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Bible Commentaries

Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary

1 Kings 8

 

 

Verses 1-9

THE DEDICATION OF THE TEMPLE

CRITICAL AND EXPLANATORY NOTES.—

In the Vatican Sept. this chapter commences: And it came to pass when Solomon had made an end of building the house of the Lord, and his own house, after twenty years, then Solomon, &c.; but no other authority sustains the addition. Eleven months elapsed between the completion of the Temple and its dedication; it being finished in the eighth month (chap. 1Ki ), and opened in the seventh month of the following year (1Ki 8:2). This delay was solely for the arrival of the Feast of Tabernacles, in the Jubilee Year, which happened the year ensuing. The commemoration of the nation having dwelt in booths in the wilderness (Feast of Tabernacles) was a fitting occasion for the consecration of the first permanent House of Jehovah; and their being assembled in large numbers gave a public dignity to the august event.

1Ki . Then Solomon assembled—The representatives of the nation were, by royal edict, summoned to their place in the procession which should attend the removal of the Ark into the Temple. The order would be: the king elders of the people, priests bearing the Ark. Levites carrying the vessels. Progress must have been very deliberate for along the line priests were stationed with sacrifices and the procession paused while they were at intervals offered.

1Ki . The Tabernacle of the congregation—This אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד was the tent in which the Ark rested at Gibeon (cf. 1Ch 16:8-9; 1Ch 21:29; 2Ch 1:3), the original Mosaic tabernacle, in distinction from David's tabernacle for the Ark (cf. 2Sa 6:17; 1Ch 15:1).

1Ki . Before the Ark, sacrificing—The procession having reached the temple, the ark was laid down in the outer court. and a great sacrifice offered; then it was borne by the priests into the Oracle, and placed under the wings of the cherubim. Note: There were cherubim fixed upon the ark originally (Exo 37:7-9); these, therefore, remained, and the colossal כְרזּבים of Solomon extended their wings over all.

1Ki . Nothing in the ark, etc.—In Heb 9:4 "the golden pot with manna and Aaron's rod" are mentioned in addition; but these were never in the ark, only "laid before the Lord" (Exo 16:33; Num 17:10). 1Ki 8:10-11. Cloud filled the house, … glory of the Lord filled the house—This "cloud" was not wholly dense darkness (as some suggest), but possibly dark clouds surrounding a resplendent glory; for when Aaron entered the holiest of the tabernacle the smoke of incense rolled itself around him, enveloping him as in a cloud, thus softening the overmastering splendour of the כְּבוֹד יְהֹוָה (Lev 16:13). The כּבוֹד of the O.T. answers to the δόζα of the N.T.

HOMILETICS OF 1Ki

THE CHURCH THE SACRED DEPOSITORY OF THE DIVINE WORD

As the Tabernacle in the wilderness was solemnly consecrated to the worship of Jehovah (Exodus 40; Numbers 8), so now must the grander house which is to supersede and supplant the tattered relics of the old system be dedicated with becoming solemnities to the same lofty purpose. And as Moses, the inspired servant of Jehovah, faithful in all his house (Num ), was the chosen one to consecrate the tabernacle, so Solomon, the Divinely chosen King in Zion (1Ch 28:6), in whose person the Hebrew monarchy at this time reached the highest summit of its glory, was the only proper person to consecrate the Temple. No priest could perform this holy service as properly as he. No other person in the realm had concentrated in himself at that time such sanctity, exaltation, and power. He was the type of that greater Solomon who is now silently building His spiritual Temple, and will Himself presently, at the time appointed, fill and hallow it with a cloud of glory that shall never pass away. The first step in the august ceremony was the removal of the ark from the tabernacle of David on Mount Zion to the Most Holy Place in the new Temple on Mount Moriah. And here the thought is suggested—that as the ark contained the tables of the Law, so the church is the sacred depository of the Divine Word.

I. The Divine Word is the irresistible rallying cry of a whole nation (1Ki ). The fiery cross of the Scottish Highlanders, or the gory morsels of the slaughtered oxen distributed throughout the coasts of Israel by the warlike Saul, were not more potent in mustering the militant hosts of the nation, than was the mention of the ark of God in gathering the Hebrew people to one common centre. The leading men of the nation at once obeyed the summons (1Ki 8:1). The elders included, more particularly, the chosen representatives of the nation; the heads of the tribes were the leading and most influential individuals; and the chiefs, or princes, of the fathers, were the most distinguished and saintly old men of the nation, whose presence and approbation were indispensable at so important an event as the dedication of the Temple. "Nothing can be nobler than to see a whole nation, from the highest to the lowest, gathered in unity round its holiest possession." It is the Word of God that makes the most profound impression on the national heart, and that shapes and determines the national destiny.

II. The Divine Word is the infallible directory in all true worship.

1. It recognises the office of sacred persons (1Ki ). The priests and the Levites are mentioned indiscriminately. The parallel passage in the Chronicles says that "the Levites took up the ark;" but there is no contradiction in this, for all priests were Levites, though all Levites were not priests. Priests bore the ark across the Jordan and around Jericho (Jos 3:6; Jos 6:6). These persons were specially set apart to this sacred work, according to the requirements of the law (Num 4:15; Deu 31:9). Inattention to the divinely prescribed order was followed by fatal results (compare 2Sa 6:1-7; 1Ch 15:12-13). To be bearers of the Word of God, to set up the mercy seat in the sanctuary, and to point perishing sinners to the sprinkled blood, is the office and the glory of God's ministers. Office has nothing sacred in itself, apart from the faithful performance of the duties it involves, and the irreproachable moral character of the person appointed to it. Priestly assumption is the most unwarrantable, and, in the sight of God, the most abhorrent.

2. It limits the significance of sacred things (1Ki ). It would appear that on this great inauguration day two imposing processions were formed: the one coming from the height of Gibeon, bearing aloft the sacred tent and the holy vessels of the old pastoral worship, now to be disused for ever—the ancient brazen altar, the candlestick, the table of shew-bread, and also the brazen serpent. This procession was joined on Mount Zion by a still more imposing and stately one, bearing the ark of acacia-wood, covered with its two small winged figures—the one relic that was to unite the old and new together. Much has been made of these sacred vessels, until they have been raised into objects of idolatry. Starting with a certain modicum of truth, the enthusiastic lover of types and figures has wandered into regions unheard of and untrod before, and discovered hidden meanings and mysterious premonitions which the obvious use and commonsense teaching of the symbols utterly failed to convey. By a careful comparison of the Word of God we are taught the true significance and appropriate use of these sacred things, and of all external aids in the acceptable worship of God.

3. It authorizes the exercise of sacred acts (1Ki ). The removal of the ark was celebrated by sacrifices of "sheep and oxen that could not be numbered for multitude." The road, according to Josephus, was flooded with streams of blood. The air was darkened and scented with the clouds of incense; the songs and dances were unintermitted. No worship can be acceptable to God apart from sacrifice. The Divine Word is most explicit on this point (compare Lev 1:2; Lev 3:2; Lev 3:7; Gen 8:20; Gen 22:7; Exo 18:12; Exo 40:29; Num 28:10; Num 28:14; 1Ki 3:4; Psa 51:16; Psa 51:19; Isa 40:16; Heb 10:6-8, &c.). The vilest sinner can now approach God through the ever-efficacious sacrifice of His Son. Every act of genuine worship involves sacrifice. Our whole self, and the best of everything we have, should be freely sacrificed to Him who gave Himself for us.

III. The Divine Word finds its permanent home in the holiest place of the Church. 1. There it is securely guarded (1Ki ). The ancient lid of the ark formed by the two small cherubim of beaten gold was removed, and a new one, without them, was substituted to fit its new abode. On a rough unhewn projection of the rock the ark was thrust in and placed lengthways, under the shadow of the outspread wings of the two gigantic cherubim which were waiting, like two watchful and stalwart guardians, to receive and evermore protect the precious treasure. "The Word of the Lord is under Divine protection; the angels are its guardians and watchers; it can neither be destroyed by human power, nor is it aided or protected by men." The holiest church is the most faithful custodian of the Word, and the holiest heart is its safest and most beauteous shrine.

2. There it is intended to remain (1Ki ). When the ark moved within the veil to be seen no more, the retiring priests, as a sign that it had at length reached "the place of its rest," and was not to be carried about any more, drew forth from it the staves or handles on which they had borne it to and fro; and, although the staves themselves remained within the veil, the ends could just be seen protruding through the door, in token that its long wanderings were over; or, as Keil puts it, their ends could be observed from the sanctuary by the elevations on the vail, which might be seen from the sanctuary itself, but not without. They remained long afterwards, even to the later days of the monarchy, and formed a lane to guide the steps of the Chief Priest as he entered in the darkness. The Word of God has found its permanent home in His church, and the history of the two are inseparably bound together. Not long ago there was discovered among the hardened lava of Pompeii the form of a human body, with all the features singularly perfect and strikingly beautiful, and the expression as of one who was sleeping a pleasant and placid sleep. The burning flood, which carried death in its impetuous flow, and the cold entombment of eighteen hundred years, had not availed to destroy the imperishable lineaments. So the church may be exposed to the fiery persecution of her cruellest enemies, or buried under the cold neglect of her professed friends; but cast in the mould of the undying and unchanging Word of God, she retains her indestructible image, with every line and feature of perfection distinctly marked, and, when ages have rolled away, will stand forth to an astonished world in all her peerless beauty and greatness.

3. There it is the most highly prized treasure. "There was nothing in the ark save the two tables of stone" (1Ki ). When the old lid of the ark was taken off before it disappeared within the vail, and before the new covering was fixed on, the interior of the ark was seen by Israelitish eyes for the first time for more than four centuries, perhaps for the last time for ever. The pot of manna, the rod of Aaron, and the golden censer, which were said to be laid up within it, or beside it, were gone—lost, it may be, in the Philistine captivity. Nothing remained but the two granite blocks from Mount Sinai, graven with the ten commandments. But these were of unspeakable value and unmistakable significance. "The ark of the covenant was the root and kernel of the whole sanctuary: it contained the moral law, at once the original document and pledge of the covenant, through which, and in consequence of which, Jehovah was to dwell in the midst of His people. We have, in the New Covenant, not only the Law, but the Gospel, which is everlasting. Where His Word is, there the Lord dwells and is enthroned; it is the soul of every House of God, and, indeed, gives it its consecration."

LESSONS:—

1. The Word of God should be fervently loved.

2. Diligently studied.

3. Jealously guarded.

4. Faithfully obeyed.

GERM NOTES ON THE VERSES

1Ki . Solomon decked and garnished his temple before he prayed in it; so, saith one, before thou prayest prepare thy heart, which is the true temple of Him who is greater than Solomon. And as that woman who sought her groat swept the whole house, so when thou seekest anything of God, sweep the whole house of thy heart; sweep it by repentance, wash the pavement of it with tears, beautify it with holiness, perfume it with prayers, deck it with humility, hang it with sincerity.—Trapp.

—There seems to be a contrast here between the more popular proceedings of David, who, when he brought up the ark to Mount Zion, "gathered together all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand," and the statelier, more aristocratic system of his son, who, born in the purple, conducts himself in a loftier way, merely summoning the chief men as representatives of the nation. The rest of the people "assembled themselves" (1Ki ), and were mere spectators of the ceremony.

1Ki . Religion the mightiest force in the nation.

1. It is the source and safeguard of regal authority. The ruler who ignores the religious principle has no guarantee for a sound and permanent government. Stronger than the sword, or the schemes of statecraft, or the popular cry of the hour, is the deep-rooted religious life of the people.

2. It commands the homage and allegiance of all ranks and conditions. All that is venerable in age, ripe in wisdom and counsel, brilliant in genius, vigorous and daring in manhood, or blooming and hopeful in youth, respond at once to its irresistible call (1Ki ).

3. It commemorates and consecrates great national blessings (1Ki ). "The feast in the month Ethanim "was the Feast of Tabernacles. Ethanim is defined as "the month of flowing streams," and corresponded with our October; it also signifies ripeness or strength. Solomon finished the Temple in the eighth month, but waited till the seventh month of the next year for the dedication, that it might be coincident with the Feast of Tabernacles. This feast was designed for a thanksgiving and rejoicing over the fruits of the harvest (Exo 23:16; Deu 16:13); and also for a commemoration of the time when Israel dwelt in booths in the desert (Lev 23:43) It was therefore fitting to associate the dedication of the temple with this important feast, for the ark that had dwelt in a tabernacle and been carried to and fro for five hundred years was now to enter into its place of rest (compare 1Ch 28:2; 2Ch 6:41). And so the holy house, begun in the month of flowers and finished in the month of garnered fruits, was appropriately consecrated in the month of thanksgiving.

