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  • ADAM CLARKE'S BIBLE COMMENTARY -
    1 KINGS 8

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    CHAPTER VIII

    Solomon assembles the elders of Israel, and brings up the ark, and the holy vessels, and the tabernacle, out of the city of David, and places them in the temple; on which account a vast number of sheep and oxen are sacrificed, 1-8. There was nothing in the ark save the two tables of stone, which Moses put there at Horeb, 9. The cloud of God's glory fills the house, 10, 11. Solomon blesses the people, 12-21. His dedicatory prayer, 22-53. Afterwards he blesses and exhorts the people, 54-61. They offer a sacrifice of twenty- two thousand oxen, and one hundred and twenty thousand sheep, 62, 63. He hallows the middle of the court for offerings; as the brazen altar which was before the Lord was too little, 64. He holds the feast of the dedication for seven days; and for other seven days, the feast of tabernacles; and on the eighth day blesses the people, and sends them away joyful, 65, 66.

    NOTES ON CHAP. VIII

    Verse 1. "Then Solomon assembled" - It has already been observed that Solomon deferred the dedication of the temple to the following year after it was finished, because that year, according to Archbishop Usher, was a jubilee. "This," he observes, "was the ninth jubilee, opening the fourth millenary of the world, or A.M. 3001, wherein Solomon with great magnificence celebrated the dedication of the temple seven days, and the feast of tabernacles other seven days; and the celebration of the eighth day of tabernacles being finished, upon the twenty-third day of the seventh month the people were dismissed every man to his home. The eighth day of the seventh month, viz., the thirtieth of our October, being Friday, was the first of the seven days of dedication; on the tenth day, Saturday, November 1, was the fast of expiation or atonement held; whereon, according to the Levitical law, the jubilee was proclaimed by sound of trumpet. The fifteenth day, Friday, November 6, was the feast of tabernacles; the twenty-second, November 13, being also Friday, was the feast of tabernacles, which was always very solemnly kept, 2 Chron. vii. 9; Lev. xxiii. 36; John vii. 37; and the day following, November 14, being our Saturday, when the Sabbath was ended, the people returned home.

    "In the thirteenth year after the temple was built, Solomon made an end also of building his own house, having spent full twenty years upon both of them; seven and a half upon the temple, and thirteen or twelve and a half upon his own." - Usher's Annals, sub. A.M. 3001.

    Verse 2. "At the feast in the month Ethanim" - The feast of tabernacles, which was celebrated in the seventh month of what is called the ecclesiastical gear.

    Verse 4. "They brought up-the tabernacle" - It is generally agreed that there were now two tabernacles at Gibeon, and the other in the city of David, which one David had constructed as a temporary residence for the ark, in the event of a temple being built. Which of these tabernacles was brought into the temple at this time, is not well known; some think both were brought in, in order to prevent the danger of idolatry. I should rather suppose that the tabernacle from Gibeon was brought in, and that the temporary one erected by David was demolished.

    Verse 8. "And there they are unto this day." - This proves that the book was written before the destruction of the first temple, but how long before we cannot tell.

    Verse 9. "Save the two tables of stone" - See my notes on Hebrews ix. 4.

    Verse 10. "When the priests were come out" - That is, after having carried the ark into the holy of holies, before any sacred service had yet commenced.

    Verse 11. "The glory of the Lord had filled the house" - The cloud, the symbol of the Divine glory and presence, appears to have filled not only the holy of holies, but the whole temple, court and all, and to have become evident to the people; and by this Solomon knew that God had honoured the place with his presence, and taken it for his habitation in reference to the people of Israel.

    Verse 12. "The Lord said-he would dwell" - It was under the appearance of a cloud that God showed himself present with Israel in the wilderness; see Exod. xiv. 19, 20. And at the dedication of the tabernacle in the wilderness, God manifested himself in the same way that he did here at the dedication of the temple; see Exod. xl. 34, 35.

    Verse 13. "I have surely built thee a house" - He was now fully convinced that the thing pleased God, and that he had taken this place for his settled habitation.

    Verse 14. "Blessed all the congregation" - Though this blessing is not particularly stated, yet we may suppose that it was such as the high priest pronounced upon the people: "The Lord bless thee, and keep thee! The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee! The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace!" (see Num. vi. 24-26) for Solomon seems now to be acting the part of the high priest.

    But he may have in view more particularly the conduct of Moses, who, when he had seen that the people had done all the work of the tabernacle, as the Lord had commanded them, he blessed them, Exod. xxxix. 43; and the conduct of his father David, who, when the ark had been brought into the city of David, and the burnt-offerings and peace-offerings completed, blessed the people in the name of the Lord, 2 Sam. vi. 18.

