Charles Simeon Commentary - 1 Kings 8:18 - 8:18

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Charles Simeon Commentary - 1 Kings 8:18 - 8:18


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This Chapter Verse Commentaries:

DISCOURSE: 332

GOOD INTENTIONS APPROVED

1Ki_8:18. Thou didst well that it was in thine heart.

THE sovereignty of God is a subject from which the minds of men in general revolt. But this arises from their considering it almost exclusively in relation to things which have an arbitrary and painful aspect. For instance, when “God says to Pharaoh, Even for this purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth;” St. Paul represents the proud heart of man as rising against it: “Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? for who hath resisted his will [Note: Rom_9:17-19.]?” But, if we behold the same divine attribute as displayed in the appointment of Saul to the Apostleship, and the making of him “a chosen vessel to carry the Gospel to the Gentiles [Note: Act_9:1; Act_9:15 with Gal_1:15.],” we must surely acquiesce in the exercise of it, and adore our God as doing all things well. Now, in the passage before us we have a remarkable instance of divine sovereignty, in the refusal given to the wishes and desires of David, relative to the building of a temple for the Lord, and the transfer of that honour to David’s son. On David’s expression of his wish, the Prophet Nathan had encouraged him to carry it into effect. But God forbade it; and devolved the office of constructing the temple on David’s son and successor: at the same time, however, commending David’s purpose, and telling him, “Thou didst well that it was in thine heart [Note: ver. 17–19 with 2Sa_7:1-3; 2Sa_7:12-13.].”

Now, from this commendation, we may observe,

I.       That there is in the hearts of God’s faithful servants more good than they are able to carry into effect—

In the hearts of the ungodly there is more evil than they can execute. If the restraints of Divine Providence and of human laws were withdrawn, so that men could perpetrate all that is in their hearts, this world would be little better than hell itself. Of the godly, on the contrary, it may be said, that there is more good in them than they can execute: not because Divine Providence or human laws impose restraints on them, (though, in some cases, that may be found true;) but because there is in the regenerate man a principle of evil as well as of good: “he has the flesh lusting against the spirit, as well as the spirit lusting against the flesh; and these are contrary the one to the other, so that he cannot do the things that he would [Note: Gal_5:17.].”

There is in a regenerate man’s heart much that he would gladly do for himself

[Gladly would he extirpate from his soul all the remains of sin, and practise universal holiness — — — But he finds himself utterly unable to do these things. The experience of St. Paul is common to every true believer: “I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good, I find not; for the good that I would, I do not; but the evil which I would not, that I do. I find then a law, that when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the Law of God after the inward man: but I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death [Note: Rom_7:18-24.]?” The saint, if he could accomplish his own wishes, would be “holy as God is holy,” and “perfect even as his Father which is in heaven is perfect.” But he feels imperfection cleaving to him in every thing, so that his very best actions need to be cleansed in the Redeemer’s blood; yea, his very tears need to be washed, and his repentances to be repented of.

Moreover, could the regenerate man have his heart’s desire, he would walk continually in the light of God’s countenance, and bask incessantly, as it were, in the beams of the Sun of Righteousness. But clouds frequently arise, to intercept his views of God, and to abate the joy with which, for a season, he has been favoured. The disciples would gladly have built tabernacles on Mount Tabor, to protract their vision of the divine glory. But they must descend again into the plain, to renew their conflicts with sin and Satan, and to finish the work which had been given them to do [Note: Luk_9:33-34.]. And similar alternations of light and darkness, ease and conflict, joy and sorrow, are the portion of every saint, whilst in this vale of tears.]

There is much, also, that the regenerate man would gladly do for the world around him

[Where is there a servant of God who would not, if it were possible, extend the blessings he enjoys to every child of man? Where is there a real saint that does not attempt this, so far as his influence extends? Is the very first petition which our Lord has commanded us to offer at the throne of grace, that “God’s name may be hallowed;” and does not the real saint endeavour to carry this into effect, both in his own soul, and in the souls of those around him? Does he further pray, “Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven;” and does he not long to see these things effected? He says from his heart, “O that the wickedness of the wicked might come to an end!” yea, he prays with David, “Let the whole earth be filled with the Redeemer’s glory. Amen, and Amen [Note: Psa_72:19.].” But how little of this is he able to accomplish! Even ministers, who “labour most assiduously, and for many years, in the blessed work of bringing souls to God, how universally are they constrained to adopt the prophet’s complaint, and to say, “Who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?” The parent for his children, and the children for their parents, have but too much reason to acknowledge, that “whoever may plant or water, it is God alone who can give the increase.”]

It is a comfort to them, however, to know,

II.      That not the smallest good that is in them shall pass unnoticed, or unrewarded, by their God—

God inspects the inmost recesses of the heart—

[So he himself declares: “I know the things that come into your mind, every one of them [Note: Eze_11:5.].” To the same effect, also, it is said by an inspired Apostle: “All things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do [Note: Heb_4:13. See the Greek, ô å ô ñ á ÷ ç ë é ó ì Ý í á .].”]

And this he does in order to a future judgment—

[”He will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ [Note: Rom_2:16.];” and “will bring every secret thing into judgment, whether it be good or evil [Note: Ecc_12:14.].” It is in this way that the ungodly shall be judged: for the motions of anger or impurity, though not operating to the extent of the outward act of murder or adultery, will be construed as violations of the commandments which prohibit those particular sins, and be visited with the penalties due to such transgressions [Note: Mat_5:22-28.]. So, also, the good desires of men shall be rewarded, though, from circumstances, they were never carried into full effect. Young Abijah had “in his heart some good thing towards the Lord God of Israel,” and it was not overlooked [Note: 1Ki_14:13.]. And not those only who “spake of God one with another,” shall be approved by him in the day of judgment, but those also who, without having embodied their thoughts in language, only “thought upon his name [Note: Mal_3:16-17.].” The look, the sigh, the groan, the tear, shall all be recorded by God in the book of his remembrance, or be treasured up in his vial: and all “the counsels of men’s hearts,” though never realized in act, shall be made manifest, to their honour; and every man, according as his inward dispositions have been, shall in that day “receive praise from God [Note: 1Co_4:5.].”]

Improvement—

1.       In a way of caution—

[Certainly this subject should be entertained with great jealousy: for there is “a desire which killeth;” because it is not productive of suitable exertions [Note: Pro_21:25.]. If a mere wish or desire would save us, who would ever perish? Even Balaam could say, “Let me die the death of the righteous; and let my last end be like his [Note: Num_23:10.].” But David, though not permitted to build the temple, contributed to the amount of eighteen millions of our money towards it. In like manner must our desires operate to the extent of our ability: and, if we cannot do what we would, we must do what we can.]

2.       In a way of encouragement—

[Men are often cast down because of their short-comings and defects. But they would do well to consider, that the more ardent their desire is to honour God, the more will they discern and lament their incapacity to fulfil the dictates of their hearts. Suppose, for a moment, that a man were to express himself satisfied with his attainments, what judgment would you form of him? You would surely set him down as a self-deceiving hypocrite [Note: See Php_3:12-14.]. Distinguish between humiliation and despondency: the former is called for in our best estate: but to no sinner in the universe is the latter suitable; for “Christ is able to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by him.”]