4. It venerates the most sacred objects (1Ki ). The ark, the tabernacle, and the holy vessels had been associated with the most eventful eras in the history of the Israelites, in defeat and victory, in distress and joy. Sacred relics, while unworthy of idolatry in themselves, are often reminders of privileges and blessing in the past which the grateful soul would not willingly forget.

1Ki . The tabernacle of the congregation, made by Moses, hitherto transportative and for many years severed from the ark, was now to be re-united and settled in the temple; as the saints, here tossed up and down, shall one day be in heaven, that habitation of God's holiness. Though neither the tabernacle, nor its holy vessels, were applied to any use in the temple, their sacred character made it fitting that they should be deposited within its precincts. Most probably they were placed in the treasury.

1Ki . Sacrifice the essence of acceptable worship.

1. Was instituted in the earliest times.

2. Has been practised in some form by all nations in all ages.

3. Was most perfectly exemplified in the sufferings and death of the Son of God.

4. Is illustrated in generous gifts for religious purposes.

5. Demands the whole life and service of the individual believer.

1Ki . The ark an emblem of the human heart.

1. As vivifying and adorning the most splendid creation of human genius.

2. As the hiding place for the Divine Word (Psa ).

3. As having affinity with angelical life.

4. As it exercises itself in showing mercy.

5. As it is the shrine of Divinest manifestations.

1Ki . "There was nothing in the ark save the two tables of stone." The imperishable nature of the Divine Word.

1. It is superior to its most magnificent surroundings.

2. It remains when other precious things are lost.

3. It survives the wreck and ruin of the mightiest empires.

4. It is not in the power of men or devils to destroy it.

5. It will endure when earth and sea and stars have vanished.


Verses 10-13

CRITICAL AND EXPLANATORY NOTES.—

1Ki . Dwell in the thick darkness—A deeply solemn gloom which impressed beholders with a mysterious awe. As on Sinai (Exo 20:21 בָּעַרָפֶל) so here בָּעֲרָפֶל corresponding to the Greek ὀρφνός.

HOMILETICS OF 1Ki

THE CLOUD OF THE LORD

I. Was the visible symbol of the Divine Presence in the midst of His people. The word shechinah, though not used in the Bible, is frequently employed by writers on sacred subjects to designate this remarkable appearance, the creation of His power "whose strength is in the clouds," and of whom it is said that "clouds and darkness are round about Him, while righteousness and judgment are the habitation of His throne." From various references to it in the Scriptures we gather that the Shechinah was an intensely brilliant light, enclosed in a pillar-shaped cloud; that, during the day, this cloud would be so dense as almost entirely to conceal the light, but that at night it would become so attenuated and transparent as to leave the light alone visible. It might be, also, that the approbation or anger of Jehovah would be indicated at certain times by the changing aspects of unusual brightness or darkness. The recorded appearances of the God of Israel in the form of a cloud may have suggested to many heathen writers the manifestations of their own deities in a similar form. Thus, we read of Jupiter enthroned on Mount Gargarus "veiled in a fragrant cloud": of Minerva entering the Grecian army "clad in a purple cloud": and that, when Apollo attended a celebrated warrior, "a veil of clouds involved his radiant head." The first mention made of this remarkable spectacle—as if thrust out of space by some unseen hand—was on the memorable night of the exodus of the Israelites from their long vexatious bondage in Egypt. And it must surely have created a profound feeling of wonder and awe among that vast host of two millions and a half, as the mysterious glory-cloud floated down into their midst, and, proceeding to the front, majestically and silently assumed the leadership in their perilous journey. When the Tabernacle was reared and furnished to foster the spirit of worship, and to assist the growth and enlargement of the religious life, the cloud of the Lord covered and filled it with inexpressible glory. As Jehovah, in the old covenant, chose a visible dwelling among His people in token of their election, so also He verified His presence in this Temple of Solomon in a way cognizant to the senses—that is, through the CLOUD, which is the medium and sign of His manifestation, not only here, but all through the Old Testament. (Compare Exo ; Exo 20:21; Exo 24:15-16; Exo 34:5; Exo 40:34; Lev 16:2; Num 11:25; Num 12:5; Isa 6:3-4; Eze 1:4; Eze 1:28; Eze 10:3-4; Psa 18:10-12.)

II. Indicated that the glory of the Divine character is beyond the comprehension of the human mind. The cloud concealed and veiled the majesty of Jehovah as well as revealed it. "The Lord said that He would dwell in the thick darkness" (1Ki ). Cloud and darkness are synonymous words. The throne within the Temple, on which the Divine presence was concentrated, stood in the back part of the most Holy Place, which was perfectly dark. "The cloud is, then, on the one hand, the heaven-descended sign of the presence of the self-manifesting God; on the other hand, it declares that God, in His being, spiritually and ethically, is so far above and different from all other beings, that man, in his sinful and mortal nature, cannot comprehend nor endure the sight of Him." The glory of Jehovah that is unseen infinitely surpasses that which is visible (1Co 13:12; Job 38; Ex. 2:20, 32).

III. Is the true consecration of every Christian sanctuary. Every Christian sanctuary is erected in the name and for the glory of Jehovah, and is intended for His dwelling place, His permanent home (1Ki ). But the true consecration of the building is the manifested presence of God to the hearts of the worshippers. The Shechinah of the old dispensation was ever closely associated with the Tabernacle. It was not a spectacle simply to excite and gratify the amazement of the people, but was intended to assist them in the worship of the one living and true God (Exo 40:38). A sanctuary is to be consecrated, not with holy water and the mummery of Pagan rites and ceremonies, but with prayer and thanksgiving, with the Word and blessing of God. Wherever Jehovah manifests His glory, there is the consecrated Temple for His worship.

IV. Is sometimes manifested in overwhelming majesty and glory (1Ki , compared with 2Ch 5:13-14). The darkness was so insupportable, and the heavenly glory so overpowering, that the priests staggered under the awful manifestation, and were not able to minister. It is worthy of note, too, that the power of God came down while the worshippers were in the act of praising (ib. 1Ki 8:13). When we rise to the highest pitch of sincerity and fervour in the worship of the Most High, it is then we receive the most memorable benedictions. The existence of the church to-day is a triumphant evidence of the continuance of the Divine presence and the special manifestations of the Divine glory. And, though we have not the pillar of fire glittering over the church as in days of yore, the power of God is realized in the person and government of the Holy Ghost, whose glory has been displayed in different periods of the church's history in a way every whit as wonderful and imposing, and with more extensive results than in the days when the mysterious outward sign attended the Israelites "throughout all their journeys." The miraculous effusion of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, and the remarkable revivals which have occurred since that day, are signal examples and distinctive pledges of the plenitude and omnipotency of spiritual grace with which the church may expect to be visited in the present day. God is still in the midst of His people. When the world is convinced of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment; when believers are earnest in prayer and diligent in seeking the salvation of souls; when the careless and giddy are arrested in their whirl of gaiety, and become serious with thoughts of eternity; when the callous are melted, the obstinate persuaded, the doubting re-assured, and the despairing cheered; when the soul is humbled under a sense of personal unworthiness, and overwhelmed with views of the glory, the condescension, and the love of God; when the false confidences of the heart are shivered, and we are enabled to rely only on Jesus; when love glows with intense heat, and, under its fervid, constraining influence, we are led to consecrate ourselves afresh to God and to His great service—then have we unmistakable evidences of the presence and mighty operations of the Divine Spirit, that the cloud of the Lord is filling His Temple and descending into the midst of His worshipping people, in all the glory of His transcendent charms, in all the generous encompassing fulness of His outpoured blessing. Nothing short of the felt, spiritual presence of God—God realized in the heart by the energy of the Spirit—can be an effectual safe-guard against sin. The Jews saw the glory-cloud, the symbol of God's presence and guidance and power; it was "in sight of all the House of Israel throughout all their journeys;" it filled the Temple specially and solemnly dedicated to His worship; yet they sinned—sinned grievously and repeatedly. An awful commentary on the insufficiency of the most imposing outward symbolism to regenerate and sanctify corrupted human nature! It is the revelation of Christ to the heart by the Spirit that can alone accomplish the sin-destroying work.

LESSONS:—

1. The Temple is the place of glorious revelations.

2. It is in the highest moods of worship that the greatest blessings are read.

GERM NOTES ON THE VERSES

1Ki . By a cloud did God often both represent His glory, and cover it: signifying thereby that it was both invisible and unapproachable.

—The cloud—the visible symbol of the Divine presence, the Shechinah of the Targums—which had been promised before the ark was begun (Exo ), and had filled the Tabernacle as soon as it was completed (Exo 40:34), and which had probably been seen from time to time during the long interval when we have no express mention of it from a little before the death of Moses (Deu 31:15), to the present occasion, now once more appeared in full magnificence, and took, as it were, possession of the building which Solomon was dedicating. The presence of God in the Temple henceforth was thus assured to the Jews, and His approval of all Solomon had done was signified.—Speaker's Comm.

1Ki . It is impossible that mortal, sinful man should see or comprehend the Holy and Infinite One. I can experience His merciful presence; but presumption and folly it is to wish to sound the depths of His Being. The eye of faith beholds in darkness the glory of the Lord; in the night of the cross, the light of the world; through the dim veil of the flesh, the only begotten Son of God, full of mercy and grace.—Lange.

—The glory of the Lord appeared in a cloud, a dark cloud, to signify—

1. The darkness of that dispensation in comparison with the light of the Gospel, by which, with open face, we behold, as in a glass, the glory of the Lord.

2. The darkness of our present state in comparison with the vision of God which will be the happiness of heaven, where the divine glory is unveiled. Now we can only say what He is not, but then we shall see Him as He is.

1Ki . The holy angels clap their wings upon their faces, as it were a double scarf—or as a man doth his hands before his eyes, when he beholdeth an exceeding great light—before the brightness of God's presence, that would else put out their eyes. Pellican saith, by the priests being driven out by this cloud appearing was showed that the time should come when this priesthood should minister no more by carnal rites in this place.—Trapp.

—Not veneration for the Divine majesty alone forbids delay in the presence of the Divine glory; not merely a holy dread thrills through the priests, so that they draw back; but the glory of the Lord, like a consuming fire, is that before which unholy man cannot exist, to which he cannot approach without being destroyed. Hence the High Priest was obliged to prepare his entrance into the holiest by first enveloping with the smoke of burning incense the symbol of the sin-covering power of prayer—the cloud which embodied the glory of the Lord.—Keil.

1Ki . Perceiving both priests and people struck with horror and wonder at this darkness, Solomon reminds them that this was no sign of God's dislike or disfavour, as some of them might possibly imagine; but a token of His approbation and grace and special presence among them.—Pool.


Verses 14-21

CRITICAL AND EXPLANATORY NOTES.—

1Ki . King turned his face about—with his back upon the people; he and they had been watching the movements of the glory cloud; now he faced the awed concourse 1Ki 8:15-21 contain Solomon's address to the people, who listen standing, in which the king gratefully records that he undertook and completed the temple in obedience to Jehovah's word. 1Ki 8:22-53. The Royal Prayer of Dedication—"Solomon stood before the altar" on a brazen platform erected for the occasion (2Ch 6:13) in front of the altar of burnt offering; there, too, be knelt (1Ki 8:54), and with uplifted hands (1Ki 8:22) presented this sublime prayer before Jehovah.

