I Kings 6

 

           

                                           Solomon’s Temple (vs. 1-38)

 

 

The preparations for the building of the Temple having been related in the preceding

chapter, the historian now proceeds to describe the edifice. He begins his narrative

with a precise statement of the date of its erection (v. 1); then follows:

 

  • a description of the shape, size, and arrangement of the exterior (vs. 2-10), and

 

  • a detailed account of its internal fittings and adornments (vs. 15-35).

            The promise made to Solomon during its erection finds a place in vs. 11-13;

            while the vessels, etc., used in the Temple service are described in ch.7.

            A parallel though briefer account, and one differing considerably in its

            arrangement, is found in II Chronicles chapters 3 and 4.

 

The erection of this splendid sanctuary was no doubt the greatest event, both in Jewish

and Gentile eyes, in the history of the Holy City. It made Jerusalem what it had not been

till then, the religious capital. The stronghold of the Jebusites now became the shrine and

center of the Jewish system.   We find a sufficient indication, however, of the profound

importance which this undertaking assumed in Jewish eyes in the fact that four chapters

of our history — and three of them of considerable length — are occupied with an

account of the materials, proportions, arrangements, and consecration of this great

sanctuary. To the historiographers of Israel it seemed meet that every measurement of the

holy and beautiful house should be recorded with the greatest exactness, while the very

vessels of service, “the pots and the shovels and the basons,” were judged worthy of

a place in the sacred page.  But these careful and detailed dimensions are not only proofs

of the tender veneration with which the Jew regarded the Temple and its appointments;

they are also indications and expressions of the belief that this house, so “exceeding

magnifical,” was for the Lord, and not for man. These exact measurements,

these precise and symbolic numbers all point to a place for the Divine Presence.

Indeed the very names templum and te>menovtemenos - (aspace measured off)

are in themselves in some sort attestations to the ancient belief that the dignity of a

temple of the Most High God required that the length and breadth and height, both

of the whole and of its component parts, should be carefully recorded. It is this

consideration that explains a peculiarity of Scripture which would otherwise cause

some difficulty; viz., the detailed and repeated measurements, and the almost

rabbinical minuteness, not only of our author, but of Ezekiel and of the Apocalypse.

When a “man with a measuring reed” (Ezekiel 40:3, 5; Revelation 11:1; 21:15)

appears upon the scene, we are to understand at once that the place is sacred

ground, and that we are in the precincts of the temple and shrine of Jehovah.

 

At the same time it must be added here that, exact and detailed as is the description

of this edifice, it is nevertheless so partial, and the account is, perhaps necessarily,

so obscure as to leave us in considerable doubt as to what Solomon’s Temple was

really like. In fact, though “more has been written regarding the temple at Jerusalem

than in respect to any other building in the known world”, the authorities are not

agreed as to its broad features, while as to matters of detail they are hopelessly

divided. On one point, indeed, until recently, there was a pretty general agreement,

viz., that the house was “rectilinear and of box form.” But it is now contended that

this primary and fundamental conception of its shape is entirely at fault, and that its

sloping or ridged roof would give it a resemblance to the ark or to a tent. Nor have

we the materials to decide between these conflicting views; in fact, nothing perhaps

but drawings would enable us to restore the temple with any approach to accuracy.

“It is just as easy to portray a living man from a tolerably well preserved skeleton

as to reproduce a building in a way which shall correspond with reality when we have

only a few uncertain remains of its style of “Bibelwerk,” p. 49). And the difficulty is

enhanced by the fact that the temple was sui generis (unique, of its own kind). It was

purely Jewish, so that no information as to its structure and arrangements can be

derived from the contemporary architecture of Egyptians or Assyrians. In the absence

of all analogies restoration is hopeless. It is well known that all the many and varied

representations of different artists, based though they all were on the Scripture account

(Exodus 25:31-37) of the seven-branched candlestick, were found to be exceedingly

unlike the original, when the true shape of that original was disclosed to the world on

the Arch of Titus.  It is equally certain that, were a true representation of the temple

ever to be placed in our hands, we should find that it differed just as widely from all

attempted “restorations” of the edifice, based on the scanty and imperfect notices of

our historian and Ezekiel.

