1 Now when Solomon [Sh'lomo] had made an end of praying [davening], the fire [eish] came down from heaven [Shomayim], and consumed the burnt offering [[olah] and the sacrifices [zevakhim] ; and the glory [kavod] of Yahweh filled the house [HaBeis].

The cherubim set up in the tabernacle and first temple were enveloped in a cloud of thick darkness (2 Chron. 5:14; 6:1). At night, the cloud which was visible without the former, appeared like a blaze of fire (Exod. 13:21), but in the day, it towered aloft as a pillar of cloud. Darkness and fire were frequent accompaniments of the divine presence; indeed, always so upon great occasions.

The presence of the Lord upon Mount Sinai was a magnificent and terrible example; and when Jesus expired in blood, Judea was veiled in darkness, and God looked upon it.

With the exception of the thunder, the earthquake, the tempest, and the flashing lightning, God's communing with Moses, and after him with the high priests, were conducted from between the cherubim, as upon Sinai -- 

"the Lord descended upon it in fire and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and God answered him by a voice" (Exod. 19:18, 19);

 so that the thick darkness became luminous and indicated His presence.

The illumination of the darkness without the voice would be sufficient to give assurance of acceptance. The priest having witnessed this on the great day of atonement, when he came out to the people, looking for Him with anxiety to know the result, would be enabled to report to them that the Lord had shined forth.

This was the sign to them of a typical salvation. Hence, Asaph prays, 

"give ear, O Shepherd of Israel; Thou that dwellest between the cherubim shine forth -- stir up Thy strength and come and save us. Turn us again, O God, cause Thy face to shine; and we shall be saved" (Psalm 80:1-3).

...It was customary with the Lord to answer men by fire when any great principle, or new institution was to be established. 

Thus, the covenant with Abraham was confirmed by fire (Gen. 15:17); there also came out a fire from before the Lord and consumed the offering on Aaron's induction as high priest (Lev. 9:24); when the plague was stayed at the intercession of David, the Lord answered him by fire from heaven upon the altar of burnt offering, and thus indicated the place He had chosen to place His name there (1 Chron. 21:16, 18, 26; 22:1); and also at the dedication of the temple fire consumed the sacrifices in the same way (2 Chron. 7:1).

Elpis Israel 1.5


3 And when all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of Yahweh upon the house, they bowed themselves with their faces to the ground upon the pavement, and worshipped, and praised Yahweh, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever.

It wasn't just the priests and singers who witnessed the glory of Yahweh, but all Israel who stood that day before the king. The priests beheld the glory that filled the house from within. The people were witness to the glory which canopied upon the house from without. Both were evidence of the divine presence, and of the divine approval. But in addition to the glory, Israel saw first hand the fire that came down from heaven to consume the burnt offering.

That sight, splendid yet terrifying, was the proof that God had chosen this place to Himself for a house of sacrifice. 22 In David's time, the fire fell upon the place of the altar where he had offered because of the plague, 23 and by that flame he knew that God had chosen this site for both His altar and His house. 24

Now the fire fell to confirm that all that Solomon had built, and all that had been done this day at the dedication of the house, had found acceptance in God's eyes. What breathings of relief, what expressions of gratitude, there were in the assembled multitude, as these startling events unfolded to their astonished gaze!

For the singers, however, more than a few would have recalled the consecration of Aaron, when the same flame of divine approval had suddenly been superseded by the blazing fire of divine wrath. 25

There was no presumptuous spirit among these singers in Solomon's day, for they were conscious only of the exalted status of Him who wrought such things among them. Their singing ascended to the highest standard of reverence and dignity in the spirit of exalted thought and worship. Everything was focused on the supremacy of God, that nothing of man might intrude upon that divine priority or usurp that divine prerogative.

The nation caught the spirit of reverence and submission seen in the singers, and responded in kind as they "bowed themselves with their faces to the ground upon the pavement, and worshipped". Yearning to join in the sacrifice of praise on this day, they sought to do so by adding their voice to the choirs. And what better words could they find to declare their own

allegiance and honour, than those of the family psalm of the House of Asaph. 26 On this day, all Israel followed this family in their song of praise.

22 2 Chronicles 7: 12.

23 1 Chronicles 21:26.

24 1 Chronicles 22:1.

25 Leviticus 9:23-10:2.

26 2 Chronicles 7:3.

It was autumn when the House of Asaph sang before the ark in its final resting place. 27 The days were still mellow, as the sunlight slanted long and low into the late afternoon. The last of the olives, figs and dates had been collected into store, for harvest was ended. Indeed, it was the season for the Feast of Tabernacles, when all Israel assembled to recognise God's blessings. But this time, the year of God's goodness would be crowned by the dedication of the temple.

Assembling by mutual consent a week earlier than the usual time for the feast, they offered sacrifices before Yahweh to dedicate both the house and the altar for their future use. 28 But they then remained for the Feast of Tabernacles, both for the seven days of the feast itself, and for the holy convocation which followed it. 29

It was a marvellous conclusion to their assembly, for the feast was prophetic of the great ingathering of the Gentiles into God's purpose in the kingdom age. It matched the spirit of the family psalm, which looked forward to the same great moment in history. 30 Even in departing, when they went everyone unto their tents, they left Jerusalem with the song of the House of Asaph on their lips and in their hearts. 31

Yahweh had appeared unto Solomon at the beginning of his reign; and now when all was at an end, He appeared unto him the second time and blessed him. But whereas at the first He was seen of him in Gibeon, God was now seen of him in Jerusalem, to confirm His acceptance of all that been done there. 32

This house, now sanctified by the divine approval, was to be the place of sacrifice and the place of prayer. The House of Asaph had fulfilled their part on this day, as the words of their song rang out across the top of the mountain:

"0 give thanks unto Yahweh; for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever."

Who among them could doubt that the ark was truly the symbol of Yahweh's presence among His people, after seeing the glory and the fire? But the promise to the king afterwards contained the real substance of what it meant for His ark to be among them.

Not only did He confirm His acceptance of the house, but He gave assurance that, even in times of failure and sin, forgiveness was possible, if they humbled themselves and came to seek His face through the entreaty of prayer. It was the gracious promise that summarised all that was best about this day, for, above all, He declared the temple to be the place of His mercy. 33

And if that were true, then what an extraordinary privilege belonged to this family, in being ordained to minister with singing before that ark every day. The events at the dedication of the temple indelibly imprinted on their minds that this was a family honour to be guarded above all else.

The sacredness of this charge would not be forgotten by them, and it was just as well. For a time arose which plunged the nation into such a crisis that the king and his kingdom came in desperation to seek the face of Yahweh, and to plead His mercy in this place. When they did, both the answer of God and His deliverance came through the House of Asaph, who yet again appeared just when the nation needed them, to inspire and to guide, through the power of their song.

27 1 Kings 8:2.

28 1 Kings 8:63; 2 Chronicles 7:9.

29 1 Kings 8:65; 2 Chronicles 7:8-10.

30 1 Chronicles 16:30-33.

31 Note the echo of the song:

" he sent the people away into their tents, glad and merry in heart for the goodness that Yahweh had shewed unto David, and to Solomon, and to Israel his people." (2 Chronicles 7:10).

32 1 Kings 9:2; 2 Chronicles 7:12. 33 2 Chronicles 7:13-15.