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Solomon, part 11

Solomon's Second Offerings, and the Lord's Second Appearance to Him.

1 Kings 8:62-66.

When Solomon had ended his prayer and addressed the people," the king, and all Israel with him, offered sacrifice before the Lord. And Solomon offered a sacrifice of peace-offerings, which he offered to 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." After, in the same way, hallowing the middle of the court, "Solomon held a feast, and all Israel with him, a great congregation, from the entering in of Hamath to the river of Egypt, before the Lord our God, seven days and seven days, even fourteen days." Sacrifice was the sealing and sanctifying worship of the Israelitish Church. Through the sacrifices which Solomon offered in conjunction with the people he completed the dedication of the temple. Sacrifice was to the Israelite what worship is to the Christian. It was confession and supplication, thanksgiving, and especially the dedication of himself to the service of the Most High. Solomon and all the congregation of Israel, when the ark of the covenant was being removed from the city of David to be placed in the temple, went before it sacrificing sheep and oxen that could not be told nor numbered for multitude. There the internal worship of the heart and mind, or the worship of the inward man, was represented. And the things that enter into this worship cannot be told or numbered for multitude. So the Psalmist says," How precious are Your thoughts to me, O God! how great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand" (Ps 139:17, 18). "Many, O Lord, are Your wonderful works which You have done, and Your thoughts which are towards us: they cannot be reckoned up in order to You. If I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered" (Ps 40:5). Internal worship is a deep sense of the wonderful works which have been done to us and in us, and the precious thoughts that have been towards us, in the work of our regeneration; for that work and these thoughts transcend our apprehension and our power of estimation. This is the internal worship so well described by Addison when he saysó

" When all Your mercies, O my God, My rising soul surveys, Transported with the view, I'm lost In wonder, love, and praise."

The bringing up of the ark of the covenant, to be deposited in the holy of holies, which is the raising of the holy law of God into the holiest place in the mind, is itself an act of the holiest and most interior worship, and one in which the worshiper has an inexpressible sense of the love and mercy of Him who has not only given us His law for our guidance, but who has given Himself for our salvation, and who has promised to meet us and commune with us over the mercy-seat of His propitiating love, and between the cherubim of love to Him and charity to our neighbour. For "the priests brought in the ark of the covenant of the Lord to his place, into the oracle of the house, to the most holy place, even under the wings of the cherubims." And such was the holiness of the law, that "when the priests were come out of the holy place, the cloud filled the house of the Lord, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud: for the glory. of the Lord had filled the house of the Lord." It was then that Solomon spoke, and after he had explained to the people the reason that he, rather than his father David, had been appointed to build the house, offered up the dedicatory prayer, the spiritual import of which we have considered.

The sacrifice which the king, and all Israel with him, offered to the Lord after his wonderfully comprehensive and beautiful prayer was ended, represented that worship which is of the external man, the things of which can be numbered. For numbering, as we have seen, does not, in the spiritual sense, express quantity but quality. Things and states that in their nature transcend the ideas of thought, that are matters of feeling rather than of thinking, are said to be unnumbered; while those which become subjects of thought and thence of utterance, are capable of being numbered, since their quality can be known and estimated. And this external worship is the complement and fulfillment of internal worship. Worship, like life, desires to come into fullness in outward and expressive acts. Therefore we often read in the Word of seeming repetitions, because that which is done in outward act is often a seeming repetition of what has been previously done as an act of the mind. The mind is indeed in every outward act, otherwise the act would be automatic; but the mind sometimes acts without the simultaneous action of the body, although the body does not so act without the mind. But worship, although it may be a separate mental act, must in due time and at suitable seasons become an act of the mind and body combined. This makes the act of worship complete. And when worship exists in its fullness it exists in its holiness and in its power.

