Then said Solomon, The LORD hath said that he would dwell in the thick darkness.
Verse 1. - In the thick darkness; Hebrew, מַּעֲרַפֶל. The Lord had said this in so many words, and also by not a few practical examples (Leviticus 16:2; Exodus 19:9; Exodus 24:16; Exodus 25:22; Exodus 40:34, 35). This thing which he said, and did, even while really instructing, after the manner of special revelation, a specialized people, is essentially what he ever has said and ever is doing in all time, in all the world, and in all nature and providence. It is a fact and it is necessary that his glory be for the present veiled in "clouds and darkness" (Psalm 97:2; Psalm 18. n).
But I have built an house of habitation for thee, and a place for thy dwelling for ever.
Verse 2. - Solomon's words now address themselves to God. For ever. These words refer rather to the permanence and station-ariness of the temple as the dwelling-place of the ark. and the mercy-seat and cherubim, and all that symbolized and invited the Divine presence, than design any prophecy of length of time. They contrast with the wandering people, and wandering worship and sacrifices, and wandering tent and tabernacle with all their sacred contents (Psalm 68:16; Psalm 132:14; 1 Chronicles 22:10; 1 Chronicles 28:6-8; 2 Samuel 7:5-16).
And the king turned his face, and blessed the whole congregation of Israel: and all the congregation of Israel stood.
Verse 3. - Reading between the lines, this verse shows us that the face of Solomon had been turned to the symbol of God's presence, while he addressed to him the words of our second verse, since he now faces round to the assembly of the congregation. What words Solomon used in thus blessing the whole congregation are not given either here or in the parallel. The impression one takes is that the blessing was, in fact, wrapt up tacitly in all that Solomon recounts, when he said, Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, etc. (ver. 4). However, it is not impossible that, with the variation of the tense in ver. 59, the verses of 1 Kings 8:55 - 61 may contain the substance of it, if not itself.
And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Israel, who hath with his hands fulfilled that which he spake with his mouth to my father David, saying,
Verse 4. - (See 2 Samuel 7:4-17; 1 Chronicles 11:2; 1 Chronicles 17:4-14.) With his hands,... with his mouth. Expressions like this, antithesis and all, remind how language formed itself in the concrete mould at first, from that, ever becoming more abstract as time grew. The ampler language of later date would be, Who hath indeed fulfilled that which he spake.
Since the day that I brought forth my people out of the land of Egypt I chose no city among all the tribes of Israel to build an house in, that my name might be there; neither chose I any man to be a ruler over my people Israel:
Verse 5. - I chose no city,... neither chose I any man. The tabernacle and all it contained had but travelled from place to place, and rested at temporary halting-places; and from Moses' time all the leaders of the people Israel had been men in whom vested no permanent and no intrinsic authority (1 Samuel 16:1-15; 2 Samuel 24:18-25).
But I have chosen Jerusalem, that my name might be there; and have chosen David to be over my people Israel.
Verse 6. - (See again references of preceding verse, and 2 Samuel 7:8; Psalm 78:70.) Vers. 7-9. - (So 2 Samuel 7:2, 10-16; 1 Chronicles 22:9, 10; 1 Chronicles 28:2-7.)
Now it was in the heart of David my father to build an house for the name of the LORD God of Israel.
But the LORD said to David my father, Forasmuch as it was in thine heart to build an house for my name, thou didst well in that it was in thine heart:
Notwithstanding thou shalt not build the house; but thy son which shall come forth out of thy loins, he shall build the house for my name.
The LORD therefore hath performed his word that he hath spoken: for I am risen up in the room of David my father, and am set on the throne of Israel, as the LORD promised, and have built the house for the name of the LORD God of Israel.
Verses 10, 11. - The moment that might have witnessed the utmost inflation of spiritual pride, the acme of ambition, the highest point of even moral kind of grandeur, being touched, is saved from the peril. To the "performing of the Lord" the glory is all given (Luke 1:54, 55, 68-72). Probably delivered from earthly feeling, and sheltered just now from self and human ambition, Solomon was in a very high degree "in the spirit" (Revelation 1:10) on this great day. The moment was a proud moment in Solomon's history, as well there may be proud moments in men's lives, but it was divinely shielded, as divinely inspired. Hereafter, for all that, "the thorn in the flesh" might become very necessary, lest Solomon "be exalted above measure" in the memory of all that had transpired.
