II Chronicles 6

 

 

The first thirty-nine verses of this chapter (less the thirteenth) correspond

very closely with the thirty-eight verses of the parallel that run I Kings

8:12-50. For once also the two places are in closer accord in the original

than might be augured from our English Version. Our thirteenth verse is

not found in the parallel, and this fact, with the phenomenon of its presence

here, will be considered under the verse when we reach it. The chapter

consists of:

 

  • first, Solomon’s remarks addressed to his people (vs. 1-11); and
  • secondly, the prayer and intercession he offers to God (vs. 14-42).

 

1 “Then said Solomon, The LORD hath said that He would dwell in

the thick darkness.”  In the thick darkness; Hebrew, מַּעֲרַפֶל. The Lord had said

this in so many words, and also by not a few practical examples

(Leviticus 16:2; Exodus 19:9; 24:16; 25:22; 40:34-35). This thing

which He said, and did, even while really instructing, after the manner of

special revelation, a specialized people, is essentially what HE EVER HAS

SAID, AND EVER IS DOING in all time, in all the world, and in all nature and

providence. It is a fact and it is necessary that His glory be for the present

veiled in “clouds and darkness” (Psalm 97:2; 18:11).

 

 

God, the Incomprehensible One (v. 1)

 

What is the historical reference? Is it to the luminous cloud that shone

between the cherubim? or is it not, rather, to the Divine manifestation, on.

Mount Sinai, of which God had said, “I will come unto thee in a thick

cloud” (Exodus 19:9)? God “dwells in the light which no man can

approach unto” (I Timothy 6:16), and this is the same thing; for the

dazzling light is to us as the darkness. As our eye is constituted to receive

no more than a certain degree of light, so our mind is created to receive no

more than a measure of truth. And this is markedly and manifestly true of

our knowledge of God. He is THE INCOMPREHENSIBLE ONE, whom

we “cannot find out,” whose “ways are unsearchable.”  (Romans 11:33)

This is true of:

 

  • THE DIVINE NATURE. Of His eternity, of His infinity, of His

sovereignty, and of His omniscience, taken in connection with our human

liberty, how little can we comprehend! How soon do we find ourselves

beyond our depth, involved in difficulties which are hopelessly insoluble!

 

  • HIS REVELATION OF HIMSELF IN JESUS CHRIST. “His rich, his

free redemption” is, as has been said or sung, “dark through brightness.”

Jesus Christ is distinctly and pre-eminently the Revelation of God to man.

Yet is there in the connection of His Sonship of God with his Sonship of

man a mystery which baffles us. How One equipped with Divine power and

wisdom as was Jesus the Christ could “grow in wisdom” as well as in

stature, is dark and impenetrable to our understanding.  (Luke 2:52)

 

  • HIS RULING OF OUR RACE. Why did God allow forty centuries of

sin and strife, of superstition and sorrow, of darkness and death, to pass

away before he sent His Son into the world to be its Light, and to redeem it

from its ruin?

 

  • HIS DIRECTION OF OUR INDIVIDUAL LIVES. How is it, we

wonder, that God allows certain things to happen which (as it seems to us)

are certain to be so injurious in their effects? how is it that He does not act

in a way which would (as we are convinced) be fraught with so much

blessing? Events in the lives of others or in our own lives are often so

different from, so contrary to, what we should expect at the hand of One

who rules in wisdom, in faithfulness, in love. Consider:

 

Ø      How inevitable it is that this should be so. The feeble-minded and

uncultured man completely fails to understand his gifted and educated

brother; the little child completely misunderstands his father; nay, he thinks

his father unwise, unjust, or unkind in those very things in which that father

knows himself to be most wise, most just, most kind. And what is the

difference which separates human ignorance from human wisdom when

compared with that which separates us from God?

 

Ø      We may reasonably hope that this will gradually lessen, though they can

never disappear. As we pass on in life, we understand more of God’s

character and His ways. When we shall receive that glorious enlargement of

spiritual faculty for which we look and long, we shall know God as the best

and wisest do not know Him here. But we rejoice to think that, in the

remotest future to which our imagination can look forward, we shall still be

inquiring and gaining knowledge of our heavenly Father.  (That is the way

we will spend eternity! – CY – 2016)

 

Ø      How much we know now that is of the greatest practical value. We

know that God is One who is a Spirit even as we are, but sinless and

Divine; that He is perfectly holy, wise, faithful, kind; that He is accessible to

our prayer, and is not only ready but eager to receive us again into His

favor; that He is a Father who is tenderly interested in ALL His children,

and who responds to the filial love and obedience of those who seek to serve

Him; that He is pleased with an endeavor to do and bear His will; that He is

seeking and outworking our spiritual, our eternal well-being. This is

enough for:

 

o        the highest ends of our existence,

o        the restoration of our soul,  and

o       for the ennoblement of our character.

 

2 “But I have built an house of habitation for thee, and a place for thy

dwelling for ever.”  Solomon’s words now address themselves to God. For ever.

These words refer rather to the permanence and stationariness of the

temple as the dwelling-place of the ark. and the mercy-seat and cherubim,

and all that symbolized and invited the Divine presence, than design any

prophecy of length of time. They contrast with the wandering people, and

wandering worship and sacrifices, and wandering tent and tabernacle with

all their sacred contents (Psalm 68:16; 132:14; I Chronicles 22:10; 28:6-8;

II Samuel 7:5-16).

 

3 “And the king turned his face, and blessed the whole congregation

of Israel: and all the congregation of Israel stood.”  Reading between the lines,

this verse shows us that the face of Solomon had been turned to the symbol of

God’s presence, while he addressed to Him the words of our second verse, since

he now faces round to the assembly of the congregation. What words Solomon

used in thus blessing the whole congregation are not given either here or in the

parallel. The impression one takes is that the blessing was, in fact, wrapped up

tacitly in all that Solomon recounts, when he said, Blessed be the Lord

God of Israel, etc. (v. 4). However, it is not impossible that, with the

variation of the tense in v. 59, the verses of I Kings 8:55 - 61 may

contain the substance of it, if not itself.

 

4 “And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Israel, who hath with

His hands fulfilled that which He spake with His mouth to my father

David, saying,” (See II Samuel 7:4-17; I Chronicles 11:2; 17:4-14.)

With His hands,… with His mouth. Expressions like this, antithesis and

all, remind how language formed itself in the concrete mold at first, from

that, ever becoming more abstract as time grew. The ampler language of

later date would be, Who hath indeed fulfilled that which He spake.

 

5 “Since the day that I brought forth my people out of the land of

Egypt I chose no city among all the tribes of Israel to build an

house in, that my name might be there; neither chose I any man to

be a ruler over my people Israel:” I chose no city,… neither chose I any

man. The tabernacle and all it contained had but traveled from place to place,

and rested at temporary halting-places; and from Moses’ time all the leaders

of the people Israel had been men in whom vested no permanent and no

intrinsic authority (I Samuel 16:1-15; II Samuel 24:18-25).

 

6 “But I have chosen Jerusalem, that my name might be there; and

have chosen David to be over my people Israel.”  (See again references of

preceding verse, and II Samuel 7:8; Psalm 78:70.)

 

7 “Now it was in the heart of David my father to build an house for

the name of the LORD God of Israel.  8  But the LORD said to David my

father, Forasmuch as it was in thine heart to build an house for my name,

thou didst well in that it was in thine heart:  9  Notwithstanding thou shalt

not build the house; but thy son which shall come forth out of thy loins, he

shall build the house for my name.”  (So II Samuel 7:2, 10-16; I Chronicles

22:9-10; 28:2-7.)

 

The Worth of a Wish — the Estimate of Christ (vs. 7-8)

 

“David did well in that it was in his heart” to build a house for the Lord.

The purpose of his heart, though it “lost the name of action,” was

acceptable to the God he served. Almost everything, in the estimate of Him

who trieth the reins and the heart,” depends on the motives by which we

are inspired. Hence we may speak of:

 

  • THE WORTHLESSNESS OF SOLOMON’S EXECUTION APART

FROM THE EXCELLENCY OF HIS MOTIVE.   That building now

complete (at the time of the text) was very grand, very costly, very beautiful;

it was very elaborate in its workmanship; it was very complete in all its parts;

it lacked nothing that treasure and time, that skill and strength, could furnish.

But, supposing that Solomon had done everything with the one desire to

signalize his reign over Israel, his execution would have counted for much

among men, but it would have weighed nothing at all with God. It would not

have advanced him by one step in the favor of the Most High. We need not,

however, think that Solomon was devoid of a sincere desire to magnify

Jehovah’s Name. He said that he had “built the house for the Name of the

Lord God of Israel (v. 10); and this prayer of dedication, adopted if not

composed by him, is indicative of a reverent as well as a patriotic spirit

(see I Corinthians 13:1-3).

 

  • THE WORTH OF A TRUE AND PURE DESIRE. God was pleased

with David that he wished to build him a house; he “did well in that it was

in his heart.”

 

Ø      It is our motive that makes our action to be our own. Another may

command our speech or our action, our tongue or our hand; but we are

masters of our own thoughts; our desires and purposes are our own. “As a

man thinketh in his heart, so is he” (see Mark 7:21-22; Matthew 26:41).

 

Ø      There is an ascending scale in our motives, reaching from the very low

to the very high. Men may have enough of the Satanic in them to be

actuated in their conduct by absolute vindictiveness or even a positive

delight in the misery and ruin of their neighbors; at the other end of the

scale they may have enough of the Divine in them to be inspired by pure

magnanimity, by a wish to befriend those who have done them injury

(Matthew 5:45). Very high up in this scale stands the motive of

desiring the glory of God, longing for the coming of the kingdom of Christ,

an earnest wish to do something for his exaltation. And though the voice

may be too feeble to speak any words that men may care to listen to,

though the hand may be too weak to strike any blow that will shake the

walls of iniquity, yet the very wish to do something for Christ, the prayer,

“Make use of me, my God,” weighs much in the balances of Heaven.

(“The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” 

James 5:16)  It may be a pure desire to give of our substance to the needy,

or to go forth to comfort some stricken heart, or to take a class in a ragged

or a Sunday school, or to enter the ranks of the Christian ministry, or to do

work in the foreign field. In Christian homes, in every land, there are hearts

that sincerely and even ardently desire to serve their Saviour and to be a

blessing to their brethren; but there intervenes some forbidding word of

God, some frustrating providence of His. The purse is emptied, or health

fails, or home duties suddenly assume a new form or take much larger

proportions; and God says, “This is not for thee.” But the desire is

accepted; the purpose of the soul is taken for the deed; it is chronicled in

the hooks of Heaven, “Thou didst well in that it was in thine heart.”

 

  • ITS EFFECTIVE VALUE. When the pure desire of the true heart is

not granted, it does not follow that it is without effect. Certainly it was not

so in David’s case. This desire of his heart, expressed to God but not

granted by Him, had very much to do with the ultimate result. It led to the

Divine permission and direction extended to Solomon; it led to Solomon’s

personal aspiration and resolution; it led to the preparation and storage of

many valuable materials. It would hardly be an exaggeration to say that the

temple was the work of David as much as of his son; for he who originates

the idea and inspires the people with his thought is as effective an agent as

he who executes it. And many, since then, in the kingdom of Christ have

succeeded where they seemed to fail; many a lonely and, apparently,

unblessed worker for his Master, both at home and abroad; both in the

haunts and slums of some great city here, or in the depths of India, or in

the heart of Africa, or in the midst of the idolatry and iniquity of China, or

amid some island population; — many such have gone home with no

reward in their hand, unable to point to the gathered fruits of their toil and

patience; and yet their unaccomplished efforts have been a precious and

powerful inspiration, moved by which others have followed in their track,

like Solomon in David’s, and have built the edifice, have wrought the

work, in the Name and in the strength of God. The finished work is, in

some real sense and perhaps even in a large degree, the fruit of the good

thought “in the heart” of him whom no one regards as its author. We do

more than we know when we think and feel in the spirit of our Lord.

 

10 “The LORD therefore hath performed His word that He hath spoken:

for I am risen up in the room of David my father, and am set on the

throne of Israel, as the LORD promised, and have built the house for the

name of the LORD God of Israel.  11 “And in it have I put the ark, wherein

is the covenant of the LORD, that He made with the children of Israel.”