HOMILETICS OF 1Ki

THE JOY OF AN ACCOMPLISHED PURPOSE

The human mind abhors incompleteness. When Charles Leslie died, he left upon his easel an unfinished painting of Titania, from the Midsummer Night's Dream, that was to be another pictorial realization of Shakespearian creations with which the fame of Leslie is inseparably connected. But the busy brain ceased to work, the pencil dropped from the facile fingers, and the deserted fragment retains but a dim promise of the artistic genius which the completed picture would have revealed. It is impossible to gaze upon an incomplete work like that without feeling disappointment and regret. The crumbling ruins of a structure that was once complete is more satisfying to the mind than an unfinished building abandoned to decay without having served any useful purpose. How great, then, is the joy of seeing accomplished a purpose which has cost so much anxiety and thought, and which has been in progress for years! Such a joy was realized by Solomon at this time, when he witnessed the greatest work of his life completed, and that it was accepted of God. Observe—

I. The joy of an accomplished purpose is expressed in devout thanksgiving (1Ki ). The heart of the king was full of joyous gratitude, and under its influence he blessed the people, and blessed the Lord God of Israel. Sharing in the gladness and solemnity of the occasion, the whole congregation stood up, as if eager to receive the benediction. The first moments of a realized good, long hoped and worked for, are full of unutterable emotion. The ecstacy is sometimes fraught with peril. In his last days the Venerable Bede was engaged in a translation of the New Testament on which he had set his heart. He dictated to one of his disciples the last verse in the Gospel of John. "It is finished, master," said the scribe. "It is finished," replied the dying saint. "Lift up my head, let me sit in my cell, in the place where I have so often prayed. And now, glory be to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost." And, with these words, as if the rapture of having accomplished a patiently prosecuted purpose was too much for him, his spirit fled. It is said, on one occasion when Sir Isaac Newton was engaged in some calculations to prove the extent of his elaborated theory of terrestrial gravitation, that, as he drew to the close and foresaw the absolute certainty of the theory they would inevitably prove, he became so agitated that he was obliged to desire a friend to finish them. A genuine joy overflows in thanksgiving.

II. The joy of an accomplished purpose is intensified by a review of the varied steps by which it is consummated (1Ki ). These verses contain an appropriate narration of the most interesting facts connected with the planning and building of the temple, and without such narration the services of the dedication would have been incomplete.

1. This purpose was divinely suggested. "The Lord God of Israel spake with His mouth unto David my father" (1Ki ). Our best thoughts and holiest inspirations come from God: and the most successful work in connection with His Church is that which is done on the lines projected by His Word. Moses was directed to build the Tabernacle according to the pattern showed him in the Mount (Heb 8:5).

2. Its accomplishment was greatly needed. For years the ark was migratory, and Jehovah had no settled place for His worship. Under a theocratic government it was important there should be some spot specially set apart in which the Lord could record His name. Jehovah first chose the person who should rule His people, and then put it into his heart to build a house for His worship (1Ki ). If any other city than Jerusalem had been divinely chosen for the Temple, then this would be regarded as a usurpation. But it is expressly stated that God "chose no city to build an house" (1Ki 8:16); therefore, there was the more urgent need for the building of this.

3. It was cherished by one who was not permitted to carry it out (1Ki ). It was the life-purpose of David to build a temple for Jehovah, and he made extensive preparations accordingly. It would have been an unspeakable joy to him had he been permitted to build and consecrate the temple; and the occasion would have called into exercise the highest genius of his poetic nature. But this honour was denied him; partly, because the ancient nomadic form of worship was not yet to be abandoned; and because the wars of David unfitted him to be the founder of a seat of peaceful worship (2Sa 6:6; 2Sa 6:11; 1Ch 22:8). But a solemn assurance was given that his dynasty should last for ever to continue the work: and the glory of building and consecrating the most celebrated temple of antiquity fell to the lot of Solomon (2Sa 7:13; 1Ch 22:9). Jehovah approved and accepted the good intentions of David, though he did not permit him to put them into execution. This Divine approval was implied by God's acceptance of the design, with only the difference that it should be executed by the son instead of the father, and also by the various promises by which He rewarded the pious wish of His servant (2Sa 7:10-16).

4. It was brought to its final accomplishment by Divine assistance. "The Lord hath performed His word that He spake" (1Ki ), "Hath with His hand fulfilled it" (1Ki 8:15). Solomon was the instrument; but Jehovah, as in all truly great enterprises, was the moving power. The son was but completing the plan which had been preconceived and arranged by his father. It is instructive to observe how the unfinished works of a previous age are continued and completed by succeeding generations. M. Lesseps, in constructing the Suez Canal, has only completed the work commenced by Pharoah-Necho; while the Mount Cenis engineers, in tunnelling a way though the Alps, have finished the work of Hannibal. The Pacific Railroad, and the new line of steamers from Hong Kong to San Francisco, have accomplished the grand vision of Columbus of a direct trade between Europe and Asia by the Western, instead of the Eastern route. Russia, by her present efforts to make Sarmacand a great centre of traffic, is filling in the grand outline bequeathed to her by Tamerlane; while, by choosing the Oxus as the great commercial highway of Central Asia, she is merely treading in the footsteps of Alexander the Great. Every age has its own special mission; and it should strive to maintain and extend the civil and religious blessings handed down to it by our suffering and heroic forefathers. The Divine side of the work remains unchangeably the same. God never yet "suffered His faithfulness to fail, nor altered the thing that went out of His mouth" (Psa 89:33). Witness the constant and concurrent experience of saints in all ages—not one instance to the contrary.

III. The joy of an accomplished purpose is based on the assurance of its harmony with the Divine covenant (1Ki ). The tables of stone laid up in the ark were enduring witnesses of the covenant into which Jehovah had entered with His people. The erection and consecration of the Temple was another evidence of the faithfulness of God to His part of the covenant; and this thought would augment the joy of Solomon on the occasion. There can be no solid satisfaction in doing anything that we know is not in harmony with the Divine will: Whatever good we do, we must look upon it as the performance of God's promise to us, rather than the performance of our promise to Him. The more we do for God, the more we are indebted to Him; for our sufficiency is of Him, and not of ourselves." We have more need to be concerned about our own fidelity than that of God.

LESSONS:—

1. No purpose can prosper that is not conceived in a humble and grateful spirit.

2. It is an unspeakable privilege, and a great responsibility, to be allowed to take any part in the work of God.

3. The joy of an accomplished good outweighs the suffering and toil encountered in its achievement.

GERM NOTES ON THE VERSES

1Ki .—The choice of God is no blind preference of one and prejudice against another, but aims at the salvation of both. As from amongst all nations He chose Israel for its salvation, so out of all the tribes of Israel He chose the city of David for the blessing of the whole kingdom.—Lange.

1Ki . How many individuals, as well as whole congregations, have the means and the power wherewith to build a church, to repair a ruinous one, or to enlarge one which has become too small; but nothing can be further from their mind.

1Ki . Unrealized ideals not useless.

1. The character of an individual life is influenced and shaped by the ideal after which it continually aspires.

2. The ideal of a holy and useful life should be constructed in harmony with the requirements of the Divine will.

3. If the ideal of life is not realized, the effort after its attainment will confer a reflex benefit on the sincere aspirant.

4. Ideals of goodness, though unrealized, call forth the Divine commendation.

5. Unrealized ideals in the present life become the bases of still loftier ideals in the future.

—He who purposes to do a good work, but is hindered therein not by his own fault, but by Divine decree, has yet "well done." God regards his intentions as the deed itself.

—On maintaining a high ideal.

1. By a high ideal is meant, not something vast and vague and unattainable, but what each, by God's help, in the full development of his own nature, may attain. To aim at less would be to be sluggish, undutiful, unfaithful. To aim at more would be to enter the mist, and become unreal. Speaking generally, it will be found that whatever can be intelligently and conscientiously aimed at, can be attained. In the very ideas we entertain, and in the endeavours we make, God gives us the assurance that what we thus think of and strive after may be attained. It was the notion of Plato that each individual human creature is an offspring or product of an eternal form or idea in the Divine mind. Something of this kind must be supposed in reason: something of this kind is indeed taught by the Christian revelation. God thus, as we may say, keeps the secret of every life, its true image and proportions, and opens that secret to each as he comes to Him. He has a picture in his own mind of which each may be, through His grace, a living reflex. O beautiful, inspiring thought! touching us with fear, and yet raising us to rapture—that each of us can find himself truly, only in his God, and that the discovery is certain to be eternal advancement and salvation.

2. To maintain the ideal high, we must be continually striving to enlarge it. Our moral conception of our own proper nature must either grow larger and more luminous, or fade down into narrowness and darkness. Nothing on earth, mental or material, can continue in one stay. There is a sense in which our best thoughts and noblest purposes are passing away and dying; and our only safety lies in raising still better thoughts and still nobler purposes from the ashes of those that have died. Swift and subtle and sure is the passing away of our most etherial thought, our most glowing emotion. Swift and sure also is the reproduction and expansion of them, so that while there is dying and coming into life perpetually, there shall yet be to our consciousness only an unbroken continuity, and a going on of our life from strength to strength."

3. In seeking to maintain and still enhance this spiritual and great idea of our own life, we shall be much assisted by an assured belief that it is the very thing which God wishes and will help us to realize and be. If God will not help us in this by the breath of His own infinite sympathy, by the uplifting of the light of His countenance upon us, our life is indeed a dark and hopeless thing. It never can expand into summer breadth and beauty. How it pleases a father, or a strong elder brother, to take the hand of some youthful climber and help him up the rocks and along the giddy and perilous ridge towards some sunny and safe elevations of the mountains! Will it please the Heavenly Father less to help those who, already called and quickened by His grace, are aiming, as they can, after entire conformity to the very image of their Father?

4. If we would maintain a high sentiment and a pure idea about our own life, we must learn to believe in the actual goodness of others as well as in the possible growth of our own. To use technical but perfectly appropriate language, we must learn to believe that God has a people in the world. Look for goodness, and it will shine out upon you, unless you yourself are evil. Look for the love and tenderness of Christ, which yet are found in so many human hearts, and you will soon be refreshed by the breathing of that love and tenderness as though He Himself were near.

5. The contemplation of goodness in others will be found, in the case of most young persons, to operate powerfully in the same direction—towards raising and keeping the standard and tone of life pure and high. Nothing touches life so deeply and sensibly as life. Nothing moves it to finer issues. Is it not certain that, looking, we shall become like? being changed by the subtle, benignant laws of grace into the same image we thus see and admire—"from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord."

6. Above all, we must maintain a constant, vital connection—a connection by faith, love, admiration—with Jesus Christ. None among us, old or young, can maintain a high ideal of our life without Him. We need Him—for our reverence and for our admiration, and for our enthusiasm and for our love! and for our frailties, oh! how much! and for our great unworthiness. A human life is simple, pure, and high, when it is a "growing up into Him in all things who is the head."—A. Raleigh (condensed from the Sunday Magazine for 1873).

1Ki . The fairest prerogative of him whom God has placed upon a throne is, that he has power to work for the glory of God's name, and to watch over the extension of the Divine Kingdom amongst His people. Every son who succeeds to the inheritance of his father should feel obliged, first of all, to take up the good work whose completion was denied to his father, and perfect it with love and zeal.—Lange.


Verses 22-53

CRITICAL AND EXPLANATORY NOTES.—

1Ki . Prayer, supplication, and cry— תְּפִלָּה, מְּחִנּה רנּה are respectively prayer in general (whether praise, petition, or thanks), entreaty or supplication (petition for grace and help), and praise (prayer as the joyful expression of praise and thanks).—Keil.

1Ki . If any man trespass—Solomon here passes from general prayer, and begins to specify distinct cases. Seven particular cases are given in which God's merciful interposition would be needed: concerning the observation of the oath (31, 32), captives (33, 34), drought (35, 36), land plagues (37-40), strangers (41-43), Israelites when absent from Zion (44, 45), captives (46-50). 1Ki 8:51-53. A concluding argument by which Solomon urges his prayer. 1Ki 8:54-61. Solomon counsels and blesses the congregation—He arose from the altar, … and he stood and blessed, &c.

HOMILETICS OF 1Ki

A MODEL DEDICATORY PRAYER

THIS is a prayer of unusual length, of great compass and pathos in its petitions; and is "remarkable as combining the conception of the Infinity of the Divine Presence with the hope that the Divine Mercies will be drawn down on the nation by the concentration of the national devotions, and even of the devotions of foreign nations towards this fixed locality." It consists of three parts—

1. Adoration for the fulfilment of the promise to David (1Ki ).

2. Prayer for its continued fulfilment, and for blessings upon the concentration of worship at the Temple (1Ki ).

3. Supplication for specific blessings (31-53); e.g., in cases of trespass, when smitten before enemies, in times of drought, famine, or plague, for the devout stranger, for success in battle, and for deliverance from captivity. These prayers for specific blessings are seven, thus corresponding in number with the seven petitions of the Lord's prayer. We may regard the whole prayer as illustrative of and embodying the three principal ideas which governed the religious life of the Jewish people—the ideas of God, of sin, and of a coming deliverance. Just as the Grecians represented the philosophic and artistic culture, and the Romans the legislative capacity, of the human race, so the Israelites represented the religious principle—the greatest force of all, and that which was destined to interpenetrate all other forces, and use them for the advancement and salvation of the race. An examination of the scope and matter of this prayer will show how the three leading ideas referred to were ingrained in the national consciousness of Israel. The whole prayer is an excellent model that may be appropriately followed in the dedicatory services of every sanctuary solemnly set apart for Divine worship.

