The building and furniture of the temple were very glorious, but the
dedication of it exceeds in glory as much as prayer and praise, the
work of saints, exceed the casting of metal and the graving of stones,
the work of the craftsman. The temple was designed for the keeping up
of the correspondence between God and his people; and here we have an
account of the solemnity of their first meeting there.
I. The representatives of all Israel were called together
(1 Kings 8:1,2),
to keep a feast to the honour of God, for fourteen days,
1 Kings 8:65.
II. The priests brought the ark into the most holy place, and fixed it
1 Kings 8:3-9.
III. God took possession of it by a cloud,
1 Kings 8:10,11.
IV. Solomon, with thankful acknowledgments to God, informed the people
touching the occasion of their meeting,
1 Kings 8:12-21.
V. In a long prayer he recommended to God's gracious acceptance all the
prayers that should be made in or towards this place,
1 Kings 8:22-53.
VI. He dismissed the assembly with a blessing and an exhortation,
1 Kings 8:54-61.
VII. He offered abundance of sacrifices, on which he and his people
feasted, and so parted, with great satisfaction,
1 Kings 8:62-66.
These were Israel's golden days, days of the Son of man in type.
The Dedication of the Temple.
B. C. 1003.
1 Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel, and all the
heads of the tribes, the chief of the fathers of the children of
Israel, unto king Solomon in Jerusalem, that they might bring up
the ark of the covenant of the LORD out of the city of David,
which is Zion.
2 And all the men of Israel assembled themselves unto king
Solomon at the feast in the month Ethanim, which is the seventh
3 And all the elders of Israel came, and the priests took up
4 And they brought up the ark of the LORD, and the tabernacle
of the congregation, and all the holy vessels that were in the
tabernacle, even those did the priests and the Levites bring up.
5 And king Solomon, and all the congregation of Israel, that
were assembled unto him, were with him before the ark,
sacrificing sheep and oxen, that could not be told nor numbered
6 And the priests brought in the ark of the covenant of the
LORD unto his place, into the oracle of the house, to the most
holy place, even under the wings of the cherubims.
7 For the cherubims spread forth their two wings over the
place of the ark, and the cherubims covered the ark and the
staves thereof above.
8 And they drew out the staves, that the ends of the staves
were seen out in the holy place before the oracle, and they
were not seen without: and there they are unto this day.
9 There was nothing in the ark save the two tables of stone,
which Moses put there at Horeb, when the LORD made a covenant
with the children of Israel, when they came out of the land of
10 And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the
holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the LORD,
11 So that the priests could not stand to minister because of
the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of the
The temple, though richly beautified, yet while it was without the ark
was like a body without a soul, or a candlestick without a candle, or
(to speak more properly) a house without an inhabitant. All the cost
and pains bestowed on this stately structure are lost if God do not
accept them; and, unless he please to own it as the place where he will
record his name, it is after all but a ruinous heap. When therefore
all the work is ended
(1 Kings 7:51),
the one thing needful is yet behind, and that is the bringing in
of the ark. This therefore is the end which must crown the work, and
which here we have an account of the doing of with great solemnity.
I. Solomon presides in this service, as David did in the bringing up of
the ark to Jerusalem; and neither of them thought it below him to
follow the ark nor to lead the people in their attendance on it.
Solomon glories in the title of the preacher
and the master of assemblies,
This great assembly he summons
(1 Kings 8:1),
and he is the centre of it, for to him they all assembled
(1 Kings 8:2)
at the feast in the seventh month, namely, the feast of
tabernacles, which was appointed on the fifteenth day of that month,
David, like a very good man, brings the ark to a
convenient place, near him; Solomon, like a very great
man, brings it to a magnificent place. As every man has received
the gift, so let him minister; and let children proceed in God's
service where their parents left off.
II. All Israel attend the service, their judges and the chief of their
tribes and families, all their officers, civil and military, and (as
they speak in the north) the heads of their clans. A convention of
these might well be called an assembly of all Israel. These came
together, on this occasion,
1. To do honour to Solomon, and to return him the thanks of the nation
for all the good offices he had done in kindness to them.
2. To do honour to the ark, to pay respect to it, and testify their
universal joy and satisfaction in its settlement. The advancement of
the ark in external splendour, though it has often proved too strong a
temptation to its hypocritical followers, yet, because it may prove an
advantage to its true interests, is to be rejoiced in (with trembling)
by all that wish well to it. Public mercies call for public
acknowledgments. Those that appeared before the Lord did not appear
empty, for they all sacrificed sheep and oxen innumerable,
1 Kings 8:5.
The people in Solomon's time were very rich, very easy, and very
cheerful, and therefore it was fit that, on this occasion, they should
consecrate not only their cheerfulness, but a part of their wealth, to
God and his honour.
III. The priests do their part of the service. In the wilderness, the
Levites were to carry the ark, because then there were not priests
enough to do it; but here (it being the last time that the ark was to
be carried) the priests themselves did it, as they were ordered to do
when it surrounded Jericho. We are here told,
1. What was in the ark, nothing but the two tables of stone
(1 Kings 8:9),
a treasure far exceeding all the dedicated things both of David and
Solomon. The pot of manna and Aaron's rod were by the ark, but
not in it.
