Useful Bible Studies > 1 Kings Commentary > chapter 8

The ark of the covenant in the most holy place

1 Kings 8:6-8

The ark of the covenant was the sacred box that contained evidence of God’s covenant (special relationship) with Israel. God told Moses to put it in the most holy place in God’s house (Exodus 26:33). Formerly, that was the sacred tent called the tabernacle that Moses made; afterwards, it was the great building called the temple, which Solomon built.

However, for a period of perhaps 100 years, since the events in 1 Samuel 4:4, the ark had not been in the most holy place. It was first abroad, then it was in a private house.

Even David did not return it to the tabernacle which was in Gibeon. Instead, he put up a special tent for it in Jerusalem. So, it was a very special occasion when, at last, it stood in its proper place in Solomon’s temple. The models of the special angels, holy servants of God called cherubim, reached out with their wings above it (6:23-28). It was clear to Solomon and the people that real angels were actually guarding that very holy place.

The priests were very careful to bring the ark there in a manner that showed proper respect for God. In particular, nobody must touch it, as Uzzah had done (2 Samuel 6:6-7). So, men from Kohath’s family carried it on long poles (Numbers 4:15). They did not remove the poles afterwards, because they were obeying God’s command in Exodus 25:15. Those poles remained with the ark in the most holy place of Solomon’s temple for several centuries. The priests could see the poles (but not the ark) from the outer room of the temple. A few priests entered that outer room, called the holy place, each day to carry out tasks there. However, only the chief priest entered the inner room, the most holy place, on one special day each year (Leviticus chapter 16).

Next part: What did the ark of the covenant contain? (1 Kings 8:9)


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