Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel, and all the heads of the tribes, the chief of the fathers of the children of Israel, unto king Solomon in Jerusalem, that they might bring up the ark of the covenant of the LORD out of the city of David, which is Zion.
1 Kings 8:27
I. Every one will recall the scene of Solomon, the mastermind stored with all the learning of the day, dedicating the Temple to God. He was speaking to a nation naturally given to idolatry and to the localisation of worship, to a nation exclusive in their religion and almost incurable in their low, semi-materialistic ideas of God, speaking, too, at the moment of dedicating their most magnificent temple to their national God; and yet he rises far above—nay, he cuts clean across—all their national prejudices, and in these sublime words reveals that God is infinite, not to be comprehended in temple or shrine. It was a stage in the revelation of God given to the world through Solomon, the great student of His works, a further revelation of the immensity, the inconceivability, of God. And yet Solomon dedicated the Temple to become the centre of the passionate religious fervour of the nation, to be deemed for a thousand years the most sacred spot in all the earth. How shall we regard this? Was it in Solomon a hypocritical condescension to popular superstition, and in the people an unconscious or forced inconsistency, or was it not rather in both a flash of anticipation of the great truth that every form of worship is inadequate and even misleading until we see its inadequacy?
II. We also have to learn this lesson, that all opinions about God, all systems of theology, are provisional, temporary, educational, like the Temple. They are not the essence of truth. It is the deepest conviction, not of philosophers only, but of the pious congregations of our land also, that the harmony, and co-operation, and brotherhood of Christians is the will of God concerning us, and that it is not to be sought for in unity of opinion, and can never be obtained as long as opinion is held to be of primary importance in religion. It is to be sought for in some far deeper unity of faith in Christ and service to Him. In the ideal Christianity which Christ taught opinion is nothing, and purity of life, charity, and the love of God are everything. Let us, each in our own little circles, try to assist in this glorious transformation of Christianity by the steady subordination of opinion to the practical service of Jesus Christ.
J. M. Wilson, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxv., p. 161.
References: 1 Kings 8:27, 1 Kings 8:28.—A. Watson, Christ's Authority, and Other Sermons, p. 187. 1 Kings 8:29.—E. Paxton Hood, Sermons, p. 1. 1 Kings 8:38.—H. Hayman, Sermons Preached in Rugby School Chapel, p. 193. 1 Kings 8:38-40.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxv., No. 1489.
1 Kings 8:44-45There is something very observable in its being "in heaven" that we ask that our prayers may be heard.
I. Heaven is supposed to be the place in which, in some extraordinary and by us unimaginable mode, God is pleased to disclose His magnificent perfections to the higher orders of created intelligence. It is not that God can be more present in heaven than on earth; it is only that His presence is made more manifest, His glory more displayed or rendered more apparent. The representation of heaven as our place of audience lifts us from our degradation and places us at once on a level with loftier orders of being.
II. Whatever else may be supposed to give fixedness to heaven, or to make it, according to our common ideas, a definite place, there can be no doubt that it is the residence of Christ's glorified humanity, and that this humanity, like our own, can only be in one spot at once. To desire that our prayers may be heard in heaven is to desire that they may be heard where alone they can be heard with acceptance. We can obtain nothing from God except for Christ's sake and through Christ's intercession. Tell the humble suppliant that heaven is the abode of the "Man Christ Jesus," that in heaven this Mediator carries on the work which He began on earth, and he will quickly realise that heaven, and heaven alone, is the place where human petitions may be expected to prevail.
H. Melvill, Penny Pulpit, No. 2326.
References: 1 Kings 8:46.—Bishop How, Plain Words to Children, p. 102. 1 Kings 8:53.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxi., No. 1232. 1 Kings 8:57.—C. Garrett, Loving Counsels, p. 69; Homiletic Quarterly, vol. ii., p. 265. 1 Kings 8:62.—E. Thring, Uppingham Sermons, vol. i., p. 46. 1Ki 8—Parker, vol. vii., p. 305. 1 Kings 9:3.—C. Wordsworth, Sermons Preached at Harrow School, p. 10. 1Ki 9—Parker, vol. vii., p. 316.
