New European Commentary

 

About | PDFs | Mobile formats | Word formats | Other languages | Contact Us | What is the Gospel? | Support the work | Carelinks Ministries | | The Real Christ | The Real Devil | "Bible Companion" Daily Bible reading plan


Deeper Commentary

2Ch 7:1 Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of Yahweh filled the house-
Fire coming down from Heaven (e.g. 2 Chron. 7:1) to consume acceptable sacrifices probably refers to the Angels being made a flame of fire (Ps. 104:4) to consume the sacrifice. In 2 Chron. 7:1 this would be by the Angel dwelling in the temple. The same scenario was probably seen in Eden, when the Angel cherubim consumed the sacrifices.

2Ch 7:2 The priests could not enter into the house of Yahweh, because the glory of Yahweh filled Yahweh’s house-
This was as at the erection of the tabernacle. The idea was that Yahweh's glory was far above the mere religion of the temple system.


2Ch 7:3 All the children of Israel looked on, when the fire came down, and the glory of Yahweh was on the house; and they bowed themselves with their faces to the ground on the pavement and worshipped and gave thanks to Yahweh saying, For He is good; for His grace endures for ever-
Comparing with 1 Kings 8, it seems that the cloud of glory had already come down, and now fire came down to consume the sacrifices.


2Ch 7:4 Then the king and all the people offered sacrifice before Yahweh-
We again see the connection between Solomon and "all Israel", whom he considered to be as perfect as he was; see on 1 Kings 8:61.


2Ch 7:5 King Solomon offered a sacrifice of twenty-two thousand head of cattle, and a hundred and twenty thousand sheep. So the king and all the people dedicated God’s house-
The usual pattern of sacrifice was sin offering (obtaining forgiveness), burnt offering (promising complete dedication to God) and then peace offering, celebrating the resultant peace with God then experienced. But Solomon has no sense of personal sin, and considered himself dedicated to Yahweh by reason of being David's son. And so he only offers the peace offerings. The huge numbers of sacrifices were not at all what God wanted. But unlike David, he had not been brought to realize that God wants broken, repentant hearts and not offerings (Ps. 51:16). Mic. 6:7 perhaps references Solomon's huge numbers of offerings, again commenting that God doesn't want them; just as He didn't want a physical temple. And yet God went along with Solomon, as He does with us so often, even on the basis of our misplaced idealism. For His glory appeared within the temple and He in that sense agreed to dwell there, just as He agreed to work through a human kingship, even though it meant a degree of rejection of Him as Israel's king.


2Ch 7:6 The priests stood, according to their positions, the Levites also with instruments of music of Yahweh, which David the king had made to give thanks to Yahweh, when David praised by their ministry saying, For His grace endures forever. The priests sounded trumpets before them; and all Israel stood-
Compare Neh. 12:9 "Also Bakbukiah and Unno, their brothers, were over against them". This is the same Hebrew in 2 Chron. 7:6, "The priests sounded trumpets before them", the idea perhaps being that they answered the Levites in choral praise (see Neh. 12:24). 

There is a link between the name Yahweh, and praise- because the Name epitomizes the characteristics of God. Halle-lu-YAH is saying that for the sake of the Name Yah, therefore praise Him. David sat down and designed musical instruments because of the Name (2 Chron. 7:6). The Psalms often make the link explicit, e.g. "...give thanks unto Your holy name, and to triumph in Your praise" (Ps. 106:47). The Name and praise are paralleled.

Solomon's zealous organization of the temple worship was an exact fulfillment of the order laid down by his father David (1 Kings 7:51; 2 Chron. 7:6; 8:14). Solomon wanted God to bless the temple as a sign of His pleasure with David his father (e.g. 2 Chron. 6:42). Solomon's personal enthusiasm for service to God became subsumed by the huge psychological spiritual dominance of his parents. His zeal for the temple was almost purely a result of living out his father's expectation; he almost admits as much in  1 Kings  8:20: "I  am risen up in the room of David my father... and have (therefore, in the context) built an house for the name of the Lord".

