Charles Simeon Commentary - 2 Chronicles 6:41 - 6:41

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Charles Simeon Commentary - 2 Chronicles 6:41 - 6:41


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DISCOURSE: 398

DEDICATION OF THE TEMPLE

2Ch_6:41. 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.

THE fuller account of the dedication of Solomon’s Temple is given us in the 8th chapter of the First Book of Kings. But in this place we have a most interesting part of Solomon’s prayer, which in the former place is omitted. The piety and the pathos of these concluding sentences are worthy of the highest admiration. If we were to confine our notice of them to that particular occasion, they would be found replete with instruction: but, knowing as we do the figurative nature of that whole dispensation, we must of necessity point out the bearing of these words upon our own times, and upon the Christian Church: and for that purpose we will shew,

I.       What Solomon desired as the crown of all his labours—

He had built the temple, which in grandeur and beauty exceeded any structure that ever existed upon earth; and he had deposited the ark in the place prepared for it. But he was not satisfied with having executed the office which God had so graciously assigned him: he desired that God would vouchsafe his presence in the temple, and render it the means of manifesting his own glory, and of dispensing his blessings to his favoured people: and, therefore, in this concluding prayer he implored,

1.       The special presence of the Deity in the temple, as His fixed abode—

[The ark had hitherto dwelt only in a tabernacle which was moved from place to place. Henceforth it was to have an abiding resting-place in the temple. But in vain would the temple have been built, and in vain the ark fixed in its place, if God himself did not accompany the ark with his special presence. It had been hitherto “the ark of God’s strength; because God had, on many occasions, wrought as it were in concert with it, exerting his almighty power wherever it went: but if he should detach himself from it, the people had already seen how incapable the ark itself was of affording them protection, when it had not been able even to protect itself from the Philistine army. Therefore Solomon prayed, that God himself would, by that symbol of his presence, the cloud of fire, abide upon it; and thereby give a public testimony of his approbation of the measures which had been adopted, and a visible pledge of his continued favour to his people.]

2.       An abundant effusion of his promised blessings on all who should frequent it—

[Without this, no good end would be attained. Without this, God would not be glorified, nor sinners saved. Hence Solomon prayed for all, both priests and people, that the one might “be clothed with salvation,” and the other “rejoice in goodness.” That temporal prosperity was included in his petition is probable enough [Note: Neh_9:25.]: but, doubtless, spiritual blessings were chiefly solicited, as the portion of them all. A holy priesthood is an inestimable blessing to any people: for, if “they who handle the Law transgress it [Note: Jer_2:8.],” and “they who should be a light to others are themselves in darkness [Note: Rom_2:19-21.],” what can be expected, but that a general declension should ensue? Hence he desired that the priests should be, not merely habited in white garments, but clothed with righteousness and salvation; that so they might be examples to the flock, and edify the people to whom they ministered. In behalf of the people, too, he desired that they should find a rich feast in all God’s ordinances, “being abundantly satisfied with the fatness of God’s house, and drinking there of the rivers of his pleasures [Note: Psa_36:8. with Isa_25:6.].” In a word, he desired that universal piety might prevail, and that the happiness attendant on it might be universally dispensed.]

But we hasten to shew,

II.      What infinitely richer blessings we may expect under our more perfect dispensation—

The temple, with every thing pertaining to it, was “a figure for the time then present,” a “shadow of good things to come.”

