II Chronicles 5

 

 

The first verse of this chapter would have stood more fitly as the last verse

of the previous chapter. The narrative, that began with the preparations for

building the temple (ch. 2:18), and proceeded to the account of the building

itself, and the making of the various needed vessels chps. 3:1-v.1 here), now goes

on to recall and recount the dedication (v.2-ch. 7:10), enriching the parallel

(I Kings 7:51; 8:1-12) by our vs. 11 (partly), 12, and 13 — an enriching addition

not by any means of insignificant interest. Its coloring is rich, indeed, and

its sound the sound of true music.

 

1 "Thus all the work that Solomon made for the house of the LORD

was finished: and Solomon brought in all the things that David his

father had dedicated; and the silver, and the gold, and all the

instruments, put he among the treasures of the house of God."

The things that David… had dedicated; literally, Hebrew, the

holy things; i.e. the dedicate or set apart things of David. The temple

building, which had been commenced in Solomon’s fourth year, had

occupied seven years in construction (I Kings 6:1), but another thirteen

years in furnishing (ibid. ch. 9:1-2). The record of Chronicles is, of

course, in some respects somewhat more sketchy than that of Kings; and

the correct view of the chronology has in both writers to be sought and

read between the lines. It was when the house and “all the work designed

for the house of the Lord was finished,” that (v. 2) “Solomon assembled

the elders,” etc., and arranged for the solemn dedication; that is, when four

years of his reign, and seven years of building and thirteen years of

furnishing, etc., had elapsed.

 

 

Conclusion (v. 1)

 

“Thus all the work that Solomon made… was finished.” Better is the end

of some things than the beginning, though there are other things in which

the beginning is better than the end. It is matters of achievement in which

the end is so honorable and so desirable.

 

  • IT IS GROUND FOR CONGRATULATION. We may congratulate

ourselves and receive the good wishes of our friends that we have been

spared long enough in health and strength; that we have had patience to

endure all the vexations, skill and determination to surmount all the

difficulties, resolution to proceed in spite of all the disappointments that we

have been called to confront; that we have had the steadfastness of soul

that enabled us to pursue our aim until the goal was reached and the work

was done. The path of human life is strewn with failures, with abortive

attempts to do what was unattainable, with half-built towers which those

who began but were unable to finish (Luke 14:28-30); well will it be

for us if those who shall speak or write of us are able to record that we

finished what we took in hand. Persistency is a characteristic to be carefully

cultivated, and to be exemplified all through our life.

 

  • IT IS AN OCCASION FOR THANKFULNESS.

 

Ø      That we have been able to conclude any work on which we have set our

heart, if it be a right and worthy ambition we have cherished, is reason

enough for gratitude to God. For all bodily health, all mental faculty, all

moral vigor and capacity, have come ultimately from Him.

 

Ø      And if we have been able to do something that will last, we have

especial reason for thankfulness. What better thing can we hope for or

deserve than that we should be the means of effecting that which will be

speaking and working when our tongue is silent and our hand is still in

death? We should bless our God with peculiar fervor that He has thus

employed us; that, through His grace and power resting upon us and our

endeavour, we have so wrought that, when we are dead, we shall still be

speaking (Hebrews 11:4); that, perhaps, long years and even

generations after we have been forgotten, the work we did will be

imparting a blessing to the children of men, to heal, to comfort, to

enlighten, to renew.  (Of such, it can be said that Charles Haddon

Spurgeon, is so to me and many others!  CY – 2016)

 

  • IT MAY BE A SOURCE OF INSPIRATION. When Solomon

finished the building of the temple he had many years to reign; there was

abundance of strength and energy remaining in him to begin and finish

other works. And if we are rightly affected by what we have wrought, we

shall not say, “I have accomplished something; I will now take my ease and

spend my time in enjoyment.” On the contrary, we shall say, “I have

proved that it is in my power to do one good thing for my Master and my

fellow-men; I will commence another. I will still further trust the kindness

of my heavenly Father, and draw upon his resources with which to labor

and to persevere, until the end again crowns the work.” So the conclusion

of one solid achievement will be an inspiration to begin another, as it has

been in very many instances in the lives of the good and true.

 

 

Dedication, Permitted and Desired (v. 1c)

 

We have here:

 

  • THE DEDICATION WHICH GOD PERMITTED. God did not allow

David to build the temple, because he had been “a man of war, and had

shed blood” (I Chronicles 28:3); it was fitting that the house of the

Lord, the “God of peace,” should be built by a sovereign whose very name

spoke of peace, and whose reign was pacific. But God permitted David to

dedicate to the service of the temple the spoils he had taken in war. It was,

apparently, those spoils which he had taken from Syria, Moab, Ammon,

etc., after his successful battles, that he “dedicated unto the Lord,” which

Solomon now “brought in” (see II Samuel 8:9-12). But they do not

seem to have had the higher honor of being used in the services of the

temple; they were stored “among the treasures of the house,” only to be

occasionally brought out and admired. Some things there were which

might not, on any conditions whatever, be accepted as offerings to the

Lord. But these spoils were taken in wars which were honorably

conducted, and which at that time, in that twilight of history, were fought

out with a perfectly clear conscience; they might, therefore, be dedicated to

the Lord, and “put among the treasures” of the temple. We may be right in

carrying our trophies and depositing them in our churches and cathedrals,

but it is only by a gracious Divine permission that we can dedicate to Him

that which has been wrested from our brother’s hands by violence. This is

the lowest, the least precious and acceptable form which our dedication of

substance can take. We must look about for that which is worthier of

ourselves, more consonant with the peaceable and spiritual economy under

which we live, more pleasing in the sight of the Lord of love.

