2 Chronicles 6:40
Now, my God, may Your eyes be open and Your ears attentive to the prayer offered in this place.
Sermons
God in His TempleHomilist2 Chronicles 6:40-41
Solomon's Prayer At the Dedication of the TempleR. C. Dillon, A.M.2 Chronicles 6:40-41
Solomon's Prayer for the SanctuaryC. Gilbert.2 Chronicles 6:40-41
The Dedication of the TempleR. Watson.2 Chronicles 6:40-41
The Dedication of the TempleJ. Davies, D. D.2 Chronicles 6:40-41
The Divine Presence EntreatedJ. T. Broad, M.A.2 Chronicles 6:40-41
A Prayer for the Church of GodT. Whitelaw 2 Chronicles 6:40-42

I. FOR ITS CONGREGATIONS.

1. That God would make them his resting-place. "Arise, O Lord God, into thy resting-place" (ver. 41). Taken from the battle-cry of the nation when the ark set forward to search out a resting-place for them (Numbers 10:33-36), the words imply a request that Jehovah Elohim, the covenant God of Israel, would make of the temple, and therefore of that which it symbolized, the Church of God, collectively and severally, as a whole and in its individual assemblies:

(1) A place of permanent indwelling, an abode of rest, a home or habitation of repose, a mansion or fixed residence, out of which he should no more depart. Such had Jehovah promised of Mount Zion (Psalm 132:13, 14), and such has Christ promised concerning the smallest and humblest gatherings of his people (Matthew 13:20).

(2) A scene of gracious manifestation. It cannot be imagined that Solomon merely wished to have Jehovah's symbolic presence behind the veil in the inner shrine of the temple, in the form of a cloud of smoke and fire. What he craved was Jehovah's real, personal presence; and that he would not have desired (or at least could hardly have been much concerned about) had he understood that the only way in which God could dwell among them was in silence and in solitude, wrapped up in contemplation of his own measureless perfections and shut off from all intercourse with his creatures, and even with his chosen and covenanted people. But Solomon knew that if Jehovah condescended to pitch his residence among them, it would be for the purpose of making gracious revelations of himself as a God of love and mercy, and gracious communications of himself as the Life and Light of his believing people; and Christians know that this is the specific object God in Christ has in view in establishing his real, though unseen, presence in the assemblies and hearts of his followers (John 14:21-23).

(3) A spring of Divine satisfaction. Unless it should be this it could not prove a resting-place for Jehovah. Jehovah must obtain in it, in its services and celebrations, and much more in the dispositions and actions, hearts and lives, of its worshippers, that satisfaction which his holy and loving nature demands; otherwise he will be constrained to withdraw from their midst, from their hearts and from their convocations, from their temples and from their altars. So can God in Christ only rest in those Churches and individuals where he smells a sweet savour of faith, hope, love, penitence, humility, obedience, rising from such spiritual sacrifices as they offer to his Name.

2. That God would establish in them the tokens of his power. "Arise, O Lord... thou, and the ark of thy strength." The outwardly mean and insignificant wooden box called the ark was a symbol of God's physical almightiness, which commonly worked through feeble instruments; of his commanding omnipotence, which was ever based on essential holiness; and of his grace-bestowing power, which revealed itself upon and in and through a mercy-seat. Hence, in seeking that the ark might find in the temple a resting-place, Solomon practically asked that Jehovah would, through it as a medium, manifest to Israel his power (1.) in protecting and defending them against their adversaries,

(2) in ruling and governing them by statutes and ordinances, and

(3) in forgiving them and enriching them with grace. The same three forms of strength Jehovah still puts forth within the Christian Church. He dwells within her, as he did in ancient Israel, as Defender and Deliverer (Psalm 84:11; Psalm 91:1-7; Isaiah 31:5; Zechariah 2:5; Matthew 16:18; 2 Thessalonians 3:3; Revelation 3:10); as Sovereign and Ruler (Psalm 24:1; Psalm 44:4; Psalm 74:12; Psalm 95:3; Isaiah 33:22; Isaiah 43:15; Malachi 1:14; Matthew 6:13; Hebrews 1:3; James 4:12; Revelation 19:6); and as Redeemer and Friend (Isaiah 12:2; Isaiah 41:14; Isaiah 47:4; Luke 1:68; John 3:16; Romans 8:32; 1 Timothy 2:3).

