THE REIGN OF SOLOMON
Section 1—From Strength to Weakness
Jer 9:23 Thus says the LORD: “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, Let not the mighty man glory in his might, Nor let the rich man glory in his riches;
Jer 9:24 But let him who glories glory in this, That he understands and knows Me, That I am the LORD, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,” says the LORD.
In the reign of David and Solomon, Israel became strong among the nations and had many opportunities to wield a mighty influence in behalf of truth and the right. The name of Jehovah was exalted and held in honour, and the purpose for which the Israelites had been established in the Land of Promise bade fair of meeting with fulfilment.
Barriers were broken down, and seekers after truth from the lands of the heathen were not turned away unsatisfied. Conversions took place, and the church of God on earth was enlarged and prospered.
Solomon was anointed and proclaimed king in the closing years of his father David, who abdicated in his favour. His early life was bright with promise, and it was God’s purpose that he should go on from strength to strength, from glory to glory. Ever approaching nearer the similitude of the character of God, and thus inspiring His people to fulfil their sacred trust as the depositaries of divine truth.
David knew that God’s high purpose for Israel could be met only as rulers and people should seek with unceasing vigilance to attain to the standard placed before them.
He knew that for his son Solomon to fulfil the trust with which God was pleased to honour him, the youthful ruler must be not merely a warrior, a statesman, and a sovereign, but a strong, good man, a teacher of righteousness, an example of fidelity.
With tender earnestness David entreated Solomon to be manly and noble, to show mercy and loving-kindness to his subjects, and in all his dealings with the nations of earth to honour and glorify the name of God and to make manifest the beauty of holiness.
The many trying and remarkable experiences through which David had passed during his lifetime had taught him the value of the nobler virtues and led him to declare in his dying charge to Solomon:
2Sa 23:3 The God of Israel said, The Rock of Israel spoke to me: ‘He who rules over men must be just, Ruling in the fear of God.
2Sa 23:4 And he shall be like the light of the morning when the sun rises, A morning without clouds, Like the tender grass springing out of the earth, By clear shining after rain.’
Oh, what an opportunity was Solomon’s! Should he follow the divinely inspired instruction of his father, his reign would be a reign of righteousness, like that described in the seventy-second psalm:
Psa 27:1 A Psalm of David. The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?
Psa 27:2 When the wicked came against me To eat up my flesh, My enemies and foes, They stumbled and fell.
Psa 27:3 Though an army may encamp against me, My heart shall not fear; Though war may rise against me, In this I will be confident.
Psa 27:4 One thing I have desired of the LORD, That will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD All the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the LORD, And to inquire in His temple.
Psa 27:5 For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion; In the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me; He shall set me high upon a rock.
Psa 27:6 And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me; Therefore I will offer sacrifices of joy in His tabernacle; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the LORD.
Psa 27:7 Hear, O LORD, when I cry with my voice! Have mercy also upon me, and answer me.
Psa 27:8 When You said, “Seek My face,” My heart said to You, “Your face, LORD, I will seek.”
Psa 27:9 Do not hide Your face from me; Do not turn Your servant away in anger; You have been my help; Do not leave me nor forsake me, O God of my salvation.
Psa 27:10 When my father and my mother forsake me, Then the LORD will take care of me.
Psa 27:11 Teach me Your way, O LORD, And lead me in a smooth path, because of my enemies.
Psa 27:12 Do not deliver me to the will of my adversaries; For false witnesses have risen against me, And such as breathe out violence.
Psa 27:13 I would have lost heart, unless I had believed That I would see the goodness of the LORD In the land of the living.
Psa 27:14 Wait on the LORD; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the LORD! “Give the king Thy judgments, O God,
In his youth Solomon made David’s choice his own, and for many years he walked uprightly, his life marked with strict obedience to God’s commands.
Early in his reign he went with his counsellors of state to Gibeon, where the tabernacle that had been built in the wilderness still was, and there he united with his chosen advisers, “the captains of thousands and of hundreds,” “the judges,” and “every governor in all Israel, the chief of the fathers,” in offering sacrifices to God and in consecrating themselves fully to the Lord’s service. 2 Chronicles 1:2.
Comprehending something of the magnitude of the duties connected with the kingly office, Solomon knew that those bearing heavy burdens must seek the Source of Wisdom for guidance, if they would fulfil their responsibilities acceptably. This led him to encourage his counsellors to unite with him heartily in making sure of their acceptance with God.
Above every earthly good, the king desired wisdom and understanding for the accomplishment of the work God had given him to do. He longed for quickness of mind, for largeness of heart, for tenderness of spirit.