 

  • THE DEDICATION WHICH GOD DESIRES. There are three things

which our God not only allows us to dedicate to Himself, but desires that

we should do so:

 

Ø      Of the products of our peaceful industry. These may be in kind, as they

were, very largely, under Judaism — the creatures taken from flocks and

herds, or the produce of the field and garden; as they still are in semi-

civilized communities, in islands recently reclaimed from idolatry and

barbarism. Or they may be in current coin, in money. There is no precept

requiring Christian men to devote a particular proportion of their earnings

to the cause of Christ and man. But they are at liberty to do so; and if

they do this, freely, conscientiously, and in the spirit of gratitude and

attachment to the Person and the kingdom of their Lord, they do that

which will be acceptable to Him — a source of continual sacred

satisfaction to themselves, and a material contribution to the welfare

of others.

 

Ø      Of the culture of our faculties. We may dedicate to the cause of Jesus

Christ generally, and to the service of the house of the Lord particularly,

the trained power and skill we have acquired — in music and sacred song,

in oratory and persuasiveness, in architecture and ornamentation. But it

may be said, speaking more broadly, that our God is desiring and

demanding of us the dedication:

 

Ø      Of ourselves and our whole life. Our will, that it may be subjected to

His will; our heart, that its affection may be yielded to our Divine

Friend (“My son, give me thine heart” – Proverbs 23:26); our

understanding, that our mental powers may be exercised for the

glory of His Name and the furtherance of His kingdom; our days

and hours, that they may all be spent consciously in His presence,

and continuously in His service and honor. This is the true

dedication; and the little child that thus dedicates its powers and

days to the service of its Saviour may be doing more for God than

the royal king setting apart golden vessels to be “put among the

treasures” of the sanctuary.

 

2 "Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel, and all the heads of

the tribes, the chief of the fathers of the children of Israel, unto

Jerusalem, to bring up the ark of the covenant of the LORD out of 

the city of David, which is Zion."  Comparing the language of this and the

following verse with that used on the occasion of David’s bringing up of the

ark to Zion, found in II Samuel 6:1; I Chronicles chps. 13 and 15, some have

thought that a considerable difference of tone is perceptible, and that

indication is given of the intention, or at any rate a feeling, even if more or

less unconscious, on the part of Solomon, that times were ripe for a

demonstration, that should partake less of the enthusiasm of the mass, so far

as his own summons might be concerned, and more of the form and dignity

of the chief and representative men of the nation. This view can hardly be

pressed. The very word “wherefore” in v. 3 goes far to discredit it. And any

difference that may be apparent in the language is far more probably and

easily attributable to the old cause of the narrower, though more intense,

 interest of the writer of Chronicles.

 

3 "Wherefore all the men of Israel assembled themselves unto the

king in the feast which was in the seventh month." In the feast which… in the

seventh month; i.e. the Feast of Tabernacles. This commenced on the fifteenth

of the seventh month, named Ethanim (see I Kings 8:2). With this the festivals

of the sacred year closed.

 

4 "And all the elders of Israel came; and the Levites took up the ark."

The Levites. So see Numbers 4:15, 19-20, which, with our vs. 5, 7, throw this

statement into sufficient harmony with that of the parallel (I Kings 8:3), which

purports to say that the priests only, unaided by the Kohathite Levites, performed

the service.

 

5 "And they brought up the ark, and the tabernacle of the

congregation, and all the holy vessels that were in the tabernacle,

these did the priests and the Levites bring up."  In the parallel (I Kings 8:4),

the “and” in the last line of this verse does not need the italic type, but is found

in the Hebrew text, confirming our version of v. 4 foregoing. The tabernacle of the

congregation; or, tent of meeting, designs hero the tabernacle of Moses

from Gibeon (compare I Kings 3:4; I Samuel 21:6; I Chronicles 16:39-40;

here ch. 1:3), and not the tent of Mount Zion (II Samuel 6:17). This tabernacle,

then, and these holy vessels all, are carried into the new temple, as venerated

relics and sacred mementoes of a memorable past of vicissitude. But the ark

had still its ministry to perform (v. 7).

 

6 "Also king Solomon, and all the congregation of Israel that were

assembled unto him before the ark, sacrificed sheep and oxen,

which could not be told nor numbered for multitude."

King Solomon and all the congregation… sacrificed; i.e., of

course, with the intervention of their priests.

 

7 "And the priests brought in the ark of the covenant of the LORD

unto his place, to the oracle of the house, into the most holy place,

even under the wings of the cherubims:  8 For the cherubims spread

forth their wings over the place of the ark, and the cherubims covered

the ark and the staves thereof above." The wings of the cherubim (see

ch. 3:10). Their situation was by the west wall of the oracle (I Kings 6:16).

 

9 "And they drew out the staves of the ark, that the ends of the staves

were seen from the ark before the oracle; but they were not seen

without. And there it is unto this day." They drew out; i.e. the staves projected.