And in it have I put the ark, wherein is the covenant of the LORD, that he made with the children of Israel.
And he stood before the altar of the LORD in the presence of all the congregation of Israel, and spread forth his hands:
Verse 12. - Before the altar. This means to say that Solomon stood (and afterwards knelt down) eastward of the altar indeed, but with his face to the temple and congregation. Although the voice of Solomon was raised in prayer to God, yet the prayer was to be that of the whole congregation and not of priestly proxy, and therefore of the whole congregation it must be heard.
For Solomon had made a brasen scaffold, of five cubits long, and five cubits broad, and three cubits high, and had set it in the midst of the court: and upon it he stood, and kneeled down upon his knees before all the congregation of Israel, and spread forth his hands toward heaven,
Verse 13. - A brazen scaffold. The Hebrew word is כִּיּור. The word occurs twenty-one times. It is translated, in the Authorized Version, "laver" eighteen times, once "pan" (1 Samuel 2:14), once "hearth" (Zechariah 12:6), and once "scaffold," here. The meaning evidently is that the stand was in some sort basin-shaped.
And said, O LORD God of Israel, there is no God like thee in the heaven, nor in the earth; which keepest covenant, and shewest mercy unto thy servants, that walk before thee with all their hearts:
Verse 14. - No God like thee, etc. The quoting of Scripture and the utilizing of language in which the religious feeling of those who have gone before has expressed itself had plainly set in (Exodus 15:11, 12; Deuteronomy 7:9). The prayer which this verso opens occupies twenty-eight verses; it is the longest prayer recorded in Scripture. It consists of two verses (14, 15) of opening; then follow three petitions - first, that God would perpetuate the line of David (ver. 16); next, that he would have regard to the place where his Name is put (vers. 17-20); and thirdly, that he would hear the prayers addressed to him toward this place (ver. 21). Of this last subject, seven different cases are propounded - firstly, the case of the man wronged by his neighbour (vers. 22, 23); secondly, of the people worsted by their enemies (vers. 24, 25); thirdly, of the people suffering from drought (vers. 26, 27); fourthly, of the people visited by death or special calamity (vers. 28-31); fifthly, of the stranger who comes to offer to pray (vers 32, 33); sixthly, of the people going to war by God's permission (vers. 34, 35); seventhly, of the people in captivity (vers. 36-39). Then the prayer closes in vers. 40-42.
Thou which hast kept with thy servant David my father that which thou hast promised him; and spakest with thy mouth, and hast fulfilled it with thine hand, as it is this day.
Now therefore, O LORD God of Israel, keep with thy servant David my father that which thou hast promised him, saying, There shall not fail thee a man in my sight to sit upon the throne of Israel; yet so that thy children take heed to their way to walk in my law, as thou hast walked before me.
Verse 16. - There shall not fail thee, etc. (so 2 Samuel 7:12; 1 Kings 2:4; 1 Kings 6:12). Yet so that thy children, etc. (so Psalm 132:12).
Now then, O LORD God of Israel, let thy word be verified, which thou hast spoken unto thy servant David.
Verse 17. - Let thy word be verified (so 1 Chronicles 17:9-13).
But will God in very deed dwell with men on the earth? behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house which I have built!
Verse 18. - Dwell with men (Psalm 132:14). Heaven and the heaven of heavens. Solomon's conception of the infinite God comes plainly to view here (2 Chronicles 2:6; Deuteronomy 10:14; Psalm 139:5-12; Psalm 148:4; Isaiah 66:1; Acts 7:4-9; Acts 17:24).
Have respect therefore to the prayer of thy servant, and to his supplication, O LORD my God, to hearken unto the cry and the prayer which thy servant prayeth before thee:
That thine eyes may be open upon this house day and night, upon the place whereof thou hast said that thou wouldest put thy name there; to hearken unto the prayer which thy servant prayeth toward this place.
Verse 20. - This house .... the place whereof;... this place (so Exodus 29:43; Deuteronomy 12:5; Deuteronomy 14:23; Deuteronomy 15:20; Deuteronomy 16:2).
