Lectures Introductory to 1 Kings: Chapters 3-8

1 Kings 3‑8  •  15 min. read  •  grade level: 7
Thus we see that although Solomon was not the man of blood that David was, and was not the conquering king of Israel, he was a type of the Lord Jesus when He goes forth as a man of war, which He surely will, and when He executes vengeance upon His adversaries, when He will bring them before Him and have them slain before Him, as He says in the parable. He is the type of the execution of righteous vengeance. There will be great examples made—not merely the awful carnage of the day of Edom, but there will be also the tremendous judgment that will cast even into eternal fire—that punishment which is prepared for the devil and his angels; that is, there will be what far more than fills up the picture, for, indeed, the anti-type is much greater than the type. Nor is it confined to Adonijah, when Solomon further acts by thrusting out Abiathar and accomplishes the word of the Lord that was given to Eli, for there it was that the wrong family—not Phineas, but the other line that had usurped the place of Phineas—crept into the high priesthood, now restored according to the word of the Lord. The priesthood in the house of Phineas was to be an everlasting priesthood. All was in confusion for a considerable time. Solomon now is acting righteously, and is ruling in equity according to his measure. Further, Joab at once feels the treatment. He sees that the hand of righteous power is stretched out, and his conscience smites him. He pronounces his own judgment when he turns away and flees to the tabernacle of Jehovah, and vainly lays hold on the horns of the altar. It was told king Solomon, but he simply bids Benaiah execute judgment upon him. Nor this only. The story of Shimei comes before us, and as Joab suffered the due reward of his deeds, Shimei broke a decided fresh lease, if I may so say, which the king gave him. He violated the terms of it, and came under judgment by his own manifest transgression. Thus, righteous judgment executed by the king on the throne of David is the evident intimation of this second chapter.
In the third chapter we have another scene. Solomon made affinity with Pharaoh king of Egypt. Alas! one cannot say that the righteousness in this is maintained; but how wonderful that God should make a thing that was wrong in itself to be a type of what is perfectly good in Him, for, as we know, there is no way in which the Lord has manifested His grace so much as in His dealings with the Gentiles. However, we cannot say that this was according to the mind of God for a king of Israel. “He took Pharaoh's daughter, and brought her into the city of David, until he had made an end of building his own house, and the house of Jehovah.” And I do not think, beloved friends, that that order is without its teaching. It was not until he had built Jehovah's house and his own. He was thinking of his own first. No wonder, therefore, that he was not so particular about Pharaoh's daughter. We are never right when the Lord's house is not before our own. “Only the people sacrificed” —for this, alas! accompanied it too. “Like king like people.” “Only the people sacrificed in high places, because there was no house built unto the name of Jehovah, until those days.”
Now I do not mean to say that that had the same flagrant character that it had afterward.
We must always remember that it was where Jehovah had placed His name that they were there, and there only, to sacrifice to the Lord. But that was not yet fully, or, at any rate, publicly established; it was about to be. There was to be the house of Jehovah. This would be the public witness of that great truth before all Israel; but that house was not yet built. Therefore, although it might have been a failure, still it was a failure for which the Lord showed His tender mercy and compassion to His people until His own power had established the visible memorials of His worship; and then to depart to the high places became a matter that at once drew down the judgment of the Lord. Now here is an important thing to consider, because it looks plausible in an after day to say, “Well, here you observe people sacrificing in the high places without any condemnation; and, therefore, evidently the Lord had pity for His people at this time, and did not treat it at all in the same way as afterward.” Thus the wicked heart turns the mercy of God—His forbearance in a day of difficulty and of trial—into an excuse for sin, when there is no excuse possible. So it is that men habitually divorce the word of God from God's object. The king, it is said, “loved Jehovah, walking in the statutes of David his father: only he sacrificed and burnt incense in high places.” His father had not done so. “And the king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there; for that was the great high place: a thousand burnt offerings did Solomon offer upon that altar.”
