THE DEDICATION OF THE TEMPLE.—The stately and impressive service with which the Temple, the character and contents of which have now been described, was dedicated, is related in this chapter, and divides itself into four sections. We have
SECTION I.—The Removal of the Ark.
1 Kings 8:1
Then [i.e; when the work of the house of the Lord was practically ended, as stated in 1 Kings 7:51. But the precise date of the dedication is a matter of dispute and uncertainty. We know that it took place in the seventh month of the year, but of what year we cannot be so sure. Was it the same year in the eighth month of which (1 Kings 6:38) the house was finished (Ewald)? Was the dedication, that is to say, one month anterior to the completion of the house and its appointments? Or are we to understand "the seventh month" to mean the Ethanim of the following year (Bähr)? are we to assign the dedication, that is, to a date eleven months after completion? Or, finally, are we to believe with the Vat. LXX. μετὰ ἔικοσι ἔτη (the LXX. text is here, however, in great confusion), that the temple was not dedicated until the palaces were also built (see 1 Kings 9:1-9); are we to hold, i.e; that though finished and ready for use, it remained unused for a period of thirteen years (Thenius, Keil)? These are questions which we cannot perhaps answer with absolute certainty, but, to my mind, every consideration is in favour of the date first mentioned, i.e; the seventh month of the eleventh year of Solomon's reign. It is true Bähr says that this opinion "needs no refutation," while Keil pronounces it directly at variance with 1 Kings 7:51." But it is worth while to inquire whether this is so? And, first, as to the bearing of the passage just cited, "So was ended all the work which," etc; taken in connexion with 1 Kings 8:1, "Then Solomon assembled," etc. To the cursory reader it appears no doubt as it this "then" must refer to the completion of the work of which we have just heard, and which was not effected until the eighth month of the year (1 Kings 6:38). But
1 Kings 8:2
And all the men of Israel [not all the heads of the tribes just mentioned (1 Kings 8:1), as Keil, but all who came to the feast, as every male Israelite was under obligation to do (Deuteronomy 16:16) ] assembled themselves unto King Solomon at the feast [the Heb. word הֶחָג (with the art.) always means the feast of tabernacles. The same word is used of the feast of passover (Exodus 23:15) and pentecost (ib. verse 16), but "the feast" here can only mean that of tabernacles. As the "feast of ingathering" (Exodus 23:16), as commemorating the deliverance from Egypt (Le 23:43), and as peculiarly a social festival (ib. verses 40-42; Numbers 29:12 sqq.), it was the most joyous as well as the greatest ( ἑορτὴ ἁψιωτάτν καὶ μεγίστν. Jos; Ant. 8.4. 1) gathering of the year. (Compare the Jewish saying of a later date: "He who has never seen the rejoicing at the pouring out of the water of Siloam, has never seen rejoicing in his life.") It was doubtless for this reason that tabernacles was selected for the dedication. A special feast of dedication, however, was held for seven days before the feast of tabernacles proper commenced (see on verse 65). It did not displace that great feast, however (Stanley), but simply preceded it. It is worthy of notice that Jeroboam selected the same feast (1 Kings 12:32) for the inauguration of his new cultus. The idea of Josephus, that the feast of tabernacles "happened to coincide with the dedication" hardly seems probable] in the month Ethanim [variously interpreted to mean gifts, i.e; fruits (Thenius), flowing streams (Gesenius)—it falls about the time of the early rains—and equinox (Bottcher) ], which is the seventh month. [This is added because the month was subsequently known as Tisri (see on 1 Kings 6:1), or to show that "the feast" was the feast of tabernacles.]
1 Kings 8:3
And all the elders of Israel came [Not a mere repetition. The men who were summoned to Jerusalem (1 Kings 8:1) were all present, of their own accord, to witness the removal], and the priests took up the ark. tin the parallel account in 2 Chronicles 5:4, we read that "the Levites took up the ark." But there is no contradiction, as has been too readily supposed. For 2 Chronicles 5:7 of the Chronicles," the priests brought in the ark," etc; confirms the statement of the text. And the explanation is suggested in 2 Chronicles 5:5 of the same chapter, "These did the priests, the Levites (so the Heb.) bring up." Same expression in Joshua 3:3. All the priests were Levites—Keil translates, "the Levitical priests"—and this somewhat singular expression is no doubt used to remind us that such was the ease. Nor need it cause us any surprise to find the priests employed in this service. It is true that the ark was given into the charge of the Kohathite Levites (Numbers 3:30, Numbers 3:31); and it was their duty to bear it (Numbers 4:15; Numbers 7:9; Numbers 10:21; cf. 1 Chronicles 15:2, 1 Chronicles 15:11, 1 Chronicles 15:12). But the real care and supervision of the ark always belonged to the sons of Aaron. It was their office, e.g; to put on or take off the covering of the ark and of the vessels, which the Levites were forbidden directly to touch (Numbers 4:5-15). It was quite in accordance with the spirit of these provisions that Solomon now entrusted the carriage of the ark to the superior order. But more than that, Solomon was not without precedent to justify his choice, indeed, we may see in his selection of the priests a minute mark of truth, amounting almost to an undo-signed coincidence. For we find that on occasions of extraordinary solemnity—at the crossing of the Jordan, e.g. (Joshua 3:6, Joshua 3:15, Joshua 3:17), and at the siege of Jericho (Joshua 6:6), the priests had borne the ark (of. 1 Samuel 4:4; 1 Chronicles 15:11, 1 Chronicles 15:12). It was no doubt these familiar precedents guided Solomon, or the ecclesiastical authorities, in their selection of the priests on this occasion. A "settled place," a "house of cedars" (2 Samuel 7:7), "having now been found for the ark" to abide in, after it had "dwelt in curtains" for 500 years, it was taking its last journey, and in order to mark this journey as exceptional, in order to show both the ark and the house the greater reverence, it was determined that it should be borne for the last time by the priests. Keil suggests that the ark may have been uncovered, but this is very improbable. Why, we may ask, were coverings provided, and their use prescribed (Numbers 4:5-15), if they were to be arbitrarily dispensed with? He also adds that Levites were not allowed to enter the most holy place. But neither, it may be added, was this lawful for the priests. Levites and priests might enter that day, because the house was not then dedicated. The cloud (Joshua 3:10) claimed it for God.
1 Kings 8:4
And they brought up the ark of the Lord [which had now been for nearly 40 years "in the tabernacle that David had pitched for it" on the Mount Zion (2 Samuel 6:17) ], and the tabernacle of the congregation [Heb, "the tabernacle of meeting". This had been for many years at Gibeon. (Cf. 1 Kings 3:4; 2 Chronicles 1:8; 1 Chronicles 16:1-43 :89. See note on 1 Chronicles 3:4.) The tabernacle of Mount Zion is never called "the tabernacle of the congregation"—indeed, it is expressly dis-tingnished from it, 2 Chronicles 1:3, 2 Chronicles 1:4. The ark and the tabernacle were now reunited in the temple of Solomon, thus "marking the identity and continuity of the life and ritual of the Hebrew Church" (Wordsworth) ], and all the holy vessels that were in the tabernacle [Perhaps the brazen altar. Certainly the altar of incense, the table of shewbread, the candlestick, and also the brazen serpent (Stanley) ], even those did the priests and Levites bring up. [We are hardly justified in saying (as Keil, al.) that the Levites carried all but the ark. The text rather favours the view that the priests assisted in bringing up the tabernacle and its furniture. So 2 Chronicles 5:5. Neither the tabernacle nor its vessels were designed for further use in the temple; the latter had been replaced by vessels better suited to the enlarged sanctuary—they were simply preserved, so far as we know, as relics of the past. in the treasury or side chambers.
1 Kings 8:5
And king Solomon, and all the congregation of Israel, that were assembled unto him were with him; before the ark [Prayers and sacrifices alike were offered toward the mercy seat (Psalms 28:2; cf. Exodus 25:22) ], sacrificing sheep and oxen [apparently the ark festal en route (cf. 2 Samuel 6:18) whilst the sacrifices were offered. The object of the sacrifice was to testify the grateful joy of the people at the proximate realization of their hopes. There may have been also in the background the idea of averting the Divine anger, of making a propitiation for possible errors and imperfections in their service. There were tragedies connected with the removal of the ark in time past (1 Samuel 4:17; 1 Samuel 6:19; 2 Samuel 6:7) which, we may be sure, were not altogether forgotten on this occasion] that could not be told or numbered for multitude. [Cf. 2 Samuel 6:13. But the sacrifices on that occasion were on a much smaller scale (1 Chronicles 15:26). Josephus adds (Ant. 8.4. 1), that a vast quantity of incense was burnt, and that men preceded the ark, singing and dancing, until it reached its destination].
1 Kings 8:6
And the priests brought in the ark of the covenant unto his [i.e; its. But this word is never found in the A.V. It has come into use since the date of our translation] place [cf. 1 Kings 6:19] into the oracle of the house, to the most holy place [Heb. holy of holies], even under the wings of the cherubims [1 Kings 6:27. Whether the ark stood with its length east and west, or north and south, it is somewhat difficult to decide. But see on 1 Kings 6:8].
1 Kings 8:7
For the cherubims spread forth their two wings over the place of the ark, and the cherubims covered [ יָסֹכוּ from סָכַךְ, texit; hence, סֻכָה, booth; LXX. περιεκάλυπτον, i.e; overshadowed and concealed. This word is of some importance as showing that the ark would thenceforward and always be in complete darkness, under the outstretched wings of the cherubim—a fact which suggests the true explanation of the following verse] the ark and the staves thereof above [Heb. from above].
1 Kings 8:8
And they drew out [It is uncertain whether יַאֲרִכוּ is transitive, as our A.V. renders it, and as in 1 Kings 3:14 = lengthen, in which case, however, it should almost be followed by אֵת, or intransitive, as in Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 5:16; Deuteronomy 25:15, when the meaning would be, "The staves were long," but the latter rendering has the support of most scholars. As the oracle in the tabernacle was a cube of ten cubits, they cannot have been more than eight or nine cubits, and it is doubtful whether, the ark being only 2.5 cubits, they would be so long. Their length is mentioned in order to account for the ends being seen. It is immaterial to the meaning of the passage, however, which interpretation we put upon this verb. If we adhere to the A.V. then we must understand that, as it was forbidden to remove the staves from the rings at the corners of the ark (Exodus 25:12-15), they drew the staves forward towards one end of the ark; that they removed the staves altogether from the ark (Stanley) is a view to which the text lends no support] the staves, that the ends [Heb. heads. It is possible the ends of the staves were fitted with knobs. This would prevent their removal] of the staves were seen out in [Heb. from] the holy place [Marg. ark, the word found in the Chronicles Hebrews 5:9. It is questionable, however, whether הַקֹּדֶשׁ is ever used, by itself, of the ark (Gesen; Thesaurus, s.v.) It may be used of the most holy place (see on Hebrews 5:10), but here it would appear to designate the הֵיכָל (1 Kings 6:17), the body or "temple of the house" (Exodus 26:33; Hebrews 9:2). Its meaning appears to be so defined by the next words] before the oracle [i.e; a person standing in the holy place, but at the west end, near the entrance to the oracle (1 Kings 6:31), could see the ends of the staves. Several questions of considerable nicety suggest themselves here.
1. What was the position of the ark? Did it stand, that is to say, east and west, or north and south under the wings of the cherubim?
2. What was the position of the staves? Were they attached to the ends or to the sides of the ark?
3. How could the ends of the staves be seen, and by whom and when—on the occasion of the dedication only or in later years?
4. Why has our author recorded this circumstance?
1. the balance of evidence is in favour of the ark having stood north and south, in a line, that is, with the wings of the cherubim. For
2. As to the staves, Josephus states (Ant. 3.7. 5) that they ran along the sides of the ark, and this would appear to be the natural and proper arrangement. It follows hence again that they cannot have been more than eight or nine cubits long, inasmuch as they found a place between the bodies of the cherubim, which cannot have been more than nine cubits apart.
3. The explanation of the Rabbins is that the ends of the staves were not really seen, but that they projected into the curtain and so made two visible protrusions or prominences. But this view hardly satisfies the requirements of the text, and it assumes that the ark stood east and west, which we have found good reason to doubt. But even if this were so, it is doubtful whether the staves, so long as they remained in the rings, could be made to reach to the door of the oracle, unless indeed they were lengthened for the purpose. How then were they seen? The following considerations may assist us to answer this question.
1 Kings 8:9
There was nothing in the ark save the two tables of stone which Moses put there [Exodus 25:16; Exodus 40:20; Deuteronomy 10:5. This statement appears to be at variance with Hebrews 9:4, which mentions "the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron's rod that budded," as in the ark, along with "the tables of the covenant." And it is to be observed that, while our text excludes these relics from the ark (temp. Solomon), no other scripture save that just cited expressly includes them. In Exodus 16:34 and Numbers 17:1-13 :25 (Heb. A.V 17:10) they are commanded to be laid up "before the testimony," words which no doubt may mean, as they were long interpreted to mean, "before the tables of testimony in the ark"—observe, the words are "before the testimony," not "before the ark"—but which are now generally thought to import "in front of the ark which con-rained the testimony." We know the book of the law was put "at the side ( מִחַּד) of the ark" (Deuteronomy 31:26), and hence it is held by some that the golden pot, etc; occupied a similar position. It seems preferable, however, considering the distinct statement of St. Paul, or the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, which, to say the least, embodies Jewish tradition, to adhere to the ancient interpretation that the golden pot of manna and Aaron's rod were in the ark. And this in no wise conflicts with the statement of the text, for these treasures might well have been removed by the Philistines, whose first thought, we may be sure, would be to open their new acquisition. It is not improbable, indeed, that the object of the men of Bethshemesh in looking into the ark was to see whether these treasures were still there. For if the golden pot ever was in the ark, we can hardly suppose it would escape the rapacity of the Philistines, who would leave the two tables of stone as things of no value. Indeed, it is just possible that the trespass offering, the golden mice, etc; were designed as a return for the golden pot which had been removed. And the statement of the text, "there was nothing," etc; almost implies that there had been something there at one time (see Alford on Hebrews 9:4). It seem probable, therefore, that the golden pot and Aaron's rod were originally deposited "before the testimony" in the ark; that they were removed during its captivity (1 Samuel 5:6.); and that the sacrilege was discovered at Bethshemesh (1 Samuel 6:19). This last mentioned episode explains how it came to be known that "there was nothing," etc. It is hardly likely after that memorable visitation that Solomon could have opened the ark and taken out the two relics, as Rawlinson suggests. Nor have we any warrant for the view that the mercy seat, with the cherubs, was removed to make way for a new lid without them, and so the interior of the ark was disclosed to view (Stanley) ] at Horeb [See Exodus 3:1; Exodus 17:6; Exodus 33:6; 1 Kings 19:8. This name, which means dry ground, desert, would appear to have belonged to two or three different places in the wilderness. But as the name of the place where the law was given and the covenant with God made (Deuteronomy 4:10, Deuteronomy 4:13) it became subsequently a nomen generale for the whole of the Sinaitic region. Here the mount of the law is clearly meant] when [Heb. which, אֲשֶׁר is occasionally found in the sense of quum, as in Deuteronomy 11:6; Psalms 139:15; 2 Chronicles 35:20; of. 1 Kings 9:10 (Gesen; Thessalonians, s.v.) ] the Lord made a covenant [Heb. cut; see note on 1 Kings 5:12. בְּרִית is to be understood. Same ellipsis in 1 Samuel 20:16; 1 Samuel 22:8] with the children of Israel when they came [Heb. in their coming] out of the land of Egypt. [Exodus 34:27, Exodus 34:28; Deuteronomy 4:13.]
1 Kings 8:10
And it came to pass, when the priests were come out [Rather, as the priests came out] of the holy place [It has been supposed that "the holy" ( הַקֹּדֶשׁ) is here put for the most holy place, as in Ezekiel 41:23. But this is not by any means the necessary interpretation. The cloud may obviously have filled the entire building only as the priests left it. It would seem, however, from Ezekiel 41:11 as if the priests, having left the oracle, were about to min later in the holy place], that the cloud [Observe the article; the well known cloud which betokened the Divine presence. It had rested upon the tabernacle on the day that it was dedicated (Exodus 40:34), had ac companied it in its journeys (ib. verse 38), and had apparently been specially displayed at certain junctures in the history of Israel (Numbers 12:5, Numbers 12:10; Numbers 16:42; Deuteronomy 31:15). ]t was thus the acknowledged symbol of God's presence, and as such was a visible sign that He now accepted the temple, as He had formerly accepted the tabernacle, as His shrine and dwelling place. It is hardly correct to identify the cloud with the Shechinah of the Targums (Rawlinson), for it is noticeable that the Targums never render "the cloud" or "the glory" by "the Shechinah." In fact, as regards the use of the word by Jewish writers, it would seem to be a periphrasis for God. We may see in the cloud, however, the seat of the Shechinah filled the house of the Lord.
