2 Chronicles 7:12

I. THE PARTIES.

1. The Lord. Jehovah, the supreme and self-existent Deity (Exodus 3:14), the God of nature, who can "shut up heaven," "command the locusts," "send pestilence" (ver. 13), as well as the God of grace, who can hear prayer, forgive sin, and heal not only land, but souls (ver. 14); the God of providence, who can pluck up nations by the roots, and scatter them abroad upon the face of the earth (ver. 20); the God of law and order, who issues statutes and commandments (ver. 19); the God of faithfulness and truth, who both maketh and keepeth covenant with his people (ver. 18); the God of believing families, who, as "the Lord God of their fathers," remembereth them the children for good (ver. 22); the God of justice, who is able to fulfil his threatenings as well as promises (ver. 20); the one living and true God, who will not tolerate the rivalry of such as are no gods (ver. 22).

2. Solomon the King of Israel. The prince of peace, the head and representative of his people, their intercessor and mediator, who by sacrifices and supplications interposed between them and the all-glorious Jehovah who dwelt between the cherubim; in this respect a type of Jesus Christ, the heavenly Solomon, the true Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6), the King of Israel par excellence (John 1:49), the Head and Representative of the Church of God (Ephesians 1:22), the Advocate and Intercessor for his believing people (Hebrews 7:25; 1 John 2:1).

II. THE BASIS. Two acts of grace on the part of Jehovah towards Solomon.

1. The acceptance of his prayer on behalf of Israel. "I have heard thy prayer" (ver. 12). On a similar basis Jehovah grounds his covenant with Christ concerning the Church of the New Testament, via. his acceptance of Christ's mediation and intercession - "Thou art [or, 'this is'] my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (Matthew 3:17; Mark 1:11; Luke 3:22); "Father, I know that thou hearest me always" (John 11:42).

2. The choice of his temple as a place of sacrifice. (Ver. 12.) There can be no covenant except on a sacrificial basis (Hebrews 9:16-20). For this reason emphasis was laid upon the choice of the temple as a house of sacrifice. The "house of sacrifice" in the new covenant was the temple of Christ's body (John 2:21; Hebrews 10:19, 20).

III. THE PROMISES.

1. For the people. That penitential prayer, accompanied with an earnest seeking of the Divine favour, and a genuine work of reformation among them, should be followed by forgiveness and its attendant signs (ver. 14).

2. For the temple. That God's heart should be there perpetually (ver. 16), that his eyes should be open towards it, and his ears attest unto whatever prayer should in future years be made in it (ver. 15). So God still engages to observe every suppliant and hear every prayer made to him in Christ's Name, or with an eye to his atoning sacrifice; because his eyes and his heart are ever on the Son.

3. For the king. That God would establish his throne according to the covenant made with David, that the throne of Israel should never want a ruler (ver. 18); always provided that he, the king, followed in the footsteps of David, doing all God commanded him, and observing God's statutes and judgments.

IV. THE THREATENINGS. All covenants have penalties attached to them to be inflicted as alternatives in case the covenanting party or parties fail to implement the condition on which alone the promise or promises can be bestowed (see Genesis 2:17). Here the penalties for disobedience were explicit, if severe.

1. For the king. Failure of the royal line, which would terminate with himself or with a near descendant. This a clear deduction from the terms of the Davidic covenant.

2. For the people. Plucking up by the roots from the land of their inheritance, and dispersion among the nations of the earth as a proverb and a byword (ver. 20).

3. For the temple. Destruction and desolation, which should make of its lofty wails an astonishment to every one that passeth by. Learn:

1. That God's promises of grace and salvation are all conditioned by the faith and obedience of those who receive them.

2. That God's threatenings are as certain of fulfilment as his promises.

3. That God's judgments can always vindicate themselves to those who reverently inquire concerning them. - W.







And the Lord appeared to Solomon by night, and said unto him, I have heard thy prayer.
1. How strikingly does the answer meet the prayer. Solomon anticipated days of sorrow. He asked of God, "If we call upon Thee, wilt Thou hear us?" "I will," says God, "I will." Solomon asks that God's eye and ear may be open to his house. God exceeds the prayer of the king. Not only shall Mine eyes and Mine ears be there, but My heart shall be there also.

