2 Chronicles 6:1-41 . SOLOMON BLESSES THE PEOPLE AND PRAISES GOD.
1. The Lord hath said that he would dwell in the thick darkness--This introduction to Solomon's address was evidently suggested by the remarkable incident recorded at the close of the last chapter: the phenomenon of a densely opaque and uniformly shaped cloud, descending in a slow and majestic manner and filling the whole area of the temple. He regarded it himself, and directed the people also to regard it, as an undoubted sign and welcome pledge of the divine presence and acceptance of the building reared to His honor and worship. He referred not to any particular declaration of God, but to the cloud having been all along in the national history of Israel the recognized symbol of the divine presence ( Exodus 16:10 , 24:16 , 40:34 , Numbers 9:15 , 1 Kings 8:10 1 Kings 8:11 ).
13. Solomon had made a brazen scaffold--a sort of platform. But the Hebrew term rendered "scaffold," being the same as that used to designate the basin, suggests the idea that this throne might bear some resemblance, in form or structure, to those lavers in the temple, being a sort of round and elevated pulpit, placed in the middle of the court, and in front of the altar of burnt offering.
upon it he stood, and kneeled down upon his knees--After ascending the brazen scaffold, he assumed those two attitudes in succession, and with different objects in view. He stood while he addressed and blessed the surrounding multitude ( 2 Chronicles 6:3-11 ). Afterwards he knelt down and stretched out his hands towards heaven, with his face probably turned towards the altar, while he gave utterance to the beautiful and impressive prayer which is recorded in the remainder of this chapter. It is deserving of notice that there was no seat in this pulpit--for the king either stood or knelt all the time he was in it. It is not improbable that it was surmounted by a canopy, or covered by a veil, to screen the royal speaker from the rays of the sun.
18-21. how much less this house which I have built! Have respect therefore to the prayer of thy servant--No person who entertains just and exalted views of the spiritual nature of the Divine Being will suppose that he can raise a temple for the habitation of Deity, as a man builds a house for himself. Nearly as improper and inadmissible is the idea that a temple can contribute to enhance the glory of God, as a monument may be raised in honor of a great man. Solomon described the true and proper use of the temple, when he entreated that the Lord would "hearken unto the supplications of His servant and His people Israel, which they should make towards this place." In short, the grand purpose for which the temple was erected was precisely the same as that contemplated by churches--to afford the opportunity and means of public and social worship, according to the ritual of the Mosaic dispensation--to supplicate the divine mercy and favor--to render thanks for past instances of goodness, and offer petitions for future temple--the ONE temple in the world--is in fact its standpoint of absorbing interest.
22. If a man sin against his neighbour, and an oath be laid upon him to make him swear, and the oath come before thine altar in this house, &c.--In cases where the testimony of witnesses could not be obtained and there was no way of settling a difference or dispute between two people but by accepting the oath of the accused, the practice had gradually crept in and had acquired the force of consuetudinary law, for the party to be brought before the altar, where his oath was taken with all due solemnity, together with the imprecation of a curse to fall upon himself if his disavowal should be found untrue. There is an allusion to such a practice in this passage.
38. If they return to thee . . . in the land of their captivity . . . and pray toward their land, which thou gavest unto their fathers--These words gave rise to the favorite usage of the ancient as well as modern Jews, of turning in prayer toward Jerusalem, in whatever quarter of the world they might be, and of directing their faces toward the temple when in Jerusalem itself or in any part of the holy land ( 1 Kings 8:44 ).
41. arise, O Lord God into thy resting-place--These words are not found in the record of this prayer in the First Book of Kings; but they occur in Psalms 132:8 , which is generally believed to have been composed by David, or rather by Solomon, in reference to this occasion. "Arise" is a very suitable expression to be used when the ark was to be removed from the tabernacle in Zion to the temple on Mount Moriah.
into thy resting-place--the temple so called ( Isaiah 66:1 ), because it was a fixed and permanent mansion ( Psalms 132:14 ).
the ark of thy strength--the abode by which Thy glorious presence is symbolized, and whence Thou dost issue Thine authoritative oracles, and manifest Thy power on behalf of Thy people when they desire and need it. It might well be designated the ark of God's strength, because it was through means of it the mighty miracles were wrought and the brilliant victories were won, that distinguish the early annals of the Hebrew nation. The sight of it inspired the greatest animation in the breasts of His people, while it diffused terror and dismay through the ranks of their enemies (compare Psalms 78:61 ).
let thy priests . . . be clothed with salvation--or with righteousness ( Psalms 132:9 ), that is, be equipped not only with the pure white linen garments Thou hast appointed for their robe of office, but also adorned with the moral beauties of true holiness, that their person and services may be accepted, both for themselves and all the people. Thus they would be "clothed with salvation," for that is the effect and consequence of a sanctified character.
42. turn not away the face of thine anointed--that is, of me, who by Thy promise and appointment have been installed as king and ruler of Israel. The words are equivalent in meaning to this: Do not reject my present petitions; do not send me from Thy throne of grace dejected in countenance and disappointed in heart.
remember the mercies of David thy servant--that is, the mercies promised to David, and in consideration of that promise, hear and answer my prayer (compare Psalms 132:10 ).