I. This prayer is illustrative of the Israelitish idea of Jehovah. The whole world was overrun with polytheism, and the idea of one God was in danger of being utterly extinguished. Abraham, the founder of the Jewish nation, was rescued, by the special call of heaven, from the darkness and bewilderment of heathenism, and became the great apostle of monotheism. With his descendants was deposited the precious truth, which, though at first a strictly national possession, was ultimately to enrich and exalt mankind. The Israelites cherished the loftiest ideas of Jehovah—

1. As a Being of Incomparable Majesty: "There is no God like Thee" (1Ki ). Jehovah is not compared here with other gods; but, on the contrary, is described as the only true God (compare Deu 4:39; Jos 2:11; 2Sa 7:22; 2Sa 22:32). God is recognized as the living and personal God, who is the source and power of all things, and in comparison with whom all is emptiness and vanity.

2. As a Being of Infinite condescension: "But will God indeed dwell on the earth?" (1Ki ). The omnipresence and infinitude of Jehovah are acknowledged. This is at once a refutation of the anthropomorphic notions of God such as heathenism made in its temples, and which it might seek to associate with His dwelling, no longer a movable tent, but in a permanent building; and also a refutation of the pantheistic notion of Deity, which the highest philosophy of heathendom, by identifying God and the world, imagined. "The Israelitish idea of God knows nothing of a contradiction between the supernal, infinite, and absolute being of God, and His entering into creaturely, finite, and limited being. Just because He is infinite and unsearchable, He can communicate with the finite; and because He is everywhere, He can be peculiarly present in one place, centring His presence and displaying His absolute sublimity."

3. As a Being of unutterable purity. From Him proceeds the law which discovers sin in us and holiness in Him, and which law is the rule to regulate our earthly life. The whole Levitical economy, in its elaborate particularity, was so constructed as specially to detect and unveil sin in man, and to foster the most exalted conceptions of Divine purity.

4. As a Being of boundless mercy: "Who keepest covenant and mercy;" "And when thou hearest, forgive" (1Ki ; 1Ki 8:30). He is the gracious and merciful God to whom the poor and afflicted may look for help, and all the world for blessing. In the new covenant we no longer call upon God as the God of Israel, but as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He has revealed Himself to us through Christ, and through Christ alone do we find in Him the true God, the God of grace and mercy (Eph 1:3; Joh 17:3). We have glimpses now of the depth and vastness of God's mercy which the most pious Israelite never saw.

5. As a Being of unchangeable faithfulness (1Ki ). Through the ages of the past, notwithstanding the failures and sins of His chosen people, Jehovah continued steadfast to His part of the covenant. The course of Jewish history is studded with wondrous and convincing evidences of the unswerving fidelity of God; and the sacred writers are never wearied in rehearsing the mighty acts which were done in defence and preservation of His people, and in the accomplishment of His promised Word. The believer of to-day has the same invulnerable fidelity to fall back upon: "Faithful is He who hath promised, who also will do it."

II. This prayer is illustrative of the Israelitish idea of sin. Israel is the nation conscious of sin, conscious as no other nation ever was or could be. The best of men in the pre-Christian age were conscious there was something radically wrong, but they had no just conception of the nature of the wrong, and were utterly powerless to devise a remedy. Convinced that things could not go on as they were, they looked for the destruction of the world, and despaired of mankind. The piety and religions of the ancient world resolved themselves into stoical scepticism on the one hand, and superstitious despair on the other. There was no nation in whom the consciousness of sin was deeper, more genuine, or more powerful than in Israel. The law was a constant remembrancer and a constant convicter of sin. Sacrifice was the central point of all the rites and ceremonies of the law. The sacred fire was to be burning incessantly upon the altar; sacrifices were to be offered day by day; and the climax of all sacrifice was that offered on the great day of atonement, on which the high priest, as the representative of the nation, laid upon the sacrificial animal the sins of the whole people, bore the blood of atonement into the place of God's typical presence, and sprinkled with it the mercy seat, that the people might be absolved from sin, and reconciled to God. Not only is universal sinfulness expressly asserted—"There is no man that sinneth not;" or, rather, That may not sin (1Ki )—but the living consciousness of sin is interwoven with every thought. This is the more characteristic, as it was not a penitential ceremony at which the prayer was offered, but a joyful thanksgiving festival, and it was offered by a king who was the wisest of his time, and had reached the summit of power and prosperity. It is evident, then, how deeply rooted was this consciousness of sin in Israel, and how inseparably it was blent with their religious ideas. (Consult Luthardt's Fundamental Truths, Lecture viii., and Lange's Com.) The deeper our sense of sin, the more awful does the holiness of God appear, and the more eagerly do we welcome and prize His mercy.

III. This prayer is illustrative of the Israelitish idea of future deliverance and glory. Israel was the nation of hope. Ancient prophecies of a Redeemer and of a glorious redemption, in which the whole world was to share (1Ki ), existed among this people, and ever kept their view directed to the future. These prophecies assumed a form ever increasingly definite, while their fulfilment was confided to an ever narrowing circle—to the seed of Abraham, the tribe of Judah, the house of David. And now Israel, in the reigns of David and Solomon, has reached the climax of its history and the maturity of its national development and glory; and this era is a type of the victorious conflicts and universal peace of the future, when a greater than Solomon shall reign over a vanquished and ransomed world. It is remarkable that while Solomon is offering this prayer, at the very flood-tide of national prosperity and triumph, as if gifted by prophetic insight, he foresees the defeat and captivities of Israel in the future, and earnestly supplicates for their restoration, that the Divine purpose in advancing the good of mankind and His own glory might not be frustated (1Ki 8:46-53—compare with 1Ki 8:43-60). "The common talk of vulgar rationalism, about Jehovah being only a God of the Jews and of their land, appears in all its emptiness and folly when contrasted with the official acknowledgment of Israel's world-wide mission, and which acknowledgment was made on a most solemn occasion." The continual approach of a great deliverance and of an era of happy, peaceful, and glorious government, is the great theme of all the Hebrew prophets. Diversely as the records may read, penned as they were under such different circumstances, all the varying features of the prophetic utterances combine to form one great, bright picture of future blessings. The history of Israel to the present is a witness to the veracity of the prophecies and to the wondrous facts of Christianity. The prince who, on one occasion, asked his chaplain to furnish him with the evidence of the truth of Christianity, but to do so briefly, for he had no time to spare, received as an answer the words—"The Jews, your majesty!"

LESSONS:—

1. Prayer is a humble admission of personal dependence and helplessness.

2. Must be offered to the only living and true God.

3. Should be comprehensive in its topics.

4. Should be urgent and persevering in supplication.

GERM NOTES ON THE VERSES

1Ki . Solomon stands before the altar, bows the knee, stretches out his hands; the people stand around, the worshippers turn their faces towards the sanctuary (1Ki 8:38; 1Ki 8:44; 1Ki 8:48; 1Ki 8:54). In prayer the ancients used to spread out the palms of their hands, as it were to receive a blessing from God (Exo 9:29; Psa 44:20; Psa 143:6). Outward forms for the worship and service of God are not to be rejected when they are the natural unbidden outflow of inward feeling. They are worthless when they are regarded as meritorious, and man puts his trust in them (Luk 18:11). They are sinful and blameworthy if they are performed merely for appearance's sake, or to deceive men (Mat 6:5; Mat 6:16). The Lord knows the hearts of all men; one cannot serve the living God with dead works. The Lord Himself and His Apostles prayed upon their knees (Luk 22:41; Eph 3:14). No one is so exalted that he ought not to bow his knee and clasp his hand.

1Ki . The prayer of Solomon.

1. A witness to his faith. He confesses the living, holy, and one God before all the people.

2. To his love. He bears his people upon his heart, and makes intercession for them.

3. To his hope. He hopes that all nations will come to a knowledge of the true God. From Solomon we may learn how we ought to pray—in true reverence and humiliation before God, with earnestness and zeal, with undoubting confidence that we shall be heard. What an elevating spectacle—a king upon his knees praying aloud in the presence of his whole people, and in their behalf! Although the highest of them all, he is not ashamed to declare himself a servant of God, and to fall down upon his knees; although the wisest of them all, he prays, as a testimony that a wisdom which can no longer pray is folly; although the mightiest of all, he confesses that nothing is done by his power alone, but that the Lord is the King Eternal; therefore it is that he does not merely rule over his subjects, but as an upright king supplicates and prays for them likewise.—Lange.

1Ki . Reflecting upon God's performance of His promise concerning the building of the Temple, Solomon breaks forth into admiration. Is it possible that the great and high and lofty God should stoop so low as to take up His dwelling here amongst men! O, astonishing condescension! The heaven—all this vast space of the visible world:—And heaven of heavens—the third and highest and therefore the largest heaven, called the heaven of heavens here (as also Deu 10:14; Psa 148:4), for its eminency and comprehensiveness—cannot contain Thee, for Thy essence reacheth far beyond them, being omnipresent. How much less this house that I have builded! This house, therefore, was not built as if it were proportionable to Thy greatness, or could contain Thee, but only that therein we might serve and glorify Thee.—Pool.

By the sentence that the heaven of heavens—i.e., the heaven in its most extended compass; the illimitable space above the visible heaven or firmament which lies immediately over the earth—cannot contain God, Solomon strikes down all rationalistic assertions, that the Israelites imagined Jehovah to be only a finite national god. The infinite and supra-mundane exaltation of God cannot be more clearly and strongly expressed than it is in these words. That, however, Solomon was addicted to no abstract idealism is sufficiently apparent from this, that he unites this consciousness of the infinite exaltation of God with the firm belief of His real presence in the temple. The true God is not merely infinitely exalted above the world, has not only His throne in heaven (1Ki ; 1Ki 8:36; 1Ki 8:39; Psa 2:4; Psa 11:4; Psa 103:19; Isa 66:1; Amo 9:6), He is also present on the earth (Deu 4:39), has chosen the temple for the dwelling place of His name in Israel, from which He hears the prayers of His people.—Keil.

—Although the heaven of heavens cannot contain the Unmeasurable and Infinite One, and no building, how great and noble soever, can suffice for Him, yet, in His mercy, He will make His dwelling place (Joh ) in the heart of that man who loves Him and keeps His word, and it will truly become a temple of God (1Co 3:16). He will dwell with those who are of a humble spirit (Isa 57:15; Psa 113:5-6).

1Ki . The greatness and condescension of God. I. God is too great to be confined by anything that has limits.

1. He is greater than all created things: "Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain thee" (1Ki ). Solomon wonders that God should appoint a temple to be erected to Him upon the earth, when He is not contained in the vast circuit of the heavens; His essence is not straitened in the limits of any created work. He who was before the world, and place, and all things, was to Himself a world, a place, and everything: He is really out of the world in Himself, as He was in Himself before the creation of the world. As because God was before the foundation of the world we conclude His eternity, so because He is without the bounds of the world we conclude His immensity. He is above and outside of all His creatures, and governs all the possibilities of their existence

2. He is present everywhere. Everything is filled by God; but that which is filled is different from that by which it is filled. The Omnipresent God is the inmost fundamental Being of everything that exists: He is the life of all that lives, the Spirit of all spirits. And as He is all in all, so is all in Him. As the bird in the air, as the fish in the sea, so do all creatures live and move and have their being in God. The world of time and space, of nature and history, is contained in Him. But although creation is contained in God, God is not contained in His creation. Although the Omnipresent One is essentially present in every leaf and every grain of wheat, He dwells and moves freely in Himself, in virtue of His eternity. The fundamental error of Pantheism is the notion that God is Omnipresent of necessity. God is present in one way in nature, in another way in history; in one way in the church, in another way in the world: He is not, in the same sense, present alike in the hearts of His saints, and in those of the ungodly; in heaven and in hell (Martensen). II. God condescends to make His church His dwelling place.

