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Bible Commentaries
1 Kings 9

The Biblical IllustratorThe Biblical Illustrator

Verses 2-9

1 Kings 9:2-9

The Lord said unto him, I have heard thy prayer.

Essential points in prayer

It was an exceedingly encouraging thing to Solomon that the Lord should appear to him before the beginning of his great work of building the temple. See in the third chapter of this First Book of the Kings, at the fifth verse, “In Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, Ask what I shall give thee.” I cannot forget when the Lord appeared unto me in Gibeon at the first. Truly there are things about the lives of Christian men that would not have been possible if God had not appeared to them at the beginning. If he had not strengthened and tutored them, and given them wisdom beyond what they possess in themselves; if he had not inspirited them. It is a priceless blessing to begin with God, and not to lay a stone of the temple of our life-work till the Lord has appeared unto us. I do not know, however, but that it is an equal, perhaps a superior, blessing for the Lord to appear to us after a certain work is done; even as in this case: “The Lord appeared to Solomon the second time, as He had appeared unto him at Gibeon.” We want renewed appearances, fresh manifestations, new visitations from on high; and I commend to those of you who are getting on in life, that while you thank God for the past, and look back with joy to His visits to you in your early days, you now seek and ask for a second visitation of the Most High. All days in a palace are not days of banqueting, and all days with God are not so clear and glorious as certain special Sabbaths of the soul in which the Lord unveils His glory. Happy are we if we have once beheld His face; but happier still if He again comes to us in fulness of favour. I think that we should be seeking those second appearances: we should be crying to God most pleadingly that He would speak to us a second time.

Our proper place in prayer. The Lord said, “I have heard thy prayer, and thy supplication, that thou hast made before Me.” There is the place to pray--“before Me”: that is to say, before the Lord. But we should take care that the place is hallowed by our prayer being deliberately and reverently presented before God.

1. This place is not always found. The Pharisee went up to the temple to pray, and yet, evidently, he did not pray “before God”; so that even in the most holy courts he did not find the place desired.

2. This blessed place “before God” can be found in public prayer. Solomon’s prayer before God was offered in the midst of a great multitude.

3. But prayer before God can just as well be offered in private.

4. The prayer is to be directed to God.

5. We should endeavour in prayer to realise the presence of God.

Our great desideratum in prayer. It is that which God said that He had given to Solomon. “I have heard thy prayer and thy supplication.”

1. The first thing the soul desires in prayer is audience with God. If the Lord do not hear us, we have gained nothing. And what an honour it is to have audience with God!

2. But we Want more than that: we want that He should accept. It were a painful thing to be permitted to speak to a great friend, and then for him to stand austere and stern, and say, “I have heard what you have to say. Go your way.” We ask not this of God.

3. Still, there is a third thing which we want, which God gave to Solomon, and that was an answer.

Our assurance of answer to prayer. Can we have an assurance that God has heard and answered prayer? Solomon had it. The Lord said unto him, “I have heard thy prayer and thy supplication, that thou hast made before Me.” Does the Lord ever say that to us? I think so. Let us consider how He does so.

1. I think that He says it to us very often in our usual faith.

2. But sometimes you require strong confidence. You have to solicit some extraordinary blessing. You get to a place like that to which Jacob came, when common prayer was not sufficient.

3. Sometimes this comes in the form of a comfortable persuasion.

4. The Lord also gives to His people a manifest preparation for the blessing. He prepares them to receive it. Their expectation is raised, so that they begin to look out for the blessing, and make room for it; and when it is so, you may be sure that it is coming.

