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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

2 Chronicles 6:18



"But will God indeed dwell with mankind on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain You; how much less this house which I have built.

Adam Clarke Commentary

But will God in very deed dwell with men - "But who could have imagined, who could have thought it credible, that God should place his majesty among men dwelling upon earth? Behold, the highest heavens, the middle heavens, and the lowest heavens, cannot bear the glory of thy majesty, (for thou art the God who sustainest all the heavens, and the earth, and the deep, and all that is in them), nor can this house which I have built contain Thee." - Targum.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 6:18". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". 1832.

The Biblical Illustrator

2 Chronicles 6:18

But will God in very deed dwell with men on the earth?

The condescending God

I. Let me call your attention to the fact of the Divine greatness; because it is only in the view of that that we can be prepared to appreciate the Divine condescension. “Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain Thee!”

1. What a view have we here of the immensity of God! We ourselves are among the stars, careering through space, myriads of miles distant now from where we were at the beginning of the service, but though perpetually changing our place in the universe, ever surrounded by His presence, and enclosed by His essence.

2. Equally awful is God’s relation to duration, or His eternity.

3. Here is also a recognition of God’s infinite supremacy.

II. And will this uncontainable being actually manifest Himself to man? And here be it remarked there was but one religion in the ancient world that knew anything of a condescending God--but one--the Jewish. The so-called gods of Olympus could be mean, intriguing, self-debasing; but they had it not in their power to condescend. Morally, they had no height from which they could stoop. But the history of the Divine conduct, as recorded in the Bible, had been, from the first, a history of condescension. Look back to God’s first act of condescension. Sin might have produced eternal silence. Yet it was to man, the sinner, that He took the first step in His career of condescension by speaking to him. Time rolled on; and though the depravity and guilt of man went on increasing, there comes before us in the text another stage in the Divine regard. He appoints a place for the symbol of His presence to dwell in, and where man might be always welcome to approach and commune with Him. This was a vast advance in the condescension of God. All this, astonishing as it was, was only preliminary. What if He should take our nature and make a temple of that! This, indeed, was an act beyond human conception. What! will God in very deed dwell with man--as man--upon the earth?

III. Who does not feel the wonderfulness of the Divine condescension? And what part of His conduct is not condescending? and what part of His condescension is not a wonder? Ascend to the first act--creation--for here the wonder begins. But all this, a man might say--much as it enlarges my views of the Divine condescension--all this I can believe. It relates only to His natural greatness. Low and limited as His creatures may be, they are not as yet supposed to have revolted, sinned. What might have taken place we know; and it is that which makes what He has done so amazing. Here the real wonder begins. That He should have stooped to ask for a hearing in a world filled with noisy praises of itself and its idols.

IV. But this wonderfulness of the Divine condescension is no valid objection to its reality and truth. This is the very gist of the text, that, amazing as the conception is, it is yet a fact.

1. Let us not be told by a pretended philosophy that such a Divine interposition is out of all proportion to man’s importance in the universe. The objection rashly assumes that the incarnation of the Son of God can have no relation to any other part of the universe; for if it have, the objection fails. His relation to our world, indeed, will always be specific and unique. But we can conceive of no world to which His incarnation and death for the redemption of our fallen race can be made known, without having their views of God enlarged, and their motives to holiness increased. As an affair of moral government, it is fraught with interest for all the subjects of God’s universal empire. The planetary insignificance of the earth, the very circumstance which man makes a reason for disbelieving it, may be an element investing it, in the eyes of other worlds, with transcendent interest. They may behold in it only a further illustration of the principle on which God uniformly acts, of “choosing the things which are not to bring to nought things that are.” They may see in it a designed intimation that there is no world, however insignificant--no islet in space, however remote--which shall not be filled with His glory.

2. Neither let a mock humility pretend that such condescension is too great for man’s belief. The right point of view is not from the dust in which man is lying, but from the throne on which God is sitting. The reason of the whole is in God. Do you not see, then, that, wanting in wonderfulness, the Divine manifestation would have been wanting in analogy with creation and providence--wanting in the very means of authentication as a Divine act? It only stands in a line with other wonders. But the end to be obtained by it is incomparably greater. Creation and providence are but introductory and preparatory to it.