1. Here His presence is especially realized: "The place of which thou hast said, My name shall be there" (1Ki ). The choice of Jerusalem as the place seems to have been made by special revelation to David (Psa 78:68; Psa 132:13, comp. with 1Ch 22:1). The Name Jehovah is synonymous with the nature and perfections of Jehovah; and it is here intimated that He would be present in His temple to show forth His power and glory by enlightening, quickening, pardoning, sanctifying, and saving the devout and sincere worshipper. As the prayerful Jew directed his gaze towards the Temple of Jerusalem, so the believer must address his prayers to God through Jesus Christ, who is the Head of the spiritual church (Dan 7:10, with Heb 10:19-20; Col 1:18).

2. Here His word is deposited. The church is commissioned to hold inviolate the sacred trust, and to disseminate the Word in all its purity and power. The hoarded riches of ancient cities were paltry compared with the inexhaustible wealth of revelations which are treasured up in the church of God—treasured up not to lie unused and unproductive, but to enrich the world.

3. Here His mercy is dispensed. The ark of the covenant, with its mercy seat, was in the Temple—a symbol of hope and a pledge of deliverance to the transgressor. III. God is graciously pleased to hear and answer the prayer of the humble suppliant (1Ki ; 1Ki 8:30).

1. Prayer may be offered anywhere. The exclusiveness of the Jewish religion was a preparation for, and made possible, a religion that was to be adapted to universal man. In the old dispensation prayer was offered in or towards Jerusalem (1Ki ): in the present dispensation the command is that "Men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands without wrath and doubting" (1Ti 2:8). Both tabernacle and temple were types of Christ—God manifest in the flesh; and He was and is the Mediator between God and man. The human nature of Christ is the temple in which dwell all the fulness of the Godhead bodily; therefore all prayer, to be acceptable and entitled to a hearing, must be offered to God through Him. There is no restriction as to locality. From the crowded sanctuary or the quiet home-circle, from the dingy prison or the pathless seas, the worshipper may direct his prayers to the Great Helper of the helpless.

2. Prayer, to be successful, must be fervent. Solomon speaks of the "cry" and the "supplication" (1Ki ; 1Ki 8:30). The more vividly the soul realizes its need and its peril, the more pathetic and passionate will be its cry for help. Spite of the hollow sneer of modern scientists, prayer has an indefinable something about it that moves the heart of God, and brings Him consciously nearer to the praying soul. The most coveted prizes in religious experience have been won by wrestling prayer.

LESSONS:—

1. The greatness of God is manifested in His merciful condescension.

2. He is worthy of ceaseless adoration.

3. The most abject sinner who turns to Him will not be rejected.

1Ki . The eye of God looks upon every house where His name is honoured, where all with one mind raise heart and hand to Him, and call upon His name (Psa 121:4). To every church the saying is applicable—My Name shall be there. The object of every church is to be a dwelling-place of divine revelation, i.e., of the revealed Word of God, in which, upon the strength of that Word, worship, praise, and prayer shall be offered to the name of the Lord.

1Ki . The houses of God, above all else, must be houses of prayer (Isa 56:7): they are desecrated if devoted to merely worldly purposes of any kind whatsoever, instead of being used for prayer and supplication. The hearing of prayer does not, indeed, depend upon the place where it is offered (Joh 4:20), but prayer should have an appointed place, where we can present ourselves, even as God wills that, together with one voice, we humbly exalt His name (Rom 15:6; Psa 34:4). Where two or three are gathered together in His name, He is in their midst; how much more will He be where a whole congregation is assembled to call upon Him.—Lange.

1Ki . The seven petitions of the prayer teach us—

1. In all necessity of body and soul to turn to the Lord, who alone can help, and call upon Him with earnestness and zeal (Psa ; Psa 91:14-15).

2. In all our straits to recognize the wholesome discipline of an holy and just God, who will show us the good way in which we must walk (Psa ; Heb 12:5).

3. To confess our sins, and to implore forgiveness in order that we may be heard (Psa ; Psa 32:5; Psa 32:7).

4. Not only for ourselves, but also for others, in their time of need, should we pray and supplicate, even as the king does here for all individual men, and for his entire people.—Lange.

1Ki . The solemn appeal of the accused.

1. That cases will arise where it is difficult to convict the wrong-doer of his crime. Sin is subtle in its movements and deceptive in its appearance. It often wears the garb of the saint, while it is enacting the enormities of the most vicious. How often is the truth concealed by the most miserable equivocation. A sudden lie may be sometimes only manslaughter upon truth; but, by a carefully constructed equivocation, truth always is, with malice aforethought, deliberately murdered. It is difficult to detect the real culprit, amid the mystifications he has himself originated, as it is to seize the cuttlefish by groping in the inky waters it has itself discoloured.

2. That the final refuge of baffled justice is to allow the accused an appeal to the judgment of God.

1. This appeal has been often abused. In the ruder stages of human development, very painful methods were resorted to as tests of innocence. Fire and sword were freely used for this purpose. In the dark ages a fire was kindled within the church, not far from the great altar; a bar of iron was heated, and, after an elaborate ritual of prayers and abjurations, the accused was required to carry the red-hot iron nine yards from the flame. The moment he laid it down, he was borne by the priests into the vestry: there his hands were wrapped in linen cloths, sealed down with the signet of the church; and, according to the condition in which the hands were found on the third day, was he declared innocent or guilty. A belief was common among the northern nations that the corpse of a murdered person would bleed on the touch or at the approach of the real murderer; and this test was often applied with great and imposing ceremonies. In Borneo, we are told, when two dyaks have to decide which is in the right, they have two equal lumps of salt given them to drop into water, and he whose lump dissolves first is deemed to be in the wrong. Or, they put two live shell-fish on a plate—one for each litigant—and squeezing lime-juice over them, the verdict is given according to which man's mollusc stirs first. The Siamese, again, have a curious way of deciding the truth between two parties in the absence of witnesses: their method is to ascertain which of the two can stay longest under water. Such are specimens of the varied plans which reveal the craft, the audacity, and the folly of mankind.

2. This appeal must be solemn and sincere (1Ki ). Though the method may be abused, we may and must call upon God to help the innocent man to his rights, and, even in this world, to reward the evil man according to his deserts. It is allowable for a pious man to entreat God to administer his just cause; yet, must he not wish evil to his neighbour in mere human vindictiveness (Psa 109:1). The oath is a prayer, a solemn invocation of God in testimony of the truth: the false oath is not merely a lie, but an insolent mockery of God, and God will not be mocked (Gal 6:7; Exo 20:7). Bear in mind, when thou swearest, that thou art standing before the altar, i.e., before the judgment-seat of the Holy and Just God, who can condemn body and soul to hell. Where the oath is no longer held sacred, there the nation and the state go to ruin.—(Starke).

3. That the Judgment of God is infallible in the punishment of the guilty and the vindication of the innocent (1Ki ). The sinner cannot triumph for ever; and the cries of the injured for justice are not in vain. The retribution of the wicked is often swift, and is always terrible: God "brings his way upon his head." This He hath done on those who have taken false oaths of execration, as may be instanced in the three false accusers of Narcissus, the bishop of Jerusalem; in the case of Earl Godwin; and in the case of one Anne Averies, who, forswearing herself in a shop in Wood Street, London, in 1575, praying God she might sink where she stood, if she had not paid for the wares she took, fell down speechless and instantly expired. Verily, there is a God that ruleth in the earth, and every act of man shall receive its due recompense according to its character.

LESSONS:—

1. The innocent need not fear the strictest scrutiny.

2. Sin it certain to be discovered and punished.

3. The appeal to Divine Justice it not in vain.

—Personal injuries. I. Should not be lightly inferred. Here an oath was taken of the man who had inflicted the injury. This oath was to be taken before God's altar.

II. Should be committed into the hand of God. The Judge of all the earth will do right. Prayer to God when we smart under injury will—

1. Prevent a vindictive spirit.

2. Lead us to desire the triumph of righteousness.

1Ki . The terrible scourge of war.

1. That the defence of a nation depends upon the bravery of its people.

2. That sin saps the foundation of natural courage.

3. That war is sometimes an instrument of punishment for national offences.

4. That war is ever attended with terrible suffering.

5. That defeat often drives a nation to seek help and deliverance in prayer.

6. That God hears the cry of the humble and penitent captives, and brings them out of their distresses.

—I. The commission of sin producing national calamities. Israel smitten before the enemy, "because they sinned." This result may be brought about by the operation of natural laws—not necessary to suppose any miraculous intervention. Sin weakens—sin destroys.

II. The means that should be employed in times of calamity.

1. Reformation—"Turn again to thee."

2. Confession of sin—"Confess thy name."

3. Prayer to God—"And pray."

—A victorious enemy is the whip and scourge with which the Lord chastises a nation, so that it may awake out of sleep, confess its sins, turn unto Him, and learn anew its forgotten prayers and supplications. To those who are taken captive in war, and, far from fatherland, must dwell beneath a foreign yoke, applies the Word of the Lord (Luk ). Therefore, they who are prospering in their native country must pray for them, believing in the words of Psa 146:7.

1Ki . The abuse of prosperity and its Nemesis. I. Prosperity is a blessing from God. He controls the food-producing elements—opens or stops "the bottles of the sky," fills the earth with fruitfulness, or binds it up with the iron bands of sterility. II. Prosperity is encompassed with many perils. Of a reckless and thankless indulgence—of a proud self-sufficiency—of an impious forgetfulness of God. III. The abuse of prosperity is followed with inevitable punishment. Hard, harassing, and unremunerative labour—general scarcity—life-long disease, personal and social sufferings. IV. The teachings of adversity tend to correct the errors of prosperity. The proud and thoughtless are humbled—man is taught his absolute dependence on God—a spirit of genuine devotion is encouraged—a wise and generous use of prosperity is inculcated.

—Introduces a question about which there has been much angry discussion Can human prayer modify or influence the operation of natural law? If so, to what extent, and under what conditions? Probably a thorough and satisfactory solution of the problem will never be obtained. No necessary conflict between prayer and natural law.

I. The possibility of a great calamity arising from natural causes. "Heaven shut up." "No rain."

II. The connection of this calamity with human sinfulness. "Because they have sinned against Thee."

III. The Scriptural method of terminating this calamity.

1. Confession of sin.

2. Abandonment of sin.

3. Prayer of God.

—Inasmuch as fruitful seasons, instead of leading to repentance, as being proofs of God's goodness, so often tend to create pride, haughtiness, and lightmindedness, therefore the Lord sometimes shuts up His heavens. But then we should murmur not against Him, but against our own sins (2Sa ), and confess that all human care and toil for obtaining food out of the earth is in vain if He give not rain out of heaven and fruitful seasons. Fine weather is not brought about by the means of processions, but by true repentance and heartfelt prayer (Lev 26:3-4). When God humbles us, He thus directs to the good way (Psa 119:67; Deu 2:3; Deu 5:8).—Starke.

1Ki . The good way.

1. Is Divinely revealed.

2. Is maintained by Divine instruction.

3. Is lost by disobedience.

4. Is found in the pathway of suffering and trial.

5. Leads to everlasting blessedness.

1Ki . National calamities and their lessons. I. That national calamities are varied in their character (1Ki 8:37).

1. Famine, a scarcity, or total want of bread, necessarily springing from the preceding cause, want of rain.

2. Pestilence, any general and contagious disease.

3. Blasting, anything by which the crops are injured, so that the ear is never matured, but, instead of wholesome grain, there is a black offensive dust.

4. Mildew, anything that vitiates or corrodes the texture of the stalk, destroys the flowers and blossoms, or causes the young shaped fruits to fall off their stems.

5. Locust, a well-known curse in the East, a species of grasshopper that multiplies by millions, and covers the face of the earth for many miles square, destroying every green thing, leaving neither herb nor grass upon the earth, nor leaf nor bark upon the trees.

6. Caterpillars, the locust in its young or nympha state. The former refers to ocusts brought by winds from other countries, and settling on the land; the latter, to the young locusts bred in the land.

