1 Kings 8:50
And forgive your people that have sinned against you, and all their transgressions wherein they have transgressed against you, and give them compassion before them who carried them captive, that they may have compassion on them:
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(50) Forgive . . . and give them compassion This prayer was singularly fulfilled at the captivity of Judah in Babylon, though we hear of no such thing in relation to the captivity of the “lost tribes” of Israel in Assyria. We see this in the exceptional favour of Nebuchadnezzar and of the Ahasuerus of the Book of Esther to the Jews in Babylon; we see it still more in the greater boon of restoration granted them by Cyrus and Darius, and the Artaxerxes of the Book of Nehemiah. Like the whole course of the fortunes of the Jews in their subsequent dispersion, these things,—however they may be accounted for—are certainly unique in history.

1 Kings 8:50-51. That they may have compassion on them — Treat them mercifully while they continue their slaves, and give them liberty to return to their own land. God has the hearts of all men in his hands, and, can, when he pleaseth, turn the strongest stream the contrary way, and cause those to pity his people, who have been their most cruel persecutors. For they be thy people — How much soever they may sin against thee, or suffer from men, yet still remember they are thy peculiar people, received into covenant with thee, and taken under thy care and protection. And thine inheritance — From whom, more than from any other nation, thy rent and tribute of glory arises. Which thou broughtest from the furnace of iron — From cruel bondage, and painful labours. For he compares Egypt to a furnace in which iron and other metals are melted, or which, being made of iron, is more hot and terrible than one of brick and stone, to signify the misery and torment which the Israelites endured there.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.Compassion ... - Not merely such compassion as Evil-Merodach showed toward Jehoiachin 2 Kings 25:27-30; Jeremiah 52:31-34, but such as Cyrus and Artaxerxes showed in allowing the captive Jews to return to their own land Ezra 1:3; Nehemiah 2:6. 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].

i.e. May gently use them whilst they are there, and proclaim liberty to their captives to go to their own land. And forgive thy people that have sinned against thee, and all their transgressions wherein they have transgressed against thee,.... By returning them to their own land; by which it would appear that the Lord had forgiven their trespasses, as well as by what follows:

and give them compassion before them who carried them captive, that they may have compassion on them; for it is in the power of God to work upon the affections of men, and dispose their minds to use his people well, and to pity them under their distresses, as the Chaldeans did the Jews in Babylon, Psalm 106:46.

And forgive thy people that have sinned against thee, and all their transgressions wherein they have transgressed against thee, and give them compassion before them who carried them captive, that they may have compassion on them:
50. give them compassion] So God stirred up the heart of Cyrus to permit Israel to return from Babylon (Ezra 1:1).Verse 50. - And forgive thy people that have sinned against thee, and all their transgressions wherein they have transgressed against thee, and give them compassion [Heb. to compassion or bowels רַחֲמִים = τὰ σπλάγχνα, 2 Corinthians 6:12; Philippians 1:8; Philippians 2:1, etc. before them who carried them captive, that they may have compassion on them. [For the fulfilment of this prayer, see Ezra 1:3, 7; Ezra 6:13; Nehemiah 2:6. Compare Psalm 106:46.] In the three following verses we have a sort of general conclusion to the dedication prayer. It is hardly correct to say that these last words apply to all the preceding petitions - the plea "they are thy people" manifestly cannot apply in the case of vers. 41-43. On the other hand, as little are they to be limited to the persons last mentioned in vers. 46-50, though it is highly probable they were suggested by the thought of the captives. They are manifestly in close connection with the preceding verses. Finally, in 1 Kings 8:44-50 Solomon also asks, that when prayers are directed towards the temple by those who are far away both from Jerusalem and the temple, they may be heard. The sixth case, in 1 Kings 8:44, 1 Kings 8:45, is, if Israel should be engaged in war with an enemy by the appointment of God; and the seventh, in 1 Kings 8:46-50, is, if it should be carried away by enemies on account of its sins.

(Note: Bertheau (on Chron.) has already proved that there is no force in the arguments by which Thenius attempts to show, on doctrinal grounds, that 1 Kings 8:44-51 are an interpolated addition. As he correctly observes, "it is, on the contrary, quite in harmony with the original plan, that the two cases are also anticipated, in which the prayers of Israelites who are at a distance from the seat of the sanctuary are directed towards the temple, since it is perfectly appropriate that the prayers of the Israelites at the place of the sanctuary are mentioned first, then the prayers of foreigners at the same place, and lastly the prayers of Israelites, who, because they are not in Jerusalem, are obliged to content themselves with turning their faces towards the temple. We might also point to the fact that it is probably intentional that exactly seven cases are enumerated, inasmuch as in enumerations of this kind, which are not restricted by the nature of the case to any definite measure, such a number as seven easily furnishes an outward limit," - or more correctly: because seven as a sacred or covenant number was more appropriate than any other to embrace all prayers addressed to God.)

By the expression in 1 Kings 8:44, "in the way which Thou sendest them," the war is described as one undertaken by the direction of God, whether wages against an enemy who has invaded the land, or outside the land of Canaan for the chastisement of the heathen dwelling around them. "And shall pray וגו העיר דּרך:" i.e., in the direction towards the chosen city and the temple, namely, in faith in the actual presence of the covenant God in the temple. יהוה אל, "to Jehovah," instead of "to Thee," is probably introduced for the sake of greater clearness. משׁפּטם ועשׂית, and secure them justice (cf. Deuteronomy 10:18; Psalm 9:5, etc.).

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