2. What was brought up with the ark
(1 Kings 8:4):
The tabernacle of the congregation. It is probable that both
that which Moses set up in the wilderness, which was in Gibeon, and
that which David pitched in Zion, were brought to the temple, to which
they did, as it were, surrender all their holiness, merging it in that
of the temple, which must henceforward be the place where God must be
sought unto. Thus will all the church's holy things on earth, that are
so much its joy and glory, be swallowed up in the perfection of
3. Where it was fixed in its place, the place appointed for its rest
after all its wanderings
(1 Kings 8:6):
In the oracle of the house, whence they expected God to speak to
them, even in the most holy place, which was made so by the presence of
the ark, under the wings of the great cherubim which
Solomon set up
(1 Kings 6:27),
signifying the special protection of angels, under which God's
ordinances and the assemblies of his people are taken. The staves of
the ark were drawn out, so as to be seen from under the wings of the
cherubim, to direct the high priest to the mercy-seat, over the ark,
when he went in, once a year, to sprinkle the blood there; so that
still they continued of some use, though there was no longer occasion
for them to carry it by.
IV. God graciously owns what is done and testifies his acceptance of
1 Kings 8:10,11.
The priests might come into the most holy place till God manifested his
glory there; but, thenceforward, none might, at their peril, approach
the ark, except the high priest, on the day of atonement. Therefore it
was not till the priests had come out of the oracle that the
Shechinah took possession of it, in a cloud, which filled not
only the most holy place, but the temple, so that the priests who burnt
incense at the golden altar could not bear it. By this visible
emanation of the divine glory,
1. God put an honour upon the ark, and owned it as a token of his
presence. The glory of it had been long diminished and eclipsed by its
frequent removes, the meanness of its lodging, and its being exposed
too much to common view; but God will now show that it is as dear to
him as ever, and he will have it looked upon with as much veneration as
it was when Moses first brought it into his tabernacle.
2. He testified his acceptance of the building and furnishing of the
temple as good service done to his name and his kingdom among men.
3. He struck an awe upon this great assembly; and, by what they saw,
confirmed their belief of what they read in the books of Moses
concerning the glory of God's appearance to their fathers, that hereby
they might be kept close to the service of the God of Israel and
fortified against temptations to idolatry.
4. He showed himself ready to hear the prayer Solomon was now about to
make; and not only so, but took up his residence in this house, that
all his praying people might there be encouraged to make their
applications to him. But the glory of God appeared in a cloud, a dark
cloud, to signify,
(1.) The darkness of that dispensation in comparison with the light of
the gospel, by which, with open face, we behold, as in a glass, the
glory of the Lord.
(2.) The darkness of our present state in comparison with the vision of
God, which will be the happiness of heaven, where the divine glory is
unveiled. Now we can only say what he is not, but then we shall see him
as he is.
12 Then spake Solomon, The LORD said that he would dwell in the
13 I have surely built thee a house to dwell in, a settled
place for thee to abide in for ever.
14 And the king turned his face about, and blessed all the
congregation of Israel: (and all the congregation of Israel
15 And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Israel, which
spake with his mouth unto David my father, and hath with his hand
fulfilled it, saying,
16 Since the day that I brought forth my people Israel out of
Egypt, I chose no city out of all the tribes of Israel to build
a house, that my name might be therein; but I chose David to be
over my people Israel.
17 And it was in the heart of David my father to build a house
for the name of the LORD God of Israel.
18 And the LORD said unto David my father, Whereas it was in
thine heart to build a house unto my name, thou didst well that
it was in thine heart.
19 Nevertheless thou shalt not build the house; but thy son
that shall come forth out of thy loins, he shall build the house
unto my name.
20 And the LORD hath performed his word that he spake, and I am
risen up in the room of David my father, and sit on the throne of
Israel, as the LORD promised, and have built a house for the
name of the LORD God of Israel.
21 And I have set there a place for the ark, wherein is the
covenant of the LORD, which he made with our fathers, when he
brought them out of the land of Egypt.
I. Solomon encourages the priests, who came out of the temple from
their ministration, much astonished at the dark cloud that overshadowed
them. The disciples of Christ feared when they entered into the
cloud, though it was a bright cloud
so did the priests when they found themselves wrapped in a thick cloud.
To silence their fears,
1. He reminds them of that which they could not but know, that this was
a token of God's presence
(1 Kings 8:12):
The Lord said he would dwell in the thick darkness. It is so far
from being a token of his displeasure that it is an indication of his
favour; for he had said, I will appear in a cloud,
Note, Nothing is more effectual to reconcile us to dark dispensations
than to consider what God hath said, and to compare his word and works
This is that which the Lord hath said. God is light
(1 John 1:5),
and he dwells in light
(1 Timothy 6:16),
but he dwells with men in the thick darkness, makes that his
pavilion, because they could not bear the dazzling brightness of his
glory. Verily thou art a God that hidest thyself. Thus our holy
faith is exercised and our holy fear is increased. Where God dwells in
light faith is swallowed up in vision and fear in love.
2. He himself bids it welcome, as worthy of all acceptation; and since
God, by this cloud, came down to take possession, he does, in a few
words, solemnly give him possession
(1 Kings 8:13):
"Surely I come," says God. "Amen," says Solomon,
"Even so, come, Lord,. The house is thy own, entirely thy own,
I have surely built it for thee, and furnished it for thee; it
is for ever thy own, a settled place for thee to abide in for
ever; it shall never be alienated nor converted to any other use;
the ark shall never be removed from it, never unsettled again." It is
Solomon's joy that God has taken possession; and it is his desire that
he would keep possession. Let not the priests therefore dread that in
which Solomon so much triumphs.
II. He instructs the people, and gives them a plain account concerning
this house, which they now saw God take possession of. He spoke briefly
to the priests, to satisfy them (a word to the wise), but turned his
(1 Kings 8:14)
from them to the congregation that stood in the outer court, and
addressed himself to them largely.
