Tuesday, March 19, 2013

CXXVIII - I Kings Chapter 9 - The Greatness of Solomon

Vss 1-9 - The Lord Appears to Solomon

Back in Chapter 3 of I Kings, God had appeared to Solomon in Gibeon.  That was when God told Solomon that He would grant to him anything he asked for.  Solomon asked for wisdom, and God gave him that and much more, including the promise of wealth and long life.  Here in Chapter 9, God appears to Solomon again.  It seems God (vs 3) is responding to Solomon's prayer at the Temple dedication ceremony which took place a number of years earlier.  God spoke diectly to Solomon.  His words included assurance, a promise, and a warning.  God expressed His pleasure with the Temple by
saying that He consecrated it and put His name there, also saying that His eyes and His heart will always be there.  Then in vss 4-5, God repeats the Davidic covanent to Solomon, which is that IF you (plural) will walk before Me faithfully and with integrity of heart.........you shall always have a descendant on the throne of Israel.  God had always repeated His warnings and stipulations, often through prophets, but sometimes directly.  He was emphasizing the importance of His words.  {How
many times did Moses repeat himself to the nation Israel, then Joshua did the same thing.}  Then in verses 6-9 God finishes with a stern warning:  If Israel turns its back on God and worshipped the pagen idols and gods, that He would make such rubble out of the throne that the nation would become a laughing stock to all that passed by it.

Beginning in verse 10, the Scripture turns to describing the accomplishments of Solomon, and indeed they are many and great.  {But, as you know, we're going to look deeply into this Scripture and study things of which many are unaware.}  Solomon's vast building projects demanded large expendures, requiring much wealth.  Ultimately, believe it or not, his expenses ran ahead of his income.  {Surprised?  Don't be.  He acquired tons of gold very early in his reign, not to mention the great cedars and juniper.  As was detailed, the Temple was elaborate and expensive to say the least, but that was only the beginning.  He built a palace for himself plus an elequent residence for the Egyptian woman he took to be his queen.  (When I was a teenager, I had a part-time job and always had some money in my pocket.  My dad told me more than once that there were two things that will take all of your money:  A car and a woman.  I always thought that was funny.)  But the reason I think of that in this study is that Solomon had seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines.  He had to
provide for them and that must have been very expensive, just in food, clothing, and living quarters alone.}  And the labor required for all these building projects!  We'll get into that in a moment.  Remember Hiram, king of Tyre?  Solomon's deal with Hiram made all of the building projects possible.  But for all of Hiram's material, labor, and transportation, he must be paid.  At one time, Hiram sent to Solomon ten thousand pounds of gold.  At today's prices, that is more than 18,000,000.  As a large part of Solomon's payment to Hiram, he was to give him twenty towns, which he did (vs 11).  That is twenty towns for Hiram to own, which would mean all the inhabitants would become Hiram's slaves and Hiram could use all the natural resources those towns had in and on their land.  But take note of the following verses.  Hiram was disappointed in these towns.  He referred to them as "Kabul", which meant "good for nothing".  Nowhere can I find in these chapters that Solomon made this right with his old friend Hiram.

Chapter 15 begins by giving an account of the forced labor he drafted to accomplish all the things mentioned in this section, which included the Temple, palaces (plural), the teraces for his wives and concubines, the wall around Jerusalem, Hazor, Megiddo, and Gezer.  Vs 16 tells that Pharoah captured Gazer, killed all the inhabitants, and gave the city to Solomon as a partial dowry for his daughter when he gave her to Solomon to be his wife.  The Scripture goes on in this section to name a few more of Solomon's accomplishments, all of which required money and labor.  There were hints earlier in the Scripture tht Solomon forced some of the Israelites into labor earlier before he could organize enough foreign Canaanites as slaves.  This would be the basis for the uprising we will study soon.

Verse 20 changes to yet another subject:  Canaanite slaves.  It mentions Amorites, Hittites, Prizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites.  All Canaanites were not expelled from the Promised Land (as God instructed Joshua).  Solomon drafted all of these people and enslaved them to his projects.  But Solomon was careful not to refer to any Israelites as slaves.  Although he drafted the Israelites into the military, they were not slaves.  The Israelites were either soldiers or overseers of the Canaanite slaves.  But nonetheless, they were servants to the king.  {Remember what Samuel warned the people about when they wanted him to give them a king?}

Verse 25 mentioned that Solomon was careful to observe the three feasts, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks, and the Feast of Tabernacles.  Solomon observed these occassions every year by sacrificing burnt offerings at the Temple.

Verse 26 mentions the fleet of ships that Solomon built and created a navy and a merchant fleet.  Hiram provided him with Phoenicians to train the Israelites in seamanship, as they were considered the best in the world.  It makes a point to say that Solomon's navy and merchant fleet were set up in the Red Sea, as Hiram of Tyre was the dominant fleet in the Mediterranean Sea.  {Hiram came out well with his relatinship with Solomon.  Remember, although Hiram had control of shipping on water, Solomon controlled the overland routes, without which Hiram could not safely deliver goods from Tyre to Egypt and Assyria.}  So, as you can see, Solomon was a very busy man, and was successful at everything he undertook.  But he was not without problems associated with such a vast and powerful kingdom.  But we're going to see Solomon's problems multiply and of course there has already been revealed to us the source of his downfall.

Next post:  The Queen of Sheba Visits Solomon

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