2 Chronicles 6:40-42
Now, my God, let, I beseech you, your eyes be open, and let your ears be attentive to the prayer that is made in this place.…
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.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.