Consider helping today!
THE CAREER OF SOLOMON AS KING OF THE UNITED KINGDOM is here commenced, covering the ground to the end of 2 Chronicles 9:1-31. The same period is described in 1 Kings 1-11. And the following table of parallel passages (as given by Keil) may be put here for convenient reference:
2 Chronicles 1:2-13
1 Kings 3:4-15.
2 Chronicles 1:14-17
1 Kings 10:26-29.
2 Chronicles 2:1-18
1 Kings 5:15-18.
2 Chronicles 3:1-1
1 Kings 6:1-38; 1 Kings 7:13-51.
2 Chronicles 5:2
1 Kings 7:8, 1 Kings 7:10.
2 Chronicles 7:11-22
1 Kings 9:1-9.
2 Chronicles 8:1-18
1 Kings 9:10-28.
2 Chronicles 9:1-12, 2 Chronicles 9:13-28
1 Kings 10:1-13, 1 Kings 10:14-29.
2 Chronicles 9:29-31
1 Kings 11:41-43.
The present chapter of seventeen verses tells
(1) of Solomon's sacrifice at "the high place of Gibeon," whither he was accompanied by "all the congregation" (1 Kings 11:1-6). Next
(2) of the vision given to him that same night, with his prayer and the answer vouchsafed to it (1 Kings 11:7-12). And lastly,
(3) of the wealth and the signs of it which became his thereupon (1 Kings 11:18-19). 1 Kings 11:1-6.—Solomon's sacrifice.
2 Chronicles 1:1
Was strengthened in his kingdom. This expression, or one very closely resembling it, is frequently found both in Chronicles and elsewhere, so far as the English Version is concerned. But the verb in its present form (hithp. conjugation) is found in Chronicles, omitting other books, just fifteen times, and rarely, if ever, to the level of the mere passive voice. It carries rather the idea of a person who exerts himself, and does all that in him lies to nerve himself with strength for any object (1 Chronicles 11:10; 1 Chronicles 19:13; 2 Chronicles 12:13; 2 Chronicles 13:7, 2 Chronicles 13:8, 2 Chronicles 13:21; 2 Chronicles 15:8; 2 Chronicles 16:9; 2 Chronicles 17:1; 2 Chronicles 21:4; 2 Chronicles 23:1; 2 Chronicles 25:11; 2 Chronicles 27:6; 2 Chronicles 32:5). It may suggest to us that Solomon threw the force of moral energy and resolution into his work and life at this period. The Lord his God was with him; i.e. Jehovah his God was with him. The parallels of this very simple and natural expression are too numerous for quotation. Some of the earliest are found in well-known connections in the Book of Genesis, as e.g. Genesis 21:22; Genesis 26:28; Genesis 28:15, Genesis 28:20; Genesis 31:3. Again, Numbers 14:14, Numbers 14:43; Numbers 23:21; Joshua 14:12; Judges 6:13; Ruth 2:4; 1 Samuel 17:37; 2 Samuel 5:10; 1 Chronicles 11:9; 1 Chronicles 22:11, 1 Chronicles 22:16; 2 Chronicles 15:9; 2 Chronicles 19:11; 2 Chronicles 36:23; Amos 5:14. The beautiful New Testament equivalent occurs in 2 Thessalonians 3:16, and elsewhere. Like some other of those earliest concisest religious expressions, brevity and simplicity are fully charged with suggestion. And the above quotations will be found to furnish examples of the manifold practical use of the Lord's presence with any one. That presence may infer the help just of companionship, or of sure sympathy, or of needed counsel, or of strength in the hour of temptation, or of absolute practical help, or of the highest revealings of faith. The whole circle of need, of human and Christian need, the Divine presence "will supply" (Philippians 4:19). The "need" of Solomon in his present position was patent and pressing. Would that he had always kept by the true supply of it! Magnified him exceedingly. This verb in its piel conjugation, signifying "to make grow," occurs twenty-six times in the various books of the Old Testament, some of the more characteristic occurrences of it being found in the following passages: Genesis 12:2; Numbers 6:5; Joshua 3:7; Joshua 4:17; 1 Kings 1:37, 1 Kings 1:47; 2Ki 10:6; 1 Chronicles 29:12, 1 Chronicles 29:25; Esther 3:1; Job 7:17; Psalms 34:4; Psalms 69:31; Isaiah 1:2; Isaiah 44:14; Ezekiel 31:4; Daniel 1:5; Hosea 9:12.
