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SOLOMON SPEAKS TO GOD AND TO THE PEOPLE
Solomon began his inauguration address by first speaking to the Lord, reminding Him that He had said He would dwell in the dark cloud and that he (Solomon) had built this exalted house for the Lord to dwell in.
Then he turned to address the whole assembly of Israel, the people standing at attention. We are told he blessed them, but the way he did this was by saying, "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, who has fulfilled with His hands what He spoke with His mouth to my father David" (v.3). For if God is blessed, the people will be blessed also. The Lord had said that since the time He brought Israel out of Egypt, He had chosen no city from any tribe of Israel in which to have a house built suitable for the honour of His name. Nor had He chosen any man to be a suitable ruler for Israel until He gave David that honour (vv.5-6). Now finally God's choice of a city has been made clear. He had chosen Jerusalem, which name means "the foundation of peace," a truly appropriate place for God's dwelling, for the foundation of peace is righteousness. "The work of righteousness will be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever" (Isaiah 32:17). In fact, this verse looks forward to the millennium, when Christ the King "will reign in righteousness" (Isaiah 3:11), a wonderful contrast to all the kings who have ever reigned on earth.
In addressing the people, Solomon speaks of David being God's chosen king, therefore Christ is called "the Son of David." Yet it was in David's heart to himself build a house for the name of the Lord, and God did not allow him to, though God commended him that such a desire was in his heart (vv.7-8). But God promised David that his son would build the temple, and now God's Word was fulfilled in the completion of that great project. Solomon added also that he had put the ark in the temple, for it was the ark of God's covenant with Israel, the centre He had chosen.
Solomon then stood before the altar of the Lord in the presence of all the assembly and spread out his hands. Verse 13 is a parenthesis, speaking of his having made a bronze platform five cubits square and three cubits high, the same size as the altar, where all the assembly could see him. He stood on this, then knelt down and spread out his hands toward heaven (v.13).
He began his prayer by giving God His place of great dignity and honour as the Lord God of Israel, greater than all others, and the One who keeps His covenant with those who keep His covenant also, walking before Him with all their heart (v.14). He shows too his appreciation of God's having kept His promise, no doubt in the fact of Solomon's being put on the throne and enabled to build the temple (v.15).
He prayed therefore that God would further keep His promise to David that he should not fail to have a man sit before God on the throne of Israel, but on condition that David's sons would walk in God's law (v, 16). In fact, this promise will be fully fulfilled in spite of many of David's sons failing to obey God's law. God overrules all the failure in such a way that the Son of David, the Lord Jesus, will take the throne of Israel in perfect righteousness, but this is still future.
Meanwhile, because Israel has not kept God's covenant, they (including David's posterity) are suffering great sorrow and obscurity, and will do so until they finally recognise Jesus as the true Son of David, the Messiah of Israel at the end of their Great Tribulation.
But Solomon asks a pertinent question, "Will God indeed dwell with men on earth?" (v.18). To do so would require an astounding act of grace, for the heavens and the heaven of heavens cannot contain God. He is infinite, without limits, and omnipresent, present everywhere at all times. We cannot understand the greatness of His being. He cannot be confined anywhere, yet in a very real sense He dwelt in the temple, in the holiest of all, though in thick darkness. This is a paradox in which we may rejoice. Solomon implored God's attention and concern as regards his intercession for Israel, with God's eyes open toward the temple. He realised that when Israel prayed, they would have need of forgiveness, and he asks God to forgive.
In fact, each one of the detailed prayers that follow contemplates a condition of failure on the part of Israel, except for verses 32 to 35. In verse 22 the case of one sinning against another is seen and intercession made that God would hear prayer in this matter and judge according to truth (v.23). Verses 24 and 25 deal with prayer being made toward the temple when Israel's sin has caused them to suffer defeat by an enemy, asking that when they pray, God may bring them back to their land.