3. Nor let the mere formalist limit the displays of Divine condescension to the past. The ordinances of religion are with him memorials of past rather than means of present grace--tombs rather than temples. True, God has been in the past, and will be in the future, as we do not look for Him in the present. Looking back, Shekinah and vision are there, miracle, prophecy, and inspiration, an incarnate Saviour and a descending Spirit. We expect not now a repetition of such scenes. Looking forwards, we regard the future as stored with supernatural events. “Wherever two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them.” The history and the prophecy are only for limited times, the promise is for all time, large as the heart of God, and the fullest utterance of it. And is not every truly Christian Church a proof that the manifestation of God is still in process, and His condescension unabated? Wonderful as that condescension is, they can dispense with all formal proof of it.

V. What, then, are the means of securing the Divine presence, and the emotions suitable to it? (J. Harris, D.D.)

The condescension, of God

The temple which Solomon built may be viewed as a type of the body of our Redeemer. It pleased Him to tabernacle amongst us. This is a truth that seems to enter into the very rudiments of our religious knowledge; and we are ready to give immediate assent to the truth that Jesus took our nature upon Him. The more we dwell on this great truth, the more inclined are we to exclaim with something like the astonishment of Solomon, “Is this true? Will God indeed dwell with men on the earth?” In order that our examination may have its full weight on the mind, and lead to profitable thought and action, I appeal--

I. To the answer that would be prompted by natural fear. Think of the majesty of God--think of His holiness! The only thought which the fear of man’s natural heart suggests when he hears of God visiting the earth is the thought of wrath and judgment. There can be no breathing freely in the presence of God when there is the sense of unpardoned sin on the conscience.

II. To the answer brought to this question by the gospel of grace and salvation.

III. To the experience of God’s believing people. “The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him” (Isaiah 57:15-19; Psalms 68:18).

IV. To the hopes of Christ’s waiting Church. All that hath been manifested as yet of the Divine condescension and glory is but a sample of the manifestations which this world is destined to receive.

V. Practical thoughts suggested.

1. What would be our deserving if God were to visit us according to our iniquities?

2. Will you not seek to experience the wondrous grace of God our Saviour? (W. Cadman, M.A.)

God manifest in the flesh

1. The mightiest monarch of his time hesitates not to appear in the midst of his subjects in the attitude of supplication, to lead the devotions of his people and to put himself on a level with the humblest individual in the congregation of Israel.

2. That the exclamation of the text primarily referred to the permanent abode of the cloud of glory over the mercy-seat in the temple is evident from the circumstances in which it was uttered, but though the words had never been intended to be otherwise applied, there was enough of the Divine condescension manifested even in that dispensation to call forth the tribute of admiration here offered by the King of Israel.

3. Of the state of the heathen world, and of the propensities of his own subjects, Solomon could not be ignorant; and when he reflected how little the character both of one and the other corresponded with the forbearance which they had experienced, and the revelations of the Divine will by which they might have profited, he had good reason to stand astonished at the Divine condescension, and to say, “But will God in very deed dwell with men on the earth?”

4. To what extent the mind of Solomon was enabled to foresee or understand the mystery of the Incarnation we do not venture to determine. But Christians cannot fail to perceive that if the whole scheme of redemption had been fully unfolded to him, he could not have more emphatically expressed the sentiments which that event was fitted to awaken than in the words which he has here applied to the appearance of the Divine glory in the temple.

5. Whatever might be the amount of the revelation granted to Solomon, we can be in no doubt about the practical application which it becomes us to make of the text. It was dictated by the Spirit of God, to be put on record as a portion of those Scriptures that testify of Christ. I would advert--

I. To the simple fact that the glorious event contemplated in the text has actually been realised in the appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ in the likeness of our sinful flesh; and that in His person “God has in very deed dwelt with men on the earth.” The symbol by which God gave intimation of His presence in the Old Testament Church, though fitted to keep alive in their minds an habitual impression of His being and supremacy, and to furnish to them a permanent pledge of security and protection, so long as they adhered steadfastly to His covenant, yet did not immediately address itself to the sympathies and affections of their nature. They were reminded in every act of religious worship of the infinite distance at which they stood removed from the High and Holy One of Israel. But when He condescended to appear in the likeness of sinful flesh, the barriers which had formerly shut up the way of approach were broken down; mankind were permitted to hold intimate converse with Him in the same way, and through the same medium, by which they hold intercourse with one another.