2 Chronicles 1:2
This verse and the following four supersede the one verse, 1 Kings 3:4; and the five together give us, of course, a much fuller view of the events of the sacrifice. Our present verse purports to show the representative components of "all Israel" in a fourfold classification. Captains of thousands and of hundreds (see first 1 Chronicles 13:1; 1Ch 27:1; 1 Chronicles 28:1; and then Exodus 18:21, Exodus 18:25; Numbers 31:14, Numbers 31:48, Numbers 31:52, Numbers 31:54; Deuteronomy 1:15; 1 Samuel 8:12; 1 Samuel 17:18; 1Sa 18:13; 1 Samuel 22:7; 2 Samuel 18:1; 2 Kings 11:9, 2 Kings 11:15, 2 Kings 11:19). The judges. The office and the person of the judge were held in high honour among the Jewish people from the first, and perhaps, also, with a noteworthy uniformity, even in the more degenerate periods of their history. Their commencement in patriarchal simplicity can be easily imagined, and receives illustration from such passages as Job 29:7, Job 29:8, Job 29:9; Job 32:9. Their more formal development may be considered to date from the crisis related in Exodus 18:14-24. And the allusions to the judge and his office thenceforward sustain our impression of the honour in which they were held, arising, no doubt, largely from the deep-felt necessity for them, the more society crystallized (Numbers 25:5; Deuteronomy 16:18; Deuteronomy 19:17; Deuteronomy 21:2; Joshua 8:33; 1 Chronicles 23:24; 1 Chronicles 26:29; 2 Chronicles 19:8-10). In 1 Chronicles 23:24 we are told how David set apart "six thousand Levites" to be "officers and judges." Every governor. The word employed here (נָשִׂיא) is rendered by five different words in our Authorized Version: "prince" (Genesis 17:20, passim), "ruler" (Exodus 16:22, passim), "captain" (Numbers 2:3, passim), "chief" 1 Chronicles 3:24, passim), and "governor" in the present passage only. It is evidently a term of generic signification, used of a king (1 Kings 11:34; Ezekiel 12:10); of leaders of the Ishmaelites (Genesis 17:20); of the captains of the tribes of Israel (Numbers 7:11); of the chiefs of families (Numbers 3:24); while the use of it (Genesis 23:6) to set forth the position of Abraham as one raised to eminence so high and undisputed that it might be clearly said to be God's doing, is sufficient to determine its central signification. The chief of the fathers; i.e. the heads of the fathers. The first occurrence of the expression, "the heads of their fathers' houses" (Exodus 6:14), and of "the heads of the fathers of the Levites according to their families" (Exodus 6:25), sufficiently explains the original and perfectly natural meaning of the phrase. The great importance and significance of the position of the heads "of families" and "of houses" and" of fathers" in early patriarchal times must necessarily have declined by the time of Solomon, when the nation had received so much more of civil form and system. But the name remained, and the family and social position did not fail to make themselves felt, and finally the official recognition of them in David's time is evidenced by 1 Chronicles 27:1, and in Solomon's time both by the present passage and 2 Chronicles 5:2 with its parallel 1 Kings 8:1. Our present use of the expression ought probably to show it, in close apposition with the foregoing words, "to all Israel" (wrongly translated "in all Israel" in the Authorized Version), and which itself is a repetition of the "to all Israel" in the beginning of the verse. Although the existing Hebrew pointing of the verse does not favour the supposition, it may be that the writer means to emphasize Solomon's summons as made both to the kingdom as such, and to the people also as a united people. We are not, indeed, told here, in so many words, what it was that Solomon said "to all Israel." But there can be no doubt as to his object, as betrayed in the first clause of the following verse.
2 Chronicles 1:3
All the congregation; i.e. in the persons of their captains, judges, princes, and family representatives. The high place … at Gibeon. It may readily be allowed that even nature and instinct would suggest a certain fitness in selecting high places, and the impressive grandeur of groves, for the worship of the High and Lofty One and for the offerings of sacrifice to him. It was not otherwise historically (Genesis 12:7, Genesis 12:8; Genesis 22:3, Genesis 22:4; Genesis 31:54). However, first, it was part of the education of a nation (situated in the heart of the young world) in the unity of the one God, that its worship should be offered in one place, and the smoke of its sacrifices ascend from one altar; and secondly, it was not difficult to foresee that the very force that lay in the associations, which dictated the choice of some places (not least, certainly, "the grove"), would constitute their weakness and snare. The prohibitions, therefore, of the Mosaic Law (Deuteronomy 12:5, Deuteronomy 12:11, Deuteronomy 12:14, Deuteronomy 12:19, Deuteronomy 12:21, Deuteronomy 12:26), witnessed to by such corroborations as are found in commands to obliterate certain Canaanitish traces, that looked long time a different way (Le 2 Chronicles 17:8; 2Ch 26:1-23 :30; Numbers 33:52; Deuteronomy 33:29; Joshua 22:29; 