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Bible Commentaries

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

1 Kings 8

 

 

Verses 1-66

1 Kings 8:1. Solomon assembled the elders, after twenty years’ labour. That is, in the fourth year of his reign he began to build the temple; in seven years and a half more he finished and dedicated it; and in thirteen years more he finished his palace. Hence he devoted twenty years to architecture and fortifications.

1 Kings 8:9. Nothing in the ark, save the two tables of stone. The copy of the law written by Moses was, it is supposed from Deuteronomy 31:26, preserved in a safe, by or in the side of the ark; and that Hilkiah discovered it in the concealed place, when the good Josiah reformed his people. 2 Kings 22:8.

1 Kings 8:10. The cloud filled the house. This designates the sanctity of the place, and the faithfulness of God to his promise. Leviticus 16:2. On this account holy men often looked toward the temple in the act of prayer.

1 Kings 8:12. The Lord said that he would dwell in the thick darkness. He said “that he would come down in a cloud on the mercy seat.” Leviticus 16:2. The Egyptians said that he dwelt in impenetrable darkness; in opposition to which St. Paul affirms that “he dwelleth in light.” This prayer is a piece of admirable composition; it is a prayer ecclesiastic proper to be read at the opening of every christian temple.

1 Kings 8:27. The heaven, and heaven of heavens, better, the whole expanse of heaven.

1 Kings 8:44. Pray unto the Lord toward the city which thou hast chosen. Daniel opened his window which looked towards the temple, and prayed three times a day, feasting his soul as often as he refreshed the body.

1 Kings 8:46. There is no man that sinneth not. Hebrews יחשׂא, yichta. The LXX, αμαρτησεται, which all the Latin versions render peccet, no man that may not sin. This reading coincides better with the subjunctive form of the prayer, If they sin against thee; and there is no man that may not sin.

REFLECTIONS.

The glorious temple of JEHOVAH being at length completed, adequate means of shelter, with every luxurious comfort provided in the interior courts for Israel, and in the outward court for the strangers of all nations; the sacred mysteries were adjourned from Gibeon to be deposited in this temple as antique treasures, and to be preserved as memorials of the divine origin of the Hebrew religion. The ark of the Lord, so terrible to the heathen, so glorious to Israel, and ever a stranger on earth, now enjoyed a repose for more than four hundred years; but it was not designed to abide for ever in any place on earth. The hallowing tokens of the divine presence rest most with that soul, and with that people where they are most invited.

The next grand scene, the crown and glory of all, is the manner in which the Lord accepted the work of man. No sooner was the sanctuary prepared and cleansed, no sooner did the high altar smoke with victims for the sins of the people, than God came down in glory, veiled with clouds; for so has he been wont to dwell with men. No sooner did the King of glory descend, than ten thousand times ten thousands of angels accompanied him in the cloud; for it is great in the eyes of heaven, when a nation renews its covenant with God. So Isaiah saw Messiah the king, on a throne high and lifted up; his train filling the temple, while the adoring seraphim occupied the higher circles of the throng. With what reverence then should we enter the house of God. With what humility should we bow in his presence; and with what fervour offer up the devotion of our hearts to the Eternal Majesty of heaven.

The nation being assembled on this august occasion, all ages and ranks of men exhibited a scene of joy and devotion far superior to our conceptions. The aged men in particular, who had witnessed the calamities of their country, during the long oppression of the Philistines, were now scarcely able to believe the transition to glory, riches, and power. The priests forgot the sorrows they had sustained in the bloody reign of Saul; and all the levites, with trumpets and psalms, were ready to make a joyful noise to God. But Solomon more than all exulted that the Lord who had called him to the throne, had enabled him to complete the sacred superstructure, and that he had this day assembled the whole nation to participate in his joy. He therefore stretched forth his hands with blessings on the crowds. But on seeing the priests come forth, unable farther to proceed with the sacred services by reason of the cloud, his soul was awed and humbled before the majesty of his father’s God. Deeply impressed with the perfections of JEHOVAH, who dwelleth not in temples made with hands, he stood as a sinful man near the altar, and emboldened by the covenant and all its mercies, he prayed him to regard that temple, and to record his name there. Solomon next cast his eye on the national covenant, and on all the mercies vouchsafed to Israel, since the emancipation from Egypt; and past mercies are strong pledges of future hopes. Then with a piety truly filial he adverts to the wishes and preparations of David his father, to build a temple to the Lord. Happy is it when a son can glory in the piety of a parent, and when it is the first object of his life to imitate it. His heart being now warmed with sacred recollections, he proceeds to invoke a perpetuity of the covenant presence of the Lord, that in all times of famine, of war or of drought, the penitent nation might look towards the holy place, and be delivered from their calamities. Nor wishing to confine the divine goodness to Israel, he prays that the stranger hearing of the name of the Lord, who should come to make his supplications unto the Most High, might be heard and accepted. Here was a liberality far above the narrow spirit of the jews, soliciting equal favour for the gentile worshipper. While filled with those tender and grateful sentiments, Solomon appeared as if he had seen the fading glory of his own temple, the apostasy of Israel, and their consequent captivity; for he prays in the tenderest manner that they might be heard in the land of their exile, and be delivered, as formerly from the land of Egypt. Surely a more enlightened prayer concerning the being and perfections of God, or a prayer more appropriate to the case of Israel, was never offered to the Lord. The king having risen from his knees, most affectionately blessed the people, and exhorted them to serve the Lord with a perfect heart, to walk in his statutes and keep his ways. Nor did he merely bless them in words: he made them a royal and liberal banquet for seven days. Happy was Israel in their king, happy in their religion, happy in their God. Hence we have a farther instance of the divine authority of public worship, and of the good that results from a nation most solemnly devoting itself to God. Think of this, thou infidel, and of the glory that followed; thou who loungest away the hallowed sabbaths in taverns, with newspapers in thy hand, and profanest that day with private games.

 


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Bibliography Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on 1 Kings 8:4". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jsc/1-kings-8.html. 1835.

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