7. An enemy, having attacked their defenced cities, the keys and barriers of the land.

8. Any other kind of plague, that which affects the surface of the body—blotch, blain, leprosy, ophthalmia, &c.

9. Sickness, whatever impaired the strength, or affected the intestines, disturbing or destroying their natural functions. II. That national calamities are aggravated by individual offences.

1. Sin is the fruitful source of all calamities, and is itself the greatest of all.

2. That a personal consciousness of sin is the discovery of man's greatest moral plague (1Ki ). III. That national calamities should lead to national humiliation and prayer. IV. That the removal of national calamities should intensify and augment national piety (1Ki 8:40).

—Divine judgments and means of discipline are very various in their kind, their degree, and their duration. God in His wisdom and justice metes out to a whole people, as to each individual man, such measure of suffering as is needed for its salvation, for He knows the hearts of all the children of men, and He tries no man beyond His power of endurance. He hearkens to him who calls upon Him in distress (2Sa ; Psa 34:18; Isa 26:16). Distress teaches us how to pray, but often only so long as it is present with us. God looks upon our hearts, and knows whether our prayer is a mere passing emotion, or whether we have truly turned to Him. How entirely different would our prayers often sound if we reflected that we were addressing Him who knows our heart, with its most secret and mysterious thoughts, expectations, and wishes. The effect of an answer to our prayers must be that we fear the Lord, and walk in His ways, not only in the time of need and trouble, but at all times as long as we live. It is a priceless thing that the heart remains constant.—Lange.

1Ki . The moral plague of humanity. "Shall know every man the plague of his own heart." I. The moral plague of humanity is sin. II. Is inward and individual. III. Is terrible when it intensifies itself into the form of a conscious and deserved judgment of God. IV. Is an unspeakable blessing when it induces man to escape from its ruinous consequences by a timely repentance. V. Can be removed only by a believing application of the Divine Remedy.

—"The plague of his own heart." His own iniquity (Psa ): the cause of his calamity, as he well understandeth when sin and wrath meet in his soul and make a wound in it: the cure whereof he seeketh of God by prayer, which hath a pacifying property, and fetcheth out the stain and sting of sin.—Trapp.

1Ki . The divine knowledge of man.

1. Is infallible.

2. Universal.

3. Minute.

4. Is specially concerned with his moral condition.

5. Enables God to reveal man's true state to himself.

6. Should foster in man a spirit of vigilance, circumspection, and awe.

1Ki . The fear of God is again connected with forgiveness in Psa 130:4, as if he should not fear, unless we could hope. So Milton makes Satan say, "Then farewell Hope; and with Hope, farewell Fear." And Aristotle speaks of fear as inseparably connected with hope (Rhet. 1Ki 2:5).—Speaker's Comm.

1Ki . The unifying power of prayer. I. All men are alike in their moral needs. II. The exercise of prayer is an invisible but all-active power that unites the entire race—irrespective of rank, of nationality, of creed, or outward circumstances. III. Prayer is a divinely-appointed means of bringing all men to a true knowledge of God. IV. Prayer recognises the fact of a universal brotherhood.

1Ki . Nothing is more remarkable in the Mosaic law than its liberality with regard to strangers. Not only were the Israelites forbidden to vex or oppress a stranger (Exo 22:21), not only were they required to relieve the stranger who was poor or in distress (Lev 25:35), not only had they a general command to "love the stranger" (Deu 10:19); but, even in religious matters, where anciently almost all nations were exclusive, they were exclusive, they were bound to admit strangers to nearly equal privileges. Such persons might make offerings at the tabernacle under exactly the same conditions as the native Israelites (Num 15:14-16); and they might be present at the solemn reading of the law, which took place once in seven years (Deu 31:12). 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, and to ask for their prayers the same acceptance which he had previously begged for the prayers of faithful Israelites.—Speaker's Com.

1Ki . Even Solomon bore witness that the house he had built could not encompass Him whom the heavens cannot contain, so likewise he testified that the covenant made by God with Israel did not exclude all other nations from salvation, but rather aimed at leading all men to a knowledge of the truth. If a Solomon prayed for the attainment of this object, how much more does it become us to pray for the conversion of the heathen, and do our utmost that the people who sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death, may come to Him, a light set by God before all nations to lighten the heathen (Luk 2:31). He who desires to know nothing of missions to the heathen, fails to know the God who wills that help should be given to all men, and that all should come to the knowledge of Himself (1Ti 2:4). Solomon hoped that the heathen, when they heard the great deeds which the Lord did in Israel, would turn to that God; how much stronger becomes this hope when the infinitely greater scheme of salvation in Christ Jesus is declared to them!—The acknowledgment of the name of God necessarily causes the fear of God. If an individual, or an entire nation, be wanting in the latter, they will, alas! lack a true knowledge of God, let them boast as they will of enlightenment and enlightened religious ideas.—Lange.

1Ki . Here is one of the Old Testament intimations of the universality of the true religion and true worship of God. Though the national consciousness of Israel was that of separateness from all other nations, yet at times the Spirit lifted it above that exclusiveness, and thrilled it with a momentary grasping after universal brotherhood.—Terry.

1Ki . This refers to wars undertaken by Divine appointment—"Whithersoever thou shalt send them": for in no other wars could they expect the blessing and concurrence of the Lord; in none other could the God of truth and justice maintain their cause. There were such wars under the Mosaic dispensation; there are none such under the Christian dispensation: nor can there be any, for the Son of Man is come, not to destroy men's lives, but to save them. Except mere defensive war, all others are diabolic; and if there were no provocations, would there be any attacks, and, consequently, any need of defensive wars?—A. Clarke.

1Ki . Prayer a preparation for conflict.

1. Every man is called to wage unceasing warfare against evil.

2. Man can conquer evil only by Divine aid.

3. He who prays the most will fight the best.

4. Prayer will win the conflict when all external tactics fail.

5. God will prosper and maintain the cause He has made His own.

—A people who undertake war should, above all, be sure that it is under the guidance of God. That alone is a just war which is undertaken with God's help and in the cause of God, of truth, and of justice. A host going forth to battle should remember this:—Nothing can be done in our own strength; we are soon quite ruined (Psa ), and thereupon we should pray and entreat the Lord, from whom alone proceeds victory (Pro 21:31; Psa 147:10).—That soldier can never answer it to God that strikes not more as a justicer than as an enemy. Soldiers must fight and pray, and pray and fight.

1Ki . Captivity and freedom. I. Captivity is a bitter experience to the ardent lover of liberty. It is the badge of defeat—the loss of home and country—exposes to exasperating taunts and pitiless cruelties. II. Captivity to sin, and on account of sin, is most degrading, and fraught with unutterable distress. III. The first step towards freedom begins in repentance and prayer (1Ki 8:47). IV. Freedom from sin involves restoration to the Divine favour and inheritance.

—Righteousness exalteth a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people (Pro ). Thus the people Israel is a living example for all times as a warning and as an admonition (1Co 10:2.) The Lord has patience with each person as also with whole peoples and governments, for He knows "there is no man that is not sinful." But when the riches of His goodness, patience, and long-suffering are despised, and a nation given over to hardness of heart and impenitence (Rom 2:4), He casts it away from before His face, and wipes it out as a man wipeth a dish (2Ki 21:13), so that it ceases to be a people and a kingdom. The world's history is the world's final doom. The wrath of God towards all ungodly conduct of men is not a mere biblical form of speech, but a fearful truth, which he who hearkens not will learn by experience.—The saying: "There is no man that sinneth not"—that may not sin—must not be misused to apologize for sin as a natural weakness; it should rather warn and exhort us that we must not give the reins to that will which lieth even at the door, but rule over it (Gen 1:4; Gen 1:7); for he who committeth sin is the slave of sin (Joh 8:34). The statement is not made with reference to the possibilities of gracious attainment in the Christian life, but to the ordinary facts of human history. The meaning is, there is no man and no nation that can claim to be beyond the possibility of sinning. Israel must not assume that because they are the chosen people that may not, by running into sin, draw down the Divine anger in bitter judgments upon them. But here is surely no such universal proposition as to involve, as some assume, that even the New Testament saint, whose life is hid with Christ in God, sees never in this life the hour in which he does not sin. The confession, "We have sinned" (1Ki 8:47) must come from the depths of the heart, and must be in connection with the conversion of the whole soul to the Lord; for he alone can obtain forgiveness of all his sins in whose spirit there is no guile (Psa 32:2). But how often in days of fasting and humiliation is this confession made only with the lips! How, then, can a man hope for mercy and forgiveness through the hearing of prayer? The Lord, who guides the hearts of men as water-courses, can bestow upon our enemies a forgiving and merciful heart, even as Israel experienced. For this, and not for the destruction of our enemies, we ought to pray.—Lange and Whedon.

1Ki . Solomon probably means, not merely such compassion as Evil-Merodach showed towards Jehoiachin in alleviating his sufferings and ameliorating his condition (2Ki 25:27-30; Jer 52:31-34), but such as Cyrus and Artaxerxes showed in allowing the captive Jews to return to their own land (Ezr 1:3; Ezr 8:13; Neh 2:6, compared with Psa 146:4-6).

1Ki . "The midst of the furnace of iron." The disciplinary aspect of affliction. I. Is very painful to endure. II. Tests the faith and patience of the sufferer. III. Purifies and ennobles the whole man. IV. Magnifies the grace and power of God in sustaining and delivering. V. Prepares for a loftier mission and more extended usefulness.

1Ki . Arguments in pleading with God. Based on—I. Intimacy of relationship: "They be thy people."

1. Specially chosen: "For thou didst separate them from among all the people of the earth."

2. Specially prized: "Thine inheritance." II. The fact of great suffering: "The midst of the furnace of iron." III. The memory of past deliverances: "Which thou broughtest forth out of Egypt." IV. The record of Divine pledges and promises: "As thou spakest by the hand of Moses."

—In the midst of our cries and prayers we should remember how dearly the Lord has purchased us for His own by the blood of His Son (Rom ; 1Co 6:20; Rev 5:9). The grace of God in Christ is the foundation of our assurance that the Lord will deliver us from all tribulation and sorrow, and will lead us to. His heavenly kingdom. For this do we close our prayer with the words—For the sake of thine eternal love. God does not leave His people in the furnace of misery, but always guides them forth from it (Job 3:22). Our prayers from beginning to end must be grounded on the Divine promises (2Sa 7:25).—Starke.


Verses 54-61

CRITICAL AND EXPLANATORY NOTES.—

1Ki . Let your heart be perfect with the LORD, שָׁלֵם עִם יְהֹוָה; uprightly with Jehovah (Luther); submissive (Dr. Wette); in friendship with God (Gesenius); undividedly given to the Lord (Keil and Lange). 1Ki 8:62-64. The sacrificial act of consecration—These were the first offerings laid upon the sacred altar. The priests' court was not sufficiently extensive for such numerous sacrifices; therefore the king did "hallow the middle of the court" temporarily for sacrificial purposes. The immense number of sacrifices offered supplied for the prolonged "feast" which succeeded, lasting fourteen days, and to which assembled great multitudes, from the entering in of Hamath unto the river of Egypt.

HOMILETICS OF 1Ki

THE ELEVATING AND SATISFYING POWER OF TRUE DEVOTION

I. It fills the soul with grateful emotion (1Ki ). As Solomon rose from his knees, after his earnest and prolonged pleading with God, his heart was so full of Divine and heavenly influence that it overflowed in earnest and emphatic expressions of gratitude and joy—"He stood and blessed all the congregation with a load voice." And so it is. They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength—shall gain an increase of moral vigour and sympathy. The suppliant may enter the presence-chamber of the Invisible and Eternal God with trembling and fear; but he retires braced up in courage, and clothed with supernatural power, prepared for conflict and hopeful of victory: he comes, stricken down with a gloomy sense of personal unworthiness and defilement, and retires modestly elated with a sense of pardon, transfigured with the radiance of a moral transformation, the very countenance glistening with the chrism of a heavenly benediction. There is no emotion so tender, so profound, so full of nameless pathos and tranquillising joy like that which flows into the heart in its quiet moments of communion with God; or which, like sunshine after storm, visits the soul after it has passed through a season of earnest and successful wrestling with God. The man whose life is spent in devotion, though bound to earth by the dearest human ties, holds high fellowship with the world above. In him earth and heaven are united—both are understood by him in their true significance, and held in proper balance and esteem. He is like a tall, gigantic mountain whose broad base is fixed in the rocks far down beneath our feet, but whose top, springing into the lofty expanse above, reposes under the pure covering of radiant snow and sunlight. He is lifted above the pleasures of this world, and finds consolation and strength in the darkest day of adversity. The apostle was "in prison more frequent," but in his dungeon he found the presence of Jesus, and could pray and sing praises unto God. "I thought of Jesus," said the holy John Rutherford, when imprisoned for the Gospel's sake, "until every stone in the walls of my cell shone like a ruby."

