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Bible Commentaries

Expositor's Dictionary of Texts

2 Chronicles 6

Verses 1-42

The Blessing of Unrealized Aims

2 Chronicles 6:8

According to the old story, our own Queen Mary is reported to have said to her courtiers that after her death they would find the word Calais graven upon her heart so long had she brooded upon the loss of that French sea-coast town. Had you examined King David's heart you would have found graven upon it the picture of a temple. That temple had been David's dream. In vision he had for years seen it crowning the crest of Zion. Night and day he thought upon it, planned for it, worked for it. It was his great, his supreme, his all-absorbing ambition to build a house for God. Every other aim was subordinate to this. No doubt David was anxious to make Israel strong, to subdue her enemies, to extend her dominions. But over and above everything else he was anxious to build a house for God. It is Plutarch who says of the Roman Cato that he was so possessed by the conviction that there could be neither peace nor safety for Rome so long as Carthage remained in strength, that he never made a speech in the Roman senate without concluding with this sentence, 'Delenda est Carthago' Carthage must be destroyed. And in much the same way David never let a day pass without saying to his soul, 'God's house must be built. It is not fit that I should dwell in a house of cedar while the ark of God dwelleth within curtains.' Every day of his long reign David said some such word as that to his soul. The temple was in his heart.

But this temple which was in David's heart never got built upon the solid ground. David's eyes were never gladdened by a sight of that 'house magnifical,' of which by day and by night he had dreamed. He collected vast stores of material, he made lavish preparations, but he never saw one stone laid upon another. His vision never became a fact. He was so occupied with statecraft, he was so incessantly engaged in warfare, that the time never came when he could arise and build. And so he went down to his grave with his great purpose unrealized, with the hope he had cherished in his heart unfulfilled.

I. And this is just an illustration of the great tragedy and bitterness of human life. The bitterness of human life is not its brevity, but its incompleteness. The brevity of life is only bitter as it contributes to its incompleteness. Its incompleteness is the real tragedy. And incompleteness is the very badge and sign of the average human life. Occasionally we may come across a Simeon who feels that life has given him all he desired and hoped, and who can therefore say, 'Lord, now lettest thou Thy servant depart in peace, according to Thy word, for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation'. But the vast majority of men do not want to depart, for the simple reason that they have not seen the fulfilment of all that was in their heart. There are hopes which they have not realized, plans they have not perfected, tasks which they have not finished. Achievement never answers to intention. We dream of temples which never get built. The grave is more than the burying-place of lifeless bodies, it is the burying-place also of many a great ambition and many a noble hope.

II. His failure to build the temple of his dreams was the great disappointment and bitterness of David's life. And yet the significant fact is that David was a richer and nobler man for cherishing this dream, that never got realized. If it be true, as I have been saying, that the bitterness of life consists in its incompleteness; that our greatest disappointments come from cherishing hopes that never get realized, then it would seem that the way to save ourselves this bitterness would be to cherish no great or beautiful hopes. But in so arguing we should go far astray. In a twofold way I can see that the cherishing of this aim was productive of blessing.

1. It was a blessing to David's own soul. Nobody can live with a great purpose without being ennobled by it. Little aims make little men. But great aims make great men. There is a refining, enriching influence in the mere possession of a lofty purpose.

2. It was a blessing to those who came after him. It is quite true that David never built the temple. But was it mere waste to have cherished the ambition? Was it all for nothing that he had made such vast preparation and collected such store of material? No, it was not for nothing. Solomon could never have built his temple had not David his father cherished the hope of building one. The materials David collected Solomon used. The dream of the father became the deed of the son. No, it was not all for nothing that David cherished his hope. 'Thou didst well that it was in thy heart.'

God takes will for deed, and reckons honest purpose for achievement. 'Thou didst well,' He said to David, with his plan to build a house, 'that it was in thy heart'. And if I am asked what this means and involves, I answer that I think that God took David's will for his deed, and that in the great books there is a finished temple down to the Shepherd King's account.

J. D. Jones, The Gospel of Grace, p. 221.

References. VI. 12-33. A. Whyte, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lvii. 1900, p. 58. VI. 27. P. W. Darnton, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxxix. 1891, p. 331. VI. 28-30. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xlv. No. 2637. VI. 40. R. E. Hutton, The Crown of Christ, vol. ii. p. 195. VII. 1. J. M. Neale, Sermons Preached in a Religious House, vol. i. p. 132. VII. 1-3, Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. vii. No. 378. VIII. 12-13. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture 2 Kings, Chronicles, etc., p. 114. XI. 1-17 and XII. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xlviii. No. 2776. XII. Ibid. vol. xxxix. No. 2306. XII. 8. Ibid. vol. xxxix. No. 2306. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture 2 Kings, Chronicles, etc., p. 121. XII. 14. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xlvii. No. 2749. XIII. 11. C. H. Kelly, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lxx. 1906, p. 65. XIII. 18. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture 2 Kings, Chronicles, etc., p. 129. XIV. 2-8. Ibid. p. 136. XIV. 11. A. Phelps, The Old Testament a Living Book for All Ages, p. 33. R. E. Hutton, The Crown of Christ, vol. i. p. 125. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture 2 Kings, Chronicles, etc., p. 139. XV. 1-2. G. Matheson, Voices of the Spirit, p. 30. XV. 7. C. Houghton, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xl. 1891, p. 189. XV. 8, 9, 12-15. A. Phelps, The Old Testament a Living Book for All Ages, p. 43. XV. 15. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture 2 Kings, Chronicles, etc., p. 147. XVI. 9. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xx. No. 1152. XVII. 1-10. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture 2 Kings, Chronicles, etc., p. 155. XVII. 3-5. A. Phelps, The Old Testament a Living Book for All Ages, p. 89. XVII. 16. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxvii. No. 2227. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture 2 Kings, Chronicles, etc., p. 161.

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Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 6". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/edt/2-chronicles-6.html. 1910.