II. To the purpose for which God was manifested in the flesh. It was not only that, through the medium of human nature, He might convey to mankind a more distinct conception, and leave upon them a more vivid impression of the Divine character; but that He might take away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. (R. Gordon, D.D.)

Divine condescension

I. To the certainty and evidence of the fact that God has dwelt, and still dwells with men on the earth. We cannot doubt the fact when we reflect--

1. On the essential omnipresence and universal agency of God.

2. That God has thus spiritually dwelt, and still does dwell with men on the earth.

II. To the greatness of His condescension and grace in this respect. (D. Dickinson, D.D.)

God dwelling with men

(for the opening of a place of worship):--We should make the erection of a house for God’s worship, and our first services therein to invite His presence, an occasion for contemplating the grandeur of His majesty, the wonders of His condescension, and bowing down our souls in profound abasement before Him.

I. The benevolent condescension of God. This is illustrated in the text, which suggests--

1. The type: Solomon’s temple.

2. The antitype: the body of Christ.

3. The consequence: God dwelling in the Church.

What is a Church? “A congregation of faithful men.” As if so many temples were placed together, window opening to window, and door to door; light answering to light, and warmth generating warmth, and the perfume of one apartment mingling with another, and songs responding to songs; so Christians, dwelling together, become one great temple, which we call a Church of the living God. Just as many single drops run into a mighty stream, so many believers, pardoned and regenerated and animated by the Spirit of God, become one glorious Church; and Christ is its Head, and He will dwell in it even while the world stands.

II. The prostration and humiliation of soul which so become us before this glorious God. When we contemplate the God whom we adore, we may justly ask--

1. What can we think of this building? It is a place for prayer, praise, and the preaching of the gospel.

2. What of the worshippers? We ought to have an ardent desire to become more fit for His abode, more enlarged, more heavenly, more intellectual, more spiritual, more fervent, more consecrated to Him.

3. What of the worship? (James Bennett, D.D.)

God dwelling with men

The whole Jewish dispensation was typical. Everywhere throughout the system things seen and temporal were employed as premonitory emblems of things not seen and eternal. It thus foreshadowed coming revelations at once by events, by offices, and by rites. The offices of the high priest, prophets, judges, and kings, with the extraordinary powers attached to them, all foretold the supreme authority of that Saviour in whom they terminated. And, as regards, finally, prefigurative rites, I need point only to the countless sacrifices which exhibited, by anticipation, Jesus, our passover, sacrificed for us.

I. We are to inquire what is implied in God dwelling with men.

1. The language is expressive of loving fellowship. When we traverse a country, and amid the rivers, and forests, and mountains, of the landscape, descry a human dwelling, we spontaneously ascribe reciprocal affection to its inmates, a harmony far more beautiful than that of Nature’s scenery by which it is surrounded. Besides, though one may dwell with another whom he disregards or even hates, because separation is not practicable or not convenient in the circumstances, it cannot be so with God, who is infinitely superior to all such restraints. When He takes up His abode with any, it must be in affection; for in all He does He consults exclusively His own good pleasure. The capacity in which He dwells with His people is that of a Father; and where He occupies this footing He will entertain its sympathies regarding those with whom He associates with more than the tenderness of paternal endearment

2. This phraseology is expressive of intimate fellowship. Now, affection necessarily prompts to fellowship. The objects of complacent regard engage the outgoings of the loving mind, and heart unbosoms itself to heart with freedom and confidence. Unless, then, God revealed Himself graciously to us, and heard our supplications to Him, and all this not coldly and formally, but kindly and familiarly, the language of the text would be inappropriate, and He could not be said to dwell with men on the earth.

