January 30, 2003
Solomon's prayer at the dedication of the temple.
-The order of Solomon's prayer is to be observed. First and chiefly, he prays for repentance and forgiveness, which is the chief blessing, and the only solid foundation of other mercies: he then prays for temporal mercies; thereby teaching us what things to mind and desire most in our prayers. This also Christ hath taught us in his perfect pattern and form of prayer, where there is but one prayer for outward, and all the rest are for spiritual blessings. The temple typified the human nature of Christ, in whom dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. The ark typified his obedience and sufferings, by which repenting sinners have access to a reconciled God, and communion with him. Jehovah has made our nature his resting-place for ever, in the person of Emmanuel, and through him he dwells with, and delights in his church of redeemed sinners. May our hearts become his resting-place; may Christ dwell therein by faith, consecrating them as his temples, and shedding abroad his love therein. May the Father look upon us in and through his Anointed; and may he remember and bless us in all things, according to his mercy to sinners, in and through Christ. (MH)
Vv. 1, 2, clearly, Solomon built the house for the glory of God. Only what is done for Christ will last. Work done for His glory alone will be remembered.
V. 3, When Solomon blessed the whole congregation of Israel, the people stood.
V. 4, the start of his prayer. This is the longest prayer recorded in Scripture. Christ's prayer in John 17 would be the second longest.
V. 6, the New Jerusalem is the Gospel Church. Have chosen David to be over my people Israel. David is long dead, so this present tents must be Christ.
V. 8, how many times do we hear, "It was in their heart do to that, so that is the same as doing it"? But the individual has made no preparation to equip those who can make it happen to make it happen. In other words, it was not really in his heart to do that thing, or he would do all within his power to see that those better qualified are able to make it happen. ACTIONS PROVE WHAT IS IN THE HEART David laid aside vast sums of wealth to make it possible for someone else to do what he was unable to do.
V. 9, David was told who could and would carry out his heart's desire, so he trained his son to do that project.
V. 10, Solomon knew how he got on the throne, and why he built the house of the Lord. The Lord established and equipped him to do the job his father was prevented from doing.
V. 11, the Ten Commandments are called here the covenant of the Lord. Does the new covenant replace the old?
The only thing mentioned here as being with the ark is the covenant of the Lord, that he made with the children of Israel.
The covenant is the only thing that is everlasting. The rest of the things put in and with the ark by Moses are missing.
A contract or agreement between two parties. In the Old Testament the Hebrew word _berith_ is always thus translated. _Berith_ is derived from a root which means "to cut," and hence a covenant is a "cutting," with reference to the cutting or dividing of animals into two parts, and the contracting parties passing between them, in making a covenant #Ge 15:1-18 Jer 34:18,19 The corresponding word in the New Testament Greek is _diatheke_, which is, however, rendered "testament" generally in the Authorized Version. It ought to be rendered, just as the word _berith_ of the Old Testament, "covenant." (See Online Bible under Covenant.)
Apparently, the only difference between the old covenant and the new is the manner in which it is sealed. The old was sealed in the cutting of animals; the new was sealed in the cutting of the Son of God.
V. 13, Solomon either had to stand or kneel at all times, for there was no seat for him.
Solomon acknowledged publically that he was God's servant, administering a kingdom that was not his own, 1 Chronicles 28:5. Solomon knew and clearly understood what he had to do to retain God's blessings upon himself and upon his children, vv. 14, 16.
No God like thee... Israel was surrounded in that day with false gods of all kinds. Here Solomon compares the Lord God to the false gods.
The Lord God keeps promises, and is of great mercy to those who walk in His ways with a pure heart. Solomon's establishment on the throne was proof that God keeps promises. In this prayer, we get the impression that Solomon, at this point in his life, was quite awed with the fact that God had established him in such a glorious manner.
Having some idea of the evil that lurks in our hearts, we should be awed that God would see fit to use us in His service.
V. 14, Solomon knew what he was to do. Thus, he is the one who destroyed himself and the nation with his pagan gods to please his wives.
How many men have compromised their families and destroyed the communities in order to please their wives?
V. 16, the unfailing promise must be Christ. The condition for remaining in the throne over Israel forever was walking consistently in God's law. Saul failed; David failed; Solomon failed, as did every human king following, until finally God did totally away with the self-rule under a king, and did away with the nation also. But there was one of the kingly line of David who did walk consistently in God's law, fulfilling every point, and thus He inherits the everlasting throne over God's people, the new Israel of God. His claim on the throne is based in His father David, who received the promise of a ruler over God's people through him; His claim on an everlasting throne is based in His perfect obedience. All of which fits into the covenant.