And all the men of Israel assembled themselves unto king Solomon at the feast in the month Ethanim, which is the seventh month.
And all the elders of Israel came, and the priests took up the ark.
And they brought up the ark of the LORD, and the tabernacle of the congregation, and all the holy vessels that were in the tabernacle, even those did the priests and the Levites bring up.
And king Solomon, and all the congregation of Israel, that were assembled unto him, were with him before the ark, sacrificing sheep and oxen, that could not be told nor numbered for multitude.
And the priests brought in the ark of the covenant of the LORD unto his place, into the oracle of the house, to the most holy place, even under the wings of the cherubims.
For the cherubims spread forth their two wings over the place of the ark, and the cherubims covered the ark and the staves thereof above.
And they drew out the staves, that the ends of the staves were seen out in the holy place before the oracle, and they were not seen without: and there they are unto this day.
There was nothing in the ark save the two tables of stone, which Moses put there at Horeb, when the LORD made a covenant with the children of Israel, when they came out of the land of Egypt.
And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the LORD,
So that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of the LORD.
Then spake Solomon, The LORD said that he would dwell in the thick darkness.
I have surely built thee an house to dwell in, a settled place for thee to abide in for ever.
And the king turned his face about, and blessed all the congregation of Israel: (and all the congregation of Israel stood;)
And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Israel, which spake with his mouth unto David my father, and hath with his hand fulfilled it, saying,
Since the day that I brought forth my people Israel out of Egypt, I chose no city out of all the tribes of Israel to build an house, that my name might be therein; but I chose David to be over my people Israel.
And it was in the heart of David my father to build an house for the name of the LORD God of Israel.
And the LORD said unto David my father, Whereas it was in thine heart to build an house unto my name, thou didst well that it was in thine heart.
Nevertheless thou shalt not build the house; but thy son that shall come forth out of thy loins, he shall build the house unto my name.
And the LORD hath performed his word that he spake, and I am risen up in the room of David my father, and sit on the throne of Israel, as the LORD promised, and have built an house for the name of the LORD God of Israel.
And I have set there a place for the ark, wherein is the covenant of the LORD, which he made with our fathers, when he brought them out of the land of Egypt.
And Solomon stood before the altar of the LORD in the presence of all the congregation of Israel, and spread forth his hands toward heaven:
And he said, LORD God of Israel, there is no God like thee, in heaven above, or on earth beneath, who keepest covenant and mercy with thy servants that walk before thee with all their heart:
Who hast kept with thy servant David my father that thou promisedst him: thou spakest also with thy mouth, and hast fulfilled it with thine hand, as it is this day.
Therefore now, LORD God of Israel, keep with thy servant David my father that thou promisedst him, saying, There shall not fail thee a man in my sight to sit on the throne of Israel; so that thy children take heed to their way, that they walk before me as thou hast walked before me.
And now, O God of Israel, let thy word, I pray thee, be verified, which thou spakest unto thy servant David my father.
But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded?
Yet have thou respect unto the prayer of thy servant, and to his supplication, O LORD my God, to hearken unto the cry and to the prayer, which thy servant prayeth before thee to day:
That thine eyes may be open toward this house night and day, even toward the place of which thou hast said, My name shall be there: that thou mayest hearken unto the prayer which thy servant shall make toward this place.
And hearken thou to the supplication of thy servant, and of thy people Israel, when they shall pray toward this place: and hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place: and when thou hearest, forgive.
If any man trespass against his neighbour, and an oath be laid upon him to cause him to swear, and the oath come before thine altar in this house:
Then hear thou in heaven, and do, and judge thy servants, condemning the wicked, to bring his way upon his head; and justifying the righteous, to give him according to his righteousness.
When thy people Israel be smitten down before the enemy, because they have sinned against thee, and shall turn again to thee, and confess thy name, and pray, and make supplication unto thee in this house:
Then hear thou in heaven, and forgive the sin of thy people Israel, and bring them again unto the land which thou gavest unto their fathers.
When heaven is shut up, and there is no rain, because they have sinned against thee; if they pray toward this place, and confess thy name, and turn from their sin, when thou afflictest them:
Then hear thou in heaven, and forgive the sin of thy servants, and of thy people Israel, that thou teach them the good way wherein they should walk, and give rain upon thy land, which thou hast given to thy people for an inheritance.