3. The language is expressive of prolonged fellowship. A passing interview does not constitute dwelling. The designation is not applied even to frequent visits. And so for God to dwell with us is to be with us not now and then merely, but always--in the day to direct our steps, in the night to guard our slumbers, in prosperity to dispel forgetfulness, and in distress to avert despair--when youth impels and manhood invigorates and age enfeebles.

II. The apparent unlikelihood of God thus dwelling with men.

1. Men are insignificant before God. Viewed relatively to fellow-creatures, the human race occupies an elevated position in the scale of being. But all this elevation vanishes when we think of God. If we were to compare God and men by comparing their works, we would not easily find any accomplishment more commendatory of human resources than this same temple of Solomon, in all its magnificence and splendour. And whence, then, were its materials drawn? They were brought from the storehouses of Jehovah. He furnished every stone and timber; and if He had not they might have sought for them in vain. All the elements of this edifice they received from God--and whence did He derive them? He called them out of nothingness. Again, how many were engaged in building this temple? We learn from Scripture that there were about a hundred and eighty three thousand six hundred men. But where were these when God laid the foundations of the earth? Once more, how long was this temple in being built? After every stone was hewn and ready for its place seven years were still occupied, as we learn from Scripture, in rearing and finishing the sacred fabric. The period may have been requisite for the performance in the hands of feeble man; but, oh! how different from the achievements of Him whose mightiest deed follows instant on His word--“who says, and it is done--commands, and it stands fast”! But, finally, what were the dimensions of that erection on which the skill and toil of such vast multitudes were so long expended? Compared with the neighbouring dwellings of Jacob, it would, doubtless, appear vast and majestic. But measure the width of it, and say if it be as broad as the earth: stretch a line to its loftiest summit, and say if it be high as heaven. What proportion bears this capacious abode to the temple of the visible creation? As man enters its gates he seems, beside its massive pillars, and under its exalted canopy, to sink into less than his usual littleness. But think of placing God in it, and how diminutive it appears!

2. On the wickedness of men. And, after all, shall He love these persons? What can He love in them?

III. That, unlikely as it may seem, in some views, God wills to dwell with men on the earth.

1. God has dwelt with men in the person of Christ.

2. God dwells with men by the mission of His Spirit. (D. King.)

The dwelling-place of God

The temple of King Solomon has sown its seeds all over the world; has reproduced itself in every latitude and zone. “But will God in every deed dwell with men upon the earth?” Do we want the temple now? There are many men living today who could with truth make answer, “As far as we ourselves and our spiritual life are concerned, “No! We have outgrown the Testament; Christ is our temple, our way to God. Through the great mercy and grace of God, and His perpetual help, we have risen to that constancy and closeness of fellowship with Him that every place is holy ground; and we often find, in our solitude, a sweetness and depth of joyful communing that we never find amid the distraction of a public assembly.” To them God does indeed “dwell with men upon the earth,” but not in temples made with hands; they walk in the Spirit, and live in the Spirit. But was it always so with them? Did they never want the temple? Was it always as easy to them to find God in the street as it is now? Who of us, that can rejoice in this as his portion to-day, can tell how much he owes of his present realisation of God at all times, and in all places, to those temple walls which now have vanished from his spiritual sight? As in learning our first lessons, our letters, and the like, we are learning things whose use we know not yet, though by and by the alphabet and spelling-book are laid aside, so in the beginning of our spiritual life this temple is our alphabet and primer, where we do things that are not always full of our spirit, nor of our intelligence; but in process of time we grow up to them; we rise up to the spirit and comprehension of our own deed; and by and by the temple is not necessary to us for our own sakes, save as the voice of truth shall sound within its walls, and we go on learning the things which are our life. But are these the men who forsake the assembling of themselves together, “as the manner of some is”? No! They know that the temple wants them, if they do not want the temple; that they are the spiritual material of which the temple is composed; and that their presence and part in its worship is essential to the fulfilment of its end. Their hearts make the atmosphere that infects all weaker souls; their songs are the wings on which the younger and feebler ones rise up to God. They, with their temple and service of song, and their lowly prayers, are mighty antidotes--how mighty, God only knows!--to that perilous movement of the world’s life that would soon drag humanity down to the level of the dust, and blend our godless life with that of the beasts of the earth. (G. W. Conder.)