5. Actual observation also breeds in us a solid confidence that our suit is succeeding. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Prayer penetrates

Which are the sounds that penetrate furthest? We on terra firma are scarcely in a position to judge. However, a number of scientists have been making a series of experiments to test the relative penetrating quality of sounds, The Government lent them a military balloon, which ascended from the artillery camp at Woolwich, and passed over London. A sharp ear was kept for the sounds of the vast city that penetrated upward. Trains were heard in practically continuous rumble, punctuated by their shrill whistles. Sirens from the river and various factories rose sharp and clear. Most noticeable were the barkings of high-voiced dogs, which could be distinctly heard even at a mile high. The highly-instructive fact was noted, however, that, though the city was crossed just at neon, when from the streets the striking of clocks and bells is always such a noticeable feature, yet the most careful listener aloft could detect no such sounds. These observations go to prove how inferior are the carrying powers of bells as heard from aloft, and to emphasise the fact that noises of an unmusical, discordant nature have much better chance of making themselves heard at a distance than have more harmonious sounds. But the reverse is the case in the spiritual sphere. It is the discords of earth that have no carrying power, and that last but for a day. It is the sweet and harmonious utterance, the secret prayer, the quiet deed, that reaches unto the heavens. (Signal.)

Verse 4

1 Kings 9:4

If thou writ walk before Me, as David thy father walked.

Imperativeness of law

General Grant, while president, caused the injury of a woman by his fast driving. He invited a police officer to enter his buggy, and drove with him to the police station, where he paid a fine of twenty dollars for “fast and reckless driving.” President M’Kinley once had to reprove his driver for crossing a chalk-line which marked the limit of space allowed to carriages. He leaned his head out of the window, apologised to the policeman in charge, and ordered his driver to obey the rule at once. Obedience comes hard when we think that for some reason we ought to be exceptions to the rules that govern others. (J. B. Morgan.)

The power of a sainted parent

After the news of his father’s death, Thomas Carlyle set himself to describe with pride his peasant parent. A living picture he gives: the large head, grey ever since he could remember; the strong face, full of earnestness; the clear eyes, through which honesty streamed--his dear, good father! Only a common farmer, though. Digging and ditching were part of his work. He drove the plough through the furrow. But, writes Thomas, “his son also is part of his work. An inspiring example I owe him. The pale face stiffened into death will certainly impel me. I seem to myself the second volume of my father.” The dead spirit of the Ecclefechan farmer lived in the brilliant writer of books. The instructions of his father soaked into his very flesh and bone. He, being dead, yet shaped his life. O blessed office of parenthood! (F. Y. Leggatt.)

The law of obedience

To that law of truth that firmly fixes foundations for cathedrals, Ruskin adds the law of obedience. In springing his wall the architect must plumb the stones of obedience to the law of gravity. In springing his arch he must brace it, obeying the laws of resistance. In lifting his tower he must relate it to the temple, obeying the law of proportion and symmetry; and he who disobeys one fundamental law will find great nature puking his towers down over his head. For no architect builds as he pleases, but only as nature pleases, through laws of gravity, and stone and steel. In the kingdom of the soul also obedience is strength and life, and disobedience is weakness and death. In the last analysis liberty is a phantom, a dream, a mere figment of the brain. Society’s greatest peril of to-day is the demagogues who teach, and the ignorant classes who believe that there is such a thing as liberty. The planets have no liberty; they follow their sun. The seas know no liberty; they follow the moon in tidal waves. When the river refuses to keep within its banks, it becomes a curse and a destruction. It is the stream that is restrained by its banks that turns mill wheels for men. The clouds, too, have their beauty in that they are led forth in ranks and columns generaled by the night winds. And in proportion as things pass from littleness towards largeness they go toward obedience to law. (N. D. Hillis, D. D.)

Verses 6-9

1 Kings 9:6-9

But if ye shall at all turn from following Me.

A note of warning

A druggist in Ansonia, Conn., has an electric bell in a cabinet containing poisons. When the door is opened the bell rings, reminding the compounder he is handling poisons. What a grand thing it would be were it possible to sound an alarm every time a man puts forth his hand to touch that which will kill the soul. True, God in His great love has provided such an alarm, but, alas, men are prone to disregard its notes of alarm, and by and by it tolls forth its notes only to fall upon closed ears, and finally the bell, like that spoken of in the legend, is cut loose by the hand of a ruthless pirate, and its warning notes no longer are heard.

Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "1 Kings 9". The Biblical Illustrator. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/tbi/1-kings-9.html. 1905-1909. New York.
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