1. He blessed them. When they saw the dark cloud enter the temple they
blessed themselves, being astonished at it and afraid lest the thick
darkness should be utter darkness to them. The amazing sight, such as
they had never seen in their days, we may suppose, drove every man to
his prayers, and the vainest minds were made serious by it. Solomon
therefore set in with their prayers, and blessed them all, as one
having authority (for the less is blessed of the better); in
God's name, he spoke peace to them, and a blessing, like that with
which the angel blessed Gideon when he was in a fright, upon a similar
Peace be unto thee. Fear not; thou shalt not die. Solomon
blessed them, that is, he pacified them, and freed them from the
consternation they were in. To receive this blessing, they all stood
up, in token of reverence and readiness to hear and accept it. It is a
proper posture to be in when the blessing is pronounced.
2. He informed them concerning this house which he had built and was
(1.) He began his account with a thankful acknowledgment of the good
hand of his God upon him hitherto: Blessed be the Lord God of
1 Kings 8:15.
What we have the pleasure of God must have the praise of. He thus
engaged the congregation to lift up their hearts in thanksgivings to
God, which would help to still the tumult of spirit which, probably,
they were in. "Come," says he, "let God's awful appearances not drive
us from him, but draw us to him; let us bless the Lord God of
Israel." Thus Job, under a dark scene, blessed the name of the
Lord. Solomon here blessed God,
[1.] For his promise which he spoke with his mouth to David.
[2.] For the performance, that he had now fulfilled it with his
hand. We have then the best sense of God's mercies, and most
grateful both to ourselves and to our God, when we run up those streams
to the fountain of the covenant, and compare what God does with what he
(2.) Solomon is now making a solemn surrender or dedication of this
house unto God, delivering it to God by his own act and deed. Grants
and conveyances commonly begin with recitals of what has been before
done, leading to what is now done: accordingly, here is a recital of
the special causes and considerations moving Solomon to build this
[1.] He recites the want of such a place. It was necessary that this
should be premised; for, according to the dispensation they were under,
there must be but one place in which they must expect God to record his
name. If, therefore, there were any other chosen, this would be a
usurpation. But he shows, from what God himself had said, that there
was no other
(1 Kings 8:16):
I chose no city to build a house in for my name; therefore there
is occasion for the building of this.
[2.] He recites David's purpose to build such a place. God chose the
person first that should rule his people (I chose David,
1 Kings 8:16)
and then put it into his heart to build a house for God's name,
1 Kings 8:17.
It was not a project of his own, for the magnifying of himself;
but his good father, of blessed memory, laid the first design of it,
though he lived not to lay the first stone.
[3.] He recites God's promise concerning himself. God approved his
(1 Kings 8:18):
Thou didst well, that it was in thy heart. Note, Sincere
intentions to do good shall be graciously approved and accepted of God,
though Providence prevent our putting them in execution. The desire
of a man is his kindness. See
2 Corinthians 8:12.
God accepted David's good will, yet would not permit him to do the good
work, but reserved the honour of it for his son
(1 Kings 8:19):
He shall build the house to my name; so that what he had done
was not of his own head, nor for his own glory, but the work itself was
according to his father's design and his doing it was according to
[4.] He recites what he himself had done, and with what intention: I
have built a house, not for my own name, but for the name of the
Lord God of Israel
(1 Kings 8:20),
and set there a place for the ark,
1 Kings 8:21.
Thus all the right, title, interest, claim, and demand, whatsoever,
which he or his had or might have in or to this house, or any of its
appurtenances, he resigns, surrenders, and gives up, to God for ever.
It is for his name, and his ark. In this, says he, the Lord hath
performed his word that he spoke. Note, Whatever good we do, we
must look upon it as the performance of God's promise to us, rather
than the performance of our promises to him. The more we do for God the
more we are indebted to him; for our sufficiency is of him, and not of
B. C. 1003.
22 And Solomon stood before the altar of the LORD in the
presence of all the congregation of Israel, and spread forth his
hands toward heaven:
23 And he said, LORD God of Israel, there is no God like
thee, in heaven above, or on earth beneath, who keepest covenant
and mercy with thy servants that walk before thee with all their
24 Who hast kept with thy servant David my father that thou
promisedst him: thou spakest also with thy mouth, and hast
fulfilled it with thine hand, as it is this day.
25 Therefore now, LORD God of Israel, keep with thy servant
David my father that thou promisedst him, saying, There shall not
fail thee a man in my sight to sit on the throne of Israel; so
that thy children take heed to their way, that they walk before
me as thou hast walked before me.
26 And now, O God of Israel, let thy word, I pray thee, be
verified, which thou spakest unto thy servant David my father.
27 But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven
and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this
house that I have builded?
28 Yet have thou respect unto the prayer of thy servant, and to
his supplication, O LORD my God, to hearken unto the cry and to
the prayer, which thy servant prayeth before thee to day:
29 That thine eyes may be open toward this house night and day,
even toward the place of which thou hast said, My name shall be
there: that thou mayest hearken unto the prayer which thy servant
shall make toward this place.
30 And hearken thou to the supplication of thy servant, and of
thy people Israel, when they shall pray toward this place: and
hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place: and when thou hearest,
31 If any man trespass against his neighbour, and an oath be
laid upon him to cause him to swear, and the oath come before
thine altar in this house:
32 Then hear thou in heaven, and do, and judge thy servants,
condemning the wicked, to bring his way upon his head; and
justifying the righteous, to give him according to his
33 When thy people Israel be smitten down before the enemy,
because they have sinned against thee, and shall turn again to
thee, and confess thy name, and pray, and make supplication unto
thee in this house:
34 Then hear thou in heaven, and forgive the sin of thy people
Israel, and bring them again unto the land which thou gavest unto
35 When heaven is shut up, and there is no rain, because they
have sinned against thee; if they pray toward this place, and
confess thy name, and turn from their sin, when thou afflictest
36 Then hear thou in heaven, and forgive the sin of thy
servants, and of thy people Israel, that thou teach them the good
way wherein they should walk, and give rain upon thy land, which
thou hast given to thy people for an inheritance.
