1 Kings 8:39
Then hear you in heaven your dwelling place, and forgive, and do, and give to every man according to his ways, whose heart you know; (for you, even you only, know the hearts of all the children of men;)
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
1 Kings 8:39-40. Give to every man according to his ways — According to his repentance or impenitency. As if he had said, I pray with the greater hope and confidence, because I do not desire that thou wouldst deliver such as are insensible of their sins and of thy judgments, but only those that are truly brought to know the plague of their own hearts in the manner before explained. Whose heart thou knowest — Thou art acquainted not only with the plague of their hearts, their several wants and burdens, (these he knows, but he will know them from us,) but with the desire and intent of the heart, the sincerity or hypocrisy of it; thou knowest who are truly penitent, and who are not, and therefore the granting my request will be no dishonour to thy government, nor injury to thy holy nature. That they may fear thee all their days — That when thou hast first smitten them, and then so eminently delivered them, and that in answer to their prayers, they may hereby be taught to fear thee, to stand in awe of thy justice, and to adore thy goodness.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.Know every man the plague of his own heart - i. e. perceive one's sinfulness, or recognize one's sufferings as divine chastisements, and sin as their cause. 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].

According to his ways; according to his repentance or impenitency. I pray with more hope and confidence, because I do not desire that thou wouldst deliver such as are insensible of thy judgments, and their sin; but only those who truly know the plague of their own heart, in manner before explained.

Whose heart thou knowest: thou knowest who are truly penitent, and who are not; and therefore the granting of my request will be no dishonour to thy government, nor injury to thy holy nature. Then hear thou in heaven thy dwellingplace,.... Which was more properly so than this Solomon had built, and the Lord had taken possession of:

and forgive; remove the calamity and distress, be it what it may:

and do, and give to every man according to his ways, whose heart thou knowest: that his prayer is cordial and sincere, his confession and repentance genuine, and that he is truly sensible of his sin, and sorry for it, and is pure in his intentions and resolutions, through divine grace, to depart from it for the future:

(for thou, even thou only knowest the hearts of all the children of men;) he knows all men, the hearts of them all, what is in them, what comes out of them, and is according to them; omniscience belongs only to God; it is his prerogative to know the heart and search the reins, see Jeremiah 17:9.

Then hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place, and forgive, and do, and give to every man according to his ways, whose heart thou knowest; (for thou, even thou only, knowest the hearts of all the children of men;)
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
39. whose heart thou knowest] This is the other aspect. God will know whether the discipline have wrought its effect, whether the heart have been plagued in such wise as to bring about repentance.Verse 39. - Then hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place, and forgive, and do, and give to every man according to his ways, whose heart thou knowest; (for thou, even thou only, knowest the hearts of all the children of men;) [Jeremiah 17:10. Cf. παρδιογνώστης θεὸς (Acts 15:8; also ib. 1:24). The second petition, - "If Thy people Israel are smitten by the enemy, because they have sinned against Thee, and they turn to Thee and confess Thy name, ... then hear ... and bring them back into the land," - refers to the threatenings in Leviticus 26:17 and Deuteronomy 28:25, where the nation is threatened with defeat and subjugation on the part of enemies, who shall invade the land, in which case prisoners of war are carried away into foreign lands, but the mass of the people remain in the land, so that they who are beaten can pray to the Lord in the temple, that He will forgive them their sin, save them out of the power of the enemy, and bring back the captives and fugitives into their fatherland.
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