 

The mention of Ezekiel suggests a brief reference to the temple, which he describes

with so much precision and fullness in his fortieth and following chapters. What is its

bearing on the description we have now to consider?  Is it an account of the temple as

it actually existed in or before his time; is it a plan or suggestion for its restoration

(Grotius), or is it wholly ideal and imaginary? The first view, which long found favor

with commentators, and which has still some advocates, is now pretty generally

abandoned.  For while many of Ezekiel’s measurements correspond exactly with

those of our historian, and while it may be conceded, therefore, that this

delineation has a historical basis, there are features in the narrative which can never

have been realized in any building, and which prove the account to be more or less

ideal. For example. The outer court of his temple (Ezekiel 42:16-20) would cover

not only the whole of Mount Moriah, but more than the whole space occupied by

the entire city of Jerusalem, He speaks again of “waters issuing out from under

 the threshold” (Ezekiel 47:1), and flowing down eastward to heal the pestilent

waters of the Dead Sea, where a literal interpretation is manifestly impossible.

(I recommend Ezekiel 47 – Spurgeon Sermon – Waters to Swim In – this web

site – CY  - 2010)  And it is to be remembered that the prophet himself speaks

of his temple as seen in vision (Ezekiel 40:2; 43:2, 8). The true account of this

portraiture would therefore seem to be that, while it borrowed largely from the

plan and proportions of Solomon’s Temple, it was designed to serve as “the beau

ideal of what a Semitic temple should be” (Fergusson, Dict. Bib. 3. p. 1460.

In a paper in the “Contemporary Review,” vol. 27, p. 978, Fergusson adopts

the idea that it was designed to serve as a basis for the future restoration of the

temple.)  [I have heard that the Jewish state, resurrected in 1948, has the

materials ready for the new temple and that those materials are Bedford

stone – Since the Dome of the Rock, the second most holy Arab shrine

stands where the Temple once stood, the Jews are apparently waiting on

the action of God with an earthquake to tear it down before the rebuilding

{Zechariah 14, especially v. 4} – CY – 2010]

 

Two other authorities, whose accounts have a direct bearing on the sacred

narrative, must be mentioned here Josephus and the Talmudic tract on the

temple, called Middoth (i.e., measures). Unfortunately, neither is of much

avail for the illustration of the text we have now to consider. Josephus, too

often unreliable, would seem to be especially so here. “Templum

aedificat,” says Clericus, “quale animo conceperat non quale legerat a

Salomone conditum.” “Inconsistency, inaccuracy, and exaggeration are

plainly discoverable in the measurements given by Josephus” (Conder,

“Handbook to Bible,” p. 868). “Wherever the Mishna (oral traditions of

the Law) is not in accord with Josephus the measurements of the latter are

untrustworthy” (ib. p. 869).  The writers of the Mishna, again, refer generally,

as might be expected, to the temple of Herod, or confuse in their accounts the

three temples of Solomon, Herod, and Ezekiel (Bahr). The student of temple

architecture consequently derives but scant assistance in his work from the

writings of uninspired historians.

 

Perhaps this is the proper place to remark on the close correspondence

between temple and tabernacle. (See Fergusson, Dict. Bib. 3. p. 1455). In

the first place, in plan and arrangement the two structures were identical.

Each faced the east; each had three parts, viz., porch, holy place, and holy

of holies, while the side chambers of the temple (v. 5) were analogous to

the verandah formed by the projecting roof, or curtains, which ran round

three sides of the tabernacle. Secondly, the measurements both of the

whole edifice and of its component parts were exactly double those of the

tabernacle, as the following table will show: —

 

                                    Tabernacle cubits       Temple Cubits

 

Entire length ………………….40…………………80

Entire width …………………..20…………………40

Entire height ………………….15…………………30

Length of Holy Place …………20…………………40

Width ………………………..10………………….20

Height ………………………..10…………………20

Length of Holy of Holies ……...10…………………20

Width ………………………...10…………………20

Height ………………………...10…………………20

Width of Porch ……………….10………………….20

Depth ……………………….... 5………………….10

 

The only exception to this rule is that of the side chambers, which (on the

lowest story) were but five cubits wide, i.e., they were identical in width

with the verandah. It is held by some, however, that with the enclosing

walls, they were ten cubits. If this were so, it follows that here again the

same proportions are exactly preserved.