1 Kings 20:23), approve themselves as in thorough harmony with what all would feel to be the genius of the religious education of Israel, and, through Israel, of the nations of the world. The wonder that impresses us is rather that means were not found to abide by the "letter" of the Law to a far greater degree during all the generations that elapsed before the people were settled in their land, and were gathered in their temple so typical. Is it not possible to regard this as an impressive instance of how, even in a system that sought to be of the closest and most exclusive, the "spirit," by force of circumstances, resented the tyrannous bondage of the "letter"? Anyway, for ages from the time of that prohibition, the nation had the moral principle as their guide rather than any possibility of keeping safe within a commandment's "letter" (so see Judges 6:25, Judges 6:26; Judges 13:17-24; 1 Samuel 7:10; 1 Samuel 13:9; 1 Samuel 16:5; 1 Samuel 10:5; 1 Chronicles 21:26; 1 Kings 18:30). Even now, accordingly, the prohibited is still the observed, and by Solomon, too, in the steps of David, even if it be necessary to describe it as the "winked at." And to the "high place" at Gibeon Solomon and all the representatives, the congregation of Israel, have to repair in order to do sacrifice. The tabernacle was now at Gibeon, whither it had come from Nob (1 Chronicles 16:39, 1 Chronicles 16:40; 1 Samuel 21:1, 1 Samuel 21:6; from which latter reference, speaking of the "shew-bread," it comes that we know the tabernacle to have resided at Nob awhile; for the circumstance is not positively narrated in any passage of the history (but see also 1 Samuel 22:9, 1 Samuel 22:11). Gibeon was one of the four Hivite cities, the other three being Beeroth, Chephirah, and Kirjath-jearim. It had its first fame from its "wiliness" (Joshua 9:3, Joshua 9:4, etc.). By the directest road, it was five miles distant from Jerusalem, in the direction of the sea. It was further noted for the encounter between Joab and Abner (2 Samuel 2:12-17). Again, for the slaying of Amasa by Joab (2 Samuel 20:6-10), and for the death of Joab himself at the hand of Benalak, at the very horns of the altar (1 Kings 2:28-34). Although the exact date of the lodging of the tabernacle at Gibeon is not told us, nor even the person who was answerable for briging it there, yet there can be no reasonable doubt that it was David, as we read (1 Chronicles 16:40) of his appointing the priests to offer "the daily sacrifices" there, on the brazen altar of Moses, when Zadok was at their head, and Heman and Jeduthun were their resident musicians. In what particular part of Gibeon or of its immediate neighbourhood the tabernacle was stationed cannot be said with any certainty. Amid a considerable choice of likely places, one forming part of Gibeon itself, and just south of El-Tib, seems the likeliest, and to be preferred to the suggestion of Stanley, of Neby-Samuil, which is a mile distant. The present imposing occasion is the last of any importance on which Gibeon is brought before us (see also 1 Kings 8:3; 1 Chronicles 9:35). There was the tabernacle. The removal of the tabernacle to Gibeon no doubt followed immediately on the destruction of Nob by Saul (1 Samuel 22:9; 1 Chronicles 16:39, 1 Chronicles 16:40, compared with 1Ch 16:37; 1 Chronicles 21:28, 1 Chronicles 21:29). Moses … made in the wilderness (see Exodus 25:1-40; Exodus 26:1-37; Exodus 27:1-21; Exodus 33:7-10).
2 Chronicles 1:4
But the ark. Again, as in 1 Chronicles 16:39, the writer emphasizes the fact of the temporary divorce that had obtained between the ark and the tabernacle (so 1 Samuel 6:20; 2 Samuel 6:2-19; 1 Kings 3:2, 1 Kings 3:4, 1 Kings 3:15; 1 Chronicles 13:3-14; 1 Chronicles 15:1-3, 1 Chronicles 15:12-15, 1 Chronicles 15:23-29). David's pitching of the tent for it is recorded emphatically 1 Chronicles 15:1; 1 Chronicles 16:1; 2 Samuel 6:17.
2 Chronicles 1:5
The brazen altar. This statement is introduced to lay stress on the fact that, though the ark indeed was not with the tabernacle, the brazen altar of burnt offering assuredly was there, this constituting the place, the proper spot, for sacrifice and worship. (For the account of the brazen altar and its making, see Exodus 27:1-8; Exodus 38:1-7; also Numbers 16:38, Numbers 16:39.) This altar of burnt offering is often spoken of as the altar, to distinguish it from the altar of incense (Exodus 30:1; Exodus 39:38; Numbers 4:11). Bezaleel. (For detailed genealogy, see our 1 Chronicles 2:3-20; also Exodus 31:2-5; Exodus 35:30-35.) He put before. The reading (שָׁם), "was there before," is to be preferred, tallying as it does exactly with Exodus 40:6. This was the reading understood by the Septuagint and Vulgate. The majority of manuscripts, however, and the Syriac Version, have שָׂם. Sought unto it. The analogy of the use of this word would make to be preferred the translation "sought him," i.e. the "Jehovah" just spoken of. But whether the object of the verb be in this place Jehovah or the altar, it would seem probable that the clause purports to say that Solomon and his people were accustomed to repair thither, while now they were about to repair thither with a very vast burnt offering.