That night the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream and said, “Ask what I shall give thee.” In his answer the young and inexperienced ruler gave utterance to his feeling of helplessness and his desire for aid.
“You have shown great mercy to David my father and have made me king in his place.
2Ch 1:9 Now, O LORD God, let Your promise to David my father be established, for You have made me king over a people like the dust of the earth in multitude.
2Ch 1:10 Now give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people; for who can judge this great people of Yours?”
2Ch 1:11 Then God said to Solomon: “Because this was in your heart, and you have not asked riches or wealth or honour or the life of your enemies, nor have you asked long life—but have asked wisdom and knowledge for yourself, that you may judge My people over whom I have made you king—
2Ch 1:12 wisdom and knowledge are granted to you; and I will give you riches and wealth and honor, such as none of the kings have had who were before you, nor shall any after you have the like.”
2Ch 1:13 So Solomon came to Jerusalem from the high place that was at Gibeon, from before the tabernacle of meeting, and reigned over Israel.
God promised that as He had been with David my father, so He would be with me, Solomon.
If I would walk before the Lord in uprightness, if I would do what God had commanded me, my throne would be established and my reign would be the means of exalting Israel as “a wise and understanding people,” the light of the surrounding nations. Deuteronomy 4:6.
The language I used while praying to God before the ancient altar at Gibeon reveals my humility and my strong desire to honour God. I realized that without divine aid i was as helpless as a little child to fulfil the responsibilities resting on me.
I knew that I lacked discernment, and it was a sense of my great need that led me to seek God for wisdom. In my heart there was no selfish aspirations for a knowledge that would exalt me above others.
I desired to discharge faithfully the duties devolving upon me, and I chose the gift that would be the means of causing my reign to bring glory to God. I, Solomon was never so rich or so wise or so truly great as when he confessed, “I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in.”
Those who today occupy positions of trust should seek to learn the lesson taught by Solomon’s prayer. The higher the position a man occupies, the greater the responsibility that he must bear, the wider will be the influence that he exerts and the greater his need of dependence on God.
Ever should he remember that with the call to work comes the call to walk circumspectly before his fellow men. He is to stand before God in the attitude of a learner.
Position does not give holiness of character. It is by honouring God and obeying His commands that a man is made truly great. The God whom we serve is no respecter of persons. He who gave to Solomon the spirit of wise discernment is willing to impart the same blessing to His children today.
“If any of you lacks wisdom,” His Word declares, “let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” James 1:5.
When a burden bearer desires wisdom more than he desires wealth, power, or fame, he will not be disappointed. Such a one will learn from the Great Teacher not only what to do, but how to do it in a way that will meet with the divine approval.
So long as he remains consecrated, the man whom God has endowed with discernment and ability will not manifest an eagerness for high position, neither will he seek to rule or control. Of necessity men must bear responsibilities; but instead of striving for the supremacy, he who is a true leader will pray for an understanding heart, to discern between good and evil.
The path of men who are placed as leaders is not an easy one. But they are to see in every difficulty a call to prayer. Never are they to fail of consulting the great Source of all wisdom. Strengthened and enlightened by the Master Worker, they will be enabled to stand firm against unholy influences and to discern right from wrong, good from evil.
They will approve that which God approves and will strive earnestly against the introduction of wrong principles into His cause.
The wisdom that Solomon desired above riches, honour, or long life, God gave him. His petition for a quick mind, a large heart, and a tender spirit was granted. “God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and largeness of heart, even as the sand that is on the seashore.
And Solomon’s wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the east country, and all the wisdom of Egypt. For he was wiser than all men; … and his fame was in all nations round about.” 1 Kings 4:29-31.
“And all Israel … feared the king: for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him, to do judgment.” 1 Kings 3:28. The hearts of the people were turned toward me, Solomon, as they had been toward David my father, and they obeyed me in all things.
“Solomon … was strengthened in his kingdom, and the Lord his God was with him, and magnified him exceedingly.” 2 Chronicles 1:1.
For many years my life was marked with devotion to God, with uprightness and firm principle, and with strict obedience to God’s commands. I directed in every important enterprise and managed wisely the business matters connected with the kingdom.
My wealth and wisdom, the magnificent buildings and public works that I constructed during the early years of my reign, the energy, piety, justice, and magnanimity that I revealed in word and deed, won the loyalty of my subjects and the admiration and homage of the rulers of many lands.
Solomon excelled ever in moral, intellectual and material greatness.