1 Kings 8:60
That all the people of the earth may know that the LORD is God, and that there is none else.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
1 Kings

THE KING ‘BLESSING’ HIS PEOPLE

1 Kings 8:54 - 1 Kings 8:63
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The great ceremonial of dedicating the Temple was threefold. The first stage was setting the ark in its place, which was the essence of the whole thing. God’s presence was the true dedication, and that was manifested by the bright cloud that filled the sanctuary as soon as the ark was placed there. The second stage was the lofty and spiritual prayer, saturated with the language and tone of Deuteronomy, and breathing the purest conceptions of the character and nature of God, and all aglow with trust in Him. Then followed, thirdly, this ‘Blessing of the Congregation.’ The prayer had been uttered by the kneeling king. Now he stands up, and, with ringing tones that reach to the outskirts of the crowd, he gathers the spirit of his prayer into two petitions, preceded by praise for national blessings, and followed by exhortation to national obedience. A huge sacrifice of unexampled magnitude closes the whole.

I. Note the thankful retrospect of the nation’s past {1 Kings 8:56}.

Solomon ‘blessed the congregation’ when, in their name, he lifted up his voice to bless the Lord, prayed that God would incline their hearts to keep His law, and would maintain their cause, and exhorted them to keep their hearts perfect with Him. We bless each other when we ask God to bless, and when we draw each other nearer Him. Standing there in the new Temple, with a united nation gathered before him, the cloud filling the house, and peace resting on all his land to its farthest border, the king looks back on the long road from Sinai and the desert, and sums up the whole history in one sentence. The end has vindicated the methods. There had been many a dark time when enemies had oppressed, and many a hard-fought field had been stained with Israel’s blood; but all had tended to this calm hour, when Israel’s multitudes were gathered in worship, and their unguarded homes were safe. There had been many heroes in the long line.

‘Time would fail’ him ‘to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah; of David and Samuel . . . who . . . turned to flight armies of aliens.’ One name alone is worthy to be named,-the name of the true Deliverer and Monarch. It is the Lord who ‘hath given rest unto His people.’ We look on the past most wisely when we see in it all the working of one mighty Hand, and pass beyond the great names of history or the dear names which have made the light of our homes, to the ever-living God, who works through changing instruments; and ‘the help that is done on earth, He doeth it Himself.’ We read the past most truly when we see in all its vicissitudes God’s unchanging faithfulness, and recognise that the foes and sorrows which often pressed sore upon us were no breach of His faithful promises, but either His loving chastisement for our faithlessness, or His loving discipline meant to perfect our characters. We read the past best from the vantage-ground of the Temple. From its height we understand the lie of the land. Communion with God explains much which is else inexplicable. Solomon’s judgment of Israel’s checkered history will be our judgment of our own when we stand in the higher courts of the heavenly home, and look from that height upon all the way by which the Lord our God hath led us. In the meantime, it is often a trial for faith to repeat these words; but the blessing that comes from believing them true is worth the effort to stifle our tears in order to say them.

II. Note the prayer for obedient hearts {1 Kings 8:57 - 1 Kings 8:58}. The proper subject-matter of this petition is ‘that He may incline our hearts to walk in His ways,’ and God’s presence is invoked as a means thereto. The deepest desire of a truly religious soul is for the felt nearness of God. That goes before all other blessings, and contains them all. Nothing is so needful or so sweet as that The presence of God is the absence of evil, the evil both of pain and of sin, as surely as the rising sun is the routing of night’s black hosts. ‘The best of all is, God is with us.’ The prayer again looks back to the past, and asks that the ancient experiences may be renewed. The generations of those who trust in God are knit together, and the wonders of old time are capable of repetition to-day. Faith can say with deeper meaning than the Preacher, ‘That which hath been is that which shall be.’ However varying may be the forms, the fact of a divine presence and help according to need is invariable, and they that have gone before have not exhausted the fountain, which will fill the vessel of the latest comer as it did that of the first. How beautifully the abiding God and the fleeting series of ‘our fathers’ is contrasted! A moment of triumph, when some work, like that of building the Temple, which has for ages been looked forward to, and into which the sacrifices and aspirations of a long line of dead toilers are built, brings strongly before all thoughtful men the continuity of a nation or a Church, and the transiency of its individual members. It should suggest the abiding God yet more strongly than it does the passing fathers. The mercy remains the same, while the receivers change. The sunshine and the tree are the same, though the leaves which glisten and grow in the light have but one summer to live.