2 Chronicles 1:6
A thousand burnt offerings. The first instance of the burnt offering is Genesis 8:20, and thereafter in the same book Genesis 15:9, Genesis 15:17; Genesis 22:2, Genesis 22:7, Genesis 22:13. It was manifestly the chiefest of the eucharistic kind of sacrifices, and for manifest reasons also was preceded by a "sin" offering (Exodus 29:36-38; Le Exodus 8:14, etc.). (For full details of the ceremonial, see Leviticus 1:1-17; Leviticus 6:1-30; Leviticus 7:1-38; Leviticus 8:1-36, passim) The extraordinary number of the burnt offerings on this and some similar occasions may well excite our wonder (Numbers 7:3, Numbers 7:17; 1 Kings 8:64; 2 Chronicles 4:1 compared with 2 Chronicles 7:7. See also Herod; 'Hist.,' 7.43). The priests, of course, performed the sacrifices at the command of Solomon.
2 Chronicles 1:7-12
The vision and prayer of Solomon, and God's answer to that prayer.
2 Chronicles 1:7
That night. This can mean no other night than that which followed the day (or the days) of sacrifices so multitudinous. The parallel account in 1 Kings 3:5 tells us the way in which "God appeared to Solomon," viz. by dream. The words of God's offer, Ask what I shall give thee, are identical in the parallel place.
2 Chronicles 1:8
Thou hast showed great mercy unto David my father. These also are the exact words found in the parallel place, but they omit the words, "thy servant," before "David," found there. And hast made me to reign in his stead. This concise expression takes the place of two equivalent expressions, found at the end of the sixth and beginning of the seventh verses in the parallel passage, the former of which passages also describes it as "this great kindness," i.e. kindness on the part of God—a description very much in harmony with David's own grateful acknowledgment to God (1 Kings 1:48). Up to this point our present account differs from its parallel in cutting out Solomon's eulogy of his father ("According as he walked before thee in truth and in righteousness and in uprightness of heart with thee"), and his humbler disparagement of himself ("And I, a little child, know not how to go out or come in").
2 Chronicles 1:9
Now, O Lord God, let thy promise unto David my father be established. This challenge on the part of Solomon, intended, without doubt, most reverently, is not given in the parallel place, and forms not only a distinctive but an interesting additional feature of the present account. It is thought by some that the "promise "here challenged is not very distinctly recorded anywhere, but surely passages like 1 Chronicles 17:12-14; 1 Chronicles 22:10; 1 Chronicles 28:6, 1 Chronicles 28:7 amply meet the case. See also 2 Samuel 7:12, 2 Samuel 7:15. King over a people like the dust. It is noteworthy that, though the equivalent of this phrase is found in the parallel, the distinctiveness of this simile is not found there. (For the use of the simile to express a vast number, see Genesis 28:14; Numbers 23:10; Zephaniah 1:17; Zechariah 9:3.) It is not at all of frequent use in Scripture.
2 Chronicles 1:10
Give me now wisdom and knowledge. The force of the opening of this verse, and the relation of it to the former, are both prejudiced by the "now" (עַתּה) being deposed from its right position as the first word in the verse. For the rest of this verse, the parallel passage has "an understanding heart" in place of our "wisdom and knowledge;" and "that I may discern between good and bad," in place of our that I may go out and come in before this people. In using the words, "wisdom and knowledge," Solomon seems to have remembered well the prayer of his father (1 Chronicles 22:12). (For the pedigree of the simple and effective phrase, "know how to go out and come in," see Numbers 27:17; Deuteronomy 31:2; 1 Samuel 18:13, 1 Samuel 18:16; 2 Samuel 3:25). It is at the same time refreshing to revisit the times when the most exalted nominal ruler was also the real ruler, as being the leader, the judge, the teacher in the highest sense, and "the feeder" of his people. Nor is it less refreshing to notice how, in Israel at least, the fact was so well recognized and honoured, that justice and to judge just judgment lay at the deepest foundation of civil society.
