Through the Bible Day by Day
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.
THE TEMPLE FILLED WITH GLORY
When the Temple was finished it was dedicated in connection with the Feast of Tabernacles. All Israel in its most festive attire welcomed the Ark to its resting-place, with sacrifices and offerings that defied calculation. The budding rod and manna had gone from the Ark, because they belonged to a stage of experience which had passed away, just as we have to put away the things of our childhood; but the holy Law was there, 1Ki_8:9, because, in our most ripened experience, we need to build and meditate on the eternal righteousness which is the foundation of God’s throne. The staves of the Ark were drawn out, because this was God’s resting-place forever. See Psa_132:1-18.
How comforted Solomon was when he saw the glory cloud settle down, like a bird on its nest! It was the sign of the divine approval and acceptance, Exo_40:34. May that Presence fill the throne-room of our nature, that there may be no part dark, Luk_11:36, but that soul, mind, and strength may be full of love and light.
BREAKING THREE COMMANDMENTS
1Ki_21:1-29; 1Ki_1:1-53; 1Ki_2:1-46; 1Ki_3:1-28; 1Ki_4:1-34; 1Ki_5:1-18; 1Ki_6:1-38; 1Ki_7:1-51; 1Ki_8:1-66; 1Ki_9:1-28; 1Ki_10:1-29; 1Ki_11:1-43; 1Ki_12:1-33; 1Ki_13:1-34; 1Ki_14:1-31; 1Ki_15:1-34; 1Ki_16:1-34
From a worldly point of view Naboth might have done a good stroke of business by selling his estate to. Ahab. A royal price and assured favor might have been his-but he had a conscience! Above the persuasive tones of the monarch’s offer sounded the voice of God: “The land shall not be sold for ever, for the land is mine.” See Lev_25:23; Num_36:7; Eze_46:18.
Ahab knew perfectly well that Jezebel could not give him the property of another except by foul means, but he took pains not to inquire. Though the direct orders for Naboth’s death did not come from him, yet, by his silence, he was an accomplice and an accessory; and divine justice penetrates all such specious excuses. God holds us responsible for wrongs which we do not arrest, though we have the power. The crime was blacker because of the pretext of religion, as suggested by a fast. See also 2Ki_9:26. The blood of murdered innocence cries to God, and his requital, though delayed, is inevitable. See Rev_6:9-10.
Then spake Solomon, The LORD said that he would dwell in the thick darkness.
THE BUILDER’S DEDICATION ADDRESS
Solomon, standing on the great platform within, view of the vast, thronging multitudes, recited tie steps that had led them to that illustrious hour. His whole speech was of God’s dealings. Why do we not speak of God more often, as the most important factor in life! It is a blessed thing to trace the connection between what God has promised and what He has fulfilled, 1Ki_8:15. “The Lord hath performed His word that He spoke,” 1Ki_8:20. Many of us could say that, and we ought to say it.
Solomon brought out clearly in this address that God took account of David’s good intentions. “Thou didst well that it was in thine heart,” 1Ki_8:18. Circumstances may prevent the execution of a desire and a purpose with which, years ago, our hearts were filled. God, however, will never forget it, and will see that the project is carried out in some other way-perhaps by another instrument. It was well that it was in thine heart to become a foreign missionary, though the need of widowed mother, or the claims of home, rendered literal obedience impossible. Thou shalt have the missionary’s place and crown hereafter, for it was in thine heart.
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:
GOD GREATER THAN ANY TEMPLE
Solomon’s different attitudes are specially mentioned. First he stood with hands outspread, 1Ki_8:22; then, as indicated by 1Ki_8:54, he came to his knees. These attitudes show expectant faith, as well as profound humility and reverence. The more we know of God, and experience the blessing of fellowship with Him, the lower becomes our self-estimate. Confidence in God always enhances reverence, Heb_12:28. The man who is lowest on his knees before God stands most erect to bless others, 1Ki_8:55.
The prayer began with an ascription of glory to God. In this it resembles the Lord’s Prayer; which begins with Hallowed be thy Name. Compare Psa_115:1. Let us form our own prayers on this model. Then it acknowledges God’s fidelity to His promises. As He speaks, so He fulfils. But it is our part always to say with Solomon, Keep that which thou hast promised, 1Ki_8:25, and Let thy word be verified, 1Ki_8:26. When we stand on this sure footing with God, we can look out on all possible ills that may confront us-whether, drought, famine, pestilence, defeat, or captivity-and be absolutely sure that he will hear, answer, and forgive. Heaven cannot contain Him, but he dwells in the contrite heart, Isa_57:15.
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:
APPEALS TO THE GOD OF MERCY
Solomon’s prayer is evidently based on the book of Deuteronomy, and tends to confirm the old belief that, with the rest of the Pentateuch, this book came from the hand of Moses. In 2Ch_20:7-9, Jehoshaphat pleaded this prayer as though it were substantially a promise, and therefore all needy souls who find their case described here, may plead it on their own behalf.
Notice how frequently Solomon speaks of prayer, even in the land of captivity and exile, as being-directed toward the Temple, 1Ki_8:38, etc. It reminds us of the grave need of maintaining unimpaired our spiritual frontage. It has been truly said that the direction of the soul’s outlook is the preliminary question in religion. Whether our home looks south or north; whether it faces sunless alleys or sunny fields, is an important physical consideration with us: It is likewise of great importance that the mind or soul should face the right way. The difference between spiritual health and disease is very largely one of the way in which we front. For us, Temple, Altar, and Mercy-Seat are all summed up in Jesus Christ. Our life must be spent looking unto Him, Heb_12:2.
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:
A PLEA FOR NATIONAL RIGHTEOUSNESS
How true it is that there is no man that sinneth not, 1Ki_8:46! Only one that ever walked this earth was holy, guileless, and undefiled, Heb_7:26. When we fail to watch and abide in Christ, we are easily carried into captivity. How many of God’s children are thus taken captive! They are in bondage to some besetting sin, to some evil habit, to some degrading business, or to some unseemly alliance. Like blind Samson, they grind in the prison-house.
Let any such, who long for freedom, take home to their souls the infinite comfort which God’s Word affords. Let them bethink-themselves of the holy and blessed days of the past. Let them repent, that is, in their heart and in practice put away the evil thing which is the outward badge of their sad condition. Let them turn again to the Savior, who has passed into the Holiest, that He may intercede in the presence of God for us all. There will be an immediate response. God will hearken in all that they call unto Him for, will forgive transgression and sin, and will restore His people to become again His own inheritance for His glory and praise.
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.
PETITION AND SACRIFICE
The man, as we have seen, who kneels most humbly before God is empowered to bless the people in God’s name. What an august and noble testimony the king bore: “There hath not failed one word of all His good promise,” 1Ki_8:56. Joshua had said that before Solomon, Jos_23:14. Myriads have borne similar witness, and, as we are passing hence, we shall say the same. We have failed, but not God; we have left Him, but He has never cast us away. The mountains may depart and the hills remove, but He will not alter nor falter in His everlasting kindness. Let us ask Him to incline our hearts unto Him, 1Ki_8:58.
Notice the r.v. marginal reading in 1Ki_8:59 of the phrase, “as every day shall require”-“the thing of a day in its day.” Whatever may be the requirement for any day, the abundance of grace needed is provided, but you must look up for it and use it. It is they who receive the abundance of grace that reign in life. But you cannot receive unless your heart is perfect with God, and you walk in His statutes and keep His commandments.