37 If there be in the land famine, if there be pestilence,
blasting, mildew, locust, or if there be caterpillar; if their
enemy besiege them in the land of their cities; whatsoever
plague, whatsoever sickness there be;
38 What prayer and supplication soever be made by any man,
or by all thy people Israel, which shall know every man the
plague of his own heart, and spread forth his hands toward this
39 Then hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place, and forgive,
and do, and give to every man according to his ways, whose heart
thou knowest; (for thou, even thou only, knowest the hearts of
all the children of men;)
40 That they may fear thee all the days that they live in the
land which thou gavest unto our fathers.
41 Moreover concerning a stranger, that is not of thy people
Israel, but cometh out of a far country for thy name's sake;
42 (For they shall hear of thy great name, and of thy strong
hand, and of thy stretched out arm;) when he shall come and pray
toward this house;
43 Hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place, and do according to
all that the stranger calleth to thee for: that all people of the
earth may know thy name, to fear thee, as do thy people Israel;
and that they may know that this house, which I have builded, is
called by thy name.
44 If thy people go out to battle against their enemy,
whithersoever thou shalt send them, and shall pray unto the LORD
toward the city which thou hast chosen, and toward the house
that I have built for thy name:
45 Then hear thou in heaven their prayer and their
supplication, and maintain their cause.
46 If they sin against thee, (for there is no man that
sinneth not,) and thou be angry with them, and deliver them to
the enemy, so that they carry them away captives unto the land of
the enemy, far or near;
47 Yet if they shall bethink themselves in the land whither
they were carried captives, and repent, and make supplication
unto thee in the land of them that carried them captives, saying,
We have sinned, and have done perversely, we have committed
48 And so return unto thee with all their heart, and with all
their soul, in the land of their enemies, which led them away
captive, and pray unto thee toward their land, which thou gavest
unto their fathers, the city which thou hast chosen, and the
house which I have built for thy name:
49 Then hear thou their prayer and their supplication in heaven
thy dwelling place, and maintain their cause,
50 And forgive thy people that have sinned against thee, and
all their transgressions wherein they have transgressed against
thee, and give them compassion before them who carried them
captive, that they may have compassion on them:
51 For they be thy people, and thine inheritance, which thou
broughtest forth out of Egypt, from the midst of the furnace of
52 That thine eyes may be open unto the supplication of thy
servant, and unto the supplication of thy people Israel, to
hearken unto them in all that they call for unto thee.
53 For thou didst separate them from among all the people of
the earth, to be thine inheritance, as thou spakest by the hand
of Moses thy servant, when thou broughtest our fathers out of
Egypt, O Lord GOD.
Solomon having made a general surrender of this house to God, which God
had signified his acceptance of by taking possession, next follows
Solomon's prayer, in which he makes a more particular declaration of
the uses of that surrender, with all humility and reverence, desiring
that God would agree thereto. In short, it is his request that this
temple may be deemed and taken, not only for a house of sacrifice (no
mention is made of that in all this prayer, that was taken for
granted), but a house of prayer for all people; and herein it
was a type of the gospel church; see
Therefore Solomon opened this house, not only with an extraordinary
sacrifice, but with an extraordinary prayer.
I. The person that prayed this prayer was great. Solomon did not
appoint one of the priests to do it, nor one of the prophets, but did
it himself, in the presence of all the congregation of Israel,
1 Kings 8:22.
1. It was well that he was able to do it, a sign that he had made a
good improvement of the pious education which his parents gave him.
With all his learning, it seems, he learnt to pray well, and knew how
to express himself to God in a suitable manner, pro re nata--on the
spur of the occasion, without a prescribed form. In the crowd of
his philosophical transactions, his proverbs, and songs, he did not
forget his devotions. He was a gainer by prayer
(1 Kings 3:11-14,
&c.), and, we may suppose, gave himself much to it, so that he
excelled, as we find here, in praying gifts.
2. It was well that he was willing to do it, and not shy of performing
divine service before so great a congregation. He was far from thinking
it any disparagement to him to be his own chaplain and the mouth of the
assembly to God; and shall any think themselves too great to do this
office for their own families? Solomon, in all his other glory, even on
his ivory throne, looked not so great as he did now. Great men should
thus support the reputation of religious exercises and so honour God
with their greatness. Solomon was herein a type of Christ, the great
intercessor for all over whom he rules.
