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
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What is the historical reference?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:
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!
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)
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?
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
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
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
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
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
house in, that my name might be there; neither chose I any man to
be a ruler over my people
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
intrinsic authority (I Samuel 16:1-15; II Samuel 24:18-25).
6 “But I
have chosen David to be over my people
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
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
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:
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
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
composed by him, is indicative of a reverent as well as a patriotic spirit
(see I Corinthians 13:1-3).
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
the glory of God, longing for the coming of the
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.”
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
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
the heart of Africa, or in the
midst of the idolatry and iniquity of
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
name of the LORD God of
is the covenant of the LORD, that He made
with the children of
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
temple (v. 13), Solomon uttered words which expressed:
Ø Recognition of Jehovah’s 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
Ø Relief in Jehovah’s 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).
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
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
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
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
be the captain
of His people and
the land, Then Jerusalem was chosen (Psalm 132:13), and the ark of
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
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).
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
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
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:
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.
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
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:
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
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 loving service; and
Ø concern for the coming of His kingdom.
said, O LORD God of
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:
(vs. 17-20); and
this place (v. 21).
Of this last subject, seven different cases are propounded:
Then the prayer closes in vs. 40-42.
therefore, O LORD God of
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
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).
then, O LORD God of
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)
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.
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
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”
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
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
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.
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
which God had chosen
Himself over to be their God (Exodus 20:2), that
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
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).
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).
Ø For David’s house — that 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
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 himself — that 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
Ø For all future suppliants — that 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.
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:
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
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
those who occupy the sanctuary, should be that of
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 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:
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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)
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
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:
§ restore, and
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.”
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
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
Name’s 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 :
stated in so many words, but the idea of it pervades the whole prayer. The
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:
“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.”
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.
the hour of national misfortune — defeat 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 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 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)
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.
§ wicked — on one side or another most likely so, either the
accuser’s charge or the accused’s denial being consciously
§ 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).
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
(II Kings 17:5) and
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
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).
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
unknown in the
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:
§ contrition, and
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.
stricken people are “thy people” — “thy people
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).
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
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
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;
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
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
not merely geographically (Isaiah 66:19; Jeremiah 31:10), but also
religiously, being “separate from Christ” or from the hope of Messiah,
from the commonwealth of
covenant of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world”
o He has heard of Jehovah’s great Name, and of Israel’s relation thereto.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
o forgiveness of their sins, since without this all other blessings are in vain.
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.
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."
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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!
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
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
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
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!
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,
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)
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
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:
§ humility, and
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).
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,
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”
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).
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
These were the pleas advanced by Solomon; they are more befitting in
the mouths of Christians regarding Christ.
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
Ø The entire dependence of the Church for efficiency on God.
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