But Solomon desires that God may be with him and his people for one specific purpose. Is it to bring outward prosperity, or to extend their territory, or to give them victory? As in his choice in his dream, so now, he asks, not for these things, but for an inward influence on heart and will. What he wants most for himself and them is moral conformity to God’s will. All must be right if that be right. The prayer implies that, without God’s help, the heart will wander from the paths of duty. The weakness of human nature, and the consequent necessity for God’s grace in order to obedience, were as deeply felt by the devout men of the Old Testament as by Apostles. They are felt by every man who has honestly tried to measure the sweep and inwardness of God’s law, and to realise it in life. We need go but a very short way on the road to discover that temptations to diverge lie so thick on either side, and that our feet grow weary so soon, that we shall make but little progress without help from above.

The synonyms for the law are worthy of notice. Why are there so many of these in the Old Testament? For the same reason that there are so many for ‘money’ in English,-because those who made the language thought so much about the thing, and delighted in it so much. As ‘commandments,’ it was solemnly imposed by rightful authority, and obedience was obligatory. The word rendered ‘statutes’ means something engraved, or written, and recalls the tables inscribed by God’s finger. ‘Judgments’ are the divine decisions or sentences as to what is right, and therefore the infallible clue to the else bewildering labyrinth. To obey these commandments, to read that solemn writing, and to accept these decisions as our guides, is man’s perfection and blessedness; and for that God’s felt presence is indispensable.

III. Note the prayer for God’s defence {1 Kings 8:59 - 1 Kings 8:60}. The proper subject-matter of this petition is that God would maintain the cause of king and nation; and it is preceded by a petition that, to that end, the preceding prayer may be answered, and is followed by the desire that thereby the knowledge of God may fill the earth. The prayer for outward blessings comes after the prayer for inward heart-obedience. Is not that the right order? Our prayers need to be prayed for, and a true desire is not contented with one utterance. To ask that what we have asked may be given is no vain repetition, nor a sign of weak faith, or undue anxiety. How bold the figure in asking that the prayer may lie before God day and night, like some suppliant at the foot of His throne!

Note the grand aim of God’s help of Israel,-the universal diffusion of His name among all the peoples of the earth. Solomon understood the divine vocation of Israel, and had risen above desiring blessings only for his own or his subjects’ sake. Later ages fell from that elevation of feeling, and hugged their special privileges without a thought of the obligations which they involved. God’s choice of Israel was not meant for the exclusion of the Gentiles, but as the means of transmitting the knowledge of God to them. The one nation was chosen that God’s grace might fructify through it to all. The fire was gathered into a hearth, that the whole house might be warmed. But selfishness marred the divine plan, and Israel became a nonconductor, and the privileges selfishly kept became corrupt; as the miser’s corn stored in his barns in famine breeds weevils. Christians need no more solemn lesson of what comes from selfishly hoarding spiritual blessings than the fate of Israel. God hath shined into our hearts, that we may give to others who sit in the dark the light which we possess; and if we fail to do so, the light will darken within us.

IV. The blessing ends with one brief, all-comprehensive charge to the people, which seems based, by its ‘therefore,’ on the preceding thought of Jehovah as the only God. The only attitude corresponding to His sole and supreme Majesty is the entire devotion of heart, which leads to thoroughgoing obedience to His commandments. The word rendered ‘perfect’ literally means ‘entire’ or ‘sound,’ and here expresses the complete devotion of the whole nature. Solomon meant that it should be complete, in contradistinction to any sidelong glances to idolatry. The principle underlying that ‘therefore’ is that, God being what He is, our only God and refuge, the only adequate hope and object of our nature, we should give our whole selves to Him. We, too, are tempted to bring Him divided hearts, and to carry some of our love and trust as offerings at other shrines. But if there be ‘one God, and none other but He,’ then to serve Him with all our heart and strength and mind is the dictate of common sense, and the only service which He can accept, or which can bring to our else distracted natures peace and satisfaction. His voice to us is, ‘My son, give Me thy whole heart.’ Our answer to Him should ever be that prayer, ‘Lord, . . . unite my heart to fear Thy name.’ A divided heart is misery. Partial trust is distrust. ‘Love me all in all, or not at all,’ is the requirement of all deep, human love; and shall God ask less than men and women ask from and give to one another?1 Kings 8:60. That all the people of the earth may know that the Lord (Hebrew, Jehovah) is God — That both by our virtuous and holy lives, to which his grace inclines us; and by the eminent manifestations of his power and goodness in defending and delivering us from the assaults and devices of our enemies, all the nations of the world may be convinced that our God is the living and true God, and he alone, and may thereupon be induced to renounce their idols and to serve him. For Solomon did not desire that Israel should be thus blessed, thus favoured, in order that all people might become tributaries to him and his successors, (his kingdom being already as great as he desired,) but that all people might know and worship Jehovah. Thus Solomon’s prayers, like the prayers of his father David, the son of Jesse, are ended, Psalm 72:19-20, with this petition, Let the whole earth be filled with his glory. And “we cannot close our prayers,” says Henry, “with a better summary than this, Father, glorify thy name.”8:54-61 Never was a congregation dismissed with what was more likely to affect them, and to abide with them. What Solomon asks for in this prayer, is still granted in the intercession of Christ, of which his supplication was a type. We shall receive grace sufficient, suitable, and seasonable, in every time of need. No human heart is of itself willing to obey the gospel call to repentance, faith, and newness of life, walking in all the commandments of the Lord, yet Solomon exhorts the people to be perfect. This is the scriptural method, it is our duty to obey the command of the law and the call of the gospel, seeing we have broken the law. When our hearts are inclined thereto, feeling our sinfulness and weakness, we pray for Divine assistance; thus are we made able to serve God through Jesus Christ.Incline our hearts - This is a doctrine which first appears in Scripture in the Davidical Psalms (see the margin reference and Psalm 141:4). Solomon in this prayer seems to be thoroughly penetrated with his father's spirit. 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].