2 Chronicles 1:11
With this verse the answer to Solomon's prayer begins. It is here concisely given in two verses, but occupies five (2 Chronicles 1:10-14) in the parallel place, including the verse not found here, which says, "The speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing." Otherwise there is no essential difference of any importance, though it may be noted that the parallel gives voice to the promise of "length of days," on the condition of Solomon fulfilling his part in showing obedience to the Divine will, and in following the steps of his father. Riches, wealth (עשֶׁרנְכָסִים). The most elementary idea of the former of these two words seems to be "straight growth," "prosperity;" of the latter, "to gather together" or "heap up." The former is found first in Genesis 31:16; and in the verb (hiph. conjugation) in Genesis 14:23. Afterwards it is found in almost all of the historical books, in the Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and in the prophets Jeremiah and Daniel. The latter word occurs only five times (Joshua 22:8; in this and the following verses; and in Ecclesiastes 5:19; Ecclesiastes 6:2). Its Chaldee form is also found in Ezra 6:8 and Ezra 7:26. A comparison of these passages scarcely sustains the supposition of some, suggested by the derivation of the word, that it marks specially those stores of useful things which constituted largely the wealth of Old Testament times. Wisdom and knowledge. The distinction between these is evident, as also that they are needful complements of one another for the forming of a catholic, useful, sound character.
2 Chronicles 1:12
Such as none of the kings … before thee, neither … after thee. These words were sadly ominous of the short-lived glory of the kingdom Only two kings had reigned before Solomon in Israel, and the glory of the kingdom too surely culminated in his reign, and even before the end of it (2 Chronicles 9:22, 2 Chronicles 9:23; 1 Chronicles 29:25; Ecclesiastes 2:9). On the other hand, the gratuitous and spontaneous fulness of promise in the Divine reply to a human prayer that "pleased" the Being invoked is most noticeable, and preached beforehand indeed, the lesson of the life of Jesus, "Seek ye first the kingdom … and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matthew 6:33). The contents of this verse are followed in the parallel by the words," And Solomon awoke; and behold it was a dream." There can be no doubt that what is here rehearsed did not lose any force or anything of reality from its transpiring in a dream, of which the abundantly open statement of the method of it, as in "sleep," and in "a dream," may be accepted as the first cogent evidence. But beside this, the frequent recital in the Old Testament of occasions when significant and weighty matters of business import were so conducted by the Divine will forms ample ground and defence for the other class of occasions, of which more spiritual matter was the subject (Genesis 28:12; Genesis 41:7; Genesis 20:3; Genesis 31:10, Genesis 31:24; Genesis 37:5; Genesis 40:5; Genesis 41:32; Judges 7:15; Job 33:15; Daniel 2:3; Daniel 7:1; Matthew 1:20; Matthew 2:13, Matthew 2:22; Matthew 27:19). On the other hand, side by side with such passages are those that refer to dreams for their emptiness and transiency of impression, when similes of this kind of thing are required (Job 20:8; Psalms 73:20; Psalms 126:1). This is not the place to enter into any argument of a metaphysical or physiological character respecting dreams, and what they may or may not avail. But as some persons know even too well how dreams have brought them most vivid, most torturing, and most exquisite experiences in turn, there will seem, to them at least, the less difficulty in admitting utterly their availableness for communications of highest import, not only from God to man, but under certain conditions from man to God. Without doubt, certain disabilities (and those, perhaps, more especially of the moral kind) attach to our mind in dreams. But do not dreams also find the scene of the keener activities of mind pure? Granted that the mind is then under ordinary circumstances without a certain control and self-commanding power, yet is it also in some large respects much more at liberty from that besetting tyranny of sense with which waking hours are so familiar! Hence its consummate daring and swiftness and versatility in dream beyond all that it knows in the body's waking state.
2 Chronicles 1:13
Solomon's return after sacrifice from Gibeon to Jerusalem, and from "before the tabernacle of the congregation" to "before the ark of the covenant of the Lord" in Mount Zion. the condensed and cut-down method of Chronicles, and its strong preferences for selecting out of the various material at its command. The tabernacle of the congregation. This styling of the "tabernacle" is of very frequent occurrence. It is found above thirty times in Exodus, and fully as often in Leviticus and Numbers. Afterwards it is sprinkled more rarely in the historical books. The reason of its being styled "the tabernacle of the congregation" (מוֹעֵר) is doubtful—perhaps because of the gatherings of the people in front of it, or possibly because of its being the place where God would meet with Moses. The other name, the tabernacle of "witness" or "testimony" or covenant" (עֵדוּת; Numbers 9:15, etc.), is not unfrequent. Hence the LXX. σκηνὴ τοῦ μαρτυρίου; the Vulgate, tabernaculum testimonii; and Luther's Stifisuitten. This verse very much stints the information contained in the parallel, to the effect that Solomon forthwith took his place before the ark of the covenant in Mount Zion, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings, and gave a feast to all his servants (2 Samuel 6:17-19; 1 Chronicles 16:1-3; Deuteronomy 14:26-29). And he reigned over Israel. These words seem nugatory both in themselves and as placed here. They probably stand for 1 Kings 4:1.
