Here, I. Solomon encourages the priests, who came out of the temple from their ministration, much astonished at the dark cloud that overshadowed them. The disciples of Christ feared when they entered into the cloud, though it was a bright cloud (Luke 9:34), so did the priests when they found themselves wrapped in a thick cloud. To silence their fears, 1. He reminds them of that which they could not but know, that this was a token of God’s presence (1 Kgs. 8:12): The Lord said he would dwell in the thick darkness. It is so far from being a token of his displeasure that it is an indication of his favour; for he had said, I will appear in a cloud, Lev. 16:2. Note, Nothing is more effectual to reconcile us to dark dispensations than to consider what God hath said, and to compare his word and works together; as Lev. 10:3; This is that which the Lord hath said. God is light (1 John 1:5), and he dwells in light (1 Tim. 6:16), but he dwells with men in the thick darkness, makes that his pavilion, because they could not bear the dazzling brightness of his glory. Verily thou art a God that hidest thyself. Thus our holy faith is exercised and our holy fear is increased. Where God dwells in light faith is swallowed up in vision and fear in love. 2. He himself bids it welcome, as worthy of all acceptation; and since God, by this cloud, came down to take possession, he does, in a few words, solemnly give him possession (1 Kgs. 8:13): “Surely I come,” says God. “Amen,” says Solomon, “Even so, come, Lord”. The house is thy own, entirely thy own, I have surely built it for thee, and furnished it for thee; it is for ever thy own, a settled place for thee to abide in for ever; it shall never be alienated nor converted to any other use; the ark shall never be removed from it, never unsettled again.” It is Solomon’s joy that God has taken possession; and it is his desire that he would keep possession. Let not the priests therefore dread that in which Solomon so much triumphs.
II. He instructs the people, and gives them a plain account concerning this house, which they now saw God take possession of. He spoke briefly to the priests, to satisfy them (a word to the wise), but turned his face about (1 Kgs. 8:14) from them to the congregation that stood in the outer court, and addressed himself to them largely.
1. He blessed them. When they saw the dark cloud enter the temple they blessed themselves, being astonished at it and afraid lest the thick darkness should be utter darkness to them. The amazing sight, such as they had never seen in their days, we may suppose, drove every man to his prayers, and the vainest minds were made serious by it. Solomon therefore set in with their prayers, and blessed them all, as one having authority (for the less is blessed of the better); in God’s name, he spoke peace to them, and a blessing, like that with which the angel blessed Gideon when he was in a fright, upon a similar occasion. Jdg. 6:22, 23, Peace be unto thee. Fear not; thou shalt not die. Solomon blessed them, that is, he pacified them, and freed them from the consternation they were in. To receive this blessing, they all stood up, in token of reverence and readiness to hear and accept it. It is a proper posture to be in when the blessing is pronounced.
2. He informed them concerning this house which he had built and was now dedicating.
(1.) He began his account with a thankful acknowledgment of the good hand of his God upon him hitherto: Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, 1 Kgs. 8:15. What we have the pleasure of God must have the praise of. He thus engaged the congregation to lift up their hearts in thanksgivings to God, which would help to still the tumult of spirit which, probably, they were in. “Come,” says he, “let God’s awful appearances not drive us from him, but draw us to him; let us bless the Lord God of Israel.” Thus Job, under a dark scene, blessed the name of the Lord. Solomon here blessed God, [1.] For his promise which he spoke with his mouth to David. [2.] For the performance, that he had now fulfilled it with his hand. We have then the best sense of God’s mercies, and most grateful both to ourselves and to our God, when we run up those streams to the fountain of the covenant, and compare what God does with what he has said.
(2.) Solomon is now making a solemn surrender or dedication of this house unto God, delivering it to God by his own act and deed. Grants and conveyances commonly begin with recitals of what has been before done, leading to what is now done: accordingly, here is a recital of the special causes and considerations moving Solomon to build this house. [1.] He recites the want of such a place. It was necessary that this should be premised; for, according to the dispensation they were under, there must be but one place in which they must expect God to record his name. If, therefore, there were any other chosen, this would be a usurpation. But he shows, from what God himself had said, that there was no other (1 Kgs. 8:16): I chose no city to build a house in for my name; therefore there is occasion for the building of this. [2.] He recites David’s purpose to build such a place. God chose the person first that should rule his people (I chose David, 1 Kgs. 8:16) and then put it into his heart to build a house for God’s name, 1 Kgs. 8:17. It was not a project of his own, for the magnifying of himself; but his good father, of blessed memory, laid the first design of it, though he lived not to lay the first stone. [3.] He recites God’s promise concerning himself. God approved his father’s purpose (1 Kgs. 8:18): Thou didst well, that it was in thy heart. Note, Sincere intentions to do good shall be graciously approved and accepted of God, though Providence prevent our putting them in execution. The desire of a man is his kindness. See 2 Cor. 8:12. God accepted David’s good will, yet would not permit him to do the good work, but reserved the honour of it for his son (1 Kgs. 8:19): He shall build the house to my name; so that what he had done was not of his own head, nor for his own glory, but the work itself was according to his father’s design and his doing it was according to God’s designation. [4.] He recites what he himself had done, and with what intention: I have built a house, not for my own name, but for the name of the Lord God of Israel (1 Kgs. 8:20), and set there a place for the ark, 1 Kgs. 8:21. Thus all the right, title, interest, claim, and demand, whatsoever, which he or his had or might have in or to this house, or any of its appurtenances, he resigns, surrenders, and gives up, to God for ever. It is for his name, and his ark. In this, says he, the Lord hath performed his word that he spoke. Note, Whatever good we do, we must look upon it as the performance of God’s promise to us, rather than the performance of our promises to him. The more we do for God the more we are indebted to him; for our sufficiency is of him, and not of ourselves.