[Here we must view the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the true Ark, in which the tables of the Law were deposited, and on which the mercy-seat was placed, and into which the angels desired with incessant scrutiny to search [Note: Heb_9:4-5. 1Pe_1:12.]. Yes, in the verse following my text, Solomon clearly refers to him: “O Lord God, turn not away the face of thine anointed: remember the mercies of David, thy servant!” What was the mercy here pre-eminently referred to? It was, that God in due time would raise up unto David that august progeny, “who should sit upon his throne; and of whose kingdom there should be no end [Note: Luk_1:32-33.].” The very words of Solomon are so applied by the Prophet Isaiah [Note: Isa_55:3.], and so explained by St. Peter, who both cites them, and comments on them to this precise effect [Note: Act_13:34.]. But that which throws the fullest light upon this passage, is the 132d Psalm, (probably composed by Solomon himself on this very occasion,) wherein all the same expressions are twice used; first, in a way of prayer; and next, in a way of promise: and their prophetic reference to Christ is plainly and incontrovertibly declared: “Arise, O Lord, into thy rest; thou, and the ark of thy strength. Let thy priests be clothed with righteousness; and let thy saints shout for joy: for thy servant David’s sake turn not away the face of thine anointed. The Lord hath sworn in truth unto David; he will not turn from it; Of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne [Note: Psa_132:8-11; Psa_132:13-16. In this Psalm the Incarnation of Christ is specified: in the two preceding passages, the Resurrection. If this subject were taken for a Christmas-day or an Easterday, those citations which are the most appropriate should, of course, be most insisted on. As applied in a general way to the reign of Christ, they are equally proper; both of them being accomplishments of the same prophecy.].”

What, then, in this sense of the passage, is the desire here expressed? It is simply this: “Come, O blessed Lord, and dwell in thy house, as thou hast promised!” Thou hast said, “Wherever two or three are met together in my name, there am I in the midst of them:” and again, “Lo, I am with you alway, even to the end of the world.” Let it now be seen that thou art with us: “manifest thyself unto us, as thou dost not unto the world:” and let it be clearly shewn, by the mighty working of thy power upon our souls, that we are indeed thy people!]

The blessings we may expect are great, in proportion to the excellency of the dispensation under which we live—

[What ministers may we not hope to find in the Christian Church, instructed us they are in the great mystery of redemption, and commissioned as they are to proclaim salvation to men through the sacrifice of their incarnate God! If “they who bare the vessels of the Lord,” under the Jewish dispensation, were required to “be clean;” much more should they be holy, and “clothed with righteousness,” who go forth as ambassadors from God, and stand in the very place of Christ, to preach the word of reconciliation to a guilty world [Note: 2Co_5:20.]. And what ought our people to be? What may we not expect from them who are thus divinely taught, and who have all “the unsearchable riches of Christ imparted to them?” We are told, that, “by comprehending with all saints what is the breadth and length and depth and height of the love of Christ, we are to be filled with all the fulness of God [Note: Eph_3:18-19.]:” and therefore we may well expect that those who, through the ministry of the Gospel, are led into the knowledge of these incomprehensible mysteries, will “rejoice in all this goodness,” yea, “rejoice in it with a joy that is unspeakable and glorified.” Certainly, the fruit of the Gospel should exceed that of the Law: for so are we taught in Scripture to expect, that “the light of the moon in our day should be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun seven-fold [Note: Isa_30:26.].” “Behold,” says God, “I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. But be ye glad, and rejoice for ever, in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy: and I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying [Note: Isa_65:17-19.].” This, then, Brethren, is the blessedness I desire for you: and I pray God that all of us, both priest and people, may so walk, as to approve ourselves to Him, who assumed our nature, and tabernacled amongst us [Note: Joh_1:14. ó ê Þ í ù ó å í .], and laid down his life for us.]

To improve this subject, I would add,

1.       Let us consecrate our souls to God, as his temple—

[Glorious as the Temple of Solomon was, and greatly as God honoured it by his presence, I hesitate not to say, that it was contemptible, in comparison of an abode which you may offer him in a broken and contrite spirit [Note: Isa_57:15; Isa_56:1-2.] — — — The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, will come and take up their residence within you, Brethren, if you will but open the door of your hearts, and implore of them this high honour [Note: Joh_14:23.]. And what holiness and happiness you shall then possess, I need not say. Let every one of you seek this honour; and not one of you shall be disappointed of his hope — — —]

2.       Let us plead with him his great and precious promises—

[Solomon entreats of God to “remember the mercies promised to David.” Thus take you every promise contained in God’s blessed word; and spread it before him. He bids you “put him in remembrance, and declare your affiance in him [Note: Isa_43:26.].” And if you do this, you shall be constrained to acknowledge, as Joshua after an experience of fourscore years acknowledged, that not one of all the things which God has promised to you has ever failed [Note: Jos_23:14.] — — —]