Solomon is done with all-things-Temple and his palace and God appeared to Solomon and speaks to him for a second time, as He had appeared to him at Gibeon.
I Kings 9
God Speaks: Solomon's Covenant
I have heard your prayer and your supplication, which you have made before Me; I have consecrated this house which you have built by putting My name there forever, and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually.
And as for you, if you will walk before Me as your father David walked, in integrity of heart and uprightness, doing according to all I have commanded you and will keep My statutes and My ordinances, then I will establish the throne of your kingdom over Israel forever, just as I promised to your father David, saying 'You shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.'
But if you or your sons shall indeed turn away from following Me, and shall not keep My commandments and My statutes which I have set before you and shall go and serve other gods and worship them, then I will cut off Israel from the land which I have given them, and the house which I have consecrated for My name, I will cast out of My sight. So Israel will become a proverb and a byword among all peoples.
And this house will become a heap of ruins; everyone who passes by will be astonished and hiss and say 'Why has the Lord done thus to this land and to this house?' And they will say 'Because they forsook their Lord their God, who brought their father out of the land of Egypt, and adopted other gods and worshiped them and served them, therefore the Lord has brought all of this adversity on them.I Kings 9: 3-9
Well, God couldn't have been more clear.
Most of what He said were if/then statements, making this a covenant with Solomon, even though it's the same covenant as David's, this one is directly with Solomon. However, in the first statement, it reads more like a direct promise. "...My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually." I could be wrong, but it sounds like even if the Temple is destroyed, God will perpetually have His eyes and heart in that place. Which makes sense, since Jesus will come to that place and come back to that place. There is much that God promises conditionally, but other things, are His promises unconditionally.
I also found this sentence particularly interesting, "So Israel will become a proverb and a byword among all peoples."
First, what a cautionary tale for all of us. There were people in the Promise Land before Israel and the Lord told Israel, you're not getting this land because of what you did right (because you did so many things wrong). but because these people have done so much wrong, I'm removing them. And then Israel gets removed to show the same lesson. Becoming a proverb for all time is quite a horrible thing. We all know what a Judas is. We all know what is meant if someone is called a Benedict Arnold. To make your mark as a cautionary tale has to be devastating.
Second, Israel is still a proverb today for many people. Those who hate God, hate Israel and Jews out of a stupid hate. I think antisemitism is just a tool of the enemy. But beyond blind prejudice, Israel is a proverb to those who love the Lord or don't know the Lord but can see the ongoing persecution of the Jews for centuries. Also, words like "Pharisees" have become proverbs. they thought they would forever been seen as honored and the term now actually is a way of insulting Christians who see themselves as self-sanctified by their own "good behavior", instead of falling on the grace of Christ.
My final thought was...the wisest man in the world, having every advantage and having a direct covenant with God could not avoid worshiping false gods. I don't have a conclusion as to what to make of that. I'm just flabbergasted that he strayed with absolutely ever advantage to his name.
Solomon's Reign After the Building Projects
After all of the building projects, Solomon gave King Hiram of Tyre 20 cities. Some of the commentaries said that this was back payment on some loans and Solomon's treasury was empty.
I think that's interesting. God gave Solomon what he needed to build the Temple, but now that work is done; it seems like there is no more money. Is that because God knew the rest of Solomon's plans didn't warrant funding, since he knew Solomon's heart? Does that mean Solomon hadn't used all of the funds correctly for the right things? Or can no significant inference be made? Seeing how wealthy the Lord made David and the wealth provided to Solomon, I doubt He intended for Solomon to be in debt to other nation at the end of it. Something went wrong.
So Solomon gave Tyre the cities and Hiram was not pleased. He called them worthless. Yet he gave Solomon a bunch of gold? Seems like Solomon is getting locked in neck-deep with other nations.
Solomon used forced labor to build the Temple, his palace, the wall of Jerusalem and other fortified places, including many entire fortified cities. (According to Ryrie Study Bible footnote, one of these fortified areas was Megiddo, which will eventually be the site of the battle of Armageddon.)
Also included in the forced labor rebuilding projects was a city named Gezer, which had been sacked and burned to the ground by Pharaoh as a means to collect a dowry for his daughter he married off to Solomon. So Solomon must have felt some compassion or responsibility to them.