2Ch 7:7 Moreover Solomon made the middle of the court holy that was before the house of Yahweh; for there he offered the burnt offerings, and the fat of the peace offerings, because the bronze altar which Solomon had made was not able to receive the burnt offering, and the meal offering, and the fat-
The huge numbers of animals required more altars, which were presumably placed in the middle court. Although we wonder on what basis Solomon as a non-Levite had the right to declare the court holy. We also wonder as to whether the huge laver, and the ten smaller lavers, were only built with a view to this opening dedication. For the huge laver was too large for normal usage, and there was surely no need for 10 lavers when the tabernacle had only had one. We wonder whether this sudden erection of more altars was also as it were a design fault, and indicates that what he was doing was not according to God's command, but rather his flawed human initiative. See on :8 for another possible design fault.


2Ch 7:8 So Solomon held the feast at that time seven days, and all Israel with him, a very great assembly, from the entrance of Hamath to the brook of Egypt-
The dedication coincided with the seven day feast of tabernacles (see on 2 Chron. 5:3), and to that was added this seven day feast of dedication. There were representatives from the very borders of the land promised to Abraham, implying these areas had been settled by Israelites; or perhaps those who attended from those places were Gentile proselytes.


2Ch 7:9 On the eighth day they held a solemn assembly; for they kept the dedication of the altar seven days, and the feast seven days-
As explained on 2 Chron. 5:3, the dedication of the temple had been made to coincide with the feast of tabernacles.


2Ch 7:10 On the twenty-third day of the seventh month he sent the people away to their tents, joyful and glad of heart for the grace that Yahweh had shown to David, and to Solomon, and to Israel His people-
Israel's blessing was dependent on Solomon's obedience (1 Kings 6:12,13); their joy was because of the honour God had given Solomon (2 Chron. 7:10). The blessing of others can be dependent upon a third party (e.g. Mk. 2:5). 1 Kings 8:66: "For all the goodness that Yahweh had shown to David His servant, and to Israel His people". The people rejoiced that the promises to David had been fulfilled in the temple and in the prosperity of the nation. But they had only uncritically accepted Solomon's narrative. For this was not at all the fulfilment of the promises to David. They "blessed the king" because they assumed it was Solomon who had brought about this fulfilment; and that was exactly what he thought. And they had bought into that false narrative.


2Ch 7:11 Thus Solomon finished the house of Yahweh, and the king’s house. He successfully completed all that came into Solomon’s heart to make in the house of Yahweh, and in his own house-
The way the record of Solomon's house follows straight on from that of God's house (1 Kings 6,7) seems to highlight the similarity between them. The house of Yahweh and Solomon's house are often spoke of together (e.g. 2 Chron. 7:11; 8:1;  9:11).The Temple was smaller than Solomon's house' he took nearly twice as long to build it. Clearly he spent more effort at housing his own glory than he did housing God's. The comparisons are intended to show this. They are listed on 2 Chron. 9:11.

His building of the temple was "all that came into his heart", or "all Solomon's desire which he was pleased to do" (1 Kings 9:1). There is a semantic connection between the Hebrew words for "desire" and "pleased" - the point of which is to emphasize that Solomon's work for God was only an expression of his own zest for self-fulfilment; he served God in ways which only confirmed his own natural inclinations. Appreciating the spirit and blood of Christ, his own weakness, the grace of God, and the subsequent desire to live a life of self sacrifice, of carrying a cross in ways we wouldn't naturally chose- this was all foreign to Solomon. And is it so foreign to us? Solomon's materialism and self-fulfilment are sure warnings to our age.

2Ch 7:12 Yahweh appeared to Solomon by night and said to him, I have heard your prayer, and have chosen this place to Myself for a house of sacrifice-
Clearly God was aware that Solomon was going wrong, refusing to realize the conditional nature of the promises made to David about his son, and not personally applying the wisdom given to him in the first vision. So God's response to Solomon's arrogant, mistaken prayer of 1 Kings 8 was in fact to appear to him and warn him that he needed to be obedient, or else the promises would not in fact apply to him. The clear implication was that Solomon's statements in his prayer that the promises were fulfilled in him... were wrong.