II. The posture in which he prayed was very reverent, and expressive of
humility, seriousness, and fervency in prayer. He stood before the
altar of the Lord, intimating that he expected the success of his
prayer in virtue of that sacrifice which should be offered up in the
fulness of time, typified by the sacrifices offered at that altar. But
when he addressed himself to prayer,
1. He kneeled down, as appears,
1 Kings 8:54,
where he is said to rise from his knees; compare
2 Chronicles 6:13.
Kneeling is the most proper posture for prayer,
The greatest of men must not think it below them to kneel before the
Lord their Maker. Mr. Herbert says, "Kneeling never spoiled silk
2. He spread forth his hands towards heaven, and (as it should
1 Kings 8:54)
continued so to the end of the prayer, hereby expressing his desire
towards, and expectations from, God, as a Father in heaven. He
spread forth his hands, as it were to offer up the prayer from an open
enlarged heart and to present it to heaven, and also to receive thence,
with both arms, the mercy which he prayed for. Such outward expressions
of the fixedness and fervour of devotion ought not to be despised or
III. The prayer itself was very long, and perhaps much longer than is
here recorded. At the throne of grace we have liberty of speech, and
should use our liberty. It is not making long prayers, but making them
for a pretence, that Christ condemns. In this excellent prayer Solomon
does, as we should in every prayer,
1. Give glory to God. This he begins with, as the most proper act of
adoration. He addresses himself to God as the Lord God of
Israel, a God in covenant with them And,
(1.) He gives him the praise of what he is, in general, the best of
beings in himself ("There is no God like thee, none of the
powers in heaven or earth to be compared with thee"), and the best of
masters to his people: "Who keepest covenant and mercy with thy
servants; not only as good as thy word in keeping covenant, but
better than thy word in keeping mercy, doing that for them of which
thou hast not given them an express promise, provided they walk
before thee with all their heart, are zealous for thee, with an eye
(2.) He gives him thanks for what he had done, in particular, for his
(1 Kings 8:24):
"Thou hast kept with thy servant David, as with thy other
servants, that which thou promisedst him." The promise was a
great favour to him, his support and joy, and now performance is the
crown of it: Thou hast fulfilled it, as it is this day. Fresh
experiences of the truth of God's promises call for enlarged
2. He sues for grace and favour from God.
(1.) That God would perform to him and his the mercy which he had
1 Kings 8:25,26.
Observe how this comes in. He thankfully acknowledges the performance
of the promise in part; hitherto God had been faithful to his word:
"Thou hast kept with thy servant David that which thou promisedst
him, so far that his son fills his throne and has built the
intended temple; therefore now keep with thy servant David that
which thou hast further promised him, and which yet remains
to be fulfilled in its season." Note, The experiences we have had of
God's performing his promises should encourage us to depend upon them
and plead them with God: and those who expect further mercies must be
thankful for former mercies. Hitherto God has helped,
2 Corinthians 1:10.
Solomon repeats the promise
(1 Kings 8:25):
There shall not fail thee a man to sit on the throne, not
omitting the condition, so that thy children take heed to their
way; for we cannot expect God's performance of the promise but upon
our performance of the condition. And then he humbly begs this entail
(1 Kings 8:26):
Now, O God of Israel! let thy word be verified. God's promises
(as we have often observed) must be both the guide of our desires and
the ground of our hopes and expectations in prayer. David had prayed
(2 Samuel 7:25):
Lord, do as thou hast said. Note, Children should learn of their
godly parents how to pray, and plead in prayer.
(2.) That God would have respect to this temple which he had now taken
possession of, and that his eyes might be continually open towards
(1 Kings 8:29),
that he would graciously own it, and so put an honour upon it. To this
[1.] He premises, First, A humble admiration of God's gracious
(1 Kings 8:27):
"But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Can we imagine that a
Being infinitely high, and holy, and happy, will stoop so low as to let
it be said of him that he dwells upon the earth and blesses the
worms of the earth with his presence--the earth, that is corrupt, and
overspread with sin--cursed, and reserved to fire? Lord, how is it?"
Secondly, A humble acknowledgment of the incapacity of the house he
had built, though very capacious, to contain God: "The heaven of
heavens cannot contain thee, for no place can include him who is
present in all places; even this house is too little, too mean to be
the residence of him that is infinite in being and glory." Note, When
we have done the most we can for God we must acknowledge the infinite
distance and disproportion between us and him, between our services and
[2.] This premised, he prays in general, First, That God would
graciously hear and answer the prayer he was now praying,
1 Kings 8:28.
It was a humble prayer (the prayer of thy servant), an earnest
prayer (such a prayer as is a cry), a prayer made in faith
(before thee, as the Lord, and my God): "Lord, hearken to it,
have respect to it, not as the prayer of Israel's king (no man's
dignity in the world, or titles of honour, will recommend him to God),
but as the prayer of thy servant." Secondly, That God would in
like manner hear and answer all the prayers that should, at any time
hereafter, be made in or towards this house which he had now built, and
of which God had said, My name shall be there
(1 Kings 8:29),
his own prayers (Hearken to the prayers which thy servant shall
make), and the prayers of all Israel, and of every particular
(1 Kings 8:30):
"Hear it in heaven, that is indeed thy dwelling-place, of
which this is but a figure; and, when thou hearest, forgive the
sin that separates between them and God, even the iniquity of their
holy things." a. He supposes that God's people will ever be
a prayer people; he resolves to adhere to that duty himself. b.
He directs them to have an eye, in their prayers, to that place where
God was pleased to manifest his glory as he did not any where else on
earth. None but priests might come into that place; but, when they
worshipped in the courts of the temple, it must be with an eye towards
it, not as the object of their worship (that were idolatry), but as an
instituted medium of their worship, helping the weakness of their
faith, and typifying the mediation of Jesus Christ, who is the true
temple, to whom we must have an eye in every thing wherein we have to
do with God. Those that were at a distance looked towards Jerusalem,
for the sake of the temple, even when it was in ruins,
c. He begs that God will hear the prayers, and forgive
the sins, of all that look this way in their prayers. Not as if he
thought all the devout prayers offered up to God by those who had no
knowledge of this house, or regard to it, were therefore rejected; but
he desired that the sensible tokens of the divine presence with which
this house was blessed might always give sensible encouragement and
comfort to believing petitioners.
[3.] More particularly, he here puts divers cases in which he supposed
application would be made to God by prayer in or towards this house of
First, If God were appealed to by an oath for the determining of
any controverted right between man and man, and the oath were taken
before this altar, he prayed that God would, in some way or other,
discover the truth, and judge between the contending parties,
1 Kings 8:31,32.
He prayed that, in difficult matters, this throne of grace might be a
throne of judgment, from which God would right the injured that
believingly appealed to it, and punish the injurious that
presumptuously appealed to it. It was usual to swear by the temple and
which corruption perhaps took its rise from this supposition of an oath
taken, not by the temple or altar, but at or near
them, for the greater solemnity.