V. 17, verified, or established in the eyes of those who see what is going on. "God's word is true and dependable, and here I am with this temple, proving that God keeps His promise."
V. 18, yes, it was a glorious building fit for a king, but God is bigger than any building. Thus, the glorious temple was only a symbol of God's presence among His people. The new temple is the church, and the king of that temple is Christ. John 1:14, Hebrews 8, 9.
Vv. 19-21, he requests that God's attention would be directed to this house, though God does not dwell there. Hear from heaven and forgive.
Solomon talks a lot about sin and forgiveness. I wonder if he had sin on his mind, or if he was just facing reality.
I must say, however, that man's problem is sin, and Solomon knew the new temple would not solve that problem. Only Christ can solve the sin problem.
Starting in V. 22, Solomon lists sins and the results of those sins. This is not a new list, but clearly reflects the Mosaic law, particularly Deuteronomy 28, 29.
Vv. 22, 23, no matter where the sin takes place in the world, even in the heart of man, God hears from heaven, and judges accordingly. V. 22, in fact, disputes were to be settled with the confidence that God hears, and He will render righteous judgment.
The temple was built as "God's dwelling place", which might lead people to think that since their sin was not close to the temple, God would not see it. However, Solomon starts naming common sins that bring about God's judgment, and points out that God hears from heaven. He starts with common sinssins one commits against his neighbour. The fall away from God starts with simple words.
Solomon calls on God to hear from heaven, and to judge according to righteous judgment concerning things done in secret.
Vv. 24-26, put to the worse... This was the history of Israel; as the nation turned from God, it became captive to the enemy. The book of Judges illustrates this truth many times over.
Return, v. 24, or turn, v. 26, from sin. Clearly, Solomon knew and taught that confessing sin is not enough. True confession involves turning from sin to righteousness. Proverbs 28:13, 14.
Results of sin (see also Deuteronomy 28:22, 1 Kings 8:37):
V. 23, God judges righteously, and gives the sinner or righteous
man according to his deeds. Galatians 6:7, &c.
V. 24, God raises up the enemy, and He gives them victory over His people: put to the worse before their enemies.
V. 25, bring them again..., telling us that sin results in the people being removed from off the land given to them by God.
V. 26, God sends drought.
V. 28, God sends:
a) pestilence or plagues, diseases against the cattle.
b) blastings, blasting winds that scorch the crops.
c) mildew, or a rust that makes the grain unproductive.
d) locust, or grasshoppers:
There are ten Hebrew words used in Scripture to signify locust. In the New Testament locusts are mentioned as forming part of the food of John the Baptist #Mt 3:4 Mr 1:6 By the Mosaic law they were reckoned "clean," so that he could lawfully eat them. The name also occurs in #Re 9:3,7 in allusion to this Oriental devastating insect. Locusts belong to the class of Orthoptera, i.e., straight-winged. They are of many species. The ordinary Syrian locust resembles the grasshopper, but is larger and more destructive. "The legs and thighs of these insects are so powerful that they can leap to a height of two hundred times the length of their bodies. When so raised they spread their wings and fly so close together as to appear like one compact moving mass." Locusts are prepared as food in various ways. Sometimes they are pounded, and then mixed with flour and water, and baked into cakes; "sometimes boiled, roasted, or stewed in butter, and then eaten." They were eaten in a preserved state by the ancient Assyrians. The devastations they make in Eastern lands are often very appalling. The invasions of locusts are the heaviest calamites that can befall a country. "Their numbers exceed computation: the hebrews called them the countless,' and the Arabs knew them as the darkeners of the sun.' Unable to guide their own flight, though capable of crossing large spaces, they are at the mercy of the wind, which bears them as blind instruments of Providence to the doomed region given over to them for the time. Innumerable as the drops of water or the sands of the seashore, their flight obscures the sun and casts a thick shadow on the earth #Ex 10:15 Jud 6:5 7:12 Jer 46:23 #Joe 2:10 It seems indeed as if a great aerial mountain, many miles in breadth, were advancing with a slow, unresting progress. Woe to the countries beneath them if the wind fall and let them alight! They descend unnumbered as flakes of snow and hide the ground. It may be like the garden of Eden before them, but behind them is a desolate wilderness. At their approach the people are in anguish; all faces lose their colour' #Joe 2:6 No walls can stop them; no ditches arrest them; fires kindled in their path are forthwith extinguished by the myriads of their dead, and the countless armies march on #Joe 2:8,9 If a door or a window be open, they enter and destroy everything of wood in the house. Every terrace, court, and inner chamber is filled with them in a moment. Such an awful visitation swept over Egypt #Ex 10:1-19 consuming before it every green thing, and stripping the trees, till the land was bared of all signs of vegetation. A strong north-west wind from the Mediterranean swept the locusts into the Red Sea.", Geikie's Hours, etc., ii., 149)
e) caterpillar, or grasshopper or "stripping locust".
