear the humble and earnest requests from me and your people Israel when we pray toward this place. Yes, hear us from heaven where you live, and when you hear, forgive.
"If someone wrongs another person and is required to take an oath of innocence in front of the altar at this Temple,
then hear from heaven and judge between your servants -- the accuser and the accused. Punish the guilty party and acquit the one who is innocent.
"If your people Israel are defeated by their enemies because they have sinned against you, and if they turn to you and call on your name and pray to you here in this Temple,
then hear from heaven and forgive their sins and return them to this land you gave their ancestors.
"If the skies are shut up and there is no rain because your people have sinned against you, and then they pray toward this Temple and confess your name and turn from their sins because you have punished them,
then hear from heaven and forgive the sins of your servants, your people Israel. Teach them to do what is right, and send rain on your land that you have given to your people as their special possession.
"If there is a famine in the land, or plagues, or crop disease, or attacks of locusts or caterpillars, or if your people's enemies are in the land besieging their towns -- whatever the trouble is --
and if your people offer a prayer concerning their troubles or sorrow, raising their hands toward this Temple,
then hear from heaven where you live, and forgive. Give your people whatever they deserve, for you alone know the human heart.
Then they will fear you and walk in your ways as long as they live in the land you gave to our ancestors.
"And when foreigners hear of you and come from distant lands to worship your great name --
for they will hear of you and of your mighty miracles and your power -- and when they pray toward this Temple,
then hear from heaven where you live, and grant what they ask of you. Then all the people of the earth will come to know and fear you, just as your own people Israel do. They, too, will know that this Temple I have built bears your name.
"If your people go out at your command to fight their enemies, and if they pray to the LORD toward this city that you have chosen and toward this Temple that I have built for your name,
then hear their prayers from heaven and uphold their cause.
"If they sin against you -- and who has never sinned? -- you may become angry with them and let their enemies conquer them and take them captive to a foreign land far or near.
But in that land of exile, they may turn to you again in repentance and pray, 'We have sinned, done evil, and acted wickedly.'
Then if they turn to you with their whole heart and soul and pray toward the land you gave to their ancestors, toward this city you have chosen, and toward this Temple I have built to honor your name,
then hear their prayers from heaven where you live. Uphold their cause
and forgive your people who have sinned against you. Make their captors merciful to them,
for they are your people -- your special possession -- whom you brought out of the iron-smelting furnace of Egypt.
"May your eyes be open to my requests and to the requests of your people Israel. Hear and answer them whenever they cry out to you.
For when you brought our ancestors out of Egypt, O Sovereign LORD, you told your servant Moses that you had separated Israel from among all the nations of the earth to be your own special possession."
When Solomon finished making these prayers and requests to the LORD, he stood up in front of the altar of the LORD, where he had been kneeling with his hands raised toward heaven.
He stood there and shouted this blessing over the entire community of Israel:
"Praise the LORD who has given rest to his people Israel, just as he promised. Not one word has failed of all the wonderful promises he gave through his servant Moses.
May the LORD our God be with us as he was with our ancestors; may he never forsake us.
May he give us the desire to do his will in everything and to obey all the commands, laws, and regulations that he gave our ancestors.
And may these words that I have prayed in the presence of the LORD be before him constantly, day and night, so that the LORD our God may uphold my cause and the cause of his people Israel, fulfilling our daily needs.
May people all over the earth know that the LORD is God and that there is no other god.
And may you, his people, always be faithful to the LORD our God. May you always obey his laws and commands, just as you are doing today."
Then the king and all Israel with him offered sacrifices to the LORD.
Solomon sacrificed peace offerings to the LORD numbering 22,000 oxen and 120,000 sheep. And so the king and all Israel dedicated the Temple of the LORD.
That same day the king dedicated the central area of the courtyard in front of the LORD's Temple. He offered burnt offerings, grain offerings, and the fat of peace offerings there, because the bronze altar in the LORD's presence was too small to handle so many offerings.
Then Solomon and all Israel celebrated the Festival of Shelters d in the presence of the LORD their God. A large crowd had gathered from as far away as Lebo-hamath in the north to the brook of Egypt in the south. The celebration went on for fourteen days in all -- seven days for the dedication of the altar and seven days for the Festival of Shelters. e66
After the festival was over, f Solomon sent the people home. They blessed the king as they went, and they were all joyful and happy because the LORD had been good to his servant David and to his people Israel.
Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved. (New Living Translation - The Bible Online)