The moment that might have witnessed the utmost inflation of spiritual pride,

the acme of ambition, the highest point of even moral kind of grandeur,

being touched, is saved from the peril. To the “performing of the Lord” the

glory is all given (Luke 1:54-55, 68-72).  Probably delivered from earthly

feeling, and sheltered just now from self and human ambition, Solomon was in

a very high degree “in the spirit” (Revelation 1:10) on this great day. The moment

was a proud moment in Solomon’s history, as well there may be proud moments

in men’s lives, but it was divinely shielded, as divinely inspired. Hereafter, for all

that, “the thorn in the flesh” might become very necessary, lest Solomon “be exalted

above measure” in the memory of all that had transpired.  (II Corinthians 12:7)

 

 

    The Address of Solomon at the Dedication of the Temple (vs. 1-11)

 

  • TO JEHOVAH (vs. 1-2) On beholding the cloud which filled the

temple (v. 13), Solomon uttered words which expressed:

 

Ø      Recognition of Jehovahs presence. “The Lord hath said that he would

dwell in the thick darkness.” Though nowhere occurring in Old Testament

Scripture, this promise accorded substantially with the declarations

Jehovah had often made (Exodus 13:21; 16:9; 19:9; 20:21; 24:16;

Leviticus 16:2; Numbers 12:5; Deuteronomy 31:15). In

speaking as he did, Solomon both intimated his faith in the Divine promise,

and his belief that in the cloud which filled the temple that promise had

been implemented; in the thick darkness he recognized the dwelling-place

of God.

 

Ø      Relief in Jehovahs acceptance of the temple. The phenomenon looked

upon must have called to his mind the similar occurrence on the completion

of the tabernacle, and led him to interpret this as Moses did that, as an

intimation that Jehovah was pleased to accept the finished structure, and

designed to make of it not simply “a lodging for a wayfaring man,” but “a

house of habitation,” and “a place of dwelling for ever.”

 

Ø      Welcome of Jehovah to His house. Addressing himself directly to

Jehovah, the king in effect says, “Lord, I have built a house of habitation

for thee, and a place for thy dwelling for ever; and now that thou hast

graciously condescended to come to us, according to thy promise, in ‘a

thick cloud,’ in the name of thy people I give thee joyous welcome, and

humbly invite thee to enter and take possession.”

 

Ø      A sense of the honor done by Jehovah to Himself and His people in

permitting them to build Him a permanent habitation in their midst. It is

hardly doubtful that Solomon at the moment realized the antithesis

expressed by the words “I” and “thee” — “I, a sinful as well as puny

creature, have built for thee, whom the heaven of heavens cannot contain,

a house of habitation. Who am I, O Lord, that thou shouldest set such

honor upon me?” Similar emotions rise in gracious souls at the thought of

God taking up abode within them (Psalm 8:4; 144:3; Luke 7:6), or

accepting the work of their hands (I Chronicles 29:14; II Corinthians 2:14).

 

  • TO THE PEOPLE. (vs. 3-11.) Facing round upon the congregation,

which at a signal rose to its feet, the pious monarch (probably with uplifted

hands) supplicated for his subjects the Divine blessing, and in their hearing

rendered thanks to God for the work that day finished. In particular, he

acknowledged that the temple had been built by JEHOVAH!

 

Ø      Rather than by him, Solomon. Noteworthy is the emphasis laid upon the

fact that “the Lord God of Israel had with His hands fulfilled that which he

had spoken with His mouth.” Qui facit per alium facit per se. Solomon

esteemed himself the builder of the temple (v. 10), though not a beam of

timber had been felled, or a stone quarried, or a pillar cast, or a knop

fashioned by himself, but all had been executed at and in accordance with

his instructions by workmen and artisans; and in like manner he regarded

Jehovah as the prime Architect, inasmuch as without Jehovah’s permission

the work had never been begun, and without Jehovah’s aid it had never

been finished (Psalm 127:1).

 

Ø      As a mark of special favor to Jerusalem. “In all places where I record

my Name I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee,” had Jehovah said

upon the mount (Exodus 20:24), while Moses on the plains of Moab

had reminded them that “unto the place which the Lord their God should

choose out of all their tribes to put His Name there, even unto his habitation

should they seek, and thither should they bring their offerings”

(Deuteronomy 12:5); yet never since the day of their departure from

Egypt had a city been selected for such a purpose, until David had arisen to

be the captain of His people and Jerusalem had become the metropolis of

the land, Then Jerusalem was chosen (Psalm 132:13), and the ark of

God established on Zion (II Samuel 6:12; I Chronicles 15:1, etc.);

now, in further pursuance of this plan to specially distinguish the capital, a

house had been built to set His Name there.

 

Ø      In fulfilment of a promise made to David his father. The first effect of

the ark’s establishment upon Mount Zion was to excite within David’s heart

a desire to erect a structure worthy of its accommodation (II Samuel 7:2);

a house of cedar instead of the goat’s hair tent in which it had

hitherto been lodged. The design was approved by Jehovah in so far as it

bespoke the deeply religious spirit of His servant, the fervor of his

gratitude, and the sincerity of his devotion, Nevertheless, the proposal that

David should build the house was not favored by Jehovah — rather was

expressly negated. David having been a man of war, and, having shed

much blood upon the earth in God’s sight, it was hardly congruous that he

should build a temple to the God of peace (I Chronicles 22:8). Thus

God intimates that in religion, as in ordinary affairs, is a “fitness of things”

which cannot be transgressed without a shock to beholders. If in any

department of life, much more in that of religion, a beautiful consistency

should be maintained between one’s public conduct and private character,

and a strict watch set upon one’s present actions lest they should hinder

future usefulness. But if David should not build the house, a son of his, to

be afterwards born, would (II Samuel 7:12-13; I Chronicles 22:9-10);

and he, Solomon, had arisen in fulfillment of that promise.

 

Ø      For the honour of His Name. So far as Solomon was concerned, that

indicated true humility different from Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 4:30),

Solomon had no thought of enhancing his own glory in what he undertook

and executed, though, as the sequel proved, he thereby the more effectually

secured that (ch. 9:23; I Kings 10:23-24; compare Luke 14:11). Of genuine

religion also was it a sign, God’s glory being ever to a good man the foremost

motive and highest aim in all his actions (I Corinthians 10:31), the uppermost

desire in his heart being to sing forth the honor of God’s Name (Psalm 66:2),

and to speak of His glory (Psalm 29:9). On the part of Jehovah the end

contemplated was the loftiest possible, God having nothing more

magnificently resplendent in itself, or more infallibly beatific in its results,

to make known to man than just His own ineffably glorious Name, its holiness

(Psalm 111:9), faithfulness (ibid. ch. 146:6), goodness (ibid. ch. 25:8), and

mercy (Exodus 34:6). Symbolically that was done by the ark of the covenant,

with the tables of the Law deposited in the inner shrine of the sanctuary

between the cherubim; historically that has since been done by God’s Son,

who in the fullness of the times came forth from the Father, and revealed

Him to men (Matthew 1:23; John 1:18; 5:43); fully that will be done

in the heavenly temple, when God’s servants shall see His face, and His

Name shall be in their foreheads (Revelation 22:4).

 

  • LESSONS

 

Ø      The condescension of God in dwelling with man.

Ø      The faithfulness of God in keeping His word.

Ø      The sovereignty of God in working all things according to the

counsel of His will.

Ø      The love of God in making known His Name to men.

 

12 “And he stood before the altar of the LORD in the presence of all

the congregation of Israel, and spread forth his hands:”

Before the altar. This means to say that Solomon stood (and

afterwards knelt down) eastward of the altar indeed, but with his face to

the temple and congregation. Although the voice of Solomon was raised in

prayer to God, yet the prayer was to be that of the whole congregation and

not of priestly proxy, and therefore of the whole congregation it must be heard.

 

13“For Solomon had made a brasen scaffold of five cubits long, and

five cubits broad, and three cubits high, and had set it in the midst

of the court: and upon it he stood, and kneeled down upon his

knees before all the congregation of Israel, and spread forth his

hands toward heaven. A brazen scaffold. The Hebrew word is כִּיּור.

The word occurs twenty-one times. It is translated, in the Authorized Version,

“laver” eighteen times, once “pan” (I Samuel 2:14), once “hearth”

(Zechariah 12:6), and once “scaffold,” here. The meaning evidently is

that the stand was in some sort basin-shaped.

 

 

Spiritual Attitude (vs, 12-14)

 

We have in these three verses four references to attitude. Solomon “stood

before the altar;” he “spread forth his hands;” he “kneeled down upon his

knees;” he spoke of those who “walk before God.” Now, it is worth while

to observe that:

 

  • BODILY ATTITUDE IS NOT WITHOUT ITS VALUE. In the gospel

of Christ, with all its precious and glorious spiritual freedom, there are no

regulations as to posture in prayer; it is in no particular position of body

that we must draw nigh to God and have fellowship with Him. The sufferer

on his couch, the workman at his post, is as free to converse with God as

the minister in the church. We glory in this divinely bestowed liberty. But it

is wise to remember that one bodily attitude may be more closely

associated with prayer than all others are, and, being thus associated in our

minds, we in that attitude more readily fall into, and more successfully

maintain ourselves in, the spirit of devotion than we can in any other. The

body is the servant of the mind, and we may compel it to serve us thus; by

constantly suggesting to us and thus favoring in us the idea and the spirit

of worship. Here, as everywhere, is action and reaction. Our heart prompts

us to worship, and this devout desire leads us to assume the attitude of

devotion; then the bodily attitude helps, in its way and measure, to sustain

the spirit in its reverential mood.

 

  • OVERT ACTS ARE IMPORTANT.

 

Ø      Attendance at the place of worship: “standing before the altar.”

Ø      Recognizing sacred obligations publicly; doing the right thing “in the

presence of all the congregation.”

Ø      Using right and true words, not only concerning God (as in v. 14), but

concerning man.

Ø      Acting, “walking,” in honesty, in purity, in sobriety, in rectitude, in

all relations. But, most important of all, because at the root of all:

 

  • SPIRITUAL ATTITUDE IS OF THE FIRST CONSIDERATION.

What is the attitude of our soul toward God, toward the Lord Jesus Christ?

We cannot propose to ourselves a more radical, a more vital question. The

answer decides our position in (or towards) the kingdom of God. If our

spiritual attitude is that of enmity, aversion, indifference, then, whatever

our overt actions may be, or whatever our professions may be, we stand

outside that kingdom, and are in danger of hearing the words, “I never

knew you.” (Matthew 7:23)  But if our attitude is not this, but rather one of

hope and trust, if it be one of desire to understand and please God, if it be

one of honest and earnest inquiry, then, though there be many imperfections

in our behavior, and though there be much to be learned and acquired, we are

right in the sight of God, and are counted among His servants and His

friends. It was the spiritual attitude of Mary when she came with her

precious spikenard which drew the Saviour’s commendation; it was the

attitude of penitence and faith which called forth His gracious assurance to

the poor malefactor by His side on the cross. As Christian men, it concerns

us much that our spiritual attitude is one of:

 

Ø      reverence;

Ø      prayerfulness;

Ø      loving service; and

Ø      concern for the coming of His kingdom.

 

14 And said, O LORD God of Israel, there is no God like thee in the

heaven, nor in the earth; which keepest covenant, and shewest

mercy unto thy servants, that walk before thee with all their hearts:

15 Thou which hast kept with thy servant David my father that which

thou hast promised him; and spakest with thy mouth, and hast fulfilled it

with thine hand, as it is this day.”  No God like thee, etc. The quoting of

Scripture and the utilizing of language in which the religious feeling of those

who have gone before has expressed itself had plainly set in (Exodus 15:11-12;

Deuteronomy 7:9). The prayer which this verse opens occupies

twenty-eight verses; it is the longest prayer recorded in Scripture. It

consists of two verses (14-15) of opening; then follow three petitions:

 

  • first, that God would perpetuate the line of David (v. 16);
  • next, that He would have regard to the place where His Name is put

(vs. 17-20); and

  • thirdly, that he would hear the prayers addressed to Him toward

this place (v. 21).

 

Of this last subject, seven different cases are propounded:

 

  • firstly, the case of the man wronged by his neighbor (vs. 22-23);
  • secondly, of the people worsted by their enemies (vs. 24-25);
  • thirdly, of the people suffering from drought (vs. 26-27);
  • fourthly, of the people visited by death or special calamity (vs. 28-31);
  • fifthly, of the stranger who comes to offer to pray (vs. 32-33);
  • sixthly, of the people going to war by God’s permission (vs. 34-35);
  • seventhly, of the people in captivity (vs. 36-39).