2. God not only declares that He has heard the prayer of Solomon, He says something more encouraging: "I have chosen this house for Myself, for a house of sacrifice."

3. God affirms national judgments to be the work of His own hand. "If I shut up heaven," etc.

4. God supposes that always in national calamity the people will come running to Him.

5. God regards His house as pre-eminently a house of prayer. "Mine ears shall be attent unto the prayer that is made in this place."

6. God gives a promise of His perpetual presence in His house.Conclusion: What duty devolves upon us having such abundant mercies?

1. Personal religion.

2. Family religion.

3. Liberal offering to the Lord.

(T. Mortimer, B.D.)

If I shut up heaven
I. GOD CLAIMS TO HIMSELF THE AUTHORSHIP OF THE CALAMITY FOR WHOSE REMOVAL WE ENTREAT.

II. THE DIRECT CONNECTION WHICH IS POINTED OUT BETWEEN THE VISITATION OF THE PESTILENCE AND A PEOPLE'S IMPIETY AS THE PROVOCATION WHICH HAS CAUSED IT.

III. THOUGH PESTILENCE BE OF GOD'S SENDING, YET WILL HE BE ENTREATED FOR ITS REMOVAL

(Robert Bickersteth, M.A.)

I. There is no one truth that is more universal in its application, or which more commends itself to every man's conscience, than that GUILT IS FOLLOWED BY PUNISHMENT, most certainly in the next world, and most probably in this.

II. That as true repentance will always be accepted, for Christ's sake, for the putting away of sin, so WILL IT OFTEN AVAIL, IN THE MERCY OF GOD, TO THE REMOVAL OF THE TEMPORAL CALAMITY which may have been the consequence and punishment of the sin.

(F. O. Morris.)

I. THE SUPPOSITION OF JUDGMENTS.

1. Judgments light not on a people casually or by chance, but by the overruling command and commission of God (Job 5:6, 7).(1) Sometimes by way of dominion and absolute power.(2) Sometimes as a preparation unto intended mercy, as men plough the ground which they mean to enrich with precious seed, and carve the stone which they mean to put in the top of the building. As men put forth longest into wind and sun that great timber which must bear the greatest burden and stress of the building.(3) But most usually in a way of justice (Jeremiah 30:15; Nehemiah 9:33; Ezekiel 14:23). Personal chastisements may be for trial and exercise of faith and patience, but general and public judgments are ever in wrath and displeasure. Let us therefore labour to find out our sins by our sufferings. Chastisements never mend us till they teach us (Psalm 94:12; Micah 6:9).

2. The Lord hath variety of judgments whereby to reduce froward and stubborn sinners. God's method in these various judgments usually is —(1) He begins at the outward man, exercising a people many times with change of rods, which is ever a sign of anger in the father and stubbornness in the son.(2) He proceeds to the soul, revealing His wrath, causing guilt and fear to gripe and seize on the conscience (Psalm 51:8; Job 6:4; Proverbs 18:14).(3) Towards obdurate sinners the Lord many times deals in a more fearful manner, sealing them up under hardness of heart, a spirit of slumber, a reprobate sense, a seared conscience, etc., till destruction unawares overtake them (Matthew 24:39; Ezekiel 24:14; Hosea 4:17; Revelation 22:11).

II. A DIRECTION UNTO DUTIES. Consider —

1. The quality of the persons who are to perform them: "My people that are called by My name." All men are His creatures, only a select and peculiar inheritance that bear His name and are in covenant with Him are called His people (Ezekiel 16:8; Psalm 4:3; Isaiah 43:21; Isaiah 63:18; Acts 15:14). To be called by His name noteth to be His adopted children. We are God's people —(1) By visible profession or sacramental separation from the world, as the whole nation of the Jews are called His people (Exodus 19:5; Deuteronomy 4:7).(2) By spiritual sanctification and internal dispositions (John 17:6; Galatians 6:16; Romans 2:29; Romans 9:8; Romans 11:5; Philippians 3:3).

2. The duties required for the removal of judgments.(1) Humiliation.(2) Prayer. Without this humiliation is but a sinking under God, not a seeking unto Him.

