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A Practical Commentary On Holy Scripture by Frederick Justus Knecht D.D.

[3 Kings 9–11. 2 Paralip. 9]

BESIDES the Temple which he erected to the Lord, Solomon built for himself a palace of wonderful magnificence. His throne was of ivory, overlaid with the finest gold. It had six steps, and at the two ends of each step there stood a lion: six to the right and six to the left—in all twelve lions. But the top of the throne was round and had a large lion, well made, on either side. And Solomon made two hundred shields of the purest gold and hung them in his palace.

All the vessels out of which the king drank were of gold, and all the furniture of his house was likewise of gold. In the days of Solomon there was no silver; no account was made of it, because the royal fleet brought from foreign countries riches of all kinds and precious metals in abundance. Solomon built several new cities; he beautified and strengthened Jerusalem, so that, with few exceptions, it surpassed all the cities of that time in beauty and splendour.

And Solomon reigned from the Euphrates to the confines of Egypt, and he was at peace with his neighbours on every side, and each man rested without fear under his own vine and fig-tree. Kings from far and near showed Solomon respect and sent him presents. The queen of Saba came herself from her far distant land to behold his magnificence and hear the words of his wisdom. When she had seen and heard, her spirit failed and she said to the king: “The report is true which I heard in my own country, but I would not believe. Blessed are thy servants who stand before thee and hear thy wisdom.” Thus did Solomon exceed all the kings of the earth in riches and in wisdom.

But glorious as was the beginning of Solomon’s reign, his end was deplorable. Solomon was far advanced in life when his heart was corrupted by pagan women; and that king, hitherto so wise, became so blind and depraved that, in order to please these women, he offered incense to false gods and built temples to them.

The Lord being angry said to Solomon: “Because thou hast done this and hast not kept My covenant and My precepts, which I have commanded thee, I will divide and rend thy kingdom. Nevertheless in thy days I will not do it for David, thy father’s, sake; neither will I take away the whole kingdom, but I will give one tribe to thy son, for the sake of David, my servant, and for the sake of Jerusalem, which I have chosen.”

Then secret revolt and sedition arose among the people, because Solomon, blinded as he was, had over-taxed and oppressed the people, to build palaces for the heathen women who had turned him away from God. Things were in this unhappy state when Solomon died, having reigned forty years; and he, who had been a great and powerful king while he walked in the ways of David his father, died without honour.

The First Commandment: Sins against faith. It causes real pain to read that a man so gifted with grace as Solomon could have fallen so low. Look back and think what he was at the dedication of the Temple, and how he cast himself on his knees and prayed so beautifully to the ever present God; and then think of his becoming indifferent about the worship of the true God, of his building temples to the false gods of his wives, and of his tolerating idolatry! It is impossible for us to conceive that Solomon ever believed in and worshipped idols himself; but it is certain that, for the sake of his heathen wives and against his own convictions, he sanctioned idolatry and even enforced it! By so doing he denied his faith and offended his people. Thus he sinned both by being indifferent about the true faith and by denying it.

Worldliness and pride lead to religious indifference. But how was it possible that the wise and devout Solomon could offend God so grievously? He gave himself over to worldliness, led a sensual, luxurious life, and set his affections on the earthly riches with which God had endowed him. His love for God grew cold, his zeal for prayer and the service of God grew weak, and he became lax and indifferent about religion. Intercourse and friendship with the pagan kings of Tyre and Sidon and his unlawful intermarriage with pagan wives increased his religious indifference; and besides this the universal admiration of which he was the object made him proud, so that he became less and less worthy of divine grace. He lost the grace necessary for perseverance in good and sank so low that he denied the true faith and upheld idolatry!

Happiness and riches are dangerous. Trials are wholesome. Solomon’s sad fall shows us how difficult it is to fear God and persevere in good in the midst of happiness, riches, honours and pleasures. Those with whom everything goes well love the world and earthly possessions, forget the end for which they were made, cease to love God and often lose belief in Him and His revelation. This is why God, in His merciful wisdom, sends us sufferings, so as to prevent our being arrogant and forgetful of God and His holy Commandments. These sufferings sent are real benefits to us and are a proof of the love which God has for our immortal souls, and of the desire He has to draw us to heaven. “Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth” (Hebr. 12:6).

Solomon, the thirteenth type of Jesus Christ. Solomon was also a type of Jesus Christ, but in a different way from the preceding ones. While for instance Abel, Noe, Isaac, Joseph, Job, Moses and David were typical of the suffering Redeemer, in Solomon we find a type of the glorified Redeemer. His very name, signifying peace, presents him to us as a type of Him who is the true Prince of Peace. By his wonderful wisdom Solomon was a faint type of Him “in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:3). Likewise the riches of Solomon point to the immeasurable riches of grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Solomon built the Temple of strong and well-hewn stones: Jesus Christ founded the spiritual temple, the Church, on the rock of Peter and on the Apostles, making it one united whole. The queen of Saba came to Solomon, to testify her reverence for him, and load him with presents: to our Lord came the three Magi from the East to adore Him and offer Him costly gifts. Solomon, seated in majesty on his lofty and magnificent throne, ruled over many nations. Jesus Christ, raised on the throne of heaven and sitting at the right hand of God the Father, rules with divine majesty over all the nations of the earth and over the whole host of heaven.

The conversion of Solomon. Most of the Fathers of the Church are of opinion that, when troubles overtook him towards the close of his life, Solomon was converted and did penance, and thus was not eternally lost.

True happiness. Towards the end of his life Solomon wrote these words in the Book of Ecclesiastes: “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity. I made me great works, I built me houses and planted vineyards. I made gardens and orchards and set them with trees of all kinds. I heaped together for myself silver and gold. I made me singing men and singing women. I surpassed in riches all that were before me in Jerusalem; my wisdom also remained with me. Whatsoever my eyes desired, I refused them not; and I withheld not my heart from enjoying every pleasure. I saw in all things vanity and vexation of mind. Fear God and keep His Commandments, for this is all man.” By these words he meant to say: “All earthly possessions and joys are passing and cannot make a man really happy. Only the fear and love of God can bring happiness on earth and joy in eternity.” We should not therefore set our hearts on the good things of this earth, but should strive with all our hearts after those which are eternal.

Means of perseverance. He who desires to avoid grievous sin and to persevere to the end in what is right must, firstly, refrain from pleasure-seeking and laxity; secondly, he must avoid all intercourse with bad companions; thirdly, he must be humble and pray to God for the grace of final perseverance; for this most important of all graces can be obtained only by prayer.

APPLICATION. Solomon served God for many years and received the gift of wisdom from Him; and yet how deeply he fell!

Do you desire to stand fast in what is right? Then distrust yourself and be watchful. “Watch and pray that you enter not into temptation.” Pray often for the grace of perseverance.








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