These small group studies through the lives of David and Solomon contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, and applications. Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.
Solomon Builds the Temple – 1 Kings 8 Inductive Bible Study
The ark of the covenant is brought to the finished temple (1-13)
Recap of the temple project (14-21)
Solomon’s prayer (22-53)
Exhortation and sacrifices (54-66)
- Who did Solomon assemble? Why did he want them all there?
- How was the ark moved this time?
- What did King Solomon have done on the way to bring the ark? Why do you think he did this?
- What remained of the previous relics which were stored in the ark?
- What happened after the ark was put into the temple? What is the significance of this cloud filling the temple? How did Solomon intepret this event?
1. All the elders and leaders of Israel accompanied Solomon and the ark as it was taken to the temple. Then every Israelite was invited to come together for the festival commemorating the finished temple and beginning of national worship there. This was an important event and he wanted everyone there. Each person could be inspired to have a stronger belief in and devotion to God. Gathering together to worship is important for the unity and mutual encouragement of the people. It is very difficult to continue to follow God and grow if we attempt to do so in isolation as an individual. This is why the New Testament continues in this same principle of meeting and growing together in Hebrews 10:24-25. We should have the habit of continuing to meet together and encouraging one another as we each make our own journey of faith.
2. The priests and Levites carried them – David had made a big mistake when he allowed a cart pulled by oxen to carry the ark. Solomon it seems had learned from this mistake. It is important that we learn from the negative examples of those around us so that we don’t foolishly keep repeating the same mistakes again and again.
3. Sacrificing so many sheep and cattle that they could not be counted – It seems that like David did the second time he moved the ark, Solomon had the priests make sacrifices on the way. While this was not expressly commanded, as far as we know it was a way to show respect and worship for God. Sacrifices were a reminder that the people were sinful and it was God’s mercy that even allowed them to live instead of wiping them out. Though we do not offer sacrifices in the same way, we would do well to be humble in front of an awesome God.
4. Verse 9 – Evidently Aaron’s staff and the manna had been lost or stolen and only the two tablets of the ten commandments remained.
5. The glory of the Lord filled the temple – God was pleased with the temple that had been built and the nation’s devotion to worshiping Him and Him alone. The glory of the Lord filling the temple was a visible sign of God’s blessing and presence with His people. It shows us God’s mercy that He every condescended to be with people, since each of us are sinners.
In a couple of weeks we will celebrate Christmas. At this time we celebrate the birth of Christ who is called “Immanuel,” which means “God with us.” This passage in 1 Kings 8 and Jesus’ birth are a reminder that God is willing to be with us. This is a great blessing, which we don’t deserve. We should be grateful for this. At the same time, it is a fearful thing to know God is with us and sees everything we do! It should remind us to live holy lives.
- What was the purpose of the recap which Solomon gave to the people about the history of this project?
- What were David’s part and his part?
- What was this house built for?
1. Here Solomon begins recapping the history of the temple project from when David first had the idea to this point in time when it was finally finished. Much of the Bible is merely recording history. History is important because it shows us God’s faithfulness. It shows us that He always keeps His promises. Here Solomon does not take credit for the temple project (unlike most people would do and specifically the Herod in the New Testament.) He gives all the credit to God because it was “His own hand,” which brought it about as He promised to David. From this history we see God’s faithfulness to keep His word, shown by His promise to David that David’s offspring would build the temple.
Application: Do you want to receive the credit when you accomplish something important? Do you tend to boast or try to manipulate others to praise you? When we accomplish great things, we must give all the glory and credit to God. He is the one who enables us to finish the tasks. He is the one who gives the strength, the energy, the ability, and the opportunity. Do not steal God’s glory for trying to keep it for yourselves. Solomon recognized he was only a servant of God who had done what he was supposed to do by building a temple for God. Luke 17:10.
- What is the significance of spreading out his hands?
- What was Solomon’s attitude toward God? What aspects of God’s character did he praise Him for in his prayer?
- What request/demand does Solomon make of God in verse 25?
- What truth about God does Solomon bring out in verse 27? Where was God’s actual abode (32, 34, 36, 39, 43, 45?)
- Does God need a temple? Then what is the point of building him one?
- What other requests did Solomon make of God in his prayers? What can you learn from those? What were the key themes of his prayers (need for God’s mercy)?
- Did verse 33 ever happen?
- Did verse 35 happen?
- How does God teach us the good way to walk (36?)
- Did the things in verses 37-40 happen? Why can Solomon be so accurate about future events? Did God answer Solomon’s requests to forgive His people?
- What was Solomon’s vision for foreigners (41-43)? What can we learn from this about God’s plan for Gentiles even in the Old Testament? See also verse 60.
- What do we learn about people (46)?
- Did verse 47 happen? When?
- What reasons did Solomon give God as to why He should save/forgive His people again (51-53)?
- What lessons did you learn about prayer from this? What did you learn about God? People? Forgiveness?
1. Spread out his hands toward heaven – Sometimes outward postures can help remind us about what our inward attitudes should be. Spreading one’s hands is a way to show you are open to receive. Solomon was opening up his heart and the heart of his nation to receive blessings from the Lord.
2. Praise – In these verses Solomon starts his prayer off with praise. It’s a good way to start. Let’s take a look at some of the ways Solomon praises the Lord:
- God of Israel. You are our God. He is a personal God.
- There is no God like you. He is the greatest. He is unique.