3. That God would listen to the prayers that in them ascended from the hearts of his people. "Let thine eyes be open, and thine ears be attent unto the prayer that is made in this place." The temple was designed to be a place of prayer for all people (Isaiah 56:7; Matthew 21:13; Mark 11:17; Luke 19:46), for all people to resort to with supplications for themselves and on behalf of all sorts of people; the like characteristics belong to the Church of the New Testament (Luke 18:1; Luke 24:52, 53; Ephesians 6:18; 1 Thessalonians 5:17; 1 Timothy 2:1, 8).

II. FOR ITS MINISTERS. That they might be clothed with salvation (ver. 41), or righteousness (Psalm 132:9) - the two terms in the Old Testament being synonymous, or at least so connected that the one implies the other (cf. Isaiah 61:10). Rightly understood, salvation is the outcome and result of righteousness. The soul that is righteous outwardly and inwardly, judicially or legally, and morally or personally, is saved; while none are saved by whom that righteousness is not possessed, either in whole as by the glorified, or in part as by Christian believers -

"Whose faith receives a righteousness
That makes the sinner just." In seeking, then, that the temple priests might be clothed with salvation, Solomon desired:

1. That they might be personally good men. Upright and sincere in their hearts before God, virtuous and correct in their walk before men - men like Noah (Genesis 7:1), Abraham (Genesis 17:1), Job (Job 1:1; 29:14), David (Psalm 7:8), and Nathanael (John 1:47); since only men themselves righteous, in the sense of being justified and accepted before God as well as renewed and possessed of the germ of holiness, were warranted to minister at God's altar (Exodus 22:31; Leviticus 11:44; Psalm h 16). The like qualification the Church of Christ should ever seek in those who serve in her pulpits. Anything more calamitous than an insincere and immoral, because unbelieving and unconverted ministry, can hardly be imagined as befalling the Christian Church. The first requisite of him who would preach the gospel is a hearty acceptance of the same in faith and humility, love and obedience - the foundation of all true piety.

2. That they might be clothed with salvation in their official ministrations. That their whole being should be absorbed (and so visibly that men might behold it) in the work of saving God's people. If indispensable as a mark of a true Heaven-appointed priest under the Law, much more is this requisite as a qualification of the Christ-sent preacher under the gospel Pastors and teachers in the New Testament Church who aim not at the salvation of themselves and their hearers (1 Timothy 4:16) are intruders into the sacred office. The one theme which has a claim to monopolize the time, talents, thought, eloquence, zeal of the Christian minister is the gospel of Christ - "the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth" (Romans 1:16).

III. FOR ITS PEOPLE. That they might rejoice in goodness (ver. 41). Notice:

1. The designation. Saints (1 Samuel 2:19; Psalm 30:4; Psalm 50:5; Psalm 149:1). The term literally signifies kind, excellent, one who shows favour, hence pious (Gesenius); or one who has obtained favour, hence beloved (Perowne). In both senses were God's ancient people "saints." They were objects of Jehovah's favour (Deuteronomy 7:8; 1 Kings 10:9; 2 Chronicles 2:11), beloved for the fathers' sakes (Romans 11:28); and were, or should have been, kind and beneficent (Leviticus 19:18; Psalm 112:5; Proverbs 10:12; Zechariah 7:9). So likewise are New Testament believers beloved for Christ's sake (Romans 1:7; Ephesians 1:6), and commanded to love one another (John 13:84, 35; 15:17; Romans 12:10; Galatians 5:13; 1 Peter 2:17; 1 John 4:7, 21). The customary sense in which the term "saint" is used is that of separated, or holy one (Deuteronomy 33:3; Job 15:15; Psalm 34:9; Acts 9:13; Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:2; Ephesians 1:1).

2. The emotion. Gladness. Nothing more remarkable than the emphasis placed by both Testaments upon "joy" as an experience which should belong pre-eminently to God's saints (Deuteronomy 33:29; 1 Samuel 2:1; Psalm 5:11; Psalm 84:4; c. 1, 2; Isaiah 29:19; Romans 12:12; Romans 14:17; Galatians 5:22; Philippians 3:1; Philippians 4:4). Where joy is habitually absent, there is reason to suspect that either the individual is no true believer at all, or is under mistaken apprehensions concerning God or himself, or is affected by some malady, bodily or mental, which disturbs his peace. Yet the primal fountain of all joy for the religious soul is God (Nehemiah 8:10; Job 8:21; Psalm 4:7; Psalm 30:11; John 14:27; John 15:11; John 16:22; John 17:13; Romans 5:2; Romans 15:13).