(a)By this we honour God in acknowledging Him the fountain of all our good, the inflicter of all evil. As a diamond is cut only by a diamond, so God is pacified only by Himself.

(b)By this we ease ourselves. Prayer lighteneth affliction where it doth not remove it. The heart is meekened to accept the punishment of sin, as wool or mud deadens the force of a bullet.(3) Seeking the face of God. His favour to comfort us, and His counsel to direct us.(4) Reformation of life.

III. A GRACIOUS PROMISE OF MERCY.

1. A promise —

(1)Of gracious condescension: "from heaven."

(2)Of gracious audience.

(3)Of forgiveness.

(4)Of healing:

2. Touching these promises, observe —

(1)That when God comes down to deliver, and looks from heaven, He doth it by no other way than by the Incarnation of His Son, the efficacy of His Spirit, the operation of His providence, or the ministry of angels.

(2)When He hears prayers, it is only by the intercession and mediation of Christ.

(3)When He forgives sins, it is only by the merits and righteousness of Christ.

(4)But when He heals a land, He often useth in that work the ministry of men. Magistrates are healers and repairers (Isaiah 3:7). Ministers are healers of the sick (Ezekiel 34:4).

(Edward Reynolds, D.D.)

1. The sins of God's own people may provoke and procure judgments.

2. Their sins have some aggravations in them that other men's have not. They are sins against —

(1)Special light (1 Kings 11:9).

(2)Special love and experiences of Divine favour (2 Samuel 12:7-9).

(3)Special relations (Isaiah 1:2).

(4)Special grace and assistance of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:80).

(5)Special covenants and engagements, after avouching God for theirs (Psalm 78:84).

(6)Special deliverances from greatest dangers (Ezra 9:13, 14).

(7)Special hopes and more special promises which should have persuaded them to holiness (2 Corinthians 7:1; 1 John 3:3).

(8)Special peace and glorious comforts, as David sinned against the joy of God's salvation (Psalm 51:12). Peter denied Christ after he had seen His transfiguration.

(Edward Reynolds, D. D.)

If My people, which are called by My name, shall humble themselves
I. IT IS A DUTY CALLED FOR BY PROPHETS AND APOSTLES AND SPECIALLY RESPECTED BY GOD (Micah 6:8; James 4:10; 1 Peter 5:6; 2 Kings 22:19; Leviticus 26:41, 42).

1. It emptieth the heart of self-confidence and is the root of the fundamental duty of self-denial.

2. It fits for approach to God.

3. It disposeth to a confession of sin (Luke 15:17-19; Luke 18:13).

4. It prepares the heart for the entertainment of mercy.

5. It makes way for the forsaking of sin; the more a soul is humbled for it, the more it is fearful of it and watchful against it.

II. IT IS TWOFOLD IN ITS NATURE.

1. Passive, when God breaks the heart by the hammer of His Word (Jeremiah 23:29), or by some sore affliction.

2. Active, when the soul humbleth itself under sin and wrath. This may be —(1) Legal, proceeding from a spirit of bondage, when the heart roars on a rack, or melts in a furnace, is filled with consternation and anguish under the weight of sin and wrath, as in the case of Pharaoh, Ahab, Belshazzar, Felix, the jailor, and the murderers of Christ.(2) Evangelical. When the soul is not only broken and battered with the horror and dread of wrath (this it may be and remain hard, as every piece of a broken flint is hard still), but when it is kindly melted and softened with apprehensions of God's goodness and free-grace. A compounded duty made up of love and sorrow; Hezekiah, Josiah (Jeremiah 26:19; 2 Chronicles 34:27).

III. THIS IS A PERPETUAL DUTY. As long as sin remains there must be a sense of it, and sorrow for it. But in some times and cases it is to be specially renewed. In times —

1. Of extraordinary sins and provocations.

2. Of public dangers and distresses.

3. Of great enterprises attempted.

4. Of successes and blessings desired (Ezra 8:21).

(Edward Reynolds, D. D.)

I. TAKE A VIEW OF GOD.

1. In Himself.

(1)His searching eye and mighty hand (James 4:10; 1 Peter 5:6).

(2)His majesty and glory (Isaiah 6:2; Psalm 89:6, 7).

(3)His, holiness (Exodus 15:11; Joshua 24:19).