A similar intransitive occurs in Exodus 20:12. Were seen from the ark. The words,

“from the ark,” are here probably by misposition, and should follow the words,

the staves projected; while the parallel tells us what should be in their

place here, namely, “from the holy place” (I Kings 8:8). The confusion

and omission will merely lie with some copyists, for five manuscripts show

the words “from the holy place.” There it is unto this day. The parallel

(I Kings 8:8) reads, there they are unto this day,” i.e. the staves. In

either case, whether the ark or the staves were spoken of, the

memorandum is exceedingly interesting and noteworthy, as a patent bare

copy of an old record dating before the destruction of the temple, on the

part of whether the writer of Kings or Chronicles. Plainly the historian

touches ground, and shows us that we do also; for it is evident that, far

from cunningly devised fable, he has before him in either case an original

document.

 

10 "There was nothing in the ark save the two tables which Moses put therein

at Horeb, when the LORD made a covenant with the children of Israel, when

they came out of Egypt."  Nothing in the ark save the two tables (see

Deuteronomy 10:5; and Exodus 40:20; then 24:12; 25:16; 31:18;

32:19; 34:1, 4, 29; 40:20). The stones were therefore now, in Solomon’s

time, nearly four hundred and ninety years old. Why the “golden pot” and

“Aaron’s rod” (Hebrews 9:4) were not there does not appear. The

language of the Epistle is partially confirmed, at any rate in harmony with

Exodus 16:34; Numbers 17:10. Possibly they may have now been

removed by Solomon, but it seems very unlikely that, if so, no mention of

the removal is made. On the other hand, the “book of the Law” had not

been consigned to the ark, but to a place “by the side of” it (Deuteronomy

31:25-27).

 

11 "And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy

place: (for all the priests that were present were sanctified, and did

not then wait by course:"  The parallel (I Kings 8:10) shows the first half of

this verse and the last sentence of v. 13 to make its tenth verse. All between these

two is special to the present passage and to Chronicles. All the priests…

not by course; i.e. all of all the courses, twenty-four in number, instead of

only the one course on daily duty at the time (I Chronicles 23:6-32; 24:1-31).

Present; or, found more literally; that is to say, all who were not for

one cause or another out of reach (I Chronicles 29:17; Ezra 8:25).

The Hebrew word is the familiar הַגִּמְצְאִים.

 

12 Also the Levites which were the singers, all of them of Asaph, of Heman,

of Jeduthun, with their sons and their brethren, being arrayed in white linen,

having cymbals and psalteries and harps, stood at the east end of the altar,

and with them an hundred and twenty priests sounding with trumpets:) 

This verse, marked off in the Authorized Version in brackets,

is most graphic. First all the priests, who were not hors de combat, i.e. all

the “courses” of them together, thronged the arena; and now they are

joined by all the Levites who were singers, of them of Asaph, of

Heman, of Jeduthun (I Chronicles 25:1-31), i.e. twenty-four choirs in

one, with their sons and their brethren; and this collected choir is

arrayed in white linen; and they have three kinds of musical instruments —

cymbals (Psalm 150:5) and psalteries (or lutes) and harps (I Chronicles 16:5; 25:1);

and they take up their station at the east end of the altar, and still further a strong

support flanks these of a hundred and twenty priests sounding with trumpets

(I Chronicles 16:6). So ends our inopportune Authorized Version parenthesis.

But to what all this? It is a scene in a nation’s history, in the universal Church’s

history; it is witnessed from heaven, and by Heaven’s will recorded in the book

on earth, which will endure through all generations, as long as the sun and

moon endure, as ushering in the moment when, as described in the next

verse, to the unanimous fervent adoration and praise of man, God bent a

willing, gracious ear, and to earth the glory of heaven drew nigh. Cymbals.

The word used here (מְצִלְתַּים), denoting strictly “pair of cymbals,” occurs

eleven times in Chronicles, once in Ezra, and once in Nehemiah. Another

form of essentially the same word occurs once in II Samuel 6:5 and

twice in Psalm 150:5. This last passage notes two kinds of cymbals —

the “loud” and the “high-sounding.” It was the former of these that Asaph,

Heman, and Jeduthun used, and their use was probably to regulate or beat

the time (see Smith’s ‘Bible Dictionary,’ 1:375, 376; Conder’s ‘Handbook

to the Bible,’ p. 167, 2nd edit.). Psalteries (נֶבֶל). This word occurs

twenty-eight times in the Old Testament, but of these it is translated

(Authorized Version) four times as “viols” (Isaiah 5:12; 14:11;

Amos 5:23; 6:5); it is also once rendered “vessels of flagons

(Isaiah 22:24), but the margin offers the version “instruments of viols.”

While the cymbal was, of course, an instrument of percussion, the psaltery

was one of strings — its use was as an accompaniment to the voice. The

first mention of it is very interesting  (I Samuel 10:5). Compare also

David’s and Solomon’s psaltery in II Samuel 6:5; here in ch. 9:11.

