2 Chronicles 5 – The Ark is brought to the Temple
A. The finished temple.
1. (1) Completion of the work.
So all the work that Solomon had done for the house of the LORD was finished; and Solomon brought in the things which his father David had dedicated: the silver and the gold and all the furnishings. And he put them in the treasuries of the house of God.
a. All the work that Solomon had done for the house of the LORD was finished: This was the great achievement of Solomon’s life. He began this ambitious project shortly after he came to the throne, and now it was finished, certainly much to his satisfaction.
b. Solomon brought in the things which his father David had dedicated: This reminds us of just how much David did for the temple. He even designed, made, and dedicated some of the furnishings of the temple.
2. (2-5) The furniture of the temple is brought in before the assembled nation.
Now Solomon assembled the elders of Israel and all the heads of the tribes, the chief fathers of the children of Israel, in Jerusalem, that they might bring the ark of the covenant of the LORD up from the City of David, which is Zion. Therefore all the men of Israel assembled with the king at the feast, which was in the seventh month. So all the elders of Israel came, and the Levites took up the ark. Then they brought up the ark, the tabernacle of meeting, and all the holy furnishings that were in the tabernacle. The priests and the Levites brought them up.
a. Solomon assembled the elders of Israel and all the heads of the tribes: The official installation of the ark of the covenant into the temple was an extremely important occasion. Solomon wanted representatives of the entire kingdom to have a part in this memorable event.
b. The priests and the Levites brought them up: This properly respected the pattern designated by the Mosaic Law. Solomon wanted representatives of the entire kingdom to witness the event, but not at the expense of obedience to God’s command.
3. (6-10) The ark comes into the Most Holy Place of the temple.
Also King Solomon, and all the congregation of Israel who were assembled with him before the ark, were sacrificing sheep and oxen that could not be counted or numbered for multitude. Then the priests brought in the ark of the covenant of the LORD to its place, into the inner sanctuary of the temple, to the Most Holy Place, under the wings of the cherubim. For the cherubim spread their wings over the place of the ark, and the cherubim overshadowed the ark and its poles. And the poles extended so that the ends of the poles of the ark could be seen from the holy place, in front of the inner sanctuary; but they could not be seen from outside. And they are there to this day. Nothing was in the ark except the two tablets which Moses put there at Horeb, when the LORD made a covenant with the children of Israel, when they had come out of Egypt.
a. Sacrificing sheep and oxen that could not be counted or numbered for multitude: Solomon went “over-the-top” in his effort to honor and praise God on this great day.
b. Then the priests brought in the ark of the covenant of the LORD: The temple wasn’t “open” until the ark of the covenant was set in the Most Holy Place. The ark was the most important item in the temple.
c. Under the wings of the cherubim: The interior of the temple was richly decorated with the designs of cherubim, which surround the throne of God in heaven. This design of the temple was after the pattern of the tabernacle, which had woven designs of cherubim on the inner covering.
i. “The statement that ‘they are still there today’ must have been quoted by Ezra from his sources (2 Chronicles 9:29), particularly from 1 Kings 8:8, out of those portions that were written before the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. The ark had been gone for over a century by Ezra’s day.” (Payne)
d. Nothing was in the ark except the two tablets which Moses put there at Horeb: At an earlier point in Israel’s history there were three items in the ark of the covenant. Earlier, inside the ark were the golden pot that had the manna (Exodus 16:33), Aaron’s rod that budded (Numbers 17:6-11), and the tablets of the covenant (Exodus 25:16). We don’t know what happened to the golden pot of manna and Aaron’s rod, but they were not in the ark when Solomon set it in the Most Holy Place.
e. When the LORD made a covenant with the children of Israel, when they had come out of Egypt: The reminder of the deliverance from Egypt is significant because there is a sense in which this – some 500 years after the Exodus – is the culmination of the deliverance from Egypt. Israel came out of Egypt and into the wilderness, and out of necessity, lived in tents – and the dwelling of God was also a tent. Now since Solomon built the temple, the dwelling of God among Israel was a building, a place of permanence and security.