1 Kings 8:11
So that the priests could not stand to rainwater because of the cloud [They were overpowered by the manifestation, precisely as Moses had been before (Exodus 40:35). It was at the moment when the singers and trumpeters, standing at the east end of the altar, began their service of praise—and the reappearance of the priests may well have been the signal for them to begin (2 Chronicles 5:13)—that "the house was filled with a cloud." Possibly the priests were about to burn incense. Evidently ministrations of some sort were intended and were interrupted. The exact correspondence with Exodus 40:35 (cf. Ezekiel 44:4) is not to be overlooked. The idea obviously is that the Divine approval vouchsafed to the tabernacle was now in turn granted to the temple], for the glory of the Lord had filled the house of the Lord. [Is the "glory of the Lord" identical with the cloud, or is something additional intended by these words? It is certainly noticeable that what Exodus 40:10 says of the cloud—that it "filled the house"—Exodus 40:11 says of the glory. It is also true that there is no mention of any light or fire. And the "darkness" of Exodus 40:12 might naturally seem to refer to the cloud, and therefore to exclude the idea of light. But surely the words כְבוֹד יְיָ are to be interpreted here by their signification and use elsewhere, and we find "the glory of the Lord elsewhere mentioned as something distinct from the cloud. We must remember that what by day was a pillar of cloud, by night was a pillar of fire (Exodus 13:21, Exodus 13:22). In Exodus 19:9, Exodus 19:16, the mention of the "thick cloud" is followed by the statement that "Mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke because the Lord descended upon it in fire" (Exodus 19:18). Similarly, in Exodus 24:1-18; we are told that "the glory of the Lord appeared upon Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it (the glory?) six days; and the seventh day He called unto Moses out of the midst of the cloud. And the sight of the glory of the Lord was like devouring fire " (Exodus 24:16, Exodus 24:17). But perhaps the most decisive passage in this connexion is Exodus 40:34, where we are told that "the cloud abode upon" the tent of meeting, while "the glory of the Lord filled the (interior of the) tabernacle." Compare Exodus 16:7, Exodus 16:10; Le Exodus 9:6, Exodus 9:23; Numbers 14:10; Numbers 16:19, Numbers 16:42. It would appear, therefore, that "the glory of the Lord" was not the cloud, but, as the word almost seems to imply, a "light from heaven above the brightness of the sun" (Acts 26:13; cf. Revelation 1:14, Revelation 1:16). It is hardly necessary to add that the glory, though apparently resident in the cloud, was not always luminous; the cloud veiled it from the eyes of men.
1 Kings 8:12
Then spake Solomon [in a transport of emotion at the sight. The cloud and the glory proved that his pious work was accepted. These blessed tokens assured him that "the Lord was there" (Ezekiel 48:35); that the incomprehensible Godhead had entered the earthly shrine he had prepared, and would dwell there], The Lord said that he would dwell in the thick darkness. [Heb. עֲרָפֶל, lit; darkness of clouds. When did God speak of dwelling in dark cloud? The reference, probably, is to Exodus 19:9; Exodus 20:21, Deuteronomy 4:11; Deuteronomy 5:22 (note that, in the three last cited passages, this same word is used, and in the last two in connexion with cloud, which would appear to be a practically synonymous term), but especially to Le Deuteronomy 16:2, "I will appear in the cloud upon the mercy seat." Solomon had thus every warrant for connecting a theophany with the thick dark cloud. Cf. Psalms 18:11; Psalms 97:2. The words cannot refer to "the holy of holies not lighted by windows" (Wordsworth).
1 Kings 8:13
I have surely built [Heb. to build, I have built] thee a house to dwell in, a settled place for thee to abide in forever. [The temple was primarily, as already remarked, a shrine for the ark, between the cherubim of the mercy seat of which God dwelt. This was a מָכוֹן (from כוּן, statuit), a settled place. The tabernacle was but a poor and transitory abode, partaking of the frailty of the shepherd's tent (Isaiah 38:12). For עוֹלָמִים ( αἰῶνες), cf. Isaiah 26:4; Isaiah 51:9; Daniel 9:24; Psalms 145:13.
1 Kings 8:14
And the king turned his face about [He had been earnestly gazing toward the house where the cloud appeared. He now faced the congregation] and blessed [This word here, and in 1 Kings 8:55, is used somewhat loosely. The blessing was in both cases addressed to God. The Hebrew king was not authorized to bless the people—that was the prerogative of the priests (Numbers 6:23; cf. Le Numbers 9:22), and he is only said to bless here as felicitating, as wishing them a blessing. Dean Stanley ] "Jewish Ch.," vol. 2. p 218) characteristically asserts that Solomon "performed the highest sacerdotal act of solemn benediction." But the same word is used in 1 Kings 8:66, of the people blessing the king. "Did the people," as Wordsworth pertinently asks, "also perform a priestly act?" The word is elsewhere used of saluting. See note on 1 Kings 8:66, and Gesen. s.v.] all the congregation of Israel: (and all the congregation of Israel stood); [Heb. were standing ( עֹמֵד); "stood" conveys the idea that the congregation rose as Solomon spoke, whereas they were standing already in the temple courts.
1 Kings 8:15
And he said, Blessed be the Lord God of Israel [1 Kings 1:48], which spake with his mouth unto [or, concerning; אֵל after verbs of speaking has the force of de (Genesis 20:2; Jeremiah 40:16; Psalms 69:27). David my father [The words were really spoken to Nathan], and hath with his hand [i.e; power; cf. Job 34:20; Acts 4:28; Acts 13:11; Ezra 7:6] fulfilled it [the spoken word He has fulfilled in deed], saying, [The reference is to 2 Samuel 7:1-29; of which Solomon merely gives the substance. Much of what he says here is not recorded there.]
1 Kings 8:16
Since the day that I brought forth my people Israel out of Egypt, I chose no city out of all the tribes of Israel, to build a house, that my name might be therein [The chronicler adds here, "Neither chose I any man to be ruler," etc. Probably our account comes nearer to the words actually spoken. The speech in the Chronicles looks as if it had been somewhat amplified, though it only completes the sense (Rawlinson)], but I chose David to be over my people Israel. [Cf. Psalms 78:70. This psalm pursues much the same line of thought as this address.]
1 Kings 8:17
And it was in the heart of David my father [2 Samuel 7:2; 1 Chronicles 17:1] to build an house for the name of the Lord God of Israel.
1 Kings 8:18
And the Lord said unto David my father [Not, perhaps, totidem verbis. The Divine approval was implied in 2 Samuel 7:11-16, and it may have been expressed at the same time. The narratives of Scripture are necessarily greatly condensed], Whereas it was in thine heart to build an house unto my name, thou didst well that it was in thine heart.
1 Kings 8:19
Nevertheless thou shalt not build the house [Wordsworth observes that it was filial reverence prevented Solomon's mentioning the cause of this prohibition which, however, is mentioned with appropriate humility by David himself (1 Chronicles 22:8) ]; but thy son that shall come forth out of thy loins, he shall build the house unto my name. [2 Samuel 7:11, 2 Samuel 7:12. The recurrence of "the name" of the Lord is to be noticed (see 2 Samuel 7:16, 2 Samuel 7:17, 2 Samuel 7:18, 2 Samuel 7:29, 48, etc.) The name of God is the expression to man of Has nature, attributes, etc.]
1 Kings 8:20
And the Lord hath performed [Same word as in 1 Kings 2:4. Lit; "hath raised up" (LXX. ἀνέστησε). Also same word as "risen up" (LXX. ἀνέστην) below, and as "set up" in 2 Samuel 7:12. We might translate "established" throughout] his word that he spake, and I am risen up in the room of David my father, and sit on the throne of Israel [2 Samuel 1:1-27 :48], as the Lord promised [2 Samuel 7:12], and have built an house for the name of the Lord God of Israel [ib. 2 Samuel 7:13].
1 Kings 8:21
And I have set there a place for the ark, wherein is the covenant of the Lord [Hence its name, "the ark of the covenant" (Exodus 34:28; cf. Deuteronomy 9:11)] which he made with our forefathers when he brought them out of the land of Egypt [1 Kings 8:9, 1 Kings 8:16].
SECTION II.—The Prayer.
The prayer of dedication, properly so called, now begins. This solemn and beautiful composition was probably copied by our author from the "Book of the Acts of Solomon" (1 Kings 11:41), possibly from the "Book of Nathan the prophet" (2 Chronicles 9:29). It was evidently committed to writing beforehand, and would, no doubt, as a matter of course, be religiously preserved. The later criticism objects to its authenticity that the many references to the Pentateuch prove it to be of a later date. Ewald assigns it to the seventh century B.C.; but this is simply to beg the question of the date of the Pentateuch. It is obviously open to reply that these references only prove that the king was acquainted, as he was bound to be (Deuteronomy 17:18), with the words of the law. It divides itself into three parts. The first (verses 22-30) is general; the second (verses 31-53) consists of seven special petitions; the last (verses 50-53) consists of a general conclusion and appeal to God's covenant mercy.
1 Kings 8:22
And Solomon stood [i.e; took his stand (LXX. ἀνέστη). Not "was standing." It was but for a moment, however, for we find him presently kneeling (1 Kings 8:54; 2 Chronicles 6:13). The latter passage informs us that he both stood and knelt upon a "brazen scaffold," three cubits high] before the altar of the Lord [i.e; the brazen altar of sacrifice. The platform or scaffold was "set in the midst of the court" (2 Chronicles l.c.) All these rites took place in the open air. The king bad no place within the edifice] in the presence [the word is not to be pressed to mean "facing the people." It is hardly likely he would pray towards the people—he was their προφήτης, i.e; he spoke for them to God—or turn his back on the sacred Presence just manifested], and spread forth his hands towards heaven: [one attitude of earnest prayer thoughout the East, as may be seen at the present day amongst the Mohammedans. (See Lane's "Modern Egyptians," ch. 3; "Religion and Laws.") So completely was this posture identified with supplication that to "lift up the hands" came to be a synonym for prayer (Exodus 9:29, Exodus 9:33; Psalms 44:20; Psalms 143:6; Isaiah 1:15; Isaiah 65:2.) ]
1 Kings 8:23
And he said, Lord God of Israel, there is no God like thee [Similar words are found in Exodus 15:11; Psalms 86:8, etc. They do not at all imply the existence of other gods, but are explained by other passages (e.g; verse 60; Deuteronomy 4:39, "the Lord He is God and none else;" 2 Samuel 7:22; 2 Samuel 22:32) as meaning that the God of Israel stands alone, and alone is God. It would be strange, indeed, if the people whose great peculium was the unity of the Godhead (Deuteronomy 6:4; Isaiah 42:8) recognized other deities. Observe: Solomon begins his prayer with an act of praise; with a recognition at once grateful and graceful of God's past mercies (cf. Psalms 65:1, Psalms 65:2; Philippians 4:6). Exandit Dominus invocantem, quem laudantem vidit" ], in heaven above, or on earth beneath [Joshua 2:11], who keepest covenant and mercy [same words in Deuteronomy 7:9] with thy servants that walk before thee with all their heart. [cf. Deuteronomy 2:4.]
1 Kings 8:24
Who hast kept with thy servant David my father [Solomon sees in this a special pledge of God's faithfulness and truth] that thou promisedst [Heb. spakest, same word as below. The alteration in the A.V. obscures the connexion]: thou spakest also [Heb. and thou spakest, i.e; "yea," or "for thou spakest"] with thy mouth and hast fulfilled it with thine hand [verse 15, and Hebrews 3:6. The completion of the house, following the establishment of Solomon upon the throne, was to him proof conclusive that the promise of 2 Samuel 7:1-29. had received its fulfilment], as it is this day.
1 Kings 8:25
Therefore now [Heb. And now. The promise has been but partially fulfilled. The house is built; he now prays that the succession may be continued in David's line] keep [cf. verse 24, "thou hast kept"] with thy servant David my father that thou promisedst [Heb. spakest to, as above] him, saying [The reference is of course to the great promise of 2 Samuel 7:12-16], There shall not fall thee a man in my sight to sit on the throne of Israel [cf. 1 Kings 2:4], so that [marg; if only. As to the condition, see note on 1 Kings 2:4, and cf. 1 Kings 6:12, 1 Kings 6:13] thy children take heed to [Heb. keep. Same word as above. The repetition is suggestive. God's keeping His promise was contingent on their keeping His commandments] their way, that they walk before me as thou hast walked before me.
1 Kings 8:26
And now, O God [The LXX; Vulg; Syr; and Arab. read, O Lord God, as do many MSS. But the word is more likely to have been inserted (in conformity with 1 Kings 8:23, 1 Kings 8:25) than to have been left out] let thy word [The Keri has thy words. Keil sees here a reference to "all the words" of 2 Samuel 7:17; but this, especially when the reading is doubtful, is somewhat too remote], I pray thee, be verified [ יֵאָמֵן optative form. Gesen; Gram. 126. 2] which thou spakest [Psalms 132:14] unto thy servant David my father.
1 Kings 8:27
But [ כִי. Bähr refers for this use of the word to 1 Samuel 29:8; 1 Kings 11:22; 2 Kings 8:13; Jeremiah 23:18] will God indeed [Web. verily; same root as that of preceding verb, "verified." The repetition shows the connexion of thought. "But can these words be verified? Will God verily," etc.] dwell on the earth? behold the heaven and heaven of heavens [Same expression Deuteronomy 10:14. Cf. Psalms 115:16; Psalms 148:4; Isaiah 66:1. The Jewish belief respecting the seven heavens (see Wetstein on 2 Corinthians 12:2; Stanley, "Corinthians," l.c.) is of much later date, and a reference to it, or to the belief of some Rabbins in two heavens (after Deuteronomy 10:14), is altogether out of the question. The "heaven of heavens" ="all the spaces of heaven, however vast and infinite" (Gesen; cf. Psalms 148:4). The analogy of "holy of holies" would, however, suggest that not all the heavens, but the highest heavens are intended] cannot contain thee; how much less [ אַף כִי: Ewald, 354 c] this house that I have builded? [Two points are to be noticed here.
1 Kings 8:28
Yet have thou respect unto the prayer of thy servant [=the prayer I now offer, which is that thou wilt hear all future prayers offered here, mine and my people's] and to his supplication, O Lord my God, to hearken unto the cry and to the prayer [Three words are used here, תְּחִנָּה תְּפִלָה, and רנָּה. The first (from הִתְפָלַל, precatus est; see 1 Kings 8:29) is apparently a general term for prayer; the second (from חָנַן, propitius fuit) is properly a cry for mercy; hence an earnest prayer or supplication; while the third signifies a joyful cry; hence a mournful cry or prayer] which thy servant prayeth before thee today.
1 Kings 8:29
That thine eyes may be open [This anthropomorphism does not conflict with what was said under 1 Kings 8:27] toward this house night and day [not so much to watch over it as to see the worship and prayer offered there], even toward the place of which thou hast said, My name shall be there [cf. Ezekiel 48:35, and Ezekiel 48:18, Ezekiel 48:19, Ezekiel 48:20, etc. When had God said this? Never perhaps, in so many words. Keil says the reference is to 2 Samuel 7:13 implicite ("He shall build an house for my name"), while Rawlinson thinks the "reference is not to any single text, but to the many passages in Deuteronomy where God speaks of a place which He will choose to 'set his name' there (Deuteronomy 12:5, Deuteronomy 12:11, Deuteronomy 12:18, etc.; Deuteronomy 14:23; Deuteronomy 15:20; Deuteronomy 16:2, etc.) " But it is very probable that a revelation was made to David respecting the sanctuary, the terms of which are not preserved to us. This is almost implied by Psalms 78:68; Psalms 132:10; 1 Chronicles 22:1—passages which prove that David claimed to have Divine sanction for placing the temple on "Mount Zion." Psalms 132:1-18, is unmistakeably Davidic, and embodies some features of the message of God (e.g; the condition, Psalms 132:12) not preserved in 2 Samuel 7:1-29.]: that thou mayest hearken unto the prayer which thy servant shall make toward [Marg. in, but Heb. אֵל. supports the A.V. rendering. Now that God had revealed His presence in the temple, the Jew, wherever he might be, would, and as a matter of fact did, pray towards it (Daniel 6:10; Psalms 5:7; Jonah 2:4), just as the Mohammedan has his Kibleh in Mecca] this place.
1 Kings 8:30
And hearken thou to the supplication of thy servant, and of thy people Israel, when they shall pray toward this place: and hear thou in heaven [Heb. unto heaven, אֶל־הַשָּׁמַיִם a pregnant censtruction hear the prayer that ascends unto heaven. The chronicler here, as elsewhere, simplifies the meaning by reading "from heaven," מִן־הַשּׁ] thy dwelling place [Here, and in verses 39, 43, and 49, heaven is described as the true dwelling place of Deity. Confidently as Solomon believes that he has built a habitation for the Lord, he never dreams that the "Most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands" (Acts 7:48; Acts 17:4) ]: and when thou hearest, forgive. [There is possibly a play of words here— שָׁמַיִם שָׁמַעְתָּ].
With the next verse the special or particular supplications begin. Like those of the Lord's prayer, they are seven in number, and no doubt for the same reason, viz; because seven was the number of covenant, the number which expressed the relationship between the Lord and His people In fact, to the Jew the number "seven" was something like the sign of the cross to a large portion of Catholic Christendom, for it spoke to him of God's covenant of mercy and peace.
And the first of the seven concerns oaths. The king implores the covenant-keeping God to watch over the covenants of words made in the now consecrated sanctuary, and to protect their sanctity by punishing the false swearer. There were cases in which the Mosaic law provided that an oath should be administered to suspected persons (Exodus 22:11; Le Exodus 5:1, Exodus 5:4, etc.) And there were other cases in which men of their own accord, for "an end of all strife," would make oath. Now every oath, whatever its form (Matthew 23:16-22), is in reality an affirmation" by the God of truth" (Isaiah 65:16); it is an appeal to the knowledge and power and justice of the Most High (Le 19:12; Deuteronomy 6:13; Deuteronomy 10:20; Isaiah 48:1; Jeremiah 12:16; Jeremiah 44:26). A false oath, consequently, dishonoured the Divine name, and polluted the sanctuary dedicated to that name, and if it went unpunished, contradicted the principles and provisions of the dispensation Of temporal punishments, and so encouraged falsehood and impiety. God is here entreated, consequently, to take cognizance of the oaths sworn before His altar (verse 31), and to be a swift witness against the false swearers (Malachi 3:5). It is, perhaps, because of the direct dishonour which perjury offers to the Divine name that, as Bähr suggests, this prayer stands first among the seven, thus corresponding to the "Hallowed be Thy name" in the Lord's prayer, and to the third among the ten commandments.
