W W W W World Wide Web Witness Inc. Home Page Contents Page for Volume What is New
WHAT SOILED SOLOMON
AND WHAT SPEAKS NOW
I THE GLORY OF SOLOMON
How often is there glory ? It occurs in place, in a race, in a firm, in an individual, in the heavens, in a garden, in a gush ... sometimes. A rising crescendo, not of a screech like the rending of the metals making up an aeroplane when it crashes and so becomes elements of design ripped apart and no more possessing design's definition - unity from a mixed assemblage of the disparate that makes total creative functionality by co-ordinated means.
This glory is the exact opposite. Instead of crashing, there is a building, instead of the ripping apart of the co-ordinated, there is access to expansion of concept, of co-ordination, of performance, of point, of purpose. A certain integration awakens, a correlation of concepts, with purpose, of aims with action. An invisible meaning evokes itself, and perhaps in some cases, more meaning pours in like rain from heavy clouds, more of the same, but energised with difference.
This is not the glory of God, whose is eternity and splendour, majesty and wonder, and infinite creativity and wisdom (cf. SMR Chs. 1-3, 10). This is something of a derivative, and indeed a designated wonder. It begins, unlike God; it grows, unlike God; it moves into its sphere, whereas God has all things dependent on Him, and for Him. Yet it moves.
If it is a man in view, as such, then the intellect, the imagination, the resourcefulness seem to grow together like friends. Capacity and avenues for action meet; understanding and challenge grow like old friends. Events harmonise with purpose, or are susceptible to being made so.
Solomon was in this condition. We read of it in II Chronicles 9 and I Kings 8. Our purpose as before being to find instruction from this interpreted history found in these two books of the Bible, by seeing both precept and outcome, action and result divinely assessed, and acted on, we consider this great King.
Take the advent of the Queen of Sheba. She arrived with an abundance of precious gifts to this man whose fame had reached and intrigued her, so that she decided to check on such a human phenomenon for herself. But when she left, Solomon saw to it that he "gave to the Queen of Sheba all she desired, whatever she asked, much more than she had brought to the King" - II Chronicles 9:12.
Prodigality was part of the glory of Solomon, riches were an item in the warehouse of his personal awareness. They lived with him, for his name and fame, strength and armies, industrial capacities and commercial savvy had set him apart; but beyond all this, his wisdom was a subject of world renown. The Queen had been fascinated, and in terms of this glory, remarked that while she had been told much about him, the reality far surpassed the story! (II Chronicles 9:6). Glory was outpoured on him, fame and brilliance descended like a Spring shower on the flowers.
In II Chronicles 9:22-28, we find that Solomon's military might played its part in his rule over "all the kings from the River to the land of the Philistines, as far as the border of Egypt" - a massive empire. Further, "all the kings of the earth sought the presence of Solomon to hear his wisdom which God had put in his heart," and "each man brought his present, articles of silver and gold ... armour, spices, horses ... at a set rate year by year." Hiram of Tyre had a joint nautical venture with him, or at least supplied the ships, resulting in the obtaining of four hundred and fifty talents of gold from Ophir, duly brought to the King.
In fact, Solomon made a great throne
of ivory overlaid with gold, 200 large shields of hammered gold, 300 shields of
gold, while importing horses which, had they known, could have found silver in
the land as common virtually as stone!
It seemed that perhaps a time would come when spiritual liposuction would be needed, for the man became very great. Was there a fault ? Was this glory becoming something of his own, was his psyche to become a powerful force in his own mind and would he be brought to an awakening of some kind ?
It was so. But he asked for it so eloquently and so brazenly that it is a marvel of divine mercy that he escaped with relatively little loss, though his new advent of old-age folly was notorious.
II A STUDY IN FOLLY LIKE A MOULD SPREADING
Forgetfulness of the source of glory is one of the most profoundly obvious failings of man. Give him much, often he wants more; give him power and he is set to become a luster for more of it; give him riches, and he is comparing himself with those having more; and give him wisdom, and he will often become a blatherer about his greatness.
Solomon may have escaped the show of it, but within, he acted with increasing intemperance, audacity and a bold, rash regality which in much, seemed to forget God.
Certainly he turned from clear and obvious commandments, with panache and effrontery.
Thus although both Moses in Deuteronomy 17:14-20, and wrote to the contrary, Solomon had thousands of horses and nearly a thousand wives, to which were added concubines!