(4)His jealousy and justice (Nahum 1:2).

(5)His mercy and goodness (Hosea 3:5; Romans 2:4).

(6)His omniscience.Such considerations have humbled the holiest of men. Moses (Exodus 3:6); Job (Job 42:5); Elijah (1 Kings 19:13); Isaiah (Isaiah 6:5); Ezra (Ezra 9:15); Peter (Luke 5:8).

2. In His relations to us. He is our Maker, King, Judge, Father, Master.

3. In His dealings with us.

(1)In His judgments and various providences.

(2)In His mercies which have shined upon us through all our clouds.

II. TAKE A VIEW OF YOURSELVES, OF YOUR OWN HEARTS AND LIVES. This is a duty of singular use and benefit. It enlargeth the heart in godly sorrow for sin past, upon the discoveries which this scrutiny maketh.

(Edward Reynolds, D. D.)

1. A godly sorrow, so called because it sets the soul God-ward. Cain, Judas, Felix, all sorrowed, but they ran from God. As a ship in a tempest ventures not to any shore, but gets further into the sea, so the soul, when it is humbled by God, betakes not itself unto any carnal shore, but still runs closer unto Him.

2. A justifying of God, ascribing to Him the glory of His righteousness if He should condemn us; and of His mercy, that He absolves us (Psalm 2:4; Daniel 9:7-9).

3. A self-judging and subscribing to our condemnation (Deuteronomy 27:15). As St. Austin saith of the poor publican, "He judged and accused himself, that God might deliver and defend him." Also Bernard, "This is a good judgment indeed which withdraws and hides me from the severe judgment of God."

(Edward Reynolds, D. D.)

This is a revival text. It contains the germs of the whole Divine philosophy of revivals. A revival implies religious declension, and is itself such a waking up of the spiritual life of the Church as leads to the conversion of sinners.

I. AN EXPLICIT DESCRIPTION OF THE PROPER METHOD FOR PROMOTING A REVIVAL.

1. The first duty of a people seeking a revival is humiliation before God. This state of mind is produced by our contemplating the purity: and perfection and loving-kindness of the Lord, in contrast with our own sinfulness, unworthiness, and ingratitude.

2. Prayer is the next divinely prescribed means in promoting a revival of religion. Prayerfulness is one of the main characteristics of a godly life. But our prayers are sometimes prayerless. They are an unwritten liturgy, made up of hackneyed phrases in which there is hardly a spark of vitality. They lack the strong pinions of faith and ardent desire without which they cannot reach the third heaven. They lack the Divine electricity. When God's people beseech Him, as John Knox did when he prayed, "Lord, give me Scotland, or I die," then their prayers are effective.

3. We must seek God's face. He never intended that His people should pray to Him as strangers. He wants us to draw near to Him as children go to a loving father or mother.

4. There must be a forsaking of sin.

II. SOME DEFINITE AND GOOD REASONS WHICH WE HAVE FOR EXPECTING A REVIVAL.

1. God's intimate relation to the Church.

(1)He claims a special and unrivalled property in its members. He calls them His people.

(2)He puts a special honour upon them. He calls them by His name.

2. God's explicit promise.

(1)He will "hear from heaven."

(2)"And will forgive their sins."

(3)And will heal their land.

(David Winters.)

I. THERE ARE THREE MODES IN WHICH IT HAS PLEASED ALMIGHTY GOD AT DIFFERENT PERIODS OF THE WORLD TO INFLICT HIS RIGHTEOUS JUDGMENTS ON NATIONAL DELINQUENCY: by the sword without, the famine and pestilence within.

II. THE DUTIES ENJOINED UPON A PEOPLE UNDER THE AFFLICTIVE VISITATION OF A PESTILENCE..

1. Humiliation.

2. Prayer.

3. Reformation.

III. THE ENCOURAGING ASSURANCE OF THE GOD OF MERCY TO A HUMBLED, PRAYING, AND CONVERTED PEOPLE.

(James Williams, M.A.)

It seems to have been after an interval of thirteen years that the Lord signified in detail that He had listened to the solemn prayer that Solomon offered at the dedication of the temple. God notifies the possibility of His punishments falling on the land in the event of their sinning against Him, and then adds, "If the people shall humble themselves," etc.