Both by our virtuous and holy lives, to which thou inclinest us by thy grace; and by the eminent manifestations of thy power and goodness, in defending and delivering us from all the assaults and devices of our enemies. That all the people of the earth may know that the Lord is God,.... By chastising the people of Israel when they sinned; by bearing and answering their prayers when they prayed unto him; by forgiving their sins, and delivering them out of their troubles; by maintaining their cause, and protecting them in the enjoyment of their blessings: and that there is "none else"; no God besides him; all being else fictitious deities, or nominal ones; he only is the one living and true God. That all the people of the earth may know that the LORD is God, and that there is none else.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
60. that all the people of the earth may know] This was always the view of the pious Israelite that God’s glory might be known among all nations. Cf. Joshua 4:24; 1 Samuel 17:46. There is nothing in 2 Chronicles of the 1 Kings 8:54-61, but preceding the account of the sacrifices we are told (2 Chronicles 7:1-3) that fire came down from heaven (which Josephus also speaks of at this point of the narrative) and consumed the burnt-offering and the sacrifice, that the glory of God filled the house so that the priests could not enter, and that at the sight thereof all the people worshipped and praised the Lord. After this the narrative continues in parallelism with 1 Kings.Verse 60. - That an the people of the earth may know that the Lord is God, and that there is none else. [See ver. 22. We have here a recurrence to the thought of ver. 43, which was evidently prominent in Solomon's mind. He hopes the house now dedicated will be fraught with blessing for the world, and that the Gentiles will come to its light. Cf. Isaiah 2:2, 3.] Concluding Act of the dedication of the temple. 1 Kings 8:54-61. Blessing the congregation. - After the conclusion of the prayer, Solomon rose up from his knees and blessed all the assembled congregation. פּרוּשׂות וכפּיו is a circumstantial clause, which must be connected with the previous words and rendered thus: "from lying upon his knees with his hands spread out towards heaven." "And he stood," i.e., he came from the altar and stood nearer to the assembled congregation. The blessing begins with praise to the Lord for the fulfilment of His promises (1 Kings 8:16), and consists in the petition that the Lord will always fulfil his (Solomon's) prayers, and grant His people the promised salvation.

(Note: This blessing is omitted from the Chronicles, because it is simply a recapitulation of the longer prayer; but instead of it we have a statement, in 2 Chronicles 7:1-4, to the effect that fire fell from heaven and consumed the burnt-offering upon the altar. This statement, which even Movers regards as a traditional, i.e., a legendary addition, according to his erroneous view of the sources of the Chronicles, is confirmed by the similar miracle which occurred at the dedication of the temple. It is omitted, like so many other things in the account before us, because all that was essential in this occurrence was contained implicite in the filling of the temple with the glory of the Lord. Just as at the consecration of the Mosaic sanctuary the Lord did not merely manifest His gracious presence through the cloud which filled the tent, but also kindled the first sacrifice with fire from heaven (Leviticus 9:24), to sanctify the altar as the legitimate place of sacrifice; so also at the temple the miraculous kindling of the first sacrifice with fire from heaven was the immediate and even necessary consequence of the filling of the temple with the cloud, in which the presence of Jehovah was embodied.)

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