- You who keep your covenant love. He is faithful. He is truthful.
- He keeps His promises. He does what He says.
3. Solomon reminds God about His promises and beseeches Him to fulfill it. We can do the same when we recite Scripture back to God. At the same time, we see in these verses that God’s promises to David did carry conditions. What conditions? Obedience of David’s offspring. Some of God’s promises to us are also conditional so we should look at ourselves first if they seem not to have been fulfilled.
4. Will God really dwell on earth? Here we come to the question of “why does God need a temple?” After all, God is a spirit. He is omnipresent. Why does He need a temple? See verses 32, 34, 36, 39, 43, 45. God in fact, does not need a temple. These verses make it clear that even after the temple was completed God dwelt in heaven. While He is everywhere, heaven was the place of His most intense presence (for lack of a better description.)
In Solomon’s prayer, we see that the temple is like a rallying point for God’s people. They pray toward it when in sin or in trouble, knowing that God will see their contrite hearts from heaven and have mercy on them. The temple therefore was primarily not for God, but for people. The temple was firstly a sign of the nation’s dedication to and worship of the LORD. It showed all the people that the Israelites were monotheistic. They worshiped and served YHWH, and Him alone. It was part of who they were as individuals and as a nation.
In addition, the temple served as a visible reminder of God’s presence with them. It reminded them that God was “Immanuel,” God with them. It reminded them that God sought to bless, protect, lead, and guide them. It was a reminder that they were not alone. They were created for a purpose and their Creator had not abandoned them.
The temple was also a reminder of God’s holiness. Only the high priest could go into the holy of holies and only once per year. When he did go in it was to offer atonement for the people.
The temple was also a place to gather. It was a place for God’s people to meet, to worship Him collectively as a group. God wants us to worship Him as individuals and as families, but it also important to have a place where we can come together as a group to collectively praise Him just like it will be at the end of the age.
Do we have anything similar to a temple today? Do we have visible signs to remind us of various aspects of God’s character?
A church is a place to gather to worship God collectively. Crosses and nativity scenes can serve as symbols. There is always a danger of focusing too much on symbols or visible pictures (like the statue of Mary or a crucifix). Satan always wants people to prioritize the wrong thing (ie: the miracle instead of the miracle worker.) Yet sometimes these things could serve as reminders to us. For example, hanging a verse on a wall can remind us to obey the teachings inside. A cross can remind us to be humble and to be grateful for what Christ has done for us.
5. Theme of mercy – Much of Solomon’s prayer is filled with a petition for mercy for his people both now and in the future. In some ways it is like Jesus’ high priestly prayer in John 17 when Jesus prays for future believers to have unity. It was fitting that the great temple just finished reminded Solomon and his people of God’s holiness and awesomeness and therefore their own “smallness” and sinfulness. Solomon had an accurate view of God and an accurate view of people.
Application: What is the content of your prayers like? Are you very mindful of your own sinfulness? Do you often petition God for His mercy on you and others around you? If you truly understand who God is and who you are, you will do that.
6. The accuracy of Solomon’s prayers for the future – It is amazing that most of the things Solomon prayed about actually happened. We know that Solomon was the wisest person who lived. He knew the struggles that would face the nation one day. It is not certain, but perhaps God also gave Solomon some prophetic-like insight into the future of Israel. Solomon realized that the only hope for his country was in God. There was no one else who could save them, no one else who could forgive them, no one else who could help them. Where are you placing your hope?
7. Verses 41-43 – Discuss Gentiles position in the OT. We see here the ideal of how Israel was supposed to be a light for God in the Old Testament. During Solomon’s reign it actually happens. The people are faithfully serving God and He blesses the entire nation. This makes Israel famous and brings people flowing in from other countries to observe and learn. It was an opportunity to be a witness for God. Solomon understood that this is what Israel was supposed to be doing. They were supposed to be a testimony for God. We see too that the foreigner could believe in, pray to, and turn to God. Solomon hoped that “all the people’s of the earth may know that the Lord is God and there is no other.” Unfortunately Israel’s good testimony to the nations was very short-lived. Jesus had to come and fulfill Israel’s obligation to the Gentile nations since the rest of the people utterly failed.
- What was the significance of the king kneeling in prayer? How can this change our attitude toward prayer?
- Would God leave them or forsake them?
- What can we learn from verse 58 about what it means to be a true believer/follower of God? What is real maturity? How can we hope to follow all of those commands (ask for Him to incline our hearts to Himself)?
- Is your heart wholly devoted to the Lord? What thing or things might you be more devoted to than Him (think about it privately for a moment)?
- How did Solomon conclude this event?
- How did the people feel after this? Do you think these feelings would last? How could the people keep this “spiritual high” over the coming months?
1. Solomon was kneeling much of this time – It is a very beautiful picture to see such a powerful king kneeling in God’s presence.
2. Verse 56 – Solomon started by praising God. And he concluded by praising God. A pretty good model for prayer if you ask me.
3. Verse 58 – An obedient heart is what God is looking for. Ask God to incline your hearts to him so that you will happily obey His commands.
4. Verse 61 – Do not give half measures. Let your heart and your life be fully committed to Him.
5. Verse 66 – The people were excited. They left feeling a spiritual high. Unfortunately even the highest of spiritual highs may not last. What would happen to Solomon and the nation? How can we prevent ourselves from falling so far after a spiritual high?