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1 Kings 8:2. All the men of Israel assembled—in the month Ethanim— To celebrate the dedication of his new temple with greater magnificence, Solomon chose to defer it till the next year, which was the Jubilee, their ninth, according to Archbishop Usher, which opened the fourth millenary of the world: at which solemnity there used to be always a vast concourse of people from all parts of the kingdom. The ceremony began on the eighth day of the seventh month of the sacred year, which was the first of the civil year, answering to the latter end of our October, and lasted seven days; at the end of which began the feast of tabernacles. The ceremony opened with a pompous procession, in which the priests carried the ark from the tabernacle which David had erected for it, to the temple, and deposited it in the most holy place, between the two golden cherubims which Solomon had caused to be made by Hiram, to be a kind of covering to the ark. The king himself, accompanied by all his chief officers and the elders of Israel, marched before the ark: these were followed by a great number of priests and Levites, who sung some canticles proper to the occasion, and played upon various instruments. Next to the ark followed another number of singers and players, with other priests bearing the golden candlesticks, altar of incense, and other sacred utensils of the sanctuary, which had been brought from Gibeon, where they and the tabernacle had been deposited till that time. While the priests were placing the ark in the Holy of Holies, the air rung with the sound of a hundred and twenty trumpets, and with the voices of the Levites, who sang the praises of God, repeating these words at proper stanzas: Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;—and his mercy endureth for ever: it was then that God seemed to come down in a visible manner, to take possession, as it were, of his new temple, by filling it with a glorious cloud, as he had formerly done the tabernacle; insomuch that the priests could not stand to offer up the sacrifices which they had prepared upon that occasion. See Exodus 40:34. 2 Chronicles 5:0; 2 Chronicles 5:0 throughout, and Universal History.
1 Kings 8:9. There was nothing in the ark save the two tables of stone, &c.— See Hebrews 9:4.
Note; Though our eyes behold not the lustre of the Jewish temple, yet whilst by faith we are enabled to look to Jesus, all our requests will be granted, and at last with open face, we shall behold his brighter glory.
1 Kings 8:22. And Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord— Raised above the people, on a brazen scaffold three cubits high, (see 2 Chronicles 6:13.) Solomon commanded the attention of the people, who stood in the court and in the galleries round about, and kneeling down, 1 Kings 8:54. He spread forth his hands towards heaven, and dedicated the sacred building to God, in a most elegant and devout prayer. The noble and animated break in the 27th verse is peculiarly excellent.
1 Kings 8:39. Give to every man according to his ways— God is represented, in the sacred writings, both as the tutelary deity and the supreme magistrate of the Jews; in consequence of which, He governed them by an equal, or rather an extraordinary Providence. This extraordinary Providence is represented as administered, 1 over the state in general; 2 over private men in particular: and such a representation we should expect to find from the nature of the republic; because, as an extraordinary Providence over the state necessarily follows God's being their tutelary deity, so an extraordinary Providence to particulars follows as necessarily from his being their supreme magistrate. As to this Providence over the state, it would be absurd to quote particular texts, when the whole Bible is one continued history of it. In his dedication of the first temple, Solomon addresses his prayer to God, that the covenant between him and the people might remain firm and inviolate, and the old economy be still continued: and, after having enumerated divers parts of it, he proceeds in the manner described, 1 Kings 8:35-11.8.39. Solomon in this petition, which, with respect to the given covenant we might properly call a petition of rights, speaks the language of one who extended the temporal sanctions of the law to particulars and individuals; for he desires God, according to the terms of the covenant, to render to every man according to his ways. But when is it that he prays for the exertion of this extraordinary Providence to particulars?—At the very time when it is administering to the state in general: If there be in the land famine, &c. 1 Kings 8:37. The necessary consequence is, that as sure as Solomon believed an extra-ordinary Providence exercised to the state in general, so surely did he believe it exercised to individuals in particular. Divine Legation, vol. 4: p. 117, &c.
1 Kings 8:43. Is called by thy name— That is, is thy house. See Explicat. des Textes Difficiles, p. 188.
REFLECTIONS.—1st, The priests and people appearing in consternation at the sight of the cloud, Solomon encourages them.
1. He reminds them, that this is the fulfilment of God's promise, Lev 16:6 and a gracious mark of his favour and approbation. The house now being built, the Divine inhabitant comes to take up his residence therein, and Solomon cannot but pray that it may be for ever. Note; (1.) If we enter, at any time, the dark cloud of affliction or temptation, let us not be dismayed, for there also God dwelleth. (2.) If we have found, at any time, God's comfortable presence, it cannot but excite us to pray, that he may take up his abode with us continually.
2. He pronounced a solemn benediction on the people, who reverently stood up to receive it.
3. He, with thankful acknowledgments to God, recites the design of his building this house. God had promised to choose the place of his abode, and David his father had planned the fabric; but God stayed him from proceeding, though he graciously accepted his intentions, and fixed on his son for the glorious work. Now then the promise is accomplished, the fixed abode for God's ark provided, and the structure for ever devoted to the service of their covenant God. Note; (1.) The fulfilment of God's precious promises more engage the tongues of the faithful, than their own unworthy performances. (2.) A good desire is not forgotten of God.
