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THE DEDICATION OF THE TEMPLE.
When at length the Temple and all its costly work was finished, Solomon called together all the elders of Israel, the heads of the tribes, and chief men and princes, that they might move the Ark of the LORD into it, with all due reverence and pomp.
These all gathered together, and the Levites took the Ark and brought it up. King Solomon and the whole congregation of Israel went before it, and offered sacrifices which could not be told or numbered for multitude. The priests carried the Ark of the covenant of the LORD unto the holy place, within the oracle, under the wings of the cherubim, and solemnly placed it therein. As soon as the priests came out of the holy place, all the Levites which were singers, standing at the east end of the altar arrayed in white linen garments, with cymbals and psalteries and harps, and a hundred and twenty priests with trumpets, all burst forth together in a song of praise.
When this glorious music broke forth, and the hymn was raised, “Praise the LORD, for He is good : for His mercy endureth for ever,”
then all the house of the LORD was filled with a cloud. This cloud veiled what no human eye might see, even the Glory of the Lord; but even there the priests could not stand to minister, because of the glorious cloud. Then Solomon spake, saying, “The Lord said that He would dwell in the thick darkness, but I have built Thee a house to dwell in, a settled place for Thee to abide in for ever.' The king then turned to all the congregation who stood before him and blessed them, reminding them of God's promise to his father David, saying, “The LORD hath performed His word that He spake, and I am risen up in the room of David my father, and sit upon the throne of Israel, as the LORD promised, and have built a house for the Name of the LORD God of Israel, and in it I have put the Ark, wherein is the covenant of the LORD, that He made with the children of Israel."
Solomon went and stood before the Altar of the LORD, and then kneeling down, he spread forth his hands to heaven, and offered up a most solemn prayer to God in the name of all his people as well as of himself. He began by humbly thanking God for His great mercy in thus fulfilling His promise to David, and went on to say, “But will God in very
deed dwell with men on the earth? Behold, heaven, and the heaven of heavens cannot contain Thee, how much less this house which I have built! Have respect, therefore, to the prayer of Thy servant, and to his supplication, O LORD my God, to hearken unto the cry and the prayer which Thy servant prayeth before Thee; that Thine Eyes may be open upon this house day and night, upon the place whereof Thou hast said that Thou wouldest put Thy Name there. Hearken, therefore, unto the supplications of Thy servant, and of Thy people Israel, which they shall make towards this place, even from heaven; and when Thou hearest, forgive."
Solomon ended his long prayer, with the petition, “Now, therefore, arise, O Lord God, into Thy resting place, Thou, and the Ark of Thy strength: let Thy Priests, O LORD God, be clothed with salvation, and let Thy Saints rejoice in goodness. O LORD God, turn not
. away the face of Thine Anointed.”
When Solomon ceased praying, God sent down fire from heaven, which consumed the burnt-offerings and sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the house. Then all the people bowed themselves with their faces on the pavement, and worshipped; praising the Lord, and saying, “He is God, for His mercy endureth for ever.”
For seven days King Solomon kept high festival with all the people, and then sent them back to their homes, “glad and merry in heart for the goodness that the LORD had showed unto David, and unto Solomon, and to Israel His people."
SOLOMON'S LATTER YEARS.
AFTER all the Dedication feast was over, the LORD appeared a second time to Solomon, and said, “I have heard thy prayer and thy supplication, that thou hast made before Me." He promised to bless Solomon, his children, and people, so long as they continued to obey Him. But if they forsook the LORD, He said that this noble temple, now their pride and glory, should be cast out of His sight, and become a byword among nations. This terrible threat was fulfilled in after times, when for the sins of Israel, the Temple was overthrown.
Solomon was twenty years building the Temple and his own palace. After that he did
many other great things for his people, rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, and building many cities.
It is mournful to turn to the dark side of Solomon's character, which, in spite of all the great favours of God, was not all that the LORD would have had it. “He went not fully after the LORD as did David his father." He was led away by his affection for heathen women, whom he took to wife, and when he grew old, they persuaded him to build them altars to their strange gods. Then the LORD was angry with Solomon, and He said that because of this sin, He would rend the kingdom from Solomon, and give it to His servant. But for David's sake, the LORD added, this should not be in Solomon's time, but in his son's time. Even then God promised to leave something to Solomon's son, for David's sake. After this various foes arose to trouble Solo
The most dangerous of these was Jeroboam, the son of Nebat. He was both a valiant and industrious youth, and Solomon had raised him to high office. The Prophet Ahijah told Jeroboam that it was God's will to rend the kingdom from Solomon's family, and to raise him to be king. Then Solomon tried to kill