 

Then the prayer closes in vs. 40-42.

 

16 “Now therefore, O LORD God of Israel, keep with thy servant

David my father that which thou hast promised him, saying, There

shall not fail thee a man in my sight to sit upon the throne of Israel;

yet so that thy children take heed to their way to walk in my law, as

thou hast walked before me.”  There shall not fail thee, etc. (so II Samuel 7:12;

I Kings 2:4; 6:12). Yet so that thy children, etc. (so Psalm 132:12).

 

17 “Now then, O LORD God of Israel, let thy word be verified, which

thou hast spoken unto thy servant David.” Let thy word be verified

(so I Chronicles 17:9-13).

 

18 “But will God in very deed dwell with men on the earth? behold,

heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much

less this house which I have built!  19  Have respect therefore to the

prayer of thy servant, and to his supplication, O LORD my God, to

hearken unto the cry and the prayer which thy servant prayeth before

thee:”  Dwell with men (Psalm 132:14). Heaven and the heaven of heavens.

Solomon’s conception of the infinite God comes plainly to view here

(ch. 2:6; Deuteronomy 10:14; Psalm 139:5-12; 148:4; Isaiah 66:1;

Acts 7:4-9; 17:24).

 

 

“Will God in very deed dwell with men?” (v. 18)

 

  • REASON SAYS, NO!

 

Ø      The greatness of God forbids it. The heaven of heavens cannot contain

Him; how much less any house which man might build, or, even man’s

heart, which at the best is narrow and mean! The insignificance of man in

comparison with the transcendent majesty of the Supreme has always been

a difficulty in the way of accepting the religion of the Bible.

 

Ø      The sinfulness of man opposes it. Had the thing itself — the fellowship

of God with man — been in reason’s eyes conceivable, it would still have

been negated by the fact of man’s fallen and degraded condition, with

which the holiness and justice of God must have for ever, apart from an

ATONEMENT, seemed impossible.

 

  • REVELATION ANSWERS, YES!

 

Ø      God has already dwelt with man in the past.

 

o        Symbolically, under the Hebrew dispensation, with its ark dwelling

originally in the tabernacle and later in the temple.

 

o        Historically, in the fullness of the times, in the Person of Jesus Christ,

who as God’s Son tabernacled with men in the flesh on the earth and

in the midst of men. Hence it may be argued, that which has been

may be.

 

Ø      God now dwells with man in the present. “Lo, I am with you alway

(Matthew 28:20), said Christ before His ascension; and again at the

supper-table, “We will come and make our abode with him” (John

14:23). Christ dwells in the hearts of His people in the Person of His Spirit

(John 14:16-17). “That which is done is that which shall be done”

(Ecclesiastes 1:9).

 

Ø      God will dwell with men visibly and personally in the future. “And I

heard a great voice out of heaven, saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is

with men, and He will dwell with them” (Revelation 21:3).

 

20 “That thine eyes may be open upon this house day and night, upon

the place whereof thou hast said that thou wouldest put thy name

there; to hearken unto the prayer which thy servant prayeth toward

this place.”  This house .... the place whereof;… this place (so

Exodus 29:43; Deuteronomy 12:5; 14:23; 15:20; 16:2).

 

21 “Hearken therefore unto the supplications of thy servant, and of thy

people Israel, which they shall make toward this place: hear thou

from thy dwelling place, even from heaven; and when thou hearest,

forgive.” The supplications of thy servant. “The great thought of

Solomon now is that the center and core of all worship is prayer”

(Professor Dr. James G. Murphy, in ‘Handbook for Bible Classes:

Chronicles’). Toward this place (see other instances of this expression,

Psalm 5:7; 28:2; 138:2; Jonah 2:4; Daniel 6:10). From thy

dwelling-place.  I Kings 8:30 has, “hear to thy dwelling-place, to

heaven,” by probably the mere error of a copyist.

 

 

The Consecration Prayer of Solomon at the Dedication of the Temple

(vs. 12-21)

 

  • THE PERSON OF THE SUPPLIANT. Solomon.

 

Ø      Royal. That Solomon should have prayed was not surprising,

considering the example and training he must have received from his father,

and remembering the solemn and impressive spectacle he had witnessed. It

is difficult to shake off habits formed within the soul by ancestral piety and

early training; while, if a sense of God’s nearness and a realization of God’s

goodness will not stimulate to prayer, it is doubtful if anything on earth

will. Yet praying kings are not so numerous as they might and should, or

indeed would be, did they consider their own or their people’s good, not to

speak of the allegiance they owe to the King of kings, by whose permission

alone it is they reign (Proverbs 8:15; Daniel 2:21).

 

Ø      Representative. Though Solomon prayed for himself and in his own

name, he nevertheless acted as the official mouthpiece of his people, who

in this whole work were associated with him. Though from this it cannot

be inferred that earthly sovereigns in general (or even Christian sovereigns

in particular) have a right to prescribe creeds or forms of worship to, or

serve vicariously for, their subjects in the duties of the sanctuary, it is still

true that they occupy a sort of representative position as the nation’s head,

and just on that account should interest themselves in the advancement of

religion amongst those who own their sway, and should frequently bear

these upon their hearts before God in prayer.

 

  • THE DEITY ADDRESSED. The Lord God of Israel.

 

Ø      THE ONLY GOD! The language employed here by Solomon (v. 14), and

elsewhere by David (Psalm 86:8), was not intended to concede the

existence of other divinities either in heaven or on earth, but designed, like

the statements of Moses (Deuteronomy 4:39), Rahab (Joshua 2:11),

David (II Samuel 7:22), and Jehovah Himself (Isaiah 45:22; 46:5),

to emphasize in the strongest way the unity and soleity of God

(Exodus 9:14; Deuteronomy 6:4; I Kings 8:23; Jeremiah 10:6;

I Corinthians 8:4).

 

Ø      A covenant-keeping God. Solomon, like all pious Israelites, like Moses

(Deuteronomy 7:9), David (Psalm 25:10; 89:34; I Chronicles 16:15),

Nehemiah (Nehemiah 1:5), and Daniel (Daniel 9:4), delighted to acknowledge

Jehovah’s faithfulness to His promised word. It was solely on the ground of that

covenant by which God had chosen Israel for His possession (Exodus 19:5, 8),

and made Himself over to be their God (Exodus 20:2), that Israel existed as a

nation and enjoyed the privilege of drawing near to God. Had it been possible

for God to violate His deliberately and graciously formed engagements, or go

back in the smallest measure from His promised word, Solomon knew that

Israel’s continuance as a people would instantly have become imperiled. That

Jehovah had fulfilled the promise made to David with reference to the

temple, was a proof that this contingency COULD NOT OCCUR!  The same

covenant faithfulness is the believer’s warrant for drawing near to God in

prayer, and the suppliant’s encouragement in expecting an answer (II Corinthians

1:20; I Thessalonians 5:24; Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:18).

 

Ø      A mercy-showing God. This also indispensable as a characteristic of

such a Divinity as man can hopefully address in prayer. For unless God can

be merciful towards the undeserving and hell-deserving, it is useless to

think of asking anything at His hands. The notion that man may treat with

God on grounds of pure personal justice must be discarded, as neither

warranted by Scripture nor supported by experience.

 

“‘Tis from the mercy of our God

   That all our hopes begin.”

 

And that God is pre-eminently a God of mercy is the clear teaching of

revelation (Exodus 34:7; Psalm 103:8; Micah 7:18; Ephesians 2:4; James 5:11).

 

  • THE MODE OF SUPPLICATION.

 

Ø      Publicly. The king prayed from a brazen scaffold, or basin-like

elevation, perhaps resembling a modern pulpit, five cubits long, five broad,

and three high, erected in the middle of the court and congregation.

Prayers for one’s self should not be made in public (Matthew 6:5), the

place for such being, not the synagogue, street corners, or market squares,

but the inner chamber of the house, the secret room, or retiring-hall of the

soul (Matthew 6:6).

 

Ø      Humbly. Indicated by the attitude assumed during prayer. Hitherto,

while speaking to the people, the king had stood; now, in addressing God,

he kneels. David sat before the Lord (II Samuel 7:18); Abraham stood

(Genesis 18:22). In Nehemiah’s time the people stood and confessed

their sins (Nehemiah 9:2). Daniel kneeled three times a day on his

knees and prayed (Daniel 6:10). In the New Testament Scripture the

Pharisee stood and prayed (Luke 18:11); Jesus kneeled (Luke 22:41);

so did Stephen (Acts 7:60), Peter (Acts 9:40), and Paul (Acts 20:36; 21:5).

 

Ø      Fervently. Outstretched hands were a sign of prayer generally, their

heavenward direction symbolizing a solemn and earnest appeal to Him who

sat enthroned on high (Exodus 9:29, 33; Psalm 88:9; 143:6; Isaiah 1:15).

The same thing now signified by the folding or clasping of the hands and the

upward turning of the face. Both classes of actions betoken inward emotion,

and fervency of spirit on the part of him who prays.

 

Ø      Believingly. The scaffold stood before the brazen altar. The king’ prayed

from the neighborhood of sacrificial blood — a recognition on his part

that only through atoning blood could either himself or his supplications

gain admission into Jehovah’s audience-chamber, or acceptance with Him

(Hebrews 9:7). It is now true that only through the blood of Jesus can

one draw near to God (ibid. ch. 10:19).

 

  • THE CONTENTS OF THE PRAYER. A fourfold petition.

 

Ø      For Davids housethat it should never want a man to sit upon the

throne (v. 16). Jehovah had promised this conditionally on David’s

children proving faithful to their covenant obligations, and walking in the

ways of righteousness and truth (II Samuel 7:12-16). Solomon requests

that this promise may be fulfilled, not provisionally merely, but absolutely,

by God dealing with David’s children so that they shall take heed to their

way, and walk in God’s Law as David had done before them. What

Solomon craved was the two thingstogether — the perpetuity of David’s

house through the never-failing moral and spiritual worth of David’s

successors.

 

Ø      For the temple — that it might continue to be a dwelling-place for God

on earth, and in the midst of men (v. 18). Solomon saw that, without

this, his magnificent edifice would turn out a comparatively worthless

structure, as modern cathedrals and churches, however imposing their

appearance, elaborate their ornamentation, or gigantic their dimensions, are

nothing more than piles of masonry IF GOD IS ABSENT from their aisles.

Yet, so overpowered was his imagination with the bare idea of GOD'S

IMMENSITY “Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot

contain thee” — that it seemed to him doubtful if it were not the merest

vanity to dream that an INFINITE and OMNIPRESENT DEITY could

inhabit even a palace such as he had erected — “how much less this house

which I have built?” And in any case the condescension of it appeared so

strange as to fill him with wonder and doubtful joy. “But will God in

very deed dwell with men on the earth?” The feelings here expressed have

their counterparts in those kindled in believing hearts by the contemplation

of that mystery of mysteries, the incarnation of THE ETERNAL SON

and of that  almost equally amazing fact, the inhabitation of the human

heart by THE HOLY GHOST (I Corinthians 3:16). (See homily on v. 18.)

 

Ø      For himselfthat his present supplication might be answered (v. 19).

The special burden of his supplication was that Jehovah’s eyes might be

open upon the temple day and night, not so much for protection — though

that idea must not be excluded (Psalm 121:3-4) — as for observation; to

note when any worshipper should be directing thitherward his prayer

(v. 20), lest for want of being observed such petitioner should go without an

answer. The earnestness with which Solomon “cried” unto Jehovah

concerning this thing was an attestation of the importance he attached to it.

So far from doubting whether God could answer prayer, it seemed to him

that, if God could not, His entire reputation and character as a God would

be gone.

 

Ø      For all future suppliantsthat their prayers might be heard (v. 21).

Solomon believed that his people would in after-years retain such a faith in

Jehovah as to lead them to direct their supplications towards his earthly

dwelling-place. Yet Solomon confounded not Jehovah’s earthly habitation

with His true dwelling-place in heaven, or expected responses from the

lower shrine after the manner of a heathen oracle, instead of from the

upper temple where Jehovah sat enthroned in unveiled glory. Jehovah’s

symbolic presence might be behind the screen that concealed the holy of

holies; HIS REAL PRESENCE was beyond the curtain of the sky. Thence

accordingly should all answers come, as thither would all petitions go. The

coming of such answers would be a fruit and a sign of forgiveness.

 

  • LEARN:

 

Ø      The duty of intercessory prayer (I Timothy 2:1).