"When you come to the land which the Lord your God is giving you, and possess it and dwell in it, and say, ‘I will set a king over me like all the nations that are around me,’ you shall surely set a king over you whom the Lord your God chooses; one from among your brethren you shall set as king over you; you may not set a foreigner over you, who is not your brother. But he shall not multiply horses for himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, for the Lord has said to you, ‘You shall not return that way again.’ Neither shall he multiply wives for himself, lest his heart turn away; nor shall he greatly multiply silver and gold for himself.
"Also it shall be, when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write for himself a copy of this law in a book, from the one before the priests, the Levites. And it shall be with him, and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God and be careful to observe all the words of this law and these statutes, that his heart may not be lifted above his brethren, that he may not turn aside from the commandment to the right hand or to the left, and that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he and his children in the midst of Israel."
Again, intermarriage with the idolatrous, surrounding tribes was forbidden. In the case of those who resolved as Ruth, to follow the Lord (cf. Isaiah 56:3ff.), that is difference. The danger to be guarded against was that the gods of aliens would corrupt the hearts of people of Israel if they allowed them to practice their religion as family members! (Deuteronomy 7:3-4).
This was part of the very MEANING of Israel, the REASON for its entry into Canaan, to dispossess the calamitous carnalities that ruined the race, threatening to corrupt humanity even further, and to SHOW by the power of God both militarily initially and then mercifully, the way of life which is for man (as in Isaiah 43:21). Israel in this was for judgment, but not this only; it was for life and its love, mercy and wisdom, righteousness, grace and power. Solomon therefore, having done so well in so much, and become so famous to so many, now began like fruit kept too long, to rot within.
Not merely was he married a vast multitude of wives, as if to emphasise to the world how worldly the top worldling could be, but he married those of foreign religions to the point that they had him building temples for their little gods, their idols, the works of man's heart. This is the testimony of I Kings 11. Worse "Solomon went after Ashteroth the goddess of the Sidonians", a very wonder in the realm of the impure, and built a high place - indeed, "he did likewise for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and sacrificed to their gods."
The zeal with which he built the temple was now deployed in undoing his testimony to truth, making of religion in the domestic side of things, a convenience, and indulging the appetites of folly for the grovelling obeisance to immorality clad in irreverent religion, and pagan follies.
How foul an odour is this, that the stink of it lasts to this day as a very symbol of ingratitude on a kingly scale, and how often, even to our own times, have kings found it regal to be revolting, masterful to be immoral, a matter of adulation to be adulterers, or even tried to marry someone through or following adultery! Solomon did it on the bill-board scale. How sad to see a former student come to nothing; and to see a gifted performer, come to ruin, for a teacher! How grievous for God to find this in the heart of Solomon. It is to be remembered that Solomon had asked God for wisdom with which to go in and come out among the people, that is for management, national, military, industrial and whatever other wisdom related to ruling and dealing with the matters of a king (I Kings 3:9).
In fact, he asked for "an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours ?" This was answered to the degree attested so eloquently by the Queen of Sheba. Yet, to use his own language of the dark girl in Song of Solomon Ch. 1, the case with the King became this: "your own vineyard you have neglected!" Your own individual nature has been given short shrift in spirituality, in godliness, in its due needs and godly dealings, so that you are like an ill-kept vineyard!
In all her tasks, the lady shown in Ch. 1 of the Song of Solomon, did well; but not in this. On gehalf of others, she seemed effective; but on her own behalf, she was not. Applying this to Solomon: In all his jobs, he was an administrative genius, but in his personal life he became calloused with kingliness, corrupted with power, regalised even in front of the commandments concerning wives and horses, and religious varieties amid an idolatrous land.
That, it is a cause for weeping as was the destruction of Jerusalem itself, as shown in Jeremiah, first in prospect (in Jeremiah 9:1ff.), and then after it was wrought, in retrospect and realisation, as in heard in the Book of Lamentations, one of the most eloquent exhibits of grief ever to be found anywhere! What do we then learn ? It is this: that moving as is eloquent grief, it is far better to be moved away from neglecting one's own vineyard, that is the needs of personal, religious sanctity and saintliness, godliness and love, mercy and righteousness without self-righteousness. The time to live abundantly in Jesus Christ is NOW. Sanctity can wait NOT AT ALL.
Results in human affairs are not always inevitable. This is not a matter of chance but of charity. In the mercies of God, the due effect can be muted, dismissed or mitigated. As we saw in the case of King Ahab, there comes a time however when it is made VERY sure. One recalls how Ahab tried to make use of his son-in-law who came to his aid in a war, most ill-advisedly, since their aims in life were diametrically opposed. Indeed. the father tried to have the son a centre of enemy attention, by advising him to wear royal clothes in the battle, while he went as a commoner.