Will God dwell with men?

The human soul in its better moments longs for the knowledge and the friendship of God; and to many a heart the question comes as it did to Solomon, “Will God in very deed dwell with men on the earth?” I understand this question to have its own answer, and that answer to be, “God will indeed, most assuredly, dwell with men on the earth.”

I. The circumstances under which the words were spoken are full of interest.

II. In the whole history of revelation we have answers to this question.

1. The context.

2. The Incarnation of Christ.

3. The effusion of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost.

III. How can we know that God dwells with men?

1. We may know this, as a matter of reason, by what we perceive of wisdom and design in the material world.

2. We may know this from what we find in His Word, and in the events of history of the fulfilment of prophecy, showing that a governor must evidently be present carrying out His own great plans.

3. The consciousness of His spiritual presence with us as individuals.

IV. God dwelling with us is marked in various ways.

1. He who has God dwelling in him will manifest externally the Spirit of God. He that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God and God in him.

2. We recognise God ofttimes in what we term special providences--the special care which He exercises over us. I know when I speak of a special providence there may be some who at once revert to the feint of universal and immutable law, and say, “May I expect the laws of nature to be changed for me?” I do not so understand the special providence of God. There is in this immutability of natural law a spiritual influence that is over and above and beyond all that law. The mountain may tremble; its fall is not suspended because I go by; but just before I come and the mountain is about to fall I may be led to think of gathering some beautiful flower, or turning aside to see some peculiar formation of rock, and I stop to examine, and the mountain falls. No violation of law, and yet I am saved. I am saved because God touches my heart, because the Spirit of God communicates with the heart of man. There is no conflict here, there need be none thought of. God’s hand guides me safely through, by an influence simply on this heart of mine. And yet I may not be conscious of this influence. He leads me simply because He has me in His heart; He is dwelling with me; He knows all things and governs all things, and He knows how to guide me safely. Man is acted on in every part of his nature by the unseen. He steps off the roof of a house, and he will be dashed to pieces. What is it? A strange something you call gravitation, that holds him to the earth. This earth, the moon, the planets, we know, are so held; and yet no man ever saw the chain that binds the earth to the sun. If God binds every particle of matter in my body to the sun, the great centre a hundred millions of miles away, can He not bind my spirit to Himself? If the sun attracts every particle of matter in my frame, may not God attract me? Is there anything unreasonable here? Then, again, I go to the sea. I put my family on board the vessel. I am not at all disturbed; I know there may be storms; but the ship is staunch, and then the pilot knows where he is going. He is not going on rocks; the ocean has been sounded. He is not going to the wrong port; there is a needle in the compass that guides him. And what is that needle? A little piece of steel, that has no thought and no power of any kind, but it has been touched with a magnet, and now it turns northward. And relying on that which no man has ever seen, it sends its company safely across the sea. What is that power? It is invisible. And if God can touch a piece of steel that can neither see nor feel nor think, and it responds to the influence, may He not touch may mind, my soul, my thought, by His Holy Spirit, and make it respond to His mill? Is there anything unreasonable in it?

V. What are the effects that are to follow from our recognising God as dwelling with men? The erection of churches. Public worship. Hearts divinely prepared to hear. Divinely inspired preachers. (Bp. Matthew Simpson.)

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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "2 Chronicles 6:18". The Biblical Illustrator. 1905-1909. New York.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

2 Chronicles 6:18. But will God in very deed dwell with men That God may dwell in very deed with men upon the earth: Houbigant; who supposes, that Solomon in these words refers to God's promise to David, and that he entreats in them God's continual presence and rule over the people of Israel.

REFLECTIONS.—1st, For the above; see 1 Kings 8:12-53. We have only farther to observe,

1. That it is our duty to correspond with the divine appointment, and earnestly prosecute the work that God hath appointed us.

2. When our eye is single to please God, we shall have comfort in our labours.

3. The fulfilment of God's promise is sure; we have only to be faithful, and we shall find that God is true.

4. Grateful acknowledgments of God's faithfulness must be made, not only for his honour, but for the encouragement of others to trust in the same faithful God.