Harps (כִּנּור). This word occurs forty-two times, beginning with

Genesis 4:21. Trumpets (חֲלֺצצְרָה). This word (including eleven of the

personal forms of it, as e.g. the person blowing the trumpet) occurs just

forty times, beginning with Numbers 10:2. It was the straight tuba, and

was not, therefore, the same with the ram’s-horn shaped buccina (שֹׁפָר),

generally rendered in the Authorized Version “cornet,” but sometimes

“trumpet;” the specialty of the cornet being to blow a sound for a signal or

summons of some sort, whether secular as in war, or sacred as for some

festival. The trumpets of our verse evidently (Numbers 10:8) were in a

particular sense the instrument of the priests.

 

13 "It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to

make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD;

and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals

and instruments of musick, and praised the LORD, saying, For He

is good; for His mercy endureth for ever: that then the house was

filled with a cloud, even the house of the LORD;"

It cannot but be that it was intended in this verse that attention

should be rivetted to the fact of the splendid consentaneity of all singers

and all musicians, of hearts and voices and instruments. The suggestion is

as significant as it is impressive, a suggestion to the Church of all time, and

supremely asking notice now. Even the house. The close of v. 14, as

also the parallel (I Kings 8:11 ), justifies the supposition that the

Septuagint showing the word δόξηςdoxaes – glory - guides us rightly in

restoring the word “glory” (כְבוד) here, in place of the word “house” (בֵּית).

For He is good (so I Chronicles 16:34; Psalm 136:1; here ch.7:3; Ezra 3:11).

 

 

Bringing in the Ark (vs. 2-13)

 

It was fitting enough that the ark which had been in the ancient tabernacle

should be brought with much ceremony into the new temple. It linked the

past and the future, and it associated two things which must be constantly

kept together. It suggests to us:

 

  • THE TRUE NATIONAL CONTINUITY. This was not found at all in

the permanence of one form of government, for that had passed from a

theocracy to a monarchy; nor was it found only or even chiefly in the

descent by blood of one generation from another; nor in the continuance of

the same social customs. It was found in:

 

Ø      the faithfulness of the people to the Lord their God;

Ø      the perpetuity of the national faith and, consequently, of

Ø      the national morals and habits of life.

 

The code of religious and ethical law which God gave to them through

Moses was to remain the statute law of the realm. (The attempt to remove

this code of religious and ethical law, in the United States of America,

has had disastrous consequences, under which we are suffering today,

and which our grandchildren, UNLESS THE LORD RETURNS,

will suffer greatly!  CY – 2016)  It was to be placed, on the most

solemn occasion, under the most striking and memorable conditions, in the

most sacred place of the sacred building in the holy city (vs. 7-10). The

nation that changes its faith is itself changed (Wherefore I will yet plead

with you,  saith the LORD, and with your children’s children will I plead.

For pass over the isles of Chittim, and see; and send unto Kedar,

and consider diligently, and see if there be such a thing.

Hath a nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods? but my

people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit.

Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid, be ye

very desolate, saith the LORD.  For my people have committed

two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters,

and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.

Jeremiah 2:10-13); it is not the same, BUT ANOTHER NATION!

 The people that remain loyal to their God and true to their ancient

convictions are the same people, however their institutions and customs

may be modified by “time and change.”

 

  • THE TWO GREAT COUNTERPARTS OF DIVINE SERVICE.

Much was made of the altar of sacrifice; indeed, the temple was the place

of sacrifice. There, and there only, could offerings be presented and sin be

expiated. But in the most holy place, beneath the “mercy-seat,” at the very

point where the blood was sprinkled on the great Day of Atonement, was

the ark which held the tables of stone; and on these was inscribed the

epitome of law, the demand for obedience. Sacrifice (or worship, as it is

now) and obedience are the two great complementary parts of the service

of God (see homily on ch.1:3-5).

 

  • THE BEST SERVICE OF WORLDLY DIGNITY. We learn (v. 2)

that “the elders of Israel, and all the heads of the tribes,” assembled on this

occasion; they lent the weight of their social dignity to it. They did well to

do this. There is nothing in which any kind of earthly distinction can be so

well engaged as in promoting the piety of the people, in attaching them

more firmly to their sacred principles, connecting them with and

committing them to the service of THE LIVING GOD!   Sad is it indeed

when rank uses its influence to undermine THE FAITH;  admirable and

honorable is it when exalted station spends its strength in advancing THE

DEVOTION and THE INTEGRITY OF THE PEOPLE!

 

  • THE JOYOUSNESS THAT BELONGS TO DIVINE WORSHIP. It

was surely right that the first act of worship associated with the temple

should be accompanied by a feast rather than by a fast (v. 3). It was right

that the choir should unite “in praising and thanking the Lord” (v. 13). In

the service of One to whom such ascription can be rendered as is offered to

the Lord (v, 13), the sound of holy gladness should be the prevailing note.

 

  • THE NEARNESS OF HUMAN APPROACH AND DIVINE

MANIFESTATION. (vs. 13-14.) Let us draw nigh unto God in praise

and prayer, and He will draw nigh unto us in the best proofs of His

presence, in the most valuable manifestations of His power and grace.

 

14 "So that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the

cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of God."

The priests could not stand to minister by reason of the

cloud (so Exodus 40:34-35).

 

 

The First Worship in the Finished Temple (vs. 1-14)

 

The homiletic matter of this chapter may be said to be one. For we are, in

fact, brought face to face with the central interest — the mystic presence,

and veiled glory of the tabernacle or temple, in connection with the outer

worship — the whole form of the outer worship of the Church visible of

God’s ancient people. This central interest means the ark — the ark of the

covenant; the ark, with its two Divine autograph tables of stone; the ark,

with the mercy-seat upon it, and its overshadowing guardian cherubim.