II. It presents the most exalted and satisfying views of the faithfulness of God (1Ki ).

1. As to a specific Divine promise. "The Lord hath given rest unto His people Israel, according to all that He promised." Solomon blessed God, not for wealth, grandeur, power, or victory, all of which had been so conspicuously bestowed on Israel, but for rest. Without this blessing all the others would be unavailing. Many weary years wheeled round, and many sharp trials were endured before the promised rest was given; but it came at last. And it will come to us. Oh! how often does the veteran wilderness-traveller, wearied with toil, and battered with conflict, turn his dim, weatherworn eyes towards the shadowy outlines of the Canaan he approaches, and sigh for the rest that remains for the people of God!

2. As to every Divine promise. "There hath not failed one word of all His good promise" (Deu ; Jos 21:45; Jos 23:14). How marked is the contrast between man, the promise-breaker, and God, the promise-keeper! Every Divine promise is based on His unchangeable faithfulness, and backed by His Omnipotence. Not only the nature of God, but every act of His providential and redemptive government, is a guarantee of His incorruptible and unfailing fidelity. Whatever is opposed to the Divine will must inevitably fall: whatever God has promised will be inevitably fulfilled. The united and fiercest opposition of earth and hell cannot hinder the final and complete accomplishment of the Divine Word.

III. It realizes the nearness of God in the ordinary walk of life (1Ki ).

1. The nearness of God with His people is a fact of past experience. "As He was with our fathers." He was with Abraham when he was called by His mysterious voice to leave the idolatrous associations of his early life, and migrate to an unknown country and become the father of a countless heritage. He was with Jacob when he fled from the fury of an incensed brother. He appeared to him at Bethel, assured the distracted traveller of future guidance and prosperity, and renewed to him the promise which had been made to Abraham. He was with Israel in Egypt, preserved them amid the threatenings and cruelties of their relentless taskmasters, delivered them from their oppressors, defended them amid the perils and trials of the wilderness, and guided them in safety to the promised rest. God is with His church to-day; and in this fact is the assurance of her final victory and everlasting blessedness.

2. The nearness of God is matter of personal consciousness. "That He may incline our hearts unto Him." The heart is the sphere in which God manifests His presence—mind revealing itself to mind, will to will, heart to heart. When the soul is full of love to God, it the more readily recognizes His presence in every event of life. "If we have loving, waiting, Christ-desiring spirits, everything in this world—the common meal, the events of every day, the most veritable trifles of our earthly relationships—will all have hooks and barbs, as it were, which will draw after them thoughts of Him. There is nothing so small but that to it there may be attached some filament which will bring after it the whole majesty and grace of Christ and His love." Man is never so sweetly conscious of the nearness of God as when he is bowed at His footstool in humble and sincere devotion. He only forsakes those who have forsaken Him (Psa ).

3. The nearness of God is the great inspiration to a life of obedience. "To walk in all His ways, and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments." The temptations to turn aside from rectitude are many and powerful, but for Divine aid we should be powerless to resist. When, says one, the believer is as nigh to God as a creature can be, the sound of the devil's feet is heard behind him; but, blessed be God! He is near to His people as the devil can be, and if the devil touch Job's flesh and Job's bone too, God is in Job's heart, and that is nigher. The end of Divine blessing is to bring the heart near to Him, and to give grace to walk in His way with uprightness and perseverance.

IV. It teaches how temporal blessings are to be subordinated and made contributory to the more glorious end of spreading the knowledge of the only true God (1Ki ). Jehovah blessed Israel with a marvellous history, with deliverances, successes, and affluence which reached their climax of grandeur and power in the age of Solomon, but He did it all for His name's sake; and to fit the nation for its great mission in making known His salvation to all people (1Ki 8:60). Every temporal blessing has its moral significance, and increases the responsibility of the recipient. Wealth, intellectual genius, spiritual influence, that is not used for God will only intensify the sorrows and sufferings of the unfaithful possessor. Like most garments, like most carpets, everything has a right side and a wrong side. You can take any joy, and by turning it round find troubles on the other side; or you may take the greatest trouble, and by turning it round find joys on the other side. The gloomiest mountain never casts a shadow on both sides at once, nor does the greatest of life's calamities. By aiming at the glory of God in all things, sorrows will be turned into joy, reverses into success.

V. It stimulates the soul after a higher standard of moral perfection (1Ki ). The best and greatest wish which a king can form for his people, a father for his children, a pastor for his flock, is—May your heart be righteous—i.e., whole and undivided before the Lord our God. He who elects to side with Him must do so wholly and entirely: all "halting between two opinions" is an abomination to him: the lukewarm he will spue out of his mouth. Be thou on the Lord's side, and he will be with thee (Lange). The great end of prayer is to encourage a holier life; and it is a mighty agency in promoting that end. We must find happiness in our every-day life and in the performance of our ordinary duties, or we shall miss it altogether. The greatest happiness is the outgrowth of the highest moral perfection, and the spring of both is found in a spirit of profound devotion.

LESSONS:—

1. The soul touches the lowest depth of humiliation and reaches its most exalted blessedness in communion with God.

2. The brightest visions of God's character and the most practical lessons for the conduct of life are obtained in the best moods of devotion.

3. Prayer is one of the most potent agencies in promoting a holier life.

GERM NOTES ON THE VERSES

1Ki . Solomon's final address to the people contains—

1. A psalm of praise (1Ki ).

2. A wish for a blessing (1Ki ).

3. A warning (1Ki ).

1Ki . "The Lord hath given rest unto His people." Compared with 1Ch 23:25. The rest of the people of God. I. In the mysterious polity of the people of Israel, spiritual and temporal blessings were so closely allied that the same language might naturally be employed to signify either. When with the conviction of special divine superintendence was combined the pure and lofty moral nature of the Divine Governor, as revealed in the law issued by Moses, it is inconceivable but that the higher class of Israelitish minds, the holy and meditative class, must often have felt that the mass of ordinances which surrounded them were truly meant as types of some more profound spiritual realities; and that their whole national history was intended to image forth a moral history, wider in its purpose and extent, and more adequate to the power and dignity of a God whom they well knew to be the God of the whole earth as well as of the territory of Israel, yea, even a God whom "the heaven of heavens could not contain." In the fourth chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews it is shown that the rest which the Israelites enjoyed in the land of promise, no less than the rest of the Sabbath-day, was symbolical of the repose of the persevering Christian. II. It is not unwarrantable to conjecture that when the patriot cried—"The Lord hath given rest unto His people Israel," he was not more the patriot of Israel than of mankind; or at least, that the Spirit of God spoke through his lips with a higher purpose, to be explained and developed by the events of subsequent ages. The God of Israel, in permitting His ark to be deposited in a permanent abode, seemed to guarantee the eternal glory of the city of David. And it seemed at length that the Lord was about to give His people the proof of His peculiar favour, which they might naturally have expected, by actually exalting them to the highest temporal position among the nations of the earth, and making the divine glory on the mercy seat the centre from which the deputed authority of God was to radiate to the circumference of the world. It was the destiny of Israel, after a brief period of prosperity, to separate into rival dynasties, to run through a course of much iniquity, to despise constant, reiterated warnings, and at length to merge into utter ruin, undestroyed, indeed, but preserved only as a monument of God's abiding vengeance. But mark the unsearchable depths of the purposes of Providence! These national misfortunes brought in universal blessedness. Israel fell to prepare the salvation of mankind; and the rest which the Lord denied His people was denied only that an everlasting rest might be secured to His spiritual people for ever! III. This rest which the Lord God of Israel bestows on His spiritual Israel is no unattainable blessing even on this side of the grave. It is the mark of a poor spirit to be satisfied with small things. With the temporal dispensations of God, whatever they be, a Christian is bound to be content; but for the man who is not a Christian, that discontent should be his portion is the prayer of mercy itself! Such discontent is the voice of the Spirit of God, for whom his nature was originally formed, calling upon him to perceive and acknowledge that he has no abiding city here, and that in seeking after the things that belong to his peace, he must turn to the Prince of Peace. What some dreamer imagined as to the structure of the earth we live on, is a truth as regards our own internal nature. "We are, indeed, a fragment struck from the great source of light and heat, from the sun of eternal righteousness; and if the force that wilfully separates us from our origin would but cease to operate, we should return to our native birth-place, even the bosom of our Father; we should fly to the centre of all good, and there abide in blessedness for ever. To effect this union is the great object of our religion: Christ the Mediator is the link that binds us to the centre of everlasting happiness. IV.

1. Rest and peace must fall upon a Christian spirit, first from its devotion to Christ Himself, and its devoted imitation of His pure and perfect example. The life of a Christian is the imitation of Christ. And, among all the imitable attributes of Christ, none is more beautiful than His perfect peace. Blessed Lord! Thou dost indeed give us this peace when Thou givest Thyself as our example! To be thy disciples and copyists is to be at peace with everything but sin.

2. This influence of the character of Christ becoming the great examplar of their actions is not the only cause which works peace and rest in the hearts of his followers. The very singleness of the object of His hope has a power to elevate the Christian above the petty concerns of daily life. The true peace of mind is that which resolves all into a single principle. God is one: let our affections but partake of the unity of that object, and we shall have reached the pathway of real and imperishable rest.

3. The same question might be argued from the very nature of the Christian affections, affections whose very exercise is peace and happiness. In the very exercise of faith and hope and love, there are the materials of peace, even apart from the subject of these feelings. The mere position of a mind believing, trusting, and loving is one of real happiness and rest.

4. In such a state as ours, unless the eternal world in some manner becomes the guarantee of this, we are the slaves of every accident, without any hope for the future, any consolation for misfortune, any substantial or permanent motive for conduct, any reward for endurance, any guide for life. The earthly and the heavenly elements must combine, or we are powerless. To have the great object of our thoughts placed beyond the chances of human life is to place ourselves beyond them! Our hope "entereth into that within the veil." The Christian lays hold of a chain which is bound to the throne of God; he links himself to the eternal certainties of nature; the immutable attributes of the God of the universe are pledged for his security. As the certainty of the end is greater than that of the means, and as the dead world that surrounds us exists, doubtless, with a main view to the Christian people of God—the less perfect being ever subordinate to the more perfect—so we may say that the finest laws of nature and man, the very foundations of the world that now is, are less firm and durable than the purpose of God to make His faithful people happy! (Condensed from Archer Butler.)

"There hath not failed one word of all His good promise." The Divine purpose fulfilled.

1. God hath formed a purpose of mercy toward mankind.

2. The fulfilment of this purpose of mercy is committed to the Lord Jesus—accomplished by His own atonement for sin, and by the communication of the Holy Spirit.

3. The Divine purpose of mercy, under the administration of the Lord Jesus, shall be perfectly and triumphantly accomplished.

1Ki . The presence of God.

1. Necessary.

2. Promised.

3. Actually experienced.

4. Continued on obedience.

5. The source of all help and happiness.

1Ki . All keeping of the commandments, all mere morality, without submission of the heart to God, is worthless; a mere shell without the kernel.

1Ki . The words which rise out of the depths of the heart to God reach Him and abide with Him. He forgets them not (Rev 8:3-4). That the Lord is God, and none other, seems nowhere more conspicuous than in the choosing and leading of the people Israel, in which He has revealed Himself in His might and glory, in His holiness and justice, His faithfulness and mercy (Psa 145:3-12). No better proof of the existence of a one living God than the history of Israel.—Lange.

1Ki (compared with Exo 15:11). Holiness the supreme end of life.