1 Kings 8:31
If any man trespass [The force of the Hebrew (which begins somewhat abruptly) אֵת אֲשֶׁר (LXX. ὅσα ἂν ἁμάρτη) is probably, As for that which, or in all cases in which, i.e; when. The chronicler, as usual, simplifies by reading אֵם] against his neighbour, and an oath be laid [Heb. and he (the neighbour) lay an oath, i.e; prescribe a form of adjuration, such as that in Deuteronomy 21:7] upon him to cause him to swear, and the oath come [This translation cannot be maintained. For in the Heb. there is no def. art; as there would be if אָלָה were noun and nominative; and, moreover in that case the verb, to agree with the feminine noun, would be בָּאָה. And as no other meaning can be extracted from the words as they stand, we are driven to suspect a slight corruption of the text, either
1 Kings 8:32
Then hear thou in heaven [Heb. and thou, thou wilt hear the heavens. The same expression, תּשְׁמַע הַשָּׁמַיִם, is found in verses 34, 36, 39. See Ewald, 300 a. Keil sees in it the adverbial use of the accusative. Most of the versions read "from heaven," as does the Chronicles and one MS.], and do [i.e; act] and judge thy servants, condemning [Heb. to make (i.e; prove) wicked] the wicked, to bring [Heb. give, same word as below] his way [i.e; works, fruits] upon his head [cf. Ezekiel 9:10; Ezekiel 11:21; same expression] and justifying [Heb. to make righteous. Cf. δικαιοῦν in N.T. and justum facere] the righteous [cognate words are used in both cases], to give him according to his righteousness.
The second special petition contemplates the case, which was morally certain to occur, of Hebrews taken captive in war and carried to a foreign land. To be separated from the commonwealth, the rites and the blessings of Israel, was one of the greatest calamities which could befal a Jew (Deuteronomy 4:27, Deuteronomy 4:28; Le 26:33; Psalms 137:1-9.), and as such Solomon gives it a prominent place in his prayer. The connexion, how. ever which some have imagined to exist between this prayer and the preceding, viz; that that referred to internal, this to external dangers, is too artificial to have found a place in Solomon's thoughts.
1 Kings 8:33
When thy people Israel be smitten down before the enemy [cf. Le 26:7, 17; Deuteronomy 28:25. There is a constant reference to these two chapters throughout this prayer, or, if no direct reference to them, there are unmistakeable reminiscences of them], because they have sinned against thee, and shall turn again to thee, and confess [or praise. Psalm 54:8 Hebrews; 106:47; 122:4] thy name, and pray, and make supplication unto thee in this house. [The marg. towards is a mistaken attempt at avoiding the difficulty which lies on the surface of the text, viz; that persons in a foreign land could not pray in the temple. But the king obviously is speaking here, not of those taken captive, but of the nation at large ("thy people Israel") by its representatives (cf. Joel 2:17), supplicating after its defeat. The idea of captives does not come in until the next verse. Under the term house the courts are obviously included (Acts 2:46; Luke 18:10). Into the edifice the priests alone were admitted.
1 Kings 8:34
Then hear thou in heaven, and forgive the sin of thy people Israel, and bring them [i.e; the captives of Israel, those carried off by the enemy. There is no thought here of the captivity of the nation—that is referred to in 1 Kings 8:46-50—as the prayers to be offered in the temple prove. This petition is in exact accordance with the promises and threatenings of the law, for the former of which see Le 26:40-44; Deuteronomy 30:1-5; for the latter, Le 26:33; Deuteronomy 4:27; Deuteronomy 28:64 sqq.] again unto the land which thou gavest unto their fathers.
The third petition concerns the plague of drought. Just as rain, in the thirsty and sunburnt East, has ever been accounted one of the best gifts of God (Le Deuteronomy 26:4; Deuteronomy 11:11; Job 5:10, and passim; Psalms 68:9; Psalms 147:8; Acts 14:17), so was drought denounced as one of His severest scourges (Le Deuteronomy 26:19; Deuteronomy 11:17; Deuteronomy 28:23, Deuteronomy 28:24, etc.) This petition finds an illustration in the public supplications which are still offered in the East, and by men of all creeds, for rain.
1 Kings 8:35
When heaven is shut up, and there is no rain, because they have sinned against thee; if they pray toward this place [toward, because the inhabitants of the land everywhere would direct their prayers toward the holy oracle in Jerusalem (Psalms 28:2) ], and confess [praise] thy name, and turn from their sin, when [or because, כִי] thou afflictest them. [LXX. ὅταν ταπεινώσης αὐτοὺς—Humbling should be the result of affliction.]
1 Kings 8:36
Then hear thou in heaven [see on 1 Kings 8:32], and forgive the sin of thy servants, and of thy people Israel that thou teach them [rather, because thou art teaching them, etc. The thought is, "Forgive, because they have learned the lessen Thy discipline of drought was meant to teach;" because the chastisement has fulfilled its purpose] the good way [1 Samuel 12:23] wherein they should walk, and give rain upon thy land, which thou hast given to thy people for an inheritance.
The fourth petition refers to the various plagues mentioned in the law (Leviticus 26:1-46.; Deuteronomy 28:1-68.), as the punishment of apostasy or infidelity.
1 Kings 8:37
If there be in the land famine [Heb. Famine should there be, etc. The word is emphatic by position. Famine is denounced, Le 26:20, 26; Deuteronomy 28:33], if there be pestilence [Le 26:25; Jeremiah 14:12; Jeremiah 24:10; Amos 4:10; Ezekiel 6:12, etc.], blasting [same word Genesis 41:6; Amos 4:9; Deuteronomy 28:22], mildew [lit. paleness, χλωρότης, Deuteronomy l.c.], locust, or if there be caterpillar [It is uncertain whether חָסִיל, lit; devourer, here rendered "caterpillar," is not an adjective and an appellation of the locust = devouring locust. Deuteronomy 28:38 ( יַאֲסְלֶנוּ חָאַרְבֶּה "the locust shall consume it") certainly favours this view. But the Chronicles and the Verss. distinguish it here (by the introduction of "and" between the two words) as a separate plague. It is also similarly distinguished, Joel 1:4; Psalms 78:46. Gesen. considers it to be a species of locust]; if their enemy besiege them in the land of their cities [Heb. his gates, but "the land of his gates" hardly yields sense. It is noteworthy that the LXX. (with most of the Verss.) reads ἐν μιᾷ τῶν πόλεων αὐτοῦ. Thenius, consequently, to bring the Hebrew text into harmony, would substitute באחת עיריו for בארץ שעריו. Another suggested emendation is בארץ בשעריו, "in the land, even in their gates." But it is doubtful whether any alteration is really required. "The land of their gates" (cf. "land of their captivity," 2 Chronicles 6:37; Jeremiah 30:10, etc.) may perhaps be interpreted the land where their gates (i.e; fortified cities) are. The marg. "Jurisdiction"—the gate being the place of judgment (Ruth 4:11; Proverbs 22:22; 2 Samuel 15:2)—is altogether out of the question]; whatsoever plague, whatsoever [Heb. every plague, etc.] sickness there be.
1 Kings 8:38
What prayer and supplication soever [There is here a studied reference to the preceding words. Lit; every prayer, etc. We might render in 1 Kings 8:37, "Whatsoever the plague," etc; and here, "Whatsoever the prayer," etc.] be made by any man, or by all thy people Israel, which shall know every man the plague of his own heart [Here again there is an unmistakeable reference to the "plague" (same word) of 1 Kings 8:37. The plague of the heart is the inner smart of the conscience corresponding with and perhaps more painful than the smiting of the person. The meaning obviously is that the prayers will vary. according to the various mental and physical sufferings of men], and spread forth his hands [see on 1 Kings 8:22] toward this house.
1 Kings 8:39
Then hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place, and forgive, and do, and give to every man according to his ways, whose heart thou knowest; (for thou, even thou only, knowest the hearts of all the children of men;) [Jeremiah 17:10. Cf. ὁ παρδιογνώστης θεὸς (Acts 15:8; also ib. Acts 1:24).
1 Kings 8:40
That they may fear thee all the days that they live in the land which thou gavest unto their fathers. [Solomon anticipates that a godly fear will be the result of forgiveness and restoration. We find the same thought in Psalms 130:4. The mercy and goodness of God should lead to repentance, but unhappily it not unseldom fails to do so.]
The fifth petition contemplates the prayers which foreigners, attracted by the fame of Jerusalem, of its religion and sanctuary could offer towards the house. The Gentiles who should visit Jerusalem would assuredly, with their polytheistic ideas and their belief in local or tribal deities, invoke the aid and blessing of the mighty God of Jacob. This mention of aliens from the commonwealth of Israel in the prayer of dedication, especially when viewed in the light of the exclusiveness and bigotry which characterized the Jews of later days, is especially to be noticed. As Rawlinson (in loco) observes, "Nothing is more remarkable in the Mosaic law than its liberality with regard to strangers." He then quotes Exodus 22:21; Le Exodus 25:35; Deuteronomy 10:19; Deuteronomy 31:12; Numbers 15:14-16; and adds: "It is quite in the spirit of these enactments that Solomon, having first prayed God on behalf of his fellow countrymen, should next go on to intercede for the strangers," etc. The intercourse of the Hebrews at this period with foreign nations, and the influence they exercised on the Jewish thought and manners (see Stanley, "Jewish Ch." 2. Leer. 26.), are also to be remembered. These new relations with the stranger would no doubt have widened Solomon's views.
1 Kings 8:41
Moreover concerning a stranger, that is not of thy people Israel, but cometh out of a far country for thy name's sake; [Solomon takes it for granted that such will come, and not without good reason, for the house was "exceeding magnifical" and destined to be "of fame and glory throughout all countries" (1 Chronicles 22:5). And we can hardly doubt that in the visit of the Queen of Sheba we are to see one fulfilment of this anticipation. (Note the expression of 1 Kings 10:1 "concerning the name of the Lord.") One who blessed God, as she did (1 Kings 8:9), would certainly pray towards the house. In the time of the second temple there were several instances of strangers (e.g; Alexander the Great, Ptolemy Philadelphus, and Seleucus; see Keil in loc.) worshipping the God of Jacob in Jerusalem.
1 Kings 8:42
(For they shall hear of thy great name [Cf. Joshua 7:9; Psalms 76:1; Psalms 99:3], and of thy strong hand [cf. Exodus 6:6; Exodus 13:9; Deuteronomy 9:26, Deuteronomy 9:29; cf. Deuteronomy 7:19. They had heard at a much earlier date (Exodus 15:14; Exodus 18:1; Joshua 5:1). The reference is not so much to the marvels of the Exodus—that was long past—as to the wondrous works which Solomon assumes will hereafter be wrought], and of thy stretched out arm;) when he shall come and pray toward this house.
1 Kings 8:43
Hear thou in heaven thy dwell-lug place, and do according to an that the stranger calleth to thee for: that all people of the earth may know thy name [It is interesting to notice this foreshadowing of the inclusion of the Gentiles in the one fold. The same thought is found in some of the Psalms and in Isaiah, as St. Paul witnesses (Romans 15:9 sqq.) Cf. Psalms 22:27; Psalms 72:11; Psalms 86:9; Psalms 98:3; Psalms 102:15; Psalms 117:1; Isaiah 49:6; Isaiah 52:10] to fear thee, as do thy people Israel; and that they may know that this house, which I have builded, is called by thy name. [Heb. that thy name is called (or, has been called, נִקְרָא. LXX. ἐπικέκληται) upon this house, i.e; that God has taken this house for His habitation: that He dwells there, works, hears, answers there. Same expression, Jeremiah 7:10, Jeremiah 7:11, Jeremiah 7:14; Jeremiah 25:29; Deuteronomy 28:10; Isaiah 4:1. In Numbers 6:27 we have, "they shall put my name upon the children of Israel." In Deuteronomy 12:5, and Deuteronomy 16:6 (cf. 1 Kings 11:36), we read of the place God has "chosen to put his name there."
So far the royal suppliant has spoken of prayers offered in or at the temple. He now mentions two eases where supplications will be offered by penitents far distant from the holy city or even from the Holy Land. And first, he speaks of the armies of Israel on a campaign.
1 Kings 8:44
If thy people go out to battle against their enemy, whithersoever [Heb. in the way which] thou shalt send them [These words clearly imply that the war, whether defensive or offensive (i.e; for the chastisement of other nations), is one which had God's sanction, and indeed was waged by His appointment], and shall pray unto the Lord toward [Heb. in the way of. Same expression as above. The repetition is significant. "They have gone in God's way. They may therefore look the way of God's house for help." Executing God's commission, they might justly expect His blessing] the city which thou hast chosen, and toward the house that I have built for thy name.
1 Kings 8:45
Then hear thou in heaven their prayer and their supplication, and maintain their cause. [Heb. do their judgments, i.e; secure them justice, defend the right. Same words, Deuteronomy 10:18; cf. Psalms 9:5, Heb.]
The last petition—the second of those which speak of prayers addressed towards the temple, or the Holy Presence which dwelt there, from a foreign land—contemplates as possible the captivity of the Hebrew nation. It has hence been too readily inferred that this portion of the prayer, at least, if not the preceding petition also, has been interpolated by a post-captivity writer. But there is really no solid reason for doubting its genuineness. Not only is it the seventh petition (see on verse 31), but the captivity of Israel had been denounced as the punishment of persistent disobedience long before by Moses, and in the chapters to which such constant reference is made (Le 26:33, 44; Deuteronomy 28:25, Deuteronomy 28:36, Deuteronomy 28:64; cf. Deuteronomy 4:27)—a fact which is in itself an indirect proof of genuineness, as showing that this petition is of a piece with the rest of the prayer. And when to this we add that the carrying of a conquered and refractory race into captivity was an established custom of the East, we shall be inclined to agree with Bähr, that "it would have been more remarkable if Solomon had not mentioned it."
1 Kings 8:46
If they sin against thee (for there is no man that sinneth not), and thou be angry with them, and deliver them to the enemy [Heb. give them before an enemy], so that they carry them away captives unto the land of the enemy, fax or near;
1 Kings 8:47
Yet if they shall bethink themselves [Heb. as marg; bring back to their heart. Same phrase, Deuteronomy 4:39; Deuteronomy 30:1. The latter passage, it should be noticed, treats of the captivity, so that Solomon, consciously or unconsciously, employs some of the very words used by Moses in contemplating this contingency. These repeated coincidences lead to the belief that the prayer was based upon and compiled from the Pentateuch] in the land whither they were carried captives, and repent, and make supplication unto thee in the land of them that carried them captives, saying, We have sinned, and have done perversely, we have Committed wickedness. [This verse is full of paronomasia, שבו נשבו השיבו, etc. Words almost identical with this confession were used (Daniel 9:5; Psalms 106:6) by the Jews in their captivity at Babylon, from which it has been concluded that this part of the prayer must belong to the time of the captivity. But surely it is, to say the least, just as likely that the Jews, when the captivity of which Solomon spoke befel them, borrowed the phrase in which their great king by anticipation expressed their penitence. Seeing in the captivity a fulfilment of his prediction, they would naturally see in this formula, which no doubt had been preserved in the writings of the prophets, a confession specially appropriate to their case, and indeed provided for their use.
1 Kings 8:48
And so return unto thee with all their heart [almost the words of Deuteronomy 30:1-20. Deuteronomy 30:2, as those in verse 47 are of Deuteronomy 30:1], and with all their soul, in the land of their enemies, Which led them away captive [observe the paronomasia— שבו is here used in two senses], and pray unto thee toward [Heb. the way of] their land [see Daniel 6:10] which thou gavest unto their fathers, the city which thou hast chosen, and the house which I have built for thy name. [There is apparently a climax here, "land," "city," "house."]
1 Kings 8:49
Then hear thou their prayer and their supplication in heaven thy dwelling place, and maintain their cause. [Heb. do their judgments, as in verse 45.]
1 Kings 8:50
And forgive thy people that have sinned against thee, and all their transgressions wherein they have transgressed against thee, and give them compassion [Heb. to compassion or bowels רַחֲמִים = τὰ σπλάγχνα, 2 Corinthians 6:12; Philippians 1:8; Philippians 2:1, etc. before them who carried them captive, that they may have compassion on them. [For the fulfilment of this prayer, see Ezra 1:3, Ezra 1:7; Ezra 6:13; Nehemiah 2:6. Compare Psalms 106:46.]
In the three following verses we have a sort of general conclusion to the dedication prayer. It is hardly correct to say that these last words apply to all the preceding petitions—the plea "they are thy people" manifestly cannot apply in the case of Psalms 106:41-43. On the other hand, as little are they to be limited to the persons last mentioned in Psalms 106:46 -50, though it is highly probable they were suggested by the thought of the captives. They are manifestly in close connection with the preceding verses.
1 Kings 8:51
For they be thy people [a citation or reminiscence of Deuteronomy 4:10], and thine inheritance, which thou broughtest forth out of Egypt [cf. Deuteronomy 4:21, 53. There is a constant recurrence throughout the Old Testament to this great deliverance, and with good reason, for it was the real birthday of the nation, and was also a pledge of future help and favour. God who had "wrought such great things for them in Egypt "could not well forsake them. Solomon's constant plea is that they are the elect and covenant race] from the midst of the furnace of iron [i.e; a furnace for iron, heated and fierce as for smelting. Same phrase, Deuteronomy 4:20].
1 Kings 8:52
That thine eyes may be open [cf. 1 Kings 8:29] unto the supplication of thy servant, and unto the supplication of thy people Israel [of. 1 Kings 8:28, 1 Kings 8:30], to hearken unto them in all that they call for unto thee.
1 Kings 8:53
For thou didst separate them from [Le 1 Kings 20:24, 1 Kings 20:26; cf. Exodus 19:5, Exodus 19:6] among all the people of the earth, to be thine inheritance [same expression, Deuteronomy 4:20; Deuteronomy 9:26, Deuteronomy 9:29. This is no idle repetition of verse 51. The idea of that verse is deliverance, of this election. Cf. Numbers 16:9; Numbers 8:14], as thou spakest by the hand [see note on Numbers 2:25] of Moses thy servant [Exodus 19:5, Exodus 19:6; Deuteronomy 9:26, Deuteronomy 9:29; Deuteronomy 14:2], when thou broughtest our fathers out of Egypt, O Lord God.
