In these verses we have Solomon’s address to God for his favour to him and to his government, and his acceptance of his building a house to God’s name. Observe,
I. What he pleads—two things:—
1. That what he had done was in pursuance of the pious vow which his father David had made to build a house for God. Solomon was a wise man, yet pleads not any merit of his own: “I am not worthy, for whom thou shouldst do this; but, Lord, remember David, with whom thou madest the covenant” (as Moses prayed, Exod. 32:13; Remember Abraham, the first trustee of the covenant); “remember all his afflictions, all the troubles of his life, which his being anointed was the occasion of,” or his care and concern about the ark, and what an uneasiness it was to him that the ark was in curtains, 2 Sam. 7:2. Remember all his humility and meekness (so some read it), all that pious and devout affection with which he had made the following vow. Note, It is not amiss for us to put God in mind of our predecessors in profession, of their afflictions, their services, and their sufferings, of God’s covenant with them, the experiences they have had of his goodness, the care they took of, and the many prayers they put up for, those that should come after them. We may apply it to Christ, the Son of David, and to all his afflictions: “Lord, remember the covenant made with him and the satisfaction made by him. Remember all his offerings (Ps. 20:3), that is, all his sufferings.” He especially pleads the solemn vow that David had made as soon as ever he was settled in his government, and before he was well settled in a house of his own, that he would build a house for God. Observe, (1.) Whom he bound himself to, to the Lord, to the mighty God of Jacob. Vows are to be made to God, who is a party as well as a witness. The Lord is the Mighty One of Jacob, Jacob’s God, and a mighty one, whose power is engaged for Jacob’s defence and deliverance. Jacob is weak, but the God of Jacob is a mighty one. (2.) What he bound himself to do, to find out a place for the Lord, that is, for the ark, the token of his presence. He had observed in the law frequent mention of the place that God would choose to put his name there, to which all the tribes should resort. When he came to the crown there was no such place; Shiloh was deserted, and no other place was pitched upon, for want of which the feasts of the Lord were not kept with due solemnity. “Well,” says David, “I will find out such a place for the general rendezvous of all the tribes, a place of habitation for the Mighty One of Jacob, a place for the ark, where there shall be room both for the priests and people to attend upon it.” (3.) How intent he was upon it; he would not settle in his bed, till he had brought this matter to some head, Ps. 132:3, 4. The thing had been long talked of, and nothing done, till at last David, when he went out one morning about public business, made a vow that before night he would come to a resolution in this matter, and would determine the place either where the tent should be pitched for the reception of the ark, at the beginning of his reign, or rather where Solomon should build the temple, which was not fixed till the latter end of his reign, just after the pestilence with which he was punished for numbering the people (1 Chron. 22:1; Then David said, This is the house of the Lord); and perhaps it was upon occasion of that judgment that he made this vow, being apprehensive that one of God’s controversies with him was for his dilatoriness in this matter. Note, When needful work is to be done for God it is good for us to task ourselves, and tie ourselves to a time, because we are apt to put off. It is good in the morning to cut out work for the day, binding ourselves that we will do it before we sleep, only with submission to Providence; for we know not what a day may bring forth. Especially in the great work of conversion to God we must be thus solicitous, thus zealous; we have good reason to resolve that we will not enjoy the comforts of this life till we have laid a foundation for hopes of a better.
2. That it was in pursuance of the expectations of the people of Israel, Ps. 132:6, 7. (1.) They were inquisitive after the ark; for they lamented its obscurity, 1 Sam. 7:2. They heard of it at Ephratah (that is, at Shiloh, in the tribe of Ephraim); there they were told it had been, but it was gone. They found it, at last, in the fields of the wood, that is, in Kirjath-jearim, which signifies the city of woods. Thence all Israel fetched it, with great solemnity, in the beginning of David’s reign (1 Chron. 13:6), so that in building his house for the ark Solomon had gratified all Israel. They needed not to go about to seek the ark anymore; they now knew where to find it. (2.) They were resolved to attend it: “Let us but have a convenient place, and we will go into his tabernacle, to pay our homage there; we will worship at his footstool as subjects and suppliants, which we neglected to do, for want of such a place, in the days of Saul,” 1 Chron. 13:3.
II. What he prays for, Ps. 132:8-10. 1. That God would vouchsafe, not only to take possession of, but to take up his residence in, this temple which he had built: Arise, O Lord! into thy rest, and let this be it, thou, even the ark of thy strength, the pledge of thy presence, thy mighty presence. 2. That God would give grace to the ministers of the sanctuary to do their duty: Let thy priests be clothed with righteousness; let them appear righteous both in their administrations and in their conversations, and let both be according to the rule. Note, Righteousness is the best ornament of a minister. Holiness towards God, and goodness towards all men, are habits for ministers of the necessity of which there is no dispute. “They are thy priests, and will therefore discredit their relation to thee if they be not clothed with righteousness.” 3. That the people of God might have the comfort of the due administration of holy ordinances among them: Let thy saints shout for joy. They did so when the ark was brought into the city of David (2 Sam. 6:15); they will do so when the priests are clothed with righteousness. A faithful ministry is the joy of the saints; it is the matter of it; it is a friend and a furtherance to it; we are helpers of your joy, 2 Cor. 1:24. 4. That Solomon’s own prayer, upon occasion of the dedicating of the temple, might be accepted of God: “Turn not away the face of thy anointed, that is, deny me not the things I have asked of thee, send me not away ashamed.” He pleads, (1.) That he was the anointed of the Lord, and this he pleads as a type of Christ, the great anointed, who, in his intercession, urges his designation to his office. He is God’s anointed, and therefore the Father hears him always. (2.) That he was the son of David: “For his sake do not deny me;” and this is the Christian’s plea: “For the sake of Christ” (our David), “in whom thou art well pleased, accept me.” He is David, whose name signifies beloved; and we are made accepted in the beloved. He is God’s servant, whom he upholds, Isa. 42:1. “We have no merit of our own to plead, but for his sake, in whom there is a fulness of merit, let us find favour.” When we pray for the prosperity of the church we may pray with great boldness, for Christ’s sake, who purchased the church with his own blood. “Let both ministers and people do their duty.”