1 Kings 8 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of 1 Kings 8)

Verse 1

[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.

Elders — The senators, and judges, and rulers.

Heads — For each tribe had a peculiar governor.

Chief — The chief persons of every great family in each tribe.

Jerusalem — Where the temple was built.

Bring the ark — To the top of Moriah, upon which it was built; whither they were now to carry the ark in solemn pomp.

City of David — Where David had placed the ark, which is called Zion, because it was built upon that hill.

Verse 2

[2] And all the men of Israel assembled themselves unto king Solomon at the feast in the month Ethanim, which is the seventh month.

All Israel — Not only the chief men, but a vast number of the common people.

The feast — The feast of the dedication, to which Solomon had invited them.

Seventh month — Which time he chose with respect to his peoples convenience, because now they had gathered in all their fruits, and were come up to Jerusalem, to celebrate the feast of tabernacles. But the temple was not finished till the eighth month, chap. 6:38, how then could he invite them in the seventh month? This was the seventh month of the next year. For although the house in all its parts was finished the year before, yet the utensils of it were not then fully finished: and many preparations were to be made for this great and extraordinary occasion.

Verse 3

[3] And all the elders of Israel came, and the priests took up the ark.

The priests — For although the Levites might do this, Numbers 4:15, yet the priests did it at this time, for the greater honour of the solemnity; and because the Levites might not enter into the holy-place, much less into the holy of holies, where it was to be placed, into which the priests themselves might not have entered, if the high-priest alone could have done it.

Verse 4

[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.

The tabernacle — That made by Moses, which doubtless before this time had been translated from Gibeon to Zion, and now together with other things, was put into the treasuries of the Lord's house, to prevent all superstitious use of it, and to oblige the people to come up to Jerusalem, as the only place where God would now be worshipped.

Verse 5

[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 for multitude.

Sacrificing — When the ark was seated in its place: for although they might in the way offer some sacrifices, as David did; yet that was not a proper season to offer so many sacrifices as could not be numbered. This is more particularly related below, verse 62,63,64, which is here signified by way of anticipation.

Verse 6

[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.

Cherubim — Of Solomon's new made cherubim, not of the Mosaic cherubim, which were far less, and unmovably fixed to the ark, Exodus 37:7,8, and therefore together with the ark, were put under the wings of these cherubim.

Verse 8

[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.

Drew out — Not wholly, which was expressly forbidden, Exodus 25:15; Numbers 4:6, but in part.

Seen out — In the most holy place, which is oft called by way of eminency, the holy place, and the Hebrew words rendered before the oracle, may be as well rendered, within the oracle. And these staves were left in this posture, that the high-priest might hereby be certainly guided to that very place where he, was one day in a year to sprinkle blood, and to offer incense before the ark, which otherwise he might mistake in that dark place, where the ark was wholly covered with the wings of the great cherubim, which stood between him and the ark when he entered in.

Verse 9

[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 Egypt.

Nothing — Strictly and properly: but in a more large sense, the pot of manna, and Aaron's rod were also in it, Hebrews 9:4, that is, by it, in the most holy place, before the ark of the testimony, where God commanded Moses to put them.

Verse 10

[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,

The cloud — The usual token of God's glorious presence.

Filled — In testimony of his gracious acceptance of this work, and their service; and to beget an awe and reverence in them, and in all others, when they approach to God.

Verse 12

[12] Then spake Solomon, The LORD said that he would dwell in the thick darkness.

Then spake — Perceiving both priests and people struck with wonder at this darkness, he minds them, that this was no sign of God's disfavour, as some might possibly imagine; but a token of his approbation, and special presence among them.

Said — He hath declared, that he would manifest his presence with, and dwelling among his people, by a dark cloud, in which he would appear.

Verse 14

[14] And the king turned his face about, and blessed all the congregation of Israel: (and all the congregation of Israel stood;)

Turned — From the temple to the body of the congregation.

Stood — In token of reverence, and of their readiness to receive the blessing.

Verse 16

[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 an house, that my name might be therein; but I chose David to be over my people Israel.

Since, … — Until David's time; for then he did chuse Jerusalem.

That my name — That my presence, and grace, and worship, and glory, might be there.

Chose David — And in and with him the tribe of Judah, of which he was, and Jerusalem where he dwelt.

Verse 21

[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.

The covenant — The tables of the covenant, wherein the conditions of God's covenant with Israel are written.

Verse 22

[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:

Stood — Upon a scaffold set up for him in the court of the people, 2 Chronicles 6:13.

Verse 24

[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.

Hast kept — That branch of thy promise concerning the building of this house by David's son.

Verse 25

[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.

Keep — Make good the other branch of thy promise.

Verse 27

[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?

But will — Is it possible that the great, and high, and lofty God should stoop so low, as to take up his dwelling amongst men? The heaven - All this vast space of the visible heaven.

And heaven, … — The third and highest, and therefore the largest heaven, called the heaven of heavens for its eminency and comprehensiveness.

Contain — For thy essence reacheth far beyond them, being omnipresent.

Much less — This house therefore was not built as if it were proportionable to thy greatness, or could contain thee, but only that therein we might serve and glorify thee.

Verse 28

[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:

Yet — Tho' thou art not comprehended within this place, yet shew thyself to he graciously present here, by accepting and granting my present requests here tendered unto thee.

Verse 29

[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.

Open — To behold with an eye of favour.

My name — My presence, and glory and grace.

This place — This temple, to which Solomon did now look, and towards which, the godly Israelites directed their looks in their prayers.

Verse 30

[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, forgive.

