Bible Book List
Matthew Henry's Commentary – Verses 39–49
Verses 39–49

In these verses we have an account,

I. Of the tables that were in the porch of the gates of the inner court. We find no description of the altars of burnt-offerings in the midst of that court till Ezek. 43:18. But, because the one altar under the law was to be exchanged for a multitude of tables under the gospel, here is early notice taken of the tables, at our entrance into the inner court; for till we come to partake of the table of the Lord we are but professors at large; our admission to that is our entrance into the inner court. But in this gospel-temple we meet with no altar till after the glory of the Lord has taken possession of it, for Christ is our altar, that sanctifies every gift. Here were eight tables provided, whereon to slay the sacrifices, Ezek. 40:41. We read not of any tables for this purpose either in the tabernacle or in Solomon’s temple. But here they are provided, to intimate the multitude of spiritual sacrifices that should be brought to God’s house in gospel-times, and the multitude of hands that should be employed in offering up those sacrifices. Here were the shambles for the altar; here were the dressers on which they laid the flesh of the sacrifice, the knives with which they cut it up, and the hooks on which they hung it up, that it might be ready to be offered on the altar (Ezek. 40:43), and there also they washed the burnt-offerings (Ezek. 40:38), to intimate that before we draw near to God’s altar we must have every thing in readiness, must wash our hands, our hearts, those spiritual sacrifices, and so compass God’s altar.

II. The use that some of the chambers mentioned before were put to. 1. Some were for the singers, Ezek. 40:44. It should seem they were first provided for before any other that attended this temple-service, to intimate, not only that the singing of psalms should still continue a gospel-ordinance, but that the gospel should furnish all that embrace it with abundant matter for joy and praise, and give them occasion to break forth into singing, which is often foretold concerning gospel times, Ps. 96:1; 98:1. Christians should be singers. Blessed are those that dwell in God’s house, they will be still praising him. 2. Others of them were for the priests, both those that kept the charge of the house, to cleanse it, and to see that none came into it to pollute it, and to keep it in good repair (Ezek. 40:45), and those that kept the charge of the altar (Ezek. 40:46), that came near to the Lord to minister to him. God will find convenient lodging for all his servants. Those that do the work of his house shall enjoy the comforts of it.

III. Of the inner court, the court of the priests, which was fifty yards square, Ezek. 40:47. The altar that was before the house was placed in the midst of this court, over-against the three gates, and, standing in a direct line with the three gates of the outer court, when the gates were set open all the people in the outer court might through them be spectators of the service done at the altar. Christ is both our altar and our sacrifice, to whom we must look with an eye of faith in all our approaches to God, and he is salvation in the midst of the earth (Ps. 74:12), to be looked unto from all quarters.

IV. Of the porch of the house. The temple is called the house, emphatically, as if no other house were worthy to be called so. Before this house there was a porch, to teach us not to rush hastily and inconsiderately into the presence of God, but gradually, that is, gravely, and with solemnity, passing first through the outer court, then the inner, then the porch, ere we enter into the house. Between this porch and the altar was a place where the priests used to pray, Joel 2:17. In the porch, besides the posts on which the doors were hung, there were pillars, probably for state and ornament, like Jachin and Boaz—He will establish; in him is strength, Ezek. 40:49. In the gospel church every thing is strong and firm, and every thing ought to be kept in its place and to be done decently and in order.