 

It will be clear from this comparison that the temple was constructed, not

after any Egyptian or Assyrian model, but that it preserved the features and

arrangement of the consecrated structure, the pattern of which was

showed to Moses in the Mount (Exodus 25:9, 40; Acts 7:44; Hebrews 8:5),

so that when “David gave to Solomon his son the pattern of the porch,”

etc.,  and the pattern of all that he had by the spirit” (I Chronicles 28:11-12),

the same arrangement and similar proportions were consciously or unconsciously

preserved. The temple differed from the tabernacle only so far as a large house

necessarily differs from a small tent.  It is also to be observed that every dimension

of the temple was either ten cubits — the holy of holies was a cube of ten cubits

or a multiple of ten, just as the dimensions of the tabernacle are either five cubits or

multiples of five. Now this decimal arrangement can hardly have been accidental.

Not only had the Jews ten fingers, but they had ten commandments, and a

system of tenths or tithes, and this number, therefore, was to them, no doubt, the

symbol of completeness, just as five was the sign of imperfection. The very

dimensions, consequently, of the house are a testimony to the perfections

of the Being to whose service it was dedicated.

 

Nor is the recurrence of the number three, though by no means so marked,

to be altogether overlooked. Considering its Divine original — that it was

made after the pattern of things in the heavens — it is not wholly unworthy

of notice that the building “had three compartments.… Each of the three

sides was flanked by an aisle formed of three stories, and the holy of holies

was of three equal dimensions” (Wordsworth). And if we cannot follow

him further and see any significance in the fact that the “length was 3 x 30

cubits, and the height 3 x 10,” we may still remember that this house was

built, though Solomon knew it not, to the glory of the Triune God. Bahr,

however, who also shows at some length how “the number three is

everywhere conspicuous in the building” (p. 54), accounts for it on the

ground that “three is in the Old Testament the signature of every true and

complete unit” (Was drei Mal geschieht ist das rechte Einmal; was in drei

getheilt ist ist eine wahre Einheit), so that practically three would signify

here much the same as ten — it would stand as “the signature of the

perfect unit, and so also of the Divine Being.”

 

One remark more may be made here, that in the temple or tabernacle

we have the archetype of the Christian Church. The correspondence is so

obvious as to strike the most casual observer. Porch, or steeple, nave,

chancel, altar, side aisles, these have succeeded to, as they were suggested

by, porch, temple of the house, oracle, mercy seat, side structure, of the

Jewish sanctuary. Just as Christianity is built on the foundations of Judaism,

 so has the Jewish temple furnished a model for the Christian; for, considering

how closely the early Church fashioned itself after the pattern of Judaism, the

resemblance can hardly be accidental.

 

1  And it came to pass in the four hundred and eightieth year after the

children of Israel were come out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth

year of Solomon's reign over Israel, in the month Zif, which is the

second month, that he began to build the house of the LORD.”  The chronicler

mentions the site (II Chronicles 3:1), “In Mount Moriah ....in the threshing floor

of Ornan,” etc. We know from the extensive foundations yet remaining that the

preparation of the platform on which the temple should stand must have been a

work of considerable time and labor, and see Jos., Ant. 8:3. 9, and Bell. Jud. 5:5.1.

 

2  And the house which king Solomon built for the LORD, the length

thereof was threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof twenty cubits, and

the height thereof thirty cubits.”  It thus appears that the temple was but a small,

compared with many churches, a very small — building. But its purpose and object

must be considered. It was not for assemblies of the people. The congregation

never met within it, but the worship was offered towards it. It was a place

for the Holy Presence, and for the priests who ministered before it.