We have noticed elsewhere, I am sure, most of us, how remarkably David sheaved his sense of what was due to God, because he is found before the ark. The ark was what attracted. This was the more remarkable, because the ark is not at all the public link with God like the great altar. The great altar was in the court; the great altar was before every eye; the great altar was the place where offerings were. The ark was, comparatively, a little thing, and it was unseen. It was purposely behind the curtain veils. It was a matter, simply and purely, for faith, as far as that could be for an Israelite. It was his confidence that there was where Jehovah's glory was most of all concerned. That was what drew king David. Not so much king Solomon—not so characteristically. We are told this particularly in contrast with his father. This you observe in the chapter where the tendencies to departure first begin to be perceived. Affinity with Pharaoh's daughter is one; sacrifice at the high places is another.
With his father it was not so. In Gibeon, however, Jehovah appeared. And how great the grace of God—that although it is here put in contrast with his father's deeper and higher faith in Gibeon Jehovah appears! What a God was He! He appeared to Solomon in a dream by night and asked what He was to give him—nay, told him to ask—and Solomon answers with great beauty to the call of the Lord, for he asks what would enable him to govern His people rightly. He asks neither length of days, nor wealth, nor honor; but wisdom, and wisdom that he might govern Israel; and the God that gave him this wisdom, more than to any man that ever reigned, failed not in any other thing, for, as we know, there was none outwardly so blest as the king, none outwardly so renowned as this very king Solomon. I do not say that there was not a very deep and painful departure, as indeed the spirit that overlooked the ark and that went to the high places, must have its fruit in the latter end. For, beloved friends, the failure that is found at the beginning of our Christian career—to apply it now to our circumstances—does not fail to show itself still more as time passes over, unless it be thoroughly judged and departed from. A little seed of evil bears no small crop. I speak now of the seed as buried. The seed that is sown, not merely that exists, but what is allowed and covered up will another day rise up and hear bitter fruit.
So it was with Solomon, and although this does not appear for a time, it does not fail to appear afterward. But in the same chapter we have a striking proof of his heart carrying the stamp of God's power along with it in the case of the two women who claimed the living child. I need not dwell upon it. He perfectly understood the heart of man; David entered into the heart of God. There was the difference. Solomon understood the heart of man well—no man better; no man so well; and God has employed him as the vessel of the deepest human wisdom that even the word of God contains. I call it human, because it is about human affairs. It is about the heart; it is about the things in the earth; but still, it is divinely given wisdom on human topics. This was just as well suited for king Solomon, as the Book of Psalms that lets the heart of the saint into the understanding of the heart of God (according, of course, to a Jewish measure) was suited to David. That is the difference. The man after God's heart was just the one to write the Book of Psalms; the man that so well knew the heart of men and women was just the person to judge in this case between the two contending mothers, as they pretend to be.
Here then Solomon was king over all Israel, and, accordingly, the honor and glory and administration of his kingdom come before us in chapter iv., as well as his great wisdom, wealth, and glory.
In the fifth chapter we see the action, not by affinity, but by alliance, with the Gentiles, and how they become the servant of his purposes; nay, we can say even God's purposes for the earth, as far as Solomon was the servant of them. This is given in a very interesting manner in this fifth chapter.
In the sixth chapter we see the fruit. The temple of Jehovah is built the temple for His praise and glory, and this is described with great care in that chapter. I shall not dwell upon the details of it at this present time. They would rather take me away from the great purpose of giving the sketch that I propose.