    Verse 16. "Since the day, &c." - Mention is here made, says Dr. Kennicott, of some one place and some one person preferred before all others; and the preference is that of Jerusalem to other places, and of David to other men.

    In consequence of this remark, we shall see the necessity of correcting this passage by its parallel in 2 Chron. vi. 5, 6, where the thirteen Hebrew words now lost in Kings are happily preserved. Let us compare the passages:-

    K. Since to day that I brought forth my people C. Since the day that I brought forth my people K. Israel out of Egypt, I chose no CITY C. out of the land of Egypt, I chose no CITY K. out of all the tribes of Israel to build a house, C. among all the tribes of Israel to build a house in, K. that my name might be therein; C. that my name might be there; neither chose I C. any MAN to be a ruler over my people Israel: C. but I have chosen JERUSALEM, that my name K. but I chose David to be C. might be there; and have chosen DAVID to be K. over my people Israel. C. over my people Israel.

    I would just observe here, that I do not think these thirteen words ever made a part of Kings, and consequently, are not lost from it; nor do they exist here in any of the versions; but their being found in Chronicles helps to complete the sense.

    Verse 21. "Wherein is the covenant of the Lord" - As it is said, 1 Kings viii. 9, that there was nothing in the ark but the two tables of stone, consequently these are called the Covenant, i.e., a sign of the covenant; as our Lord calls the cup the new covenant in his blood, that is, the sign of the new covenant: for This is my body implies, This is the sign or emblem of my body.

    Verse 22. "Stood" - He ascended the brazen scaffold, five cubits long, and five cubits broad, and three cubits high, and then kneeled down upon his knees, with his hands spread up to heaven, and offered up the following prayer: see ver. 54, and 2 Chron. v. 12, 13.

    "And spread forth his hands toward heaven" - This was a usual custom in all nations: in prayer the hands were stretched out to heaven, as if to invite and receive assistance from thence; while, humbly kneeling on their knees, they seemed acknowledge at once their dependence and unworthiness. On this subject I have spoken elsewhere. In the Scriptures we meet with several examples of the kind: Hear my voice-when I LIFT UP MY HANDS toward thy holy oracle; Psa. xxviii. 2. LIFT UP YOUR HANDS in the sanctuary, and bless the Lord; Psa. cxxxiv. 2. Let my prayer be set forth-and the LIFTING UP OF MY HANDS as the evening sacrifice; Psa. cxli. 2. And see 1 Tim. ii. 8, &c.

    In heathen writers examples are not less frequent: SUSTULIT exutas vinclis ad sidera PALMAS.

    Vos aeterni ignes, et non violabile vestrum Testor numen, ait. VIRG. AEn. lib. ii., ver. 153.

    Ye lamps of heaven, he said, and LIFTED HIGH HIS HANDS, now free; thou venerable sky, Inviolable powers! And that they kneeled down when supplicating I have also proved. Of this too the Scriptures afford abundant evidence, as do also the heathen writers.

    I need add but one word:-

    Et GENBIUS PRONIS supplex, similisque roganti, Circumfert tacitos, tanquam sun brachia, vultus. OVID, Met. lib. iii., f. 3, ver. 240.

    Indeed, so universal were these forms in praying, that one of the heathens has said, "All men, in praying, lift up their hands to heaven."

    Verse 24. "Who has kept with thy servant David" - This is in reference to 2 Sam. vii. 13, where God promises to David that Solomon shall build a house for the name of the Lord. The temple being now completed, this promise was literally fulfilled.

    Verse 27. "But will God indeed dwell on the earth?" - This expression is full of astonishment, veneration, and delight. He is struck with the immensity, dignity, and grandeur of the Divine Being, but especially at his condescension to dwell with men: and though he sees, by his filling the place, that he has come now to make his abode with them, yet he cannot help asking the question, How can such a God dwell in such a place, and with such creatures? Behold, the heaven] The words are all in the plural number in the Hebrew: ymh ymw ymh hashshamayim, ushemey hashshamayim; "the heavens, and the heavens of heavens." What do these words imply? That there are systems, and systems of systems, each possessing its sun, its primary and secondary planets, all extending beyond each other in unlimited space, in the same regular and graduated order which we find to prevail in what we call our solar system; which probably, in its thousands of millions of miles in diameter, is, to some others, no more than the area of the lunar orbit to that of the Georgium Sidus. When God, his manifold wisdom, his creative energy, and that space which is unlimited, are considered, it is no hyperbole to say that, although the earth has been created nearly six thousand years ago, suns, the centres of systems, may have been created at so immense a distance that their light has not yet reached our earth, though travelling at the rate of one hundred and ninety thousand miles every second, or upwards of a million times swifter than the motion of a cannon ball! This may be said to be inconceivable; but what is even all this to the vast immensity of space! Had God created a system like ours in every six days since the foundation of the world, and kept every seventh as a Sabbath; and though there might have been by this time [A.M. 5823 ineunte, A.D. 1819, ineunte] three hundred and three thousand five hundred and seventy-five mundane systems, they would occupy but a speck in the inconceivable immensity of space. Reader, all this and millions more is demonstrably possible; and if so, what must God be-illud inexprimibile-who i-n-h-a-b-i-t-e-t-h E-t-e-r-n- i-t-y!