God said that He accepted the temple not so much as a place to dwell in (as Solomon assumed it was) but as a place facilitating sacrifice, prayer etc., for the glorification of His Name through these things; He emphasized that He dwelt amongst His people (1 Kings 6:13; 2 Chron. 7:12-16). There are several other places where God’s response to Solomon’s words seems to be corrective rather than affirmatory. See on :14.


2Ch 7:13 If I shut up the sky so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send plague among My people-
These things clearly allude to the curses for breaking the covenant in Dt. 28. But those curses were to be lifted by repentance and renewed faithfulness to the covenant, and their lifting was not predicated upon the existence of the physical temple and praying in it or towards it. This is now made clear by God in :14.


2Ch 7:14 if My people who are called by My name shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land-
Solomon says that God will hear the prayers of His people because the temple is called by God’s Name; but God’s response is that “my people, which are called by my name” would pray to Him themselves and be heard, quite apart from the temple (2 Chron. 6:33 cp. 7:14). He sees them as bearing His Name rather than the temple building, as Solomon perceived it. See on :12 for another example of God now correcting Solomon's assumptions.


2Ch 7:15 Now My eyes shall be open and My ears sensitive to the prayer that is made in this place-
"Sensitive / attentive" is the word used by Nehemiah in Neh. 1:11 "Lord, I beg You, let Your ear be attentive now to the prayer of Your servant". "Attentive" is s.w. 2 Chron. 6:40; 7:15, where we read of God being "attentive" to prayers offered in the temple. But Nehemiah was praying in exile, not in the temple. The desperation of the situation made him learn a lesson- that God wasn't only accessible in the temple. This may sound obvious to us, but it wasn't for those used to the temple cult. The lesson is that God uses punishments for sin, hard situations, to break our paradigms and lead us to a greater spirituality- if we will follow. S.w. also Neh. 9:34- Israel weren't "attentive" to God's word, but in their time of need they hoped He would be "attentive" to their word of prayer. And He was. His grace isn't 'measure for measure'; He treats us out of proportion to our attentiveness to Him. We must show the same grace.


2Ch 7:16 For now have I chosen and made this house holy, that My name may be there forever; and My eyes and My heart shall be there perpetually-
It has been argued that the Hebrew olahm, "forever", really means 'a period'. But I am unpersuaded of that argument in every case. Rather I would think that the context in this case requires that we understand God to be saying that He would indeed dwell in the temple "forever", and His particular sensitivity would be found in that place, His eyes and heart. But as He makes clear in 1 Kings 9:4-7, that was all conditional upon obedience. This highlights the tragedy- that eternity was at stake. So much depends upon human freewill decisions; for that is how much He respects us and our freedom of choice.


2Ch 7:17 As for you, if you will walk before Me as David your father walked, and do according to all that I have commanded you and will keep My statutes and My ordinances-
This was a hard act to follow, for David was chosen as being a man after God's own heart. Solomon considered that he was acceptable with God just because of his father, whereas Go wanted him to personally attain his father's spirituality. We note in passing God's high estimation of David, despite David's serious but out of character failings. God constantly warned Solomon about the conditionality of the promises, before the building started (2 Sam. 7:14), during it (1 Kings 6:11-13) and immediately after completing it (1 Kings 9:2-9). Solomon reinterprets this conditional promise in Prov. 20:7: "A righteous man walks in integrity; blessed are his children after him". Solomon has here his own agenda of self justification in view. The man who 'walked in integrity' is without doubt David (s.w. 1 Kings 9:4; Ps. 26:1,11; 101:2). Solomon assumed that because his father had walked in integrity, then he as his child would automatically be blessed. But he was choosing to misunderstand the conditional nature of the promises to him in 1 Kings 9:4; if he walked himself in integrity "as David your father walked", then he would be the prophetically blessed son of David.  