The ruse failed, for Jehoshaphat cried to the LORD who delivered him from imminent death, while an enemy arrow, sent at random, hit the deceitful King of Israel, leading to his death! The same certainty can be MADE to come, as is seen in the case of the Lord's wrath, after centuries of double-dealing on the part of most in Israel. The King of Babylon would be caused to decide to attack Jerusalem, in the mind of the God of all power, while again, He said, even if all the enemy were wounded men, yet would it be that they would rise up on their elbows and proceed to demolish, to burn the wicked city! (Jeremiah 37:10).
In the actual case of the attack from Babylon, the King of that army would examine auspices, and decide that what was shown was false, in order that the Lord's plan to judge Jerusalem would be carried out! Such was the prediction, and such were the steps of that King!
The curse causeless, says the Proverb, does not come!
"As the bird by wandering, as the swallow by flying,
so the curse causeless shall not come"
God CAUSED troubles to vex King Solomon, though in His intransigeant faithfulness, who had commissioned His servant Solomon, and in His marvellous kindness who does not forget the good because of the evil, and despite the wandering of a now ageing King, He equally mitigated the result.
Thus the loss of 10 of the 12 tribes of Israel from the rule of Solomon's successor on the throne was foretold, although NO SUCH ACTION was taken while Solomon still lived. What a Father is this!
However, three prongs of trouble were made to come, to disturb the peace of the King who had allied himself woefully with evil. It seems to this author possible that Solomon still revered God in his heart, but in a staggering fantasy of false majesty, which made of him more and more a paragon and a presence, he began to IGNORE certain commandments which did not FIT with the royal cultural desire, and eminent concept of grandeur.
Here if ever there was warning, there is one. DO NOT allow cultural 'necessity', still less 'social necessity' or indeed financial or industrial or psychic necessity rule your will, and allow you to be so incredibly slack as to IGNORE the commandments of the living God. IF you love Me, Christ indicated, you will keep My commandments (John 14). Now it is always possible that a fit of weakness or a trick of Satan will deceive a saint (that is a Christian as in Romans 1) for a time; but that the WILL should endorse it, that is simple rebellion. To ACT IN ORDER to do what is forbidden is like taking arsenic because it tastes nice (assuming this were possible by additives of flavour, of some power!).
Let us see now the three prongs, and consider how the Lord can rebuke by a multi-pronged but not fatal array, sufficient to give one pause, and to imperil what seems precious, in order to alert the mind to reality, regality, not in oneself, but in Him who is the Creator, Redeemer and Covenant keeping God, who pledges to keep what is committed to Him against that day (cf. I Timothy 1:8ff., I Timothy 2), and yet not to leave raw folly untreated!
Edom suffered a systematic and sustained assault from Joab. One male who escaped was Hadad, together with his father's servants, for he was then a little child. To Egypt he went where meeting Pharaoh, he was apportioned a fixed portion of food, and land. Indeed, as he grew, Hadad found favour with Pharaoh to the point that he married the sister of Tahpenes, Queen of Egypt.
Hearing that David and Joab had passed away, he sought to return, but Pharaoh was very keen for him to stay; nevertheless, he left to become an adversary to Solomon.
Again, "God raised up another adversary against him," ( Kings 11:23), a very pointed action! It was Rezon who had fled from the presence of the King of Zobar. Gathering people with him, he captained a band, and went to Damascus from which city he became another adversary in Solomon's day. Indeed, he came to reign over Syria.
This was merely the savoury, for the main course was to follow.
This time it came from within the labour force of Solomon, where Jeroboam, the new sting, was a major leader, being industrious and capable. The prophet Ahijah gave him a symbolic demonstration that he was to be chosen to rule the 10 tribes that God was taking from Solomon, to give to another rule, as He had resolved in view of Solomon's significant, indeed substantial slippage. Tearing his new garment into 12 pieces, the prophet invited Jeroboam to take 10 of these pieces, and declared that God would give to him 10 tribes, while retaining Judah and Jerusalem aside.
IF, God declared to Jeroboam, newly chosen for this discipline in division of Israel, into two new countries, to be called Israel and Judah: IF you heed all you are commanded by God, do what is right in the eyes of the Lord, as David did, then the desirable result would come. Indeed, THEN "I will be with you and build you an enduring house..." (I Kings 11:38).