Ø      The propriety of public devotion (Hebrews 10:25).

Ø      The reverential spirit of prayer (ibid. ch. 12:28).

Ø      The reasonableness of expecting answers to prayer (Psalm 5:3).

 

 

God in the Sanctuary (vs. 18-21)

 

These elevated and eloquent words suggest to us what is:

 

  • A FALSE THOUGHT OF GOD IN RELATION TO THE SANCTUARY.

It may be, and probably is, imagined by the idolatrous that the temple

of their deity contains the object of their worship; that it is his

residence and home; that it suffices for him. Solomon had no such false

thought about Jehovah; he knew that “the heaven of heavens could not

contain Him,” and “how much less the house that he had built!” GOD’S

PRESENCE is not to be limited in our thought in any way whatever. He is

“within no walls confined,” and if we so habituate our mind to think of Him

as being present in some sacred place as He is not elsewhere, we “limit the

Holy One” (Psalm 78:41) as we should not do. The only difference in

the presence of theEternal and Infinite One can be in our thought and to

our imagination.

 

  • THE TRUE THOUGHT OF HIM IN THAT RELATION. As those

who worship God in the sanctuary, we should accustom our minds to think

of Him as:

 

Ø      The very present One. “Will God in very deed dwell with men on the

earth?” In very deed and in truth. Not only is His presence everywhere,

and therefore within any walls that may be erected in His honor, but He is

actively present there, interested in all that is passing there; “His eyes

open… day and night” (v. 20) to observe all that is there done before Him.

The prevailing thought of those who “go up to the house of the Lord” should

be that they are about to meet God:

 

o        to stand and to bow before Him;

o        to address Him even as they address their neighbor,

 

only with deepest reverence and in lowliest homage of heart. The

commanding and restraining thought, the penetrating, soul-pervading

thought of those who occupy the sanctuary, should be that of Israel at

Bethel, “Surely God is in this place.”  (Genesis 28:16-17)

 

Ø      One who is waiting to be worshipped. Solomon earnestly and repeatedly

desires of Jehovah that He would “hear his servant(s),” that He would

“hear their prayers.” If only we are engaged in really reverential worship,

we have no need to doubt this. God is not only “to be entreated” of us; He is

always to be found of all who truly seek Him. Nay, He seeks us as His

worshippers. “The Father seeketh such to worship him” (John 4:23),

i.e. such as worship Him in spirit. All they, therefore, who draw nigh to

God with a pure desire to render to Him the homage and the gratitude of

their heart, to renew before Him their vows of loving attachment and holy

service, to ask of Him His Divine guidance and enrichment, may make

quite sure that they “do not seek his face in vain.”

 

Ø      One who is ready to forgive. (See Psalm 130:4,7) “When thou hearest,

forgive.” We should meet continually with God under a blessed sense of

sonship, as those “whose transgressions have been forgiven,” and who

are as children at home with their Father, as redeemed ones with their

Saviour. This is the true basis of COMMUNION WITH GOD.  But, even

then and thus, it becomes us to bethink ourselves that our service is not

untainted with imperfection; near to our lips should be the recurring prayer -

“And when thou hearest, forgive.” Humility is not disowned by the more

advanced graces of:

 

o        trustfulness,

o        love, and

o        joy in God.

 

22 “If a man sin against his neighbor, and an oath be laid upon him to

make him swear, and the oath come before thine altar in this house;

And an oath be laid upon him to make him swear. This verse is explained by

Exodus 22:9-11; Leviticus 6:1-5. The case of ordeal by self-purgation of oath

is supposed. And the oath come. The Septuagint translates here, “and he come

and declare by oath,” etc. — a translation which a very slight alteration in the

Hebrew, consisting in prefixing a vau to the word for swear, will allow. The

Vulgate follows the Septuagint.

 

23 “Then hear thou from heaven, and do, and judge thy servants, by

requiting the wicked, by recompensing his way upon his own head; and

by justifying the righteous, by giving him according to his righteousness.” 

The prayer is that God will command His blessing on the oath ordeal.

 

 

Divine Justice (vs. 22-23

 

This petition supposes:

 

  • THE COMMISSION OF DELIBERATE WRONG BY ONE MAN

AGAINST ANOTHER.  A dispute may readily arise in which each man,

affected in his judgment by his own personal interests, believes himself to

make a righteous claim. This is a case for impartial intervention, for the

decision of one who is not prejudiced by any interest of his own. But the

case here referred to by Solomon is one of deliberate wrong perpetrated by

one man against his neighbor. It is a painful thing that this should have to be

presupposed among the “people of God.” Yet it was so. Enlightenment

was not, and it is not, any positive guarantee against actual

unrighteousness. A man may know all he can learn of Christ, sitting

constantly and reverentially at His feet, and yet he may allow himself to do

that which defrauds his brother and does him cruel and shameful wrong.

Saddening observation only too frequently and only too powerfully attests

it.

 

  • THE APPEAL TO GOD. The injured Hebrew made his appeal to the

Lord his God; he required the offending neighbor to take an oath in the

very presence of the Holy One, invoking the judgment of God against the

one who was in the wrong. It was presumably a last resort, an ultimate

appeal. Not formally, but substantially, we do likewise. If human judgment

fails, we leave the guilty in the hands of God. We commit our righteous

cause to His Divine arbitration. We ask God to make our innocence appear,

to restore to us the good name or the possession of which we have been

defrauded. We make our appeal from earth to Heaven.

 

  • THE DIVINE JUDGMENT. Solomon prayed God to intervene so

that the wicked should be recompensed and the righteous justified. Under

that dispensation he might rightly and even confidently make that request.

But what may we expect now of the Divine justice? These three things:

 

1. That the righteous laws of God are ALWAYS WORKING for the overthrow of

    evil and the enthronement of integrity; the former is radically weak, and the

    latter is essentially strong and prevailing.

 

2. That unvisited evil is always attended with spiritual failure, while

    unrewarded rectitude is always accompanied and sustained by spiritual

    worth.

 

3. That there is a long future which holds ample compensations in its

    unsounded depths. Divine justice will prove to be completely vindicated

    when we have looked deep enough and waited long enough.

 

24 “And if thy people Israel be put to the worse before the enemy,

because they have sinned against thee; and shall return and confess

thy name, and pray and make supplication before thee in this

house;  25  Then hear thou from the heavens, and forgive the sin of thy

people Israel, and bring them again unto the land which thou gavest to

them and to their fathers.”  (See Leviticus 26:3, 17, 33, 40; Deuteronomy

27:7, 25; also 4:27, 29-31; 28:64-68; 30:1-5).

 

26 “When the heaven is shut up, and there is no rain, because they have

sinned against thee; yet if they pray toward this place, and confess

thy name, and turn from their sin, when thou dost afflict them;”

No rain (see I Kings 17:1; Leviticus 26:19; Deuteronomy 11:17; 28:23).

 

27 “Then hear thou from heaven, and forgive the sin of thy servants,

and of thy people Israel, when thou hast taught them the good way,

wherein they should walk; and send rain upon thy land, which thou

hast given unto thy people for an inheritance.”  When thou hast taught them;

rather, when thou art guiding them to the right way.

 

28 “If there be dearth in the land, if there be pestilence, if there be

blasting, or mildew, locusts, or caterpillers; if their enemies

besiege them in the cities of their land; whatsoever sore or

whatsoever sickness there be:  29 Then what prayer or what supplication

soever shall be made of any man, or of all thy people Israel, when every one

shall know his own sore and his own grief, and shall spread forth his hands

in this house:  30 Then hear thou from heaven thy dwelling place, and forgive,

and render unto every man according unto all his ways, whose heart

thou knowest; (for thou only knowest the hearts of the children of men:)

31 That they may fear thee, to walk in thy ways, so long as they live in

the land which thou gavest unto our fathers.” (See Leviticus 26:16-26;

Deuteronomy 28:22-52, 59; ch. 20:9.) In the cities of their land. This, to

represent correctly the Hebrew, should read, in the land of their gates. Reference

probably is being made to the fact that law and justice and judgment were

administered “in the gate of the city” (Deuteronomy 16:18; 21:19; Joshua 20:4).

Thou only knowest (so I Chronicles 28:9). That they may fear thee

(so Psalm 130:4). In the absence of a healthy fear is involved both the absence

of a healing hopefulness, and too probably the presence of recklessness.

 

 

God and the Individual Soul (vs. 29-31)

 

Not only during the time of national calamity (v. 28), though especially

then, do families and individual men find themselves in sore need of Divine

succor. There is never any considerable congregation which does not

include at least a few hearts that come up in hope of comfort and relief

from Heaven.

 

  • THE BURDEN WHICH IS BORNE BY EACH HUMAN HEART.

With our complex nature, and our many human relationships, we lie open

to many ills and sorrows. These may be:

 

Ø      Bodily; pain or weakness, or threatened serious disease.

Ø      Temporal; some difficulty or danger connected with “our

circumstances.”

Ø      Sympathetic; some trouble of heart we are suffering by reason of our

strong attachment to others who suffer and are in distress.

Ø      Spiritual; heart-ache, disappointment, compunction, doubt, anxious

inquiry after God. “Every one knows his own sore and his own grief.”

          (v. 29)  “Every man the plague of his own heart” (I Kings 8:38)

 

  • THE APPEAL OF THE SOUL TO THE SUPREME. Trouble does

lead men to the God of their life, to the Father of their spirit. “Men say,

‘God be pitiful,’ who ne’er said, ‘God be praised.’” We cannot supply our

own need; we find our own “insufficiency for ourselves;” we must look

beyond ourselves, and in what direction? Man often fails us.

 

Ø      We cannot speak to him, either because we cannot get his ear, or

because we do not care to divulge our secret grief to any human heart

whatsoever.

 

Ø      Or we have tried to secure human sympathy, and have failed; men are

too much occupied with their own affairs and their own troubles to make

much room in their hearts for ours.

 

Ø      Or we cannot discover the human hand that will help us; those that pity

cannot serve us, cannot save us. We must have recourse to God. And we

bring our grief, our sore, to Him.

 

o        We are sure that He is accessible. He invites our approach;

he says, “Call upon me in the time of trouble; I will deliver thee,

and thou shalt glorify me.” (Psalm 50:15)

 

o        We are sure of His attention. He is our Father, who pities us with

parental kindness (Psalm 103:13); He is our Saviour, who has trodden

the path of struggle and of sorrow before us, on whose tender

sympathy we may confidently count (Hebrews 2:18; 4:15-16; 5:2).

 

o        We may depend on His power. He is able to:

§         save,

§         rescue,

§         restore, and

§         renew.

 

  • THE DIVINE RESPONSE.

 

Ø      It is a question of our spiritual integrity. God answers “according to all

our ways; that is, according to our integrity. We must have the spirit of

obedience in us. We may not look for a response if we are “regarding

iniquity in our heart” (Psalm 66:18); but, on the other hand, if we are

seriously bent on serving the Lord, if “our heart condemn us not,” if it

acquit us of all insincerity and double-mindedness, “then have we confidence

toward God; and whatsoever we ask we receive of Him, because we keep

His commandments” (I John 3:21-22). We may not, we are not able to

keep all His precepts in all particulars; but the spirit of filial obedience, the

desire to do what is “pleasing in his sight,” is dwelling within us and

inspiring us, and we are, therefore, of those whose prayer He hears. He

forgives our shortcoming (“hear… and forgive”), and He “renders

according to our ways.”

 

Ø      It is a question of Divine knowledge. Who shall tell that this spirit of

submission and obedience is within us? Only One can; it is He who “only

knows the hearts of the children of men.” He looks beneath our words and

actions, and sees the motives and the purposes of our hearts.

 

Ø      It is a question of our character and the Divine intention. And God’s

design is so to hear and heed our prayers, so to grant or to withhold the

desires of our heart, that we shall “fear God and walk in His ways,”

(Deuteronomy 8:6; Psalm 128:1) and shall be “partakers of His holiness.”