Secondly, If the people of Israel were groaning under any
national calamity, or any particular Israelite under any personal
calamity, he desired that the prayers they should make in or towards
this house might be heard and answered.
a. In case of public judgments, war
(1 Kings 8:33),
want of rain
(1 Kings 8:35),
famine, or pestilence
(1 Kings 8:37),
and he ends with an et cetera--any plague or sickness; for no
calamity befals other people which may not befal God's Israel. Now he
(a.) That the cause of the judgment would be sin, and nothing
else. "If they be smitten before the enemy, if there be no rain,
it is because they have sinned against thee." It is sin that
makes all the mischief.
(b.) That the consequence of the judgment would be that they
would cry to God, and make supplication to him in or towards that
house. Those that slighted him before would solicit him then. Lord,
in trouble have they visited thee. In their afflictions they will seek
me early and earnestly.
(c.) That the condition of the removal of the judgment was
something more than barely praying for it. He could not, he would not,
ask that their prayer might be answered unless they did also turn
from their sin
(1 Kings 8:35)
and turn again to God
(1 Kings 8:33),
that is, unless they did truly repent and reform. On no other terms may
we look for salvation in this world or the other. But, if they did thus
qualify themselves for mercy, he prays,
[a.] That God would hear from heaven, his holy temple above, to
which they must look, through this temple.
[b.] That he would forgive their sin; for then only are
judgments removed in mercy when sin is pardoned.
[c.] That he would teach them the good way wherein they
should walk, by his Spirit, with his word and prophets; and thus
they might be both profited by their trouble (for blessed is the man
whom God chastens and teaches), and prepared for deliverance, which
then comes in love when it finds us brought back to the good way of God
[d.] That he would then remove the judgment, and redress the
grievance, whatever it might be--not only accept the prayer, but give
in the mercy prayed for.
b. In case of personal afflictions,
1 Kings 8:38-40.
"If any man of Israel has an errand to thee, here let him find thee,
here let him find favour with thee." He does not mention particulars,
so numerous, so various, are the grievances of the children of men.
(a.) He supposes that the complainants themselves would very
sensibly feel their own burden, and would open that case to God which
otherwise they kept to themselves and did not make any man acquainted
with: They shall know every man the plague of his own heart,
what it is that pains him, and (as we say) where the shoe pinches, and
shall spread their hands, that is, spread their case, as Hezekiah
spread the letter, in prayer, towards this house; whether the trouble
be of body or mind, they shall represent it before God. Inward burdens
seem especially meant. Sin is the plague of our own heart; our
indwelling corruptions are our spiritual diseases. Every Israelite
indeed endeavours to know these, that he may mortify them and watch
against the risings of them. These he complains of. This is the burden
he groans under: O wretched man that I am! These drive him to
his knees, drive him to the sanctuary. Lamenting these, he spreads
forth his hands in prayer.
(b.) He refers all cases of this kind, that should be brought
hither, to God.
[a.] To his omniscience: "Thou, even thou only, knowest the
hearts of all the children of men, not only the plagues of their
hearts, their several wants and burdens" (these he knows, but he will
know them from us), "but the desire and intent of the heart, the
sincerity or hypocrisy of it. Thou knowest which prayer comes from the
heart, and which from the lips only." The hearts of kings are not
unsearchable to God.
[b.] To his justice: Give to every man according to his
ways; and he will not fail to do so, by the rules of grace, not the
law, for then we should all be undone.
[c.] To his mercy: Hear, and forgive, and do
(1 Kings 8:39),
that they may fear thee all their days,
1 Kings 8:40.
This use we should make of the mercy of God to us in hearing our
prayers and forgiving our sins, we should thereby he engaged to fear
him while we live. Fear the Lord and his goodness. There is
forgiveness with him, that he may be feared.
c. The case of the stranger that is not an Israelite is next mentioned,
a proselyte that comes to the temple to pray to the God of Israel,
being convinced of the folly and wickedness of worshipping the gods of
(a.) He supposed that there would be many such
(1 Kings 8:41,42),
that the fame of God's great works which he had wrought for Israel, by
which he proved himself to be above all gods, nay, to be God alone,
would reach to distant countries: "Those that live remote shall hear
of thy strong hand, and thy stretched-out arm; and this will bring
all thinking considerate people to pray towards this house, that they
may obtain the favour of a God that is able to do them a real
(b.) He begged that God would accept and answer the proselyte's
(1 Kings 8:43):
Do according to all that the stranger calleth to thee for. Thus
early, thus ancient, were the indications of favour towards the
sinners of the Gentiles: as there was then one law for the
native and for the stranger
so there was one gospel for both.
(c.) Herein he aimed at the glory of God and the propagating of
the knowledge of him: "O let the stranger, in a special manner, speed
well in his addresses, that he may carry away with him to his own
country a good report of the God of Israel, that all people may know
thee and fear thee (and, if they know thee aright, they will fear
thee) as do thy people Israel." So far was Solomon from
monopolizing the knowledge and service of God, and wishing to have them
confined to Israel only (which was the envious desire of the Jews in
the days of Christ and his apostles), that he prayed that all people
might fear God as Israel did. Would to God that all the children of
men might receive the adoption, and be made God's children!