1. We need the revelation of God's holiness in order to sustain us in the presence of the tremendous forces of the external universe, and in the presence of what sometimes seems to be the chaotic confusion of this world's affairs. To me it is not the benevolence of God which seems to be supremely necessary for the solace and the peace of the heart, but His justice. I want to know that the law of righteousness, to which my conscience does homage, will sooner or later be openly and completely vindicated; that even now we are not under the government of mere chance or of brute force, but of a living holiness; that there is not only a judgment seat before which, in some remote and uncertain day, all men will have to give an account of the deeds done in the body, but that now a righteous God rules the world, and suffers no irreparable injustice to be inflicted on any man; that however intolerable the actual condition of human affairs may seem to me, He who has power to prevent every accident, every mistake, every folly, every crime; He who could strike the liar dumb before he utters the slander which will break the heart of the innocent; He who could unmask before it is consummated the villainy which will ruin the peace and honour of a fair and virtuous home; He who could strike down with mortal disease the reckless statesman who hurries a nation into an unnecessary and iniquitous war; I want to know that He the Almighty and Omniscient Ruler of all men is not careless of what happens on earth, that He has no selfish purpose to accomplish, that He is not wilful, that He is not capricious, but absolutely and perfectly just; that He has a hatred and scorn as much more intense than mine for every sin as His nature is greater than my own. Knowing this—and I know it—I can look back upon the sorrowful ages of human history, I can look round upon the wild confusions of my own time, I can look forward to the dark and stormy future which, apart from Him, promises no sure relief from the vast and terrible evils which seem to be the inheritance of our race, and my heart is at rest. From the vision of God's holiness I receive a peace which the world cannot give, and which the world cannot take away.

2. Nor is it only peace of heart which God's holiness inspires. The Divine holiness is a strong support to all our endeavours to attain moral and spiritual perfection. Whatever mystery may rest upon the Divine government, and however unable we may be to interpret the issues that are to come out of the movements of that providence over which God presides, we can be in no doubt concerning God's ultimate purpose in relation to ourselves. Apart from any spiritual relation, we have an absolute certainty that wherever there is the capacity for holiness, holiness must be the great end of existence. We are capable of a perfection which transcends, though it includes moral virtue, and this perfection is holiness. Since we are capable of it, it is, and it must be, the supreme end for which we ought to live. We miss the glory which is within our reach if we do not attain to it. God's holiness makes it certain that He regards our holiness as the very crown of our nature, apart from which the idea which He desires to have illustrated in every man is unfulfilled.

3. God has no ultimate use for a man who is not holy, and such a man does not become what he was meant to be. Being holy Himself, it must be, and it is, His great concern that we should attain to moral and spiritual perfection. God's supreme concern in relation to you and me is, not that we should be happy to-day or to-morrow, and all our life through: His supreme concern is that we should regard sin with intense and unutterable abhorrence, and that we should regard goodness with a deep and passionate affection. And God will not shrink from inflicting any pain, however sharp, or any suffering, however protracted, upon any of us, that may be necessary in order to fulfil His great design. IV. This was His supreme purpose in sending the Lord Jesus Christ into the world. Christ came to save us from our sins, not merely to release us from the penalty of our sins, much less to assure us that we may remain sinful and yet not miss the glory and the blessedness for which God made us. The grace that Christ reveals does not for a moment suggest that God regards our sin with that pity and compassion with which it is the tendency of our modern religious lives to regard all sin; but that He abhors sin so much, that He Himself stooped to the most terrible sufferings, to shame and to death, in order to deliver us from sin. The holiness of God lies at the very root of the redemptive work of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is just because God is so holy that He set His heart upon redeeming us from the power of sin. Until we know that God is glorious in holiness, as well as infinite in mercy, and find in His very holiness that on which we shall build our trust, and that out of which our joy shall spring, we know very little of the fulness of life, and the depth of peace, and the perfection of blessedness possible to as through Jesus Christ our Lord.—(Condensed from R. W. Dale in C. W. P).


Verses 62-66

CRITICAL AND EXPLANATORY NOTES.—

1Ki . Hamath is the Grecian Epiphaneia, the principal city of Upper Syria, on the Orontes, the Northern frontier of Palestine (Num 13:2; Num 34:8). The river of Egypt is here, not the Nile, but the el Arish—the Southern boundary of the land of Israel (Num 34:5; Jos 15:4; Jos 15:47).—W. H. J.

HOMILETICS OF 1Ki

SACRIFICE THE TEST OF GRATITUDE

The Temple, the dwelling-place of Jehovah, the pride of the Jews, the marvel of the ages, was now completed; and its solemn dedication was attended with overwhelming manifestations of the divine presence and glory. Its actual consecration is now crowned with an act of sacrifice on a scale of unexampled magnitude and grandeur. Monarch and people cheerfully unite in offering the vast holocaust. As the whole empire shared in the religious benefits of the occasion, so it was fitting it should share in its religious duties. Observe—

I. That a grateful heart prompts to acts of sacrifice. Bowed under a sense of the Divine condescension and beneficence, the people burst forth in praising Jehovah, "For He is good; for His mercy endureth for ever" (2Ch ). It is when the heart is touched and melted with gratitude that it is most prolific in generous sacrifices, in holy resolves, and in initiating noble enterprises. The origin of many a stately building, of many a princely charitable endowment, and of many a sacrifice which, though small as the widow's two mites, has, like hers, been the most acceptable to heaven, may be traced to the tender impulse of a holy and grateful heart. While Jacob was impressed with the goodness of a manifested God, he vowed a vow and set up a pillar (Gen 28:16-22). When Isaiah felt the cleansing touch of the Seraphim, and saw the ineffable glory of Jehovah, the difficulties of his mission vanished, and his grateful and enraptured spirit eagerly cried, "Here am I send me!" (Isa 6:1-8.) In a similar way, many a brave and successful missionary pioneer has offered his all upon the altar. The heart that is incapable of gratitude is incapable of anything truly great.

II. That sacrifice should be proportioned to the magnitude and character of the benefits conferred (1Ki ).

1. It should be equal to the occasion. The opening of the temple was the greatest event in the history of the Israelitish nation. It was the fulfilment of a promise of many years' standing; the crowning act of a graduated series of laborious preparations. The liberality with which the people offered their gifts, the enthusiasm with which they laboured in its erection, and the readiness with which they gathered to celebrate its dedication, indicate the supreme importance in which it stood in the national estimation. And now the sacrifices they are called to offer must bear some adequate proportion to the greatness of the occasion. Alas! how few gifts to the church of God, now-a-days, are worthy of the name of sacrifice? Men—Christian men so-called—will spend hundreds of pounds in a pleasure trip, a fancy ball, a luxurious banquet, or a bit of jewellery, and yet insult the church of Christ by grudgingly offering a paltry piece of silver! There is neither poetical nor any other kind of justice in conduct like this. It is shockingly below the occasion. All sense of honour, of obligation, of gratitude, is utterly quenched.

2. It should be proportioned to ability. God had bestowed on Solomon great commercial prosperity, great wealth, great intellectual powers, great religious privileges, and he strives on this occasion to offer a becoming return to the Great Giver of all good. The Lord estimates the sacrifices of the rich, not by what is given, but by what is left. It was a frequent saying of Gonsalvo de Cordova, the great Spanish captain, "Never stint your hand: there is no mode of enjoying one's property like giving it away." It is expected by every law of right and justice that the wealthy should offer to God's cause in accordance with their means; that the intellectually gifted should devote their best powers to promote His glory; and that those who are specially endowed with spiritual influence should use it diligently for the good of humanity. God does not expect impossibilities. "If there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not" (2Co ).

III. That sacrifice is a privilege to be enjoyed (1Ki ). It was here accompanied with great festivities. The feast of the dedication of the altar lasted for a week, over which period, probably, the offering of the enormous mass of sacrificial victims was extended. This, again, was succeeded by the Feast of the Tabernacles (2Ch 7:8-9), now celebrated with more than the usual festivities. The mere feasting occasioned by the vast number of victims was sufficient to mark the grandeur of the festival. Whatever we do for God should be done cheerfully and willingly, with all the relish of an enjoyable feast: not as if performing some irksome and unpleasant task, but as if enjoying a distinguished privilege. It is a triumph of Divine grace in man, and an evidence of a high state of personal sanctity, when it becomes a joy to make sacrifices. It is then that man most closely imitates the example of the great Sacrificial Victim who said, "Lo I come to do thy will, O God!" and who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame.

IV. That sacrifice is often followed by the most joyous results (1Ki ). The vast host of Israelites who had joined in the celebration was filled with joy and thankfulness. When the people were dismissed they blessed the king, and went away to their tents, glad and merry of heart, lightening the journey home with songs of joy, "for all the goodness that the Lord had done for David His servant, and for Israel His people." Great sacrifices are often succeeded by great blessings. What we sow in tears, we reap in joy. The sacrifices of a few may contribute to the happiness of the many. The one sacrifice of the Son of God has filled earth and heaven with gladness.

LESSONS:—

1. We owe to God more than we can ever repay.

2. The most acceptable sacrifice to God is a grateful and obedient life.

3. We find our greatest happiness in our greatest sacrifices.

GERM NOTES ON THE VERSES

1Ki . The Temple Dedication.

1. A thanksgiving feast (1Ki ).

2. A covenant feast (1Ki ).

3. A feast of great gladness.

—For great benefits men should offer great thanksgivings, and indeed should prove their gratitude by promoting the true service of God, and by benevolence to the poor and needy.—Lange.

1Ki . A sublime spectacle.

1. A nation before the Lord consecrating a temple to His worship.

2. King and people mutually acknowledging sin.

3. King and people uniting in highest acts of devotion.

4. King and people rejoicing together.

1Ki . Sacrifices.

1. Were offered ever since the fall.

2. Were a perpetual memorial of Jehovah's covenant with His people.

3. An acknowledgment of Divine mercies.

4. Necessary as an expiation for human sin.

1Ki . The Burnt Offering was so called because the victim was wholly consumed by fire upon the altar, and so, as it were, sent up to God on the wings of fire. This idea which is expressed in the account of Noah's sacrifice, and which constantly recurs both in the Scriptures and in profane authors, is implied in the Hebrew word, which signifies to ascend. The sacrifice was a memorial of God's covenant, and signified that the offerer belonged wholly to God, and that he dedicated himself soul and body to Him, and placed his life at His disposal. And every such sacrifice was a type of the perfect offering made by Christ, on behalf of the human race, of His human nature and will to the will of the Father. The Meat Offering always accompanied the burnt offering, for which it might be substituted by the poor. As the burnt offering signified the consecration of life to God, both that of the offerer himself and of his living property, so in the meat offering the produce of the land was presented before Jehovah, as being His gift. The Peace Offering was not an atoning sacrifice to make peace with God, but a joyful celebration of peace made through the covenant. In this part of the Mosaic ritual, more than in any other, we see Jehovah present in His house, inviting the worshipper to feast with Him. Peace offerings were presented either as a thanksgiving, or in fulfilment of a vow, or as a free-will offering of love and joy.

1Ki . When a man has rendered unto God what is of God, he can go forth to his daily labour with joy and gladness. To praise and thank God makes the heart glad and willing to work. A good king is the joy of his subjects. When we return to our eternal home, our joy shall never end; and our King Jesus will be the theme of everlasting praise.

—As the King concluded, the cloud which had rested over the Holy of Holies grew brighter and more dazzling; fire broke out and consumed all the sacrifices (2Ch ); the priests stood without, awestruck by the insupportable splendour; the whole people fell on their faces, and worshipped and praised the Lord, "for He is good, for His mercy is for ever." Which was the greater, the external magnificence or the moral sublimity of this scene? Was it the Temple, situated on its commanding eminence, with all its courts, the dazzling splendour of its materials, the innumerable multitudes, the priests in their gorgeous attire, the king, with all the insignia of royalty on his throne of burnished brass, the music, the radiant cloud filling the Temple, the sudden fire flashing upon the altar, the whole nation upon their knees? Was it not rather the religious grandeur of the hymns and of the prayer; the exalted and rational views of the Divine Nature; the union of a whole people in the adoration of one Great, Incomprehensible, Almighty, Everlasting Creator?—Dean Milman.

—"For all the goodness that the Lord had done for David his servant." The heritage of the good.

1. Is transmitted to succeeding generations.

2. Bears constant testimony to the Divine faithfulness (comp. 1Ki ).

3. Demands continued obedience on the part of its possessor.

4. Is an unspeakable boon to any nation.

5. Should be earnestly coveted and faithfully preserved.

 


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Bibliography Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on 1 Kings 8:4". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/phc/1-kings-8.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.

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