In the seventh chapter we have the house. “He built also the house of the forest of Lebanon.” We have the difference between what was connected with Solomon in contrast with that which was for Jehovah; and we find one remarkable fact, too, that long as he was upon Jehovah's house, he spent nearly twice as long time upon his own. It is quite evident, therefore, what Solomon was coming to. It might be slow, but the fruit was yet to appear—bitter fruit of self. Further, we find that Solomon assembles all the elders of Israel, and the heads of the tribes, and the temple is consecrated. And here we have what is incomparably better and deeper than all—the manifest accompanying proof of God's presence. It was not merely that Jehovah's throne was filled by a man—by king Solomon—His throne upon the earth, as He deigns to call it, but Jehovah took a dwelling-place. Jehovah deigned to come down in a manifest way to dwell in the house that Solomon built. There was no greater act now known in Israel, and this is brought before us in a deeply interesting manner. The priests brought in the one great object that was unchanged. In all the other vessels there was, no doubt, the old type of the tabernacle somewhat changed and enlarged for the temple. The ark was the same. How beautiful when we think of One who is emphatically the same yesterday, to-day, and forever, and there was no one thing that more represented Him than the ark. The ark was brought in and the staves were drawn out, and there was nothing in the ark, now, save the two tables of stone which Moses put there at Horeb when Jehovah made the covenant with the children of Israel. In short, what was so strikingly found in the ark before is now absent. We see nothing now of that which had been so strikingly the comfort of the people of God in the wilderness. The law, and the law alone, remained. It was not that which was meant for maintaining them in grace through the wilderness. The reason is plain. What was now manifested was the outward kingdom—what will be when Satan is bound—when the Lord reigns, when the power of evil is checked. But if there is not an emblem of grace any longer found in the ark, there is the expression of the authority of God, because the kingdom will be precisely that. The presence, therefore—the combined presence of the tables of stone in the ark—is just as striking as the absence of the emblems of grace and priesthood which are now, as you know, the great force of preserving the people and bringing them through the wilderness. Aaron's rod that budded was just as strikingly suited for the ark in the wilderness as only the law was suited for the ark in the land and in the temple—the house of Jehovah.
But then Solomon breathed a most striking prayer to God suitable to the new circumstances of the king, and this fills the rest of the chapter.
One thing, however, I must say a word upon.
Even he puts it entirely on a conditional ground. He does not fall back upon unconditional grace. He falls back simply upon government. I do not doubt that this was all according to God. It would have been presumptuous, and, indeed, it would have been beyond his measure, to have pleaded unconditional grace. This is only done fully when Christ Himself is seen. When we know Christ and have Christ, we dare not ask any other ground than unconditional grace for our souls. For our walk we must own and how to the righteous government of the Lord; but for our souls for eternity we dare not have any other foundation than the absolute, sovereign, unconditional grace of God.
Now Solomon has no thought of this. It is governmental dealings. It is conditional upon subjection, and accordingly, this is carried out throughout the chapter. But the end of it all is this—that the king is seen. And here is another point that I may draw attention to—the king is seen in a most interesting position: he offered sacrifice before Jehovah. “And Solomon offered a sacrifice of peace offerings.” How remarkable! The king, not a priest, now. How is that? It is exactly what is predicted in the beginning of the first of Samuel—that it would not be the anointed priest now, merely, but another anointed. He should raise up a faithful priest before Jehovah's anointed. Zadok is the type of that faithful priest, but then here is another anointed—a greater anointed. In the days before the kings, the great anointed one was the priest; but when the king was established he takes the superior place—the evident type of Christ. The priest retires into a secondary place. The king, accordingly, not only is then the highest in the throne, but he is even the highest in point of sacrifice. It is he that sacrifices before all Israel. So, it is said, “Solomon offered a sacrifice of peace offerings, which he offered unto Jehovah, two and twenty thousand oxen, and an hundred and twenty thousand sheep.”
It is connected with himself; and even more, too, we find. He drove, as we saw, an unfaithful priest out of the priest's office. He takes the superior place over the priest. “The same day did the king hallow.” It is all connected with the king now. It is not the priest that hallows. The priest might be the instrument; I am not denying that for a moment, but it is all connected with the king. “The same day did the king hallow the middle court that was before the house of Jehovah” (as he had dedicated the house of Jehovah) “for there he offered burnt offerings, and meat offerings, and the fat of the peace offerings: because the brazen altar that was before Jehovah was too little to receive the burnt offerings, and meat offerings, and the fat of the peace offerings. And at that time Solomon held a feast, and all Israel with him, a great congregation” —the type of the great gathering of the latter day when the Lord Jesus, as the true Son of David, will more than accomplish all that is given here. He did so seven days and seven days, that in the mouth of these two witnesses every word should be accomplished—the duplicate witness of perfectness. “On the eighth day he sent the people away; and they blessed the king, and went unto their tents joyful and glad of heart for all the goodness that Jehovah had done for David his servant, and for Israel his people.”
I shall not prolong the subject now, but I hope in a future lecture to give the end, and, I must say, the sorrowful end of king Solomon, as well as the continued failure of those that succeed.
[W. K.]
(Continued from page 246)
(To be continued)