And Solomon determined to build an house for the name of the Lord.
(J. Parker, D.D.)
And this house which I build is great: for great is our God above all gods.1. The worship of God, the creator and governor of the world, commenced with the creation of man; but in the patriarchal ages it partook not of that formal and settled character which it afterwards, by God's direction, assumed. Nor, as far as we can learn from ancient history, does it appear that there were ever any regular buildings erected as temples before the Jewish tabernacle was set up. Noah, and the other patriarchs, appear simply to have erected altars for their sacrifices, and these often only for immediate and temporary use; or to have planted groves, as Abraham did in Beersheba, "and called there on the name of the Lord, the everlasting God." But when God had chosen a people to be called by His name, and had given them His law, and taught them to offer Him regular stated services, He further commanded that there should be a particular building set apart for the same. Now, the objects of all such buildings are twofold. They are to be built to the honour of Him who is to be worshipped therein, and they are to be used by those who are to meet there for the purpose of joining in that worship.
2. And this feeling which led Solomon to build "a great house because God was great above all gods" has had its proper influence in all ages and countries, and is based upon true and proper principles of religion, as well under the dispensation of the gospel as under that of law. History, no doubt, tells us that in the days of persecution the faithful were wont to meet for Divine worship amidst the tombs and burial.places of the dead, or in the secret eaves of the earth. But, when persecutions cease, and days of prosperity come round, when, as David says, they themselves begin to "dwell in houses of cedar," then surely it is "no longer meet that the ark of the covenant of the Lord should remain under curtains." When mansions of costly price, and embellished within and without with all the skill of experienced artists, grow up on every side — when the halls of justice, the palatial buildings of the money-changers, the marketplaces, and public works which denote and advance the worldly greatness and prosperity of our citizens, are multiplying around us, then too, surely, it is meet that the house which we build for the service of God should be great and, as nearly as we can make it, the chief glory of all; reminding us, by its beauty and magnificence, of the greatness of our God, who is above all gods.
3. It has been too much the custom, in the age in which we live, to endeavour in every way to serve God at as cheap a rate as possible, at the same time that men serve themselves willingly at the costliest sacrifice. While in your private lives luxury has been increasing, any expenditure in connection with the building of a church or the service of God is too often denounced, very much in the spirit of Judas, as a waste of that which might have been turned to better account in some other way. Now, for myself, I wish loudly to protest against such a system.
4. What use are we going to make of the house of God, now that we have built it? "If there is one thing more than another for which we have a perfect loathing," says an able lay member of the Church, "it is that most disgusting of all unrealities which attempts to make things external and earthly the substitute for what is internal and heavenly — which considers fine churches and complex services a sufficient compensation for general laxity of morals — the formalism of lip-worship an atonement for deadness of hearts and unrestrained luxurious living." All the outward acts of s religious life may be performed, where there is an established character, and yet every one of them be an offence to God. They hear sermons, join in a litany, join in Divine worship, come to the communion once a month — all like a decent garment: things outside, nothing within. God forbid that such should be our case: that we should allow any self-complacency on account of this house which God has permitted us to build for Him, or any admiration of the services to be offered therein, to blind us to the depths of our sad spiritual necessities, or make us indifferent about these necessities being supplied. And when we draw nigh to offer our own sacrifices, let us ever bear fresh in our stricken hearts the recollection of that One Great Sacrifice once offered up as a peace-offering for us all, and which alone gives any of us sinners the right of access to the throne of grace.
(J. Parker, D. D.)
I. The temple was great to Solomon BECAUSE IT STOOD FOR THE VISIBLE SIGN OF GOD'S PRESENCE AMONG THE PEOPLE. God had forbidden the children of Israel to make any image representing Himself. Yet there is an underlying spirit of worship that is inherent in all of us, a longing for some objective thing upon which we can cast our eye. Out of that desire, which seems to be a very part of our nature, and not a result of superstition, has grown, by the misdirection of it, all idolatry. God manifested Himself early in the garden of Eden with a flame of fire. When He spake with Moses He appeared in a burning bush. It was an objective sign of His presence. Consider how natural it is to build such signs as these in the land. We have on the Embankment a great Parliament House, a magnificent building, one of the finest in the world. That Parliament House is the visible sign of the sovereignty of the people. In the same way Buckingham Palace stands as the visible sign of royalty. The Courts of Justice in the Strand are a visible sign of the rights of man and the defence of man in his rights. So we might go all through the land and note that the great manor houses and castles are the embodiment of that subtle thing which we call nobility. Everything in this world has its concrete sign. We look upon the things that are seen, not as being the actual thing, but as the sign of the thing.