Besides the general sacrifices which Solomon offered, or included in them, he offered a sacrifice of peace-offerings. Now the peace-offering was among the freewill-offerings. And the freewill-offerings represented worship from freedom, and what is from freedom is from love; and love is the perfection of worship, as it is the fulfilling of the law. Peace, too, is the highest end of worship. The end of worship is to be at peace with God. And worship has this peace-making effect when it brings the mind of the worshiper into conformity with the mind of the Being worshiped. And this it does when all the affections and thoughts are brought into conformity with the will and wisdom of God, and are devoted to the service of Him who bestowed them. This is true worship. The affections and thoughts which are to be devoted to the Lord in worship, and which constitutes worship, were represented in the Israelitish Church by the offerings made to the Lord, especially by the clean and unblemished animals offered in sacrifice upon the altar. Solomon's peace-offerings consisted of oxen and sheep; and animals from the herd represented celestial-natural affections, and animals from the flock represented celestial-rational affections. The number of animals offered on the occasion of dedicating the temple must have been immense, and the profusion was no doubt intended to express, in their own way, the fervour of the devotion by which the king and the people were inspired on so grand a ceremonial. And grand it was beyond all their conceptions. No less than the representative occasion of the King of kings dedicating the glorious Temple of His perfected Humanity to the indwelling Divinity, when all the human affections and perceptions of the Glorified Man were hallowed, by being offered and united to the Divine Love and Wisdom, as existing from eternity in the Creator of heaven and earth. And as the effect and image of this, it was the representative occasion of dedicating to the Saviour the Church, as the mystical body and temple of His presence with His people, and, not the least significant and important to us, the dedication of regenerated humanity, in the persons of those who are built up into temples of the Holy Spirit, which is the Spirit of the Lord dwelling, with all the riches of redeeming love, in the hearts of the faithful. This state is peace in its realized spiritual sense. It is the inward peace which is secured by the Christian having, by the power of Jesus Christ, conquered all his inward enemies, and brought every thought and affection into a harmonious relation to each other, and to the Lord, who conquered all that raised itself above His Divine authority. And the multitude of oxen and sheep offered is expressive of the completeness of the worship which consists in hallowing all the affections to the Lord and to His service. For the twenty-two thousand is expressive of the conjunction of goodness and truth in the outward man, or the celestial-natural mind, and the hundred and twenty thousand sheep is expressive of the conjunction of goodness and truth in the inner man, or the celestial-rational mind.

A thousand often occurs in the Word as expressive of a large but indefinite number. In the Divine sense it is expressive of what is infinite and eternal; and in the spiritual sense, of what has something of infinite and eternal in it, or of that in the human mind in which the Lord dwells with His love and wisdom, giving to the finite recipient the power of indefinite and endless progression in goodness and truth. The Lord dwells, and can only dwell, in that which is His own, not in anything that is ours. In every human mind the Lord provides that some heavenly seeds shall be sown by angelic and human hands during infancy and childhood; and these, like the first vegetation that clothes the flinty rock or barren ground, form the vegetable soil which becomes, in those who preserve and improve it, the good ground of an honest heart, in which the seeds sown by the Son of Man in later life take root, and bear fruit, and bring forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. These are the "remains" in which the heavenly life in every one has its beginning. And these are especially meant, when they are expressed numerically, by ten; and they may indeed be expressed by any multiple of ten; for this mode of increasing a number does not change its characteristic meaning but only exalts it. Twenty has thus the same meaning as ten; so has ten tens, and so has ten hundred. The same idea enters into them all; the difference is only in degree. This number enters into so many others, because that which it primarily signifies enters into all subsequent states of mind; for regeneration is according to the quantity and quality of remains. There are other numbers that express other ideas, because there are various states of human experience. For although the essential elements of spiritual life are the same in all, there are differences in each. There are states through which all pass, and states which only some experience; and all these are expressed, when the subject requires it, by different numbers. Six, for example, is expressive of a state of labour and temptation, and seven of a state of rest and peace: like the six days of work and the Sabbath of rest. Two is expressive of the heavenly marriage, or the conjunction of goodness and truth. And this is the reason that the two in the first of the present numbers directs us to this meaning.

But besides the offerings which Solomon made to the Lord in dedicating the temple and hallowing the middle of the court, the king "held a feast, and all Israel with him, a great congregation, from the entering in of Hamoth to the river of Egypt, before the Lord our God." While sacrifice represented the conjunction of the numbers of the Church with the Lord, feasts represented their conjunction with each other. The means of conjunction are love to the Lord and love to each other. The sacrifices and feasts were therefore other forms of the two commandments on which hang all the law and the prophets. The vast congregation which participated in this uniting feast, was from Hamoth to the river of Egypt, to mark the extent of Solomon's dominion. Hamoth was on the northern and Egypt was on the southern extremity of the land which owned his sway, so that his dominion extended from Syria to Egypt. The extent of Solomon's dominion was, in fact, that which the Lord through Moses had promised should be the extent of Israel's possessions. "Your border shall be from Egypt to the entrance of Hamoth" (Num 24:5-8). This promise was now fulfilled; and in its fulfillment was represented the extension of the Church from wisdom to science, for the Syrians were among those who were called sons of the east. The feast is said to have lasted seven days and seven days, even fourteen days. In the Book of Chronicles it is said "they kept the dedication of the altar seven days, and the feast seven days "(2 Chron 7:9). The eighth day on which the people were sent away was therefore the first after the seventh day of the feast. Seven is a holy number, and twice seven is expressive of what is most holy. The eighth day is the beginning of a new state, which includes in it the previous states of holiness, which have been acquired in the course of the regenerate life, states of love and states of charity. The people "blessed the king, and went to 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."

