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CRITICAL NOTES.] Removal of the ark (2 Chronicles 5:1-14.5.10) is followed by visible token of God’s favour (2 Chronicles 5:11-14.5.14) (cf. 1 Kings 8:1-11.8.11), an addition to narrative in Kings, is the account of the circumstances under which the manifestation took place.
2 Chronicles 5:1-14.5.10.—The ark removed. Dedicated (1 Chronicles 22:14; 1 Chronicles 26:26). 2 Chronicles 5:2. Assembled, the elders in the feast of tabernacles, which began on 15th of Ethanim, the seventh month (1 Kings 8:2). The closing festival of the sacred year. 2 Chronicles 5:4. Levites, such as were priests, whose office in particular to bear ark (1 Kings 8:3). 2 Chronicles 5:5. Tabernacle brought from Gibeon (2 Chronicles 1:3). 2 Chronicles 5:6. Sacrificed through the priests. Told, counted (1 Kings 8:5). 2 Chronicles 5:7. Wings, those which met in the middle of the room. 2 Chronicles 5:8. Covered, shaded. 2 Chronicles 5:9. Drew out, intimating that the ark was not to be moved again. They rested in the outer wings, so made a barrier. This day, i.e., the time this history was written. After Babylonish captivity, no trace of ark or staves. 2 Chronicles 5:10. Nothing. Hence tables of the law put into the ark by Moses (Deuteronomy 10:5) existed in time of Solomon.
2 Chronicles 5:11-14.5.14.—God’s glory manifested. Priests without regard to courses; all priests at hand took part in ceremony. 2 Chronicles 5:12. Singers, full choir required on solemn occasions like this; all twenty-four choirs combined in while linen (cf. 1 Chronicles 15:27), with instruments proper for the Levites, and trumpets for priests (cf. Numbers 10:8; 1 Chronicles 15:24; 1 Chronicles 16:6; 2 Chronicles 7:6; 2 Chronicles 13:12-14.13.14). 2 Chronicles 5:13. One. The performance arranged as one whole. The song of praise usual refrain (1 Chronicles 16:34; Psalms 136:0). Cloud as in erection of tabernacle (Exodus 40:34), the symbol of Divine presence, too dazzling for them to officiate.
DEDICATED THINGS.—2 Chronicles 5:1
This incident worthy of note, something to be commended, thought the writer. The treasures of David carefully stored into the chambers of the temple.
I. David before his death dedicated certain treasures to God. With toil, self-sacrifice, and entire devotedness, David collected materials. “In my trouble I have prepared, &c.” (1 Chronicles 22:14). His spoils and property consecrated to the highest uses. The gold of the heathen may enrich the coffers of the Son of God.
II. Solomon most scrupulous in carrying out his father’s wish. He might have taken them for the expenses of his house and government. As executor he willingly appropriated all to its lawful use. Nothing was alienated. The will was felt to bind and fulfilled. Frequently the wishes of pious parents are evaded by worldly-minded relatives. The manner important and specific. Thus (2 Chronicles 5:1; cf. 1 Kings 8:51, so ended, &c.)—
1. Resolving to secure the blessing by fulfilling the conditions.
2. Anxious to bestow upon the people the best blessings.
3. Continuing the work until completely finished.
III. Solomon’s example worthy of our imitation. Treasures we can give—hearts, personal efforts, contributions and attendance, obedience to the Divine will, and prayer for the Divine presence.
THE REMOVAL OF THE ARK.—2 Chronicles 5:2-14.5.10
Along with holy vessels, needful to bring in the ark, the most precious furniture. The occasion one of great interest and solemnity.
I. The time of its removal.
1. Remarkable in itself. The building finished in the month Bul (November), eighth of the year, eleventh of Solomon’s reign (B.C. 1005–4), having occupied workmen seven years and a half (1 Kings 6:1; 1 Kings 6:37-11.6.38). Dedication began in seventh month of the year Ethanim (October), not the same year in which completed. Intervening eleven months spent in getting ready; delay to choose fit time when Jerusalem would be filled with people. Feast of Tabernacles most suitable season to dedicate temple.
2. Remarkable in its influence. “The magnitude of the event is marked by the fact that now, for the first time since the exodus, we have the years and months recorded” [Stanley]. Events often fix dates in life. “I have shewed thee new things from this time.”
II. The method of its removal. Similar to the ceremony of removing from house of Obededom to Zion (2 Samuel 6:12; 1 Chronicles 15:25).
1. Representatives of the nation summoned to take part. Heads of tribes, chiefs of the fathers, senators, judges, and rulers.
2. Vast spectators met together. “All the men of Israel assembled themselves” (2 Chronicles 5:3). Not only chief men, those invited, but vast numbers of common people to watch the ceremony.
3. An orderly procession was formed. The king, preceded by his royal guard (1 Kings 14:27-11.14.28), took the lead; elders of the people followed; then came the Levites bearing the ark. This procession was joined by another on Mount Zion from lofty height of Gibeon, “bearing with it the relics of the old pastoral worship, now to be disused for ever” (2 Chronicles 5:5). Levite choirs sang joyous psalms (the Psalms of Degrees 120–124), in solemn steps, accompanied with cymbals, psalteries, harps, and trumpets. Up the hill the procession went, and in nearing Moriah they would sing, “Arise, O Lord, into Thy resting-place, Thou and the ark of Thy strength.”
