If your people go out to battle against their enemy, wherever you shall send them, and shall pray to the LORD toward the city which you have chosen, and toward the house that I have built for your name:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)If thy people goout.—The prayer here returns once more to invoke God’s aid against earthly enemies. It is characteristic of the foreboding tone of sadness, which runs through the whole prayer, that it touches but lightly on the first petition, for God’s blessing on the arms of Israel, so often granted in days gone by, and enlarges on the second petition, for mercy and deliverance in the event of defeat and captivity. The spirit, and in the confession of 1Kings 8:47 the very words, of this prayer of Solomon are strikingly reproduced in the solemn supplication of Daniel, when the close of the Babylonish captivity drew near (Daniel 9:4-15).There we find a confession of sin, perverseness, and wickedness, literally the same; we find also a similar pleading with God, as “keeping covenant and mercy,” a similar reference to the deliverance from Egypt, and a similar emphasis on the consecration of the city and its people by God’s “great name.” There is a striking pathos of circumstance in the fact, that over “the sanctuary that was desolate” (Daniel 9:17), with “his windows open towards Jerusalem,” Daniel utters the same prayer, which had marked the day of its consecration in all magnificence and prosperity.1 Kings 8:44-45. If thy people go out to battle — In a just cause, and by thy warrant and commission. This is the next case recommended by Solomon to the divine favour. Whithersoever thou shalt send them — In this is implied, that it was unlawful for them to undertake any war merely for their own pleasure or profit, or the gratification of their own worldly or ambitious desires; or to enlarge their empire beyond its due bounds; and that they could not, with a good conscience, pray to God for his blessing on such a war. And shall pray unto the Lord — Whereby he instructs them that they should not trust either to the strength or justice of their arms, but only to God’s help and blessing, for which they were to pray. Toward the city which thou hast chosen — For thy dwelling-place, and the seat of thy temple. Toward the house which I have built — For to it they were to turn their faces in prayer; to profess themselves worshippers of the true God, in opposition to idols; and to strengthen their faith in God’s promises and covenant, the tables whereof were contained in that house. Soldiers in the field must not think it enough that others pray for them; they must pray for themselves; and they are here encouraged to expect a gracious answer. Praying should always go along with fighting. Maintain their cause — Declare the justice of their cause by giving them the victory.Psalm 96:1-13; Psalm 98:1-9.
This house ... - literally, as in the margin. In Scripture, when God's Name is said to be "called upon" persons or things, it seems to be meant that God is really present in them, upholding them and sanctifying them. This passage therefore means, that the pagan, when their prayers, directed toward the temple, are granted, will have a full assurance that God is present in the building in some very special way.
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].Withersoever thou shalt send them, i.e. in a just cause, and by thy warrant or commission; whereby he implies that it was unlawful for them to undertake any war merely for their own glory or lust, or to enlarge their empire beyond its due bounds; and that they could not with safe conscience pray to God for his blessing upon such a war.
And shall pray unto the Lord; whereby he instructs them that they should not trust either to the strength or justice of their arms, but only to God’s help and blessing, which they were to pray for.
The city which thou hast chosen, to wit, for thy dwelling-place, and the seat of thy temple.
Toward the house that I have built for thy name; for to it they were to turn their faces in prayer; partly thereby to profess themselves to be the worshippers of the true God, in opposition to idols; and that they sought help from him, and from no other; and partly to strengthen faith in God’s promises and covenant, the tables whereof were contained in that house.
whithersoever thou shalt send them; this case supposes their asking counsel of God, or having a direction and commission from him by a prophet, or some other way, to engage in war with the enemy:
and shall pray unto the Lord toward the city which thou hast chosen, and toward the house I have built for thy name: for, notwithstanding the justness of their cause, and having a warrant from God to go to war, yet they were to pray to him for success when at a distance, even in a foreign land, and about to engage the enemy; and this they were to do, turning their faces towards the city of Jerusalem, and the temple there; declaring thereby that their dependence was upon the Lord that dwelt there, and their expectation of victory was only from him.If thy people go out to battle against their enemy, whithersoever thou shalt send them, and shall pray unto the LORD toward the city which thou hast chosen, and toward the house that I have built for thy name:
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)44. If thy people go out to battle] The case here is of a war undertaken by God’s direction, and therefore in a righteous cause. Under such circumstances the people may trust in Him for support.
shall pray unto the Lord toward the city] Not only the Jews but other people were wont to turn their faces toward some sacred spot when praying in a distant land, as Daniel did in Babylon (Daniel 6:10). Thus the Mohammedans turn towards Mecca, and the early Christians inherited from the Jews the custom of turning to the east when they prayed. Cf. Tert. Apol. 16.Verse 44. - If thy people go out to battle against their enemy, whithersoever [Heb. in the way which] thou shalt send them [These words clearly imply that the war, whether defensive or offensive (i.e., for the chastisement of other nations), is one which had God's sanction, and indeed was waged by His appointment], and shall pray unto the Lord toward [Heb. in the way of. Same expression as above. The repetition is significant. "They have gone in God's way. They may therefore look the way of God's house for help." Executing God's commission, they might justly expect His blessing] the city which thou hast chosen, and toward the house that I have built for thy name. Leviticus 26:19-20, and Leviticus 26:26; Deuteronomy 28:23); pestilence (Leviticus 26:25); blight and mildew in the corn (Deuteronomy 28:22); locusts (חסיל, devourer, is connected with ארבּה without a copula, - in the Chronicles by Vv, - to depict the plague of locusts more vividly before their eyes after Deuteronomy 28:38); oppression by enemies in their own land; lastly, plagues and diseases of all kinds, such as are threatened against the rebellious in Leviticus 26:16 and Deuteronomy 28:59-61. יצר is not the imperfect Kal of צוּר (Ges., Dietr., Frst, Olsh. Gramm. p. 524), but the imperfect Hiphil of הצר in Deuteronomy 28:52, as in Nehemiah 9:27; and the difficult expression שׁעריו בּארץ is probably to be altered into שׁ בּארץ, whilst שׁעריו is either to be taken as a second object to יצר, as Luther supposes, or as in apposition to בּארץ, in the land (in) his gates, as Bertheau assumes. The assertion of Thenius, that all the versions except the Vulgate are founded upon the reading עריו בּעחת, is incorrect. יהיה כּי is omitted after kaal-machalaah, since Solomon dropped the construction with which he commenced, and therefore briefly summed up all the prayers, addressed to God under the various chastisements here named, in the expression כּל־תּחנּה כּל־תּפלּה, which is placed absolutely at the opening of 1 Kings 8:38. וגו ידעוּן אשׁר, "when they perceive each one the stroke of his heart," i.e., not dolor animi quem quisque sentit (Vatab., C. a Lap.), but the plague regarded as a blow falling upon the heart, in other words, as a chastisement inflicted upon him by God. In all these cases may God hear his prayer, and do and give to every one according to his way. תּדע אשׁר, "as Thou knowest his heart," i.e., as is profitable for every one according to the state of his heart of his disposition. God can do this, because He knows the hearts of all men (cf. Jeremiah 17:10). The purpose assigned for all this hearing of prayer (1 Kings 8:40), viz., "that they may fear Thee," etc., is the same as in Deuteronomy 4:10.
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