Suggested Emphasis: Beautiful church buildings mean nothing if the people who worship there do not serve the Lord.
Solomon built a fantastic temple for the Lord. This replaced the Tabernacle tent that had been used since the time of Moses. After the temple was completed, the Lord reminded Solomon that if the people ever turned away from Him then this huge, beautiful temple would mean nothing.
Please take time to read through today’s scriptures carefully. Your visualization of the splendour of the temple will help you get the story across to your students.
Approximately four years had passed since Solomon became king. With his claim to the throne firmly established, Solomon now began his building projects. The palace and temple would end up taking 20 years (1 Kings 9:10).
The construction of the temple was probably the most significant event of Solomon’s reign. After the war-torn years of the judges, Saul, and David, Israel finally began to enjoy the “rest” God had promised. Building the temple symbolized this peace and stability.
One of David’s greatest desires had been to build a temple for God. Even though David was Israel’s most godly king, God did not want David to build the temple. The house of God’s peace was not to be built by a warrior king. Therefore, the job fell to the one who was not known for his military prowess, but for his godly wisdom, King Solomon.
Solomon conscripted approximately 30,000 men from all of Israel to help harvest the timber from Lebanon. They were divided into three shifts. The shifts alternated monthly so that the men spent one month in Lebanon and two months at home during the years it took to harvest the timber (1 Kings 5:13-14).
Solomon also conscripted more than 150,000 labourers from the descendants of the previous inhabitants of the land. These labourers quarried and transported all the stone for the temple (2 Chronicles 2:17-18).
The two weeks of festivities to dedicate the temple were glorious and filled with fanfare and ceremony. This was a special time in the history of the nation of Israel. Considering this, it is interesting to note that the Lord waited until all of the crowds had been sent home (8:65-66) before He appeared to Solomon with a special message. Perhaps the Lord did not want the new message to be lost in the fanfare. He particularly wanted Solomon to take note of the MOST important reason that the temple was built – GOD. The Lord told Solomon that He would reject the temple if Solomon or his descendants did not walk in the ways of the Lord (9:6-9).
Solomon and the Israelites sought to provide a worthy dwelling place for their God. And the temple they built was indeed magnificent. The Lord made it known that his presence was there (8:10-11) but his presence was conditional. Even Solomon understood that the Lord was not limited to a building (8:27).
The Lord showed His presence in the temple. Today the Lord shows His presence in the hearts of believers. The Lord is still not limited to a physical building (1 Corinthians 3:9-17 and Ephesians 2:19-22). If we focus our spiritual lives on a beautiful church building then we have missed the MOST important part.
- What happened before this story?
- What happens after this story?
- List of all Bible stories and themes on this website.
Way to Introduce the Story:
Find pictures of all different types of church buildings and bring them to class. You might even have the children describe or draw their ideal church building. Lead the discussion into the idea that the kind of building is not the important thing. GOD is the most important.
The Ark of the Covenant was a special box made from gold. This is the box that was made during the time of Moses. Inside the ark were the two tablets of stone on which were written the 10 Commandments. Ever since the time of Moses the Ark of the Covenant had been kept in a special tent – the Tabernacle. The Tabernacle was the place where the priests came to offer sacrifices and to worship the Lord. All of the people of Israel knew that the Tabernacle was a special place for God. The Tabernacle and the Ark of the Covenant had been moved from place to place.
King David, thought that he would build a beautiful building, or temple, to the Lord. He thought that the Ark of the Covenant should be kept in a building instead of a tent. That way it would stay in one place instead of being moved around. But the Lord did not want David to build the temple. He wanted David’s son, Solomon, to build it.
When King David died Solomon became the new king. King Solomon made lots of plans for the temple and the temple he built was very special. It was made of special stone on the outside and cedar wood on the inside. The cedar wood walls had beautiful carvings of angels, palm trees and flowers on them. The floor of the temple was made of solid gold.
There were two main rooms. The biggest room was called the Holy Place and only priests could go in it. There was also a smaller room with gold walls called the Most Holy Place. Only the High Priest could go in the Most Holy Place. Inside this room there were two huge angels carved from olive wood. Their wings stretched from one side of the room to the other. Solomon even had these angel statues covered with gold. All of this beautiful gold and the beautiful carvings would show how wonderful God was. It took thousands of workers seven years to build the temple.
When the temple was finished Solomon sent for the priests to go and get the Ark of the Covenant and all of the special furniture that had been in the Tabernacle Tent. The priests put the Ark inside the Most Holy Place – inside the new temple. They also placed all of the special furniture inside the temple. There were special lamp stands, a table, an incense altar and a basin.
When the Ark and special furniture was placed inside the temple, a huge cloud filled the Most Holy Place. The cloud was so thick that the priests could not even see enough to do their jobs. Everyone knew that the presence of the Lord was in the Temple.
Solomon invited all of the people to come to the temple for a special dedication. The celebrations for the temple lasted for two weeks. There were many speeches and special prayers. Finally, Solomon told all of the people it was time to go home.
After everyone had left, the Lord spoke to Solomon, “I am pleased with the temple you have built for me, Solomon. Just remember one thing. The temple is beautiful and everyone will think of me when they come here. As long as you and the people obey me and follow my teachings then the temple will be a wonderful place. But if you or the people disobey me then all of the gold and beautiful carvings will be worth nothing.”
King Solomon promised the Lord that he would always follow him. Solomon understood that it did not matter how beautiful the temple was if God was not in the temple then it did not matter how beautiful it was. The temple was nothing without God.
- Who was the first king who wanted to build a temple? King David
- How many rooms were in the main part of the temple? Two – Holy Place and Most Holy Place
- What was the special box that was placed in the Most Holy Place? The Ark of the Covenant
- (Trick Question) Which part of the temple was the most important? God!
Learning Activities and Crafts:
- Use bible encyclopaedias to find pictures depicting Solomon’s temple. Remember, it was the original temple. Later on we will study about how Solomon’s temple was destroyed and a new (and less majestic) temple was built in its place. The second temple is the one we read about in the New Testament.
- Have a visitor come and talk about unusual places that they have attended Sunday worship assemblies (outside, in a tent, in someone’s home, etc.) Help the children understand that the church building is not the centre of worship.
- Draw or paint self-portraits and write out 1 Corinthians 3:16 on the picture.
- Find Jerusalem on a map.
- Older children might find it interesting to see find pictures of modern-day Jerusalem. There is now a huge Muslim mosque built on the temple site.
- Younger children can trace the words “King Solomon Built a Temple”. Printable worksheet.
- Provide various building materials and let the children build their own temple. I brought real hammers and nails and pieces of wood. I had to help get the nail started and they pounded away after that.
- Check the Teaching Ideas page on this website for ideas that are adaptable to any lesson.
Other Online Resources:
- Colouring page and puzzle worksheets (building the temple) at http://calvarycurriculum.org/
- Colouring page and puzzle worksheets (dedicating the temple) at http://calvarycurriculum.org/
- Various Solomon worksheets at http://www.squidoo.com/bible-worksheets-OT. Once on the page you will need to scroll down to the section “Samuel/Kings/Chronicles”.