3 And the porch before the temple of the house, twenty cubits was

the length thereof, according to the breadth of the house; and ten

cubits was the breadth thereof before the house.  4 And for the house he

made windows of narrow lights.  5 And against the wall of the house he

built chambers round about, against the walls of the house round about,

both of the temple and of the oracle: and he made chambers round about:

6 The nethermost chamber was five cubits broad, and the middle was

six cubits broad, and the third was seven cubits broad: for without

in the wall of the house he made narrowed rests round about, that the

beams should not be fastened in the walls of the house.”

                  

                                          Temple Sketch

The historian here digresses for a moment to speak of the remarkable and,

indeed, unprecedented way in which the temple was built, The stories were

shaped and prepared beforehand in the quarry, so that there was nothing to

do on their arrival in the temple area but to fit them into their place in the

building.

 

7   “And the house, when it was in building, was built of stone made

ready before it was brought thither: so that there was neither hammer

nor axe nor any tool of iron heard in the house, while it was in building.

8 The door for the middle chamber was in the right side of the house:

and they went up with winding stairs into the middle chamber, and

out of the middle into the third.  9 So he built the house, and finished it;

and covered the house with beams and boards of cedar.  10 And then he

built chambers against all the house, five cubits high:  and they rested on

the house with timber of cedar.  11 And the word of the LORD came to

Solomon, saying,  12 Concerning this house which thou art in building,

if thou wilt walk in my statutes,” - the connection of ideas seems to be

this, “Thou art doing well to build the house; thou art fulfilling my good

pleasure (II Samuel 7:13); if thou wilt go on and in other matters wilt

keep,” etc. It is to be observed that this promise contains a faint note of

warning.  Possibly Solomon had already betrayed some slight tokens of

declension -  “and execute my judgments, and keep all my

commandments to walk in them; then will I perform” - literally, confirm.

Same word as in ch. 2:3. The “word of the Lord” is the echo of the word of

David  - “my word with thee, which I spake unto David thy father:

 

13 And I will dwell among the children of Israel,” – The Lord assures

Solomon that He will occupy the temple - Jehovah Shammah”- “the

Lord is there” -  (Ezekiel 48:35).  The covenant relation shall be more firmly

established.and will not forsake my people Israel.”  (I recommend

Ezekiel 48 – Names of God – Jehovah Shammah by Nathan Stone

this web site - CY – 2010)

 

14 “So Solomon built the house, and finished it.  15 And he built the walls

of the house within with boards of cedar, both the floor of the house, and

the walls of the ceiling: and he covered them on the inside with wood, and

covered the floor of the house with planks of fir.  16 And he built twenty

cubits on the sides of the house, both the floor and the walls with boards of

cedar: he even built them for it within, even for the oracle, even for the most

holy place.  17 And the house, that is, the temple before it, was forty cubits

long.  18 And the cedar of the house within was carved with knops and open

flowers: all was cedar; there was no stone seen.  19  And the oracle he

prepared in the house within, to set there the ark of the covenant of the

LORD.  20  And the oracle in the forepart was twenty cubits in length, and

twenty cubits in breadth, and twenty cubits in the height thereof:”  (that is

to say a perfect cube - To the ancients the square seemed the most appropriate shape

to express the idea of moral perfection. The idea of the cube consequently was that

of entire completeness, of absolute perfection) - “and he overlaid it with pure

gold;” - [marg. shut up (from rg"s; clausit). Cf. Job 28:15 (Heb.) The same gold

is described as rwOhf; (Exodus 25:11) and bwOf (II Chronicles 3:8). It is called

shut up gold,” not because it was concealed (keime>lion), but because of the

exclusion of impure ingredients (Vulg. aurum purissimum). The lavish use of gold in

the interior of the temple — its weight 600 talents (75,000 lbs.), its value almost

incalculable — was not for mere display (for most of it was never seen except by the

priests), but was symbolical of light and purity Revelation 21:18), and stamped the

 place as the abode of Him who dwelleth in light  (I Timothy 6:16) -  In

addition to the gold, the house was garnished with precious stones (II Chronicles 3:6) -  