f) their enemies are strengthened, exalted and sent against God's people by God Himself.
g) sore, plague, disease, leprosy; that is, any human medical ailment.
h) sickness, disease, infirmity upon humans.
All of the above things are sent by God against His disobedient people.
V. 29, each person, whether God's people or not (of any man), realizes what he has done against the Lord, and he prays toward the house of the Lord.
V. 30, Solomon asks the Lord to hear the prayer and forgive the sin, and render unto every man according to all his ways... The Lord knows the heart, and will judge accordingly. Repentance brings about heart change, which brings about changes in actions.
Note that even in the Old Testament, the attitude of the heart was the key, v. 38, 12:14.
V. 31, fear of the Lord, repentance and obedience to His word comes from the Lord giving unto every man according unto all his ways. In other words, one must learn to follow the Lord, and that lesson is learned in the school of hard knocks.
Vv. 32, 33, Solomon opens up forgiveness to all people, for all are sinners. If they will pray toward the house, Solomon asks the Lord to hear them. However, Solomon has made it clear that God does not dwell in the house he built, but He dwells in the heavens, v. 30.
[V. 32] He shows that before God there is no deception of person, but all people who fear him and work righteousness are accepted, #Ac 10:35.
V. 33, even the stranger had access to God, and were called upon to fear the Lord, and depart from evil. The nation of Israel was to be a kingdom of priests, Exodus 19:6. Israel was to represent the Lord God to all the earth, as the new Israel is to do now, 1 Peter 2:5, 9, Revelation 5:10.
The power of prayer is emphasized here.
Vv. 34, 35, the Lord sends the godly nation to war; they cry out to him in battle, and the Lord delivers them.
V. 36, it seems here that Solomon is looking for an excuse to sin "Well, everyone else does it". How many times have I heard, "Everyone sins" as an excuse for one's sin?
Deliver them... Solomon knew the results of the sin he lead Israel into.
V. 37, captivity... He foresaw the result of his sin, captivity, but did nothing to prevent it. Others pay for our backslidden condition. Sad to say, Hezekiah's words are all too appealing to all of us, including Solomon:
Then said Hezekiah unto Isaiah, Good is the word of the LORD which thou hast spoken. And he said, Is it not good, if peace and truth be in my days? (2 Kings 20:19)
Our unconcern is appalling when it comes to the well being of the next generation when it comes to our own personal peace and prosperity.
Vv. 37, 38, Solomon knew the results of the sin he lead Israel into. He foresaw the results of his sin, but did nothing to prevent it.
Solomon prayed as though he knew the people were headed for captivity. Note the word return to the Lord. It appears as tough he places the responsibility upon his children. He can go into sin, and it is his children's responsibility to return to the Lord.
Why did God allow Solomon to depart from Himself? I believe all those things happened to him and are recorded for our examples, that we would not follow in his sins.
1 Corinthians 10:11 Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.
V. 38, If they return to thee with all their heart and with all their soul in the land of their captivity...
There can be no restoration without returning to the Lord with all our heart and soul.
V. 39, God will hear the cry of the humble.
V. 41, he pleads for God to hear the prayers of those who humble themselves, and seek His face in their distress.
He asks God to establish Himself in the temple he has built. It is interesting that Josephus records, as Rome prepared to destroy Jerusalem, that the people heard voices saying, "Let us depart from hence."
42 O LORD God, turn not away the face of thine anointed: remember the mercies of David thy servant.
Why did not Solomon claim God's mercies for himself? Did he want his "good times" more than he wanted God's hand upon him and his nation?
Was Solomon trying to live off of someone else's spirituality, his father's?
It is hard to understand how Solomon, knowing all the things he offered up in prayer here, could depart so far and so quickly from the Lord.
The only answer is that God permitted him to be who he was, riches and all, so he could write to us from experience.