The Lord’s covenant faithfulness to Israel and David (2 Sam 7:12-16; 1 Kgs 3:6-7) established the foundation for the Golden Age of Israel. First Kings 7-9 records not only the outworkings of the Davidic covenant, including the completion of the temple and Solomon’s palaces, but also the dawn of Solomon’s fall. Ultimately, only Jesus Christ could fulfill the promise of an eternal king seated on the throne of David (Isa 9:7; Luke 1:30-33).
While Solomon’s palace was an impressive structure, composed of multiple buildings (1 Kgs 7:1-14), most of the author’s attention remained on the construction of the temple. When the temple was completed, Solomon dedicated it by bringing the ark into the most holy place and setting it beneath the wings of the cherubim (1 Kgs 8:6). The scene was magnificent: “When the priests came out of the holy place, the cloud filled the LORD’s temple” (1 Kgs 8:10; Exod 40:34-35). Solomon responded in praise before the congregation, recounting the Lord’s presence among His people from the exodus to the present moment—the time from whence the Lord would dwell among His people in the temple (1 Kgs 8:22-53).
When Solomon finished his petition, he turned and blessed the people (1 Kgs 8:54-66), exhorting them, “Let your heart be completely devoted to the LORD our God to walk in His ordinances and to keep His commands, as it is today” (1 Kgs 8:61). While the dedication ceremony was so glorious that it was almost beyond description, the author hints in 1 Kings 9 at the beginnings of Solomon’s demise. The Lord responded to Solomon’s prayer with more words of warning than blessing (1 Kgs 9:1-9). Solomon treated Hiram king of Tyre, who had done so much for him (1 Kings 5), with contempt (1 Kgs 9:10-14). Solomon forced foreign peoples to serve him and then went on to compel Israelites into service, resulting in a rebellion (1 Kgs 9:15-23; 1 Sam 8:10-18; 1 Kgs 12:4).
The Lord’s response to the construction of the temple (1 Kgs 9:1-7) is instructive for understanding the storyline of Scripture. The Lord told Solomon that if he would loyally follow the law then He would establish Solomon’s throne over Israel forever, just as He had promised David (2 Sam 7:12-16). But the Lord also warned Solomon that if he and his descendants rebelled and worshiped idols, “I will cut off Israel from the land I gave them, and I will reject the temple I have sanctified for My name” (1 Kgs 9:7). Solomon and his descendants did not obey, so the Lord disciplined Israel and Judah through the exile. From the days of Abraham to David, there had been enough occasional faithfulness that the Lord saw fit to bless His people, bring them out of Egypt, and plant them in Canaan. All hinged on Solomon and his descendants—and they failed.
It was thus fitting for the author of Hebrews to take up a phrase from Psalm 45, a poem written for the wedding of an Israelite king like Solomon, and apply it to the greater King, Jesus. In Psalm 45, a herald addressed the king as a god and noted the king’s special relationship with God, saying, “Your throne, God is forever and ever; the scepter of Your kingdom is a scepter of justice. You love righteousness and hate wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you, more than your companions, with the oil of joy” (Ps 45:6-7). In Heb 1:8-9, the author cited Ps 45:6-7 to contrast the temporary ministry of the angels who mediated the old covenant (Acts 7:38; Gal 3:19) and the eternal, permanent reign of Jesus Christ. While many in Israel viewed Solomon’s reign as part of an enduring and eternal earthly dominion, the author of Hebrews looked back on Israel’s history in light of Solomon’s failure and the exile. He concluded that only Jesus’ throne is eternal (Heb 1:8).