In Chronicles (Deuteronomy 6:1-25 :41, 42) the prayer ends somewhat differently. "Now therefore arise, O Lord God," etc.—words which are found in substance in Psalms 132:8-10. These two verses look like an addition, and were probably inserted by the chronicler to form a connecting link with 1 Kings 7:1-3 (Bähr). The LXX. has an extremely curious addition, said to be taken from the "Book of the Song." Stanley sees in its very abruptness and obscurity an evidence of its genuineness ("Jewish Ch." 2:218).
SECTION III.—The Concluding Blessing.
The service of dedication concludes, as it commenced, with a benediction (verse 14).
1 Kings 8:54
And it was so, that when Solomon had made an end of praying all this prayer and supplication unto the Lord, he arose from before [see note on 1 Kings 8:22] the altar of the Lord, from kneeling on his knees [the first mention of this posture in the sacred history (Stanley). The Jews usually stood in prayer (Luke 18:11, Luke 18:13) ] with [Heb. and] his hands spread up to heaven.
1 Kings 8:55
And he stood [this does not necessarily imply that he drew nearer to the congregation, as Keil], and blessed [cf. 2 Samuel 6:18, and see note on 2 Samuel 6:14. The words of blessing, which are presently given (verses 56-61), prove that he did not assume priestly functions and put any blessing upon the people, Numbers 6:27] all the congregation of Israel with a loud [Heb. great] voice, saying,
1 Kings 8:56
Blessed be the Lord, that hath given rest unto his people Israel, according to all that he promised [a distinct reference to Deuteronomy 12:9, Deuteronomy 12:10 (cf. Deuteronomy 3:20), where we read that when the Lord should have given rest to Israel, then a place for sacrifice, etc; should be appointed (Deuteronomy 12:11). That place is now dedicated, and the king sees in this circumstance a proof that the rest is now at last fully attained. The permanent sanctuary is a pledge of settlement in the land. The rest hitherto enjoyed (Joshua 21:44) had been but partial. Only under Solomon were the Philistines brought into complete subjection (1 Kings 9:16), and hitherto the ark had dwelt in curtains]; there hath not failed [Heb. fallen; cf. 1 Samuel 3:19] one word [a clear reference to Joshua 21:45, as the preceding words are to Joshua 21:44] of all his good promise, which he promised by the hand [cf. verse 53] of Moses his servant [viz. in Le 26:3-13, and in Deuteronomy 28:1-14, i.e; in the chapters which are the sources of this prayer, etc.
1 Kings 8:57
The Lord our God be With us, as he was with our fathers: let him not leave us, nor forsake us. [Solomon insensibly glides again into prayer; here for the presence of God, in 1 Kings 8:59 for His help. There is probably a reference to Deuteronomy 31:6, Deuteronomy 31:8; Joshua 1:5, where, however, "forsake" is represented by a different word.
1 Kings 8:58
That he may incline our hearts unto him [Psalms 119:26; Psalms 141:4], to walk in an his ways [verse 25; 1 Kings 2:4. The condition on which God's blessing was insured was at this time printed on Solomon's mind], and to keep his commandments, and his satutes, and his Judgments [see note on 1 Kings 2:3, to which verse there is not improbably a reference], which he commanded our fathers.
1 Kings 8:59
And let these my words, wherewith I have made supplication before the Lord, be nigh unto the Lord our God day and night, that he maintain the cause of [Heb. to do the judgment of] his servant, and the cause of his people Israel at all times, as the matter shall require [Heb. the thing of a day in his day. Same phrase Exodus 5:18; Exodus 16:4]:
1 Kings 8:60
That an the people of the earth may know that the Lord is God, and that there is none else. [See 1 Kings 8:22. We have here a recurrence to the thought of 1 Kings 8:43, which was evidently prominent in Solomon's mind. He hopes the house now dedicated will be fraught with blessing for the world, and that the Gentiles will come to its light. Cf. Isaiah 2:2, Isaiah 2:3.]
1 Kings 8:61
Let your heart therefore be perfect with the Lord our God [An instructive commentary on these words is found in 1 Kings 11:4, where it is said of this Solomon, "His heart was not perfect," etc.—same words. Similarly, ib. 1 Kings 11:3, 1 Kings 11:9 are a comment on the prayer of verse 58. Having preached to others, he himself became a castaway], to walk in his statutes, and to keep his commandments, us at this day [That day the nation proved its piety by the dedication of the house.
At the close of this prayer (omitted in Chronicles), according to 2 Chronicles 7:1, "fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the house," but Bähr rejects these words as an interpolation. He maintains, indeed, that the chronicler contradicts himself, for we can hardly think that the glory which we are told (1 Kings 5:14) had already filled the house, left it and then returned. It is certainly suspicious, and a much stronger argument against the words in question, that no mention of the fire is made by our author, for, brief as this history is, it is difficult to believe that so signal an interposition could have remained unnoticed, if it really occurred.
SECTION IV.—The Festal Sacrifices.
The ceremonial of dedication was followed, as would naturally be the case, by sacrifices on a scale of unusual grandeur. Apart from their religious use and significance, the sacrifices testified to the devotion of the giver who on this of all days must not appear before the Lord empty, and they also afforded materials for the great and prolonged feast by which this auspicious event in the history of Israel must be commemorated.
1 Kings 8:62
And the king, and an Israel with him [Another indication (see on 1 Kings 8:2) that practically the whole Israelitish nation (i.e; its males) assembled to witness this great function (1 Kings 8:65. But see on 1 Kings 16:17). The words also prove that the sacrifices mentioned presently were offered by the people as well as by the king], offered sacrifice before the Lord. [See note on 1 Kings 9:25 ]
1 Kings 8:63
And Solomon offered a sacrifice [Solomon is mentioned as chief donor, and as the executive. But others shared in the gift] of peace offerings [Le 1 Kings 7:11 sqq. This was especially the sacrifice of praise—it is called "the sacrifice of thanksgiving of his peace offerings," ib. 1 Kings 7:13, 1 Kings 7:15. See Bähr, Symb. 2:368 sqq. In the peace offering, the fat was burnt on the altar, but the flesh was eaten (1 Kings 7:15; cf. Deuteronomy 12:7), so that this form of offering was, in every way, adapted to a festival. The idea that "ox after ox, to the number of 22,000, and sheep after sheep, to the number of 120,000, were consumed," sc. by fire (Stanley), is expressly excluded], which he offered unto the Lord, two and twenty thousand oxen, and an hundred and twenty thousand sheep. [it is very possible that these numbers have been altered in course of transcription, as is the case with numbers elsewhere, but there is no ground for suspecting exaggeration or mistake. For, in the first place, the Chronicles and all the Versions agree with the text, and, secondly, the numbers, compared with what we know of the sacrifices offered on other occasions, are not unduly large, nor were they such that (as has been alleged) it would be impossible to offer them within the time specified. If, at an ordinary Passover a quarter of a million of lambs could be sacrificed within the space of two or three hours (Jos; Bell. Jud. 6.9. 8), there can obviously have been "no difficulty in sacrificing 3000 oxen and 18,000 sheep on each of the seven days of the festival" (Keil). (But were not the sacrifices spread over fourteen days? verse 65.) And it is to be remembered
1 Kings 8:64
The same day did the king hallow the middle of the court [i.e; the entire area of the court of the priests (1 Kings 6:36). Ewald translates "the inner court." The whole space may have been regarded as "one huge altar" (Rawlinson), or temporary altars may have been erected all over the area. As already observed, this fact alone points to an enormous number of victims] that was before the house of the Lord: for there he offered burnt offerings [Heb. the burnt offerings, i.e; either the usual daily burnt offerings (Numbers 28:3), or more probably, those appropriate to such a special function (Numbers 29:13 sqq.; cf. 1 Kings 3:4) ], and meat offerings [Heb. the meat offering. Both this and the preceding word ( הָעֹלָה) are singular (generic) in the original], and the fat of the peace offerings: because the brazen altar that was before the Lord [i.e; house of the Lord] was too little to receive the burnt offerings, and meat offerings, and the fat of the peace offerings [and yet it was 20 cubits (30 feet) square, and so would offer a surface of 100 square yards].
1 Kings 8:65
And at that time Solomon held a feast [the necessary sequel to such number of peace offerings (cf. 1 Kings 3:15). All the flesh that could be, must be eaten (Le 1 Kings 19:5, 1 Kings 19:6) ], and all Israel with him, a great congregation [see note on 1 Kings 8:64. "All Israel" would hardly be an exaggeration], from the entering in of Hamath [the northern boundary of Palestine. See Stanley, S. and P. pp. 14, 505, 506] of Egypt [i.e; the southern limit of the Holy Land. See Numbers 34:5; Joshua 15:4, Joshua 15:47; 2 Kings 24:7; Genesis 15:18, where the word is נָהָר refers to the Nile. The Wady el Arish must be intended ], before the Lord our God, seven days and seven days, even fourteen days [The two periods are thus distinguished, because they were properly distinct, the first being the feast of dedication, the second the feast of tabernacles. This is more clearly explained in 2 Chronicles 7:9, 2 Chronicles 7:10.]
1 Kings 8:66
On the eighth day he sent the people away [i.e; on the eighth day of the second feast, the "three and twentieth day of the month" (ib; 1 Kings 8:10). The first impression is that the eighth day of the period of fourteen days is meant, but the context, to say nothing of the Chronicles, contradicts this. The feast of dedication began on the eighth day of the month Ethanim (1 Kings 8:2), and lasted until the fourteenth. The feast of tabernacles began on the fifteenth and lasted till the twenty-first. On the evening of the twenty-second, the "day of restraint", he dismissed the people, who would depart to their homes next morning]: and they blessed [i.e; felicitated, saluted (on taking leave). Cf. Proverbs 27:14; 2 Kings 4:29; 1 Samuel 25:6, 1 Samuel 25:14. Marg. thanked. See note on 1 Samuel 25:14] the king, and went unto their tents [i.e; homes—an archaic expression, dating from the times of the desert wanderings. Joshua 22:4; 7:8; 2 Samuel 20:1; l Kings 2 Samuel 12:16] joyful and glad of heart for an the goodness that the Lord had done for David his servant [the real founder of the temple. Solomon had but carried out his ideas and had entered into his labours], and for Israel his people.
1 Kings 8:8-11
The Dedication of the Temple and its Teaching.
The eighth day of the seventh month of the year 1004 B.C or, according to some, B.C. 1000, was one of the brightest days of Jewish history—
"a day in golden letters to be set
Among the high tides of the calendar;"
for on that day the holy and beautiful house, which had been seven and a half years in building, for which preparations had been made for a much longer period (1 Chronicles 22:5), and on which a force of some one hundred and sixty thousand workmen had been in different ways employed; on that day of days this house of houses was solemnly dedicated to the service of Almighty God. Let us carry our thoughts back to that day; let us join the procession; let us try to realize the scene, for we may learn a lesson thence, first, as to the consecration of our churches, and secondly, as to the dedication of our souls and bodies to God.
It is an enormous concourse that is gathered in and about the holy city. From "the entering in of Hamath to the river of Egypt" (1 Kings 8:65) every town and hamlet had sent up its tale of men. No Israelite who could be present—and in the seventh month the labours of the field were well nigh over—would be absent. We must not think of the heads of the tribes alone; it is a nation keeps festival today. And such a nation, with such a history! And its glory culminates today in the dedication of its temple. What child of Israel, then, but would be there?
With early morning all Jerusalem, and its neighbouring hills and valleys (Psalms 125:2), was instinct with life. The Easterns always rise early, and that day was a high day. It is still early when the great procession is marshalled. At its head is "Solomon in all his glory." The dignitaries of the State, of the Church (1 Kings 4:1-19); all are there. Their rendezvous is the Mount Zion; their object to escort the ark of God, with all the honour they can render it, on its last journey, to its last resting place. And so the white robed priests (2 Chronicles 5:12) take up the consecrated structure and bear it tenderly, yet proudly, to its home. Today the Levites may not carry it. As at the Jordan (Joshua 4:10), as at Jericho (Joshua 6:4), as in Mount Ebal (Joshua 8:33), so on its last journey it must be borne on the shoulders of priests. The procession—we cannot follow its course, for it is probable that, for the sake of effect, it would make a considerable detour, perhaps a circuit of the city; nor can we speak of its psalms—and we may be sure if psalms (Psalms 15:1-5, Psalms 29:1-11; 1 Chronicles 17:7 -36) were chanted at the removal of the ark, they would not be wanting at the dedication of the temple—or its sacrifices (1 Kings 8:5)—the procession (cf. 1 Kings 1:38) at last reaches the temple precinct; it passes through the gate; here the crowd is checked, but the priests and princes pass on; they reach the inner court; here the princes stop, but the priests pass on. The whole temple platform is now choked with worshippers, while thousands who cannot gain admittance witness the august ceremonial from without, many, no doubt, having found a coign of vantage on the Mount of Olives. The priests, with their precious burden, pass through the porch, pass through the holy place, pass through the veil into the thick darkness of the oracle. There they lay down the ark, the outward and visible sign of the covenant, under the overshadowing wings of the colossal cherubim. They leave it wrapped in darkness; they leave it to begin at once their ministrations before the new shrine. At this point of the ceremonial it had been arranged that priests and Levites, singers, trumpeters, and harpists should burst into a song of praise (2 Chronicles 5:12, 18). But ere they can fully accomplish their purpose, the dedication has become a true consecration, for the awful cloud, the token of the Divine presence, the cloud which retied" the glory of the Lord" has filled the house, and the priests cannot stand to minister. As at the dedication of the tabernacle (Exodus 40:34) so now, the incommunicable Godhead has "come in a thick cloud" (Exodus 19:8), and has driven them, as it drove Moses, from the sanctuary. The king, who sees the portent from without, recognizes at once that his and his father's hope is realized; that his and his people's offering is accepted; that his and their projects and labours are now crowned; and, overcome with joy, he cries, "I have surely built thee a house to dwell in, a settled place," etc.
"Majestic silence! then the harp awoke,
The cymbal clanged, the deep-voiced trumpet spoke,
And Salem spread her suppliant hands abroad,
Viewed the descending flame, and blessed the present God."
Such, in brief, was the dedication of this house. It is true prayers and sacrifices followed, but of these we cannot now speak particularly. The essential parts of the consecration were
So that in this service, as in all true services, there were two parts, man's and God's. It was man's part to offer the house with appropriate ceremonial to the Most High; it was God's part to accept it with appropriate signs. Now both of these are commonly and correctly called consecration. It will be for our convenience, however, if we now call the first of these dedication and restrict the term consecration to the second. And, using the words in these senses, let us see in this imposing ceremonial a lesson, first, as to our churches. As to which, we learn:
I. THAT CHURCHES SHOULD BE FORMALLY DEDICATED TO GOD. For if a formal service of dedication was fitting in the case of the temple, how can it be inappropriate in the case of the church? Is the latter less worthy of care and reverent regard than the former? Is it built for objects of less importance, or objects less Divine? Is it less dear to God, or less truly "God's house," because man is admitted to a place therein? Or may men build houses for God and retain the ownership for themselves? "Can we judge it a thing seemly for any man to go about the building of an house to the God of heaven with no other appearances than if his end Were to rear up a kitchen or parlour for his own use? Or, when a work of such a nature is finished, remaineth there nothing but presently to use it and so an end?" (Hooker.) Alas, that churches and chapels should ever have been offered—sometimes by public auction—to the pewholders, or dedicated by brass plates, etc; to the service of opulent parishioners. Too often have they become congeries of petty freeholds, temples of exclusiveness, God's house in nothing but name. But this could not have been if the true idea of dedication had not been obscured or lost.
II. HOW CHURCHES SHOULD BE DEDICATED TO GOD. This history tells us that it should be with all possible solemnity and stateliness. There may surely be a procession. If this was right for the Jew, it cannot be wrong for us. There may be processional hymns—the psalm which was acceptable in their lips cannot be unbecoming in ours; the dignitaries of the State may join the ranks, even "kings of the earth" may "bring their glory and honour into it" (Revelation 21:24); in fact, it cannot be too stately, provided it be done not for self glorification but for the glory of God. For is not God the same now as then; is He not still a great king? And is not man the same? Does he not still owe the profoundest homage he can render to his Maker? And if it be heartfelt, why may it not be public? The history teaches that an august ritual befits the dedication of a church, and that, inter alia, there should be sacrifices (1 Kings 8:5, 1 Kings 8:62; cf. 2 Samuel 24:24—we should not come before the Lord empty), music (2 Chronicles 5:12, 2 Chronicles 5:13—the language of heaven, the one tongue that escaped confusion at the building of Babel), and that the book of the covenant should be borne (as it is in Germany, and as the ark was) in procession to its place. "These things the wisdom of Solomon did not account superfluous" (Hooker).
It is to be remembered here that our Lord by His presence sanctioned the observance of a feast of dedication (John 10:22).
III. THAT CHURCHES MUST BE CONSECRATED BY GOD. The bishop, or other officer, can only consecrate in the sense of dedicating—of setting apart from profane uses. And this is what the consecration of churches and churchyards really means—no more and no less (see Hooker, Eccles. Pol. 5.12. 6), If either is to be "hallowed" (1 Kings 9:2), it must be by the Divine presence. The Moslems say that wherever their great Caliph Omar prayed is consecrated ground. We hold that holy ground (Exodus 3:5) must derive its sanctity from the All-Holy. The God who filled the temple must also hallow the church.
IV. THAT CHURCHES SINCERELY DEDICATED TO GOD WILL BE CONSECRATED BY GOD. Was the Ineffable Presence granted to the temple? Then why not to the church also? God has no favourites, nor is His arm shortened. The Presence will not be revealed, but it will be there; none the less real, all the more real, because it is spiritual. It would be strange if, in the dispensation of the Spirit, we disbelieved in the presence of Him who fills heaven and earth, who is "in the midst of the seven candlesticks" (Revelation 1:13), and who has promised His presence to companies of "two or three" sincere souls (Matthew 18:20, Ubi tres, ibi ecclesia). Our churches indeed are "sanctified by the word of God and prayer" (1 Timothy 4:5), and if there is no cloud, yet we may "behold the glory of the Lord" (2 Corinthians 3:18); but they receive their full and perfect consecration in the κοινωνία of Christ's body and blood (1 Corinthians 10:16). Men forget that if there is not a Real Presence then there must be a real absence. Some will allow God to be present everywhere—except in His church and sacraments.
