Useful Bible Studies > 1 Kings Commentary > chapter 8

What did the ark of the covenant contain?

1 Kings 8:9

We have often described the ark of the covenant as the box that contained evidence of God’s covenant (relationship) with Israel. We shall now discuss what that evidence was.

The Bible mentions various objects in connection with the ark and the most holy place of God’s house, the temple (Hebrews 9:4). There was a jar of manna, the food that God provided for his people in the desert. There was Aaron’s staff, the stick that showed God’s choice of Aaron’s family to be his priests (Numbers chapter 17). The proper place for those objects was in front of the ark (Exodus 16:33-34; Numbers 17:10). Similarly, God told Moses to put the book of God’s law at the side of the ark (Deuteronomy 31:26).

So, the only objects that were actually inside the ark were two flat pieces of stone, usually called tablets of stone. On them were the 10 commands that God gave to his people (Deuteronomy 5:6-22). In those commands, God expressed his whole law in a very brief but clear manner. They explained the standards by which Israel’s people, as the people of God, should live.

God himself had written the commands on those tablets. He then gave them to Moses, to take to the people.

However, Moses broke the original tablets because Israel’s people were already not living by God’s standards (Deuteronomy 9:11-17). So God directed Moses to make the ark and two more stone tablets. On those tablets, God again wrote his commands. He then directed Moses to keep the new tablets of stone in the ark, and there they remained (Deuteronomy 10:1-5).

Next part: The cloud of God's glory (1 Kings 8:10-11)


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