David had been on the run from Saul for many years before he became king. He never had a place to call home until this time. When the Israelites were traveling in the wilderness, they put the stone tablets with the ten commandments in a special box that God had designed, called the Ark of the Covenant. Wherever they camped, this box was where the Holy Spirit would rest in their presence.
David wanted to build a proper temple to house the Ark of the Covenant, but God told him it would be his son Solomon’s job to do.
When David was very old and Solomon was about to become king after him, he told him, “Be strong and brave. Follow God’s teachings. Obey everything Moses wrote about the Lord’s will for how to live. Then God will make you a successful king.”
Solomon was a young man when he became king and was anxious to rule well, especially following someone as beloved as his father.
One night while he slept, God appeared to him in a dream.
“Solomon,” the Lord whispered. “Ask me for anything you want. I will grant it to you.”
In his sleep Solomon poured out his worried heart to God. “My father, David, ruled well. You were always faithful to him, and he was loved by everyone. But I am so young and feel like I am in over my head. The people of this nation are too many to even count. And now I must make decisions when they disagree on things and make agreements with other nations and make fair laws. Please show me how to be a good leader. There is no way I can do this job without your help.”
God was pleased with the desire of Solomon’s heart. “You have asked for the right thing,” God told him. “Other kings might have asked for a long life, or riches, or power. But you asked to be a wise ruler. So, I will give you the wisdom to be a good leader. But I will also give you the things you didn’t ask for. You will be rich and powerful and have a long life on the throne of Israel. As long as you continue to obey Me, these things will be yours.”
Solomon used the wealth God gave him to build a beautiful temple in Jerusalem where the people of Israel could gather together to worship the Lord. He brought the Ark of the Covenant there during Sukkot, when everyone remembered how they used to live in tents in the desert. Just like the Israelites, God’s sacred chest no longer had to live in a tent, but now had a permanent home.
When the important leaders of Israel gathered for its dedication, as the priests were leaving the most holy place, a great cloud suddenly filled the temple. The Holy Spirit was in the cloud, which shone so brightly that the priests could not stay inside to do their work.