This ark is now to be installed in the place of long “rest” — long, though

indeed it ought to have been so much longer. We may notice:

 

  • In the first place, THE SOLEMN, SEDULOUS CARE with which “the

king, and all the heads of the tribes, and the chief of the fathers of the

children of Israel,” drawing upon their chastened memories of former

error, neglect, irreverence, and consequent disastrous punishment, brought

up from the city of David, even Zion, that ark by the hands and under the

strict escort of its proper conservers, viz. “the priests, the Levites.”

 

  • That the occasion was one observed and celebrated with UNTOLD,

UNNUMBERED SACRIFICES.

 

  • Looking into the real significance of the ark, so far as we can

determine it, we are called to notice THE TREMENDOUS SANCTION

IMPLIED IN THE COVENANT. The heads of a complete moral law for

all the world, WORLD WITHOUT END, are surely what is to be understood

to be written, in the handwriting of God, graven on those tables. The

covenant of mercy rests, and is based upon, these “observed and done.” From

the moment that the dawning impossibility of observing these takes any shape

(however dim to the merely self-trustful and self-confident), the prefigured

form of the cross, however dim it also be, begins to take shape. There are

countless sacrifices “before the king, before the ark” — they are all

speaking the “of necessity” (Hebrews 8:3) that arises out of the

significance of that ark, or rather of that which is embodied in it. No

wonder, then, that its ordained symbolizing of the Divine presence should

be so mysterious, so deep, yet ever, as a fact, so reverently asserted and

fenced. It is within the veil; it is in the most holy place; it is unseen,

unvisited except “once a year;” the cloud of awe and of glory, of darkness

and of radiancy, is its visitant; it is the consecrate site of the Shechinah,

before which a marveling and adoring people wait, gaze, bow down, “as

seeing the invisible” ONE!

 

  • Lastly, THE DEEP SATISFACTION that results to the Church of

God from a genuinely deep impression of His presence abiding in and with

it. It was when the full chorus of adoring praise and joyful devotion,

because of “the Lord and the ark of His strength having arisen into their

rest” (Psalm 132:8), resounded with leaping tumult of holy gladness,

that “the cloud filled the house,” and that “the glory of the Lord filled the

house.” All this was but the sensible projecting, for the earlier Church, of

the greater spiritual facts and realities with which the Church of modem

day is well acquainted, although it ought to be so much better acquainted

with them than it is.

 

 

          The Dedication of the Temple: The Bringing-in of the Ark. (vs. 1-14)

 

  • THE PREPARATION FOR THE CEREMONY (vs. 1-4.)

 

Ø      The completion of the temple furniture. The manufacture of the various

articles having been described in the preceding chapter, it is here briefly

recorded that the whole work which Solomon made for the house of the

Lord was finished — a happy illustration of the proverb, “Better is the end

of a thing, than the beginning thereof.” (Ecclesiastes 7:8). The work,

difficult and varied as well as laborious and costly, had been carried to a

successful termination, of how few human undertakings can this be affirmed!

 

Ø      The placing in the temple of the dedicated treasures. These were the

gold, silver, and brass David had taken from the nations he conquered; the

spolia opima he had piously consecrated to Jehovah, to be used for sacred

purposes (II Samuel 8:7-12; I Chronicles 18:7-11). So immense had

been the quantity of precious metal prepared beforehand by David for the

house of the Lord (I Chronicles 22:14,16), that it had not been all

used. What remained after the temple and its utensils had been constructed

was brought into the sacred edifice and lodged among the treasures of the

house of God, probably in one or more of the side chambers of the

building. An act of filial piety on the part of Solomon thus to respect the

will and purpose of his deceased father, who had designated, not a part

merely, but the whole of the just-mentioned wealth to the service of

Jehovah, it was also an example of strict conscientiousness on the

monarch’s part to abstain from either appropriating the surplus wealth to

himself or employing it for civil purposes. The money, given by David to

Jehovah, was Jehovah’s and not Solomon’s. Having been meant for the

service of Jehovah, it was not free to be diverted to other ends and uses.

Hence it was solemnly laid up among the treasures of the house of God.

 

Ø      The selection of a date for the ceremony. The time fixed was the Feast

of Tabernacles, which commenced on the fifteenth day of the seventh

month, called Ethanim in Hebrew, but in Aramaic Tisri. This was one of

the three principal religious festivals of the Jews (Exodus 23:14, 17).