and so covered the altar which was of cedar.  21  So Solomon overlaid the

house within with pure gold: and he made a partition by the chains of gold

before the oracle; and he overlaid it with gold.  22  And the whole house he

overlaid with gold, until he had finished all the house: also the whole altar

that was by the oracle he overlaid with gold.  23  And within the oracle he

made two cherubims of olive tree, each ten cubits high.  24 And five cubits

was the one wing of the cherub, and five cubits the other wing of the cherub:

from the uttermost part of the one wing unto the uttermost part of the other

were ten cubits.  25  And the other cherub was ten cubits: both the cherubims

were of one measure and one size.  26  The height of the one cherub was ten

cubits, and so was it of the other cherub.  27  And he set the cherubims

within the inner house: and they stretched forth the wings of the cherubims,

so that the wing of the one touched the one wall, and the wing of the other

cherub touched the other wall; and their wings touched one another in the

midst of the house.  28  And he overlaid the cherubims with gold.

29 And he carved all the walls of the house round about with carved

figures of cherubims and palm trees and open flowers, within and without.”

While we are ignorant of the precise form and of the arrangement of these

ornamental carvings, we are not wholly in the dark as to their symbolism. For

everything in the temple, we may be sure, had a meaning.  Let us inquire, then,

into the significance of the cherubim, the palms and the flowers.

 

  • The Cherubim have been regarded by some as symbols of the invisible

            Godhead, by others as “representations of the heavenly spirits which

            surround the Lord of glory and set forth psychical life at its highest stage”

            (Keil); but it seems best to view them as symbols of all animal life,

            including the highest and perhaps not excluding the thought of Him who is

            the source and spring of life, the Anima animantium (cf. ch. 12:28). Hence

            they are spoken of as twYj"h" (Ezekiel 1:5,13,15) “the living

            things (compare ta< zw~a, Revelation 4:6, 8-9), and even as hY;j"h"

            the life” (Ezekiel 10:14-15) The cherubim consequently speak

            of the great animal kingdom before its Creator. “Creaturely being reaches its

            highest degree in those which have an anima, and among these, the lion,

            the bull, the eagle, and the man are the highest and most complete” (Bahr).

            These shapes, accordingly, were not inappropriate or unmeaning in a

            temple raised by the creature to the glory of the Creator.

 

  • Just as the cherubim speak of animal, so do the Palms of vegetable life.

            They are “the princes of the vegetable kingdom” (Linnaeus) “Amongst

            trees there is none so lofty and towering, none which has such a fair

            majestic growth, which is so evergreen, and which affords so grateful a

            shade and such noble fruits — fruits which are said to be the food of the

            blessed in paradise — as the palm” (Bahr), who also adds that it is said to

            have as many excellent properties as there are days in the year, and cites

            Humboldt as designating it the “noblest of plants forms to which the

            nations have always accorded the meed of beauty.” Judaea, he further

            remarks, is the fatherland of the palm, so much so that the palm in later

            days became the symbol of Palestine (as on the well known coin with the

            legend Judaea capta). The palms, therefore, tell of the vegetable world,

            and of Him who fashioned its noble and graceful forms.

 

  • And very similar was the testimony of the Flowers. “Flowers and bloom

            have been, from ancient times to our own, the usual symbols of lifefulness

            .... So then by the flower work, as well as by the cherubim and the palm

            trees, was the dwelling of Jehovah, which was adorned therewith,

            designated as an abode of life” (Bahr). On the earthly dwelling place of the

            Eternal, that is to say, were everywhere portrayed the various tokens of

            His Almighty power and goodness. And the significance of each is the

            same. “Thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are, and

            were created” (Revelation 4:11). They were graved] within and without.

            These words, here and in v. 30, are generally taken to mean “in the oracle

            and in the house.” But it is worthy of consideration whether they do not rather

            signify, “in the house and in the porch.” The latter was overlaid with gold

            (II Chronicles 3:4). It is doubtful whether ˆwOxyjil" on the outside, can be

            applied to any part of the interior, and here its application would be to the

            oracle

 

30 And the floors of the house he overlaid with gold, within and without.

31And for the entering of the oracle he made doors of olive tree: the lintel and

side posts were a fifth part of the wall.  32  The two doors also were of olive tree;

and he carved upon them carvings of cherubims and palm trees and open flowers,

and overlaid them with gold, and spread gold upon the cherubims, and upon the

palm trees.”   It is clear from v. 22 that all the house” blazed with gold in every part.

