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- 1 Kings
by Henry Allen Ironside
By C. Knapp
With An Introduction By H. A. Ironside
Loizeaux Brothers, Publishers:New York
The field covered by the present volume has been practically unworked hitherto. The author knows only of a brochure of less than a hundred pages on the Hebrew kings, and treating but of the kings of Judah as types of Christians when the subject permitted.
The volume in hand was begun several years ago, but laid aside in the hope that some one better qualified might take up the work. As nothing has appeared since, the writer resumed his work, and the result is now before the reader.
No claim whatever is made to what is called scholarship, though references to Hebrew, etc., in the body of the book, might suggest, to some, the contrary. Scholarly helps have, however, been freely used, the principal of which are Strong’s “Exhaustive Concordance” (English, Hebrew, and Greek); Fausset’s “Bible Cyclopedia”(a work too little known); J. N. Darby’s most excellent translation of the Old Testament (designated N. Tr.); also, Josephus, and the already mentioned little volume on the kings of Judah; besides, of course, the indispensable, and best-beloved authorized version of the English Bible. This last has been quoted from freely, though not always fully, and the reader is therefore urged upon to read the passages for himself in their entirety, both in Kings and Chronicles, as referred to under each one of the thirty-eight kings named at the head of their separate biographies.
The Author’s Introduction was found to be the most difficult part of the undertaking, and is, of course, open to criticism, correction, or amplification. Some one of more leisure and competency may some day, it is hoped, undertake this improvement. If, under God, the present effort shall lead to further researches, and fuller development of the subject, the author shall feel amply rewarded for what he has, from the beginning, sought to make “a labor of love,” as also “a work of faith.”
May our Lord, the “King eternal,” be pleased to use it for the blessing of His people.
It is the author’s purpose in the following pages to review briefly the histories of the kings of Judah and Israel, as recorded in the inspired books of the Kings and Chronicles. These histories are given us in more or less detail, and do not read exactly the same in each book. God has surely a purpose in this, and it is the glory of saints to search out these matters, and to discover, if possible, why these differences exist. Contradiction there cannot be, for “there is one Spirit,” and He who inspired the historian of the Kings controlled also and directed the pen of the chronicler.
These two historical books of the Old Testament bear a relation one toward another somewhat similar to that existing between the four Gospels of the New. In the latter we have a quartet of evangelical biographers, all giving glimpses of that manifested Life, no two in just the same way, or even recording harmoniously any single event of that marvelous life of God incarnate, or reporting verbatim any discourse of the divine “Master of assemblies.” The Evangelists Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, are somewhat like the four parts in some sublime musical composition. Each part differs, the one from the other, yet together they form a most perfect harmony, because arranged by one master musician. Each part is perfect in itself, yet requires the others to give the fulness intended. The one part expresses sweetness; the other, strength; another, pathos; and still another, profundity; and each several part is essential to the proper expression of the other three; and it is in the combination of the four that we have the full, grand harmony. So the four Gospels, though differing, are all the compositions of one Author-the Holy Spirit. Each, also, is in itself perfect, yet requires what the others contain to give to the fourfold record that surpassing beauty which every anointed eye beholds in the four Evangelists:each record being perfectly proportioned to the others, they together produce that sublime anthem of praise to “Heaven’s beloved One” of whom they speak.
And He was the King. In the two books into which we are about to glance we have kings-some comparatively good, and others exceedingly bad; some who made fair beginnings, and foul endings; others, again, who commenced badly, but made a good finish. All, however, came short of God’s glory and the divine ideal of what a king should be. He that was, according to the expectation of the Gentile magi, “born King of the Jews,” and was to the Jew Nathanael “the King of Israel,” fulfilled that ideal perfectly. So He is called by Jehovah “ My King.” And in the fast-approaching day of His kingdom and power He shall be known and owned as “King of nations.” See Matthew 2:2; John 1:49; Psalms 2:6; Revelation 15:3, margin.
Let us now seek to discover, if we can, what are the real differences between the Kings and Chronicles, and their significance.