In a sidenote: The NIV Chronological Bible has a sidebar that describes how three cities (Hazor, Megiddo, and Gezer) have been excavated down to the level corresponding to Solomon's time and have remarkable correlation between the bible and archaeology. It sounds like these three cities had remarkably similar architecture, indicating they were built at the same time but a common building strategy.
He also made them build for him storage cities for his various valuables, including cities he designated to store his chariots and horse, explicitly against God's orders in Deuteronomy. As they say now in social media: using slaves to build you things that are an affront to God and against His written instructions...not a good look, Solomon.
These slaves were resident aliens and enemy tribesmen who had avoided be eradicated along with their fellow tribesmen.
The sons of Israel were not slaves, but soldiers and other servants for Solomon.
Solomon did offer burnt offers three times per year on the altar he built: feasts of Unleavened Bread, Pentecost, and Tabernacles.
King Solomon built a Navy, a fleet of ships, which required further help from King Hiram of Tyre. Hiram sent servants and sailors to the fleet to sail with Solomon's sailors. They seemed to have established a joint business venture? King Hiram send even more gold to Solomon? I don't totally understand that relationship.
II Chronicles 7
I examined verses 1-11 more closely in a previous post. Solomon finishes his public prayer to the Lord at the altar, the Lord comes down as fire and consumes the sacrifices that were set out. the people worshiped, then Solomon sacrificed a great number of animals and everyone celebrated for two weeks.
This seems to be the parallel story to God appearing to Solomon above, but this account starts a little more starkly.
He does tell Solomon that He heard his prayer and has chose this place for Himself.
But then He starts the rest of the conversation with an "if/then" just for the people: If I stop the rain or bring the pestilence...
...and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from Heaven, will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.II Chronicles 7:14
I think this is interesting.
I Kings is a description of the reign of Solomon. So we din't hear about this portion. But II Chronicles is for the people who have to return from the calamity of captivity brought on by their choices (or their parents), but not as direct tied to Solomon's choices (although his do start the whole thing). God's covenant is with each of us. He expects each generation and each individual to have a heart for Him. So it is important to see what happens when the King sins; the people also need to know what happens when they sin. God is displeased.
It makes me so very grateful for Christ; but that doesn't change how He feels about sin.
It's also worth noting, that this verse is a common cry to the Lord, "heal our land". But the lost doesn't start with healing.
- First, it's for people "who are called by My name". Sometimes American Christians (including me) forget that the U.S. has passed many laws and many Supreme Court cases that make it difficult for us to call ourselves a Christina nation. I think He still has His hand on us with a universal grace for those of us still here in His name; but we cannot let America become an idol.
- Second, those who claim this promise must HUMBLE themselves-which is harder than it sounds when you're in the midst of sin that brought on the drought and pestilence. It's easy to think we are humbling ourselves to get healing for all the other heathens in the land. But He doesn't say humble them...He says the asker needs to humble themselves.
- Then Pray
- Then Seek Him
- Then turn from their wicked ways (Note: we cannot do this step until we seek out the one who can change our hearts)
- And then He will Hear, the Forgive, AND THEN...Heal the land.
It's a beautiful verse. Full of God's instruction and Promise...but shouldn't be taped up on the frig and used like an incantation. He wants our whole lives and won't settle for being a genie that we rub when we need help.
Verses 15 and on are more closely matched to the rest of the description of the appearance from I Kings.
II Chronicles 8
This chapter corresponds closely with the second part of I Kings 9. It describes what Solomon did after the building projects were done.
It gives a little ,or color commentary on why he built up certain cities and how he captured other cities that he fortified.
The author goes on to summarize who Solomon used as slave labor and emphasized it was not the sons of Israel.
One difference in the two tellings of the story is when he bring the daughter of Pharaoh and installs her in her palace. Because the Chronicler always wants to paint Solomon in the light most positive, he emphasizes that Solomon made her a separate palace so that the pagan queen could not dwell in house of David where the Ark had been. That fact that he had a pagan wife and she earned a palace seems to be downplayed. Although it is to Solomon's credit to keep her far from the Ark.
Verse 13 seems to have a longer list of the sacrifices of Solomon than did I Kings.
That may be attributed to the next section where it describe Solomon seeing to the same assignments of the priests that David gave them. So maybe Solomon gets credit for all of their daily duties while I kings was just referring to Solomon himself.
Verse 17-18 wrap up the chapter with the same information about Solomon and his Navy fleet with Hiram.