33  So also made he for the door of the temple posts of olive tree, a fourth part

of the wall.  34  And the two doors were of fir tree: the two leaves of the one

door were folding, and the two leaves of the other door were folding.  35  And he

carved thereon cherubims and palm trees and open flowers:  and covered them

with gold fitted upon the carved work.  36  And he built the inner court with three

rows of hewed stone, and a row of cedar beams.  37 In the fourth year was the

foundation of the house of the LORD laid, in the month Zif:  38  And in the

eleventh year, in the month Bul, which is the eighth month, was the house

finished throughout all the parts thereof, and according to all the fashion of it.

So was he seven years in building it.”

 

 

                                    ADDITIONAL NOTES  (V. 19)

 

                               The Ark of the Covenant of the Lord

 

This temple of Solomon, so “exceeding magnifical,” this “holy and beautiful house,”

of fame and glory throughout all lands” — why was it built? what its primary purpose?

It was above everything else a home for the ark (I Kings 8:1,6), a place for the

Divine Glory which hovered over it.  In this temple, unlike the shrines of Paganism,

there was no statue, no similitude of God. Here was no “image which fell

down from Jupiter” (Acts 19:35), no Baal or Asherah, no Apis or Osiris. We may

imagine how this would impress the Phoenician workmen. We know how it impressed

Pompeius and the Romans. There is deep significance in those words of the Roman

historian: Inania arcana, vacua sedes. Nothing but the ark. And this ark,

what was it? It was a coffer, a chest. It was nothing in itself; but it was

meant to contain something. It was the casket of a rare jewel. “There was

nothing in the ark, save the two tables of stone,” (ch. Kings 8:9). It

was the “ark of the testimony.” So that the temple was properly and

primarily the shrine and depository of the tables of the law graven with the

ten words,” “the words of the covenant” (Deuteronomy 4:13).  (The

purpose of the Ark of the Covenant was to contain inviolate, the Divine

Autograph of the two tables.  When the temple was completed and the

ark brought in, the effulgence of the Divine Glory was instantly manifested!)

 

Now we have just seen that the temple was the archetype of the Church:

we have seen, too, that everything in Judaism has its analogue in

Christianity. What, then, let us ask, was the significance of the ark? To

what does it correspond in the new dispensation?  In the Church, to nothing.

The “words of the covenant” are no longer kept in the dark. No; we now

inscribe them on our chancel walls. In the “sanctuary” of the Gothic church the

ten commandments are “writ large*’ for men to see.  But if Judaism was really the

outline of Christianity, then there must be something in Christianity answering to

that ark which was the core and center of the Mosaic system. Certainly. But it is

to be found, not in “temples made with hands,” but in those other “temples”

of the Christian faith, the bodies of believers, the temples of the Holy Ghost

 (I Corinthians 3:16; 6:19). The ark was the soul of Judaism. It may fittingly

represent the souls which Christ has redeemed. Temple, ark, tables of the

law — these severally correspond to the “body, soul, spirit” of the

Christian man. Within the temple was the ark; within the ark the tables.

Within the sw~ma soma - (body) is the yuch>; - psyche – soul - within the

yuch> the pneu~mapneumaspirit - Nor is this so fanciful as it seems. For

are not our bodies the “temples of the Holy Ghost”? And are not our hearts —

 i.e., our inmost being, our spiritual part (I Peter 3:4) — the fleshy tables on which

He writes His law? Yes, in the “new covenant” God writes His law in the heart,

and puts it in the inward parts (see Jeremiah 31:33; Ezekiel 11:19, 20;

II Corinthians 3:8). In the face of these scriptures, who can deny that the ark and its

tables have their analogues in the New Testament? Such, then, being the symbolism

and significance of temple, ark, and tables of law, what are their lessons? Among

others these:

 

