In 2 Chronicles 1 we are told that Solomon, early in his reign, worshiped at a high place. Verse 3 reads, “Solomon and the whole assembly went to the high place at Gibeon, for God’s tent of meeting was there, which Moses the LORD’s servant had made in the wilderness.”
The text is clear that the reason Solomon worshiped at this high place was that the tabernacle (also called the tent of meeting) was located there. This was the same tabernacle that the children of Israel, under Moses’ leadership, had constructed in the wilderness many years previously. Prior to the construction of the Jewish temple in Jerusalem, the tabernacle was the place God had chosen for worship.
In fact, King David had previously worshiped the Lord at this high place in Gibeon. First Chronicles 16:39 notes, “David left Zadok the priest and his fellow priests before the tabernacle of the LORD at the high place in Gibeon.” With the tabernacle was the altar of burnt offering (see 1 Chronicles 21:29).
While in Gibeon, “Solomon went up to the bronze altar before the LORD in the tent of meeting and offered a thousand burnt offerings on it” (2 Chronicles 1:6). That night, the Lord appeared to Solomon and offered to give him anything he requested. When Solomon requested wisdom, God promised to give it to him, along with vast wealth, possessions, and honor (verse 12).
In 2 Chronicles 2, Solomon prepared to build the Jewish temple as a place for his people to worship the Lord. First Kings 6:38 notes that construction of the temple took seven years to complete. Once the temple was finished, Solomon had the tabernacle and the Ark of the Covenant placed inside the temple, and from then on the temple was the place for Jewish worship.
Though Solomon later was led astray into idol-worship by his many wives, his experience in 2 Chronicles 1 of worshiping at a high place was a noble one that God honored. It was only after the temple was completed that Gibeon was no longer considered a place to worship the Lord.
After Solomon’s time, many wicked kings of Israel used “high places” for worshiping false gods. For example, King Jehoram of Judah “built high places on the hills of Judah and . . . caused the people of Jerusalem to prostitute themselves and . . . led Judah astray” (2 Chronicles 21:11). In most contexts, high places are associated with false worship. However, in Solomon’s worship at the high place in Gibeon, he worshiped at the tabernacle and presented offerings to the Lord God.