Solomon, with the labor and taxes of the people, had made and dedicated the Temple (by God's grace, design and provision), but now God alone would choose if He sanctified and claimed the house as His own. His appearance and Word for Solomon assured Solomon that this Temple was accepted.
Wiresbe does address the difference in the descriptions of the two conversation between I Kings and II Chronicles, mainly meaning the II Chronicles 7:14 verse above. These things were specific prayers from Solomon and God answered them with His conditions (if/then).
God made a way for forgiveness for His people. Pretty remarkable.
Wiersbe points out that God called David a man of integrity. If anyone but God had said that, we would scoff. As much as David did right (and that significant), the wrongs he did were truly heinous. And a lack of integrity was at the root of more than one of his sins. So how can God say that?
That's the model of forgiveness. God tells us that He puts our sins our of His sight, He doesn't mention them or hold them against us. There may be consequences that come from the sin- He doesn't promise to change reality for us. But our record is clean.
David could never reclaim his integrity on his own. None of us can. But faith in the Savior of the world can. David confessed and repented and sought the Lord fervently. And the Lord was faithful to forgive.
Thank you, Jesus.
Business Partner Hiram
Next Wiersbe goes into some depth about the incident with King Hiram of Tyre.
- The gold mentioned at the end of passage was given to Solomon before. The cities was the collateral.
- "Giving" the cities mean that Tyre could tax and conscript the citizens as well as use their location and resources. That's a horrible way for Solomon to treat people.
- Especially since God, through David, had provided all of the gold Solomon needed for the Temple. The gold Solomon is buying off oh his people's back is probably for his palace and his pagan wife's palace.
- Wiresbe describes just one thing the gold was used for in his palace-2500 pounds of gold to cover 500 wooden shields that could never even be used in battle. Just a show piece of his "wealth" (borrowed wealth with other humans paying the bill).
- Again, not a good look, Solomon. I hope this doesn't come back to bite you and your whole nation.
- In fairness, if God piled up all of the garbage I bought on credit and then eventually lost use of over time...it would be a very big pile. And I wouldn't have any gold shields to show for it. Not a good look for me either.
- Even worse, Wiersbe reminds us that the land did not belong to the people or even the king. It belonged to God and they were just allowed to have it, and even temporarily sell it until the year of Jubilee, at which time, every property went back to its original owner so that no tribe would lose its inheritance.
- Solomon had NO RIGHT to permanently sell the land to Hiram. It wasn't his. That had slipped my mind. As the wisest man, he had to know that.
- Then again, how much has God provided for me, physical and otherwise, that He meant for one purpose and I used for another. And by used, I mean wasted, lost, or let be taken.
- But the story turns out ok. Solomon (seemingly) paid the debt; had the cities returned; Solomon built up the cities. Wiersbe theorizes that he paid the debt with the gold given to him by The Queen of Sheba.
Wiersbe then reviews the other accomplishments from this section.
- He built up cities around his perimeter to keep his neighbors neighborly.
- Built up protections for Jerusalem.
- He conscripted workers from defeated enemy tribes.
- He did attend to his religious commitments. He attended the major festivals and followed the plan David set out for the duties of the priests- including the singers and the musical instruments.
So what do we make of all of this. Part of me feels a strong dislike for Solomon. This trustfunder. Privileged, spoiled, selfish, distracted, and cruel.
He did meet his family and religious obligations, but you don't see any evidence of a personal relationship with the Lord. We see David respond passionately every time the Lord engaged with him- for better or worse; but we don't read of Solomon responding to God even when He appeared to Solomon.
All of Solomon's activities are world, benefiting him, personally. He shows no heart for his nation or people. His life is all about him.
Then I do what I always do. Hold up the same measuring stick to my life. At first glance, I have nothing in common with this jetsetting trustfunder. And then I remember that even in my middle class life, I am in the 1% most wealthy people in the world today. And I probably have more than Solomon did with many of my modern luxuries and technologies. I am completely privledged, spoiled, selfish, and would probably be cruel if I had been raised in his time and place.
I think my heart is more inclined to God and I pursue Him. But if we looked at my life and added up all the resources I have been given...what percentage have I used on the eternal and what have I used on my own sad little counterfeit interests. How many hours watching garbage television alone. Giant chunks of my life lost...worse...thrown away.
Thank you, Jesus for forgiveness.
I cannot retrieve that time or those resources.
But I have You and I'm grateful You have sent Your Helper to change me for eternity.