                        (Hebrews 12:10)

 

32 “Moreover concerning the stranger, which is not of thy people

Israel, but is come from a far country for thy great name’s sake,

and thy mighty hand, and thy stretched out arm; if they come and

pray in this house;  33 Then hear thou from the heavens, even from thy

dwelling place, and do according to all that the stranger calleth to thee for;

that all people of the earth may know thy name, and fear thee, as doth thy

people Israel, and may know that this house which I have built is called by

thy name.”  The stranger… come from a far country for thy great

Name’s sake. These two verses, with every clause in them, must be felt

most refreshing by every reader; but they ought also to be particularly

observed, as both corrective of a common but strictly erroneous impression

as to exclusiveness and a genius of bigotry inhering in the setting apart of

the Jewish race for a certain purpose in the Divine government and

counsel, and also as revealing very significantly that that setting apart was

nothing but a method and means to an end, as comprehensive and universal

as the world itself The analogies, in fact, in the world’s history are linked,

in one unbroken chain, to what sometimes seems to a mere reader of the

Bible pages as an artificial and somewhat arbitrary decree or arrangement

(see, amid many significant parallels, Exodus 22:21; Leviticus 25:35;

Numbers 15:13-16; Deuteronomy 10:19; 31:12). Not of thy

people Israel (John 10:16; 12:20-26; Acts 8:27). For thy great

Names sake. The insertion of the adjective “great” here (גָּדול) is not

Pentateuchal, but is found in Joshua 7:9; in our parallel, I Kings 8:42;

Psalm 76:1; 99:3; Ezekiel 36:23; Jeremiah 10:6; 44:26. All people of the earth.

Not only are many of the psalms utterly in harmony with the spirit of this verse,

but also the light of it is reflected brilliantly in such passages as Acts 17:22-31.

This house is called by thy Name; literally, thy Name is called upon (or perhaps,

into) this house, meaning that God Himself is invoked there, or present there in

order that he may be constantly invoked.  (God is always at home for you and me!

See I Kings 8:52 - CY – 2016)

 

34 “If thy people go out to war against their enemies by the way that

thou shalt send them, and they pray unto thee toward this city

which thou hast chosen, and the house which I have built for thy name;

35 Then hear thou from the heavens their prayer and their supplication,

and maintain their cause.”  The different supposition of these verses, compared

with vs. 24-25, is plain. Here we are reminded how right it is to implore a

blessing before we go out to our allotted labor, or even on some specially

and divinely appointed enterprise.

 

 

God and the Nation (vs. 24-28, 34-35)

 

Solomon takes his place and his part on this great occasion as the sovereign of the

nation; he prays for the people of the land in the double sense of representing them

and of interceding for them. It is the Hebrew nation that was then “before God,”

and is now before us. We therefore think of :

 

  • NATIONAL RESPONSIBILITY. That is assumed throughout. It is not

stated in so many words, but the idea of it pervades the whole prayer. The

people of Israel were not at liberty to choose their own deity, nor their own

ecclesiastical polity, nor even their own forms of worship; nor might they

determine how they should be related to one another. In all the important

relationships in which they stood, of every kind, they owed a direct

obedience to God. And this rested upon the bases of:

 

  • NATIONAL INHERITANCE. Their land was that which God had

“given His people for an inheritance” (v. 27). So very distinctly and

remarkably had God bestowed their land upon them, that they might well

realize their national obligation. But when we take all things into account,

we shall see that every nation owes all that it has and is to the creative,

formative, providential goodness of ALMIGHTY GOD; and it is, therefore,

responsible to Him for:

 

Ø      its creed,

Ø      its religious worship,

Ø      its laws and statutes,

Ø      its habits of life;

 

for there is no nation anywhere that has not derived its

inheritance from HIM! Even that which may, at first sight, seem to

disconnect it from Him, viz. the element of national courage, energy,

industry, struggle, suffering, — this also is “of the Lord.”

 

  • NATIONAL ACTIVITY. Solomon prayed (v. 34) that, when God’s

people “went out to war,” their prayers for victory might be heard, and that

God would “maintain their cause.” He could offer this supplication with a

perfectly clear conscience. Neither as a spirit nor as a sentiment, much less

as a religious conviction, had peace entered into the minds of men as it has

now. He had not been born who came to be the Prince of peace, and whose

advent was to be the beginning of the era of “peace on earth.” War was

then regarded as a rightful, honorable, commendable activity — a field of

enterprise and capacity which any one might desire to enter. There may still

be found a place for it, as a sad and deplorable necessity. Under the sway

of Jesus Christ, it can hold no larger or higher position among national

activities than that. But as it was right that prayer should be offered for

God’s blessing on national wars, more certainly is it right that His Divine

blessing should be continually sought on all peaceful industries; that is to

say, on all those peaceful industries which make for the comfort, the

enrichment, the well-being of the world. There are activities on which the

pure or kind heart must shrink from invoking the blessing of God. And

what we cannot conscientiously ask Him to bless we should refuse to

promote or to entertain. Surely, however, it is a very large part of national

piety that prayer should be made continually, in the church and in the

home, that, in every path of honorable and estimable industry, the people

of the land may walk before God, and fulfill in this respect His holy will; that

they may also receive His sanction and His blessing.

 

  • NATIONAL MISFORTUNE (vs. 24, 26-28.) Solomon anticipates

the hour of national misfortunedefeat in battle, drought, pestilence,

locusts, etc. He regards this conceivable calamity as the consequence of

national sin and the sign of Divine displeasure (vs. 24, 26), “because they

have sinned against thee,” and he prays for mercy and for the removal of

the stroke of penalty. It is a question of great importance whether this view

is to be taken under all circumstances whatever. We must remember that

the way in which the favor of God was manifested in Old Testament times

was the way of temporal prosperity (Is not this the way secular man has

thought since the last half-century? “Its the economy stupid!” – CY – 2016),

and (conversely) the form of Divine disapproval was that of temporal adversity.

But we are living in a period when the spiritual and the future are the prevailing

elements; and what was a certain conclusion then may be only a possibility or

a probability now.

 

Ø      It may be true that national calamity speaks of national delinquency, and

calls for national repentance. It is not only possible, but even probable, that

this is the case. For national sin is commonly showing itself in guilty

indulgence, and that leads to;

 

o        weakness,

o        exposure to the enemy, and

o        misfortune of many kinds.

 

Ø      It may be that national calamity is Divine discipline. It is quite possible

that God is:

 

o        testing,

o        purifying,

o        refining the nation as He does the individual,

o        intervening to save it from sin and shame,

o        working thus for its moral elevation and enlargement,

 

and therefore it may be that the question to be asked is:

 

o        what have we to learn?

o        what is the peril to be shunned?

o        which is the way God desires should be taken?

 

36 “If they sin against thee, (for there is no man which sinneth not,)

and thou be angry with them, and deliver them over before their

enemies, and they carry them away captives unto a land far off or near;

37 Yet if they bethink themselves in the land whither they are carried

captive, and turn and pray unto thee in the land of their captivity,

saying, We have sinned, we have done amiss, and have dealt wickedly;

38 If they return to thee with all their heart and with all their soul in

the land of their captivity, whither they have carried them captives,

and pray toward their land, which thou gavest unto their fathers,

and toward the city which thou hast chosen, and toward the house

which I have built for thy name:  39  Then hear thou from the heavens,

even from thy dwelling place, their prayer and their supplications, and

maintain their cause, and forgive thy people which have sinned against thee.”

The matter of these verses is given fuller in the parallel (I Kings 8:46-53).

The prayer is remarkable all the more as the last of the whole series, and one

so sadly ominous! The last clause of v. 36, carrying the expression far off, as the

alternative of near, throws its lurid glare of unwelcome suggestion on all the rest.

No man which sinneth not. The words need the summoning of no biblical parallels,

for these are so numerous. But out of the rest emphasis may be placed at least on

those furnished by Solomon himself — Proverbs 20:9; Ecclesiastes 7:21;

both of which are particularly sententious. Bethink themselves. The words

well express, in English idiom, the literal Hebrew, as in margin, “bring back

to their heart” (Deuteronomy 30:1-20). Have sinned, ... done amiss,… dealt

wickedly (so Psalm 106:6; Daniel 9:5). The Authorized Version in the parallel

(I Kings 8:47) is somewhat happier in its rendering of the three verbs employed

here. It seems doubtful whether these have it in them to form a climax; more

probably they speak of three different directions in wrong going. The parallel is

well worthy of being referred to, in its vs. 50-51.

 

 

The Sevenfold Illustration (vs. 22-39)

 

  • THE OATH OF PURGATION (vs. 22-23.)

 

Ø      The case supposed. (v. 22.)

 

o        Common that of a man sinning, or being suspected of sinning,

against his neighbor in any of the ways specified in the Law of Moses:

 

§         by theft (Exodus 22:10-11),

§         by finding and retaining lost goods (Leviticus 6:1-5),

§         or in the case of a wife by adultery (Numbers 5:19-22).

 

o        Hard — one in which distinct and satisfactory evidence is lacking.

Perhaps:

 

§         wicked — on one side or another most likely so, either the

accuser’s charge or the accused’s denial being consciously

false. Certainly:

§         solemn — an oath or appeal to Heaven having been either

demanded by the accused or imposed by the accuser

(Exodus 22:10), and carried through or performed

“before the altar in His house,” i.e. in the immediate

Divine presence (Exodus 20:24).

 

Ø      The prayer offered. (v. 23.)

 

o        That Jehovah would listen to the appeal of the litigants, not merely as

He does to all words spoken on the earth (Psalm 139:3-13), in virtue of

His omnipresence, but as acting in the character of judge or umpire

between the two (Job 21:22; Psalm 9:7; 58:11; 62:12; Proverbs 29:26).

 

o        That Jehovah would pronounce judgment on the case submitted to Him

(Psalm 19:9; 119:137). This practically is what is meant by all judicial

oath-taking.  It is a virtual placing of the case before God, that He may

elicit a true and righteous verdict (Romans 2:2; I Peter 1:17).

 

o        That Jehovah would make known His decision by punishing the guilty

and vindicating the innocent (Genesis 18:25; Exodus 34:7; II Samuel

22:26-28; Nahum 1:3), not by supernaturally interposing to smite

the former with death, as in the case of Korah and his company

(Numbers 16:32), or as in the case of Miriam (Numbers 12:10),

with some malady, which might be interpreted as a signal of the Divine

displeasure, but by providentially bringing it about that the wickedness

of the wicked should be discovered, as in the cases of Abimelech

(Judges 9:56) and Haman (Esther 7:10), and the uprightness of the

good man should be declared, as in those of Job (Job 42:10) and

David (Psalm 41:12).

 

  • THE PRAYER OF THE CAPTIVE. (vs. 24-25.)

 

Ø      The instance selected. That of God’s ancient people:

 

o        having sinned against God, which they had often done in days past

(Psalm 106:6; 78:17; Hosea 10:9), and would most probably do

again (here v. 36; I Kings 8:46);

 

o        having been defeated in battle on this account, as frequently before had

happened to them (Judges 7:1, 5; I Samuel 4:3);

 

o        having been carried off in part into exile, as they subsequently were into

Assyria (II  Kings 17:5) and Babylon (ibid. ch. 25:21-22);

 

o        having repented of their wickedness (I Kings 8:47), saying as at

Mizpeh, “We have sinned against the Lord” (I Samuel 7:6), or as at

Jerusalem in the restoration, “Since the days of our fathers have we

been in a great trespass unto this day” (Ezra 9:7);

 

o        having confessed God’s Name in their sorrowful calamity, i.e.

acknowledged God’s justice in all that had befallen them (Psalm 51:4;

Romans 3:4); and

 

o        having prayed and made supplication before God in the temple, i.e.

those of them who remained behind for those who had been carried off.

 

Ø      The request presented.

 

o        That God would hear from heaven the cry of His suppliant people, and

so vindicate His condescending character as a prayer-hearing God

(Psalm 65:2; Isaiah 45:11).

 

o        That He would forgive the sin of His erring people, and so prove Himself

a gracious and compassionate God (Exodus 34:9; Nehemiah 9:17;

Psalm 78:38; 86:5; Isaiah 55:7).

 

o        That He would restore His banished ones to their own land, and so show

Himself a faithful and covenant-keeping God (Deuteronomy 7:9;

Nehemiah 1:5; Daniel 9:4; I Kings 8:23).

 

  • THE CRY OF THE FAMISHED. (vs. 26-27.)

 

Ø      The distress pictured. Solomon imagines a state of matters that in

Oriental countries might easily happen, when through long-continued

drought, as in the days of Joseph (Genesis 41:57), the inhabitants might

be perishing (or in danger of perishing) through lack of food — a state of

matters not unknown in the land of Israel, both before (Ruth 1:1; II Samuel

21:1) and after (I Kings 17:7; II Kings 4:38; 6:25-29; 25:3; Acts 11:28) his time,

and commonly regarded as a visible token of Divine displeasure on account

of sin (Leviticus 26:20; Deuteronomy 11:17; 28:23; Amos 4:7), as abundance

of rain and fertility of ground were customarily accepted as intimations of

Heaven’s favor (Leviticus 26:4; Jeremiah 5:24; Joel 2:23). The state of

matters depicted is rendered even more sorrowful, and the wretchedness

more pitiable, by the fact that the famine and the drought spoken of are

represented as having been sent upon the people on account of their

wickedness, exactly as Jehovah had threatened.