Solomon's prophetic sonship of David was conditional upon him preserving or observing Yahweh's ways (1 Kings 2:4; 1 Chron. 22:13; 2 Chron. 7:17); but he didn't preserve of observe them (1 Kings 11:10,11); despite David praying that Solomon would be given a heart to observe them (1 Chron. 29:19). We can pray for God to work upon the hearts of others, but He will not force people against their own deepest will and heart position. Solomon stresses overmuch how God would keep or preserve the righteous (Prov. 2:8; 3:26), without recognizing the conditional aspect of this. Why did Solomon go wrong? His Proverbs are true enough, but he stresses that obedience to his wisdom and teaching would preserve his hearers (Prov. 4:4; 6:22; 7:1; 8:32; 15:5), preservation was through following the example of the wise (Prov. 2:20); rather than stressing obedience to God's ways, and replacing David his father's simple love of God with a love of academic wisdom: "Yahweh preserves all those who love Him" (Ps. 145:20).


2Ch 7:18 then I will establish the throne of your kingdom, according as I covenanted with David your father saying, There shall not fail you a man to be ruler in Israel-
This is the same quotation made in Ps. 132:12. But God is picking up on Solomon's claims in 1 Kings 8:24 that God had already fulfilled this. He is pointing out that this promise was conditional, and Solomon had overlooked that. The promise of "a man" suggests one individual; but Solomon was wrong in assuming this referred to himself.


2Ch 7:19 But if you turn away and forsake My statutes and My commandments which I have set before you, and shall go and serve other gods, and worship them-
This is what Solomon did finally do, and already at this stage he had married Gentile women, whom the law of Moses had warned would lead his heart away from Yahweh to "other gods". But that apparently inevitable process could still be arrested- if Solomon responded in humility to this appeal. We wait with eager ears to hear Solomon's response when the appeal ends in :22. But there is silence; see on :22. 

2Ch 7:20 then I will pluck them up by the roots out of My land which I have given them; and this house, which I have made holy for My name, I will cast out of My sight, and I will make it a proverb and a byword among all peoples-
Solomon had wrongly reasoned in 2 Chron. 6 that the grandeur of the temple would attract Gentiles to become proselytes to Yahweh. But God warns him that the very opposite could happen, and the ruined temple would become the biggest possible disadvertisment for Yahweh and His people. Solomon had prayed, and in that prayer taught Israel, that if they sinned even in captivity, then all they had to do was pray towards the temple and they would be forgiven. He saw in that building some kind of atonement for sins. He lost sight of the importance of the blood that made atonement; he replaced the blood of Christ with a work of his own hands.  God’s response to the dedication of the temple here corrects what Solomon has just said. He says that if Israel sin then He will cast the temple too out of His sight; which is rather different to how Solomon instructed the people to gain forgiveness for the sake of the temple if they were in dispersion. He saw the temple as a talisman- the need for real, meaningful change and repentance and spiritual mindedness to enable the dwelling of God went unperceived. He failed to perceive the real possibility of the eternal potential he and Israel could miss. They really could be cast out of God's sight in condemnation. Jonah recognized “I am cast out of Your sight” (Jon. 2:4), the very language of condemnation used at his time (2 Kings 17:20; 21:2; 23:27; Jer. 7:15).


2Ch 7:21 This house, which is so high, everyone who passes by it shall be astonished, and shall say, ‘Why has Yahweh done thus to this land, and to this house?’-
God parallels the temple and His people in 2 Chron. 7:21,22, saying that if He punishes the temple He will punish the people. Solomon seems to have thought that the temple would still stand favourably in God’s eyes even if the people were punished. The record records that the temple was “perfected” whereas Solomon’s heart wasn’t perfect [s.w.] (1 Kings 11:4 cp. 2 Chron. 8:16).

This is God's commentary upon the implications in Solomon's prayer that the temple and God's presence within it was to be eternal. Solomon had willfully misinterpreted the promises to David to mean that the temple was the fulfilment of the promise that the seed would build an eternal house. That house David had built was not the house in view, and could easily be destroyed and even become a curse rather than a blessing- if Solomon were disobedient.


2Ch 7:22 They shall answer, ‘Because they abandoned Yahweh, the God of their fathers, who brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, and took other gods, worshipped them, and served them. Therefore He has brought all this evil on them’
-
We wait with eager ears to hear Solomon's response when the appeal ends; but there is silence. Solomon had blanked out from his perception any idea that he might fail or was less than perfect. His narrative was that he was the son of David, and the promises about David's son were now fulfilled in him. And he refused to allow anything, not even an appeal from God, disturb that internal narrative.