The Zenith of Solomon and of Israel…Solomon pt 8

… the Lord appeared to Solomon the second time, as he had appeared unto him at Gibeon. And the Lord said unto him, I have heard thy prayer and thy supplication, that thou hast made before me: I have hallowed this house, which thou hast built, to put my name there for ever; and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually.  And if thou wilt walk before me, as David thy father walked, in integrity of heart, and in uprightness, to do according to all that I have commanded thee, and wilt keep my statutes and my judgments:  Then I will establish the throne of thy kingdom upon Israel for ever, as I promised to David thy father, saying, There shall not fail thee a man upon the throne of Israel.  But if ye shall at all turn from following me, ye or your children, and will not keep my commandments and my statutes which I have set before you, but go and serve other gods, and worship them: Then will I cut off Israel out of the land which I have given them; and this house, which I have hallowed for my name, will I cast out of my sight; and Israel shall be a proverb and a byword among all people:And at this house, which is high, every one that passeth by it shall be astonished, and shall hiss; and they shall say, Why hath the Lord done thus unto this land, and to this house? And they shall answer, Because they forsook the Lord their God, who brought forth their fathers out of the land of Egypt, and have taken hold upon other gods, and have worshipped them, and served them: therefore hath the Lord brought upon them all this evil. ( I Kings 9:2-9)

The building of the permanent temple, and the Divine inhabitation of it, were the partial culmination of all that the LORD had been doing since He called Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, promised them a people and a Land, brought them out of Egypt and through the wilderness, as well as the bestowal of various Judges, Saviors and eventually to KINGS.

Now the Kingdom of God on earth was established, and God’s King was the Shepherd of God’s people from the city where he had placed his name. There was now a city on earth which had a Temple where true worship, prayer, intercession and sacrifice were regularly performed. The Priestly apparatus and the ministry of mercy were functioning. The Law was pouring forth out of Zion, the Truth was being taught, and people were streaming to the Holy City from the ends of the earth to participate.

At this point God gave Solomon a second dream in which he appeared and spoke to Him.He assured Solomon that he had indeed heard and would answer the prayer in the temple, and that his “name, …eyes…amd heart…” would be there perpetually.

The LORD also warned him that should he or his children defect from following and walking with God, (David being the standard), He would expel Israel from the Land and that He would “cast this house out of my sight”, in such a way as to make all of the house of Israel an object lesson, an astonishment to all and a living parable of Divine judgement for all to see.

We are then given two portents of possible trouble already brewing, slight diminishment’s of all that Solomon was allowed to accomplish.

First we are told that Hiram was displeased with the cities Solomon had given his partner in business and construction.

(Now Hiram the king of Tyre had furnished Solomon with cedar trees and fir trees, and with gold, according to all his desire,) that then king Solomon gave Hiram twenty cities in the land of Galilee.And Hiram came out from Tyre to see the cities which Solomon had given him; and they pleased him not.  And he said, What cities are these which thou hast given me, my brother? And he called them the land of Cabul unto this day. ( I Kings 9:11-13)

Either Solomon had taken for granted his partner and truly gave him useless cities, (which would be a terrible witness to God), or it could be the same problem we are seeing now in Israel. It is impossible to give the land away and be blessed for the Land belongs to God, and is not Israel’s to give away. Such transactions are not blessed.

Secondly we see that Pharaoh , Solomon’s Father-in-law took the city of Gezer, slew the Canaanites who lived there and gave the city to his daughter as a gift. The problem this presents is that Gezer was given to Ephraim, but they did not have the faith to drive the Canaanites out, as recorded in Judges 1:29.

A Pagan King did in the promised land what the children of Israel had been unable to do in the case of Gezer!

Solomon set about fortifying Gezer ,as well as the other cities of Israel. He built storage cities, chariot cities, military bases, Cavalry cities and a vast infrastructure.