In the LXX, 1st and 2nd Kings are called “The third and fourth of the Kingdoms.” Originally, in the Hebrew, they were, like 1st and 2nd Samuel, but one book.1 Its opening word, “Now,” indicates that it is really a continuation of Samuel. Its history of the kingdoms is carried on past the middle of the captivity, and ends with Jehoiachin restored to liberty, and his throne set above that of the other kings that were in Babylon-a beautiful, though perhaps faint, shadow of Israel’s restoration and exaltation in the coming millennial day. This, as some one has said, is “in happy consonance with its design.” It is as “the first ray of God’s returning favor,” a slight pledge that David’s seed and kingdom should (as God said), in spite of past failure, endure forever. Fausset says, in reference to its relation to Chronicles, “The language of Kings bears traces of an earlier date. Chaldee forms are rare in Kings, numerous in Chronicles, which has also Persicisms not found in Kings.” The writer of the book is not known. The Talmud ascribes it to Jeremiah, which seems somewhat unlikely, as the thirty-seventh year of Jehoiachin (the last date in the book) would be sixty-six years after his call to the prophetic office; besides, the prophet probably died in Egypt, with God’s rebellious people, whom he so deeply loved, and with whose “sins” his devotion to them caused him to “serve”(Isaiah 43:24). On the other hand, as the above-quoted author states, “The absence of mention of Jeremiah in Kings, though he was so prominent in the reigns of the last four kings, is just what we might expect if Jeremiah be the author of Kings.” He remarks further:”In favor of Jeremiah’s authorship is the fact that certain words are used only in Kings and in Jeremiah:baqubuqu, cruse (1 Kings 14:3; Jeremiah 19:1; Jeremiah 19:10Jeremiah 19:10); yagab, husbandman (2 Kings 25:12; Jeremiah 52:16); chabah, hide (1 Kings 22:25; Jeremiah 49:10); avar, to bind (2 Kings 25:7; Jeremiah 39:7).”
But whoever the inspired penman may have been, he evidently wrote with a different purpose in view from that of the author of the Chronicles, who was probably Ezra, the priest. Two names, Akkub and Talmon, found in 1 Chronicles 9:17-18, and mentioned in Nehemiah 12:25-26, as being porters “in the days of Nehemiah, and of Ezra the priest,” and Zerubbabel’s name, with that of others, in 1 Chronicles 3:19, prove the writer lived and wrote after the restoration. The fact of the close of Chronicles and opening of Ezra overlapping, indicates one common author-as Luke and the Acts. Both 1 Chronicles 29:7 and Ezra 2:69 mention the Persian coin dark (as “dram” should be translated). “The high priest’s genealogy is given in the descending line, ending with the captivity, in 1 Chronicles 6:1-15; in Ezra 7:1-5, in the ascending line from Ezra himself to Aaron, abridged by the omission of many links, as the writer had in Chronicles already given a complete register.”(Fausset.) So if a prophet (Jeremiah) wrote the Kings, and a priest (Ezra) the Chronicles, it would readily account for the ministry of the prophets being so prominent in the former book, and that of the priests and Levites in the latter. It might furnish the key, too, as to the meaning of the marked differences in many portions of the two records.
1st and 2nd Chronicles, like Samuel and Kings, were originally one book. They are called in the LXX Paraleipomena, or “Supplements”; in Hebrew, “Words,” or “Acts of Days.” Its real history (after the genealogies) begins with the overthrow of Saul (1 Chronicles 10:0), and reads, almost word for word, like the concluding chapter of 1 Samuel, with this marked difference:Saul’s body is mentioned in Samuel; in Chronicles his head alone is spoken of. There is also, in Chronicles, a comment on the cause of his death, not found in Samuel, which would appear to indicate the author’s desire to point out moral lessons in his “supplements.” These practical reflections are frequent in Chronicles; in Kings they rarely occur.
There are other marked differences between the two books, and all, of course, in perfect keeping with the design of each-divergent, though not contradictory- historian. Let us note a few of the most prominent. 2 Samuel 24:24 says “David bought the threshingfloor (of Araunah) and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver”; 1 Chronicles 21:25 says, “David gave to Oman for the place (not the threshing-floor and oxen merely) six hundred shekels of gold by weight.” The molten sea made by Solomon, 1 Kings 7:26 says, “contained two thousand baths.” 2 Chronicles 4:5 says “it received and held three thousand baths” (its capacity). Frequently Chronicles has “God” where Kings has “Lord”(see 2 Samuel 5:19-25; 1 Chronicles 14:10-16; 2 Samuel 7:3-4; 1 Chronicles 17:2-3, etc.). “House of God” is found seven times in Chronicles; in Kings, not once. In 1 Chronicles 14:3 there is no mention of David’s concubines, as in 2 Samuel 5:13. Nor does Chronicles mention his sin with Bathsheba, nor his son Amnon’s crime against Tamar, nor Absalom’s rebellion, nor Sheba’s revolt. The idolatries of Solomon and some of the early kings of Judah are less detailed in Chronicles than in Kings; Chronicles, in fact, scarcely hints at Solomon’s sin. Nor does it mention his somewhat questionable act of offering incense “upon the altar that was before the Lord,” as 1 Kings 9:25 (see on Uzziah). Hezekiah’s failure, too, is only briefly touched upon in Chronicles. Yet we must not think that there was any attempt made on the part of the writer of Chronicles to pass over, or wink at, the sins of the house of David. He records Hanani’s reproof of Asa, on which Kings is silent; also, Jehoram’s murder of his brethren, and his idolatry. Nor does Kings mention Joash’s apostasy and murder of Zechariah, Amaziah’s sin of idolatry, nor Uzziah’s sin of sacrilege. On the other hand, the refreshing account of Manasseh’s repentance is peculiar to Chronicles; yet no mention is made in that book of the liberation of the captive Jehoiachin.
Kings gives only seven verses to Uzziah’s reign, and but five to righteous Jotham’s. Chronicles, on the other hand, summarizes Jehoiakim’s reign in four verses, and Jehoiachin’s in two. Israel is in the background in Chronicles; Judah and Jerusalem are (with the priests and Levites) its principal subject; while in Kings, Israel, with her prophets (as Ahijah, Elijah, Elisha, Jonah, etc.), is prominent.
Another marked distinction between these two interesting books is the sources from which their writers obtained their material. In Kings it is always derived from state records, evidently, as “the book of the acts of Solomon” (1 Kings 11:41); “the book of the Chronicles of the kings of Judah” (1 Kings 14:29); “the book of the Chronicles of the kings of Israel” (1 Kings 14:19), etc. Chronicles embodies more the writings of (or selections from) individuals, as “Samuel the seer,” “Nathan the prophet,” “Gad the seer,” “the prophecy of Ahijah the Shilonite,” “the visions of Iddo the seer,” “the book of Shemaiah the prophet,” “the story of the prophet Iddo,” “the book of Jehu the son of Hanani,” “Isaiah the prophet,” etc. (1 Chronicles 29:29; 2 Chronicles 9:29; 2 Chronicles 12:152 Chronicles 12:15; 2 Chronicles 13:222 Chronicles 13:22; 2 Chronicles 20:342 Chronicles 20:34; 2 Chronicles 26:222 Chronicles 26:22).
The explanation of all this seems to be that the author of Kings wrote his book in Judah, where he would have access to the national archives; while the writer of Chronicles probably compiled his histories from the writings of the above-mentioned seers, prophets, etc., carried with the exiles to Babylon, or obtained after their restoration to the land. This would make the Chronicles peculiarly the Remnant’s book; while the Kings would be more for the nation at large, particularly Israel. And if this be so, it would explain why the sins of the earlier kings are veiled in Chronicles, and those of some of the later ones detailed (see above). Being under Gentile domination, they were more or less in communication with them, and they would, in all probability, come in contact with these records of the Hebrew kings. Their later history would be better known to Gentiles, and it would be well for them to know just why they were permitted to destroy Jerusalem and hold the nation in bondage; hence the record of the sins of Josiah, Amaziah, Uzziah, and others. There was no need to record the sins of David, Solomon, and their immediate successors, as this did not in any way concern the Gentiles. It was probably in view of Gentile readers that “God” is so frequently used in Chronicles, instead of His covenant name Jehovah,2 that they might know that He is “not the God of the Jews only, but of the Gentiles also.” It is the branches of the blessing of Joseph beginning to hang over the wall (Genesis 49:22). Hence, too, perhaps, the genealogies of some not of Israel, and all extending back to Adam, common father of us all (1 Chronicles 1:0). Note, too, in view of this, Asa’s crushing defeat of Zerah the Ethiopian, recorded only in Chronicles, and his reproof by the prophet for relying on the king of Syria; Jehoshaphat’s triumph over the vast allied forces of Moab and Ammon; God’s (not “Jehovah’s,” note) helping Uzziah against the Philistines, Arabians, and Mehunims, and the Ammonites giving him gifts; Jotham’s victory over the Ammonites, and their tribute of silver, and wheat, and barley, rendered to him; and Manasseh’s repentance (that the Gentiles might know God’s grace)-all peculiar to Chronicles. On the other hand, Hezekiah’s weakness in first yielding to, and afterward rebelling against, Sennacherib, as recorded in 2 Kings 18:0, is carefully excluded from Chronicles. God never needlessly exposes the faults of His servants to the stranger. “Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Askelon,” is His beautiful principle of action in such cases.
Then as to Kings, the sins of the house of David in its earlier history are faithfully and minutely recorded, that both Judah and Israel (for whose reading the book was primarily intended) might know the reason of their debased and divided condition. The book gives mainly the history of the northern kingdom, and it is delightful to see that though the terrible sins of its rulers are exposed, any acts of grace or goodness on the part of them or the people are carefully recorded (see 2 Kings 6:8-23, etc.). Prophets are prominent among them, because they had cut themselves off from the ministry of the priests and Levites (which naturally connected itself with the temple at Jerusalem), and God made merciful provision for their spiritual needs by the prophetic ministry of such men as Elijah, etc.
These, I believe, are the real differences between the Kings and Chronicles. They are by no means so easily defined as those existing between the four Evangelists, and I do not profess to explain all of the many and marked variations that have been pointed out. What has been offered in the foregoing as a solution of the question may not be entirely satisfactory to all, but if it affords the reader any real help or clue to further discoveries in this direction, the author’s main object will have been accomplished. What both writer and reader most need in these studies is to be more in touch with that blessed Master who of old, in the midst of His disciples, “opened their understanding, that they might understand the Scriptures.”
Ere closing this Introduction, it might be well to say a word as to the authenticity of these books of Kings and Chronicles. As to the first, our Lord stamped it with His divine authority by referring repeatedly to it, as in the cases of the widow of Sarepta and Naaman the Syrian. Paul refers to Elijah’s intercession against Israel; while his earnest prayer in connection with drought and rain is mentioned by James. Hebrews 11:35 alludes to the raising of the Shunammite’s son; and Jezebel is mentioned by our Lord in Revelation 2:20. Christ stamped the book of Chronicles with the seal of inspiration by alluding to the queen of Sheba’s visit to King Solomon, and the martyrdom of Zechariah, “slain between the temple and the altar” (Matthew 23:35)-”altar and temple,” (Luke).
The histories as given in these books are likewise confirmed by both Egyptian and Assyrian monumental records; Rehoboam being represented on the former, and Omri, Jehu, Menahem, Hoshea and Hezekiah on the inscriptions of the Assyrian Tiglath-pileser, Sargon, Sennacherib, and Esarhaddon. But Scripture, like its great subject, Christ, neither receives nor requires “testimony from men.” The monuments do not prove Scripture to be true; it is only proved, when they agree with the Bible, that they are true, and not lies. As we read God’s word, “we believe and are sure,” because “holy men of God,” who wrote these records, “spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter 1:21). True, it is called “prophecy” in the quotation given, but it has been aptly said that “ history as written by the prophets is retroverted prophecy.” “Moses and the Prophets” means (like “the Law and the Prophets”), the Pentateuch, the Old Testament historical books, and the writings generally designated as “the Prophets.” And “the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man.” So we unhesitatingly declare ourselves, like Paul of old, as “believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets” (Acts 24:14). “And he that be-lieveth shall not be ashamed”-no, “neither in this world, nor in the world to come.” Amen and Amen!
1 “Samuel and Kings, as we name them, should be, however, as they were originally, but one book each.”- Numerical Bible, Vol. II., page 287.
2 Israel being given up to Gentile dominion at the time that Chronicles was written, God’s covenant name with them could hardly be used.- [Ed.
By H. A. Ironside.
In complying with the request of the writer of this series of papers for an introduction to his truly practical opening up of the major part of the books of Kings and Chronicles, I shall but attempt to go briefly over the histories of the three kings of the undivided monarchy, and that only so far as they are set before us in these particular portions of Scripture. The lives of Saul and David are much more fully dwelt upon in the books of Samuel, but others have written at length upon them as there portrayed, and their writings are still available.
Chronicles opens with the genealogies of the children of Israel, tracing the chosen race right back to Adam. With his name the record begins, and, so far as nature is concerned, every name that follows is but another addition of the first man. “The second man is the Lord from heaven.” For His coming the world was yet waiting. Man according to God had never been seen upon earth all through the centuries covered by the history and the genealogies of these books, and indeed of the entire Old Testament. God was indeed quickening souls from the first. There can be no manner of doubt that Adam himself had thus obtained divine life when he took God at His word; and, receiving the declaration made to the serpent as to the Seed of the woman, as the first preached gospel, he called his wife’s name Eve, “Living”; believing that God had found a way to avert the terrible doom their sin had justly deserved. Faith was in exercise; and where there is faith, there is of necessity eternal life, and thus a new nature. In many of his offspring, therefore, the same blessed truth is manifested; and so, throughout these lists which God has seen fit to preserve, and which will be forever kept on high, we see in one and another the fruit of the new life manifested to the glory of Him who gave it.
There is something intensely solemnizing to the soul in thus being permitted to go over such a record of names long since forgotten by man, but every one of which God has remembered, with every detail of their pathway through this world. Some day our names likewise will be lost to mankind, but neither we nor our ways will be forgotten by God.
Esau’s race, as well as that of Israel, is kept in mind; a race from which came mighty kings and princes before any king reigned over Israel; for “that is not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural, and afterward that which is spiritual.” Then, too, some in Israel are only remembered, one might say, because of some fearful sin that was the ruin of themselves, and often of those associated with them; such as Er, and Achan the troubler of Israel (called here Achar); Reuben, who defiled his father’s bed; and the heads of the half tribe of Manasseh, who “went a whoring after the gods of the people of the land.”
On the other hand, it is sweet and edifying to the soul to trace out the brief notices (which, if this were but a human book, would seem so out of place in the midst of long lists of names) of what divine grace had wrought in one and another as they trod their oftentimes lowly ways, with faith in exercise and the conscience active. Of this character is the lovely passage as to Jabez, who was more honorable than his brethren because he set the Lord before him. His prayer, “Oh that Thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that Thy hand might be with me, and that Thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me!” tells of the longings of his soul; and we do not wonder when we read that “God granted him that which he requested” (1 Chronicles 4:9-10). The sons of Reuben, too, with their allies who overcame the Hagarites when “they cried to God in the battle, and He was entreated of them, because they put their trust in Him” are cited as another instance of the power of faith (chap. 5:18-20). Nor does God forget Zelophe-had, the man who had no sons to inherit after him, but who claimed a portion for his daughters, and learned that the strength of the Lord is made perfect in weakness (chap. 7:15).
There are precious lessons too of a typical character that become manifest as we patiently search this portion of the word of the Lord, which, like all other Scripture, was written for our learning. Who can fail to see the lesson of “the potters, and those that dwelt among plants and hedges:there they dwelt with the king for his work”? Surely it has a voice for all who seek to care for the tender plants of the Lord’s garden, as also for those who minister to the hardier ones that constitute the hedges, and who are set for the marking of the boundaries in divine things. It is only as the servants dwell with the King that they are fit to carry on His work (chap. 4:23). The lesson of chap. 9:26-34 is similar.
Saul’s genealogy is given in chap. 8, beginning with verse 33; but his whole life is passed over in silence, and only his lamentable end recorded in the 10th chapter. He it was of whom God said, “I gave them a king in Mine anger, and took him away in My wrath.” It was a desire to be like the nations that led Israel to ask for a king; and in giving them their request the Lord sent leanness into their souls. Saul was the man of the people’s choice, but he was a dreadful disappointment. His dishonored death is on a par with his unhappy life, which is only hinted at in the closing verses of the chapter, as all the sorrowful details have been left on record in the books bearing Samuel’s name-the prophet who loved him so dearly, but who could not lead him in the ways of God. As another has well described him, he was “the man after the flesh.” This tells the whole story. In all his life he seems never to have truly been brought into the presence of God. His activities were all of the flesh, and his way of looking at things was only according to man, and the garish light of man’s day. Defeated on Mount Gilboa, he is a suicide at last, and after his death becomes the sport of the enemies of the Lord. “So Saul died for his transgression which he committed against the Lord, even against the word of the Lord, which he kept not, and also for asking counsel of one that had a familiar spirit, to inquire of it; and inquired not of the Lord:therefore He slew him, and turned the kingdom unto David the son of Jesse” (chap. 10:13, 14).
Upon the fall of the people’s choice, God’s man appears upon the scene. There is no word here of the early experiences of David, save that the mighty men are those who went down to the rock to him when he was in the cave of Adullam, and others also who came to him when he was at Ziklag, and kept himself close because of Saul the son of Kish.
The account here given begins with the coming of all Israel to David unto Hebron to make him king. The seven years’ reign over Judah is not mentioned. Owned of the whole nation as the ruler of God’s appointment, he begins at once the work of enlarging their borders and delivering them from their enemies. Jebus, the fortress of the Jebusites, is taken and converted into the city of David, where he reigns in power, waxing greater and greater; thus manifesting the fact that the Lord of hosts was with him. The mighty men who had shared his rejection are now the sharers of his power, and the glory pertaining thereto. It is a picture of the true David, God’s “Beloved,” who is yet to be manifested in authority over all the earth, when those who now cleave to Him when set at naught will have their part with Him when He takes His great power and reigns.
The ark is brought up to the city of David, but only after the lesson has been learned that God will be sanctified in them that come nigh Him, and that, though Philistine carts may do for those who know not the mind of God, where His word is given it must be inquired of and obeyed. Great are the rejoicings of the people when the symbol of the covenant of the Lord is installed in the place prepared for it, and burnt sacrifices and peace offerings ascend in a cloud of fragrance to God. But when the king would build a house for the God of Israel, though encouraged by the prophet Nathan in his pious purpose, both king and prophet have to learn that the thoughts of God are above the thoughts of the best and most devoted men. Nathan has to inform him that it cannot be for him to build the house, because he has been a man of blood:when, however, his son is established in peace upon the throne, he shall build the house, and all will be in keeping with the times. David thus is seen to picture the establishment of the kingdom in the destruction of the enemies of the Lord, while Solomon sets forth the reign of peace that is to follow for the thousand years. Bowing in obedience to the word of the Lord, David begins to prepare for the work of the temple by gathering in abundance all the materials that he is able to obtain.
But it is made evident that the ideal King has not yet come, for even in the man after God’s own heart is found failure ere he resigns his crown to his son. His personal sin, that left so dreadful a blot upon his character, is here omitted, as befits the character of the book. But his official failure in numbering the people is told in all faithfulness, as also the fact that it was Satan who provoked him to act as he did. But in amazing grace God overrules all to make David’s very sin the means of manifesting the site for the future temple of the Lord. Finally, having set all in order, and arranged even the courses of the priests and Levites who are to officiate in the glorious house of Jehovah, the aged monarch appoints Solomon his son and the son of Bathsheba to be king in his stead; and after solemnly charging him both as to the kingdom and the house that is to be built, “he died in a good old age, full of days, riches, and honor:and Solomon his son reigned in his stead.”
In the opening chapters of 1 Kings we see that his last days were not all bright. His failure to properly control his household brought him much sorrow, and embittered his cup when he was too feeble to exert himself as he would have desired. Adonijah’s effort, however, to secure the crown for himself results in disaster, and eventually in his own death, and Solomon’s, title is indisputably established.
Solomon’s reign begins most auspiciously. Having gone to Gibeon, where the altar still remained with the tabernacle, to offer sacrifice, God appeared to him in the night with the wondrous message, “Ask what I shall give thee.” It was as though He placed all His resources at the disposal of faith. The young king prays for wisdom and knowledge in order that he may care for the flock committed to him. It was a most remarkable prayer for one placed in his position, and the Lord manifests His pleasure in it by conferring upon him exceeding abundantly above all that he asked or thought. His wisdom is celebrated to this day, and in his own times was the admiration of his people and the surrounding nations wherever his fame was carried.
The main part of the chapters devoted to Solomon, in both Kings and Chronicles, is occupied with the ac- count of the temple, every whit of which was to utter the glory of the “Greater than Solomon” who was yet to come. The symbolism of this magnificent structure has been gone into at length by others, and would not properly belong to this introductory notice. At the dedication of the temple, which had gone up so silently, Jehovah came in a manner that none might misunderstand, and took possession of the house as His own. Solomon’s prayer on that occasion is prophetic of the sad history that these books record as to later years. He seems to see all that his people would yet have to pass through.
But light and gift are not sufficient of themselves to keep one in the path with God. For a time all goes well with Solomon. His power is unprecedented. His fame is carried into all lands penetrated by the trader’s caravan or touched by the ship of the voyager. The queen of Sheba comes from the uttermost parts of the earth to prove him with hard questions concerning the name of the Lord, and goes away with every question answered and her heart swelling with the glorious things that she has both seen and heard. The king’s knowledge in all matters seems to be limitless. “And all the earth sought to Solomon to hear his wisdom, which God had put into his heart” (1 Kings 10:24). Sad it is that so glorious a record has to be blotted by the tale of failure that the book of Kings records, but which is passed over in Chronicles.
“ But King Solomon loved many strange women…and when Solomon was old, his wives turned away his heart.” Such is the terrible fall of the man who was most privileged of all the rulers that history, sacred or profane, tells us of. He failed to keep his own heart. The Lord lost the place He had once had, and the result was that Solomon sinned grievously after all that he had known and enjoyed of the things of God. Idolatry was established in the very sight of the holy temple of the Lord. God was dishonored by the very man who, of all others, had received the most from Him. What a warning to every subject of His grace! May reader and writer lay it to heart!
As a result of his sins the Lord stirred up adversaries against him, and in the days of his son rent the kingdom from the house of David, with the exception of the two tribes. But of all this the following pages will treat.
We would only add a few remarks to trace the roots of the division that took place at the death of Solomon, rending the kingdom in twain, never to be reunited till that day of Israel’s regeneration yet to come, when “the envy also of Ephraim shall depart,…Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not vex Ephraim” (Isaiah 11:13).
As descendants of Joseph, who (in Jacob’s and Moses’ blessings) was exalted above and “separate from his brethren,” Ephraim seems ever to have aspired to leadership in the nation. Already, in the time of the Judges, that pride had twice broken out in haughty demeanor. After the mighty victory of Gideon’s little band over the Midianites that had invaded and ravaged the land, the men of Ephraim sharply chided Gideon because he had not called them to the war-envying the fame of such a victory. Gideon’s most gracious answer to their haughty chiding averted a catastrophe (Judges 8:1-3); but their still more haughty chiding of Jephthah on a later occasion brought upon Ephraim a terrible, though deserved, retribution (chap. 12:1-6).
When the Theocracy (God’s direct rule in Israel) gave place to the kingdom by Israel’s impious request, Saul, taken from “little Benjamin,” is acclaimed by all Israel. Benjamin having been nearly annihilated for their sin some time before, and being Joseph’s full brother, may on that account have been more welcome to Ephraim. But when David, of the tribe of Judah, is manifested as God’s anointed in the place of rejected Saul, and at Saul’s death is made king in Hebron by Judah, he is not acclaimed, but opposed, by the other tribes, of whom Ephraim was chief, and a seven-years’ war ensues, until the weak pretender of Saul’s house gives way before the rising power of David and Judah, and Israel is reunited in one kingdom under David’s godly and righteous rule. The jealousy and strife that broke out on previous occasions is for the time forgotten and out of sight.
But as David’s sin, and his son’s wicked conduct, brought about upheavals in the kingdom, so, later on, through Solomon’s departure from God and oppression of His people, occasion is found at his death to make demands upon the new king coming to his father’s throne. His insolent and foolish answer brings about the crisis in which the unthankful and heartless cry is heard, “What portion have we in David? neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse:to your tents, O Israel! now see to thine own house, David” (1 Kings 12:16). Ephraim, headed by Jeroboam-an Ephraimite-then takes leadership of the ten tribes revolted from the house of David, and a new kingdom is formed, in which every one in the line of their nineteen kings is an apostate from Jehovah.
I now leave the reader with what my beloved fellow-servant has penned, praying that as he passes on he may have the hearing ear, the anointed eye, and the subject heart that alone makes the truth living and real in the soul.
H. A. Ironside.
the Second Week of Advent