I. This passage is only one of many which point out HOW ENTIRELY NATURE IS RULED BY GOD. Take such examples as these: the flood; the destruction of Sodom; Elijah fed by ravens; the destiny of Jonah, etc. They all proclaim that the whole world is under the immediate control of a personal God who regulates it in reference to man.

II. NATIONAL TROUBLE SHOULD CAUSE A PEOPLE TO CONSIDER THEIR WAYS, and to seriously reflect upon their national sins.

III. A PROPER CONSCIOUSNESS OF NATIONAL SINS OUGHT TO BRING A PEOPLE TO THEIR KNEES in humble submission, and lead them to acknowledge that national chastisements are of His appointment. In reply to the objection that might be urged against this teaching, "Why ascribe to God what may easily be traced to natural causes?" I observe, the more science the better. Trace out the causes as best you can: discover the laws of rain and sunshine, of temperature and weather. But, after all, these are not the first cause. They are only second in order. There is still the sphere in which God rules supreme. It is only too obvious in a case of personal sickness. A man may be laid upon a bed of affliction: the illness may upset his plans — deepen his reflections — bring him to a true repentance — and, in fact, alter his whole career for the better; in this the first cause is God, in His mercy and love to a wayward soul; the second cause is, perhaps, that one day he caught a chill But then that chill does not exclude God. It is worthy of special remark, moreover, that our Lord's teachings and miracles were pointedly in this direction. He did not deny that the tower of Siloam was a judgment, though He repressed self-righteous inferences on the part of others. He adduced the flood and the destruction of Sodom as warnings to His own generation.

IV. IT MAY BE OBJECTED THAT BETTER DAYS WILL COME WHETHER A PEOPLE WILL HUMBLE THEMSELVES AND PRAY OR NOT. It may be so. Just as a sick man may refuse to repent, and yet will in due time get well again. But the moral loss is well-nigh beyond recovery. It involves the blunting of the moral sense, the deadening of conscience, and the loss of the higher benefit which God willed to bestow. A nation which cannot recognise the correcting hand of God must be indeed estranged from Him. Conclusion: Our personal duty.

1. Repentance.

2. Intercession.God sets His mark of love and protection upon them who "sigh and cry for all the abominations." No one can tell how much he may do by himself" returning to God.

(C. A. Raymond, M.A.)

Homilist.
In anthropomorphic language eyes are ascribed to God; thus we read "that the eye of the Lord is on them that fear Him" (Psalm 38:18). Thus again, "I will guide thee with Mine eye" (Psalm 32:8). He is said to be of "purer eyes than to behold evil" (Hebrews 1:13). A similar form of speech ascribes "ears" to God. Thus we have these words — "In Mine ears, saith the Lord of hosts" (Isaiah 5:9); "The cries of them which have reaped are entered into the cars of the Lord of Sabaoth" (James 5:4.) What does this language mean? Why are eyes and cars ascribed to a Spirit that has no limits and no form? The language is used for two purposes.

I. To express His COGNIZANCE of man. Through the eye and the ear we derive our knowledge of all outside of us.

1. He knows us directly.

2. He knows us thoroughly.

(1)He knows what we are.

(2)He knows what we have been.

(3)He knows all that we ever shall be.To him there is nothing old appears, to Him there is nothing new. A sense of His knowledge of us should make us frank, solemn, circumspect, devout.

II. To express His INTEREST IN man. God's interest in us is shown —

1. In the various capacities of enjoyment with which He has endowed us, and the provisions He has made for them. We have capacity for every species of enjoyment — sensuous, intellectual, social, religious. We can drink of all the rivers from the eternal ocean of joy. For the sensuous there is matter, for the intellectual there is truth, for the social there is society, for the religious there is Himself.

2. In the preservation of our existence, notwithstanding our sinfulness. We have transgressed His precepts, warred against His arrangements, yet He preserves us year after year. The patience of an Infinite Love is here.

3. In our redemption by Jesus Christ. "God so loved the world," etc. "He spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up," etc. Conclusion: "Thou God seest me," we unite with the blessed fact, "Thou God lovest us." It is His interest in us that prompts Him to watch our movements and listen to our words.

(Homilist.).

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