2 Chronicles 1:14-17
The attraction to Jerusalem of the signs of wealth—chariots, horses, etc.—on the part of Solomon. The excitement attending the great sacrifices at Gibeon, and before the ark in Jerusalem, had now subsided. And we obtain just a glimpse of the range of thought and purpose present to the mind of the reigning king. The largo expenditure of money would infer without fail the show of brilliant prosperity in the grand city for the time. Whether this would last, and whether it would not infer oppressive taxation somewhere or other (1 Kings 9:15, 1 Kings 9:21, 1 Kings 9:22; 1 Kings 10:25) among the people, time would show. Had this expenditure been all to record, none could suppose the commencing of the practical part of the king's reign either sound or auspicious. But, of course, it is to be qualified by other things that were transpiring, with which the parallel acquaints us (e.g. 1 Kings 3:16-28), only in different order. We now, however, begin a rapid and self-contained sketch of the reign of Solomon to his very death (2 Chronicles 9:1-31.)—the sketch one of marked characteristics, and in consistent keeping with the presumable objects of this work. For it is very much monopolized by the account of the temple.
2 Chronicles 1:14
The contents of this and the following three verses are identical with the parrallel 1 Kings 10:26-29, except that the words, "and gold," of our 1 Kings 10:15 (2 Chronicles 9:20) are not found there. The position of these four verses in the parallel, towards the close of the account of Solomon, would seem more natural than their position here, which has somewhat the appearance of a fragment interpolated, as on the other hand the account of the harlot-mothers there. Solomon gathered chariots and horsemen. The chariot was no institution of Israel (so Deuteronomy 20:1), neither of their earliest ancestors, nor of those more proximate. The earliest occasions of the mention of it (Genesis 41:43; Genesis 46:29; Genesis 50:9) are in connection with Egypt, and almost all subsequent occasions for a long stretch of time show it in connection with some foreign nation, till we read (2 Samuel 8:4; 1 Chronicles 18:4) of David "reserving horses" unhoughed "for a hundred chariots," apparently also "reserved" out of the very much larger number which he had taken in battle from Hadadezer King of Zobah. The very genius of the character of God's people, a pilgrim-genius, as well as their long-time pilgrim-life, quite accounts for the "chariot," though it be a war-chariot, having never ranked among their treasures (Deuteronomy 17:16; 1 Samuel 8:11). Now, however, Solomon thinks it the time to make it a feature of the nation's power and splendour. He gives the large order for fourteen hundred chariots apparently to Egypt (1 Kings 10:17; also 1 Kings 9:28), the appropriate number of horses to which would be probably four thousand. Solomon's fourteen hundred chariots were probably intended to exceed the numbers of the Egyptian king, of Hadadezer's (2 Samuel 8:4; 1 Chronicles 18:4), and of the Syrians (2 Samuel 10:18). But, on the other hand, see 1 Samuel 13:5 and 1 Chronicles 19:7, unless, as seems very probable, the numerals in these places are again incorrect. Dr. Smith's 'Dictionary of the Bible' contains an interesting article on the chariot (vol. 1:295). For significant allusions to the horsemen, reference may be made to 1 Samuel 8:11; 1 Kings 20:20; 2 Kings 2:12; Isaiah 21:7. Twelve thousand horsemen. These probably purport what we should call horse-soldiers, or cavalry. And. it is likely that they come to designate these in virtue of the Hebrew word here used (פָרָשִׁים) meaning horses of the cavalry sort (see Gesenius, 'Lexicon,' sub voce). The chariot cities. In 2 Chronicles 8:5, 2 Chronicles 8:6 we are expressly told that Solomon "built" purposely these cities, for the chariots and for the horsemen, just as he built the "store" cities (see also 1 Kings 9:17-19; Xenoph; 'Anab.,' 1 Kings 1:4. § 10).
