|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
8:22-53 In this excellent prayer, Solomon does as we should do in every prayer; he gives glory to God. Fresh experiences of the truth of God's promises call for larger praises. He sues for grace and favour from God. The experiences we have of God's performing his promises, should encourage us to depend upon them, and to plead them with him; and those who expect further mercies, must be thankful for former mercies. God's promises must be the guide of our desires, and the ground of our hopes and expectations in prayer. The sacrifices, the incense, and the whole service of the temple, were all typical of the Redeemer's offices, oblation, and intercession. The temple, therefore, was continually to be remembered. Under one word, forgive, Solomon expressed all that he could ask in behalf of his people. For, as all misery springs from sin, forgiveness of sin prepares the way for the removal of every evil, and the receiving of every good. Without it, no deliverance can prove a blessing. In addition to the teaching of the word of God, Solomon entreated the Lord himself to teach the people to profit by all, even by their chastisements. They shall know every man the plague of his own heart, what it is that pains him; and shall spread their hands in prayer toward this house; whether the trouble be of body or mind, they shall represent it before God. Inward burdens seem especially meant. Sin is the plague of our own hearts; our in-dwelling corruptions are our spiritual diseases: every true Israelite endeavours to know these, that he may mortify them, and watch against the risings of them. These drive him to his knees; lamenting these, he spreads forth his hands in prayer. After many particulars, Solomon concludes with the general request, that God would hearken to his praying people. No place, now, under the gospel, can add to the prayers made in or towards it. The substance is Christ; whatever we ask in his name, it shall be given us. In this manner the Israel of God is established and sanctified, the backslider is recovered and healed. In this manner the stranger is brought nigh, the mourner is comforted, the name of God is glorified. Sin is the cause of all our troubles; repentance and forgiveness lead to all human happiness.
Verse 22. - And Solomon stood [i.e., took his stand (LXX. ἀνέστη). Not "was standing." It was but for a moment, however, for we find him presently kneeling (ver. 54; 2 Chronicles 6:13). The latter passage informs us that he both stood and knelt upon a "brazen scaffold," three cubits high] before the altar of the Lord [i.e., the brazen altar of sacrifice. The platform or scaffold was "set in the midst of the court" (2 Chronicles l.c.) All these rites took place in the open air. The king bad no place within the edifice] in the presence [the word is not to be pressed to mean "facing the people." It is hardly likely he would pray towards the people - he was their προφήτης, i.e., he spoke for them to God - or turn his back on the sacred Presence just manifested], and spread forth his hands towards heaven: [one attitude of earnest prayer thoughout the East, as may be seen at the present day amongst the Mohammedans. (See Lane's "Modern Egyptians," ch. 3, "Religion and Laws.") So completely was this posture identified with supplication that to "lift up the hands" came to be a synonym for prayer (Exodus 9:29, 33; Psalm 44:20; Psalm 143:6; Isaiah 1:15; Isaiah 65:2.) ]
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord,.... The altar of the burnt offering in the court of the priests, where he prayed the following prayer; and which altar was typical of Christ, who is always to be in sight in prayer, and through whom all sacrifices of prayer and praise become acceptable to God. In 2 Chronicles 6:13 he is said to stand upon a scaffold of brass, five cubits long, five broad, and three high, which stood in the midst of the court; it was a sort of a pulpit, round, as a laver, for which the word is sometimes used, and on which he kneeled:
in the presence of all the congregation of Israel; who stood in the great court before him, called the court of Israel:
and spread forth his hands toward heaven; and hence it appears, that though Solomon stood before the altar, he did not lay hold on it with his hands, as the Heathens did when they prayed; for they say (y), that prayer alone does not appease the Deity, unless he that prays also lays hold on the altar with his hands; hence altars, at first, as we are told (z), were called "ansae"; and lifting up or spreading the hands towards heaven was a proper gesture with the Greeks and Romans (a).
(y) Macrob. Saturnal. l. 3. c. 2. Vid. Sperling. de Baptism. Ethiac, c. 6. p. 103. (z) Varro Rer. Divin. l. 5. apud ib. (a) Homer. Iliad. 3. ver. 275. & 6. ver. 301. Vid. Barth. Animadv. ad Claudian. in Rufin. l. 2. ver. 205.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
1Ki 8:22-61. His Prayer.
22. Solomon stood before the altar—This position was in the court of the people, on a brazen scaffold erected for the occasion (2Ch 6:13), fronting the altar of burnt offering, and surrounded by a mighty concourse of people. Assuming the attitude of a suppliant, kneeling (1Ki 8:54; compare 2Ch 6:24) and with uplifted hands, he performed the solemn act of consecration—an act remarkable, among other circumstances, for this, that it was done, not by the high priest or any member of the Aaronic family, but by the king in person, who might minister about, though not in, holy things. This sublime prayer [1Ki 8:22-35], which breathes sentiments of the loftiest piety blended with the deepest humility, naturally bore a reference to the national blessing and curse contained in the law—and the burden of it—after an ascription of praise to the Lord for the bestowment of the former, was an earnest supplication for deliverance from the latter. He specifies seven cases in which the merciful interposition of God would be required; and he earnestly bespeaks it on the condition of people praying towards that holy place. The blessing addressed to the people at the close is substantially a brief recapitulation of the preceding prayer [1Ki 8:56-61].
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