 

Ø      The condition presupposed. Solomon asks nothing for his people when

in this plight except under limitations. He requests absolutely neither the

complete removal of the judgment nor its mitigation. He assumes that his

people shall have:

 

o        learned the lesson designed to be taught by the afflictive dispensation

sent upon them, since in His dealings neither with nations nor with

individuals does God afflict the children of men willingly or gratuitously,

but always for their profit (Hebrews 12:10), that He might impart to

them instruction (Job 33:16) concerning their sin (ibid. ch. 36:9-10),

lead them back into “the good way” (Ezekiel 14:10; 20:37, 43), and

make them fruitful in holy deeds (Hebrews 12:11; James 1:2 4);

 

o        put the lesson in practice by turning from sin and walking in the good

way, acknowledging the Divine justice in their calamity, and

supplicating the Divine forgiveness of their trespass — three things:

 

§         reformation,

§         contrition, and

§         prayer,

 

      without which none need expect mercy even from a God of grace.

 

Ø      The favor solicited.

 

o        A favorable audience: “Hear thou from heaven.”

o        Immediate forgiveness: “And forgive the sin of thy servants.”

o        Effectual assistance: “Send rain upon thy land.”

 

Ø      The reason given.

 

o        The stricken people are “thy people” — “thy people Israel,” to whom

thou art engaged in covenant. God loves to be reminded of the gracious

and endearing relationship in which believers stand towards Him — He

having taken them for His people, and made Himself over to them as

their God.  (I recommend Deuteronomy ch. 32 v. 9 – God’s Inheritance

by Arthur Pink – this website – CY – 2016)

 

o        The barren land is “thy land” even more than thy people’s. It is thine by

right of creation; theirs in virtue of donation: “Thou hast given it to thy

people.” Thine by possession; theirs by inheritance: “Thou hast given it to

them for an inheritance.” God’s people have nothing they have not

received from Him (I Corinthians 4:7; James 1:17). Yet all things

are theirs, as co-heirs with Christ (I Corinthians 3:22-23).

 

  • THE WAIL OF THE AFFLICTED (vs. 28-31.)

 

Ø      Their case destructed. (v. 28.) Their distress — stricken by plague or

sickness — is set forth:

 

o        as to its character, which might be either national or individual, since no

man or community may claim exemption from the stroke of outward

calamity;

 

o        as to its cause, which might be either a “dearth in the land,” a failure in

the fruits of the earth, in consequence of long-continued drought as in the

days of Elijah (I Kings 17:1), or a destruction of the same by

pestilence, by “blasting or mildew,” by “locust or caterpillar,” such as

Moses had threatened God would send upon them if they apostatized from

Him (Deuteronomy 28:22), and as He afterwards did send upon them in

the days of Amos (Amos 4:9), or a famine superinduced by a siege like

that which occurred in Samaria in the days of Elisha (II Kings 6:25);

 

o        as to its consequence, which is supposed by the king to have been

salutary, leading the afflicted people, collectively and individually, to a

knowledge of their sin, as in the instances of the widow of Zarephath

(I Kings 17:18) and of the Israelites in the wilderness (Numbers 21:7-8),

and to a crying unto God in prayer as formerly the people had done when

sore distressed by the children of Ammon (Judges 10:15), and as

afterwards Manasseh did when God laid affliction on his loins

(II Chronicles 33:12).

 

Ø      Their cause pleaded.

 

o        The blessings craved on their behalf were acceptance of their prayers

whensoever they were moved to cry to Heaven, and whatsoever

supplication might ascend from their lips — forgiveness of their sins,

out of which all their trouble had arisen; requital of their deeds, by

giving unto each man according to his ways, which has always been

the Divine principle of dealing with men (Job 34:11) under the New

Testament dispensation (Romans 2:6; Matthew 16:27) quite as much

as under the Old (Psalm 62:12; Proverbs 24:12; Jeremiah 17:10;

Ezekiel 33:20).

 

o        The arguments employed in support of these requests were founded on

God’s omniscience as a Searcher of hearts, which in its operation

EXTENDED TO ALL “Thou knowest the hearts of all the

children of men;” and belonged ONLY TO HIM“thou only knowest;”

and on the moral and spiritual effect which such exercise of clemency

would have upon the objects of it — “that they may fear thee all the

days that they live in the land which thou gavest unto our fathers.”

It is doubtful if men are ever improved by outward calamity alone.

Deterred from crime they may be, through fear of the sword; they

are not likely to be changed at heart without an experience of

DIVINE MERCY!

 

  • THE PRAYER OF THE STRANGER  (vs. 32-33)

 

Ø      His personal history narrated.

 

o        He is a stranger — not of thy people; one belonging to the Gentile

world, which, in respect of relation to Jehovah, stood on an altogether

different footing from Israel, and in respect of privilege was not “near unto

God” as Israel was (Psalm 148:14), but “afar off” (Ephesians 2:17),

not merely geographically (Isaiah 66:19; Jeremiah 31:10), but also

religiously, being “separate from Christ” or from the hope of Messiah,

alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the

covenant of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world”

(Ephesians 2:12).

 

o        He has heard of Jehovah’s great Name, and of Israel’s relation thereto.

Though the Hebrew Church was not missionary in the proper sense of that

expression, her gates were closed against none who sought admission

within her pale (Isaiah 60:11). In contradistinction, the New Testament

Church is under obligation not alone to keep her gates open, but, going

out into the highways and among the nations of the earth, to compel

men to come in (Matthew 28:19; Luke 14:23). Solomon expected that the

nations of the earth would be attracted towards Israel by the report of his

greatness and of his glorious achievements on behalf of Israel (I Kings

8:42); how much more should Christians anticipate the flowing towards

them of the inhabitants of heathen lands, to whom they bear the glad

tidings of salvation, and eternal life through Him who was and is the

highest embodiment of Jehovah’s Name?

 

o        He has come from his distant home to worship at Jehovah’s altar, if not

permanently separating himself from his heathen kinsmen like Abraham

(Genesis 12:4), at least doing so for a season like the chamberlain of

Candace (Acts 8:27).

 

Ø      His religious conduct described. He is represented as:

 

o        praying, calling, asking with audible voice and fervent heart — prayer a

natural instinct of the awakened soul, and one of the first signs of grace

(Acts 9:11);

 

o        praying unto Jehovah, the only right Object of prayer, not unto heathen

divinities which cannot hear or help their devotees (Psalm 115:4-8);

 

o        praying in the temple, then the appointed place (Exodus 20:24),

though now any spot on earth may serve as an oratory (John 4:21-24).

 

Ø      His favorable acceptance requested.

 

o        For his own sake, that he may have the joy of answered prayer; and

o        for the nation’s sake, that men might come to fear Jehovah and

recognize the temple as His dwelling-place.

 

  • THE APPEAL OF THE SOLDIER (vs. 34-35)

 

Ø      A fourfold assumption.

 

o        That the people shall have gone forth against their enemies — which

they did not always do when they should (I Samuel 17:11), just as

Christian soldiers, called to do battle with the principalities and powers

of darkness (Ephesians 6:12), sometimes sulk like Achilles in their tents

instead of marching forth like David to meet the foe (I Samuel 17:40).

If not always right for either nations or individuals to go to war with their

enemies (James 4:1), it is never wrong for Churches or Christians to

contend against their spiritual foes (I Timothy 6:12; II Timothy 4:7).

 

o        That the way in which they have gone forth has been of God’s choosing

— an important distinction. As many run upon errands not of God’s

sending, so many plunge into strifes and contentions without God’s

directing. Even when the battle is of God’s appointing, i.e. when nation,

Church, or individual feels that the warfare to be entered on has God’s

countenance so far as its object is concerned, it is still conceivable that it

may be entered on in a way that God cannot approve. Hence Solomon

assumes that Israel shall have gone out upon their campaign “by the way

that thou shalt send them.” It were well that all warriors, national and

individual, political, social, religions, evinced a like solicitude to go forth

by God’s ways rather than their own.

 

o        That they have solemnly commended their cause to God in prayer. This

presupposes that their cause is right, which of necessity it must be since

God has sent them to the field. But all appeals to Heaven from battalions

preparing to plunge into strife have not equal ground to rest upon. Neither

kings nor parliaments, neither soldiers nor private persons, neither

Christian Churches nor Christian individuals, should go to fight unless

sure they can pray upon the scene of conflict.

 

o        That they have directed their prayer to the city of Jerusalem and the

temple of Jehovah. Any sort of prayer will not suffice. It must be prayer

in the manner God has shown.

 

Ø      A twofold petition.

 

o        That their prayer should be heard — “Hear thou,” etc. — and

 

o        that their cause should be maintained. Both petitions Solomon might

offer with confidence, seeing it is God’s practice to attend to the

supplication of the needy, more especially when their need arises from

doing His will, and seeing that, though God is not always on man’s side,

He ever is upon His own. If not always on the side of the strongest

battalions, He is always on the side of truth and right.

 

  • THE SUPPLICATION OF THE EXILE (vs. 36-39)

 

Ø      The calamity apprehended.

 

o        That the people should sin against God. A dreadful apprehension,

considering THE CHARACTER AND THE POWER OF GOD; yet natural,

remembering the universal corruption of the race: “There is no man who

sinneth not” (Psalm 14:3; Ecclesiastes 7:20; Romans 3:23).

 

o        That God should be angry with them. This inevitable if the preceding

hypothesis should be at any time realized (Exodus 32:33; 34:7;

Psalm 7:11; 11:6; 78:21-22; Isaiah 64:7; Luke 19:27; Romans 1:18).

If God cannot but be angry with unforgiven and unrenewed men

when they sin, He cannot possibly be pleased with His people when they

backslide into wicked ways.

 

o        That God should permit them to be defeated by their enemies. This they

had oftentimes experienced because of their transgression (Joshua 7:2;

Judges 2:15; 13:1; I Samuel 4:1); the king feared that a like

experience might occur again. That which had been might be.

 

o        That God should suffer them to be carried captive into a foreign land

whether far or near. This Solomon knew to be the common lot of prisoners

of war. The monumental histories of Egypt, Assyria, and Babylon have

rendered Bible students familiar with this phase of ancient warfare. The

king also knew that such a fate had been threatened against his people in

the event of their declining from their covenant fidelity to Jehovah

(Deuteronomy 28:63).

 

Ø      The supposition made.

 

o        That the captive people should bethink themselves of their sinfulness in

the land of their captivity. Such as have no consideration of their

wickedness while at home, amongst friends, and in circumstances of

outward prosperity, not unfrequently are led to serious reflection when far

from home, among strangers, and in want. So the Israelites were in Egypt

(Exodus 2:23) and again in Babylon (Psalm 137:1); so was the

prodigal in the far country (Luke 15:17).

 

o        That they should make candid acknowledgment of the same unto God

saying, “We have sinned, we have done amiss, and have dealt wickedly;”

not merely in a mild way stating the fact, but with earnest repetition

emphasizing the guilt of their declension from God, as Moses had enjoined

them in such circumstances to do (Leviticus 26:40), as the Babylonian

captives afterwards did (Psalm 106:6; Daniel 9:5), as did the returned exiles

under Ezra (Ezra 9:7), and as all who hope in God’s mercy are expected to do

(I John 1:9).

 

o        That they should return to Jehovah with all their hearts — a step

beyond and in advance of confession. This, when earnest and sincere,

ought to lead to reformation, but because it is sometimes formal and purely

verbal it does not always bring amendment in its wake. Hence the necessity

of insisting upon a practical demonstration of its genuineness by a

renunciation of those evil courses which have been confessed, and a

reassumption of those good ways which have been forsaken (Isaiah 55:7;

Ezekiel 18:21; Daniel 4:27; Amos 5:14, 15; Matthew 3:8; Revelation 2:5).

 

o        That they should pray to Jehovah in the land of their captivity, directing

their supplication “towards the land of their fathers,” thereby evidencing

their faith in Jehovah’s covenant, “and towards the city which thou hast

chosen,” so acknowledging Jehovah’s grace, “and toward the house which

I have built for thy Name,” in that fashion showing their belief in Jehovah’s

readiness to forgive — all of which are still indispensable as subjective

conditions of acceptable prayer.