2nd, In respect to the whole of Solomon's prayers, we may farther learn,

1. That this temple was figurative of the Lord Jesus, through whom alone our supplications and services find any acceptance with God.

2. To love, honour, and fear this holy God of power, faithfulness, mercy, and incomprehensible glory.

3. To be impressed with a sense of his heart-searching eye, that no allowed evil may be harboured in us.

4. Though we may not, for the sake of our prayers, expect to be heard of God, yet assuredly we shall not be heeded without them.

5. There is no difference between Jew or Gentile, Barbarian, Scythian, bond or free; but whosoever in faith calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. The prayer closes with two verses out of the Psalms: no words so expressive as those which God's spirit has dictated. He begs the constant residence of God among them; his blessing upon the ministers of the sanctuary, to enable them to save their own souls, and be instruments of salvation to the people; and the abiding consolations of his spirit with all his saints, making them rejoice in the experience of his goodness. He finishes with pleading the covenant-mercies of his father, and those shewn to himself, whom God had anointed: or this may refer emphatically to the effectual intercession of the Messiah, whom God always heareth, and in whose sure mercies we may confidently place our hopes for time and for eternity.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 6:18". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. 1801-1803.

Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae



2 Chronicles 6:18. Will God in very deed dwell with men on the earth?

IT is nothing but a want of reflection, that keeps us from being filled with incessant wonder and astonishment. The things which God has done for us in the works of creation and providence, if duly searched out, would furnish abundant matter for our profoundest adoration. But the provision which he has made for our redemption exceeds all the bounds of credibility. Even those manifestations of his mercy whereby he shadowed forth the mystery of his incarnation, were so stupendous, that Solomon, who beheld them, could scarcely believe his own eyes. He had erected a temple which was to be a type of Christ’s human body. He had just seen God coming down in a cloud to take possession of that temple, and filling it with his glory. He was in the act of dedicating it to God, and of praying that it might be, as it were, an habitation for him: but struck with astonishment at the requests which he was presuming to offer, he pauses, and breaks forth into this hesitating, admiring, adoring exclamation, “But will God—in very deed—dwell—with men—on the earth?” This was an inconceivable act of condescension as it respected his symbolic presence in a temple of stone; but it was infinitely more so, as it respected his real presence in a body of flesh. To illustrate this we shall,

I. Contrast the characters of God and man—

We can be at no loss for matter to illustrate this subject, since light and darkness, or Christ and Belial, are not more opposite. But that we may not exceed the limits proper for this part of our discourse, we shall draw the contrast in two particulars only:

1. The majesty of God, and the meanness of man—

[We have no higher ideas of majesty than those which are conveyed under the terms appropriate to royalty. God therefore, in order to suit himself to our feeble apprehensions, adopts those terms in reference to himself. He assumes the title of a king; he is “King of kings, and Lord of lords [Note: Revelation 17:14.].” He has moreover all the ensigns of royalty; “heaven is his throne, and earth his footstool [Note: Isaiah 66:1.].” Unnumbered hosts of angels are his retinue; “thousands of thousands minister unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stand before him [Note: Daniel 7:10.].” Instead of the equipage of an earthly monarch, he “maketh the clouds his chariot, and rideth on the heavens us upon a horse [Note: Psalms 104:3; Psalms 68:4.].” So great is his majesty, that “all the nations of the earth are before him only “as the drop of a bucket, or as the small dust upon the balance;” yea, “they are less than nothing and vanity [Note: Isaiah 40:15; Isaiah 40:17.].” And so “terrible is his majesty,” that, “if he touch the mountains, they smoke; and, if he but look upon the earth, it trembles [Note: Psalms 104:32.].” But in attempting to speak of his majesty, we only “darken counsel by words without knowledge.” Suffice it therefore to add, that “the heaven of heavens cannot contain him [Note: ver. 18.];” and that “his greatness is unsearchable [Note: Psalms 145:3.].”