This was in measure fulfilled when God brought a large number of Judah back from Babylon after the 70 years of captivity. But the true fulfilment of this will be when all twelve tribes are gathered back by the power of the Lord Jesus at the end of the Great Tribulation, when their guilt will practically drive them in repentance to the Lord.
Verses 26-27 contemplate the case of Israel's sin causing God's judgment by withholding rain from the land. In the days of Ahab, Elijah prophesied drought like this, which lasted 3 ½ years (just the length of the future Great tribulation), though we do not read that Israel after this forsook their sin and sought the Lord. Thus, God's grace was even more considerate than Solomon asked. However, in verse 27, Solomon asked for Israel's restoration in order that God might teach them the good way in which they should walk, as well as sending rain on the land. The full accomplishment of this will not be until the introduction of the millennium, when Israel will have the character of being willing volunteers in the day of the Lord's power (Psalms 110:3), and the land will bear fruit abundantly.
Verses 28-31 consider a case of famine in the land, which might follow the withholding of rain, but might be accompanied by pestilence, blight or mildew, locusts or grasshoppers. This might occur, however, when enemies besieged them in their cities, when they had no access to food. Plagues and sickness could be very prevalent at such a time. If this would drive people in prayer and confession to God, then Solomon asks that God would hear from heaven and forgive Israel's sin, rendering to each individual such mercy as is appropriate, considering the state of each heart (v.30). The desired effect was that Israel would fear the Lord (v.31).
In verses 32 and 33 Solomon prays for any foreigner who had come to Israel from a far country because of his regard for God's great name. If such a person would come and pray in the temple (for the temple court was considered a part of the temple), Solomon asks that God would hear his prayer and answer it, that this might have some real effect on all the peoples of the earth in recognising the greatness of the God of Israel (v.33).
If God should send Israel to battle against their enemies and they would pray toward Jerusalem and the temple there, then Solomon asks that God would hear and answer their prayer, and maintain their cause (vv.34-35). Let us note that he does not pray for this if Israel went to battle without God's direction. We can expect God's blessing only in God's way.
In verses 36-39 Solomon speaks of an occasion when Israel sins against God (not "if they sin", "for there is no one who does not sin") and God's anger causes them to be delivered to the captivity of an enemy, whether near or far. He adds, "when" (not "if") they come to themselves in the land where they are carried captive, and repent and make supplication to God in the land of their captivity, saying "We have sinned, we have done wrong, and have committed wickedness." There is no shadow of doubt that Israel will do this eventually, though centuries have passed since they have been scattered through the world. The pride of man's natural heart is so great that he will stubbornly continue in rebellion against God even while going through the forms of religious observance. But the Great Tribulation will eventually break down their arrogant pride to make such a confession as is seen in verse 37.
It will be a work of God's grace in their hearts that moves all this, causing them to return to the Lord with all their heart and soul in the land of their captivity (v.38). For this prayer of Solomon has in it the element of a prophecy. Even today the eyes of many Israelites are turned toward Jerusalem, though still in a state of coldness toward the Lord Jesus. But very soon a great change will take place, for the Great Tribulation is certainly not far off.
Solomon prays that God would hear from heaven, and He certainly will, in such a way that the remnant of Israel will be fully restored to their land permanently, with the full, free forgiveness of God (v.39).
The prayer draws to its close with an appeal to God for His kind attention to what is prayed (v.40), and Solomon's desire that the Lord God would, with the ark of His strength, find a true resting place, and that the priests, those who served in the temple, be clothed with salvation, and all the saints rejoice in God's goodness (v. 41).
Finally, and most importantly, he draws attention to the grace of God's Anointed. Christ alone is the Centre of blessing for mankind, God's anointed King. It is in Him that all the interests of believers are maintained, and all God's interests too. The finishing sentence is most precious also, "Remember the mercies of Your servant David." This refers to the resurrection of Christ (Acts 13:34), though Solomon did not realise this significance at the time he spoke.
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 6". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29