The Dedication of the Temple: 3. the Consecration Prayer
2 Chronicles 6:12-21
And he stood before the altar of the LORD in the presence of all the congregation of Israel, and spread forth his hands:…


1. Royal. That Solomon should have prayed was not surprising, considering the example and training he must have received from his father, and remembering the solemn and impressive spectacle he had witnessed. It is difficult to shake off habits formed within the soul by ancestral piety and early training; while, if a sense of God's nearness and a realization of God's goodness will not stimulate to prayer, it is doubtful if anything on earth will. Yet praying kings are not so numerous as they might and should, or indeed would be, did they consider their own or their people's good, not to speak of the allegiance they owe to the King of kings, by whose permission alone it is they reign (Proverbs 8:15; Daniel 2:21).

2. Representative. Though Solomon prayed for himself and in his own name, he nevertheless acted as the official mouthpiece of his people, who in this whole work were associated with him. Though from this it cannot be inferred that earthly sovereigns in general (or even Christian sovereigns in particular) have a right to prescribe creeds or forms of worship to, or serve vicariously for, their subjects in the duties of the sanctuary, it is still true that they occupy a sort of representative position as the nation's head, and just on that account should interest themselves in the advancement of religion amongst those who own their sway, and should frequently bear these upon their hearts before God in prayer.

II. THE DEITY ADDRESSED. The Lord God of Israel.

1. The only God. The language employed here by Solomon (ver. 14), and elsewhere by David (Psalm 86:8), was not intended to concede the existence of other divinities either in heaven or on earth, but designed, like the statements of Moses (Deuteronomy 4:39), Rahab (Joshua 2:11), David (2 Samuel 7:22), and Jehovah himself (Isaiah 45:22; Isaiah 46:5), to emphasize in the strongest way the unity and soleity of God (Exodus 9:14; Deuteronomy 6:4; 1 Kings 8:23; Jeremiah 10:6; 1 Corinthians 8:4).

2. A covenant-keeping God. Solomon, like all pious Israelites, like Moses (Deuteronomy 7:9), David (Psalm 25:10; Psalm 89:34; 1 Chronicles 16:15), Nehemiah (Nehemiah 1:5), and Daniel (Daniel 9:4), delighted to acknowledge Jehovah's faithfulness to his promised word. It was solely on the ground of that covenant by which God had chosen Israel for his possession (Exodus 19:5, 8), and made himself over to be their God (Exodus 20:2), that Israel existed as a nation and enjoyed the privilege of drawing near to God. Had it been possible for God to violate his deliberately and graciously formed engagements, or go back in the smallest measure from his promised word, Solomon knew that Israel's continuance as a people would instantly have become imperilled. That Jehovah had fulfilled the promise made to David with reference to the temple, was a proof that this contingency could not occur. The same covenant faithfulness is the believer's warrant for drawing near to God in prayer, and the suppliant's encouragement in expecting an answer (2 Corinthians 1:20; 1 Thessalonians 5:24; Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:18).

3. A mercy-showing God. This also indispensable as a characteristic of such a Divinity as man can hopefully address in prayer. For unless God can be merciful towards the undeserving and hell-deserving, it is useless to think of asking anything at his hands. The notion that man may treat with God on grounds of pure personal justice must be discarded, as neither warranted by Scripture nor supported by experience.

"'Tis from the mercy of our God
That all our hopes begin." And that God is pre-eminently a God of mercy is the clear teaching of revelation (Exodus 34:7; Psalm 103:8; Micah 7:18; Ephesians 2:4; James 5:11).


1. Publicly. The king prayed from a brazen scaffold, or basin-like elevation, perhaps resembling a modern pulpit, five cubits long, five broad, and three high, erected in the middle of the court and congregation. Prayers for one's self should not be made in public (Matthew 6:5), the place for such being, not the synagogue, street corners, or market squares, but the inner chamber of the house, the secret room, or retiring-hall of the soul (Matthew 6:6).

2. Humbly. Indicated by the attitude assumed during prayer. Hitherto, while speaking to the people, the king had stood; now, in addressing God, he kneels. David sat before the Lord (2 Samuel 7:18); Abraham stood (Genesis 18:22). In Nehemiah's time the people stood and confessed their sins (Nehemiah 9:2). Daniel kneeled three times a day on his knees and prayed (Daniel 11:10). In the New Testament Scripture the Pharisee stood and prayed (Luke 18:11); Jesus kneeled (Luke 22:41); so did Stephen (Acts 7:60), Peter (Acts 9:40), and Paul (Acts 20:36; Acts 21:5).