3. The occasion. Goodness; i.e. in the highest sense. Not merely God's common gifts of corn and wine, though even in these a saint can exult with a propeiety which none can feel but those who recognize everything they have as coming from a Father's hand; but chiefly God's highest gifts of grace and salvation, and in particular God's great and unspeakable Gift, Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 9:15).

IV. FOR ITS KING. That God would regard him with favour (ver. 42). God's anointed in the passage under consideration was Solomon; but the great Anointed, of whom he was a shadow, was Christ, whom God anointed with the oil of gladness above his fellows (Psalm 45:7), and set as King upon his holy hill of Zion (Psalm 2:6). The language of the prayer, therefore, may be applied to Christ, the Church's Head and King.

1. In meaning it may signify that God would continue to regard him with favour, and show this by not denying his request (1 Kings 2:16). As thus interpreted, it teaches that Christ's Church has a deep interest in the success of all Christ's prayers on their behalf, and should make this a frequent burden of her supplications, that Jehovah would hear the intercessions of her anointed Head within the veil for transgressors (Isaiah 53:12), for believers (Hebrews 7:25), for the sanctification of his own (John 17:17), for the conversion of the World (John 17:20), for the final consummation of all things (John 17:24).

2. The arguments by which the prayer may be supported are two:

(1) The king's relation to God - he is God's anointed (Psalm 45:7); and

(2) the covenant engagement which God has made with him as David's son. These were the pleas advanced by Solomon; they are more befitting in the mouths of Christians regarding Christ. Learn:

1. The sublimity of true prayer.

2. The comprehensive scope of prayer.

3. The exalted character of the Church as God's dwelling-place, and as Christ's kingdom.

4. The grand aim of the Church as a visible institution to promote salvation.

5. The entire dependence of the Church for efficiency on God. - W.







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.
(a dedication sermon): — The text is a prayer to God —

I. FOR THE NOTICE OF HIS EYE. "Let Thine eyes be open towards this house." That you may worship under His approving eye.

1. Your worship must be spiritual.

2. Your worship must be that of faith.

3. You must come with purity.

II. FOR THE ATTENTION OF HIS EAR. "Let Thine ear be attent unto the prayer that is made in this place." What prayers will be made here?

1. Personal prayers.

2. Prayers for ministers.

3. Prayers for the inhabitants of this town.

4. Prayers for our country.

5. Prayers for the extension of Christ's kingdom.

III. FOR THE INSTRUCTIONS OF HIS WORD. "Arise Thou and the ark of Thy strength." We consider this part of the text a prayer for the administration of instruction; because the ark contained the tables of the ten commandments and a copy of the whole law, which the priests were appointed to teach.

IV. FOR A HOLY AND SUCCESSFUL PRIESTHOOD. "Let Thy priests, O Lord God, be clothed with salvation, and let Thy saints rejoice in goodness."

1. No minister can fully know the truth but by experience, and therefore cannot teach it.

2. No minister can conduct his office with a proper feeling, without experience, and that experience constant.

3. Success is promised to no unconverted man.

(R. Watson.)

There are two things of which we are here reminded.

I. OUR OWN SANCTUARY. "Let Thine ears be attent unto the prayer that is made in this place." We must carry a home-feeling with us into the sanctuary, if we wish it to be to us the house of God and the gate of heaven. There are some who are utter strangers to this home-feeling; they have no place of worship which they can call their own. A wandering spirit in religion is destructive to vital religion in the heart.

II. OUR EARNEST SUPPLICATION. "Arise, O Lord God," etc. This prayer is extremely suitable in the exercises of public worship, because it includes all that can be included both for minister and people.

(R. C. Dillon, A.M.)

I. AN UNEQUIVOCAL RECOGNITION OF THE NECESSITY OF THE DIVINE PRESENCE IN ORDER THAT A CHURCH MAY BE A SOURCE OF REAL BENEFIT TO THE PEOPLE.

II. THE INDISPENSABLE NECESSITY THAT MINISTERS SHOULD HAVE A DIVINE COMMISSION AND SUITABLE PERSONAL QUALIFICATIONS.

III. THE PARAMOUNT OBJECT AS IDENTIFIED WITH THE GLORY OF GOD, WORTHY OF THE MIGHTY APPARATUS PROVIDED AND BROUGHT INTO ACTION — THE ETERNAL BENEFIT OF THE PEOPLE.

(J. Davies, D. D.)

Homilist.
I. A DESCRIPTION OF GOD'S HOUSE. "Thy resting place." Rest is not used here in the sense of ceasing from labour, but in the sense of remaining or staying. Here we have the outward building for the worship of God represented.