  • That God dwells within us. No longer in temples made with hands, but

            with him that is of a contrite and humble spirit” (Isaiah 57:15). Did the

            Shechinah brood over the mercy seat? Not less truly does God’s Spirit

            dwell (Romans 8:9, 16) and witness with our spirit. Men say the Shechinah

            has left the world. On the contrary, It has enshrined Himself in the

            soul. “Christ in you” (Colossians 1:27); God dwelling in us (I John 4:12);

            this is the last best gospel of our religion. The Old Testament,

            Neander says, tells of a God who is for man. In the Gospels we hear of

            Emmanuel, God with man. But the Epistles speak to us of God in man.

 

  • That God writes His law upon us. We have seen that in the Church there

            is neither ark nor tables of stone. It is because there is no need of either.

            This is the age of that “new covenant” of which the prophet spoke, when

            the finger of God should write the law upon the spirit, and when the Bath

            Kol (a Divine voice that reveals the will of God) should speak within. The

            laws of our country are so voluminous that no man can hope to know or to

            remember them, and their “glorious uncertainty” is proverbial But God’s law

            is but one (Romans 13:9-10; Hebrews 8:10; 10:16); and that sweet and

            blessed statute the Spirit graves within us. Now observe:

 

  • The ark, led by God, conducted Israel to victory, and rest. In the

            journeyings of Israel the ark went before them (Numbers 10:33). At the

            Jordan it opened a way for them (Joshua 3:14-17). Before Jericho it led

            them on to victory (Ibid:  6:9-11). Even so the soul, guided and

            taught of God, passes safely through its pilgrimage, conquers its foes, and

            gains its heavenly rest. Let us yield ourselves to be “led by the Spirit of

            God” (Romans 8:14).

 

  • The ark, led by man, conducted Israel to disaster and defeat. When the

            Israelites, instead of following the ark, would lead it (I Samuel 4:3), it

            landed them in a “very great slaughter.” It proved to be no fetish (ask

            Joabch. 2:28-34), as they had hoped; it only led them to a shameful death.

            “It is one thing to want to have truth on our side; another to want to be on

            the side of truth” (Whately).  It is of no avail to have the commandments of

            God, unless we keep them; to know His will, unless we do it. And if we

            lean to our own understandings, the soul will make shipwreck. Reason, it is

            true, is “the candle of the Lord;” but revelation is the “lamp to our feet and

            the light to our path” (Psalm 119:105; Proverbs 3:5-6).

 

  • The ark, the pride of Israel, on two occasions became its plague. The

            men of Bethshemesh looked into it, and died. Uzzah put forth his hand to

            steady it, and was smitten for his error (II Samuel 6:7). [I recommend

            I Chronicles 13,15 Spurgeon Sermon  - The Lesson of Uzza – this

            web site - CY – 2010]  So the ark teaches the much needed lesson of

            reverence — reverence for God and the things of God. It also suggests

            that dishonor done to God, or disregard of His law, has a sure retribution.

            If we stifle our convictions or quench the Spirit’s light, the law written within

            may hereafter become the “instrument to scourge us.”  If I willfully keep

            my conscience in darkness and continue in errors which I might easily know

            to be such by a little thought and searching of God’s Word, then my

            conscience can offer me no excuse for I am guilty of blindfolding the

             guide which I have chosen and then knowing him to be blindfolded,

            I am guilty of the folly of letting him lead me into rebellion against God!

 

  • In the second temple there was no ark. A stone is said to have taken its

            place. The venerable relic of the wilderness life, the sacred chest, and its

            still more sacred contents, both perished in the sack of Jerusalem (II Kings

            25:9) May we not see here a lesson against impenitence? Over how many

            souls may Ichabod be written? (I Samuel 4:21-22) The ark of God is taken!

            The soul is led captive of the devil “at his will  (II Timothy 2:26) - The heart

            of flesh, the “fleshy tables” on which the Spirit loves to write, has given place

            to a heart of stone — a heart as cold, as hard, as senseless, as void of all

             grace and blessing as this stone which stood in the oracle in the room

            of the ark of the covenant of the Lord.

 

 

 

 

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