B. The glory of God fills the temple.
1. (11-12) The praise of the Levites at the installation of the ark of the covenant.
And it came to pass when the priests came out of the Most Holy Place (for all the priests who were present had sanctified themselves, without keeping to their divisions), and the Levites who were the singers, all those of Asaph and Heman and Jeduthun, with their sons and their brethren, stood at the east end of the altar, clothed in white linen, having cymbals, stringed instruments and harps, and with them one hundred and twenty priests sounding with trumpets;
a. For all the priests who were present had sanctified themselves, without keeping to their divisions: Normally the priests and Levites worked at the temple according to a strict schedule. Yet on this day, all the priests and Levites were on duty before the LORD.
b. And the Levites who were the singers: It was right that on this day praise should be focused on the LORD, and not on Solomon or David. In reality, this was the LORD’s house, not David’s or Solomon’s.
2. (13-14) The cloud of God’s glory fills the temple.
Indeed it came to pass, when the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD, and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and praised the LORD, saying:
“For He is good,
For His mercy endures forever,”
that the house, the house of the LORD, was filled with a cloud, so that the priests could not continue ministering because of the cloud; for the glory of the LORD filled the house of God.
a. That the house, the house of the LORD, was filled with a cloud: This was the cloud of glory, seen often in the Old and New Testaments, sometimes called the cloud of Shekinah glory. It is hard to define the glory of God; we could call it the radiant outshining of His character and presence. Here it is manifested in a cloud.
· This is the cloud that stood by Israel in the wilderness (Exodus 13:21-22).
· This is the cloud of glory that God spoke to Israel from (Exodus 16:10).
· This is the cloud from which God met with Moses and others (Exodus 19:9, 24:15-18, Numbers 11:25, 12:5, 16:42).
· This is the cloud that stood by the door of the Tabernacle (Exodus 33:9-10).
· This is the cloud from which God appeared to the High Priest in the Holy Place inside the veil (Leviticus 16:2).
· This is the cloud of Ezekiel’s vision, filling the temple of God with the brightness of His glory (Ezekiel 10:4).
· This is the cloud of glory that overshadowed Mary when she conceived Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35).
· This is the cloud present at the transfiguration of Jesus (Luke 9:34-35).
· This is the cloud of glory that received Jesus into heaven at His ascension (Acts 1:9).
· This is the cloud that will display the glory of Jesus Christ when He returns in triumph to this earth (Luke 21:27, Revelation 1:7).
i. It is worthy of note that this great outpouring of the glory of God came in the context of intense and dedicated praise. God pours out His glory when His people praise Him. “We can never expect to have God in this house, or in our own houses, or in our own hearts, until we begin to praise him. Unless as a people we unanimously, with one heart, though with many tongues, extol the King of kings, farewell to the hope that he will give us his presence in the future.” (Spurgeon)
ii. “There is an order in this work which we do well to consider. Work performed according to the divine order, offered in sacrifice and praise, is acceptable to God. Such work He receives by possessing it with His own presence and glory.” (Morgan)
b. So that the priests could not continue ministering because of the cloud: The extreme presence of the glory of God made normal service impossible. The sense of the presence of God was so intense that the priests felt it was impossible to continue in the building.
i. “As soon as the temple is opened for business, all the carefully planned ceremonies and services have to be suspended because God takes over the entire building for himself. The temple is to be for God’s glory, not for that of human beings.” (Selman)
ii. Jesus Himself was greater than the cloud that filled the temple and when He came it was fitting for the priests’ temple service to stop. “This showed that the Levitical ministry should cease when the Lord Christ came.” (Trapp)
iii. “The glory of God had filled the house, and the priests were set aside. Where God is, man is forgotten. You will think little of the minister save for his work’s sake – you will talk the less of the man when you shall see the Master.” (Spurgeon)