If there be in the land famine, if there be pestilence, blasting, mildew, locust, or if there be caterpiller; if their enemy besiege them in the land of their cities; whatsoever plague, whatsoever sickness there be;
What prayer and supplication soever be made by any man, or by all thy people Israel, which shall know every man the plague of his own heart, and spread forth his hands toward this house:
Then hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place, and forgive, and do, and give to every man according to his ways, whose heart thou knowest; (for thou, even thou only, knowest the hearts of all the children of men;)
That they may fear thee all the days that they live in the land which thou gavest unto our fathers.
Moreover concerning a stranger, that is not of thy people Israel, but cometh out of a far country for thy name's sake;
(For they shall hear of thy great name, and of thy strong hand, and of thy stretched out arm;) when he shall come and pray toward this house;
Hear thou in heaven 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, to fear thee, as do thy people Israel; and that they may know that this house, which I have builded, is called by thy name.
If thy people go out to battle against their enemy, whithersoever thou shalt send them, and shall pray unto the LORD toward the city which thou hast chosen, and toward the house that I have built for thy name:
Then hear thou in heaven their prayer and their supplication, and maintain their cause.
If they sin against thee, (for there is no man that sinneth not,) and thou be angry with them, and deliver them to the enemy, so that they carry them away captives unto the land of the enemy, far or near;
Yet if they shall bethink themselves in the land whither they were carried captives, and repent, and make supplication unto thee in the land of them that carried them captives, saying, We have sinned, and have done perversely, we have committed wickedness;
And so return unto thee with all their heart, and with all their soul, in the land of their enemies, which led them away captive, and pray unto thee toward their land, which thou gavest unto their fathers, the city which thou hast chosen, and the house which I have built for thy name:
Then hear thou their prayer and their supplication in heaven thy dwelling place, and maintain their cause,
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:
For they be thy people, and thine inheritance, which thou broughtest forth out of Egypt, from the midst of the furnace of iron:
That thine eyes may be open unto the supplication of thy servant, and unto the supplication of thy people Israel, to hearken unto them in all that they call for unto thee.
For thou didst separate them from among all the people of the earth, to be thine inheritance, as thou spakest by the hand of Moses thy servant, when thou broughtest our fathers out of Egypt, O Lord GOD.
And it was so, that when Solomon had made an end of praying all this prayer and supplication unto the LORD, he arose from before the altar of the LORD, from kneeling on his knees with his hands spread up to heaven.
And he stood, and blessed all the congregation of Israel with a loud voice, saying,
Blessed be the LORD, that hath given rest unto his people Israel, according to all that he promised: there hath not failed one word of all his good promise, which he promised by the hand of Moses his servant.
The LORD our God be with us, as he was with our fathers: let him not leave us, nor forsake us:
That he may incline our hearts unto him, to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, and his statutes, and his judgments, which he commanded our fathers.
And let these my words, wherewith I have made supplication before the LORD, be nigh unto the LORD our God day and night, that he maintain the cause of his servant, and the cause of his people Israel at all times, as the matter shall require:
That all the people of the earth may know that the LORD is God, and that there is none else.
Let your heart therefore be perfect with the LORD our God, to walk in his statutes, and to keep his commandments, as at this day.
And the king, and all Israel with him, offered sacrifice before the LORD.
And Solomon offered a sacrifice of peace offerings, which he offered unto the LORD, two and twenty thousand oxen, and an hundred and twenty thousand sheep. So the king and all the children of Israel dedicated the house of the LORD.
The same day did the king hallow the middle of the court that was before the house of the LORD: for there he offered burnt offerings, and meat offerings, and the fat of the peace offerings: because the brasen altar that was before the LORD was too little to receive the burnt offerings, and meat offerings, and the fat of the peace offerings.
And at that time Solomon held a feast, and all Israel with him, a great congregation, from the entering in of Hamath unto the river of Egypt, before the LORD our God, seven days and seven days, even fourteen days.
On the eighth day he sent the people away: and they blessed the king, and went unto their tents joyful and glad of heart for all the goodness that the LORD had done for David his servant, and for Israel his people.