    Verse 29. "My name shall be there" - I will there show forth my power and my glory by enlightening, quickening, pardoning, sanctifying, and saving all my sincere worshippers.

    Verse 30. "Toward this place" - Both tabernacle and temple were types of our Lord Jesus, or of God manifested in the flesh; and he was and is the Mediator between God and man. All prayer, to be acceptable, and to be entitled to a hearing, must go to God through Him. The human nature of Christ is the temple in which dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; therefore with propriety all prayer must be offered to God through Him.

    "If they pray toward this place, hear thou in heaven thy dwelling-place; and when thou hearest, forgive." This appears to me to be the true sense and doctrine of this verse.

    Verse 31. "If any man trespass against his neighbour" - Solomon puts here seven cases, in all of which the mercy and intervention of God would be indispensably requisite; and he earnestly bespeaks that mercy and intervention on condition that the people pray towards that holy place, and with a feeling heart make earnest supplication.

    The FIRST case is one of doubtfulness; where a man has sustained an injury, and charges it on a suspected person, though not able to bring direct evidence of the fact, the accused is permitted to come before the altar of God, and purge himself by his personal oath. Solomon prays that God may not permit a false oath to be taken, but that he will discover the truth, so that the wicked shall be condemned, and the righteous justified.

    Verse 33. "When thy people Israel be smitten down, &c." - The SECOND case. When their enemies make inroads upon them, and defeat them in battle, and lead them into captivity, because God, being displeased with their transgressions, has delivered them up; then if they shall turn again, confess the name of God, which they had in effect denied, by either neglecting his worship, or becoming idolatrous; and pray and make supplication; then, says Solomon, hear thou in heaven- and bring them again unto the land which thou gavest unto their fathers.

    Verse 35. "When the heaven is shut up, and there is no rain" - The THIRD case. When, because of their sin, and their ceasing to walk in the good way in which they should have walked, God refuses to send the early and latter rain, so that the appointed weeks of harvest come in vain, as there is no crop: then, if they pray and confess their sin, hear thou in heaven, &c.

    Verse 37. "If there be in the land famine-pestilence" - The FOURTH case includes several kinds of evils:

    1. Famine; a scarcity or total want of bread, necessarily springing from the preceding cause, drought. 2. Pestilence; any general and contagious disease. 3. Blasting; any thing by which the crops are injured, so that the ear is never matured; but instead of wholesome grain, there is a black offensive dust. 4. Mildew; any thing that vitiates or corrodes the texture of the stalk, destroys the flowers and blossoms, or causes the young shaped fruits to fall off their stems. 5. Locust, a well known curse in the East, a species of grasshopper that multiplies by millions, and covers the face of the earth for many miles square, destroying every green thing; leaving neither herb nor grass upon the earth, nor leaf nor bark upon the trees. 6. Caterpillar; the locust in its young or nympha state. The former refers to locusts brought by winds from other countries and settling on the land; the latter, to the young locusts bred in the land. 7.

    An enemy, having attacked their defenced cities, the keys and barriers of the land. 8. Any other kind of plague; that which affects the surface of the body; blotch, blain, leprosy, ophthalmia, &c. 9. Sickness; whatever impaired the strength, or affected the intestines, disturbing or destroying their natural functions. All such cases were to be brought before the Lord, the persons having a deep sense of the wickedness which induced God thus to afflict, or permit them to be afflicted: for only those who knew the plague of their own hearts, (ver. 38,) the deep-rooted moral corruption of their nature, and the destructive nature and sinfulness of sin, were likely to pray in such a manner as to induce God to hear and forgive.

    Verse 41. "Moreover, concerning a stranger" - The FIFTH case relates to heathens coming from other countries with the design to become proselytes to the true religion; that they might be received, blessed, and protected as the true Israelites, that the name of Jehovah might be known over the face of the earth.