2 Chronicles 1:15
And gold. The omission of these words in the parallel (1 Kings 10:27) is remarkable in the light of what we read in 2 Chronicles 9:20. We find the contents of this verse again in 2 Chronicles 9:27; as also in the parallel (1 Kings 10:27), just quoted with the exception already named. Cedar trees. The meaning is felled trunks of cedar (1 Chronicles 22:4) (אֲרָזִים). Whether the wood intended is the cedar of Lebanon (Pinus cedrus, or Cedrus conifera), "tall" (Isaiah 2:13; Isaiah 37:24; Amos 2:9), "widespreading" (Ezekiel 31:3), odoriferous, with very few knots, and wonderfully resisting decay, is considered by authorities on such subjects still uncertain. Gesenius, in his 'Lexicon,' sub voc; may be consulted, and the various Bible dictionaries, especially Dr. Smith's, under "Cedar;" and Dr. Kitto's 'Cyclopaedia,' under "Eres." The writer in Dr. Smith's 'Dictionary' suggests that under the one word "cedar," the Pinus cedrus, Pinus deodara, Yew, Taxus baccata, and Pinus sylvestris (Scotch pine) were referred to popularly, and were employed when building purposes are in question. That the said variety was employed is likely enough, but that we are intended to understand this when the word "cedar" is used seems unlikely (see for further indication of this unlikeliness, the instancing of "firs" occasionally with "cedars," 1 Kings 5:10; 1 Kings 9:11; 2 Chronicles 2:8). Sycomore trees (שִׁקְמִים). This word is found always in its present masc. plur. form except once, Psalms 78:47, where the plur. fem. form is found. The Greek equivalent in the Septuagint is always συκάμινος; but in the New Testament, and in the same treatise, i.e. the Gospel according to St. Luke, we find both συκάμινος and συκομωρέα (Luke 17:6 and Luke 19:4 respectively). Now, the former of these trees is the well. known mulberry tree. But the latter is what is called the fig-mulberry, or the sycamore-fig; and this is the tree of the Old Testament. Its fruit resembles the fig, grows on sprigs shooting out of the thick stems themselves of the tree, and each fruit needs to be punctured a few days before gathering, if it is to be acceptable eating (Amos 7:14; Isaiah 9:10). In the vale; i.e. in the lowland country, called the Shefelah. This is the middle one of the three divisions in which Judaea is sometimes described—mountain, lowland, and valley. This lowland was really the lowhills, between mountains and plain, near Lydda and Daroma (the "dry," 1.q. Negeb, Deu 34:1-12 :13), while the valley was the valley of Jordan, from Jericho to Engedi.
2 Chronicles 1:16##
Horses brought.; out of Egypt. Later on we read that horses were imported from other countries as well (2 Chronicles 9:24, 2 Chronicles 9:28), as, for instance, from Arabia and Armenia (Ezekiel 27:14). Linen yarn. The words are without doubt wrong here. But it is impossible to say with any certainty what should be in their place. The Vulgate shows here from Coa, presumably meaning Tekoa, a small place on the road from Egypt to Jerusalem. It might not have been easy to surmise, however, so much as this, but for the fact that the Septuagint shows in the parallel place, "And from Tekoa" (Amos 1:1). The Septuagint, however, has for the present place, Καὶ ἡ τιμὴ τῶν ἐμπόρωντοῦ βασίλεως πορεύεσθαι καὶ ἠγόραζον The Hebrew word here translated "linen yarn" is מִקְואֵ (i.q. מִקְוֶה niph. of קָוָה, "to be gathered together").' Gesenius, followed by De Wette (and others), and himself following Piscator and Vatablus, would translate the word "company," and read, "a company of the king's merchants took a company (of horses) at a price." Others would translate the word "import;" and read, "the import of the king's merchants was an import at a price," i.e. in money. Neither of these renderings can be considered really satisfactory. Some slight corruption of text still baulks us, therefore.
2 Chronicles 1:17
Six hundred shekels of silver. Some add up in this amount the vehicle itself, harness, horse or horses necessary to it, and the expense of carriage of the whole. Whether or no horses are included may be doubtful. The amount added up reaches, according to various estimates, £90 or £70. If we take the silver shekel at 3s. 4d. according to one of the later authorities, the amount will be £100; and so for a horse £25. For all the kings of the Hittites, and the kings of Syria; see 2 Chronicles 8:7, 2 Chronicles 8:8; 2 Chronicles 9:14, 2 Chronicles 9:23, 2 Chronicles 9:24, 2 Chronicles 9:26; 1Ki 4:21, 1 Kings 4:24; 2 Kings 7:6; which last place in particular suggests that Solomon would be the more willing to assist neighbouring peoples in the purchase of horses, etc; who might be already tributary to him, or even vassals, or who might in future be in the better position to help him, when either required or hired to do so.
2 Chronicles 1:1-17
Each highest need of life offers to turn into the first accepted and best rewarded prayer of life.
This chapter of seventeen verses might remind us of a picture and its mount and frame, a precious stone and its setting. In this sense it is a unity. The first six verses are used just to prepare us for the contents of the six that follow; and the last five summarily assure us that the fulfilment did not fall short of, nor halt long behind, promise. The now sole reign of Solomon, begun with the blessing that causeth to prosper, seemed (all too briefly, perhaps) to direct itself spontaneously to those religious observances that alike rightly acknowledged the past goodness of God, and augured the very best of auguries for the future. For Solomon acted promptly and religiously himself, and also taught and led a whole nation, his own nation, to do the same, when he sought and repaired to "the brazen altar before the tabernacle of the Lord"—that sacred and time-honoured tabernacle which "Moses the servant of the Lord had made in the wilderness." Since that date, oh, what journeys it had made!—what much more varied, stranger, wanderings and history it had representatively shared! What a career that nation escaped from Egypt now just five centuries had already run! what a mark on the very world's history it had availed to make! But to the picture itself, rather than its surroundings—picture, parable, solemn and sweet reality, all in one! There are to be noticed and studied:
(1) the appearance to Solomon;
(2) the unhesitating prayer of Solomon;
(3) the answer and promise vouchsafed to Solomon.
