We are studying 1 Kings 8:1-13 for Sunday, January 5. This is the account in Kings of Solomon’s installation of the Ark of the Covenant in the newly-built Temple in Jerusalem. [Some notes on the text are here.] Here are a few questions we might want to consider or discuss in class:
The worship described in this text is extremely formal, ceremonious, and elaborate. How does this compare to our own worship? What is similar? What is different? What do we see as the positive features or benefits of this kind of worship? What might be negative features or costs of this kind of worship?
Assuming worship “makes a statement” – what statement does this worship make? What are our thoughts about that statement? Why?
The Ark of the Covenant has been mobile until now, housed in a “tent of meeting.” Its move to the Temple implies that it will definitely be more permanent or settled now. What are some of the advantages of having a permanent location, like the Temple, for the Ark? Are there any disadvantages – that is, can we think of advantages to the Ark’s being more mobile? On balance, which seems preferable to us? Why is that? What does our thinking here tell us about the way we think about God?
Do we ourselves think of God more as having a fixed place or places where God “is” or “dwells,” or of God as more transient? How does this text support or challenge our idea about God here?
What do we think it means – implies, suggests – that the Ark was empty except for the tablets of the moral law? Does this say anything to us about God and the relationship of God to the community? What? Why do we say that?
In verse 11, God’s glory fills the Temple – what does this mean, do we think? (e.g., that God affirmed the worship, the Temple space, …? That God was literally present with the people of Israel at that moment? …)
[More personal] Have we ourselves ever experienced the presence of God in a distinctive or dramatic way – how did that experience compare with the event here? (What was similar? What was different?) What insights do we get from that comparison?
How do we understand the idea that God “dwells in deep darkness”? (e.g., that God is mysterious? That God is inaccessible, or may be? …) How do we understand the idea that God dwells in “an exalted house”? (e.g., that worship spaces should remind us of God’s grandeur, majesty? …)
Are there any implications in this for how we need to understand God, or to communicate with God? What are those, do we think?