    Verse 44. "If thy people go out to battle" - The SIXTH case refers to wars undertaken by Divine appointment: whithersoever thou shalt send them; for in no other wars could they expect the blessing and concurrence of the Lord; in none other could the God of truth and justice maintain their cause.

    There were such wars under the Mosaic dispensation, there are none such under the Christian dispensation: nor can there be any; for the Son of man is come, not to destroy men's lives, but to save them. Except mere defensive war, all others are diabolic; and, query, if there were no provocations, would there be any attacks, and consequently any need of defensive wars?

    Verse 46. "If they sin against thee" - This SEVENTH case must refer to some general defection from truth, to some species of false worship, idolatry, or corruption of the truth and ordinances of the Most High; as for it they are here stated to be delivered into the hands of their enemies and carried away captive, which was the general punishment for idolatry, and what is called, ver. 47, acting perversely and committing wickedness.

    In ver. 46 we read, If they sin against thee, for there is no man that sinneth not. On this verse we may observe that the second clause, as it is here translated, renders the supposition in the first clause entirely nugatory; for if there be no man that sinneth not, it is useless to say, IF they sin; but this contradiction is taken away by reference to the original, l wafjy yk ki yechetu lach, which should be translated IF they shall sin against thee, or should they sin against thee; afjy al ra da ya yk ki ein Adam asher lo yecheta, for there is no man that MAY not sin; i.e., there is no man impeccable, none infallible, none that is not liable to transgress. This is the true meaning of the phrase in various parts of the Bible, and so our translators have understood the original: for even in the thirty-first verse of this chapter they have translated afjy yecheta, IF a man TRESPASS; which certainly implies he might or might not do it; and in this way they have translated the same word, IF a soul SIN, in Lev. v. 1; vi. 2; 1 Sam. ii. 25; 2 Chron. vi. 22, and in several other places. The truth is, the Hebrew has no mood to express words in the permissive or optative way, but to express this sense it uses the future tense of the conjugation kal.

    This text has been a wonderful strong hold for all who believe that there is no redemption from sin in this life, that no man can live without committing sin, and that we cannot be entirely freed from it till we die. 1.

    The text speaks no such doctrine: it only speaks of the possibility of every man sinning, and this must be true of a state of probation. 2. There is not another text in the Divine records that is more to the purpose than this. 3. The doctrine is flatly in opposition to the design of the Gospel; for Jesus came to save his people from their sins, and to destroy the works of the devil. 4. It is a dangerous and destructive doctrine,; and should be blotted out of every Christian's creed. There are too many who are seeking to excuse their crimes by all means in their power; and we need not embody their excuses in a creed, to complete their deception, by stating that their sins are unavoidable.

    Verse 50. "And give them compassion before them who carried them captive" - He does not pray that they may be delivered out of that captivity, but that their enemies may use them well; and that they may, as formerly, be kept a separate and distinct people.

    Verse 55. "He stood, and blessed all the congregation" - This blessing is contained in ver. 57, 58.

    Verse 59. "And let these my words" - This and the following verse is a sort of supplement to the prayer which ended ver. 53; but there is an important addition to this prayer in the parallel place, 2 Chron. vi. 41, xl2: "Now therefore arise, O LORD God, into thy resting place, thou and the ark of thy strength: let thy priests, O LORD God, be clothed with salvation, and let thy saints rejoice in goodness. O LORD God, turn not away the face of thine anointed: remember the mercies of David thy servant."

    Verse 61. "Let your heart therefore be perfect" - Be sincere in your faith, be irreproachable in your conduct.

    Verse 63. "Two and twenty thousand oxen" - This was the whole amount of the victims that had been offered during the fourteen days; i.e., the seven days of the dedication, and the seven days of the feast of tabernacles. In what way could they dispose of the blood of so many victims?

    Verse 64. "Did the king hallow the middle of the court" - The great altar of burnt-offerings was not sufficient for the number of sacrifices which were then made; therefore the middle of the court was set apart, and an altar erected there for the same purpose.

    Verse 65. "From-Hamath" - Supposed to be Antioch of Syria; unto the river of Egypt-to the Rhinocorura; the former being on the north, the latter on the south: i.e., from one extremity of the land to the other.

    Verse 66. "They blessed the king" - Wished him all spiritual and temporal happiness. They were contented with their king, at peace among themselves, and happy in their God; so that they returned to their houses magnifying their God for all his bounty to them, their country, and their king. How happy must these people have been, and how prosperous, had their king continued to walk uprightly before God! But alas! the king fell, and the nation followed his example.

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