Hearken therefore unto the supplications of thy servant, and of thy people Israel, which they shall make toward this place: hear thou from thy dwelling place, even from heaven; and when thou hearest, forgive.
Verse 21. - The supplications of thy servant. "The great thought of Solomon now is that the centre and core of all worship is prayer" (Professor Dr. James G. Murphy, in 'Handbook for Bible Classes: Chronicles'). Toward this place (see other instances of this expression, Psalm 5:7; Psalm 28:2; Psalm 138:2; Jonah 2:4; Daniel 6:10). From thy dwelling-place. 1 Kings 8:30 has, "hear to thy dwelling-place, to heaven," by probably the mere error of a copyist.
If a man sin against his neighbour, and an oath be laid upon him to make him swear, and the oath come before thine altar in this house;
Verse 22. - And an oath be laid upon him to make him swear. This verse is explained by Exodus 22:9-11; Leviticus 6:1-5. The case of ordeal by self-purgation of oath is supposed. And the oath come. The Septuagint translates here, "and he come and declare by oath," etc. - a translation which a very slight alteration in the Hebrew, consisting in prefixing a vau to the word for swear, will allow. The Vulgate follows the Septuagint.
Then hear thou from heaven, and do, and judge thy servants, by requiting the wicked, by recompensing his way upon his own head; and by justifying the righteous, by giving him according to his righteousness.
Verse 23. - The prayer is that God will command his blessing on the oath ordeal.
And if thy people Israel be put to the worse before the enemy, because they have sinned against thee; and shall return and confess thy name, and pray and make supplication before thee in this house;
Verses 24, 25. - (See Leviticus 26:3, 17, 33, 40; Deuteronomy 27:7, 25; also Deuteronomy 4:27, 29-31; 28:64-68; 30:1-20
Then hear thou from the heavens, and forgive the sin of thy people Israel, and bring them again unto the land which thou gavest to them and to their fathers.
When the heaven is shut up, and there is no rain, because they have sinned against thee; yet if they pray toward this place, and confess thy name, and turn from their sin, when thou dost afflict them;
Then hear thou from heaven, and forgive the sin of thy servants, and of thy people Israel, when thou hast taught them the good way, wherein they should walk; and send rain upon thy land, which thou hast given unto thy people for an inheritance.
Verse 27. - When thou hast taught them; rather, when thou art guiding them to the right way.
If there be dearth in the land, if there be pestilence, if there be blasting, or mildew, locusts, or caterpillers; if their enemies besiege them in the cities of their land; whatsoever sore or whatsoever sickness there be:
Verses 28-31. - (See Leviticus 26:16-26; Deuteronomy 28:22-52, 59; ch. 20:9.) In the cities of their land. This, to represent correctly the Hebrew, should read, in the land of their gates. Reference probably is being made to the fact that law and justice and judgment were administered "in the gate of the city" (Deuteronomy 16:18; Deuteronomy 21:19; Joshua 20:4). Thou only knowest (so 1 Chronicles 28:9). That they may fear thee (so Psalm 130:4). In the absence of a healthy fear is involved both the absence of a healing hopefulness, and too probably the presence of recklessness.
Then what prayer or what supplication soever shall be made of any man, or of all thy people Israel, when every one shall know his own sore and his own grief, and shall spread forth his hands in this house:
Then hear thou from heaven thy dwelling place, and forgive, and render unto every man according unto all his ways, whose heart thou knowest; (for thou only knowest the hearts of the children of men:)
That they may fear thee, to walk in thy ways, so long as they live in the land which thou gavest unto our fathers.