In looking at this subject in its highest and therefore holiest sense, in which the temple represents the Lord's humanity, we see in its completion and dedication the glorification of the humanity, and its union with the Divinity. It is not perhaps necessary that there should be any outward resemblance between the historical circumstances connected with the building and dedication of the temple and those recorded in connection with the glorification of the Lord's humanity. Yet it is not unreasonable to expect that the historical as well as the prophetical Scriptures should show some traces of literal similitude, such as those between the prediction and the event in Zechariah and the Psalms. It was after the Lord's triumphal entry into Jerusalem, immediately before His crucifixion, and in reference to which He said, "The hour is come that the Son of Man should be glorified" (John 12:26); and, when Judas had gone out to betray Him, "Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in Him" (John 13:31): it was on this occasion that He went into the temple, and cast out the mercenary dealers, and said to them, "It is written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer: but you have made it a den of thieves" (Mark 11:17). It was then also that the Lord ate the passover with His disciples, and instituted the Holy Supper, as a feast commemorative of His great works of Glorification and Redemption. And the dedicatory prayer of Solomon may find a parallel, both in character and meaning, in that Divine prayer in which Jesus, when He had lifted up His eyes to heaven, said, "Father, glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You;" in which He prayed for His disciples, that they might be kept from evil and sanctified through the truth, and might be one even as He and the Father were one; and in which, as Solomon prayed, not only for his own people, Israel, but for the stranger, who comes out of a far country for the Lord's name sake; so the Lord prayed, not only for His disciples, but for them which should believe on Him through their word.

When we regard Solomon as a type of Jesus, and the temple as a symbol of His humanity, we can, at least, see that the grand ceremonial of its dedication is no less than a foreshadowing of the consecration of the Lord's humanity to the service of the Divinity, as the Temple in which the Creator dwells, in which He is present with angels in heaven and with men on earth, towards which all eyes are to be turned and all prayers directed, and from which all help and blessing come. When spiritual Israel look up to Jesus as their King, as much greater than Solomon as the eternal is greater than the temporal, and unite with Him in celebrating the great event of the Incarnation, which has brought their God near to them, for their help and comfort, they have reason to bless their King, and to go to their tents joyful and glad of heart, for all the good that the Lord has done for David His servant, and for Israel His people. The faithful, when they have entered in spirit into the contemplation of that marvelous work of Divine wisdom and benevolence, which has provided for them and for all men the inestimable blessing of Salvation, cannot but be joyful and glad of heart, and carry that state of mind down into their homes and into all their conduct and life in the world.

An encouraging and warning voice came to Solomon, after he had finished the temple, and through him to the people, after they had departed to their homes. "The Lord appeared to Solomon the second time, as He had appeared to him at Gibeon. The Lord said to him, I have heard your prayer and your supplication, that you have made before Me: I have hallowed this house, which you have built, to put My name there for ever; and Mine eyes and Mine heart shall be there perpetually." This second appearance of the Lord to Solomon, like Solomon's second sacrifice, is the completion and confirmation of the first, as that which is begun in the inner, is perfected in the outer man. Regarded in its highest sense, how well does the Divine language apply to the Divine Humanity. "I have hallowed this house, which you have built, to put My name there for ever; and Mine eyes and Mine heart shall be there continually." The Temple of the Humanity is the Lord's eternal dwelling-place, and His Wisdom and His Love shall be there perpetually. The Lord promises to Solomon that if he will walk before Him, as David his father did, in integrity of heart and uprightness, and do all that He had commanded him, He would establish the throne of his kingdom upon Israel for ever; but that if he should at all turn from following the Lord, He would cut off Israel out of the land, and the house itself He should cast out of His sight, and Israel should become a proverb and a byword among all people. How can this apply to Him whom Solomon and the temple represented? It can apply to Him relatively, not absolutely; as the Lord is represented as a lamb slain, when the Divinity of His Humanity is denied (Rev 5:6). But the encouragement and the warning are to the Church and its members. That which has been built up by faith and labour can only be preserved by integrity of heart and uprightness of life. This is the lesson which the Lord, on His second appearing to Solomon, teaches us. And it is one that we should lay to heart, for in no state that we attain on earth can we forego the exercise of watchfulness and prayer.

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