In a letter addressed to Hiram, king of the nearby region of Tyre, Solomon wrote:
And the temple which I build will be great, for our God is greater than all gods. But who is able to build Him a temple, since heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain Him? Who am I then, that I should build Him a temple, except to burn sacrifice before Him? (2 Chronicles 2.5-6)
With the copious provisions his father had collected along with further materials he prepared from surrounding regions, “Solomon began to build the house of the LORD at Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the LORD had appeared to his father David, at the place that David had prepared on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. And he began to build on the second day of the second month in the fourth year of his reign” (2 Chr. 3.1-2; cf. 1 Chr. 21.28-22.4). Hiram, king of Tyre, sent his master craftsman, Huram, to aid Solomon in the fine metal work, cloth work, and engraving which decorated the Holy House (2.13-14).
Solomon’s structure surely outshone every other earthly temple, as the details in chapters 3-4 suggest. Many have constructed replicas and models of this temple based on the details found here, and I encourage you to check out some online pictures and videos (for example, this one and this one) to get a feel for it’s grandeur.
When Solomon dedicated the Temple, he first performed a ceremony to dedicate the Ark of the Covenant, which David had brought into Jerusalem many years previous. The priests placed the Ark in the Most Holy Place under the wings of two giant cherubim.
For the cherubim spread their wings over the place of the ark, and the cherubim overshadowed the ark and its poles. The poles extended so that the ends of the poles of the ark could be seen from the holy place, in front of the inner sanctuary; but they could not be seen from outside… Nothing was in the ark except the two tablets which Moses put there at Horeb, when the LORD made a covenant with the children of Israel, when they had come out of Egypt. (2 Chr. 5.7-10)
As the priests sang and played music with cymbals, stringed instruments, harps, and trumpets, “the house of the LORD was filled with a cloud so that the priests could not continue ministering because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled the house of God” (2 Chr. 5.13-14). What an awesome sight!
But God wasn’t finished displaying His glory. Solomon continued with a dedication ceremony for the entire Temple, during which he prayed an amazing prayer asking God to remain in the Temple and always hear His people when they prayed towards the Temple in repentant, trusting faith. In His prayer, Solomon recognized that God alone knows the hearts of the sons of men (6.30) and that there is no one who does not sin (6.36). Again and again he petitioned, “When they return to you with all their heart…may You hear…and when You hear, forgive.”
When Solomon had finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the LORD filled the temple. And the priests could not enter the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD had filled the LORD’s house. (7.1-2)
They responded with praise:
“For He is good,
For His mercy endures forever.” (7.3)
“So the house of the LORD was completed” (8.16).