Intended to commemorate the birth-night of Israel as a nation

(Leviticus 23:33-43), and the goodness of Jehovah to His people year

by year in giving them rain from heaven and fruitful seasons

(Deuteronomy 16:13-15), it was a period of special and intense

rejoicing. Commonly esteemed the greatest feast of the three, it was

sometimes spoken of as “the feast” (ch. 7:8-9), was usually

attended by large numbers of the people, and “was kept by the Hebrews as

a most holy and most eminent feast” (Josephus, ‘Ant.,’ 8:4. 1). It was thus

peculiarly appropriate for the dedication of the temple, in the successful

erection of which God’s goodness to the nation had culminated. In this

light, doubtless, it was regarded by Solomon, who observed it “splendidly

and magnificently” (Josephus, ‘Ant.,’ 8:4. 5), protracting it for twice seven

days, instead of eight as the Law enjoined, and himself feasting together

with his people before the temple. From a statement in I Kings 9:1-9,

that Jehovah appeared to Solomon in answer to his prayer of dedication

only after the erection of his palace, it has been inferred (Thenins, Keil)

that the dedication did not take place till thirteen years after the temple was

finished; but this, to say the least, is far from probable. Another unlikely

suggestion is that the Feast of Tabernacles referred to was that of the

eleventh year, i.e. of the year in which the temple was finished (Ewald,

Bertheau); but as the building was not ended till the eighth month of that

year (I Kings 6:38), the dedication must in this case have taken place

before the structure was completed. The best conjecture is that the date

was the Feast of Tabernacles in the following year (Bahr), which would

allow sufficient time for all necessary arrangements, in particular for the

step to be next mentioned.

 

Ø      The assembling of the peoples representatives in Jerusalem. As the

transportation of the ark from the city of David to Mount Moriah and its

permanent settlement in the temple was designed to be a national act, it

was requisite that the people’s official heads should be convened for that

purpose. Accordingly, the king issued orders that on the day fixed for the

momentous ceremonial, the fifteenth day of the seventh month of the

following year, “the elders of Israel, and all the heads of the tribes, the

chief of the fathers of the children of Israel,” should meet with him in the

capital. In answer to the royal summons, “all the elders of Israel came,”

“from the entering in of Hamath,” the northern boundary of Palestine,

“unto the river of Egypt,” its southern frontier. Few spectacles are more

impressive or becoming than that of a monarch and his people co-operating

in works that aim at the good of the commonwealth, and especially at the

advancement of true religion in the land.

 

  • THE STEPS IN THE CEREMONY (vs. 5-13)

 

Ø      The fetching of the ark from the city of David to the temple. This was

done by such of the Levites as were also priests (vs. 5, 7; compare I Kings

8:3), to whom on high occasions the duty belonged (Joshua 3:6; 6:6);

though, while the Church was in the wilderness, the task of bearing about

the sanctuary from station to station devolved upon the sons of Kohath,

who at the same time were charged not to touch any holy thing lest they

should die (Numbers 4:15). In David’s day also, when the ark was

brought from the house of Obed-edom to the city of David, the work of

carrying the sacred symbol was performed by the priests and Levites

(I Chronicles 16:1-15, especially vs. 9-36 – CY - 2016). Now, when it

required to be removed to its permanent resting-place on Mount Moriah, the

same religious officers were deputed to the honorable service of uplifting

and bearing it along. The city of David, the original Jebusite fortress

(II Samuel 5:7), lay upon Mount Zion, on the opposite side of the Tyropcean

valley from that on which the temple stood, the distance being probably about

three quarters of a mile. While one detachment of priests and Levites proceeded

to Mount Zion in search of the ark, it is probable that another went to Gibeon

for the old Mosaic tabernacle which still stood in that ancient city, upon which

Solomon had offered sacrifice in the beginning of his reign (ch. 1:3),

and which it was now desirable to fetch into one place with the ark. The

two companies, it may be imagined, arranged to meet at the temple gate —

the one with the ark of the covenant, to be established in the holy of holies

between the cherubim; the other with the sanctuary or tabernacle of the

congregation, with its sacred vessels, to be laid up in one or other of the

already mentioned side chambers of the house.

 

Ø      The offering of sacrifice before the ark in the temple court. Before the

sacred chest passed out of sight and into its sunless retreat within the veil,

this ceremony presided over by the sovereign, was carried through by

another company of priests, and in presence of “all the congregation of

Israel.” The sheep and oxen laid upon the altar could not be told for

multitude. The First Book of Kings and Josephus mention that the king

sacrificed twenty-two thousand oxen, and a hundred and twenty thousand

sheep. In any case, the offering was munificent, and corresponded to the

magnificence of the occasion. The monarch probably felt that Jehovah’s

grace to himself and his people demanded generous acknowledgment.

Compare David’s offerings on bringing the ark to Mount Zion (II Samuel

6:12-19) and Josiah’s on a similar occasion (here, ch. 35:7).

 