Father, thus glorify thy name.
d. The case of an army going forth to battle is next recommended by
Solomon to the divine favour. It is supposed that the army is encamped
at a distance, somewhere a great way off, sent by divine order
against the enemy,
1 Kings 8:44.
"When they are ready to engage, and consider the perils and doubtful
issues of battle, and put up a prayer to God for protection and
success, with their eye towards this city and temple, then
hear their prayer, encourage their hearts, strengthen their
hands, cover their heads, and so maintain their cause and give them
victory." Soldiers in the field must not think it enough that those who
tarry at home pray for them, but must pray for themselves, and they are
here encouraged to hope fore a gracious answer. Praying should always
go along with fighting.
e. The case of poor captives is the last that is here mentioned
as a proper object of divine compassion.
(a.) He supposes that Israel will sin. He knew them, and
himself, and the nature of man, too well to think this a foreign
supposition; for there is no man that sinneth not, that does not
enough to justify God in the severest rebukes of his providence, no man
but what is in danger of falling into gross sin, and will if God leave
him to himself.
(b.) He supposes, what may well be expected, that, if Israel
revolt from God, God will be angry with them, and deliver
them into the hand of their enemies, to be carried captive into a
1 Kings 8:46.
(c.) He then supposes that they will bethink themselves, will
consider their ways (for afflictions put men upon consideration), and,
when once they are brought to consider, they will repent and pray, will
confess their sins, and humble themselves, saying, We have sinned
and have done perversely
(1 Kings 8:47),
and in the land of their enemies will return to God, whom they
had forsaken in their own land.
(d.) He supposes that in their prayers they will look towards
their own land, the holy land, Jerusalem, the holy city, and the
temple, the holy house, and directs them so to do
(1 Kings 8:48),
for his sake who gave them that land, chose that city, and to whose
honour that house was built.
(e.) He prays that then God would hear their prayers, forgive
their sins, plead their cause, and incline their enemies to have
compassion on them,
1 Kings 8:49,50.
God has all hearts in his hand, and can, when he pleases, turn the
strongest stream the contrary way, and make those to pity his people
who have been their most cruel persecutors. See this prayer answered,
He made them to be pitied of those that carried them captive,
which, if it did not release them, yet eased their captivity.
(f.) He pleads their relation to God, and his interest in them:
"They are thy people, whom thou hast taken into thy covenant and under
thy care and conduct, thy inheritance, from which, more than from any
other nation, thy rent and tribute of glory issue and arise
(1 Kings 8:51),
separated from among all people to be so and by distinguishing
favours appropriated to thee,"
1 Kings 8:53.
Lastly, After all these particulars, he concludes with this
general request, that God would hearken to all his praying people in
all that they call unto him for,
1 Kings 8:52.
No place now, under the gospel, can be imagined to add any
acceptableness to the prayers made in or towards it, as the temple then
did. That was a shadow: the substance is Christ; whatever we ask in his
name, it shall be given us.
Solomon Blesses and Exhorts the People.
B. C. 1003.
54 And it was so, that when Solomon had made an end of
praying all this prayer and supplication unto the LORD, he arose
from before the altar of the LORD, from kneeling on his knees
with his hands spread up to heaven.
55 And he stood, and blessed all the congregation of Israel
with a loud voice, saying,
56 Blessed be the LORD, that hath given rest unto his people
Israel, according to all that he promised: there hath not failed
one word of all his good promise, which he promised by the hand
of Moses his servant.
57 The LORD our God be with us, as he was with our fathers: let
him not leave us, nor forsake us:
58 That he may incline our hearts unto him, to walk in all his
ways, and to keep his commandments, and his statutes, and his
judgments, which he commanded our fathers.
59 And let these my words, wherewith I have made supplication
before the LORD, be nigh unto the LORD our God day and night,
that he maintain the cause of his servant, and the cause of his
people Israel at all times, as the matter shall require:
60 That all the people of the earth may know that the LORD is
God, and that there is none else.
61 Let your heart therefore be perfect with the LORD our God,
to walk in his statutes, and to keep his commandments, as at this
Solomon, after his sermon in Ecclesiastes, gives us the conclusion of
the whole matter; so he does here, after this long prayer; it is called
his blessing the people,
1 Kings 8:55.
He pronounced it standing, that he might be the better heard, and
because he blessed as one having authority. Never were words more fitly
spoken, nor more pertinently. Never was congregation dismissed with
that which was more likely to affect them and abide with them.
I. He gives God the glory of the great and kind things he had done for
1 Kings 8:56.
He stood up to bless the congregation
(1 Kings 8:55),
but began with blessing God; for we must in every thing give
thanks. Do we expect God should do well for us and ours? let us
take all occasion to speak well of him and his. He blesses God who has
given, he does not say wealth, and honour, and power, and victory, to
Israel, but rest, as if that were a blessing more valuable than
any of those. Let not those who have rest under-value that blessing,
though they want some others. He compares the blessings God had
bestowed upon them with the promises he had given them, that God might
have the honour of his faithfulness and the truth of that word of his
which he has magnified above all his name.
1. He refers to the promises given by the hand of Moses, as he
(1 Kings 8:15,24)
to those which were made to David. There were promises given by Moses,
as well as precepts. It was long ere God gave Israel the promised rest,
but they had it at last, after many trials. The day will come when
God's spiritual Israel will rest from all their labours.
2. He does, as it were, write a receipt in full on the back of these
bonds: There has not failed one word of all his good promises.
This discharge he gives in the name of all Israel, to the everlasting
honour of the divine faithfulness, and the everlasting encouragement of
all those that build upon the divine promises.
II. He blesses himself and the congregation, expressing his earnest
desire and hope of these four things:--
1. The presence of God with them, which is all in all to the happiness
of a church and nation and of every particular person. This great
congregation was now shortly to be scattered, and it was not likely
that they would ever be all together again in this world. Solomon
therefore dismisses them with this blessing: "The Lord be present
with us, and that will be comfort enough when we are absent from
each other. The Lord our God be with us, as he was with our
(1 Kings 8:57);
let him not leave us, let him be to us to day, and to ours for
ever, what he was to those that went before us."
