God had given a real answer to Solomon's prayer, and tokens of his acceptance of it, immediately, by the fire from heaven which consumed the sacrifices (as we find 2 Chronicles 7:1); but here we have a more express and distinct answer to it. Observe,
I. In what way God gave him this answer. He appeared to him, as he had done at Gibeon, in the beginning of his reign, in a dream or vision, 1 Kings 9:2
. The comparing of it with that intimates that it was the very night after he had finished the solemnities of his festival, for so that was, 2 Chronicles 1:6
, 2 Chronicles 1:7
. And then 1 Kings 9:1
, speaking of Solomon's finishing all his buildings, which was not till many years after the dedication of the temple, must be read thus, Solomon finished
(as it is 2 Chronicles 7:11
), and 1 Kings 9:2
must be read, and the Lord had appeared.
II. The purport of this answer. 1. He assures him of his special presence in the temple he had built, in answer to the prayer he had made (1 Kings 9:3
): I have hallowed this house.
Solomon had dedicated it, but it was God's prerogative to hallow it - to sanctify or consecrate it. Men cannot make a place holy, yet what we, in sincerity, devote to God, we may hope he will graciously accept as his; and his eyes and his heart shall be upon it.
Apply it to persons, the living temples. Those whom God hallows or sanctifies, whom he sets apart for himself, have his eye, his heart, his love and care, and this perpetually. 2. He shows him that he and his people were for the future upon their good behaviour.
Let them not be secure now, as if they might live as they please now that they have the temple of the Lord
among them, Jeremiah 7:4
. No, this house was designed to protect them in their allegiance to God, but not in their rebellion or disobedience. God deals plainly with us, sets before us good and evil, the blessing and the curse, and lets us know what we must trust to. God here tells Solomon, (1.) That the establishment of his kingdom depended upon the constancy of his obedience (1 Kings 9:4
, 1 Kings 9:5
): “If thou wilt walk before me as David did,
who left thee a good example and encouragement enough to follow it (and advantage thou wilt be accountable for if thou do not improve it), if thou wilt walk as he did, in integrity of heart and uprightness
” (for that is the main matter - no religion without sincerity), “then I will establish the throne of thy kingdom,
and not otherwise,” for on that condition the promise was made, Psalms 132:12
. If we perform our part of the covenant, God will not fail to perform his; if we improve the grace God has given us, he will confirm us to the end. Let not the children of godly parents expect the entail of the blessing, unless they tread in the steps of those that have gone before them to heaven, and keep up the virtue and piety of their ancestors. (2.) That the ruin of his kingdom would be the certain consequence of his or his children's apostasy from God (1 Kings 9:6
): “But know thou, and let thy family and kingdom know it, and be admonished by it, that if you shall altogether turn from following me
” (so it is thought it should be read), “if you forsake my service, desert my altar, and go and serve other gods” (for that was the covenant-breaking sin), “if you or your children break off from me, this house will not save you. But, [1.] Israel, though a holy nation, will be cut off (1 Kings 9:7
), by one judgment after another, till they become a proverb and a by-word, and the most despicable people under the sun, though now the most honourable.” This supposes the destruction of the royal family, though it is not particularly threatened; the king is, of course, undone, if the kingdom be. [2.] “The temple, though a holy house, which God himself has hallowed for his name,
shall be abandoned and laid desolate (1 Kings 9:8
, 1 Kings 9:9
): This house which is high.
” They prided themselves in the stateliness and magnificence of the structure, but let them know that it is not so high as to be out of the reach of God's judgments, if they vilify it so as to exchange it for groves and idol-temples, and yet, at the same time, magnify it so as to think it will secure the favour of God to them though they ever so much corrupt themselves. This house which is high.
Those that now pass by it are astonished
at the bulk and beauty of it; the richness, contrivance, and workmanship, are admired by all spectators, and it is called a stupendous fabric; but, if you forsake God, its height will make its fall the more amazing, and those that pass by will be as much astonished at its ruins, while the guilty, self-convicted, self-condemned, Israelites, will be forced to acknowledge, with shame, that they themselves were the ruin of it; for when it shall be asked, Why hath the Lord done thus to his house?
they cannot but answer, It was because they forsook the Lord their God.
See Deuteronomy 29:24
, Deuteronomy 29:25
. Their sin will be read in their punishment. They deserted the temple, and therefore God deserted it; they profaned it with their sins and laid it common, and therefore God profaned it with his judgments and laid it waste. God gave Solomon fair warning of this, now that he had newly built and dedicated it, that he and his people might not be high-minded, but fear.