2nd, We have Solomon appearing in greater glory on his knees before the altar, than when seated on his ivory throne, and crowned with gold. Having comforted the people with his benediction, he lifts up his heart and hands to God in prayer, that this house, so gloriously opened, might be for ever distinguished by God's presence, grace, and merciful regard to those who should therein pour out their supplications.
1. Solomon himself began the service, and shewed the people the way to the throne of grace, where, on their behalf, he is intercessor for the settling a blessed intercourse between God and them. He did not think himself too great to bow before his Lord, nor was at a loss how to address him; but before the altar, as depending on the blood shed there for the success of his petitions, he spread abroad his hands to heaven, and bent the suppliant knee. Note; (1.) Let great men imitate so noble a pattern, nor think it unbecoming them to pray with their households; and if their hearts be right, as Solomon's with God, though they possess not his wisdom or gifts, they shall not want that spirit of prayer and supplication which will help their infirmities, and teach them how and what to pray for as they ought. (2.) Every prayer which would find acceptance with God, must be presented through the blood and intercession of Jesus. (3.) Fervency in prayer, whether in word or gesture, may provoke the censure of the careless or the lukewarm; but God will not despise the hands lifted up to heaven.
2. The prayer of Solomon.
[1.] He opens, with ascribing to God the glory due unto his name, acknowledges his transcendant greatness, and his faithfulness in his promises to those who walk before him in simplicity and truth. Note; (1.) To praise God for past mercies, is not only the tribute that we owe to him, but a comfortable encouragement to our own faith. (2.) They who desire to serve God from their hearts, will find his ear ever open to their prayers.
[2.] He supplicates for himself and people the fulfilment of God's promises, with admiration and astonishment at the condescension of God, who, though the heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain him, vouchsafes to visit this sinful earth, and to dwell with worms of the dust. He prays, that, according to the promise made to David, his seed might never fail, nor his throne be removed; that God would ever regard this temple, where he had so gloriously manifested his presence; and that his prayers, and the prayers of the people, there presented unto him, or offered with their faces turned thitherward, might ever meet an answer of peace. Note; (1.) The word of promise is the ground of prayer. (2.) God still condescends to dwell on earth, not indeed in temples made with hands, but in the more glorious temple of the believer's heart. (3.) Every accepted prayer must be through him whom the temple prefigured, even Jesus Christ: and, whilst the eye of faith is turned to him, we may be assured that God will hear and answer us. (4.) Forgiveness of sin is among the most invaluable blessings which the enlightened mind seeks from God.
3rdly, Having finished his prayer, Solomon arose from his knees, and dismissed the people with a gracious benediction: magnifying God for the rest and peace which they enjoyed, and the full accomplishment of all his promises; earnestly wishing that his blessing might be ever with them, as with their fathers; especially that his grace might incline their hearts to serve him, which could not fail to secure the continuance of his regard; and that a continued answer to his prayer might be vouchsafed to them; to the end, that all the earth might, from these instances of his power and love to his people, be brought to acknowledge the glory of Israel's God. And then he concludes with a solemn charge to them, to be faithful to the Lord, who would never fail them if they forsook not him. Note; (1.) We ought to praise God for the rest that we enjoy, spiritual or temporal; and especially for the eternal rest which the word of promise has secured to the faithful. (2.) God's presence with us is the greatest blessing that we can enjoy in this world, and the earnest of our inheritance in a better. (3.) When his rich grace sweetly influences and inclines our hearts, then, and only then, shall we be enabled to walk in the way of God's commandments. (4.) While Jesus our high-priest is our advocate, we cannot fail of the Divine benediction.
1 Kings 8:63. Solomon offered—two and twenty thousand oxen, &c.— That is, he offered so many sacrifices during the whole space of time, the whole fourteen days; the seven days of the feast of dedication, and the seven days of the feast of tabernacles, spoken of in the next verse. See 2 Chronicles 7:8-14.7.9. This custom of dedicating temples was also common among the heathens. The Romans dedicated their temples, altars, public edifices, and the like. See Cicero's Orat. pro Domo sui, et Alex. ab Alex. lib. 7: cap. 14. It is probable, that the later heathens borrowed most of their rites from the law of Moses, but intermixing with them the most abominable practices.
1 Kings 8:66. On the eighth day he sent the people away— In 2Ch 7:10 it is on the twenty-third day. Houbigant thinks, that what seems to have been omitted in this place, should be supplied from the parallel place in the Chronicles.
Note; (1.) When we return from God's ordinances, it becomes us to rejoice in the God of our salvation. (2.) A good king is the joy of his subjects. (3.) When we shall return to our eternal home, then shall our joy never end; and Jesus, our king, be the subject of our everlasting praises.
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 1 Kings 8". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany