Lectures Introductory to 1 Kings: Chapter 9-15

1 Kings 9-15
II.—CHAPTERS 9-15.
Solomon was now at the height of his glory, a vivid type of a greater than Solomon. And it is only when we see that he really does thus prefigure the Lord Jesus as King that we can understand the importance that God attaches to the history of such as David in one light and Solomon in another. David as the warrior-king who puts down the enemies actively, Solomon as the man of peace who will reign over the subjugated nations and kingdoms, more particularly Israel; but in point of fact, at the same time, the glorious Son of man that will have all kingdoms and nations and tribes and tongues then. Now I am persuaded that every one's faith has something lacking who does not leave room for this glorious future. I do not mean now in the smallest degree as a question of one's soul with God, but I am speaking of the intelligence of a Christian man. And I repeat, that he who does not look for the kingdom of God to be established by and by in this world has neither a key to the Bible nor, in point of fact, can he understand why God permits the present confusion. There is nothing more likely to fill the soul with perplexity than leaving out the future. Bring it in and we can Understand why God exercises such amazing forbearance. The present is but a revolutionary time, and so it has been for ages, marked by the solemn fact that even the very people of God are the most dispersed of all nations upon the earth. I speak, of course, of Israel now, and I say that if there be a people that are no people, Israel is the one that comes up before our view. The devil may have a kind of imitation of it in some other races that are scattered over the ends of the. earth, but then the man that could confound Israelites with, for instance, the Egyptians would be evidently doing the greatest injustice to one of the most remarkable people even as a race, as a nation, that has ever lived upon the earth. The other is only a kind of Satanic imitation of it; but no man can wisely despise Israel, even as a man. Still more, when our hearts take in the real truth of God and remember that God Himself in the person of His own Son deigned to become an Israelite, was in truth the Messiah, the Anointed, was the born King of the Jews. He who takes this in can understand the great place that Israel has in the mind of God, and that it is a proof of very little faith and of great occupation about ourselves when we do not relish what God has given us about His ancient people.
I grant you that it is a poor thing for the soul to be occupied with that in the first place, and it is, therefore, of great consequence that as now it is no question of Israel, but of Christ. And if then of Christ, of Christ as a Savior, and further as the Head of the church. We are called now to know Him as a Savior, next as members of His body to know what the Head of the body is, and what is involved in these relationships both of His to us and of ours to Him. But having the truth as to these, the more intimate and of the deepest personal importance to us, the question is whether our souls are not to be exercised on that which God hail given us here, and what is God's thought, God's lesson, God's intention, for our souls in it.
This I shall endeavor to gather, not by forcing it to speak Christian language, not by what I may call “gospelling” the different parts of Scripture, which is really very often a perversion; not even by taking profitable hints from it that are most just and true and concern the grand living principles of divine truth, most important as all these are. But still there is another thing that we ought all with jealousy to care for, and that is to seek the real mind of God what is intended by the scripture that comes before us. This leaves perfect freedom for every other application, but we ought to have first and foremost what God intends us to understand by His word. The time will come when we shall require to know how far any application is just. Because, needless to say, the divine purpose in the scripture necessarily has the first place for him that respects God, and who is not uneasy and anxious, and who is not coming to scripture always asking, “Is there anything about me here?” or, “Is there anything for me?” The great point is this, Is there anything about Christ there, and what is it that God is teaching us about Christ there? I am supposing now that the soul's want has been already met.
What then is it that God is showing us here? Why, clearly He is bringing once more the man of peace, Solomon, the type of Christ Himself when reigning in peaceful glory. But, alas! it was not Christ yet; it was only a shadow and not the substance, and the consequence is that although God has written the scripture very especially to keep up the type and to exclude what would be inconsistent with it, nevertheless, we have the truth; and God intimates here the danger that was before Solomon and his family. He intimates the conditional ground which he must take until Christ brought in sovereign, unconditional grace. It is impossible not to speak in the way of condition except in view of Christ, of Christ personally. It is there alone that we get the full mind of God and heart of God, and whenever that is the case it is no question of conditions but of perfect love that works for His own name's sake, and that can do it righteously through the Lord Jesus. But this gives me reason to speak of a very important principle that I shall have many opportunities of illustrating; what might seem a very strange thing in setting up the kingdom in Israel. Of all things in Israel there was nothing that illustrated the principle of one master so much as the king. Even the high priest did not in the same way, though he also did in another form. But the king determined the lot of the people in this way: if the king went right there was a ground for God's blessing the people, simply and solely for that very reason. On the other hand, if the king went wrong judgment fell upon the people. Alas! as we know, a king might go right, and it did not follow that the people would; if the king went wrong, the people were sure to follow. Such is the inevitable history of man now. Well, this principle would seem very strange, and always does appear so till we see Christ. Then how blessed! God always meant to make Christ, and Christ alone, the ground of blessing. For any other—for any of the children of Adam to be the pillar, so to speak, on which the blessing should repose, would be a most precarious principle. We know well what Adam's sons are. We ought to know by ourselves, but when we see God looking onward to the Second man—the last Adam—then we understand the principle.
Well now, it is for this reason that, whether you look at David or Solomon, they have a very peculiar place as being personal types of the Lord Jesus as King. In a way, that is not true of others. Others might be in part, but they far more fully; but the principle is most true of the kingdom in Israel. That is, that there was one person now on whom depended the blessing of the people, or, alas! who involved the people in his own ruin, and this is the great principle of the kingdom of Israel. Miserable! till we come to Christ. How blessed! when Christ comes to reign. Then all the blessing of all the world hangs upon that one Man, and that one Man will make it all good. Such is God's intention, and He will never give it up. Now anyone who takes this in has a wholly different view from the history of the world—from the gloom that must settle upon any man's heart that looks upon the earth apart from Christ. That God should have aught: to say to such a world, that God should take an interest in it, that God should own such a state of things—how difficult otherwise to understand! The more you know of God, and the more you know of man, the more the wonder increases. But when we see that all is merely suffered till that one Man come, God meanwhile working out other purposes, as we know now, in Christianity, that as far as regards the earth and man upon it, it is all in view of Christ's coming again, and coming to reign; that is, coming to take the world into His own hands in the way of power—not merely to work in it by grace, but to take the reins of the world under His government, banishing him who is the fertile source of all the difficulty and contention and rebellion against God, that has filled it now, and indeed ever since sin came into it—the difficulty is solved. Well then, in this second appearing of the Lord to Solomon, we have what, to a spiritual mind, would at once show the danger, nay, the sad result, the utter failure, that was to come in. Nevertheless, there was great comfort in it in the words of the Lord—for these are most true—that His eyes and His heart shall be there perpetually; and, further, that that family, and that family alone, was to furnish an unbroken line till the fullness of the blessing of God be made good in this world. David's family is the only one that has that honor, for God preserved, as you know, the genealogical links until Messiah came; and after the Lord Jesus was born, before that generation passed away, Israel was dispersed. Where are they now? And where are the proofs now? All hangs upon Christ. But God took care that, till Shiloh came, there should be this maintaining of a man of David's house; and then, when the Lord Jesus was put to death, and it seemed as if all was gone, on the contrary, rising from the dead the work was complete. There was no need of any further line which was in the power of an endless life even as king, even in His kingdom. For David, according to Paul's gospel, must be raised from the dead, and so He is, and, consequently, He is brought in as unchanging. We can understand, therefore, that by virtue of Christ, the eyes and heart of God rest there. There may be nothing to show for it now. Of all places in the earth, the land of Palestine and Jerusalem may outwardly seem to be given up to be the prey of Satan. Nowhere has he more manifestly triumphed. Nevertheless, all is made good, and God will prove it, and prove it shortly. The truth is, the foundation is laid; nay, more than that, not merely the foundation laid, but the Person is in the glorious state in which He is to reign. He is risen from the dead, He is glorified, He is only waiting for the moment—waiting, as it is said, to judge the quick and the dead, but waiting, also, to reign.
This then is what lies underneath the type of Solomon. But as to himself we see that in the very next chapter (10.), although there was still the keeping up of honor, and the testimony to his wisdom in the queen of Sheba's coming up, and all her munificent homage to the wisest king that God had ever raised up among men—nevertheless, even then failure shows itself. The conditions of God are soon broken by man. “Solomon gathered together chariots and horsemen; and he had a thousand and four hundred chariots, an twelve thousand horsemen.” “And Solomon had horses brought out of Egypt.” “And a chariot came up and went out of Egypt for six hundred shekels of silver” (10:28, 29). Was this obedience? Was this the king after God's own heart? Had He not expressly warned His king to beware of it? Had He not cautioned him against the accumulation of wealth, for he had had wealth of his own without seeking? God had ensured him that, but he sought it, he valued himself upon it, he laid no small burdens upon his people to accumulate wealth for the king; and at the same time he shows his dependence upon the Gentiles. He goes down to Egypt for horses, for that which would add to royal splendor, and would be an enticement to his sons, if not to himself, to seek conquest not according to the mind of God.
In short, whatever might be the object, it was a transgression of the distinct and direct word of the Lord, as we all know, given in the Book of Deuteronomy, where God had foreseen these dangers. But there was another danger too (chap. 11), and a deeper one. “But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites.” What! The wisest king—the wisest king—so to prove his total ruin in the very thing where, least of all, it became him! So it is with the sons of Adam. You will always find that in the very point in which you most pride yourself you most fail. In that which it might seem to be least possible, the moment your eye is off the Lord, in that particular you will break down. Adam, it would not have been thought, would so soon have forgotten his place of headship—Adam, to whom the Lord spoke especially. I do not say to the exclusion of his wife. Far from it. For indeed she was united with him in it. But undoubtedly he was the one who ought to have guided the wife, and not the wife her husband, and there was the first failure at the very beginning. But had not Solomon known that? Had he not heard of it? How had he profited?—this man with his seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines! And so we find that his wives turned away his heart. “For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with Jehovah his God, as was the heart of David his father. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. And Solomon did evil in the sight of Jehovah, and went not fully after Jehovah, as did David his father. Then did Solomon build an high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon. And likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods. And Jehovah was angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned from Jehovah God of Israel, which had appeared unto him twice” (11:4-9).
The greater the privilege and the higher the honor, the deeper the shame. This was, I will not say the sad end of Solomon, but undoubtedly the rapid decline and fall of the man. This is the sad character that Scripture attaches to him, that in his old age he listened to the follies of these strange women, and, accordingly, God begins to chastise, not merely when Solomon was taken, but in his lifetime. And indeed there is no happier intimation of Scripture that I know of about Solomon. For while God deigns to give us his estimate of the elders that walked by faith, or that in some way signalized their faith, Solomon is not one. Nevertheless, that God did put especial honor upon that son of David, who can doubt? Who inspired him to give us some of the most weighty portions of God's word? And by whom was he given this signal wisdom of which Scripture speaks so much, and indeed which he proved so truly? But, nevertheless, it is written for our wisdom, for our learning, for our warning, that we should beware of slipping in the very thing which God signalizes. There is no strength in wisdom or in aught else. Our strength is only in the Lord, and the only way to make it good is in dependence upon Him. It was not so with Solomon. He rested in the fruits that God had given him. He yielded to the enjoyment of what came from God, but what was turned aside from the living source. All was ruined, and so Jehovah, as we are told, stirred up Hadad the Edomite. He was one that when David was in Edom, and Joab was there, had been concealed and kept.
“Jehovah stirred up an adversary unto Solomon, Hadad the Edomite: he was of the king's seed in Edom. For it came to pass, when David was in Edom, and Joab the captain of the host was gone up to bury the slain, after he had smitten every male in Edom (for six months did Joab remain there with all Israel, until he had cut off every male in Edom), that Hadad fled, he and certain Edomites of his father's servants with him, to go into Egypt; Hadad being yet a little child '' (vers. 14-17). Now he comes forward. God is wise, and that young prince was kept to be a sting to king Solomon. But this is a little comfort to us, and indeed, I may say, almost the only comfort that we have in the history that is given us of king Solomon—that God chastised him. He chastised him, not merely allowed the fruit of his evil, the results of his folly, to appear in his family, but chastised himself in his own lifetime. This is His way with His own people, and indeed in some cases it is almost the only hope that you have that a person is a child of God, namely, that God does not allow the evil to pass, but deals with it now in this world. Those that God passes over in spite of evil are persons who are evidently waiting to be condemned with the world, but those who, being guilty, are dealt with now are objects of God's fatherly care. He is dealing with them, rebuking them, judging them, but after all, they are chastened that they should not be condemned with the world. Solomon, at any rate, most clearly comes under the chastening of the Lord. As the Lord had said to his father and implied to Solomon himself, He would not take His mercy from him, but He should chastise him with stripes, and this He does. But it is Solomon. It is not merely the house generally, the family generally, or their offspring, but Solomon himself.
Hadad then is one means of putting the wise king to great uneasiness. God made him a source of trouble to Solomon, for when Hadad heard in Egypt that David slept with his fathers he comes forward. But now it is particularly mentioned. God does not say a word about that until Solomon's failure. Then Hadad comes forward in a most decided and distinct way to be a scourge for the guilty king. But he was not the only one. “God stirred him up another adversary, Rezon the son of Eliadah, which fled from his lord Hadadezer king of Zobah: and he gathered men unto him, and became captain over a band, when David slew them of Zobah: and they went to Damascus, and dwelt therein, and reigned in Damascus. And he was an adversary to Israel all the days of Solomon, beside the mischief that Hadad did: and he abhorred Israel, and reigned over Syria.”
[W. K.]