Solomon and Hiram united in business, an international import and export company. For this Solomon constructed a navy for Israel. Gold, spices, exotic animals began pouring into Israel under Solomon’s leadership.

It was at this point in time that Solomon received a State visit by the Queen of Sheba, (Yemen), with her huge escort caravan loaded with spices, gold and silver, precious stones and goods. The Queen had come because she had heard of the magnificence of Solomon’s reign and of his Wisdom. She had come primarily to test and possibly learn, and perhaps to trade.

The Queen had heard of the famed Wisdom of Solomon and wanted to see for herself.

And when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the Lord, she came to prove him with hard questions.And she came to Jerusalem with a very great train, with camels that bare spices, and very much gold, and precious stones: and when she was come to Solomon, she communed with him of all that was in her heart. And Solomon told her all her questions: there was not any thing hid from the king, which he told her not. ( I Kings 10:1-3)

She initially came as a skeptic, (she was going to test him with hard questions), but was soon overwhelmed with the Wisdom which poured out of his mouth. It was as though when Solomon spoke, the secrets of her heart were revealed. She had heard of Solomon’s wisdom from afar, but now she saw it first hand.

What was it that she “saw” in Solomon’s house and Kingdom?

She saw the beauty, order and prosperity of a society based upon God’s Wisdom.

Every society is based upon some kind of wisdom, for example there is a ‘wisdom of the Egyptians’ or the Wisdom of Babylon or Persia. There is the “Wisdom of the Greeks” also, for man is made in the Image of God and even fallen man is always led to develop some kind of ‘Wisdom’. Man was made for Wisdom, but the fall corrupted our capacity for Wisdom.

Solomon’s Wisdom was not given to him to make him a uniquely clever or wise King. Solomon, as King represented an entire civilization. Nor did this Wisdom accrue, over long centuries of experience and observation. It was and is a gift of the Creator himself, “For the LORD gives Wisdom…” (Proverbs 2).

What Solomon received and showcased was a societal , civilizational wisdom, an example of what people can have when restored to fellowship with the only true God. This was a kingdom based on the kind of Wisdom, justice, equity, love that we were originally meant to operate in.

As she beheld the beauty and interaction of these around Solomon’s table, and entered into the discussion and conversation, she was stunned. It was all so wholesome, intellectually edifying and soul satisfying…She could see that even Solomon’s servants and the attendants at his house were elevated by it.

When they proceeded from Solomon’s house up the “ascent” to the Temple next door, and she saw the same wisdom realized liturgically, and noted the parallel to Solomon’s servants and attendants, which were God’s priests, and ultimately to God’s table, The Queen of Sheba passed out. It was overwhelming. But when she came through this foreign Queen made a remarkable confession of faith in Israel’s God.

And she said to the king, It was a true report that I heard in mine own land of thy acts and of thy wisdom. Howbeit I believed not the words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen it: and, behold, the half was not told me: thy wisdom and prosperity exceedeth the fame which I heard.  Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and that hear thy wisdom.  Blessed be the Lord thy God, which delighted in thee, to set thee on the throne of Israel: because the Lord loved Israel for ever, therefore made he thee king, to do judgment and justice. ( I Kings 10:6-9)

The visit of the Queen of Sheba portends the bright and glorious future God has in store for Israel, after her long night of exile and punishment. Once again the Law shall go forth out of Zion and the Gentiles will come to see the brightness of the Kingdom of God, and once again they shall bring their glory and riches as presents to the restored prodigal nation,

Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising. Lift up thine eyes round about, and see: all they gather themselves together, they come to thee: thy sons shall come from far, and thy daughters shall be nursed at thy side. Then thou shalt see, and flow together, and thine heart shall fear, and be enlarged; because the abundance of the sea shall be converted unto thee, the forces of the Gentiles shall come unto thee. The multitude of camels shall cover thee, the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah; all they from Sheba shall come: they shall bring gold and incense; and they shall shew forth the praises of the Lord. ( Isaiah 60:1-6)

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