As to the Christian life, this dedication of the temple reminds us—
I. THAT OUR BODIES ARE TEMPLES OF THE HOLY GHOST (1 Corinthians 6:19; 1 Corinthians 3:16, 1 Corinthians 3:17; 2 Corinthians 6:16). "God has built" the "temple of the body" (John 2:21) to be His shrine (Romans 8:9, Romans 8:11; 2 Corinthians 6:16; Ephesians 3:17).
II. THAT WE SHOULD DEDICATE THEM TO GOD (Romans 6:13, Romans 6:19; Romans 12:1; 1 Corinthians 6:13 -29; Matthew 22:21). This is done in baptism, may be done in confirmation, and must be done in conversion (the turning to God).
III. THAT IF WE DEDICATE THEM, GOD WILL CONSECRATE THEM. If we "open the door" (Revelation 3:20; John 14:23) He will enter in and dwell there. We have but to give the heart—the innermost recess of the house, the adytum—to Him, and He will possess and glorify the whole body (Luke 11:34, Luke 11:36).
1 Kings 6:1-38. 1 Kings 6:7, and 1 Kings 8:1-66. 1 Kings 8:12
The Silence and the Darkness.
In the first of these passages we are told that the house, built for the habitation of the Most High, was reared in profound silence; in the second, that the Most High Himself dwelleth in the thick darkness.
Now observe, first, that darkness stands in the same relation to sight that silence does to hearing. In the one, nothing is seen; in the other, nothing is heard. And, secondly, that the cloud and the house were alike the shrine and the dwelling place of Deity: the cloud the inner, the temple the outer abode. We learn, therefore, that the God who appears in the cloud (Le 1 Kings 16:2), and dwells in the thick gloom of the oracle, is One who shrouds Himself in silence and darkness. Hence, let us learn—
I. THAT HE IS A GOD THAT HIDETH HIMSELF (Isaiah 45:15). "No man hath seen God at any time" (John 1:18; Matthew 11:27; Deuteronomy 4:12). "Thick darkness is under his feet" (Psalms 18:9, Hebrews) "Darkness is his secret place; dark waters and thick clouds his pavilion" (1 Kings 8:11; of. Psalms 97:2). And He hides Himself, not as Eastern kings have done (comp. Esther 1:14, and Herod. 3:84), to enhance their renown and dignity, and to increase the awe and reverence of their subjects—omne ignotum pro magnifico—but because we cannot see His face and live (Exodus 33:20). "Whom no man hath seen or can see" (1 Timothy 6:16). "Dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto" (ib.) Cf. Acts 22:11.
II. THAT WE CANNOT BY SEARCHING FIND OUT GOD (Job 11:7). In one sense those are not so far wrong who speak of Him as "the Unknowable." The Quicunque vult describes Him as "Incomprehensible" (Latin, immensus, i.e; immeasureable). Man cannot understand the mysteries of his own existence, how much less the being of the Godhead. If we could understand God, we should be intellectually equal with God (Genesis 3:22). It is no argument against the doctrine of the Trinity, or the eternal generation of the Son, or the procession of the Holy Ghost, that each is a mystery. How could it be otherwise? We have "nothing to draw with, and the well is deep."
III. THAT HIS WAYS ARE WRAPPED IS DARKNESS. See Romans 2:1-29 :33; Deuteronomy 29:29; Ecclesiastes 11:5. His judgments are an abyss of which we cannot see the bottom (Psalms 36:6). His footsteps are not known (Psalms 77:19). As He dwells in the thick cloud, so are His judgments far above out of sight (Psalms 10:5). "It is the glory of God to conceal a thing" (Proverbs 25:2). Hence it is that His dealings are often so mysterious and painful, because what He does we know not now (John 13:7). The disciples" feared when they entered into the cloud" (Luke 9:1-62 :84). "Now we know in part." We only see, it has been said, as it were, the underside of the carpet, and so life is a confused and meaningless mixture. It is not God's will that we should see the plan and pattern yet. (Cf. Colossians 1:26; Ephesians 3:9.)
IV. THAT HIS WORKS ARE WROUGHT IN SILENCE. He is Himself a God that keepeth silence; Psalms 1:3, 21 recognizes this. If silence be golden, the Eternal has observed this golden rule. Men blaspheme Him, defy Him, challenge Him to smite them dead—as a well known atheist is said to have done—etc; and He keeps silence. Amid "earth's many voices," amid its everlasting Babel, His voice is never heard. Similarly, He works in the silence. At the creation, "He spake and it was done." "God said, Let there be light, and there was light." Creation moves in silence. We speak of "the music of the spheres; but it is buts beautiful conceit. On the contrary, "there is no speech, no language; their voice is not heard" (Psalms 19:8, Heb.) Much truer is that exquisite conception—
"And nightly to the listening earth
Repeats the story of her birth."
The fact is that,
"In solemn silence, all
Move round this dark terrestrial ball."
And in silence, too, is this planet sustained and ordered. How
"silently the springtime
Her crown of verdure weaves,
And all the trees on all the hills
Open their thousand leaves."
Or as another, not less beautifully, puts it—
"Soundless as chariots on the snow
The saplings of the forest grow
To trees of mighty girth:
Each nightly star in silence burns,
And every day in silence turns
The axle of the earth.
"The silent frost, with mighty hand,
Fetters the rivers and the land
With universal chain;
And, smitten by the silent sun,
The chain is loosed, the rivers run,
The lands are free again."
But for the discordant din of men, and but for the voices of beasts and birds, this earth would be a temple of silence. And it is in the silence that God reveals Himself. Not in the great and strong wind, not in the earthquake, not in the fire, but in the still small voice (1 Kings 19:12, 1 Kings 19:18). "Let us be silent," says one, "that we may hear the whispers of the gods." In the silence, too, His Church has grown. His kingdom "cometh not with observation" (Luke 17:20). As silently as the seed grows, day and night, in the soil; as silently as the leaven works in the meal. And in the silence our Holy Lord will come again—as a thief in the night, as a snare, as the lightning.
V. THAT ALL THE EARTH SHOULD KEEP SILENCE BEFORE HIM (Habakkuk 2:20). It is not meant to preach here "the eternal duty of silence," nor that all worship should be "of the silent sort;" but that, in realizing the awful presence of God, men should be hushed into the profoundest awe. When we do "take upon ourselves to speak unto our Lord," we should remember that "we are but dust and ashes" (Genesis 18:27). Our finger on our lips, our lips in the dust. It was this feeling, in part, led Solomon to build the temple in silence. And the feeling which found this expression in act he has elsewhere translated in words (see Ecclesiastes 5:1, Ecclesiastes 5:2). It was with a similar feeling that our Lord acted (Mark 11:16). And it is significant that we read of "silence in heaven" (Revelation 8:1).
VI. THAT GOD'S WORK MUST BE DONE IN SILENCE. "All real work is quiet work. It must be unobtrusive if it is to be fruitful. "The temple was thrown down with axes and hammers, and they that did it roared in the midst of the congregation (Psalms 74:4, Psalms 74:6), but it was built up in silence" (M. Henry). A temple of the Lord, a temple of "living stones," is now being built. "O God, that the axes of schism or the hammers of furious contention should be heard within Thy sanctuary" (Hall). It is because of our unseemly cries and wranglings, because of the clash of controversy and the shouts of heated partizans, that this temple has made such poor progress. Not until we have been first hushed into silence can the headstone be brought forth with shouting (Zechariah 4:7).
1 Kings 8:2; cf. 1 Kings 6:16
The Holy of Holies and the Heaven of Heavens.
Elsewhere we have spoken of the correspondence of the Jewish temple with the Christian Church. But let us now trace a truer and higher resemblance. For the Epistle to the Hebrews tells us that the "holy places made with hands" are "the figures ( ἀντίτυπα, i.e; copies) of the true" (Hebrews 9:24). The temple of Solomon, therefore, must correspond to things in the heavens. It does this, first, in its structure; secondly, in its furniture; thirdly, in its services.
I. IN ITS STRUCTURE. The temple, we have seen, was a reproduction, on an enlarged scale, and in a more permanent form, of the tabernacle. And the tabernacle was fashioned after a heavenly pattern (Exodus 25:40; Exodus 26:30; Exodus 27:8; Hebrews 8:5). Thrice was Moses admonished to make it "according to the fashion which was showed him in the mount." It has been well said that earth is
"But the shadow of heaven, and things therein
Are to each other like."
But this is true in a special sense of the earthly and heavenly temples. Their resemblance is recognized in the very language used of the temple. "Heaven thy dwelling place" is constantly found in close connexion with "this house" (1 Kings 8:30, 1 Kings 8:34, 1 Kings 8:39, 1 Kings 8:43). The same word—Zebul—used of the temple in 1 Kings 8:13 is used of heaven in Isaiah 63:15. Compare also Isaiah 63:18, "a settled place for thee to dwell in," etc; with verses 30, 39, 48, etc. (Hebrews) The same word—Haycal—again, used of the temple in 1 Kings 6:5, 83; 1 Kings 7:50; 2 Kings 24:13, is elsewhere used of heaven (Psalms 11:4; Psalms 18:7; Psalms 29:9, etc.) But can we trace the resemblance? Can we suggest any points of contact? Let us try, premising, first, that a "general analogy is all that we can look for" (Alford on Revelation 8:8).
1. The temple was tripartite (see 2 Kings 6:1-33. Introduction). It was composed of porch, holy place, and oracle (the side chambers were hardly integral parts of the structure; see note on 1 Kings 6:6). Now it is remarkable that though the Jewish fathers spoke of "seven heavens"—some held that there were two—Holy Scripture speaks of three, and three only. When St. Paul would describe the very dwelling place of Deity, he calls it "the third heaven" (2 Corinthians 12:2). What are the three heavens—whether atmospheric (nubiferum), sidereal (astriferum), and angelic (angeliferum), or what—it does not concern us to say; it is enough for our purpose that there are three. And three, it must be remembered, is the number and signature of God.
2. All the temple was God's dwelling place. It is a mistake to suppose that the oracle was the abode of God, the holy place the abode of the people. In the temple the people had no place. It was the "house of the great God" (Ezra 5:8); a palace for God, and not for man (1 Chronicles 29:1). "As the whole house, so also each compartment… is called 'the dwelling place'" (Bähr). Again, the holy place, as well as the entire sanctuary, is called the palace (1 Kings 6:5 with 2 Kings 24:13). The primary design of the temple, as of the tabernacle, was to afford a habitation for the ark and for Him whose covenant it contained.
3. But the inner temple was God's shrine. In the holy of holies, He was revealed. He dwelt "between the cherubim" (Exodus 25:22; 1 Samuel 4:4; 2 Kings 19:15, etc.) The word Shechinah, which is used to denote the Presence, is derived from shachan, "he dwelt." So it is in heaven. Heaven is God's throne (Isaiah 66:1; Acts 7:49); but there is a "heaven of heavens," where He is revealed. True "the heaven and heaven of heavens" cannot contain Him, any more than the holy and the holy of holies, but in each He has His special habitation. Here again temple and temple not built with hands are alike.
4. The temple blazed with gold and gems. It was "exceeding magnifical" as the palace of the Godhead. Everything was appropriate to a great king. "Pure gold," "gold of Uphaz," cedar, olive wood, all was "for glory and beauty" (Exodus 28:2). Compare the description of heaven in Revelation 21:9 sqq. Like a jasper stone (Revelation 21:11); pure gold (Revelation 21:18, Revelation 21:21); precious stones (Revelation 21:19, Revelation 21:20); twelve pearls (Revelation 21:21).
II. IN ITS FURNITURE. Observe: the furniture and appointments outside the house, in the court of the priests—brazen altar, molten sea, layers, etc.—have no counterparts in heaven. They are "of the earth, earthy." In the holy place were the altar of incense, the table of shewbread, the ten candlesticks, etc. (1 Kings 7:48-50). In the most holy place were the mercy seat, the cherubim of glory, the ark, the golden censer, etc. And heaven has its golden altar (Revelation 6:9; Revelation 8:8; Revelation 9:18), its incense (Revelation 8:8, Revelation 8:4), its seven lamps (Revelation 4:5; cf. Exodus 27:1-21 :23; Zechariah 4:2). And for the table of shewbread, see Revelation 22:2. Or if it be said that the "table of the face" has no counterpart in heaven, we may reply that it is not needed, because His servants "see his face" and feast upon His presence (Revelation 24:4). Similarly heaven has its mercy seat—the Fount of Mercy dwells there—its cherubim and seraphim (Isaiah 6:2; Revelation 4:7; cf. Ezekiel 1:10), and its golden censer (Revelation 8:3, Revelation 8:5). It has no ark—the covenant is writ in the heart of the Eternal, as He now writes it on the hearts of men (Hebrews 8:10). But it has its throne (Revelation 4:2 et passim), and the ark was the throne of God (cf. Isaiah 6:2).
III. IN ITS SERVICES. Here we must distinguish between
As to the former, it must here suffice to say that it centred round the altar of incense. Morning and evening, year in, year out, incense was burnt upon the golden altar. And we have already seen that incense is offered in heaven. As to its meaning, lessons, etc; we have spoken elsewhere. Let us turn, therefore, to the worship of the most holy place. And here we observe—
1. The cherubim of glory overshadowed the mercy seat (Hebrews 9:5). They were, as it were, choirs on either side of the place of the Presence. Now the cherubim were symbolical representations of all created existences (see note on 1 Kings 6:29) from the highest to the lowest. But especially did they shadow forth the highest forms of intelligence, the celestial beings who surround the Lord of glory; they were earthly counterparts of the heavenly seraphim (Isaiah 6:2), and so they pourtrayed, as far as was possible, the worship of the heavenly hosts. It is true they were silent—they could not be otherwise—but still they conveyed the idea of ceaseless contemplation, of the most profound and reverent homage, of awestruck adoration. Indeed, we only understand what they symbolized by comparing the shadow with the substance. For we find that heaven has its cherubim. The "four beasts ( ζῶα) round about the throne, full of eyes before and behind" (Revelation 4:6-8), are clearly the "very substance" of those things of which Isaiah's and Ezekiel's winged creatures (Isaiah 6:2; Ezekiel 1:10; Ezekiel 10:14) were the likeness, and of which Solomon's cherubim were the copies. The silent, stately cherubim consequently were adumbrations of the mysterious hierarchy who ceaselessly praise the Uncreated Light and lead the worship of the skies (Revelation 4:8-11; Revelation 5:8, Revelation 5:9, Revelation 5:14), "raising their Trisagion ever and aye."
2. The high priest entered the most holy place once a year. The ceremonial of the day of atonement (Leviticus 16:1-34.) foreshadowed, as we are expressly told in Hebrews 9:1-28; the entry of our great High Priest into heaven itself. The Jewish high priest, robed in spotless white vestments, passed through the veil of blue and purple and scarlet (Exodus 26:31) into the holy oracle, with the blood of calves and goats, etc. Even so our unspotted Lord, "the High Priest of our profession" (Hebrews 2:1), passed through (not into, διεληλυθότα) the blue heavens (Hebrews 4:14) into the presence of the Eternal, with His own blood (Hebrews 9:12). And as the high priest presented the tokens of death—as he sprinkled the blood (which is the life of the flesh) seven times before the mercy seat eastward (Le 16:15), and so in figure pleaded the meritorious death of Him who should come to put away sin, so does our great High Priest present his pierced and wounded form—He stands before the throne as a "Lamb as it had been slain" (Revelation 5:6)—and pleads His passion, the death of One who has come, for the salvation and life of the world. It may be that, like the high priest, He utters no articulate words; it may be that, like him, He simply appears as the representative of man to show the tokens and pledges of atonement; or it may be that as the incense was burned when the blood was sprinkled, so His powerful intercession, of which the incense was a type, is joined to the silent pleading of His wounds. But whichever way it is, it is clear that the ritual of the holy of holies has its blessed counterpart in the ritual of the heaven of heavens.
1 Kings 8:23-53
The Prayer of Dedication.
In how many and varied ways is Solomon a type of the Divine Solomon, the true Son of David Even in this respect they are alike—that each has "taught us how to pray" (Luke 11:1 sqq.) For we may be sure that the Prayer of Dedication is for our instruction and imitation, otherwise it would hardly have been recorded, and recorded at such length, in Scripture. "After this manner therefore pray ye" (Matthew 6:9).
I. LAYMEN MAY OFFER PUBLIC PRAYER. This is no monopoly of priests. The Hebrew king might not sacrifice or burn incense (2 Chronicles 26:18), but he might lead the prayers both of priests and people, and that on the greatest day in the history of Israel. Even so, though "we give not to our princes the ministering either of God's word or of the sacraments" (Art. 37.), still we do not deny them any "prerogative which we see to have been given always to all godly princes in Holy Scripture" (ib.), and least of all the prerogative of prayer exercised by David, Solomon, Asa (2 Chronicles 14:11), Jehoshaphat (ib; 1 Kings 20:5-12), and Hezekiah (ib; 30:18-20). It was Constantine, a layman, presided at the Council of Nice.
II. KINGS SHOULD BE PROUD TO TAKE PART IN RELIGIOUS FUNCTIONS. Whatever divinity doth hedge them about, they are not greater or wiser than Solomon, and the proudest moment of his life was when he led the ark to its resting place; the happiest, when he "blessed all the congregation of Israel" (1 Kings 8:14). Never is king so great as when he takes his proper place before God. Alas! that religion should have ever been brought into such contempt that kings should be ashamed or afraid to be the "nursing fathers" of the Church (Isaiah 49:23). Solomon's prayer is "a testimony that a wisdom which can no longer pray is folly" (Bähr).