In heaven — Which he adds to direct them in their addresses to God in this temple, to lift up their eyes above it, even to heaven, where God's most true, and most glorious dwelling-place is.

Forgive — The sins of thy people, praying, and even of their prayers; which, if not pardoned, will certainly hinder the success of all their prayers, and the course of all thy blessings.

Verse 31

[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:

Trespass — If he be accused of a trespass.

Laid on him — Either by the judge, or by the party accusing him, or by the accused person himself: which was usual, when there were no witnesses.

Thine altar — For here God, who was appealed to as witness, was especially present. Hence the Heathens used to swear at their altars.

Verse 32

[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 righteousness.

His way — The just recompence of his wicked action.

Give him, … — To vindicate him, and manifest his integrity.

Verse 33

[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:

Confess — Give glory to thy name, by acknowledging their sins, and by justice; and by accepting the punishment of their iniquity; and by trusting to thy power and goodness alone, for their deliverance.

Verse 35

[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 them:

Heaven — The lower heaven in which the clouds are.

Shut up — Heaven is compared to a great store-house in God's keeping, out of which nothing can be had, so long as it is close shut up.

Verse 36

[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.

Good way — The way, of their duty, which is good in itself; and both delightful and profitable, to those that walk in it.

Give rain — The order of Solomon's prayer is very observable; first and chiefly, he prays for their repentance and forgiveness, which is the chief blessing, and the only solid foundation of all other mercies: and then he prays for temporal mercies; thereby teaching us what to desire principally in our prayers; which also Christ hath taught us in his perfect prayer; wherein there is but one petition for outward, and all the rest are for spiritual blessings.

Verse 38

[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 house:

The plague — His sin, which may be called the plague of his heart, in opposition to the other plagues here mentioned; so the sense is, who, by their afflictions are brought to a true and serious sense of their worse and inward plague of their sins, which are most fitly called the plague of the heart, because that is both the principal seat of sin, and the fountain from whence all actual sins flow.

Verse 39

[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;)

Thou knowest — 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.

Verse 41

[41] Moreover concerning a stranger, that is not of thy people Israel, but cometh out of a far country for thy name's sake;

A stranger — A proselyte.

But cometh — That he may worship, and glorify thy name.

Verse 43

[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.

Calleth for — Agreeable to thy will and word. It is observable, that his prayer for the strangers is more large, and comprehensive, than for the Israelites; that thereby he might both shew his public-spiritedness, and encourage strangers to the worship of the true God. Thus early were the indications of God's favour, toward 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.

Verse 44

[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:

To battle — In a just cause, and by thy warrant or commission.

Shall pray — Whereby he instructs them, that they should not trust, either to the strength or justice of their arms, but only to God's help and blessing.

Chosen — For thy dwelling-place, and the seat of thy temple.

Towards the house — For to it they were to turn their faces in prayer; to profess themselves worshippers of the true God, in opposition to idols; and to strengthen their faith in God's promises and covenant, the tables whereof were contained in that house. Soldiers in the field must not think it enough that others pray for them: they must pray for themselves. And they are here encouraged to expect a gracious answer. Praying should always go along with fighting.

Verse 48

[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:

And return — Sincerely, universally, and steadfastly.

Verse 49

[49] Then hear thou their prayer and their supplication in heaven thy dwelling place, and maintain their cause,

Their course — Heb. their right, against their invaders and oppressors. For they had forfeited all their rights to God only, but not to their enemies; whom tho' God used as scourges to chastise his peoples sins, yet they had no pretence of right to their land.

Verse 55

[55] And he stood, and blessed all the congregation of Israel with a loud voice, saying,

He stood — He spoke this standing, that he might be the better heard, and because he blessed as one having authority. Never were words more pertinently spoken: never was a congregation dismissed, with that which was more likely to affect them, and to abide with them.

Verse 56

[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.

Blessed, … — 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.

Verse 58

[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.

Incline — That he may not only bless us with outward prosperity, but especially, with spiritual blessings: and that as he hath given us his word to teach and direct us, so he would by his holy Spirit, effectually incline us to obey it.

Verse 61

[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 day.

Perfect — Let your obedience be universal, without dividing; upright, without dissembling; and constant, without declining.

Verse 63

[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.

Offered — Not all in one day, but in the seven, or it may be in the fourteen days, mentioned verse 65.

Verse 64

[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.

Middle of the court — Of the priests court, in which the great altar was. This he consecrated as he did the great altar, by sacrifices; but with this difference, that he consecrated that for perpetual use: but this only for the present occasion, being warranted to do so both by the necessity of it for God's service, and for the present solemn work, for which the brazen altar was not sufficient; and by the direction of God's spirit, wherewith Solomon was endowed, as being a prophet, as well as a king. Here therefore he suddenly reared up divers altars, which, after this solemnity were demolished.

Verse 65

[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.

Seven — Seven for the dedication of the temple, or altar; and the other seven for the feast of tabernacles. And it seems to be expressed in this manner, to intimate, that these fourteen days of rejoicing, were not altogether, but that there was some interval between them, which indeed was necessary, because the day of atonement was on the tenth day of this month, Leviticus 23:27. And because these fourteen days ended on the twenty-second day, 2 Chronicles 7:10, it may seem most probable, that the feast of the dedication was kept before the tenth day: and the feast of tabernacles some days after it.

Verse 66

[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.

He sent — Solomon having joined with the people in the solemn assembly, which was kept on the eighth day; in the close of that day took his solemn farewell, and dismissed them with his blessing; and the next morning when the heads and elders with divers of the people came to take their leave of the king, he sent them away.