Then hear you in heaven, and forgive the sin of your servants, and of your people Israel, that you teach them the good way wherein they should walk, and give rain on your land, which you have given to your people for an inheritance.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)1 Kings 8:36. That thou teach them the good way — The way of their duty, which is good in itself, and both delightful and profitable to those that walk in it. But this clause is better translated, 2 Chronicles 6:27, (where the Hebrew words are the same with these here,) When thou hast taught them the good way wherein they should walk, namely, when their afflictions have had the desired effect to teach them better obedience. And give rain upon the land — The order of Solomon’s prayer is very observable; first and chiefly, he prays for their repentance and forgiveness, which is the chief blessing, and the only solid foundation of all other mercies; and then he prays for temporal mercies, thereby teaching us what to desire principally in our prayers; which also Christ hath taught us in his perfect prayer, wherein there is but one petition for outward, and all the rest are for spiritual blessings.
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].That thou teach them; that their sin being pardoned, and thou being reconciled unto them, mayest vouchsafe to teach them. Or rather, as our translators render the very same words, 2 Chronicles 6:27, when thou shalt teach, or hast taught them; not only by thy word, for that was done before; but by their afflictions, which is one of God’s schools; and especially, by thy Spirit, enlightening their minds, and inclining their hearts, that they may learn and profit both by the word and by their afflictions. And this is here fitly added, to show that he could not expect, and did not desire, from God the pardon of their sins, but upon God’s terms, to wit, upon their true repentance.
The good way, i.e. the way or will of God; or the way of their duty, as the following words explain it, which is most rightly called the good way here, and 1 Samuel 12:23, because it is both just and holy, and therefore good in itself; and good, that is, both delightful and profitable to those that walk in it. The meaning is, When thou hast effectually taught them, and they have thoroughly learned how to please and serve thee acceptably, and to walk before thee in the way which thou hast prescribed them.
Give rain. The order of Solomon’s prayer is very observable: first and chiefly he prays for their repentance and forgiveness, which is the chief blessing, and the only solid foundation of all other mercies; and then he prays for the temporal mercy; thereby teaching us what to mind and desire principally in our prayers; which also Christ hath taught us in his perfect pattern and form of prayer; wherein there is but one petition for outward, and all the rest are for spiritual blessings.
that thou teach them the good way wherein they should walk; the way of worship and duty prescribed by the Lord which was good in itself, and good for them, good things being enjoyed by them that walk therein; and this the Lord sometimes teaches by afflictions, as well as by his word; but whenever he does it, it is by his Spirit, and then afflictions are blessings, Psalm 104:19 where the same phrase is differently rendered:
and give rain upon the land which thou hast given to thy people for an inheritance; as he did at the prayer of Elijah, James 5:18.Then hear thou in heaven, and forgive the sin of thy servants, and of thy people Israel, that thou teach them the good way wherein they should walk, and give rain upon thy land, which thou hast given to thy people for an inheritance.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)36. forgive the sin of thy servants and of thy people Israel] Probably Solomon means by ‘servants’ the kings who should hereafter reign over Israel. The LXX. evidently thought this, for there we only have ‘thy servant’ meaning the king at the time being.
that thou teach them] The rendering should rather be ‘when thou teachest them,’ as at the close of the previous verse. The forgiveness is to come, when the lesson of chastisement has been given and learnt.Verse 36. - Then hear thou in heaven [see on ver. 32], and forgive the sin of thy servants, and of thy people Israel that thou teach them [rather, because thou art teaching them, etc. The thought is, "Forgive, because they have learned the lessen Thy discipline of drought was meant to teach;" because the chastisement has fulfilled its purpose] the good way [1 Samuel 12:23] wherein they should walk, and give rain upon thy land, which thou hast given to thy people for an inheritance. The fourth petition refers to the various plagues mentioned in the law (Leviticus 26; Deuteronomy 28.), as the punishment of apostasy or infidelity. 2 Samuel 7:13, implicite), contains within itself the ground upon which the prayer rests. Because the name of God will be in the temple, i.e., because God will manifest His gracious presence there, He will also keep His eyes open upon it, so as to hear the prayer of Solomon directed towards it. הזּה המּקום אל (toward this place): because Solomon also was prayer in the court towards the temple. - In 1 Kings 8:30, "and hear the supplication of Thy servant and of Thy people Israel," he begins by asking that those prayers may be heard which the king and people shall henceforth bring before God in the temple. ושׁמעתּ corresponds to וּפנית in 1 Kings 8:28, and is more precisely defined by the following תּשׁמע ואתּה (as for these prayers), Thou wilt hear them up to the place of Thine abode, to heaven. אל שׁמע is a pregnant expression: to hear the prayer, which ascends to heaven. In the Chronicles we find throughout the explanatory מן. The last words, "hear and forgive," must be left in their general form, and not limited by anything to be supplied. Nothing but forgiveness of sin can remove the curse by which transgression is followed.
This general prayer is then particularized from 1 Kings 8:31 onwards by the introduction of seven special petitions for an answer in the different cases in which, in future, prayers may be offered to God in the temple. The first prayer (1 Kings 8:31, 1 Kings 8:32) has reference to the oaths sworn in the temple, the sanctity of which God is asked to protect. "If a man sin against his neighbour, and an oath be laid upon him, to cause him to swear, and he come (and) swear before the altar in this house, then wilt Thou hear," etc. אשׁר את does not mean either "granted that" (Thenius) or "just when" (Ewald, 533, a.), although אם is used in the Chronicles, and we might render it freely "when;" but את is simply an accusative particle, serving to introduce the following clause, in the sense of "as for," or "with regard to (such a case as) that a man sins" (vid., Ewald, 277, a.). אלה וּבא cannot be taken as anything but an asyndeton. For if אלה were a substantive, it would have the article (האלה) provided it were the subject, and the verb would be written בּאה; and if it were the object, we should have בּאלה, as in Nehemiah 10:30 (cf. Ezekiel 17:13). The prayer refers to the cases mentioned in Exodus 22:6-12 and Leviticus 26:17, when property entrusted to any one had been lost or injured, or when a thing had been found and the finding was denied, or when an act of fraud had been committed; in which cases the law required not only compensation with the addition of a fifth of its value, but also a trespass-offering as an expiation of the sin committed by taking a false oath. But as this punishment could only be inflicted when the guilty person afterwards confessed his guilt, many false oaths might have been sworn in the cases in question and have remained unpunished, so far as men were concerned. Solomon therefore prays that the Lord will hear every such oath that shall have been sworn before the altar, and work (עשׂית), i.e., actively interpose, and judge His servants, to punish the guilty and justify the innocent. The construction השּׁמים תּשׁמע (1 Kings 8:32, 1 Kings 8:34, 1 Kings 8:36, etc.) can be explained more simply from the adverbial use of the accusative (Ewald, 300, b.), than from השּׁמים אל in 1 Kings 8:30. בּראשׁו דּרכּו תּת, to give (bring) his way upon his head, i.e., to cause the merited punishment to fall upon him (cf. Ezekiel 9:10; Ezekiel 11:21, etc.). רשׁע הרשׁרע and צדּיק הצדּיק recall Deuteronomy 25:2. For כּצדקתו לו תּת compare 2 Samuel 22:21, 2 Samuel 22:25. - The following cases are all taken from Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28.
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