III. The ceremonies which accompanied its removal. Everything fit for a great and solemn event like this.
1. Innumerable sacrifices offered. Stationed in different places, priests offered “sheep and oxen which could not be numbered for multitude” (2 Chronicles 5:6). “The ground was moist with drink-offerings and sacrifices,” says Josephus.
2. Priests attended in a body. This an extraordinary occasion, more than wonted solemnity. All priests came up from all parts of Judæa to take part. “All the priests that were present (found) were sanctified and did not then wait by course” (2 Chronicles 5:11).
3. Musicians orderly arranged. The station of priests with instruments at marble table on the south-west of the altar apart from others. Levite singers occupied an orchestra east of the altar. Both stood with their faces to the altar. The new and gentler notes of David’s music blended with the loud trumpet blast of earlier days in praising God, “for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever.”
IV. The solemn deposit in its resting-place. Brought into its place, into the oracle of the house, to the most holy place, even under the wings of the cherubims (1 Kings 8:6). “There it is unto this day” (2 Chronicles 5:9).
1. Its public inspection. “Before the ark disappeared for the last time from the eyes of the people, the awful reverence which had kept any inquisitive eyes from prying into the secrets of that sacred chest gave way before the united feelings of necessity and of irresistible curiosity. The ancient lid formed by the cherubs was to be removed; and a new one without them was to be substituted, to fit it for its new abode. It was taken off, and in so doing the interior of t ark was seen by Israelite eyes for the first time for more than four centuries, perhaps the last time for ever” [Stanley].
2. Its careful seclusion. Put into “the place of its rest” (Psalms 132:8-19.132.14), in token that its wanderings were over—that God had given rest to the Levites and privilege to minister in fixed service; a final pledge of God’s presence with his people in their new capital. God present in religious assemblies. “Lo, I am with you always.”
THE JOY OF FINISHED WORK
I. The accomplishment of a good work is the cause of joy. The building of the first and second temple, the establishment of national government and the acquisition of national liberty, the rearing of great monuments and the opening of places of worship, &c.
1. Joy to the builder. Solomon rejoiced that no accident delayed, that no providence prevented the erection of the temple.
2. Joy to the nation. The people rejoiced; all classes represented, and shared in the consecration. Sacrifice and cymbal; king, princes, and people united in praise to God, “who keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him.”
II. The power to accomplish this work should be ascribed to God. Not to the skill of the architect, the labour of the builders, the wealth of the contributors, but to God. Genius to invent, material, gold, and silver, to give all from him. We return simply what we receive. “All things come of thee, and of thine own have we given thee.”
III. Hence, in every great undertaking we should ask for God’s direction. In building ask for a site, materials, and workmen, for time to finish, and privilege to consecrate. “All the works of this pattern,” only from the Divine Architect. If enterprises, social and national, succeed, wisdom from above must guide. In building a family and a business, if the foundations be laid in oppression (Habakkuk 2:11-35.2.12), and the materials be gathered and put together in pride and forgetfulness of God, the erection may fall, and great may be the fall. The best-laid project fails unless God crown it with success. “Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it.”
THE TEMPLE CHOIR.—2 Chronicles 5:12-14.5.13
A full choir on this occasion. Levites, with cymbals, psalteries, and harps, their proper instruments; and priests with trumpets.
I. Music a revelation from God. Music of a certain kind in nature—“the notes of birds,” “the music of the spheres,” &c. But sounds not music until reduced to scale; not a hymn of praise until formed by the mind of man, taught by the help of God, to awaken emotions. “There is no fuller revelation of God in nature than is found in these laws of sound, by which he comes into the very heart of man, even to its inmost recesses of love and adoration; and it requires only a sensitive, child-like heart to interpret this speechless music locked within nature as the voice of God pleading to be let out into music, and praise through the heart of man, for so only can his works praise him” [Munger].
II. Music as a science to cultivate. Materials and laws of music in nature must be reduced to harmony, and made the vehicle of thought and feeling. Musicians described as workmen, a guild of sacred minstrels who labour and study to perfect their art (1 Chronicles 25:1).
1. Some may lead. Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthem “set over service of song.” Leaders required to train and conduct.
2. All may learn. Voice given to cultivate. Members of the choir and the congregation may practise singing. All should feel that sacred music pleads for better use and nobler exercise.
III. Music consecrated to its highest use in the worship of God. The temple the great school of music, which was consecrated to worship of Jehovah, hence “songs of the temple” (Amos 8:3). Nothing calls for music like religion. It may be left out of other departments of life, but religious worship would suffer without music. Where praise is repressed for the sake of the sermon the service will become dull and unprofitable. Cease to sing, and men will forget to assemble. Music takes to itself the noblest instruments, attunes and inspires the greatest composers, and becomes the expression of the greatest reverence, adoration, and praise in the house of God. The heart has lost its sadness, atheists have wept, and men been brought to God under the influence of song. “Both young men and maidens, old men and children, let them praise the name of the Lord.”
