Then Solomon said, “The Lord has said that he would dwell in thick darkness. I have indeed built you an exalted house, a place for you to dwell in forever.” (1 Kings 8:13-14)
When Solomon completed the building of the temple, they dedicated it to the Lord and moved the furniture from the tabernacle (the tent that was put up and down as the Israelites wandered through the desert and was put in the “City of David” (one of the hills in Jerusalem) when David conquered the city. David had thought to build a temple – a more permanent structure – to show that they had arrived in the land God had promised them. No longer were they sojourners, but the promises of God were fulfilled. But God would not allow David to build the temple. Instead, God told David that He would build David a house (that is, establish his kingdom through his son) and that this son would build the temple. Solomon is the immediate fulfillment of that promise. Solomon builds the temple in great majesty and upon the dedication, animals beyond count are slaughtered as offerings and the cloud that once filled the tabernacle and led the way in the wilderness now filled the temple. The cloud was so thick that the priests had to leave! It was an awesome scene with the animals and the blood and the bleating of sheep and the smell of slaughter and now the thick cloud filling the place.
In view of all of this, Solomon prays to the Lord, “I have indeed built you an exalted house, a place for you to dwell in forever.” This is a bold statement. On the one hand it seems as though Solomon is bragging about his accomplishments before the Lord. On the other, we have to ask, “does Solomon really expect this temple to last forever?” Let’s answer the second question first. Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, surely did not think this temple would last forever. Later in his prayer he acknowledges that this house cannot hold God and that his true home is in heaven. But still, the physical structure of the temple represents something that will indeed last forever. There must be some future fulfillment that will not deteriorate or be destroyed and Solomon anticipates that.
Now to the first oddity. Is Solomon really so bold as to brag about his accomplishments before the Lord? In light of the fact that Solomon recognizes the greatness of God goes far beyond the temple structure, he recognizes there is also a future son that will reign over God’s house forever. This future son will do in reality what Solomon has done in representation. In this, Solomon points us to Christ. Can you read the verse again with Christ saying the words and the exalted house a reference to the church, made up of “living stones?”
I [Christ] have indeed built you an exalted house [the church], a place for you to dwell in forever. That can be said without hyperbole. This is, after all, what Christ came to do! You are part of that “exalted house” and as you live and function in community with God’s church, you are God’s dwelling place. This should fill us with a sense of awe as we meet together.