But what is man? an atom insect of an atom world. If we compare him with the globe on which we stand, he is a mere worm: but if we compare him with the visible creation; and still more, if we view the universe with the eye of a philosopher, if we compute the distances of the fixed stars, if we suppose that multitudes of them are, like our sun, the centre of different and independent systems; if we then compare him with these, what an insignificant being will he appear! The smallest grain of sand is not so diminutive in comparison of the whole terrestrial globe, as the whole human race would be when compared with the other works of God’s hands. But unworthy as man is of God’s notice in this view, he has rendered himself incomparably more unworthy by the commission of sin. By this he is become, not merely worthless, but odious and abominable. In this respect the whole human race are involved in one common lot: and so contemptible are they in his eyes, that there is scarce an animal among the brute creation to whom he does not liken them, and that too in reference to their most hateful qualities: from whence we may understand, that man is a compound of every thing that is noxious and hateful.

And can we conceive, that so great and glorious a Being as God should ever deign to notice man; and not only to notice him, but to dwell with him?]

2. The purity of God, and the sinfulness of man—

[Holiness is that attribute of the Deity which is most eminently glorified by the heavenly choir: they cry day and night, saying, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts [Note: Isaiah 6:3.]!” On earth too this perfection is peculiarly admired by the saints, who “give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness [Note: Psalms 30:4.].” Such was God’s abhorrence of iniquity, that he cast the fallen angels out of heaven. Nor can he behold sin in man, without feeling the utmost indignation against it [Note: Habakkuk 1:13.]. But why do we mention these things? Such is the holiness of God, that “he chargeth even his angels with folly [Note: Job 4:18.];” and “the very heavens are not clean in his sight [Note: Job 15:15.].”

As for man, he is, unhappily, a perfect contrast to God in these respects. He is polluted in every member of his body, and in every faculty of his soul. The inspired writers seem to have laboured, as it were, to mark the extreme depravity of man, by specifying that his members are altogether instruments of unrighteousness [Note: Romans 6:13.]: his “eyes are full of adultery [Note: 2 Peter 2:14.],” and his “ears deaf as an adder [Note: Psalms 58:4.];” his “mouth and lips full of cursing and bitterness [Note: Romans 3:14.];” his “tongue is a world of iniquity, set on fire of hell [Note: James 3:6.],” and “his throat an open sepulchre [Note: Romans 3:13.];” “both his hands are employed to work iniquity [Note: Micah 7:3.];” his “feet are swift to shed blood [Note: Romans 3:15.];” and, to complete the whole, “his inward parts are very wickedness [Note: Psalms 5:9.].” His soul is, if possible, yet more depraved: his understanding is blinded, so that it “puts evil for good, and darkness for light [Note: 2 Corinthians 4:4. Isaiah 5:20.].” His will is rebellious, so that it cannot bow to the commands of God [Note: Romans 8:7.]. His affections are earthly and sensual. His memory is retentive of what is evil, while it lets slip every good admonition or advice. His conscience is partial, excusing where it should condemn; and, in too many, it is “seared as with a hot iron.”

Contrast this character with that of God; and then say, whether it be possible for God to dwell with man.]

Having thus prepared the way, we will,

II. Give an answer to the question proposed in the text—

Our answer is short: He not only will dwell with man on the earth; but he has done it. He has dwelt with man,

1. Symbolically—

[When Israel came out of Egypt, God went before them in all their way, and guided them by a pillar and a cloud: and even to the time of the Babylonish captivity, did he continue by that symbol of his presence to dwell in the midst of his people. This alone was sufficient to shew the condescension and grace of God; and to prove that he will make his abode with those who are the objects of his special favour.]

2. Personally—

[Wonderful as it may appear, God has taken upon him our nature and dwelt amongst us. In the fulness of time, he appeared on earth; and, though formed, without the intervention of man, by the agency of the Holy Ghost, he came into the world like other infants, passed through the hepless years of childhood, wrought at a low trade till the age of thirty; and then continued nearly four years longer in the exercise of his ministerial office, as the instructor of men, and the Saviour of the world. While he was despised and rejected of men, and accounted a worm and no man, he was “God over all blessed for evermore:” “in him dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead bodily [Note: Colossians 2:9.].” It was in order to prepare the world for this, that he so often appeared to the patriarchal saints, and that he for so many centuries abode in the tabernacle and the temple. By manifesting himself in our flesh, he has clearly shewn, that “as his majesty is, so is his mercy.”]