THE CLOUD FILLING THE TEMPLE.—2 Chronicles 5:11-14.5.14
I. As a confirmation of acceptance. By this God approved of Solomon’s work, honoured the ark and accepted the temple. Priests drew back in holy dread. Sinful man cannot approach the glory of God, who is like a consuming fire. But God condescends to meet him, to hear prayer and restore to friendship.
II. As a distinguishing feature of the Jewish from other nations. Heathen nations had temples, but gods without glory. No manifestation like that of Jehovah ever seen by them. This cloud a striking testimony that God took the nation under His care and protection. The glory, stability, and attractive force of any people is to have God with them. “For what nation is there so great who hath God so nigh unto them, as the Lord our God is in all things that we call upon him for?”
III. As a symbol of permanent habitation. After the dedication the visible sign withdrawn, but God constantly dwelt in the temple. Only driven out when polluted by manifold idolatry (Ezekiel 10:4-26.10.18). His return in the Messiah greater than in the magnificence of temple.
IV. A consecrating element in all sacred buildings. Not until the glory fills the Christian church, the human heart, and the plans of life, will they become fit for God. “Let this be a lesson to all church builders. Your painted windows, and gilded columns, and majestic roofs are nothing until the living Spirit comes into the sanctuary, fills it with an illuminating presence. The house is built for God, and until God comes it is but a structure of calculated matter; when he comes every stone glows and every corner of the house becomes a sacred refuge, and the whole temple becomes as it were a part of heaven” [Dr. Parker].
HOMILETIC HINTS AND SUGGESTIONS
2 Chronicles 5:2. Bring up the ark. Why this display and ceremony?
1. The ark the chief thing in the temple. The temple without the ark like the Church without a Bible, the universe without a sun.
2. The ark in the temple significant of God’s desire to be reconciled to man, to dwell with his people and not be separated from them.
3. The temple, therefore, nothing until consecrated by the ark. The same with aspects and departments of human life. Men, places, and abilities nothing until utilised for good. How many empty places and unfulfilled plans and prophecies of life!
2 Chronicles 5:9. There it is. Things that remain.
1. Sin and misery remain—cannot be ignored or explained away.
2. Redemption in Christ remains—may be enjoyed and offered to all.
3. Religious ordinances remain—the Bible, the Sabbath, and privileges of God’s house. There they are, lodged with us, tokens of God’s favour and presence committed unto us to enjoy and commend to others (2 Timothy 1:13-55.1.14).
2 Chronicles 5:12-14.5.13. Singers.
1. In beautiful attire. “Arrayed in white linen”—the symbol of purity, beauty, and splendour. “White is everywhere,” says one, “the livery and colour of heaven.”
2. With various instruments. Stringed and unstringed, all forms and all ministries, may be employed in God’s service.
3. With marvellous unison. All the twenty-four choirs combined into one grand choir. Singing and playing arranged to form one whole, “to make one sound” in praising the Lord. Such strains fit type of heaven and of the everlasting life of glorified spirits. A life of melody, love, and order in themselves. A life in harmony with each other and with God.
4. The theme of their song. The goodness and mercy of the Lord. “He is good, for his mercy endureth for ever.” The song of the redeemed in heaven.
2 Chronicles 5:13. The cloud.
1. A type of Old Testament dispensation. Rites and ceremonies, types and shadows. “He made darkness his secret place.”
2. The present mode of viewing God. Can only know and see God through a cloud “darkly.” The clearest conceptions dark; the greatest capacity limited. None can find out God by searching. “The symbol clearly implies a revelation of divine glory, as it is seen, not in the unveiled brightness of heaven, but in the glorious cloud of mystery, through which it must always be seen on earth, and which indeed is all that the eye of man can bear to contemplate. Out of that glory comes the only revelation which can be destined to man—the voice or word of the Lord (Deuteronomy 4:12)” [Ellicott’s O. T. Com.].
ILLUSTRATIONS TO CHAPTER 5
2 Chronicles 5:1. Finished. There are some buildings that are never finished. We never finish our life building; the life temple goes up evermore. Let every man take heed how he buildeth. Do not suppose that you finish your education. In the higher education you only finish that you may begin; you close one book as a pledge of your qualification to open another. There is always a higher aspect of things to apprehend and apply [Dr. Parker].
2 Chronicles 5:12-14.5.13. Singers and harps. Theology and music unite and move on, hand in hand, through time, and will continue eternally to illustrate, embellish, enforce, impress, and fix in the attentive mind the grand and important truths of Christianity [Andrew Law, “Essay on Music”]. Man did not make the laws of music; he has only found them out, and if he be self-willed and break them, there is an end of music instantly; all he brings out is discord and ugly sounds [Chas. Kingsley].
“God is its author and not man; he laid
The key-note of all harmonies; he plann’d
All perfect combinations; and he made
Us so that we could hear and understand.”
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 5". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week of Advent