Useful Bible Studies > 1 Kings Commentary > chapter 6

The inner room of the temple: the holy of holies

1 Kings 6:19-22

Before Solomon built the temple as God’s house, God’s temporary home on earth was the tent called the tabernacle (Exodus chapter 40).

In that region, it was probably usual to make tents with both an inner room and an outer room. The inner room was completely private; but guests could come into the outer room. We see that same arrangement in the tabernacle and the temple. The outer, larger room was called the holy place, and some priests entered it each day. The inner room was called the holy of holies or the most holy place. It was very sacred for God alone; only the chief priest went into it, once each year

In the temple, gold covered everything in the most holy place. It was perhaps at a higher level than the outer room. It was 30 feet (9 metres) long, its length, width and height were the same.

The ark of the covenant was the most sacred object in Israel. An ark is a box; the covenant is the relationship that God established by his promises to Israel. So, the ark of the covenant was the box that contained evidence of God’s relationship with Israel (1 Kings 8:9; Hebrews 9:4). David had brought the ark to Jerusalem (2 Samuel chapter 6); Solomon arranged for it to go into its proper place, the most holy place in the temple (8:1-11).

The altar in front of the most holy place was for incense. An altar is a table where priests burn gifts to God. Incense is a substance that burns with a sweet smell. The priests burned it every day (Exodus 30:34-38). The smoke from it formed a cloud in front of the most holy place.

Next part: The cherubim above the ark (1 Kings 6:23-28)


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