1 Kings 3:2 MEANING

1 Kings 3:2
(2) In high places.--The historian, writing from the point of view of his own time, when, after the solemn consecration of the Temple, the worship at "the high places," which form natural sanctuaries, was forbidden, explains that "because there was no house built unto the name of the Lord," the people, and Solomon himself, sacrificed and burnt incense in the high places. It is clear that these high places were of two kinds--places of sacrifice to false gods, and unauthorised sanctuaries of the Lord, probably associating His worship with visible representations of Deity. The former class were, of course, absolute abominations, like the high places of the Canaanite races, so sternly denounced in Deuteronomy 12:2-3. The prohibition of the other class of high places--constantly disobeyed by some even of the better kings--appears to have had two distinct objects--(a) to guard against all local corruptions of God's service, and all idolatry, worshipping Him (as at Bethel) under visible forms; (b) to prevent the breach of national unity, by the congregation of the separate tribes round local sanctuaries. But besides these objects, it served (c), as a very remarkable spiritual education for the worship of the invisible God, without the aid of local and visible emblems of His presence, in accordance with the higher prophetic teaching, and preparatory for the perfect spirituality of the future. It is, indeed, hardly to be conceived that there should not have been before the Captivity some places of non-sacrificial worship, in some degree like the synagogues of the period after the exile, although not as yet developed into a fully organised system. Unless we refer Psalm 74:8 to the Maccabaean times, it must be supposed to describe the Chaldaean invasion, as destroying not only the Temple, but also "all the houses of God"--properly "assemblies," and in our Bible version actually translated "synagogues "--"in the land." But these places of prayer and praise and instruction would be different in their whole idea from the "high places" rivalling the Temple. Up to this time it is clear that, even under Samuel and David, sacrificial worship elsewhere than in the Tabernacle was used without scruple, though certainly alien from the spirit of the Mosaic Law as to the supreme sacredness of the "place which God should choose to place his name there." (See, for example, 1 Samuel 7:10; 1 Samuel 13:9; 1 Samuel 14:35; 1 Samuel 16:5; 1 Chronicles 21:26.) After the solemn consecration of the Temple, the circumstances and the character of such worship were altogether changed.

Verse 2. - Only [The word perhaps signifies "that there was one exception to the flourishing condition of things which the writer has been describing" (Rawlinson), though the people are nowhere blamed for sacrificing on the high places, and Solomon's sacrifice at "the great high place "was full of blessing. The idea rather is that just as he was obliged to bring his Egyptian wife into the city of David, because his palace was not yet finished, so the people were compelled to sacrifice on the high places, because the temple was not yet built (Keil), and "the place" where God would put His name had only just been chosen (1 Chronicles 22:1)] the people sacrificed [Heb. were sacrificing, i.e., habitually, constantly] in high places [All nations have chosen hill tops for acts of worship, perhaps as being nearer heaven. "Even Abraham built an altar to the Lord on a mountain near Bethel (Genesis 12:7, 8; cf. 22:2, 9; 31:54)." And the use of high places for this purpose was not distinctly condemned in the Law. It is true the Hebrews were commanded to have but one place of sacrifice (Leviticus 17:9; Deuteronomy 12:5, 11, 13, 26, 27; cf. Joshua 22:29), and this no doubt was, if not an indirect prohibition, a discouragement of such sanctuaries. It has been held, however, that this command was purely prospective, and it is certainly remarkable that even when the Israelites were settled in the promised land, and the tabernacle was set up (Joshua 18:1), altars were constantly built and sacrifices offered on high places, and sometimes, as in the case of Gideon (Judges 6:26), and Manoah (Judges 13:19, 20), by express Divine command. Later on we find Samuel (1 Samuel 7:9, 10; 1 Samuel 11:15; 1 Samuel 16:5), Saul (1 Samuel 13:9; 14:35), David (1 Chronicles 21:26), Solomon and Elijah (1 Kings 18:30), offering sacrifices in various places, which they could not possibly have done had it seemed to them that this was condemned beforehand by the Law. It is highly probable, therefore, that though the contemporaries of Joshua took a different view (as Joshua 22:15-31 proves), the men of a later age excused themselves on the ground stated in the text, that "there was no house built unto the name of the Lord." It has been held by some that "had they not sacrificed and burnt incense on high places, they could not have sacrificed or burnt incense at all" (Bp. Horsley); but this seems to overlook the fact that there was one place provided for sacrifices - the door of the tabernacle — and that for some reason or other they sacrificed elsewhere. And the reason, no doubt, was the one assigned by the historian. It should be added that this term "high place" (בָּמָה) came to be used of all places of worship, not only on heights, but even those in valleys (2 Kings 17:9; Jeremiah 7:31; Jeremiah 32:35). The Bamah sometimes consisted of an altar only, but as a rule, there was a shrine or sanctuary, erected hard by (1 Kings 13:32; 2 Kings 17:29; 2 Kings 23:19), the Beth-Bamah, for which the word Bamah is sometimes loosely employed (1 Kings 11:7; 1 Kings 14:23; 2 Kings 21:3)], because there was no house built unto the name of the Lord until those days.

3:1-4 He that loved the Lord, should, for his sake, have fixed his love upon one of the Lord's people. Solomon was a wise man, a rich man, a great man; yet the brightest praise of him, is that which is the character of all the saints, even the poorest, He loved the Lord. Where God sows plentifully, he expects to reap accordingly; and those that truly love God and his worship, will not grudge the expenses of their religion. We must never think that wasted which is laid out in the service of God.Only the people sacrificed in high places,.... On the tops of their houses, on hills and mountains, and particularly at the high place in Gibeon, where the tabernacle was:

because there was no house built unto the name of the Lord until those days; to which they were obliged to repair as afterwards, and there offer their sacrifices, as the Lord had commanded, Deuteronomy 12:5.

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