1. As the heart of national life.

2. As the special place where God meets His people.

II. A PRAYER FOE CHRISTIAN MINISTERS. Some look upon a preacher as a social reformer. Some as a lecturer on morality. Some as a well-directed pattern of propriety to keep up appearance and show. The true light in which to regard a preacher is that of a messenger o! salvation.

III. A PETITION FOR THE PEOPLE. "Let Thy saints rejoice," etc.

1. An important state. A condition of joy.

2. A necessary condition. The only true ground of rejoicing is goodness.

(Homilist.)

I. EXPLAIN SOLOMON'S VIEWS OF THE SANCTUARY. He here represents it as the resting-place of God. Solomon was fully justified in this view by Psalm 132., which was supposed to have been composed in reference to the erection of the temple. There his father prays, "Enter Thou into Thy rest," and affirms — "For the Lord hath chosen Zion, He hath desired it for His habitation: here will I dwell for ever, for I have desired it." And further than this, the Divine presence had dwelt in the cloud that overshadowed the mercy-seat in the tabernacle. The presence of God was manifested in the temple, differently from everywhere beside. In hell, it is displayed by His frown — in heaven, by the unveiling of His glory — throughout the earth, in the exuberance of His goodness; but in the sanctuary, by the manifestation of His grace and compassion. It is called His "resting. place," because He regards it with complacency and delight. This delight, however, did not arise from the splendour with which Solomon's temple was adorned, for the Infinite Mind, which from its own vast resources could call into existence the temple of the universe, must be far superior to delight in any mere material edifice. God does not now dwell visibly in the midst of His people, nor does He confine the manifestation of His presence to one temple, as in the times of Solomon; for the resting-place of God is wherever His people meet together, whether in the mountain, den, cave, cottage, cathedral.

1. The sanctuary is the scene of the manifestation of His character as a God of grace. In the temple this was taught by God appearing reconciled by the sprinkling of the blood of the sacrifice on the mercy-seat. This appears more clearly in the Christian sanctuary, where God appears in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself by Jesus Christ, through the blood of the everlasting covenant.

2. The sanctuary is the scene of the worship of His people. The temple of old was thus distinguished.

3. The sanctuary is the sphere of the accomplishment of the purposes of Divine grace in reference to man. It was one great means of keeping alive the worship of the true God, and of preserving the existence of religion amongst them. Thus, on a limited scale, every Christian sanctuary is exerting a most salutary influence upon the present and eternal destinies of the children of men. These were reasons which induced so much delight in the mind of God in reference to the temple of Solomon, and in the scene of His people's assembling now. These are objects worthy of affording delight even to the mind of the eternal God. Is the sanctuary His resting-place? We see the propriety of our being anxious that this house of prayer should be distinguished by attention to its external appearance. Is the sanctuary His resting-place? It ought to be the object of our warm affection. Is the sanctuary His resting-place? Then it ought to be the scene of our constant resort.

II. SOLOMON'S DESIRES ON BEHALF OF THE SANCTUARY. The blessings which true religion required in the days of Solomon for its extension and perpetuity are essentially necessary at the present time and will be through every age.

1. Solomon implores the Divine presence. He desires that the ark should occupy its appointed place in the temple. This was the appointed medium of Divine manifestation, and therefore he desired the entrance of the ark. But he is also anxious for the Divine presence, without which all external symbols would be in vain. He desires His presence as a God of mercy, from off the mercy seat; for this only is suitable to us as fallen creatures. A God of pure justice and immaculate purity would fill us with terror and insure destruction. Under the Gospel, the mercy seat is more distinctly revealed than under the law, and the blood of atonement is more precious. The Divine presence as a God of grace and mercy is absolutely necessary. The temple of Solomon would have been as worthless as a heap of ruins, as to any moral power and influence, without the Divine presence. This is equally necessary now; for we may have every part of sanctuary worship complete — the ordinances, the ministry, the assembly — but without the presence of God totally inefficient. It is the altar, the wood, and the sacrifice, without the holy fire. It is the Bethesda, the house of mercy, without the descending angel to impart efficacy to the waters. While we seek it, let us remember, that though it is thus essential to the power and efficiency of ordinances, it is graciously promised. He says, "In all places where I record My name, I will come unto you and will bless you."

2. The efficiency of the ministry.

3. The benefit of the Church of God. One of the great designs of Christian ordinances is the advancing improvement of true believers as well as the conversion of sinners.In conclusion —

1. Let us be thankful for the institution and possession of Divine ordinances. The wisdom and grace of God has given existence to these ordinances, as the channel of His grace to the souls of men. "There is a river, the streams whereof" etc.