III. PRAYER SHOULD BE PRECEDED BY PRAISE. It was not until Solomon had "blessed God" (1 Kings 8:15) that he prayed to God (1 Kings 8:23-53). "praemissa laude, invocatio sequi solet." This was the rule of the early Church (see Psalms 65:1, Psalms 65:2 for the scriptural order; cf. Philippians 1:3, Philippians 1:4; Philippians 4:6, and see Howson's Hulsean Lectures, No. 4; for the combination of thanksgiving and prayer in St. Paul's Epistles). And Solomon not only began but ended with blessing (1 Kings 8:56).
IV. TRUE PRAYER IS ASKING GOD FOR WHAT WE NEED. Not rhetorical display, not sesquepedalia verba, not a mere string of texts and hymns, but the simplest, humblest cry of the heart. Which of us has not heard prayers like the Pharisee's—without one word of prayer (i.e; petition) in them? And how many prayers are made painful by their pretentiousness. Perhaps a child has been ordained our pattern (Matthew 18:2-4), that from it we should learn to pray. "In prayer it is better to have a heart without words than words without a heart" (Bunyan).
V. PRAYER SHOULD BE OFFERED FOR ALL SORTS AND CONDITIONS OF MEN. Not for self only. It is not "my Father," but "our Father." Perhaps selfishness is nowhere more conspicuous or more hateful than in our prayers. We are members one of another. It is in the Pharisee's prayer that we find so much "I." Notice how varied were Solomon's petitions, and cf. 1 Timothy 2:1, 1 Timothy 2:2, 1 Timothy 2:3. Tennyson says—
"For what are men better than sheep or goats
That nourish a blind life within the brain,
If, knowing God, they lift not hands in prayer
Both for themselves and those who call them friend?"
And he does not stop there, but adds that thus
"the whole round world
Is bound by golden chains around the feet of God."
This prayer of dedication was a veritable Litany (verses 31, 33, 37, 41, 44, etc.)
VI. PRAYER SHOULD BE SCRIPTURAL, i.e; conceived in the spirit and expressed in the words of Scripture. This prayer was pre-eminently so What St. Cyprian says of the Lord's prayer, "Quanto efficacius impetramus quod petimus in Christi nomine, si petamus ipsius oratione," may suggest to us that that prayer is most likely to move God's hand which is based on God's Word. Supplication should be shaped by revelation.
VII. PRAYERS MAY BE LITURGICAL. The Scripture references, its artificial structure, and indeed, its very preservation, prove that this prayer was a precomposed form. A form need not involve formalism. All Christians use forms of praise; why not forms of prayer? (See Hooker, V. 26.2. 3.)
VIII. OUTWARD FORMS ARE NOT TO BE DESPISED. Solomon "kneeled upon his knees, with his hands stretched out towards heaven" (cf. Daniel 6:10; Acts 7:60; Acts 9:40; Acts 20:1-38 :86; Acts 21:5; Ephesians 3:14, and, above all, Luke 22:41 and Luke 24:50. Also Psalms 28:2; Psalms 63:4; Psalms 134:2). Ritualism is a question of degree, for we all use some rites. So long as we have bodies, we can never have a purely spiritual religion, but must "glorify God in our bodies and spirits" (1 Corinthians 6:20). That forms have their foundation in human nature, and may be impressive and edifying, is proved by the fact that "no nation under heaven either doth or ever did suffer public actions which are of weight to pass without some visible solemnity" (Hooker, IV. 1.8), and for this reason, that
"Sounds which address the ear are lost and die
In one short hour; while that which strikes the eye
Lives long upon the mind: the faithful sight
Graves on the memory with a beam of light."
It is only when forms usurp the place, or mar the reality, of spiritual worship (John 4:24) that they are really reprehensible.
1 Kings 8:62-66
The Feast on the Sacrifices.
In this prodigious number of sacrifices—in round numbers 150,000 victims—3,000 oxen and 18,000 sheep forevery day of the festival (Keil); five oxen and twenty-five sheep forevery minute of each day (Thenius)—in this wholesale slaughter, which converted the court of the priests into one great shambles, and almost choked the sewers of the temple with blood, one feature is liable to be overlooked (note on 1 Kings 8:64), namely, that all these sacrifices were "peace offerings," with the exception, of course, of the usual burnt offerings. In all these—and king and princes and people alike brought their thousands—all was first given to God, but the bulk was given back by God to the sacrificers. With the exception of the fat, etc; burnt on the altar, and the blood (which was the life), poured out at its base, and the customary portion of the priests (Le 1 Kings 7:14, 1 Kings 7:21; 1 Corinthians 9:13), all the rest was carried home by the offerer to provide a feast for him and his family. The peace offering was thus a social festival And the same remark applies to the still greater number—a quarter of a million—of paschal lambs offered year by year in later times. The blood was sprinkled as a memorial before God, but the lamb was roasted entire to provide a supper for the household (Deuteronomy 16:1-7). In all these sacrifices God graciously entertained those who offered them with their own oblations—which He had first given them—at His own table. And herein we have an illustration of God's gracious way of dealing with our gifts and offerings. He accepts them at our hands, but gives them back for our use and enjoyment. We present our sacrifice, and He spreads banquet for our souls. It is a curious circumstance, and one that shows how entirely this principle has been overlooked, that "sacrifice," which properly means "something made sacred," "consecrated," has come to be a synonym for "loss," "privation." But this a true sacrifice can never be. There is no such thing as giving at a loss to the Lord of all. He insists on paying us back a hundred fold. All our offerings are in this sense peace offerings. He sends us away laden with our own gifts, "joyful and glad of heart for all the goodness of the Lord" (1 Kings 8:66). Let us now see how this holds good.
I. OF THE SACRIFICE OF THE DEATH OF CHRIST. This is the one veritable sacrifice of the world. Of all others it may be said, "Of thine own have we given thee." He alone "offered him self" (Hebrews 9:14). "With his own blood" (1 Kings 8:12). Behold how this oblation comes back to us charged with blessing. "Once offered to bear the sins of many" (1 Kings 8:28); "Having obtained eternal redemption for us" (1 Kings 8:12). "By the obedience of one many are made righteous" (Romans 5:19). Compare Hebrews 2:9, Hebrews 2:10; Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 2:6-11; and especially John 10:11, John 10:17, and John 6:51.
II. OF THE SACRIFICE OF OUR BODIES (Romans 12:1). If in separating the body from common uses and yielding our bodies instruments of righteousness to God (Romans 6:13), we seem to suffer inconvenience, privation, etc; it is not really, so. This sacrifice brings "joy and gladness of heart." Not unseldom are we conscious of the present gain. "Virtue is its own reward." The "testimony of the conscience" is no slight recompense. How great, for example, is the guerdon of purity!
"So dear to Heaven is saintly chastity
That when a soul is found sincerely so
A thousand liveried angels lacquey her,
Driving far off each thing of sin and guilt,
And in clear dream and solemn vision
Tell her of things that no gross ear can hear," etc.
There is a story told of George Herbert which shows how little sacrifices become great feasts. On his way to a musical gathering, he stopped by the way to help a poor waggoner out of the ruts. Arriving late and bespattered with mud, he was commiserated for the loss and inconvenience he had sustained. But he would not allow that it was loss. "The remembrance," he said, "will bring music into the heart at midnight."
III. OF THE SACRIFICE OF OUR ALMS. True, they are loss when given to serve self, or for the praise of men. "Verily I say unto you, they have (i.e; er haust, ἀπέχουσιν) their reward" (Matthew 6:2). Such givers get what they bargained for; they receive "their good things" (Luke 16:25). But then there was no oblation to God. A Scottish laird having put a crown piece by mistake into the plate, asked for it back again. On being told that he might put what he chose in, but take nothing out, he said, "Well, well, I suppose I'll get credit for it in heaven." "Na, na," was the just reply, "ye'll only get credit for the penny." But if the alms be hue offerings to God, then they have both a present and an eternal reward. Present, in hearing the widow's heart sing for joy, and in the blessing of him that was ready to perish" (Job 29:13); eternal, in that "God is not unrighteous to forget," etc. (Hebrews 6:10), and that a "cup of cold water only" shall in no wise lose its reward (Matthew 10:42). Such gifts are the truest and safest investments (Proverbs 19:17).
"We lose what on ourselves we spend,
We have as treasure without end
Whatever Lord, to Thee we lend."
There is on record an admirable prayer of Thomas Sutton, the pious founder of the Charterhouse, "O Lord, Thou hast given me a large estate, give me a large heart." We cannot lose what we give away.
IV. OF THE SACRIFICE OF OUR OBLATIONS. We use "oblations" here in the liturgical sense of the word, i.e; of the oblations of bread and wine in the Holy Communion. For these were anciently, and should be still, solemnly offered to God, as our thank offerings, as a sort of first fruits of His creatures. And now consider how they are given back to us. "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion ( κοινωνία, the joint participation in) of the blood of Christ? the bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?" (1 Corinthians 10:16.) We have presented to the Divine Majesty bread and wine, and He gives us in return the body and blood of our Lord (ib; John 11:24, John 11:25).
V. OF THE SACRIFICE OF WORLDLY PROSPECTS, etc. Men often speak of the sacrifices they have had to make for the sake of their religion. And time was when great sacrifices were demanded; these are sometimes demanded still. But they involve no loss, no real and abiding injury. On the contrary, they are actually, and in the long run, a gain. "There is no man that hath left houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake and the gospel's, but he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life". On which Bengel beautifully remarks that nature gives us each but one father and one mother, but the Church gives us many. (Cf. Romans 16:18.) "What shall I do," said Amaziah, "for the hundred talents which I have given to the army of Israel? .... And the man of God answered, The Lord is able to give thee much more than this" (2 Chronicles 25:9). Who had made more sacrifices than St. Paul? And yet who was it wrote of "having nothing, yet possessing all things?" (2 Corinthians 6:10). The man who had such loved and loving friends as Romans 16:1-27. proves him to have had, cannot be called poor. Well might he write, "I have all and abound" (Philippians 4:18). The sacrifices he had made procured him a continual feast. It is the same with all our sacrifices. The Great King cannot receive gifts, but he must return them "according to his royal bounty" (1 Kings 10:13). The Greatest Giver in the world will never be outdone in generosity by king Solomon.
HOMILIES BY A. ROWLAND
1 Kings 8:6
The Ark of the Covenant.
The ark was the heart of the temple. For it the shrine was erected. It was regarded as the throne of Jehovah. Hence the reverence with which it was approached. In itself the ark was not very remarkable. It was a chest 2.5 cubits long, and 1.5 cubits deep and broad, made of wood covered with gold; the lid, called "the mercy seat," being of pure gold, having the cherubim at its ends. For its construction see Exodus 25:1-40; where it is placed first as the most important of all the furniture of the tabernacle. Describe its connection with the people's entrance to Canaan, leading them through the Jordan, and heading the procession round Jericho. A superstitious sanctity was attached to it later. The outward symbol was supposed to have the efficacy which belonged only to that which it symbolized. It was carried into battle (1 Samuel 4:1-22.) under this delusion, but the ark could not save a people from whom God had withdrawn. Their superstition was rebuked by the defeat of the army, and the capture by the Philistines of the ark itself. Show how often in Church history the sign has been substituted for the thing signified, to the injury of God's cause. Though the superstitions belief in the ark was always rebuked, its sanctity was vindicated: by its avenging progress through the cities of Phllistia, and by the punishment of Uzzah. Moreover a blessing came with it to those who received it aright, e.g; to the house of Obed-Edom. The ark had been brought up to Jerusalem by David amid national rejoicing and placed in a tent prepared for it; now it found its abiding place in Solomon's temple. Throwing on the ark the light of the Epistle to the Hebrews, let us remind ourselves of certain religious truths to which it bore silent witness. These will be suggested by the contents of the ark, by its covering, by the mode of approaching it, and by its uses in worship.
I. THE ARK SUGGESTED THAT THE COVENANT RESTED ON LAW. The safe custody of the material tables of stone implied the moral observance of the precepts inscribed on them. "There was nothing in the ark save the two tables of stone," etc. (If we are to understand Hebrews 9:4 as asserting that Aaron's rod and the pot of manna were actually inside the ark, they had probably disappeared by Solomon's time.) The term "a covenant" is only used by way of accommodation, when applied to the relation between man and God. Such a "covenant" is merely a promise, which God makes dependent on the fulfilment of certain conditions; e.g; the promise after the flood is called a "covenant." So the covenant of Sinai was a promise on God's part, conditioned by the observance of the ten commandments on man's part. This was proclaimed by the presence of the tables of the law in the ark of the covenant. Show from Scripture and experience that bliss is conditioned by obedience. There is nothing lawless either in morals or in nature.
II. THE ARK PROCLAIMED THAT MERCY CAME BETWEEN MAN AND THE BROKEN LAW. "The mercy seat" covered "the tables." The value of mercy was typified by the pure gold of the capporeth. Exhibit the necessity of mercy to men who are prone to evil and forgetful of good. Illustrate it from God's dealings with Israel, and Christ's goodness to His disciples. The publican struck the keynote of true prayer when he exclaimed, "God be merciful to me, a sinner" Compare Psalms 51:1-19. Show how the sense of our want of mercy grows with our sensibility to the sinfulness of sin. Paul the apostle an example of this: "of sinners I am the chief."
III. THE ARK DECLARED THAT AN ATONEMENT MADE MERCY POSSIBLE. Describe the day of atonement; the sacrifice offered; the high priest entering the holy of holies with the blood which he sprinkled on the mercy seat. Even he could only draw near to the mercy, seat after the sacrifice (compare Hebrews 9:1-28.) "Without the shedding of blood there is no remission? Apply this to the sacrifice of "the Lamb of God," who was "wounded for our transgressions," whose "blood cleanseth from all sin." Describe him as the High Priest in the Holiest of all, having opened the way for all sinners to the abounding mercy of God.
IV. THE ARK ENCOURAGED MEN TO DRAW NEAR TO GOD. The law (represented by the tables) was broken; but the mercy of God (represented by the capporeth) was revealed; and the atonement (represented by the sprinkled blood) was provided; so that God fulfilled promise about the mercy seat. "There will I commune with thee."
Apply the teaching of this subject to those conscious of guilt, burdened by sorrow, etc. "Let us, therefore, come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need."—A.R.
1 Kings 8:10, 1 Kings 8:11
The Presence of the Lord in the House of the Lord.
The Shechinah, which is here referred to, was a most brilliant and glorious light, usually concealed by a cloud; a fit emblem, therefore, of Jehovah, the God of light and of glory, who is retied from His creatures. As the visible symbol of the Divine presence, "the pillar of cloud and fire," had gone before Israel in the wilderness, proving their guide and defence. Suddenly and mysteriously it appeared in the new temple of Solomon, at the festival of dedication, giving Divine sanction to the work, and assuring all beholders that Jehovah had made that His dwelling place. Not only was the holy of holies filled with the cloud, but the holy place also, indeed, the whole building was permeated by it, so that all the building was henceforth holy. The signs of the Divine presence are different now, but the reality of it may be consciously felt. "Where two or three are met together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." The New Testament counterpart of this manifestation is found in the upper room on the day of Pentecost, when "suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting" (Acts 2:2). Compare these two manifestations: the splendour of the temple, with the poverty of the upper room; the narrowness of national rejoicing, with the breadth of worldwide preaching, etc. Let us seek the changeless inward truth underlying the changeful outward form which embodies it.
I. THE PREPARATION FOR THE DIVINE PRESENCE. Read the account of that which, on the part of the people, had preceded this display.
1. Sacred memories were recalled. The worn tent, the ark, the holy vessels, had just been brought in (1 Kings 8:4), and glorious yet tender associations were connected with each. The revival of old impressions made in youth, etc; makes the heart sensitive to the Spirit of God. Give examples.
2. Divine law was enthroned. "Nothing in the ark save the two tables of stone" (1 Kings 8:9). Disobedience to God's commands, forgetfulness of them, unfits us for seeing Him. It deteriorates character, debases the heart. "Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? he that hath clean hands and a pure heart," etc.
3. God's claims were recognized. By the completion of the temple, by the multitudinous sacrifices (1 Kings 8:5). The willingness to give our. selves up to God prepares us to see Him as our God. Not the intellectual research, but the reverent submission discovers Him. "Except ye be converted and become as little children, ye shall not enter the kingdom of heaven." "He that doeth the will of my Father shall know of the doctrine." "We beseech you, there. fore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present yourselves a living sacrifice," etc.
4. Earnest prayers were offered. Solomon's prayer, which follows, was but the formal and public utterance of many secret prayers on the part of himself and others. See how often he spoke to God about this building, and how often God spoke to him. He and his people prayed above all things that the special glory of the tabernacle might be granted to the temple. Now the prayers were answered. "Ask and ye shall receive," etc. The apostles expected the Holy Spirit; but in order to receive the fulfilment of the Lord's promise, "they continued, with one accord, in prayer and supplication."
II. THE EFFECTS OF THE DIVINE PRESENCE. We do not refer to the special and immediate effects of the cloud, but to the moral and religious effect of the presence thus symbolized.
1. It restored significance to old symbols. The ark had lost much of its sanctity in the eyes of the people, as the conduct of Uzzah showed. This naturally arose from its frequent removals, its uncovering, its capture by the Philistines, and most of all from the absence of the Shechinah. Now the old veneration was restored to it, because its real significance was reestablished. Apply this thought to churches, to their organizations, to their sacraments, etc. How often these are like the cloudless ark. They want the realized presence of God to make them vivid with life.
2. It testified to God's acceptance of the new building. Reverence and awe fell on all the worshippers. True" consecration" arises from the signs of the Divine presence given to the faithful. The conversion of a sinner, the uplifting of a fallen disciple, etc; these are the evidences we look for that worship and work, place and people, are accepted of God.
3. It confirmed the faith of some, and inspired faith in others. From childhood they had been told of the appearance of the glory of the Lord in olden days. Now, for the first time, they saw it, and doubt vanished before the light. A great turning to God on the part of the unrighteous, or some similar spiritual evidence of the Divine power amongst us, would do more than all controversy to destroy scepticism.
