May Your eyes be open toward this temple night and day, toward the place of which You said, 'My Name shall be there,' so that You may hear the prayer that Your servant prays toward this place.
i.e., to rulers of thought in literature and science. How heavy the responsibility of those who use their kingliness to lead men from God into the dreariness of scepticism; how glorious the powers they may employ to exalt the Lord our God. Solomon is a proof that wisdom is better than knowledge. On this occasion he prayed as the representative and leader of others. A prayer so prominent in Scripture, so remarkable in circumstances, so acceptable to God, deserves consideration, that we may see its elements. It presents the following characteristics:
I. GRATEFUL ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF THE PAST. "In everything give thanks" (1 Thessalonians 5:18). "By prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, make your requests known" (Philippians 4:6). "It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord" (Psalm 92:1). "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits" (Psalm 103:2.) Notice the causes of Solomon's thanksgiving:
(1) God's goodness to his father (ver. 24). Home blessings so wholly unmerited, so richly beneficial.
(2) Divine deliveranve from bondage (ver. 51). Egypt a type of sorrow, slavery to evil habit, etc.
(3) Separation and consecration for God's purposes (ver. 53). The honor of this. Its responsibilities. Its signs.
(4) Rest and quietude (ver. 56). "He hath given rest unto his people Israel." The blessedness of peace to a country, exemplified by the contrast between Solomon's and David's reigns. The freedom from harassing anxieties experienced by many is from God. The rest of heart, which may be ours amidst the distresses of life, is from Him. "Peace I leave with you" (John 14:27). "Heart quiet from the fear of evil" (Proverbs 1:83). See also 2 Corinthians 4:8. For all such blessings we should give God thanks.
II. CONFIDENCE IN THE PROMISES. (See ver. 29 as example.) Show how the patriarchs ever reminded God of His promises. Illustrate also from the pleadings of Moses and the prophets. Prove from Christ's own words that the promises are renewed and enlarged for us, and that only on them cat. our expectancy of blessing be founded. The utility of prayer cannot be demonstrated by reason, but by revelation. In the spiritual realm we know Divine laws by Divine declaration, the truth of which is confirmed by the experience of those who fulfilling the required conditions, test them. "Ask and it shall be given you" (Matthew 7:7) is a promise. But appended to it is the requirement of faith. "Without faith it is impossible to please God" (Hebrews 11:6). "According to your faith, so be it unto you." See also James 1:5-7; Matthew 21:22, etc.
III. ENLARGEMENT OF HEART (ver. 41, "moreover concerning a stranger," etc.) The prayer is remarkable on the part of a Jewish king. Give evidences of the narrowness and selfishness of the nation. We might expect this feeling in all its intensity on such an occasion as the consecration of this temple. But Solomon's sympathies overflowed national prejudices. The tendency of prayer is to enlarge the heart. Christians pray together who never work together. They who are nearest to God's throne are nearest to each other. As we pray, our yearnings go further afield, and we think kindly of the erring, pitifully of the lost, forgivingly of the wrong doers.
IV. LONGING FOR THE GLORY OF GOD. Solomon's chief wish in regard to the temple is expressed in verse 60, "that all the people of the earth may know that the Lord is God, and that there is none else." Our Lord's prayer is like Solomon's in this, that it ends in an ascription of "the kingdom, and the power, and the glory," to God. So with all true prayer. It ends in praise. See how David, in the Psalms, prayed himself out of sadness into joy; out of confession into thankfulness and praise. If we ask something for ourselves, or for others, it should be with the implied wish that it may be granted or withheld, as may be, for our welfare and God's glory. The yearning of each Christian should be that of the Lord Jesus, "Father, glorify thy name." - A.R.
I. THE HOUSE OF GOD. Our text speaks of heaven as God's dwelling-place. Perfectly true. But where is heaven? Heaven is above us, but it is also beneath and about us. Now it was this thought that appealed even to Solomon aa he knelt with outspread hands before the glory lit altar of the new temple. For a moment he seems to have been staggered: But he recovers himself speedily, however. It was God's house. Why was it God's house? He Himself had selected the site; it had been built on the Divine-plan; the builders had been directed in all the arrangements. God's own promise was in the matter, and it had been fulfilled to the letter.
This place.I. WHAT THE HOUSE OF GOD IS NOT.
1. In this place is no architectural type; it is no homage to the esthetics of form. Architecture is but a help and a convenience; it is not a religion.
