1 Kings 3:50). We have no means of judging as to the precise time of this occurrence; but the close connection of thought between what God here says to Solomon and the prayer at the dedication (seen most clearly in 2 Chronicles 7:14, 15) leads us to suppose that it took place immediately after that event. It illustrates:
I. THE FIDELITY OF GOD AND THE BLESSED RESULTS THAT ATTEND IT. God's faithfulness is seen
(1) in the answering of the prayer - "I have heard thy prayer," etc. The vision was itself an instant and very gracious Divine response. All true prayer is heard. No pure breath of supplication, the incense of the heart, ever ascends to Heaven in yam. God does not disappoint the hopes and longings He has Himself awakened. As the vapours that rise from land and sea sooner or later return again, distilling in the silent dew, descending in fruitful showers upon the earth - not one fluid particle is lost - so every cry of filial faith that goes up to the great Father of all comes back in due time in some form of heavenly benediction. And more, the answer is often far larger and richer than our expectations. He "doeth exceeding abundantly," etc. (Ephesians 3:20). Solomon had prayed "That thine eyes may be open towards this house." God answers, "Mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually." The very heart of God dwells where His suppliant people are. This anthropopathic mode of speech is a gracious Divine accommodation to our human wants and weaknesses. God condescends to us that we may the better rise to Him. It is the necessarily imperfect yet most welcome expression of a sublime reality that we could not otherwise know. God has a tender "heart" towards us as well as an observant "eye." And wherever we seek Him with all our hearts there His heart responds to the throbbing of ours - a sympathetic personal Presence, meeting our approach, pitying our necessities, giving love for love. Note, too, the constancy of this grace - "forever." "perpetually." "The gifts and calling of God are without repentance." Wherever He records His name there He "dwells." When He blesses, when He gives or forgives, it is "forever." If the grace is cancelled, if the benediction is withdrawn, the fault is ours, not His. "Though we believe not, yet He abideth faithful; He cannot deny Himself" (2 Timothy 2:18).
(2) In the repetition of the promise, "If thou wilt walk before me," etc. (vers. 4, 5). The promise is reiterated as a sacred and inviolable engagement which God on His part will never break. "The sure mercies of David." All Divine promises are sure. We have but to place ourselves in the line of their fulfilment and all is well with us. They are steadfast as the ordinances of heaven and earth. Natural laws are God's promises in the material realm. Obedience to them is the sure path to physical well being. Are His counsels in the moral and spiritual sphere likely to be less steadfast and reliable? Heaven and earth shall pass away, but the promises of His grace can never fail. "They stand fast forever and ever and are done in truth and uprightness" (Psalm 111:8).
II. THE INFIDELITY OF MAN AND THE FATAL CONSEQUENCES THAT FOLLOW IT. "But if ye shall at all turn from following me," etc. Here is a solemn note of warning, the presage of that guilty apostasy by which the Jewish people became in after years the most signal example to men and nations of the waywardness of human nature and the retributive justice of God. We are reminded that the faithfulness of God has a dark as well as a bright side to it. As the cloud that guided the march of the Israelites out of Egypt was light to them, but a source of blinding confusion and miserable discomfiture to their adversaries, so this and every other attribute of God bears a different aspect towards us according to the relation in which we stand to it, the side on which we place ourselves. Be true to Him, and every perfection of His being is a joy to you, a guide, a glory, a defence; forsake Him, and they become at once ministers of vengeance. Even His love, in its infinite rectitude and purity, dooms you to the penalty from which there can be no escape. Whether in the physical or the spiritual realms, one feature of the very beneficence of God's laws is that they must avenge themselves. Learn here
(1) that all human loss and misery spring from forsaking God. "If ye shall at all turn from following me, ye or your children," then shall all these woes come upon you. All sin is a departure from the living God. "My people have committed two evils, they have forsaken me," etc. (Jeremiah 2:13). Adam cast off his allegiance to God when He listened to the voice of the tempter. Idolatry in its deepest root has this meaning (see Romans 1:21-28). Every sinful life is a more or less intentional and deliberate renunciation of God, and its natural results are shame, and degradation, and death. The course of the prodigal in Christ's parable is a picture of the hopeless destitution of every soul that forsakes its home in God. "They that are far from thee shall perish" (Psalm 73:27).
(2) That according to the height of privilege so is the depth of the condemnation when that privilege is abused. The very height of the "hallowed house" shall make the ruin the more conspicuous and the more terrible. There is no heavier judgment that God pronounces upon men than when He says, "I will curse thy blessings." The best things are capable of the worst abuse. And when the highest sanctities of life are violated they become the worst grounds of reproach and sources of bitterness. The greater the elevation, the deeper and more dreadful the fall. "Thou Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven," etc. (Luke 10:15).
(3) That one inevitable penalty of trangression is contempt and scorn. "Israel shall be a proverb and a byword among all people." "He that passeth by shall be astonished and shall hiss." "When the salt has lost its savour it is henceforth good for nothing but to be cast out and trodden under foot of men" (Matthew 5:13). The wicked may be in honour now, but the time is coming when they "shall awake to shame and everlasting contempt." - W.
On the eighth day he sent the people away; and they blessed the king.I. THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE GOOD ON EARTH IS IMPERFECT. Secular concerns, physical infirmities, incongruities of mind, temper, education, worldly condition, and other circumstances, expose it to interruption. "On the eighth day he sent the people away." Follow them in imagination. Some go south to Bethlehem, and Hebron, and Libah; some to the east, to the pleasant vales of the Jordan, etc.
II. THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE GOOD ON EARTH TENDS TO THE PROMOTION OF ALL GOOD FEELING.
1. Increased attachment to those who are over them in the Lord. "And they blessed the king" (1 Peter 2:13-17).
2. Increased sympathy with, and delight in the work of God. "Joyful and glad of heart, for," etc. No petty jealousies, no sectarian strifes, no proud boasting. The tribes are lost in " Israel." Solomon and David are one. "The Lord" is "all in all." What a lesson to Christians.
3. Increased aptitude for the service of God in their several houses. They seem to have had a deep sense of the transitoriness of earthly things. "Went unto their tents." The word stands for houses. It had come down from the time of the patriarchs. Would suggest the thought, "we are pilgrims. What are our houses, and the fabric of our families, the organisations of our churches, but tents?" (Hebrews 12:27, 28).
III. THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE GOOD ON EARTH PROPHESIES OF A MORE PERFECT AND ENDURING FELLOWSHIP HEREAFTER.
1. More perfect. No distractions, no weariness, no incongruities, nothing to mar or interrupt the universal harmony.
2. More enduring. All things earthly are transitory. The sweetest song must come to an end, the pleasantest book must be laid aside, the most endearing "fellowship," etc. Not so hereafter. In heaven there is no sending away.
( C. H. Spurgeon.).
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