2. Let us learn our dependence upon the Divine blessing for the efficiency of ordinances.

3. Let us cultivate a deep anxiety for the Divine blessing.

(C. Gilbert.)

Throughout the inspired volume one uniform representation prevails touching the dignity, importance, and responsibility of the sacred ministry; Moses (Exodus 33:15); Elijah (1 Kings 19:4-14); Paul (2 Corinthians 5:18-20; 1 Timothy 1:11, 12; 2 Timothy 1:11); and Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and other "watchmen of Israel" were keenly alive to the weight of the "burden of the Lord" which was laid upon them. If we would be upheld in our work, and labour for the Divine glory and the welfare of the Church of Christ, let us enter into the prayer of Solomon at the consecration of the temple.

I. THE INVOCATION OF THE LORD'S PRESENCE SUGGESTS HOW NECESSARY THAT PRESENCE IS FOR THE PROSPERITY OF HIS CHURCH.

1. It was manifested in those times by a visible symbol.

2. If the ark be regarded as typical of the Lord Jesus, as undoubtedly it is to be, then we may identify Christ with Jehovah and we may see in the entrance of the ark of God's strength into the temple and into its most holy place a prefiguration of the abode of Christ in His Church, and of His entrance as our Great High Priest into the most holy place in the heavens, from which He manifests Himself to His people by His Spirit (Psalm 68:18).

3. This is the presence of God for which we are to look in the present state of the Church. All our endeavours will be in vain, all our labours abortive, unless attended by the grace and influence of the Spirit. "It is necessary," says , "that the Holy Spirit should work inwardly, that the medicine that is applied from without may take effect. Unless He be present to the heart of the hearer, the word of the preacher is idle and vain." "I once," observes Cecil, "said to myself, in the foolishness of my heart, what sort of sermon must that have been which was preached by Peter when three thousand souls were converted at once? What sort of sermon? Such as other sermons. There is nothing to be found in it extraordinary. The effect was not produced by his eloquence, but by the mighty power of God present with His Word.

II. IN CONNECTION WITH THIS BLESSING, AND DEPENDENT UPON IT, WE SHOULD FRAY FOR MINISTERIAL QUALIFICATION. "Let Thy priests be clothed with salvation," or "righteousness" (Psalm 132:9).

1. The beautiful garments of the sanctuary would not be sufficient without the inward endowment of truth and holiness. Still more should the ministers of the gospel be qualified for their office by an experimental knowledge of the great salvation and the adornment of a holy life (2 Corinthians 6:4-7; 1 John 1:3). It is a striking observation of Bishop Bull: "The priest who is not clothed with righteousness, though otherwise richly adorned with all the ornaments of human and Divine literature, and those gilded over with the rays of seraphic prudence, is yet but a naked, beggarly, despicable creature, of no authority, no use, no service in the Church of God." "I will be sure to live well," was the remark of G. Herbert when he entered upon his living at Bemerton, "because the virtuous life of a clergyman is the most persuasive eloquence to persuade all that see it to reverence and love."

2. To be thus "clothed with salvation" will most effectually fit the Christian minister for the various departments of labour and trial through which he will have to pass (2 Corinthians 4:1, 2, 5-7).

3. The habitual clothing of salvation and righteousness, for which we should pray, will indeed conduce to ministerial efficiency. Putting on Christ, arrayed in the garments of purity and truth, of meekness and love, we shall best "magnify our office." Cecil says: "The zeal of some men is of a haughty, unbending, ferocious character. They have the letter of truth, but they mount the pulpit like prizefighters. It is with them a perpetual scold. This spirit is a reproach to the gospel; it is not the spirit of Jesus Christ. He seems to have laboured to win men. But there is an opposite extreme: the love of some men is all milk and mildness; there is so much delicacy and so much fastidiousness — they touch with so much tenderness; and, if the patient shrinks, they will touch no more. The times are too flagrant for such a disposition. The gospel is sometimes preached in this way till all the people agree with the preacher: he gives no offence; he does no good." In "speaking the truth" we should do it "in love," yet always maintaining its supremacy end never sparing the sin in our desire to spare the sinner.

III. THE EFFICIENCY OF THE MINISTRY WILL CONDUCE TO THE PROSPERITY AND JOY OF THE CHURCH AND PEOPLE OF GOD.

(J. T. Broad, M.A.).

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