2. "This place" is not reared in homage to any principle, so called, of Natural Religion; on the contrary, it is an admission that Natural Religion is not enough to satisfy the heart of the worshipper; it is true the groves were God s first temples; it is equally true that the early Persian made his peak an altar, and worshipped the Lord of nature from the tops of earths o'er-gazing mountains; it may be true that our Gothic architecture is an attempt to torture the stone to the grace and grandeur of the forest aisles, but it will not do, it will not do. "This place" is not reared to emulate "in the long-drawn aisle and the fretted vault," the mysteries of the groves and the trees; it is to point to one tree — the Cross; it is not to celebrate the mountain majesties of heaven, but to be a cleft of the rock, in which the people may hide themselves while the tempest and the wrath pass by.
3. "This place" is not an Ecclesiasticism; it is not the place for mere hierarchical assumption; it does not exist to symbolise any particular creed; it derives any value it may boast, not from man or men, but from God.
4. "This Place" is not built in homage to Intellectual Achievement, or to the consecrating efforts of Taste.
II. What the house of God is. — "This place" is the assertion that a new church has come to view. Hebraism was a church — the Jew was, in fact, a Christian. But he was so pictorially, and he must represent to us God as working the salvation over and independent of him. What, then, is suggested to us by "this place"?
1. It is Consecration. This is the stone for a memorial; and the prayers of the people and their dedication words are the holy oil poured upon the stone. This is the place of an almond-tree, beneath whose shade the weary Jacob rests, and beholds the vision of ascending and descending angels; and says, "Lo, God is in this place; this is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven."
2. And with that idea goes this other of seclusion, seclusion even here. But it will be said, is not every place God's — is not every place equally Divine? To Him, Yes; to us, I must say, No, certainly not. Is not God equally diffused over all creation? To Himself, Yes; to us, No, certainly not. As well ask, Does magnetism reside equally in all substances? Is there not a loadstone, and a magnetic needle? The Sabbath is an answer to our necessities, by being a seclusion in time; the temple is an answer to our necessities by being a seclusion in space. Man needs, not only Sabbath hours, he needs Sabbath spots. Cannot man worship alone, it is said, in his own life and heart, and have there his own still Sabbath? What some may do, I will not say; but on the whole, I shall reply, Certainly not; man's true seclusion will be the temple; seclusion in such a place is very beautiful. As consecration is the act of setting apart, to and for God, so seclusion is that retiring into ourselves; we always enter into our closet when we retire into ourselves; but how large and mighty is the idea that in this place we retire not only into ourselves but into and with God.
3. But this place reveals the principle of association as surely as of seclusion or consecration. Here is revealed the unity of the Church — here is realised the image of the harmonious interworkings of countless spirits, who, though scattered over the whole globe, endowed with freedom, and possessing the power to strike off into every deviation to the right or to the left, yet preserving still their various peculiarities, constitute one great brotherhood for the advancement of each other s spiritual existence, representing one idea, that of the reconciliation of men with God, who, on that account, have been reconciled with one another, and have become one body.
4. But, again, this place is not merely emotional, it is conservative, it is the centre of doctrine, and therefore there is associated with it the idea of teaching it is the House of God; it is the home "of the chosen of the living God"; it is the depository of "the pillar and ground of the truth."
5. Another sentiment suitable to "this place" is, that it is perfectly in harmony with all that has gone before; it may be naturally described as the centre of conversion. "Repent and be converted, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" — this is the word which must often be uttered here, "and of this man it shall be said, he was born there." These buildings exist for the purpose for which the Gospels were written; they were built that believers "may have life," but they were built also that men "may believe." Lessons: To regenerated hearts this place is a memory. Here we pierce back into the night of time, and the eye surveys the splendid piles of ancient days. This place is an anticipation: it is a promise from God to man of his future home, and it is the declaration to man's heart, from the deeper instincts of his being, of the great, the hallowed, and all-hallowing truth that "there remaineth a rest for the people of God" — our rest in this place is the assurance of our rest yonder.
(B. P. Hood.)
II. THE HOUSE OF PRAYER. I like, however, to remember that it is, in the second title, a place of worship, a House of Prayer. Solomon used the first Temple for that purpose at the outset, and named it so from the beginning. And those who could not tread its sacred courts were to open their windows toward Jerusalem, and throw the arrows of their prayers through the lattice which looked that way. The Temple, in a word, was to be the medium and the mediator between the yearning hearts of men and the bounteous hands of the Lord God of Israel. Things have changed since then; old things have passed, away; behold, all things have become new.
III. THE HOUSE OF MERCY. — "When thou hearest, forgive." Forgive! Ah yes, yes, we shall need to pray that prayer amongst the rest. Prayers for succour and for strength, prayers for comfort and for joy, will need to be supplemented with prayers for pardon. Some nowadays profess to have got far away beyond this. I am not ashamed to confess in one sense that I have not. The Lord has taught us so to pray, "Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors"
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