 

Ø      The intercession made. That God would grant His repenting and praying

people:

 

o        an audience to their supplications by admitting these to His dwelling-place

in heaven, and into the ear of His infinite heart;

 

o        support in their cause as against their oppressors, by upholding them

while in exile, and by causing them to return from it in His own time and

way; and

 

o        forgiveness of their sins, since without this all other blessings are in vain.

 

  • LEARN:

 

1. That good prayers, while never verbose, vague, or rambling, are always

full, specific, and well arranged.

 

2. That the loftiest prayer a human lip can utter is that of intercession for

the welfare of others.

 

3. That, though the heart of man stands in no need of arguments to make it

pray, it is not forbidden to employ arguments in the act of prayer.

 

4. That prayer, conceived as the converse of a finite soul with THE INFINITE

DEITY is the highest exercise of which a creature IS CAPABLE!

 

5. That long prayers do not weary God, though meaningless repetitions do.

 

 

Departure and Return (vs. 36-39)

 

It seems a melancholy thing that, at this hour of sacred joy and triumph,

Solomon should have been under the necessity of contemplating:

 

Ø      national unfaithfulness,

Ø      Divine displeasure,

Ø      a return of the people of God to ignominious captivity and

 all its consequent distress.

 

But he felt that it was necessary, and the issue abundantly justified his forecast.

 

  • DEPARTURE FROM GOD. In the case of Israel, departure from the

Lord their God meant either:

 

Ø      the formal substitution of another deity for Jehovah, or

Ø      widespread disobedience to His Law, moral or ceremonial, or both.

 

With ourselves it signifies one or more of three things:

 

Ø      A growing disregard, ending in an absolute indifference, or even

denial, of God’s claims.

Ø      A serious and, in the end, a shameful violation of His moral Law

doing that which is grievous in His sight and injurious to ourselves

and our neighbors.

Ø      Gradual but growing declension after acquaintance with God; the heart

allowing itself to become loosened from sacred ties and attaching itself to

other objects — separating itself from Him and quitting His service.

("…..is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the

deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfaithful."

(Matthew 13:20-22)

 

  • ITS PENALTY.

 

Ø      Divine displeasure. “Thou be angry with them.” A most serious and

most deplorable thing it is to abide beneath the displeasure of our heavenly

Father. The anger of love, the righteous anger of holy love, is ill to bear,

indeed; it is a heavy weight upon the heart; it is a darkening of the life of

man.

 

Ø      The triumph of our enemy. “And deliver them over before their

enemies,” etc. A sad thing it is for the human soul to be at the mercy of its

enemy. Sin is a cruel enemy, and exacts a full penalty.

 

o        How it robs us of our true treasure:

§         of our joy in God,

§         of our gladness in His service,

§         of our likeness to Him,

§         of the friendship of Jesus Christ, and

§          of the hope of eternal life!

 

o        How it smites us:

§         with inward pricking of the conscience,

§         with a sense of our guiltiness and folly, and

§         with humiliation at our low estate!

 

o        How it degrades us — bringing us down into captivity, so that we are

no longer masters of ourselves, but are at the mercy of any tyrannous

habit we may have contracted! We are in the land of the enemy; his

bonds are upon our soul.

 

  • OUR REPENTANCE AND RETURN.

 

Ø      Distress leads to thoughtfulness. “They bethink themselves.” We “come

to ourselves” (Luke 15:17), as those who were created to consider and

act reasonably; we weigh our condition and our prospects.

 

Ø      Thoughtfulness leads to self-rebuke. We reprove ourselves for our folly.

We compare or contrast the present with the past, the land whither we

have been “carried away captive” with the home of freedom and of sacred

joy. We reproach ourselves with our guilt. We are pained and ashamed that

we have left Him, who is worthy of the riches of our strength, for all that is

unworthy; Him, to whom we owe everything, for that or for those to whom

we owe nothing. We repent of our decision and our deed.

 

Ø      Repentance leads to return. We return unto God “with all our heart and

with all our soul.”

 

o        We come with confession; we say freely and sincerely,

“We have sinned” (v. 38).

o        We come with consecration; we offer ourselves, our hearts and

lives, unto God, that henceforth we may walk in His ways

with a perfect heart.

o        We come in faith; we have hope in His mercy, for we know

what will be.

 

  • HIS RECEPTION OF US. He will “forgive His people that have

sinned against Him” (v. 39). He will cordially welcome; He will

immediately and magnanimously restore (see Luke 15:20-24).

 

40 “Now, my God, let, I beseech thee, thine eyes be open, and let thine

ears be attent unto the prayer that is made in this place.  41 Now therefore

arise, O LORD God, into thy resting place, thou, and the ark of thy strength:

let thy priests, O LORD God, be clothed with salvation, and let thy saints

rejoice in goodness.  42 O LORD God, turn not away the face of thine

anointed: remember the mercies of David thy servant.”  These three verses

are wanting in the parallel, which has kept us four verses (50-53) not shown here.

Our vs. 41-42 are doubly interesting, first, as almost an exact copy of the words

of David (Psalm 132:8-10); and secondly, as not an entirely exact copy, in some

respects the form of word not being identical, though the signification is the

same, and in other respects the clause being not identical, though still the

meaning is essentially equal.

 

 

The Dedication, and Solomon’s Prayer (vs. 1-42)

 

The ark once within the most holy place, the whole temple seems to wait

expectant for its own solemn offering and dedication, to that heaven from

which its pattern came, to its own supreme Architect, of whose wisdom it

was designed, and of whose inspiration of the mind and heart of so many,

its beautiful and costly materials had been ungrudingly given and skillfully

wrought. The picture photographed so faithfully in this chapter does not

fail of riveting our gaze, but its points of view are very various, and we do

not embrace them all by any means at one glance. We seem to hear also

while we gaze. Now it is the broken snatch of a soliloquy that we seem to

hear; now the unfeigned and adoring ascription, of blessing, and honor,

and power, and of mercy’s majesty, to the one Father of heaven and earth;

now again the vast throng of worshippers, priests, princes, and people, is

hushed in silence audible, on the knees of prayer. The royal typical son of

David utters the solemn prepared service of prayer and supplication. The

God, to whom none in heaven or on earth can be compared, is invoked,

and the praise of His covenant-keeping and of His mercy and of His free

promises is celebrated. These are made the ground, not indeed of any

expostulation (for there was nothing in respect of which to expostulate),

but rather of earnest pleading, that what seemed sometimes too great, too

good to be true on the earth, might nevertheless be “verified,” “in very

deed with men upon the earth;” and then the measured sevenfold prayer

begins. It cannot but be that in this service of dedication, followed upon so

promptly with Heaven’s own acceptance and most graciously vouchsafed

consecration, there should be manifest lessons, or possibly more little known

principles of ever-enduring application and value. Let us, then, observe

from this whole service of dedication the following suggestions.

 

  • HOW THE INEFFABLE NATURE PERMITS ITSELF TO BE

REPRESENTED, AS HAVING LOCAL HABITATION ON EARTH.

If that infinite, spiritual Nature or Being did of old neither preclude the

possibility nor prohibit the imagination of such a thing, there can be no

intrinsic reason why it should not be so now and for all time. We must not

suppose that certain well-known and sublime passages in New Testament

Scripture outruled this. But, on the contrary, they acknowledge it rather,

and are only anxious to do so to the extent of universalizing it. The place

of this worship is, indeed, wherever the worshipper himself is; and not only

in Jerusalem, nor only “in this mountain” (John 4:21) but where Jacob

stretched himself, when his head was pillowed on the stones, and waking he

exclaimed, “This is the house of God” (Genesis 28:17); or in the dungeon; or

in the windowless, chimneyless, mud-built croft; or in the chamber’s solitude;

or in the palace, the church, or cathedral, all-gorgeous with arch and

pavement, height and length, music and painting. In fact, God’s

condescending grace gives what the nature of man, once also itself given of

Him, constantly and everywhere either postulates as of course, or craves

with stimulated spiritual force. There is scarcely anything that sits closer to

our, not mere outer but innermost nature, than that law which binds us by

association, and by the associations of place in particular. There is no

reason why we should disown it, or be ashamed of it, or slight it, or try at

any time to rid ourselves of it by force. The reasons lie rather to the

contrary, if only we cherish the sacred associations and discourage the

reverse. It is not when our sense of God as a Presence in a place is nearest,

that we least feel that He still “dwells, to be wondered at and adored, “in

the thick darkness,” or that we least “fear because of Him.” The acts of

worship, no doubt legitimate everywhere, are helped there, and to cherish

that help is wise.

 

  • THE ESSENTIAL, OR NATURAL AND MOST DESIRABLE

REQUIREMENTS OF SUCH A DEDICATION — THE DEDICATION

OF A PLACE FOR THE WORSHIP AND SERVICE OF GOD. They are

such as these:

 

Ø      The presence of the people, or era representative gathering of them, in

a prepared and quickened state of mind, of whom in part and for whom

the occasion of the dedication arises. The people were certainly present on

this occasion. They are already in a very quickened state of mind, which is

greatly added to when their leader faces them, and in the act, as it is here

called, of “blessing them,” summons them to take an earnest and intelligent

part in the impending ceremony.

 

Ø      A rehearsal, in the nature of a preamble, of the circumstances which

had led up to the present work — the human side of them, the Divine side

of them, the motives which had been at work in them, the promise and

providence of God, and the gratitude due to Him for them.

 

Ø      Prayer uttered by one, offered by all, acknowledging the sole Godhead,

without comparison in heaven and earth, magnifying His infinite

condescension, reposing entire confidence upon His supporting and

encouraging goodness; with imploring petitions that an ear may be opened

to the special prayers now waiting to be offered, and a gracious eye bent

down upon the place and the scene now outstretched before heaven.

Special note may be made under vs. 19-21 of the three points:

 

o        of the earnestness of the prayer that prayer may be heard;

o        that it may be heard by witness of this very memorial house on

earth, unto which Divine and emphatic promise had been made; and

o        that forgiveness (ver. 21) may be the first part of answer to every and

all prayer.

 

What an amazing depth of significant import underlies this one fact,

and how entirely it is in harmony with all Scriptures’ setting forth of

the position of human nature in the presence of God!

 

  • THE SEVENFOLD PETITION OF THE SERVICE. Whatever these

petitions are, they speak distinctly the apprehensions — and those from a

religious point of view — which the king and leader of the nation had in

respect of that nation. The circumstances of the position compel us to

regard them as a correct and faithful reflection or transcript (from the inner

thoughts of Solomon and those who co-operated with him in the

composition) of those perils to national well-being which might sadly ripen

as time went on. It is evident that the estimate formed of these perils was

such, and of such significance, that to deprecate them most importunately

absorbs the larger part of the whole prayer. The petitions are manifestly

more what concern the outer life, for the most part, than the inner thought

of the people; the providence of Heaven, than their own work and doing.

But, for that very reason, they bind together so much more indissolubly the

welfare of a people’s outer life and the Divine favor. They illustrate

forcibly the dependence of the former on the latter. They remind us how

this was at one time the chief way, probably at all time a necessary and

leading way (as bodily pain is for the individual), to teach the fear of God

and not less the fullest love of Him. The seven petitions may be

enumerated, as:

 

1. That relating to what may be designated as the ordeal-altar-oath.

2. That relating to the condition of those who at any time might be taken

    captive in war — an event only supposable on the assumption of the

    people “having sinned against” God.

3. That relating to the visitation of drought, as punishment in the same way

     of sin.

4. That relating to dearth, pestilence, blasting, mildew, locusts or

     caterpillars, siege, sore or sickness of what sort soever, as in the same

     way punishment of sin.

5. That relating to the stranger — a petition surely charged with

     significance and sweet compassion, and most prophetic in its character.

6. That relating to absence from their home and their land, and the holy city

     of their solemnities, through the enterprise of just and divinely sanctioned

     war, where no case of capture by the enemy is contemplated.

7. And lastly, that by fearful omen relating to the possibility of the sin of

    the people having reached such a pitch, that their punishment should

    consist in a general captivity, and exportation to a foreign land “far off or

    near.”