3. Mystically—

[There is yet another temple in which God delights to dwell, even in the broken and contrite heart [Note: Isaiah 57:15.]. He has repeatedly promised, that he will thus distinguish those who seek him in spirit and in truth. “He will come to them, and make his abode with them [Note: John 14:23.].” “He will dwell in their hearts by faith [Note: Ephesians 3:17.].” “He will manifest himself unto them as he does not unto the world [Note: John 14:22.].” It was in this way that he enabled all the primitive Christians to shine as lights in a dark world, and to maintain their steadfastness in the midst of the most cruel persecutions. It is in the same way that he still upholds and sanctifies his chosen people: “Such honour have all his saints.”]


Has God in very deed dwelt with man on the earth? Then let us,

1. Marvel at our own ingratitude—

[Who would imagine that God should have become a man for us, and should offer moreover to dwell in our hearts, and that we should be so unmindful of him? Is it a light thing that he has done; to assume our nature, when he passed by the fallen angels; to assume it in its fallen debased state, as far as he could consistently with his own unspotted holiness; to assume it for the express purpose of bearing our sins and expiating them by his own death? Is it a light thing that he offers to do, when he begs us to open our hearts to him, that he may make them his habitation? Yet what are the returns we make him? We do indeed commemorate both his incarnation, and the descent of the Holy Spirit: but how? with holy feasting, and with spiritual joy? Do we not rather act, as if he came to liberate us from all restraints, and to give us a licence to forget him, and to abandon ourselves to carnal pleasure? Let us only reflect on the manner in which these holy seasons have been spent by all around us, and how little our own spirit and conduct have accorded with the mercies vouchsafed unto us, and we shall see reason to blush and be confounded, yea rather, to weep in dust and ashes.]

2. Seek to dwell with him in heaven—

[For what purpose has God revealed himself to us in this diversified and astonishing manner? Has it not been to display the exceeding riches of his grace, and to encourage our application to him for an interest in his favour? Yes; he would not that we should “dwell with everlasting burnings;” but rather that we should be made partakers of his glory. It was for this end that he became incarnate, and died upon the cross: it is for this end that he yet daily strives with us by his Spirit. In very deed he dwelt with man on earth, that we might dwell with God in heaven. Let us then make a suitable improvement of his unbounded mercy; and secure that exaltation, which he, by his own humiliation, has prepared for us.]

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Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 6:18". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. 1832.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

men. Hebrew. "adam (with Art. = mankind). App-14.

behold. Figure of speech Asterismos. App-6.

heaven . . . heaven . . . heavens. Figure of speech Polyptoton (App-6), for emphasis.

how much less. Compare Acts 7:48-50.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 6:18". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

But will God in very deed dwell with men on the earth? behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house which I have built!

How much less this house which I have built!

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Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 6:18". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(18) But will God in very deed.—Or, what? will God, &c.—The LXX. imitates the Hebrew ὅτι εἰ ἀληθῶς κατοικήσει; Vuig., “ergone credibile est ut habitet Deus?”

With men.—Not in Kings. Syriac, “with his people, Israel;” Arabic, “with his people.” (Comp. Revelation 21:3.)

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Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 6:18". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

But will God in very deed dwell with men on the earth? behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house which I have built!
But will
Exodus 29:45,46; 1 Kings 8:27; Psalms 68:18; 113:5,6; Isaiah 57:15; 66:1; Acts 7:48,49; 17:24
Hashshamayim ooshemey hashshamayim "the heavens and the heavens of heavens;" which words seem to imply that there are systems and systems of systems, each possessing its sun, its primary and secondary planets; all extending beyond each other in unlimited space, in the same regular and graduated order which we find to prevail in our solar system; which, probably, in its thousands of millions of miles in diameter, is, to some others, no more than the area of the lunar orbit to that of Georgium Sidus.
2:6; Psalms 139:7-10; Jeremiah 23:24; 2 Corinthians 12:2
how much
32:15; Job 4:19; 9:14; 25:4-6; Matthew 7:11

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Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 6:18". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge".

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