So the Lord does not respect persons. You see the same in Isaiah 56, where new converts from abroad, if they keep His ways and His word, then a place better than that of sons is to be theirs. The grand opportunity is for faith, and God's plans exclude no-one from the conferment of an inheritance by faith, where it is genuinely vested in Himself, according to His word.
In fact, however, Jeroboam built a city, Shechem, and lived there. Notice how he went astray: it was through unbelieving and dedicated human wit and wisdom, self first. IF people have to go up to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices at the Temple, then the chances are I'll lose people to this centre: such was his concept Too much, it is, he told the people in his new realm, for you to have to go to Jerusalem. Then with an audacity of boldness, he proclaimed HERE ARE YOUR GODS! They were to be right there in the new capital, Samaria where they became famous as a gutter religion to be littered with relics of human scams, scoundrels, vileness, summits of evil and cataracts of confusion.
Showing an extravagantly ignoble heart, an utterly faithless and worthless insight into evil, he made golden calves, a direct return to the abominable mess that Aaron had made of things when he made a golden calf, while Moses was in the Mount. It also reeked of a return to the religion of Egypt where this had a god value, and so he became a discipline to Israel, not only mocking their evil desires of the heart, but putting them into brazen, nay golden practice, openly to all. He even outlined offerings and feast times.
Thus a duplicate Jerusalem was concocted, duplicate gods, idolatry on the wing, with evil in the air; and Israel stood condemned by its counterpart to the North, yes Hebrews without holiness, a due and just mockery of the rank behaviour of the King and the riotous false worship which Solomon had started anew, yes accelerated.
Thus secret sins become open rebuke, and open rebuke becomes ruinous reality. Indeed, Solomon was rebuked by the Lord, advised in advance of the tearing away of most of his land in the next generation to follow him; and his nation by Jeroboam, not in righteousness, but in mimicry of their failings, in his open revolt and vastly innovative explosion into false religion.
Indeed, the best of Kings had fallen, if not for long, then wildly, as you see in David's action concerning Bathsheba (II Samuel 11, Psalm 51 showing the evocative result!). It is the King of Kings who alone has what it takes, and provides what is needed. This we see in our next chapter.
In these things you see justice and mercy, covenanted kindness and excruciatingly called for wrath, deferment of correction, succeeded by determinate rebuke, and offers, offices and opportunities successively spoiled or ruined, as all look for what all but universally warms the human heart, invites its aspirations and comforts the soul: namely, a good ruler with good laws and peaceable heart, whose ways are better than gold, being inlaid with wisdom, whose love is no mirage but miraculous and whose will is not self-serving, but for the good of all; while what IS good is not only known, but exhibited and instituted.
In one sense, throughout history, intruders, imposters and rogues have used this desire to impose their wandering wills and woeful ways, and even the sincere have varied; and man is thus in this sphere also continually reminded that he is a sinner and needing a Saviour, will fined only there the goodness he would wish. Cynicism does nothing to remove it; scepticism does nothing to change it (cf. SMR ..Ch. 3). The heart so desires, and many things for a time remind it of its desire; but only in God is the thing to be found, and in Him the plan and the vision, the victory in Jesus Christ, the Just One, and the rule to come, and in Him alone, is to be found either in testamental word or history itself.
When this world ceases looking in the mirror of mind and the seductions of its own spirit, to the God who made it, and to His word, the only authorised written and verified word of the living God, the Bible*1, then, at the return of the Crucified Christ as the Ruler (as in Psalm 2, 110, Isaiah 11, Psalm 72, Acts 1, Romans 11, Revelation 19-20, Zechariah 14), it will find what it seeks. Meanwhile, the Christian heart already has found Him in the resurrected Christ, eternal in the heavens, manifest on earth, preached on to the nations, refreshing to the soul, empowering to the spirit, enlivening to the heart, reliable to the mind (Colossians 1, Ephesians 1, Romans 8, Acts 2, John 7:37-38, Psalm 73). It awaits His return as the signals of the reality of this flash their lights, as at the crossing a train, the train of events (Answers to Questions Ch. 5, SMR Ch. 8), as foretold and in order, leading to his return.
The gods of naturalism have no go!
Scientific Method, Satanic Method and the Model of Salvation
The Meaning of Liberty and the Message of Remedy,
Light Dwells with the Lord's Christ
Deity and Design
Scientific Method, Satanic Method and the Model of Salvation.