Ø      The placing of the ark in the holy of holies. While the blood of the

sacrificial victims was flowing in the outer court, the priests at a given

signal once more uplifted the symbol of Jehovah’s presence, and,

advancing with it towards the dwelling, passed in through the holy place,

entering the inner shrine and reverently setting it between the wings of the

colossal cherubim there erected. So immense were these figures that their

wings overshadowed both the ark and its staves. It is probable that the

staves were in the long side of the ark (Josephus, ‘Ant.,’ 3:6.5), and that

this ran from north to south of the holy of holies. As, moreover, the staves

were designed to be inseparable from the ark (Exodus 25:15), they

were not removed, but merely drawn out, perhaps two in each direction; or

they were so long (Revised Version), i.e. extended so far in each direction,

that their ends might be seen by one standing in the doorway or

immediately in front of the oracle, but not by one who stood without or at

a distance in the holy place. Thus located, the ark remained in its shrine

until the temple was destroyed. The phrase, “unto this day” (compare

I Kings 9:21; 12:19; II Kings 8:22), need only signify that the

Chronicler used a manuscript composed before the destruction of

Jerusalem, and deemed it unnecessary to alter words which were accurate

enough from the standpoint of the original writer. Whether the ark was at

any time borne before the Israeli armies to battle, as in the days of

Samuel (I Samuel 4:4), cannot be determined; but it seems to have

been removed from its place in the days of Manasseh, as it underwent a

kind of second consecration at the hands of Josiah, who, in the eighteenth

year of his reign, replaced it in the temple with imposing ceremonies (see

ch. 35:3). In Solomon’s time the ark contained nothing but

the two tables of stone, which Moses put therein at Horeb. There is no

reason to suppose it ever contained aught else, the golden pot and Aaron’s

rod (Hebrews 9:4) having been originally appointed to be laid up before

the Lord (Exodus 16:33), and before the testimony (Numbers 16:10),

not necessarily inside the ark.

 

Ø      The giving of thanks before the altar. On emerging from the holy place

into the court, the priests united with the rest of their brethren, and the

Levites who were singers, in raising an anthem of praise to Jehovah, who

had enabled them to carry forward their work to a successful termination.

The whole body of the priesthood were present, the divisional

arrangements made by David (I Chronicles 24:3), by which they waited

in turns, having been suspended, and the entire force consecrated for the

occasion. The Levites, marshaled according to their families, the Asaphites

on the right, the Hemanites in the center, the Jeduthites on the left, each

with their sons and brethren, were arrayed in byssus, or white linen — a

dress not prescribed by the Law for the singers, but not forbidden

(Bertheau) — and furnished with cymbals, trumpets, and other instruments

of music (compare I Chronicles 25:1). The priests, a hundred and twenty in

number, and the Levitical singers, probably two hundred and eighty-eight

(ibid. v. 7), standing on the east of the great altar of burnt offering, while

the trumpets, cymbals, and other instruments discoursed what was meant

to be melodious music with one voice, praised and thanked the Lord, saying,

“For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever.” Compare the jubilation

of David on fetching the ark from the house of Obed-edom (I Chronicles

15:28).

 

  • THE CONCLUSION OF THE CEREMONY. (vs. 13-14.) “The

house was filled with a cloud, even the house of the Lord;” and again, “the

glory of the Lord had filled the house of God;” concerning which may be

noted:

 

What this was. The phenomenon which now occurred was manifestly the

same which had taken place on the completion of the tabernacle (Exodus

40:34). The cloud was not the “bright and streaming cloud” called by the

rabbins the Shechinah (Thenius), nor was the “glory of the Lord” the same

thing as the “cloud” (Bahr); but the “glory of the Lord” was the beaming

radiance of fire (Exodus 24:16), the resplendent appearance of light with

which, as a heavenly Being, Jehovah is surrounded (Exodus 3:2; 13:21);

the “cloud” was the robe of darkness in which that “glory” was wrapped,

and by which it was veiled from mortal sight (Exodus 19:9, 16; Leviticus

16:2).

 

Ø      What it signified.

 

o        That Jehovah graciously accepted the finished structure which had been

laboriously prepared for His dwelling, as formerly He had accepted the

tabernacle at the hands of Moses and his contemporaries (Exodus

40:34), and as He still accepts at the hands of His believing people

their works of faith and labors of love (Hebrews 6:10).

 

o        That God would condescend to establish in it His presence, as of old

He had done in the tabernacle, and as afterwards He would do in the

temple of Christ’s humanity (John 1:14), yea, as He still does in

hearts that open to receive him (II Corinthians 6:16).

 

o        That God would considerately accommodate the manifestations of

himself to the feebleness and imperfection of His worshippers, then

as in the days of Moses, coming to them in a cloud as He did to the

Church in the wilderness, as in the fullness of the times He came to

men in the Person of His Son, with glory veiled and majesty

concealed, and as He still reveals Himself to His worshippers,

according to the measure of their capacities (Ephesians 4:7),

and in every instance “through a glass, darkly” (I Corinthians 13:12).

 

Ø      When it happened.

 

o        When the priests had come out of the holy place. “This is the way of

giving possession. All must come out, that the rightful Owner may

come in. Would we have God dwell in our hearts? We must leave

room for Him, let everything else give way” (Matthew Henry).

 

o        When the priests and Levites had arranged themselves at the east end

of the altar. The choice of this as their situation, probably dictated by

local convenience, was nevertheless significant. It symbolized that only

on the basis of sacrifice, or through the mediation of atoning blood,

could either men come to God or God approach to men (Hebrews 9:7,

22; 10:19).

 

o        When the whole company were of one mind. This also an

indispensable preliminary to either Church or individual receiving a

Divine visitation. The Church of Pentecost was of one accord when it

obtained the baptism of the Holy Ghost (Acts 1:14; 2:1). Being pre-

eminently the God of peace (Romans 15:33; II Corinthians 13:11;

I Thessalonians 5:23; Hebrews 13:20), and having called His people

to peace (I Corinthians 7:15), God cannot dwell either in the midst of

communities (sacred or civil) that are torn by strife and marred by

faction, or in the hearts of individuals that are distracted by care or

divided by worldliness.

 

o        Whilst the anthem was ascending. At the moment the trumpeters and

singers were engaged in thanking and praising God for His goodness

and mercy. That showed the proper attitude of soul for all true

worshippers, and in particular for such as are expectant of favors.