4. It proclaimed God's readiness to hear prayer. With what confidence Solomon could pray after this! The realization that God is near us is our highest encouragement to speak to Him. "Because he hath heard me in time past, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live."
If such be the glory and bliss of God's presence on earth, what will it be to stand before His throne in heaven?—A.R.
HOMILIES BY J. WAITE
1 Kings 8:10, 1 Kings 8:11
The Glory cloud.
Never did Solomon appear so much "in all his glory" as on this memorial day of the dedication of the temple. The solemnities of the service, the procession of the sacred ark from the city of David into its resting place, the robed priests, the rapturous multitude, the unnumbered sacrifices, the music and the songs, must have formed altogether a marvellous spectacle. But of all the incidents of the day none could be compared with that of the sudden appearance of the Shechinah—the glory cloud. This introduced new supernatural element. The rest was human—man's handiwork, man's worship, man's glory; this was Divine—the miraculous sign of the present and approving God. It raises the scene above comparison with any similar scene in the history of any other nation. Other peoples have reared their gorgeous temples, and kings and priests have gone in solemn pomp and circumstance to consecrate them. But what shrine has ever been honoured like this? Altars to false gods inmunerable have been reared, but where has been the fire from heaven to kindle their sacrifices? Idol temples dedicated—where the radiant cloud of the Divine presence? The priests were too much dazzled by the shining splendour to continue their ministrations. Solomon might well be filled with adoring wonder. "But will God indeed?" etc. (1 Kings 8:27). Many Scripture examples of the way in which miraculous revelations of the presence of God overawe the spirits of men: Jacob at Bethel, Moses before the burning bush, Elijah at the mouth of the cave, the disciples of Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration, etc. Solomon's, however, was not so much an emotion of fear, but of sacred reverence and glad surprise. The appearance of the cloud set the seal of Divine acceptance on the temple and its service, linking it with all the glorious associations of the past—the climax and crown of a long series of miraculous Divine manifestations. But look on it now as prophetic of a more glorious future, as imaging forth to the men of that age higher forms of Divine manifestation that in the fulness of time should come to pass.
I. THE INCARNATION OF CHRIST. When the eternal Son of the Father laid aside the "form of God," and took upon Him "the likeness of sinful flesh," He filled the temple of a human body with the Divine glory. God came to dwell in very deed "amongst men upon the earth." The Infinite Unseen submitted to the conditions of a finite visible personality. The Light insufferable, "which no man can approach unto," veiled itself in a cloud of mortal flesh. "We beheld his glory," etc. (John 1:14). When the second temple was being built, many of the people were troubled at the thought that it would be so inferior to the first. The old men who had "seen the first house" wept (Ezra 3:12; Haggai 2:3). But the prophets of the time were commissioned to comfort them with the assurance that, though the old symbolic grandeur was gone, the glory of the latter house should be greater than that of the former. It would contain no ark, no mercy seat, no Shechinah, no heaven-kindled fire, no Urim and Thummim, no prophetic spirit; "Ichabod" would be written on its walls. But a nobler Presence than had ever been seen on earth before would irradiate it in the coming time: "Behold I will send my messenger," etc. (Malachi 3:1); "Yet once, it is a while, and I will shake the heavens," etc. (Haggai 2:6, Haggai 2:7). Every time the Lord Jesus, "the brightness of the Father's glory," entered the temple—as a babe in His mother's arms, as a boy girding Himself for His "Father's business," as a man in the fulness of His Divine authority, purging it from defilement, expounding in it the law of acceptable worship, making it the centre of His beneficent healing ministry—He verified in some new form these prophetic words. The manifestations of the present Deity in the olden times "have no glory in this respect by reason of the glory that excelleth," even "the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." Do we ask, "Will God in very deed dwell?" etc; the answer comes back to us, "Great is the mystery of godliness, God was manifest," etc. (1 Timothy 3:16), "Immanuel, God with us" (Matthew 1:23). That outshining radiance in the temple was dazzling, almost repellent, deepening the sense of distance, creating fear; this Divine apocalypse is infinitely active, gives unmistakable proof of sympathetic personal nearness, awakens grateful, trustful, and adoring love.
II. THE GIFT OF THE SPIRIT. The manifestation of God in the person of His Son was preparatory to the richer grace—the actual impartation of Himself by His Spirit to the individual souls of men (see Ephesians 4:8 sqq.; 2 Corinthians 6:16). The dispensation of the Spirit is the ultimate fact. In this God communicates Himself in the highest form of revelation, and the most intimate fellowship of which man is capable. The "dwelling" of the Holy Ghost in every new-born soul, in every assembly of true spiritual worshippers, in the "one body" of the universal Church, is prefigured in the scene before us. The day of the dedication of the temple finds its antitype in the "day of Pentecost." Place these manifestations side by side. As you trace the lines of comparison between them, how glorious does the Christian fact appear! The one was material in its nature—a bright and beautiful vision for the eye, appealing indirectly through the senses to the soul; the other intensely spiritual—a blessed overpowering influence, seizing at once on the minds and hearts of the people, the flowing in of a Divine life. And though there was something for the eye and ear, its form was such as to suggest most strikingly that living word of truth and holy fire of love which the heart alone can know. The one was diffuse, general, indiscriminate—a bright, scattered cloud filling the place;—the other was distinct and personal. The Spirit of God deals not with companies of men, but with isolated souls. There was a separate tongue of flame on the head of each. Not the place merely, but the men, each according to his own individuality, was "filled with the Holy Ghost." The one manifestation concealed more than it revealed. It was the sign of God's presence, but it made the people feel that He is indeed a "God that hideth himself." They could not really "behold his glory." They "saw through a glass"—a cloud—"darkly." The "dispensation of the Spirit," though it did not remove fleshly restrictions, brought in that blessed condition of things in which the soul has such a thrilling sense of Divine communion as scarcely to need any material help to the apprehension of it, and almost to forget the intervening veil. The one manifestation was local and exclusive, confined to the central shrine of Jewish worship, distinguishing the Jewish people from all the world besides; "to them belonged the glory." The grace of the Spirit is God's free gift to all mankind, "shed on us abundantly" (Joel 2:28; Acts 10:45; Titus 3:5). The Spirit is the exclusive possession of none of the churches, owns no human creed, or ritual, or ecclesiastical boundary rather than another, dwells with all who call upon the same redeeming Lord. The one manifestation was transitory, served a temporary purpose. The "glory" soon departed again, and returned to the heaven from whence it came. The other is an enduring reality. The Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, "abides with us forever." the spring of an imperishable life, the pledge and pro. phecy of the unfading glory of God's unveiled presence.—W.
HOMILIES BY A. ROWLAND
1 Kings 8:17-19
The Unfulfilled Purposes of Life.
Men often take credit to themselves for the designs of others. An inventor is forgotten, having died in obscurity, while others make fortunes from that secret which he won by the sacrifices of ease, strength, and time. [Give other examples of the non-recognition by men of purposes and schemes which were unfulfilled by their originators.] Solomon showed himself to be truthful and magnanimous when, in the presence of his people, he ascribed to his father the inception of the building which now stood before them in its splendour. How much more ready is God, who knows the hearts of all men, to recognize and reward the unfulfilled longings of men to serve Him! Briefly indicate the reasons which made it unsuitable that David should personally do this special service (compare 2 Samuel 7:1-29. with 1 Chronicles 22:8). He stood not alone in his disappointment, therefore the following thoughts which arise from considering it may help others to bear the unfilfilled purposes of their lives.
I. DAVID PROPOSED TO DO SOME GREAT THING FOR HIS GOD. We too often seek to effect great things for ourselves, or for our children, rather than for God. David wished to erect the temple. It was to be
II. DAVID HAD IT IN HIS HEART TO DO MUCH FOR THE BENEFIT OF OTHERS. He lived for his people. He shrunk neither from the perils of war nor the anxieties of rule that they might become a strong and noble nation. He did not wish to build the temple for himself, but for them and their children. Had he been allowed to begin it (when alone he was able to do so) in extreme old age, he would probably never have seen its completion; but he was content that generations yet to come should have that as their place of worship. Rebuke the tendency of men to ignore their responsibility to posterity. Sometimes in national finance, in ecclesiastical arrangements, etc; the fact that the benefit would only lie in the future and not in the present, is enough to check effort and sacrifice. Who has not heard the question, "What has posterity done for us?" Show the fallacy of this reasoning, and its sinfulness, because of the selfishness and ingratitude it reveals. Indicate some of the blessings we enjoy as a nation, and as churches, from the labours and sacrifices of our predecessors who did not count even life dear to them.
III. DAVID WAS PREVENTED BY CIRCUMSTANCES FROM FULFILLING HIS PURPOSE. Wars, unsettlement, infirmities of age, etc; were some of these. They were beyond his control, but not beyond God's. Still the purpose was, as we have said, a right one. Give examples from modern life: e.g.,
IV. DAVID MADE IT POSSIBLE FOE OTHERS TO DO WHAT HE COULD NOT DO. See an account given of the treasures he accumulated for the house of the Lord, the musical service he prepared, the plans for the building, etc. How unlike those who say, "if I cannot do this no one else shall;" or, with less selfishness, "I cannot do it, let others take all the burden if they are to have all the honour." Show how we can help others in doing their work, and so indirectly serve our God. It may not be possible for you to go abroad amongst the heathen; but you can support those to whom it is possible. Perhaps you cannot, from want of time, or suitability, teach the children or visit the sick; but you can invite others to do this, or encourage and sustain them in it.
V. DAVID'S NOBLE PURPOSE WAS FULFILLED BY HIS SON. This was God's design and promise (1 Kings 8:19).
VI. DAVID'S UNACCOMPLISHED PURPOSE WAS RECOGNIZED AND RECOMPENSED BY THE LORD. "Thou didst well that it was in thine heart." God knows what is in us of good as well as of evil. He approves the motive even when the effort fails. He sees the issue of every right purpose in all its width and depth. When Mary anointed her Lord she did more than she imagined; for she was the high priest anointing the Priest and King of Israel. In the day of judgment the righteous will be amazed at the issues and the rewards of their humble services, and with astonishment will ask, "Lord, when saw we thee?" etc. "And the king shall answer, and say unto them, Verily, I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these, my brethren, ye have done it unto me."—A.R.
1 Kings 8:28
The Prayer of Dedication.
Describe the scene at the dedication of the temple. Note the fact that it is a king who leads his people to God's footstool. Show the influence of earthly rulers, who not only affect surrounding nations by their policy, but degrade or exalt the moral life of their people by their personal character, and by the tone of their court. Our reasons for thankfulness in the present reign. Contrast the influence of Victoria with that of Charles II. or George IV. Apply the same principle to other kings of men, i.e; to rulers of thought in literature and science. How heavy the responsibility of those who use their kingliness to lead men from God into the dreariness of scepticism; how glorious the powers they may employ to exalt the Lord our God. Solomon is a proof that wisdom is better than knowledge. On this occasion he prayed as the representative and leader of others. A prayer so prominent in Scripture, so remarkable in circumstances, so acceptable to God, deserves consideration, that we may see its elements. It presents the following characteristics:
I. GRATEFUL ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF THE PAST. "In everything give thanks" (1 Thessalonians 5:18). "By prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, make your requests known" (Philippians 4:6). "It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord" (Psalms 92:1). "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits" (Psalms 103:2.) Notice the causes of Solomon's thanksgiving:
II. CONFIDENCE IN THE PROMISES. Show how the patriarchs ever reminded God of His promises. Illustrate also from the pleadings of Moses and the prophets. Prove from Christ's own words that the promises are renewed and enlarged for us, and that only on them cat. our expectancy of blessing be founded. The utility of prayer cannot be demonstrated by reason, but by revelation. In the spiritual realm we know Divine laws by Divine declaration, the truth of which is confirmed by the experience of those who fulfilling the required conditions, test them. "Ask and it shall be given you" (Matthew 7:7) is a promise. But appended to it is the requirement of faith. "Without faith it is impossible to please God" (Hebrews 11:6). "According to your faith, so be it unto you." See also James 1:5-7; Matthew 21:22, etc.
III. ENLARGEMENT OF HEART (Matthew 21:41, "moreover concerning a stranger," etc.) The prayer is remarkable on the part of a Jewish king. Give evidences of the narrowness and selfishness of the nation. We might expect this feeling in all its intensity on such an occasion as the consecration of this temple. But Solomon's sympathies overflowed national prejudices. The tendency of prayer is to enlarge the heart. Christians pray together who never work together. They who are nearest to God's throne are nearest to each other. As we pray, our yearnings go further afield, and we think kindly of the erring, pitifully of the lost, forgivingly of the wrong doers.
IV. LONGING FOR THE GLORY OF GOD. Solomon's chief wish in regard to the temple is expressed in verse 60, "that all the people of the earth may know that the Lord is God, and that there is none else." Our Lord's prayer is like Solomon's in this, that it ends in an ascription of "the kingdom, and the power, and the glory," to God. So with all true prayer. It ends in praise. See how David, in the Psalms, prayed himself out of sadness into joy; out of confession into thankfulness and praise. If we ask something for ourselves, or for others, it should be with the implied wish that it may be granted or withheld, as may be, for our welfare and God's glory. The yearning of each Christian should be that of the Lord Jesus, "Father, glorify thy name."—A.R.
HOMILIES BY J. WAITE
1 Kings 8:38, 1 Kings 8:39
The Praying King.
One of the most remarkable features of this scene of the dedication of the temple is the place occupied, the part performed, in it by Solomon himself. He is the central figure, the chief actor. Both priest and prophet give place to him. The dedicatory prayer is a spontaneous effusion of his own devout feeling, and it is he who pronounces afterwards the benediction on the people. He stands before us here as a true type of that greater "Son of David," who is our Prophet, Priest, and King. There is a great deal in the tone of this prayer that betokens a soul fully alive to the solemn and momentous meaning of what was taking place in Jerusalem that day. It is not, indeed, to the service of the ancient Jewish temple that we should look for the most perfect models of devotion. New Testament revelations multiply and strengthen immeasurably our motives to prayer, enlarge its scope, open to us new grounds of assurance in it. "One greater than Solomon" has taught us how to pray, and revealed to us the path to acceptance in the merit of His own mediation. But as the life of religion in the soul of man is essentially the same in all ages, so the principles involved in prayer as the expression of it are the same. Two such rudimentary principles appear in this passage, viz; the sense of need prompting the suppliant to look heavenwards, and the recognition of something out of himself as the ground of hope for acceptance.
I. THE SENSE OF NEED, etc. It is the "plague of the heart"—the burden resting heavy there, the haunting sense of want or sadness in the secret soul, coupled with some kind of faith in Divine power—that moves men to pray. All true prayer is the utterance of these inward impressions. If much of our so called praying were subjected to this test, it is to be feared that it would be found very hollow and unreal, mere "words," a mere formal homage to custom—no deep, earnest, irrepressible longing of the soul inspiring it. Solomon begins to enumerate different calamities that may impel the people to pray, and then, as if overpowered by the mere vague, distant imagination of these possibilities, he says, "Whatsoever plague, whatsoever sickness," etc. How soon are we lost in the attempt to realize the manifold troubles of human life. We can understand and sympathize with individual griefs, but who can comprehend at all adequately the general sum of human woe, and take the weight of it sympathetically upon himself? Every man, however, knows where the universal evil specially touches himself. "Every heart knows its own bitterness." And with God there is both an infinite acquaintance with the whole and a special sympathy with each. There are some griefs that you lock up in your own bosom as secrets that none else must look upon.
"Not e'en the dearest heart, and next our own,
Knows half the reasons why we smile or sigh."
But there is no grief you can conceal from Him. He became in the person of His Son "the man of sorrows and acquainted with grief," that we might feel how He follows us, or rather, goes before us, in every path of suffering. There is room in the great fatherly heart of God for us all, with all our burdens, and we can never measure the uplifting and sustaining power that comes to us by casting ourselves and them upon it—"In everything by prayer and supplication," etc. (Philippians 4:6, Philippians 4:7); "Cast thy burden upon the Lord," etc. (Psalms 55:22). But this expression, "to plague of his own heart," has a deeper meaning. It opens to us all the dark sad mystery of personal sinfulness, the moral disease that lurks within. There are times when the most careless, reckless spirit has glimpses of the unwelcome truth that this, after all, is the deepest cause of its disquietude. The multiform, mysterious evil of the world has its central root in the world's heart. Something of that "root of all bitterness" is in every human heart. Here lies the fatal mischief. It is not the tribulations of outward life, it is yourself you have most reason to mourn over. Not so much from them, but from something in yourself you have need to pray to be delivered. Christ always taught, By word and deed, the vital connection between the external calamities and the internal "plague." He took upon Him our sicknesses and sorrows, not only to show us how they may be nobly borne, but that He might bring His power as the Great Physician of souls to Bear upon the seat of our deadly disease, and by the efficacy of His blood might heal and save us all. Go penitently in His name to the mercy seat with the "plague of your heart," and you shall be redeemed from it.
II. THE RECOGNITION OF SOMETHING OUT OF ONE'S SELF AS THE GROUND OF HOPE. This essential element in true prayer is suggested by the words, "And shall stretch forth his hands towards this place." An interesting view is here given us of the relation of the temple to the individual religious life of the people. It was intended to be a witness to the unseen, a help to faith, an incentive to all holy thought and feeling. It stood through all the changes of time, the shifting lights and shadows of the world around it, as an impressive symbol of the "everlasting covenant." It enshrined the "sure mercies of David." Within its hallowed enclosure were gathered the sacred historic records and relies, and the types and shadows of "better things to come." It told both of what God had done and what He had promised—the monument of the glorious past, the prophecy of the brighter future. There was deep meaning, then, in the suppliant "stretching forth his hands towards that house," as expressive of the attitude of his soul towards that which it symbolized. When some lonely worshipper in a distant corner of the land, some patient sufferer, some soldier in his agony on the field of battle, some captive, like Daniel, in a strange country, directed his eyes towards the holy place, it was a sort of pathetic appeal to God s own faithfulness, a silent but eloquent plea that He would not forget His covenant, would fulfil the hopes that He Himself had awakened, and not for their sakes alone, but for His own truth and mercy's sake, would hear and save. In all this the temple was a type of something nobler, diviner than itself. The temple was the shadow, the substance is in Christ. "In him are hid all the treasures," etc. The cross of Christ, in which all the promises are confirmed and sealed; the cross, which is both the altar of the Redeemer's sacrifice and the throne of His sovereignty, is the shrine of "truth and grace" to men. The glory alike of the past and of the future is centred, focussed there.
