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Solomon Blesses and Exhorts the People. (b. c. 1003.)
54 And it was so, that when Solomon had made an end of praying all this prayer and supplication unto the Lord, he arose from before the altar of the Lord, from kneeling on his knees with his hands spread up to heaven. 55 And he stood, and blessed all the congregation of Israel with a loud voice, saying, 56 Blessed be the Lord, that hath given rest unto his people Israel, according to all that he promised: there hath not failed one word of all his good promise, which he promised by the hand of Moses his servant. 57 The Lord our God be with us, as he was with our fathers: let him not leave us, nor forsake us: 58 That he may incline our hearts unto him, to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, and his statutes, and his judgments, which he commanded our fathers. 59 And let these my words, wherewith I have made supplication before the Lord, be nigh unto the Lord our God day and night, that he maintain the cause of his servant, and the cause of his people Israel at all times, as the matter shall require: 60 That all the people of the earth may know that the Lord is God, and that there is none else. 61 Let your heart therefore be perfect with the Lord our God, to walk in his statutes, and to keep his commandments, as at this day.
Solomon, after his sermon in Ecclesiastes, gives us the conclusion of the whole matter; so he does here, after this long prayer; it is called his blessing the people, v. 55. He pronounced it standing, that he might be the better heard, and because he blessed as one having authority. Never were words more fitly spoken, nor more pertinently. Never was congregation dismissed with that which was more likely to affect them and abide with them.
I. He gives God the glory of the great and kind things he had done for Israel, v. 56. He stood up to bless the congregation (v. 55), but began with blessing God; for we must in every thing give thanks. Do we expect God should do well for us and ours? let us take all occasion to speak well of him and his. He blesses God who has given, he does not say wealth, and honour, and power, and victory, to Israel, but rest, as if that were a blessing more valuable than any of those. Let not those who have rest under-value that blessing, though they want some others. He compares the blessings God had bestowed upon them with the promises he had given them, that God might have the honour of his faithfulness and the truth of that word of his which he has magnified above all his name. 1. He refers to the promises given by the hand of Moses, as he did (v. 15, 24) to those which were made to David. There were promises given by Moses, as well as precepts. It was long ere God gave Israel the promised rest, but they had it at last, after many trials. The day will come when God's spiritual Israel will rest from all their labours. 2. He does, as it were, write a receipt in full on the back of these bonds: There has not failed one word of all his good promises. This discharge he gives in the name of all Israel, to the everlasting honour of the divine faithfulness, and the everlasting encouragement of all those that build upon the divine promises.
II. He blesses himself and the congregation, expressing his earnest desire and hope of these four things:—1. The presence of God with them, which is all in all to the happiness of a church and nation and of every particular person. This great congregation was now shortly to be scattered, and it was not likely that they would ever be all together again in this world. Solomon therefore dismisses them with this blessing: "The Lord be present with us, and that will be comfort enough when we are absent from each other. The Lord our God be with us, as he was with our fathers (v. 57); let him not leave us, let him be to us to day, and to ours for ever, what he was to those that went before us." 2. The power of his grace upon them: "Let him be with us, and continue with us, not that he may enlarge our coasts and increase our wealth, but that he may incline our hearts to himself, to walk in all his ways and to keep his commandments," v. 58. Spiritual blessings are the best blessings, with which we should covet earnestly to be blessed. Our hearts are naturally averse to our duty, and apt to decline from God; it is his grace that inclines them, grace that must be obtained by prayer. 3. An answer to the prayer he had now made: "Let these my words be nigh unto the Lord our God day and night, v. 59. Let a gracious return be made to every prayer that shall be made here, and that will be a continual answer to this prayer." What Solomon asks here for his prayer is still granted in the intercession of Christ, of which his supplication was a type; that powerful prevailing intercession is before the Lord our God day and night, for our great Advocate attends continually to this very thing, and we may depend upon him to maintain our cause (against the adversary that accuses us day and night, Rev. xii. 10) and the common cause of his people Israel, at all times, upon all occasions, as the matter shall require, so as to speak for us the word of the day in its day, as the original here reads it, from which we shall receive grace sufficient, suitable, and seasonable, in every time of need. 4. The glorifying of God in the enlargement of his kingdom among men. Let Israel be thus blessed, thus favoured; not that all people may become tributaries to us (Solomon sees his kingdom as great as he desires), but that all people may know that the Lord is God, and he only, and may come and worship him, v. 60. With this Solomon's prayers, like the prayers of his father David, the son of Jesse, are ended (Ps. lxxii. 19, 20): Let the whole earth be filled with his glory. We cannot close our prayers with a better summary than this, Father, glorify thy name.
III. He solemnly charges his people to continue and persevere in their duty to God. Having spoken to God for them, he here speaks from God to them, and those only would fare the better for his prayers that were made better by his preaching. His admonition, at parting, is, "Let your heart be perfect with the Lord our God, v. 61. Let your obedience be universal, without dividing—upright, without dissembling—constant, without declining;" this is evangelical perfection.