Faith in the Divine existence and Divine goodness there must be

(“But without faith it is impossible to please Him:  for he that

cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder

of them that diligently seek Him” - Hebrews 11:6), but gratitude

for past mercies is no less indispensable (Philippians 4:6).

 

Ø      How it operated. “The priests could not stand to minister by reason of

the cloud” (compare ch. 7:2). It inspired them with awe, filled them

with such fear as became sinful creatures in the presence of a holy and a

jealous God (Exodus 40:35; Leviticus 16:2; Deuteronomy 4:24). Thus it

symbolized the reverence that ought to characterize all who

venture before Him, whether in the public or private exercises of religion

(Psalm 33:8; 89:7; Hebrews 12:28; I Peter 1:17). Christ’s disciples on the

Mount of Transfiguration feared when they entered into the cloud

(Luke 9:34). Then it hindered their ministrations in the holy place.

In this respect it served as an emblem of the dark dispensation under

which they lived (II Corinthians 3:13-14), in comparison with which

that of the New Testament is a dispensation of light, as well as of those

obstructions arising from imperfect knowledge (I Corinthians 13:12)

which still hamper the worship of believers in the heavenly places of the

Christian Church.

 

  • LEARN:

 

Ø      The importance of order in all things connected with religion

(I Corinthians 14:40).

Ø      The settlement of religious ordinances in a country a true occasion of joy.

Ø      The high place assigned to music, vocal and instrumental, in Divine

worship (Ephesians 5:19).

Ø      The highest theme of praise for either Church or saint — the goodness

and grace of God.

Ø      The true glory of land and people, of state and Churchthe indwelling

in both of the Divine glory (Psalm 85:9).

 

 

 

 

 

     God’s Glory in the Sanctuary: Church-opening sermon (vs. 13-14)

 

Profoundly subdued and solemnized indeed must those worshippers have

been on this great occasion. When, in the presence of the sovereign and of

all the elders of Israel, the priests brought the ark of the covenant into its

place, into the holy of holies; when they reverently withdrew from that

innermost sanctuary, which was only to be entered once in the year by the

high priest only; and when, amid the sound of many trumpets and the loud

voice of sacred song, the sanctuary was suddenly filled with that luminous

cloud which symbolized and assured the presence of JEHOVAH; — the

supreme moment had arrived in the history of the sacred building: “for the

glory of the Lord filled the house of God.” If we ask the question — When

may it be truly said of our Christian sanctuaries that “the glory of God has

filled” them? we should say it is when:

 

  • GOD’S PRESENCE IS REALIZED BY THOSE WHO WORSHIP

WITHIN THE HOUSE. When they who meet one another there are

profoundly conscious that they have come to meet God; that the Lord of

all power and truth and grace is present in the midst of them — as truly,

though not as manifestly, present as He was in the temple when “the house

was filled with a cloud.” It is a deep and strong sense of God’s nearness to

us that makes that to be “holy ground” on which we stand.

 

  • GOD’S SPIRITUALITY IS RECOGNIZED AND HONOURED. God

is glorified when he is truly and acceptably worshipped by His human

children. And He is thus worshipped when:

 

Ø      He is approached and honored as a Divine Spirit (John 4:23-24;

Philippians 3:3);

Ø      worship is essentially and predominantly spiritual;

Ø      the service is not merely or mainly that of the lip or the hand,

but of the mind, of the heart, of the will; of the intelligent,

fervent, determining spirit; and

Ø      prayer and praise and “inquiry” (Psalm 27:4) are the devout

actions of the soul.

 

  • GOD’S NATURE AND CHARACTER ARE PRESENTED IN

THEIR FULNESS. When He is not represented in a way that is needlessly

and culpably partial and misleading, but when He is made known with the

fullness with which He has revealed Himself to us; when the message that is

declared concerning Him is that “God is light, and in Him is no darkness at

all,” and also that “God is love,” love being the chief, the commanding, the

crowning feature of His character; when He is presented as the Author of

law, and also “the God of all grace” (I Peter 5:10); and “the God of our

salvation” (Isaiah 12:2); when He is made known as the Divine One, who

punishes all iniquity (both in the body and in the spirit), and who also pardons

sin and restores the offender to His favor and His friendship; when not only

the grandeur of His holiness, but also the glory of His goodness (Exodus

33:19) are upheld before the eyes of men; when He is preached as the universal

Sovereign, holding all hearts and lives in His control, and also as the Divine

Father, deeply interested in all His children, and seeking their return to His

likeness and to His home; — then the “glorious God” is seen by those who

have “eyes to see” the highest and the best.

 

  • GOD’S GRACIOUS POWER IS MANIFESTED.

 

Ø      When, in thePerson and by the power of His Divine Spirit

He takes possession of the mind and heart of those who are

gathered in His presence;

Ø      when He thus inspires the teacher who speaks in His Name,

Ø      when He quickens and animates the hearts of His people,

Ø      when He renews the will and regenerates the spirit of those who

entered His house unreconciled to His rule.

 

This, His gracious action, is that manifestation of His glory which we should

most eagerly desire and should most diligently seek; it is to be found by purity

and prayer (see Matthew 5:8; I Corinthians 3:16; 6:19; Luke 11:13).

 

 

 

 

 

 

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