Moreover concerning the stranger, which is not of thy people Israel, but is come from a far country for thy great name's sake, and thy mighty hand, and thy stretched out arm; if they come and pray in this house;
Verses 32, 33. - The stranger... come from a far country for thy great Name's sake. These two verses, with every clause in them, must be felt most refreshing by every reader; but they ought also to be particularly observed, as both corrective of a common but strictly erroneous impression as to exclusiveness and a genius of bigotry inhering in the setting apart of the Jewish race for a certain purpose in the Divine government and counsel, and also as revealing very significantly that that setting apart was nothing but a method and means to an end, as comprehensive and universal as the world itself The analogies, in fact, in the world's history are linked, in one unbroken chain, to what sometimes seems to a mere reader of the Bible pages as an artificial and somewhat arbitrary decree or arrangement (see, amid many significant parallels, Exodus 22:21; Leviticus 25:35; Numbers 15:13-17; Deuteronomy 10:19; Deuteronomy 31:12). Not of thy people Israel (John 10:16; John 12:20-26; Acts 8:27). For thy great Name's sake. The insertion of the adjective "great" here (גָּדול) is not Pentateuchal, but is found in Joshua 7:9; in our parallel, 1 Kings 8:42; Psalm 76:1; Psalm 99:3; Ezekiel 36:23; Jeremiah 10:6; Jeremiah 44:26. All people of the earth. Not only are many of the psalms utterly in harmony with the spirit of this verse, but also the light of it is reflected brilliantly in such passages as Acts 17:22-31. This house is called by thy Name; literally, thy Name is called upon (or perhaps, into) this house, meaning that God himself is invoked there, or present there in order that he may be constantly invoked.
Then hear thou from the heavens, even from thy dwelling place, and do according to all that the stranger calleth to thee for; that all people of the earth may know thy name, and fear thee, as doth thy people Israel, and may know that this house which I have built is called by thy name.
If thy people go out to war against their enemies by the way that thou shalt send them, and they pray unto thee toward this city which thou hast chosen, and the house which I have built for thy name;
Verses 34, 35. - The different supposition of these verses, compared with vers. 24, 25, is plain. Here we are reminded how right it is to implore a blessing before we go out to our allotted labour, or even on some specially and divinely appointed enterprise.
Then hear thou from the heavens their prayer and their supplication, and maintain their cause.
If they sin against thee, (for there is no man which sinneth not,) and thou be angry with them, and deliver them over before their enemies, and they carry them away captives unto a land far off or near;
Verses 36-39. - The matter of these verses is given fuller in the parallel (1 Kings 8:46-53). The prayer is remarkable all the more as the last of the whole series, and one so sadly ominous! The last clause of ver. 36, carrying the expression far off, as the alternative of near, throws its lurid glare of unwelcome suggestion on all the rest. No man which sinneth not. The words need the summoning of no biblical parallels, for these are so numerous. But out of the rest emphasis may be placed at least on those furnished by Solomon himself - Proverbs 20:9; Ecclesiastes 7:21; both of which are particularly sententious. Bethink themselves. The words well express, in English idiom, the literal Hebrew, as in margin, "bring back to their heart" (Deuteronomy 30:1-11). Have sinned, ... done amiss,... dealt wickedly (so Psalm 106:6; Daniel 9:5). The Authorized Version in the parallel (1 Kings 8:47) is somewhat happier in its rendering of the three verbs employed here. It seems doubtful whether these have it in them to form a climax; more probably they speak of three different directions in wrong going. The parallel is well worthy of being referred to, in its vers. 50, 51.
Yet if they bethink themselves in the land whither they are carried captive, and turn and pray unto thee in the land of their captivity, saying, We have sinned, we have done amiss, and have dealt wickedly;
If they return to thee with all their heart and with all their soul in the land of their captivity, whither they have carried them captives, and pray toward their land, which thou gavest unto their fathers, and toward the city which thou hast chosen, and toward the house which I have built for thy name:
Then hear thou from the heavens, even from thy dwelling place, their prayer and their supplications, and maintain their cause, and forgive thy people which have sinned against thee.
Now, my God, let, I beseech thee, thine eyes be open, and let thine ears be attent unto the prayer that is made in this place.
Verses 40-42. - These three verses are wanting in the parallel, which has kept us four verses (50-53) not shown here. Our two verses 41 and 42 are doubly interesting, first, as almost an exact copy of the words of David (Psalm 132:8-10); and secondly, as not an entirely exact copy, in some respects the form of word not being identical, though the signification is the same, and in other respects the clause being not identical, though still the meaning is essentially equal.
Now therefore arise, O LORD God, into thy resting place, thou, and the ark of thy strength: let thy priests, O LORD God, be clothed with salvation, and let thy saints rejoice in goodness.
O LORD God, turn not away the face of thine anointed: remember the mercies of David thy servant.