II. When Solomon said, "The house I build is great," THE INADEQUACY OF HIS ABILITY TO EXPRESS HIS IDEA WAS ALSO PRESENT WITH HIM. How shall I build a house great enough for the great God? The only justification of the Infinite falling short of any house is that it shall be a place where we shall come into His presence and offer sacrifices to His great name. That purpose sanctifies the inadequate efforts we make to embody our ideal. God does not receive thanks from us because they are worthy of acceptance, but because they are responses to His grace. Little things become big, and sometimes great things become very small, just as their attitude is towards God. Bethlehem, for instance, was the least of all the cities, and yet it became great because it was sanctified and glorified by the birth of the Son of God. It was not the town, but what was associated with it. Nazareth was a despised, contemptible, mean little village; so contemptible that it came to be a byword, and yet Nazareth is one of the famous towns in the history of the world, and always will be. The things we offer to God are great, not because of the money they cost, not by the splendour of them that may meet the eye, but because they are given to God. God makes them great.
III. The temple was great BECAUSE OF WHAT IT SYMBOLISED. It was the great type of the Incarnation. There is instinctively in man a spirit which craves for an objective representation of God. But for us Christ is the real Incarnation. Our churches stand as an embodiment of our thankful recognition of promises fulfilled. We meet for instruction, for prayer, for praise, for fellowship and goodwill, and to give forth our witness to God. It would be an irreparable loss to us if Westminster Abbey were rased to the ground; and so with all the old cathedrals of England. They are an embodiment of doctrine in a sense. A true cathedral is laid out on the plan of the Cross, the nave and the transepts making a cross. The spire tells of the aspirations of worship, and if we come into the choir we have an expression of praise. The old mediaeval idea was to work out in stone and in building the foundations of our faith. I would fill the land with buildings that should be in the highest sense great buildings, expressing the great inheritance which has come to us from God by Jesus Christ.
(G. F. Pentecost, D.D.)
1 Kings 8:34, 36, 39; Psalm 2:4; Psalm 11:4; Psalm 103:19; Isaiah 66:1; Amos 9:6), He is also present on the earth (Deuteronomy 4:39), has chosen the temple for the dwelling-place of His name in Israel, from which He hears the prayers of His people.
Send me now therefore a man cunning to work in gold.
I. II. III. IV. (J. Wolfendale.)
II. III. IV. (J. Wolfendale.)
III. IV. (J. Wolfendale.)
IV. (J. Wolfendale.)
(J. Parker, D.D.)
And Solomon numbered all the strangers that were in the land of Israel.
Bibical Museum.I. A GOOD GOVERNMENT WILL TEND TO MAKE A COUNTRY ATTRACTIVE TO FOREIGNERS.
II. FOREIGNERS THUS ATTRACTED ARE AMENABLE TO THE LAWS OF THE STATE.
III. THUS PROTECTED, THEY MAY CONTRIBUTE MATERIALLY TO THE ENRICHMENT OF A STATE BY THE IMPORTATION OF FOREIGN INDUSTRIES. Silk-weavers of Spitalfields.
V. BE KIND TO STRANGERS.
I. STRANGERS IN A CITY ARE IN DANGER FROM THE TEMPTATION TO EXPLORE THE UNDERGROUND LIFE OF THE COMMUNITY. I believe that three-fourths of the young men of our cities are ruined for the simple reason that they went to look at iniquity. In 1794, during the Reign of Terror in Paris, there were people who, to hide from their persecutors, got into the sewers under the city, and went on mile after mile amid the stifling atmosphere, poisoned and exhausted, coming out after a while at the river Seine, where they washed and breathed again the pure air. But, alas! that so many men who attempt to explore underground New York life never come to a river Seine, where they can wash, and they die horribly in the sewers. I stand on a mountain of Colorado, six thousand feet high. There is a man standing beneath me who says, "I see a peculiar shelving to this rock," and he bends towards it. I say, "Stop, you will fall." He says, "No danger; I have a steady hand and foot, and see a peculiar kind of moss." I say, "Stand back"; but he says, "I am not afraid"; and he bends farther and farther, and after a while his head whirls and his feet slip — and the eagles know not that it is the macerated flesh of a man they are picking at, but it is. So I have seen men come to the very verge of the life of this city, and they look away down in it. They say, "Don't be cowardly. Let us go down." They look farther and farther. I warn them to stand back; but Satan comes behind them, and while they are swinging over the verge, pushes them off. People say they were naturally bad. They were not? They were engaged in exploration. No man can afford to sail so near the coast of eternal fire for the purpose of discovering how hot it is. Stand off from that exploration. If you are a good swimmer, and you see a man drowning, leap for him and bring him ashore; but if you are merely going to jump in to see him drown, stand back.
II. STRANGERS IN A CITY ARE IN DANGER FROM THE TEMPTATION TO DESECRATE THE SABBATH. There is not one in ten who knows how to keep the Lord's day when he is away from home and absent from all Christian influences.
III. STRANGERS IN A CITY ARE NOT SAFE WITHOUT CHRISTIAN RESTRAINT.
(T. De Witt Talmage.).
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