"All the light of sacred story
Gathers round its head sublime,"
and from it there streams forth an ever-brightening radiance into the otherwise dark futurity. It stands the connecting link between heaven and earth, the meeting place of God and man, the key to all human history, the basis of our immortal hope. Here, then, on this central object alike of Divine and human interest, must the eye of the suppliant be fixed. It is that pledge of Divine love and faithfulness, external to ourselves, embodied in the cross of Christ, that we must plead if we would find acceptance in our prayer. When God has thoroughly taught us what the "plague of our own heart" means, and has unveiled to us the blessed mystery of His mode of curing it, it will be the sustained habit of our life to stand as suppliants before Him "in the name of Jesus." Thus alone can we so link ourselves with the sanctities of a higher world as to make our common life Divine.—W.
HOMILIES BY E. DE PRESSENSE
1 Kings 8:38
The consecration of the temple was the grandest religious ceremony of the old covenant. It is important—
I. BECAUSE IT CENTRALIZES THE WORSHIP OF THE THEOCRACY.
II. BECAUSE IT SUPPLIES A TYPE OF THE SPIRITUAL TEMPLE which is to be reared in the Church and in every Christian soul. Solomon, as the king chosen of God, represents in this service of consecration the entire theocracy. The temple is essentially a house of prayer, as is manifest from the words of the consecration. "What prayer and supplication soever be made by any man, or by all thy people Israel, which shall know every man the plague of his own heart… hear thou in heaven." It is the sanctuary of the invisible God, and its gates stand open to the multitude, who come to worship and to offer sacrifice. Instead of a statue, such as was found in the idol temples, the priests of the true God place in their sanctuary the ark of the covenant, containing the law, the Divine expression of the holy will of God. The altar of sacrifice, placed in front of the sanctuary, reminds the people of their transgressions, while at the same time the sacrifice of the victims is prophetic of the future redemption. The consecrating prayer opens and closes with adoration. It spreads before God all the wants of the people, and asks from Him deliverance in every time of need (1 Kings 9:8). It enumerates first temporal distresses, but the whole petition culminates in the ever-recurring pleading for forgiveness. This is the burden of the whole temple service, and this character is reproduced in Christian worship. In the time of its highest spirituality there were no properly consecrated Christian temples. Aras non habemus said Minutius Felix. A temple is nevertheless a necessity of worship; and we are free to recognize this apart from any superstitious notion, and remembering that while the heaven of heavens cannot contain the Most High, He yet condescends to dwell in the humble and contrite heart. There has been no longer a sanctuary in the old exclusive sense, since the blood was shed which has redeemed the whole earth to God. Our houses of prayer are not now more holy in themselves than our homes. Let us consecrate them by consecrating ourselves to God, and rendering to Him the worship which is His due—the sacrifice of our whole being. Let our prayers, like that of Solomon, begin and end with adoration, and let the burden of them be the expression of our repentance for sin. Let them have, like the prayer of the theocratic king, s breadth of intercession for the whole people of God, and let them lay at the foot of the cross the burden of the woes of humanity and the needs of the Church.—E. de P.
HOMILIES BY J. WAITE
1 Kings 8:41-43
The Stranger's Interest in the Temple.
Kindly human sympathy is one of the most marked characteristics of this prayer of Solomon. This is seen in the way in which he enters into various supposed conditions of need and suffering among his people; takes the burden and the "plague" upon himself as if it were his own; a true intercessor on their behalf. His royalty assumes here the aspect of fatherhood. The model king is one in heart and interest with those over whom he rules. We are reminded, too, that before the "mercy seat" of God all human distinctions are lost. All suppliants stand on one common level, subject to the same dangers and necessities. All true prayer, therefore, is thus broad in its sympathies. But in this passage the king's supplications take a wider range than the needs of his own people. He pleads for the "stranger," the foreigner from a "far country." This is strictly in harmony with the Divine economy of the time, however much it may seem to be otherwise. It is remarkable how much there was in the Mosaic law that was expressly intended to enforce on the people a generous regard for those who were beyond their pale. They were commanded not to "vex a stranger" (Exodus 22:21), to relieve his poverty (Le 25:85), even to "love" him as "God loveth him in giving him iced and raiment" (Deuteronomy 10:18, Deuteronomy 10:19), and all this in memory of the fact that they themselves were once "strangers in the land of Egypt." Strangers, moreover were to be permitted to hear the solemn reading of the law in the "year of release" (Deuteronomy 31:12), and to offer sacrifices on the same conditions as themselves. "One law and one manner shall be for you and for the stranger that sojourneth with you" (Numbers 15:16). So that Solomon gave expression to the spirit of the dispensation to which he belonged when he thus prayed. Certain broad truths underlie this prayer—
I. JEHOVAH'S UNIVERSAL SOVEREIGNTY. He is the "God of the whole earth," and not merely of any particular portion of it (Isaiah 54:5). "Is he the God of the Jews only and not of the Gentries?" (Romans 3:29.) "The God of the spirits of all flesh" (Numbers 16:22). The whole Mosaic economy was built on the grand truth of the unity and absolute worldwide supremacy of Jehovah. The heathen according to their principle of local deities, might acknowledge the God of the Hebrews as having authority over his own, but a Hebrew who should in any way recognize the gods of other nations and think of Jehovah merely as a national deity could be a traitor to the commonwealth. The only living and true God can have no rival. The gods of the nations are idols, and "an idol is nothing in the world"—"a lying vanity," a vile "abomination." "The things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God" (1 Corinthians 8:4, 1 Corinthians 8:5; 1 Corinthians 10:20). To "know God," to have "him whom they ignorantly worship" declared to them, is "eternal life" to men. The absence of this knowledge is death. The curse and misery of the world is that it "knows not its God." Solomon here dimly recognizes this truth; and the case he contemplates is that of some child of the Universal Father in whom the sense of need has been awakened, "coming from a far country" to "seek the Lord, if haply he may feel after him and find him" (Acts 17:27, Acts 17:28).
II. THE REPRESENTATIVE CHARACTER OF ISRAEL. They were a representative people in two respects.
III. THE ATTRACTION OF THE TEMPLE FOR ALL LONGING HUMAN HEARTS AS THE SCENE OF GRACIOUS DIVINE MANIFESTATION. That which made it the centre of interest to pious Jews made it so also to earnest souls of other lands. The truth and mercy symbolized and enshrined there—promises, atoning sacrifices, benedictions—answered to universal needs of humanity. Solomon supposes a case in which the vague sense of this should lead the "stranger in a far off land" to look with longing eyes, or to bend his steps, towards "the house over which God's name is called." We have no historical record of strangers actually worshipping in the first temple as they did in that built after the captivity; but God said, "My house shall be called a house of prayer for all people"; and there may have been many who, with a far reaching hand of faith, "took hold of His covenant" as established there.
IV. THE RESPONSE GOD GAVE TO EVERY TRUE SUPPLIANT, WHOEVER HE MIGHT BE. "Hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place," etc. This intercessory prayer, we may be sure, was answered. God does not awaken holy yearnings in any soul that He will not satisfy. "In every nation, he that feareth him," etc. The sovereignty that reigns over all lands is that of Almighty Love. There is room in the infinite Father's heart for all, even the far. off "stranger," and "the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him."—W.
HOMILIES BY A. ROWLAND
1 Kings 8:49
Occasions for Prayer.
In the prayer of dedication Solomon suggests occasions on which it would be natural for men to turn to their God. The Divine Presence is constant, but our realization of it is not. Many require the shock of some unexpected or lamentable occurrence to rouse them to prayer. This effect, however, will only be seen in those who have, underlying their forgetfulness and sensuousness, an abiding (though sometimes inoperative) belief in God. This Israel for the most part had. Hence Solomon's belief that in their future times of distress and difficulty they would turn to Him who dwelt between the cherubims. Analyze the prayer, and see the following occasions suggested as those in which supplication would be natural.
I. WHEN MEN MAKE VOWS AND PROMISES. Compare 1 Kings 8:31 with the ordinances of Moses (Exodus 22:7-9). The oath was taken in the presence of God, because the thought of Him as the Searcher of hearts would induce serious consideration and careful exactitude, and because He was tacitly invited by His providence to confirm or to punish the spoken word. Show how the principle, right in itself, became abused and vitiated, so that Christ condemned the practices of His day (Matthew 5:33-37). Learn from the ancient practice
II. WHEN MEN ARE INJURED OR DEFEATED BY THEIR ADVERSARIES. "When thy people Israel be smitten down before the enemy" (1 Kings 8:33). National defeat in war should lead to self examination on the part of those smitten. Too often the investigation is applied only to material resources: incompetent officials are dismissed, weakened regiments are strengthened, new alliances are formed, etc. The mischief may lie deeper. Sometimes God is calling the people not to redeem national honour, but to seek national righteousness. The teaching of the verse may be applied figuratively to defeats suffered by Christian controversialists or by philanthropic workers, etc. Every check in onward progress is a summons to thought and prayer. "In the day of adversity consider." Illustrate by examples in Scripture, e.g; by the defeat of Israel at Ai, and its issues.
III. WHEN MEN ARE TREMBLING UNDER NATURAL CALAMITIES. Reference is made in 1 Kings 8:35 to the withholding of rain; in 1 Kings 8:37 to "famine, pestilence, blasting, mildew, locust, and caterpillar." Such troubles were sent in vain to bring the Egyptians to repentance. Compare those plagues with Elijah's message to Ahab, and with the threats of other prophets. Such statements as Deuteronomy 11:17 enshrine an abiding truth. In the long run the violation of God's laws do bring disasters of the very kind specified here. If the law of industry be violated, the harvests fail; if the law of mutual dependence be ignored by nations, commerce is crippled, and impoverishment comes; if the laws against self indulgence, pride, ambition, etc; be defied, the spendthrift has the result in poverty, the proud nation in the miseries of war, etc. Even the disasters which are accounted "natural phenomena," then, should lead the wise hearted to prayer, the sinful to penitence; and God will hear in heaven His dwelling place, and answer and forgive. Show how, during the ministry of our Lord, the cripples, the blind, the diseased came to Him. Their misery made them feel their need of what He alone could give, and many of them became conscious of their spiritual wants from considering first the want that was physical. As they were thus led, so the Church has been which in the Old Testament was oppressed most by the earthly wants, and in the New by the spiritual. Those in the far country learn, by beginning to "be in want," that God is calling them to arise and return to Him.
IV. WHEN MEN ARE CONSCIOUS OF THEIR SIN. All through this prayer reference is made to sin and to the consequent necessity for pardon (verses 38, 46-50). Point out the climax in verse 47:
V. WHEN MEN ARE GOING FORTH TO CONFLICT IN GOD'S NAME. "If thy people shall go out to battle against their enemy whithersoever thou shalt send them," etc. (verse 44). We must not forget that Israel was a theocracy. David, for example, spoke of his foes as being God's foes. So had it been with Moses, Joshua, etc. The consciousness of that gives almost superhuman power. "Man, being linked with Omnipotency, is a kind of omnipotent creature," says Bacon. Even when the belief that one is on God's side is false, the belief itself is an inspiration. Examples from history of such belief well or ill founded—Joan of Are, the Puritans, etc. In actual war no nation can fairly put up this prayer unless the cause of war is that of which we can say, "whithersoever thou shalt send." No mistake need exist in reference to foes whom Christ came to destroy. The promise, "Lo! I am with you," was the inspiration of the apostles as they confronted false philosophies, crass ignorance, brutal customs, degrading superstitions. Hence, if they were going forth to battle with such evils, the prayers of the Church went up on their behalf. Men were set apart for their Christian mission by prayer (give examples), and in their work they often turned to their intercessors, saying, "Brethren, pray for us!" Feeling our insufficiency to overcome the adversaries of the gospel, let us, like the apostles, "continue in prayer and supplication" till we are "endued with power from on high."—A.R.
HOMILIES BY J. WAITE
1 Kings 8:61
A Royal Benediction.
The prayer of Solomon is followed by a benediction. "He stood and blessed all the congregation," etc. (1 Kings 8:54, 1 Kings 8:55). But though he assumed for the time the priestly function, his utterance was not cast into the usual form of priestly benediction. It was rather an ascription of praise to the God who had fulfilled His promises and given rest to His people, and an exhortation to them that they on their part should follow that path of life in which alone they could hope to realize the further fulfilment of those promises, and enjoy the heritage of blessing that was theirs. Lessons are suggested here that are of force and value for all time.
I. THE RELATION BETWEEN TRUE PRAYER AND PERSONAL RIGHTEOUSNESS. Solomon felt that all the impassioned supplications that he had been pouring out before the Lord, and all the sympathetic enthusiasm of the people in these temple services, would be but a mockery unless he and they were prepared to walk with all fidelity in the way of God's commandments. They would soon be leaving the sacred shrine of worship. They could not always be amid the ecstatic and rapturous associations of the temple. They must go back to the matter of fact, prosaic world, to their posts of honour and responsibility, to the privacy of their homes, to their haunts of busy life, to their paths of commerce and of labour. Let them worship there. Let them dwell with God there. Let them embody there, in all the forms of practical virtue, the spirit of devotion that has inspired them amid these hallowed scenes. The "statutes and commandments" of the Lord had reference in great part to the due observance of the ritual of temple worship, but they also claimed, as much then as now, to control the whole spirit and conduct of human life in all its aspects. The relation between prayer and conduct is of a twofold character. They act and react the one on the other. True prayer sheds a hallowing influence over the entire field of a man's daffy activity. When his soul has been face to face with God, absorbed in Divine communion, the inspiration of holy thought and feeling of which he has been conscious will inevitably betray itself in the way in which he acts when he mingles with the things and the beings of earth. The glory of heaven that has shone upon him cannot fail to be reflected in the beauty of his character and deed. A prayerful spirit is an earnest, pure, upright, loving spirit, and such a spirit will govern the whole form and method and aim of a man's life. Prayer solves difficulties, clears one's vision of the path of duty, draws strength from Divine sources for all toil and suffering, raises the tone and level of moral action, fortifies the spirit for any emergency, fills the heart with the peaceful joy of a better world. On the other hand, the conduct of life necessarily affects for good or ill the spirit and efficacy of prayer. If it is needful to pray in order that we may live as Christians, it is equally needful that we should live as Christians in order rightly to pray. The importance of prayer as one chief function of spiritual life doubles the importance of all our actions, because our prayers are so much as our doings are. According as we stand towards the world, with all the social relationships and duties that belong to our place in it, so do we stand before the mercy seat. Think, for instance, how the beneficial effect of family prayer may be nullified by the prevailing spirit of family life. By the discord that may be allowed to reign in it, by its lack of the graces of mutual respect and loving self sacrifice, by the worldliness of its associations, the meanness of its ambitions, the frivolity of its pleasures, the vanity of its cherished societies—how completely may the soul of domestic devotion be destroyed. Let a man be morally reckless in the intercourse and transactions of daily life, and all freedom, "boldness," gladness in prayer is at an end. Anything like loving, confiding converse with the "Father who seeth in secret" is impossible to him. If he cannot look without fear and shame in the face of his fellow man, how shall he dare to look in the face of God? The "heavens become as brass" above his head which no voice of prayer can penetrate. When Saul's heart is thoroughly set in him to do evil it is vain for him to inquire of the Lord. "The Lord answers him no more, neither by Urim, nor by prophet, nor by dream." Let there be a Divine unity and harmony in our life. Let our conduct in all human relationships show us to be what, in our hours of devotion, we seem to ourselves to be. Let it be our ambition every day" to live more nearly as we pray."
II. THE RELATION BETWEEN PRACTICAL VIRTUE AND THE STATE OF THE SECRET HEART. A man's heart must be "perfect with the Lord" before he can walk acceptably in the path of His commandments. The old legal economy was not after all so superficial as it seemed to be. God's commandment was "exceeding broad." Literal as the moral laws were, and formal as the ceremonial precepts, they touched at every point the life of the spirit within. "Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man who doeth these things shall live by them" (Romans 10:5), but the righteousness was not in the mere doing. David, the noblest representative of the spirit of the law, well knew that as it is from the fountain of the evil heart that all transgression proceeds, so from the purified heart springs all practical righteousness. "Create in me a clean heart, O God," etc. (Psalms 51:10). The glory of Christianity is that it not only recognizes this principle, but actually brings to bear on the heart the renewing, healing power. It cleanses the fountain of life within. The law could disclose the secret evil, convince of sin, rebuke, restrain, but it could not make men righteous. The gospel does. "Christ is the end of the law for righteousness," etc. (Romans 10:4). "What the law could not do," etc. (Romans 8:8, Romans 8:4). Keep your heart in habitual contact with the highest sources of spiritual inspiration—in familiar converse with Him who is the fountain of truth and purity and love. Watch over its most secret thoughts and impulses. Guard its sensibilities from the contaminations of the world and the hardening influences of life. Seek to preserve the freshness of its Divine affections and the integrity of its allegiance to Christ, if you would walk as He did, "in loveliness of perfect deeds."
III. THE BENEFICIAL INFLUENCE OF A SACRED MEMORY. "As it is this day." Solomon would have that day to dwell in their memories and hallow all their days. Times of special Divine manifestation and highest religious consciousness show us what we may be, what God would have us to be, what is the true level of our spirit's life.—W.
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Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on 1 Kings 8". The Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
Second Sunday after Epiphany