2. The power of his grace upon them: "Let him be with us, and
continue with us, not that he may enlarge our coasts and increase our
wealth, but that he may incline our hearts to himself, to walk in
all his ways and to keep his commandments,"
1 Kings 8:58.
Spiritual blessings are the best blessings, with which we should covet
earnestly to be blessed. Our hearts are naturally averse to our duty,
and apt to decline from God; it is his grace that inclines them, grace
that must be obtained by prayer.
3. An answer to the prayer he had now made: "Let these my words be
nigh unto the Lord our God day and night,
1 Kings 8:59.
Let a gracious return be made to every prayer that shall be made here,
and that will be a continual answer to this prayer." What Solomon asks
here for his prayer is still granted in the intercession of Christ, of
which his supplication was a type; that powerful prevailing
intercession is before the Lord our God day and night, for our
great Advocate attends continually to this very thing, and we may
depend upon him to maintain our cause (against the adversary that
accuses us day and night,
and the common cause of his people Israel, at all times,
upon all occasions, as the matter shall require, so as to speak for us
the word of the day in its day, as the original here reads it,
from which we shall receive grace sufficient, suitable, and seasonable,
in every time of need.
4. The glorifying of God in the enlargement of his kingdom among men.
Let Israel be thus blessed, thus favoured; not that all people may
become tributaries to us (Solomon sees his kingdom as great as he
desires), but that all people may know that the Lord is God, and
he only, and may come and worship him,
1 Kings 8:60.
With this Solomon's prayers, like the prayers of his father David,
the son of Jesse, are ended
Let the whole earth be filled with his glory. We cannot close
our prayers with a better summary than this, Father, glorify thy
III. He solemnly charges his people to continue and persevere in their
duty to God. Having spoken to God for them, he here speaks from God to
them, and those only would fare the better for his prayers that were
made better by his preaching. His admonition, at parting, is, "Let
your heart be perfect with the Lord our God,
1 Kings 8:61.
Let your obedience be universal, without dividing--upright, without
dissembling--constant, without declining;" this is evangelical
Solomon Holds a Great Feast.
B. C. 1003.
62 And the king, and all Israel with him, offered sacrifice
before the LORD.
63 And Solomon offered a sacrifice of peace offerings, which he
offered unto the LORD, two and twenty thousand oxen, and an
hundred and twenty thousand sheep. So the king and all the
children of Israel dedicated the house of the LORD.
64 The same day did the king hallow the middle of the court
that was before the house of the LORD: for there he offered
burnt offerings, and meat offerings, and the fat of the peace
offerings: because the brasen altar that was before the LORD
was too little to receive the burnt offerings, and meat
offerings, and the fat of the peace offerings.
65 And at that time Solomon held a feast, and all Israel with
him, a great congregation, from the entering in of Hamath unto
the river of Egypt, before the LORD our God, seven days and seven
days, even fourteen days.
66 On the eighth day he sent the people away: and they blessed
the king, and went unto their tents joyful and glad of heart for
all the goodness that the LORD had done for David his servant,
and for Israel his people.
We read before that Judah and Israel were eating and drinking, and very
cheerful under their own vines and fig-trees; here we have them so in
God's courts. Now they found Solomon's words true concerning Wisdom's
ways, that they are ways of pleasantness.
I. They had abundant joy and satisfaction while they attended at God's
house, for there,
1. Solomon offered a great sacrifice, 22,000 oxen and 120,000 sheep,
enough to have drained the country of cattle if it had not been a very
fruitful land. The heathen thought themselves very generous when they
offered sacrifices by hundreds (hecatombs they called them), but
Solomon out-did them: he offered them by thousands. When Moses
dedicated his altar, the peace-offerings were twenty-four bullocks,
and of rams, goats, and lambs, 180
then the people were poor, but now that they had increased in wealth
more was expected from them. Where God sows plentifully he must reap
accordingly. All these sacrifices could not be offered in one day, but
in the several days of the feast. Thirty oxen a day served Solomon's
table, but thousands shall go to God's altar. Few are thus minded, to
spend more on their souls than on their bodies. The flesh of the
peace-offerings, which belonged to the offerer, it is likely, Solomon
treated the people with. Christ fed those who attended him. The brazen
altar was not large enough to receive all these sacrifices, so that, to
serve the present occasion, they were forced to offer many of them
in the middle of the court,
(1 Kings 8:64),
some think on altars, altars of earth or stone, erected for the purpose
and taken down when the solemnity was over, others think on the bare
ground. Those that will be generous in serving God need not stint
themselves for want of room and occasion to be so.
2. He kept a feast, the feast of tabernacles, as it should seem, after
the feast of dedication, and both together lasted fourteen days
(1 Kings 8:65),
yet they said not, Behold, what a weariness is this!
II. They carried this joy and satisfaction with them to their own
houses. When they were dismissed they blessed the king
(1 Kings 8:66),
applauded him, admired him, and returned him the thanks of the
congregation, and then went to their tents joyful and glad of
heart, all easy and pleased. God's goodness was the matter of their
joy, so it should be of ours at all times. They rejoiced in God's
blessing both on the royal family and on the kingdom; thus should we go
home rejoicing from holy ordinances, and go on our way rejoicing for
God's goodness to our Lord Jesus (of whom David his servant was a type,
in the advancement and establishment of his throne, pursuant to the
covenant of redemption), and to all believers, his spiritual Israel, in
their sanctification and consolation, pursuant to the covenant of
grace. If we rejoice not herein always it is our own fault.
Matthew Henry "Verse by Verse Commentary for '1 Kings' Matthew Henry Bible Commentary".