3. Fervently. Outstretched hands were a sign of prayer generally, their heavenward direction symbolizing a solemn and earnest appeal to him who sat enthroned on high (Exodus 9:29, 33; Psalm 88:9; Psalm 143:6; Isaiah 1:15). The same thing now signified by the folding or clasping of the hands and the upward turning of the face. Both classes of actions betoken inward emotion, and fervency of spirit on the part of him who prays.

4. Believingly. The scaffold stood before the brazen altar. The king' prayed from the neighbourhood of sacrificial blood - a recognition on his part that only through atoning blood could either himself or his supplications gain admission into Jehovah's audience-chamber, or acceptance with him (Hebrews 9:7). It is now true that only through the blood of Jesus can one draw near to God (Hebrews 10:19).

IV. THE CONTENTS OF THE PRAYER. A fourfold petition.

1. For David's house - that it should never want a man to sit upon the throne (ver. 16). Jehovah had promised this conditionally on David's children proving faithful to their covenant obligations, and walking in the ways of righteousness and truth (2 Samuel 7:12-16). Solomon requests that this promise may be fulfilled, not provisionally merely, but absolutely, by God dealing with David's children so that they shall take heed to their way, and walk in God's Law as David had done before them. To suppose Solomon only meant that Jehovah should stand to his word and maintain the Davidic dynasty, should it eventually prove worth maintaining, he, Jehovah, all the while severely leaving it alone, is as incorrect as to imagine that Solomon desired God to establish David's throne for ever, irrespective of the character of its occupants. What Solomon craved was the two things together - the perpetuity of David's house through the never-failing moral and spiritual worth of David's successors.

2. For the temple - that it might continue to be a dwelling-place for God on earth, and in the midst of men (ver. 18). Solomon saw that, without this, his magnificent edifice would turn out a comparatively worthless structure, as modern cathedrals and churches, however imposing their appearance, elaborate their ornamentation, or gigantic their dimensions, are nothing more than piles of masonry if God is absent from their aisles. Yet, so overpowered was his imagination with the bare idea of God's immensity - "Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain thee" - that it seemed to him doubtful if it were not the merest vanity to dream that an infinite and omnipresent Deity could inhabit even a palace such as he had erected - "how much less this house which I have built?" And in any case the condescension of it appeared so strange as to fill him with wonder and doubtful joy. "But will God in very deed dwell with men on the earth?" The feelings here expressed have their counterparts in those kindled in believing hearts by the contemplation of that mystery of mysteries, the incarnation of the Eternal Son, and of that almost equally amazing fact, the inhabitation of the human heart by the Holy Ghost (1 Corinthians 3:16). (See next homily on ver. 18.)

3. For himself - that his present supplication might be answered (ver. 19). The special burden of his supplication was that Jehovah's eyes might be open upon the temple day and night, not so much for protection - though that idea must not be excluded (Psalm 121:3) - as for observation; to note when any worshipper should be directing thitherward his prayer (ver. 20), lest for want of being observed such petitioner should go without an answer. The earnestness with which Solomon "cried" unto Jehovah concerning this thing was an attestation of the importance he attached to it. So far from doubting whether God could answer prayer, it seemed to him that, if God could not, his entire reputation and character as a God would be gone.

4. For all future suppliants - that their prayers might be heard (ver. 21). Solomon believed that his people would in after-years retain such a faith in Jehovah as to lead them to direct their supplications towards his earthly dwelling-place. Yet Solomon confounded not Jehovah's earthly habitation with his true dwelling-place in heaven, or expected responses from the lower shrine after the manner of a heathen oracle, instead of from the upper temple where Jehovah sat enthroned in unveiled glory. Jehovah's symbolic presence might be behind the screen that concealed the holy of holies; his real presence was beyond the curtain of the sky. Thence accordingly should all answers come, as thither would all petitions go. The coming of such answers would be a fruit and a sign of forgiveness. Learn:

1. The duty of intercessory prayer (1 Timothy 2:1).

2. The propriety of public devotion (Hebrews 10:25).

3. The reverential spirit of prayer (Hebrews 12:28).

4. The reasonableness of expecting answers to prayer (Psalm 5:3). - W.

Parallel Verses
KJV: And he stood before the altar of the LORD in the presence of all the congregation of Israel, and spread forth his hands:

WEB: He stood before the altar of Yahweh in the presence of all the assembly of Israel, and spread forth his hands

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