While I was waiting for a commentary to arrive, I took a detour back to Ecclesiastes and now I am going to read Song of Solomon before continuing my chronological read of the Old Testament.
The Blue Letter Bible chronological suggested order has II Chronicles chapter 1 and Psalm 72 adjacent to this book, so I am going to read those first, by way of reorienting to Solomon's timeframe.
II Chronicle 1
Solomon's reign ends so poorly that I forget how well it started.
Even in just verse 1 we see that Solomon overcame the coup that his brother tried at the end of David's life and "...established himself securely over his kingdom." That's no small feat, but it's clear how he accomplished it, "...the Lord his God was with him and exalted him greatly."
In verse 2, Solomon takes a page from his father's playbook and Solomon makes a point to talk to the various leaders in his kingdom, down to heads of households.
Next he takes his assembly with him and heads for where the Lord's tent was being kept, the one that had been the temple for the Ark of the Covenant before the time of the judges. David brought the Ark to Jerusalem; but had not move the tent, possibly because of how much the first move had cost him. Solomon brought a huge offering for the bronze altar there.
That night God appeared to Solomon and asked him what he wanted. Solomon asks for wisdom to rule God's great people.
And God not only agrees to the wisdom request; but says since Solomon didn't use the opportunity to ask for riches and honor, God would also grant him those things.
Which may be an answer to a question I had. First, it strikes me that Solomon started out with a pure heart toward his fellow countrymen. He felt they a great people and he wanted God's wisdom to even be able to rule such a great nation. This was the same heart David had toward the people and the heart they were commanded to have in the King's rule in Deuteronomy.
It's nice to see him this way. As I've read further in his story and watch him break every rule God gave him, I've wondered why he got to reign as long as he did with as few consequences as he received. I know some of Solomon's deferred consequences were on behalf of God's promises to David; but I have to wonder if the answer is also in this-God promise of riches and honor directly to Solomon because of this exchange. God keeping His Word long after Solomon felt any obligation to God's people and His law.
And then, starting in verse 14, the honeymoon with the Lord is over. Sure he goes on to build the Temple and many other accomplishments, some for God; but many for himself. But we see the first domino fall as Solomon amasses horse and chariots...and from all places...he brings his ion from Egypt. He was supposed to trust and rely on God alone, not horses and chariots, and never again Egypt.
Just heartbreaking. What if his faith in God had matched his wisdom. I know Jesus talked about how difficult it is for a rich man to enter heaven's gates; but to get a smart man to even see why he would want to...seems like another challenging task.
My Ryrie Study Bible says this is a royal psalm and while it refers to Solomon or his son; it's ultimately messianic and will be fulfilled by the perfect king, Jesus Christ.
He starts out so strong. Praying for righteous judgement and help for the oppressed.
Verse 4- "Crush the oppressor." His tone sure changes by the time he write Ecclesiastes- if he write Ecclesiastes...
He prays everyone will continue to fear the Lord. And that the king will rule all of the earth.
And again, that he would take the side of the needy and afflicted.
Then he prays for provision in the nation, under the king and that the kings name and reputation would grow and endure.
Then he ends in praise for the Lord:
Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel. Who alone works wonders. And blessed be His glorious name forever; and may the whole earth be filled with His glory. Amen and Amen.Psalm 72: 18-19