For they be your people, and your inheritance, which you brought forth out of Egypt, from the middle of the furnace of iron:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)For they be thy people.—This pleading with God by His deliverance of the people from Egypt, and by His promise to Moses to make them His inheritance (see Exodus 19:5; Deuteronomy 9:26; Deuteronomy 9:29; Deuteronomy 14:2), although especially suggested by the last petition for deliverance from captivity, may be held to apply to the whole of Solomon’s prayer. It implies the belief not only that the declared purpose of God cannot fail, but that, even for the manifestation of His glory to man, it must needs be visibly fulfilled before the eyes of the world. This same conviction breathes in many of the utterances of Moses for Israel (see Exodus 32:12-13; Numbers 14:13-14); it is expressed in the “Help us, O Lord, and deliver us for Thy name’s sake,” of Psalm 79:9-10, or the “Defer not for Thine own sake, O my God” of Daniel 9:19 : it is declared on the part, of the Lord again and again in Ezekiel 20:9; Ezekiel 20:14; Ezekiel 20:22, “I wrought for my name’s sake.” It may, indeed, seem to jar upon our fuller conception of the infinite majesty of God, incapable of being augmented or lessened, and of the infinite love which does all for the sake of His creatures. Yet it is not wholly unlike our Lord’s prayer (John 12:28), “Father, glorify thy name,” or the Apostolic declarations of the great purpose of redemption, as designed for “the praise of God’s glory” (Ephesians 1:6; Ephesians 1:12; Ephesians 1:14), and of all Christian life as commanded to “do all to the glory of God” (1Corinthians 10:31). In some respects it is like the pleading with our Lord, in the Litanies of the Church in all ages, by all the various acts of His redemption, and the prayer of the old Latin hymn—
“ Redemisti crucem passus;
Tantus labor ne sit cassus.”
But, indeed, all that might seem to us strange or unworthy in such prayers vanishes at once, when we consider that the knowledge of God in His self-manifestation is the highest happiness of man; on which, indeed, depend all depth and harmony of human knowledge, and all dignity and purity of human life. Hence, in the Lord’s Prayer, the three petitions “for Gods glory,” preceding all special petitions for our own needs, are really prayers for the highest blessing of all mankind. God’s care for His glory is not for His own sake, but for ours.
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].They be thy people; for howsoever they may sin against thee, or suffer from men, yet still remember that they are thy peculiar people, and therefore do thou pity, and pardon, and save them.
The furnace of iron; so called, either from the metal melted in it; or rather, from the matter of which it consisted, an iron furnace being more hot and terrible than one of brick or stone. He understands hereby their cruel bondage and painful labours. See Poole "Deu 4:20". Deuteronomy 7:6.
which thou broughtest forth out of Egypt, from the midst of the furnace of iron; hard and cruel bondage in Egypt: See Gill on Deuteronomy 4:20.For they be thy people, and thine inheritance, which thou broughtest forth out of Egypt, from the midst of the furnace of iron:
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)51. from the midst of the furnace of iron] The bondage of Egypt is so called, Deuteronomy 4:20. The idea is of the intense heat needed to melt iron in a furnace, and that with this the suffering of Israel might be compared. Cf. Isaiah 48:10; Jeremiah 11:14.Verse 51. - For they be thy people [a citation or reminiscence of Deuteronomy 4:10], and thine inheritance, which thou broughtest forth out of Egypt [cf. vers. 21, 53. There is a constant recurrence throughout the Old Testament to this great deliverance, and with good reason, for it was the real birthday of the nation, and was also a pledge of future help and favour. God who had "wrought such great things for them in Egypt "could not well forsake them. Solomon's constant plea is that they are the elect and covenant race] from the midst of the furnace of iron [i.e., a furnace for iron, heated and fierce as for smelting. Same phrase, Deuteronomy 4:20]. 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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