 

And it is the supplication of Solomon, and the vast Church there

assembled before the temple, with its most holy place and ark, with its

brazen sea, layers, and altar, that, when under any of these cases

confession has been made, “repentance” has been approved, and prayer

for forgiveness has been importuned, while the worshipper turns his

thought, his faith, his hope, towards the temple, and its adorable indwelling

Majesty, that confession may be heard, that repentance may be accepted,

and that prayer be answered to by healing and restoring mercy. The one

collective result left on our mind is that the structure of civil and national

society, so infinitely complex, dependent on so many individuals, the likely

victim of such an unlimited variety of influences and motives, good, bad,

and most vague and inconclusive, needs nothing short of the wisdom and

compassion, the justice and the tenderness, of THE INFINITE GOD!

 

  • THE FINAL INVOCATION — ALL GATHERED INTO ONE —

THAT THE LORD GOD WOULD, ACCEPTING THE DEDICATION,

PERFORM THE VERY CONSECRATION ITSELF. Amid the seven

distinct appeals of entreaty (contained in our vs. 40-42), instinct with

highly elevated energy, and six of which may be said to be rather of the

nature of material helps of faith and imagination of spiritual realities, how

clear we may count it that the absolute grasp of spiritual truth, and

apprehension of the spiritual Being, were not strange to Solomon and the

true Israelite of the elder dispensation! What a real exertion of such power,

gift, grace, is told by the central invocation, to which all the rest are but

the setting, viz. “Now therefore arise, O Lord God, into thy resting-place,

thou”!

 

Ø      The open eyes,

Ø      the attent ears,

Ø      the uttered sound of prayer,

Ø      the sight of the place,

Ø      the ark,

Ø      the priests,

Ø      the saints,

Ø      the face of the anointed, and

Ø      the memory of the mercies of David,

 

 these, these all are but the surroundings and aids to the grand effort, the

effort of Solomon and his people, to which they address themselves, and,

we may believe, successfully rose, at the one commanding climax of the

whole pomp, ceremony, and most really religious service — this, that effort —

to have, to know, to believe in, the Lord God, the Thou (as Solomon,

addressing Him, says), as the Indwelling, effective Presence, and Glory

of the place.

 

 

A Prayer for the Church of God (vs. 40-42)

 

  • FOR ITS CONGREGATIONS.

 

Ø      That God would make them His resting-place. Arise, O Lord God, into

thy resting-place” (v. 41). Taken from the battle-cry of the nation when

the ark set forward to search out a resting-place for them (Numbers

10:33-36), the words imply a request that Jehovah Elohim, the covenant

God of Israel, would make of the temple, and therefore of that which it

symbolized, the Church of God, collectively and severally, as a whole and

in its individual assemblies:

 

o        A place of permanent indwelling, an abode of rest, a home or habitation

of repose, a mansion or fixed residence, out of which He should no more

depart. Such had Jehovah promised of Mount Zion (Psalm 132:13-14),

and such has Christ promised concerning the smallest and humblest

gatherings of His people (Matthew 18:20).

 

o        A scene of gracious manifestation. It cannot be imagined that Solomon

merely wished to have Jehovah’s symbolic presence behind the veil in

the inner shrine of the temple, in the form of a cloud of smoke and fire.

What he craved was Jehovah’s real, personal presence; and that he

would not have desired (or at least could hardly have been much

concerned about) had he understood that the only way in which God

could dwell among them was in silence and in solitude, wrapped up

in contemplation of His own measureless perfections and shut off

from all interaction with his creatures, and even with His chosen and

covenanted people. But Solomon knew that if Jehovah condescended

to pitch His residence among them, it would be for the purpose of

making gracious revelations of Himself as a God of love and mercy,

and gracious communications of Himself as the Life and Light of His

believing people; and Christians know that this is the specific object

God in Christ has in view in establishing His real, though unseen,

presence in the assemblies and hearts ofHhis followers (John

14:21-23).

 

o        A spring of Divine satisfaction. Unless it should be this it could not

prove a resting-place for Jehovah. Jehovah must obtain in it, in its

services and celebrations, and much more in the dispositions and

actions, hearts and lives, of its worshippers, that satisfaction which

His holy and loving nature demands; otherwise He will be constrained

to withdraw from their midst, from their hearts and from their

convocations, from their temples and from their altars. So can God

in Christ only rest in those Churches and individuals where He smells

a sweet savor of:

 

§         faith,

§         hope,

§         love,

§         penitence,

§         humility, and

§         obedience,

 

rising from such spiritual sacrifices as they offer to His Name.

 

Ø      That God would establish in them the tokens of His power. “Arise, O

Lord… thou, and the ark of thy strength.” The outwardly ordinary and

insignificant wooden box called the ark was a symbol of God’s

almightiness, which commonly worked through feeble instruments; of His

commanding omnipotence, which was ever based on essential holiness; and

of His EVER-PRESENT grace-bestowing power, which revealed itself upon

and in and through a mercy-seat. Hence, in seeking that the ark might find in

the temple a resting-place, Solomon practically asked that Jehovah would,

through it as a medium, manifest to Israel His power:

 

o        in protecting and defending them against their adversaries,

o        in ruling and governing them by statutes and ordinances, and

o        in forgiving them and enriching them with grace.

 

The same three forms of strength Jehovah still puts forth within the Christian

Church. He dwells within her, as He did in ancient Israel, as:

 

o        Defender and Deliverer (Psalm 84:11; 91:1-7; Isaiah 31:5;

Zechariah 2:5 [once God was this for The United States of America,

but seemingly, but until we repent, not no more! CY - 2016];

Matthew 16:18; II Thessalonians 3:3; Revelation 3:10);

 

o        Sovereign and Ruler (Psalm 24:1; 44:4; 74:12; 95:3; Isaiah 33:22;

43:15; Malachi 1:14; Matthew 6:13; Hebrews 1:3; James 4:12;

Revelation 19:6); and as:

 

o        Redeemer and Friend (Isaiah 12:2; 41:14; 47:4; Luke 1:68;

John 3:16; Romans 8:32; I Timothy 2:3).

 

Ø      That God would listen to the prayers that in them ascended from the

hearts of His people. “Let thine eyes be open, and thine ears be attent unto

the prayer that is made in this place.” The temple was designed to be a

place of prayer for all people (Isaiah 56:7; Matthew 21:13; Mark 11:17;

Luke 19:46), for all people to resort to with supplications for themselves

and on behalf of all sorts of people; the like characteristics belong to the

Church of the New Testament (Luke 18:1; 24:52-53; Ephesians 6:18;

I Thessalonians 5:17; I Timothy 2:1, 8).

 

  • FOR ITS MINISTERS. That they might be clothed with salvation (v. 41),

or righteousness (Psalm 132:9) — the two terms in the Old

Testament being synonymous, or at least so connected that the one implies

the other (compare Isaiah 61:10). Rightly understood, salvation is the

outcome and result of righteousness. The soul that is righteous outwardly

and inwardly, judicially or legally, and morally or personally, is saved;

while none are saved by whom that righteousness is not possessed, either

in whole as by the glorified, or in part as by Christian believers:

 

“Whose faith receives a righteousness

That makes the sinner just.”

 

In seeking, then, that the temple priests might be clothed with salvation,

Solomon desired:

 

Ø      That they might be personally good men. Upright and sincere in their

hearts before God, virtuous and correct in their walk before men — men

like Noah (Genesis 7:1), Abraham (Genesis 17:1), Job (Job 1:1; 29:14),

David (Psalm 7:8), and Nathanael (John 1:47); since only men

themselves righteous, in the sense of being justified and accepted before

God as well as renewed and possessed of the germ of holiness, were

warranted to minister at God’s altar (Exodus 22:31; Leviticus 11:44;

Psalm 50:16). The like qualification the Church of Christ should ever

seek in those who serve in her pulpits. Anything more calamitous than an

insincere and immoral, because unbelieving and unconverted ministry, can

hardly be imagined as befalling the Christian Church. The first requisite of

him who would preach the gospel is a hearty acceptance of the same in

faith and humility, love and obedience — the foundation of all true piety.

 

Ø      That they might be clothed with salvation in their official ministrations.

That their whole being should be absorbed (and so visibly that men might

behold it) in the work of saving God’s people. If indispensable as a mark of

a true Heaven-appointed priest under the Law, much more is this requisite

as a qualification of the Christ-sent preacher under the gospel Pastors and

teachers in the New Testament Church who aim not at the salvation of

themselves and their hearers (I Timothy 4:16) are intruders into the

sacred office. The one theme which has a claim to monopolize the time,

talents, thought, eloquence, zeal of the Christian minister is the gospel of

Christ — “the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth”

(Romans 1:16).

 

  • FOR ITS PEOPLE. That they might rejoice in goodness (v. 41).

Notice:

 

Ø      The designation. Saints (Psalm 30:4; 50:5; 149:1). The term literally

signifies kind, excellent, one who shows favor, hence pious (Gesenius);

or one who has obtained favor, hence beloved (Perowne). In both senses were

God’s ancient people “saints.” They were objects of Jehovah’s favor

(Deuteronomy 7:8; I Kings 10:9; here ch. 2:11), beloved for the fathers’ sakes

(Romans 11:28); and were, or should have been, kind and beneficent

(Leviticus 19:18; Psalm 112:5; Proverbs 10:12; Zechariah 7:9). So likewise are

New Testament believers beloved for Christ’s sake (Romans 1:7;

Ephesians 1:6), and commanded to love one another (John 13:34-35; 15:17;

Romans 12:10; Galatians 5:13; I Peter 2:17; I John 4:7, 21). The customary

sense in which the term “saint” is used is that of separated, or holy one

(Deuteronomy 33:3; Job 15:15; Psalm 34:9; Acts 9:13; Romans 1:7;

I  Corinthians 1:2; Ephesians 1:1).

 

Ø      The emotion. Gladness. Nothing more remarkable than the emphasis

placed by both Testaments upon “joy” as an experience which should

belong pre-eminently to God’s saints (Deuteronomy 33:29; I Samuel 2:1;

Psalm 5:11; 84:4; 100:1-2; Isaiah 29:19; Romans 12:12; 14:17;

Galatians 5:22; Philippians 3:1; 4:4). Where joy is habitually absent, there

is reason to suspect that either the individual is no true believer at all, or is

under mistaken apprehensions concerning God or himself, or is affected by

some malady, bodily or mental, which disturbs his peace. Yet the primal

fountain of all joy for the religious soul is God (Nehemiah 8:10; Job 8:21;

Psalm 4:7; 30:11; John 14:27; 15:11; 16:22; 17:13; Romans 5:2; 15:13).

 

Ø      The occasion. Goodness; i.e. in the highest sense. Not merely God’s

common gifts of corn and wine, though even in these a saint can exult with

a propeiety which none can feel but those who recognize everything they

have as coming from a Father’s hand; but chiefly God’s highest gifts of

grace and salvation, and in particular GOD'S GREAT AND

UNSPEAKABLE GIFT, JESUS CHRIST (II Corinthians 9:15).

 

  • FOR ITS KING. That God would regard him with favor (v. 42).

God’s anointed in the passage under consideration was Solomon; but the

great Anointed, of whom he was a shadow, was Christ, whom God

anointed with the oil of gladness above his fellows (Psalm 45:7), and

set as King upon His holy hill of Zion (Psalm 2:6). The language of the

prayer, therefore, may be applied to Christ, the Church’s Head and King.

 

Ø      In meaning it may signify that God would continue to regard him with

favor, and show this by not denying his request (I Kings 2:16). As

thus interpreted, it teaches that Christ’s Church has a deep interest in the

success of all Christ’s prayers on their behalf, and should make this a

frequent burden of her supplications, that Jehovah would hear the

intercessions of her anointed Head within the veil:

 

o        for transgressors (Isaiah 53:12),

o        for believers (Hebrews 7:25),

o        for the sanctification of His own (John 17:17),

o        for the conversion of the World (ibid. v. 20), and

o        for the final consummation of all things (ibid. v. 24).

 

Ø      The arguments by which the prayer may be supported are two:

 

o        The King’s relation to God — He is God’s anointed (Psalm 45:7); and

o        the covenant engagement which God has made with him as David’s

son.

 

These were the pleas advanced by Solomon; they are more befitting in

the mouths of Christians regarding Christ.

 

  • LEARN:

 

Ø      The sublimity of true prayer.

Ø      The comprehensive scope of prayer.

Ø      The exalted character of the Church as God’s dwelling-place,

and as Christ’s kingdom.

Ø      The grand aim of the Church as a visible institution to promote

salvation.

Ø      The entire dependence of the Church for efficiency on God.

 

 

 

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