I. THE APPEARANCE TO SOLOMON.
1. The veritable fact in it; i.e. that it was God who appeared. What we often vaguely call Providence; or a happy thought; or a sudden suggestion; or an unaccountable impression; or, worst of all, a chance of the waking mind or of the dream;—should in devout language, and equally in devout truth, be called by the name that is Love, and that is also to be supremely feared.
2. The method of it. Probably enough in dream, in one or other of the kinds of dream, with which Scripture makes us familiar; the deeper dream, or that which young Samuel's more resembled; or thinking in night's deep stillness, with all its unstinted retrospect of the day on which it had just closed. In brief, whatever the absolute fact was, it is not necessary to suppose that God appeared then any more literally or visibly than now sometimes to us, or that he appears any less really many a time to us.
3. The times; i.e. immediately upon Solomon's practical conduct, right conduct, devout and religious conduct, and conduct that drew in with itself the nature, the idea, the fact of public worship, public service, the action of the combined Church. To human works no merit belongs. They claim no worthiness of this kind. They cannot earn or deserve anything of God. Yet is it to be most distinctly and unequivocally noted how often God appears to view in connection with human works, interposes to aid and bless in the very crises or sequel of rightly intended human endeavour or bold deed. It is as though he would graciously ever associate his noblest, kindest, freest giving with our deeds, so that they be simple and sincere deeds, that these may be reacted upon at other times by the quickening, encouraging memory thereof. It is not simply written that "God appeared" in the night, but emphatically "in that night."
4. The object, or very matter of it. Astonishing to say, it is not to hear a petition, not to answer a petition, but positively to ask for a petition—to ask to be asked for some good gift. This, when projected upon the plain page of the Divine book, is recognized as amazing condescension; but it is nothing in excess of what is ever going on in God's dealings with us. It comes of the fulness of his overflowing goodness, of his natural liberality, and of his unfeigned forgiving-ness of spirit, to his erring family.
5. The contradiction couched in it, to the idea of human life, character, action, being based on any fatalistic scheme emanating from above. A man's own choice is here asked, elicited, challenged, acceded to, and granted! And herein, in all five particulars, we have but expressed in graphic parable the facts between God and human, individual life in all ages.
II. THE UNHESITATING PRAYER OF SOLOMON. There cannot be held to be any doubt that this prayer was approved, divinely approved, in what it contained. It cannot, perhaps, be asserted as positively that it "lacked nothing," and was as unchallengeable in what it did not contain. When we have travelled many a mile with Solomon, and have come to the latter milestones of his journey, thoughts make themselves a voice, and we fear that the prayer erred by defect. Let us take note first of what was incontestably good in it.
1. It found its spring in the sense of genuine responsibility—responsibility that had come from father to son, and more sacred and venerable for this; responsibility that was heightened by the memory of its being in matter that had. enlisted special Divine promise, and which promise must not be allowed to fall to the ground through lack of human co-operation; and responsibility because of the intrinsic nature of the subject in hand. Prayer thus rising to the surface is earnest, sincere, deep; and no doubt it was so now with Solomon.
2. It was prayer relatively high in its aim, by the expressed Divine admission and commendation here. "Wisdom and knowledge" were above "riches, wealth, honour, the life of enemies, or long life for self."
3. It was prayer for means, strength, grace to do duty, to be equal to the requirements of lofty duty, and duty that in its significance and its results looked far outside individual interest or individual interest and honour combined. The standpoint of duty is equally grand and momentous! There may be prayer for high possessions—possessions of knowledge and wisdom even, that have selfishness and ambition in them, but not a grain of grace or an atom of sense and love of duty, and acknowledging of solemn responsibility. Solomon's prayer stands in vivid contrast to this sort of thing. He prayed for wisdom and knowledge that he might fill his father's place worthily, his own place aright—"serve his generation by the will of God," and in thus doing "please God" himself!
4. It was prayer that failed to make provision for the highest, deepest, surest needs of all; viz. humility, personal, practical, preserving piety, ever "a clean heart" and the renewing ever of "a right spirit." Of these things, masked in the prayer, nothing is promised in its answer; and the sad clue may lie herein to much in Solomon's subsequent life. Thinking hereof, may we not lay it to heart for our own timely warning, when we are compelled to say of Solomon at this critical moment, "He left unprayed the things he ought to have prayed"?
III. THE ANSWER WITH PROMISE MADE BY GOD TO SOLOMON.
1. It expressly said to him, it reminds ourselves, how God knows the heart and measures prayer by the heart. "Because," he says, "this was in thy heart." There is many a prayer of the lip, of memory, of habit, of superstitious sentiment, of some vague feeling of duty, but the heart is far away, and from such prayers, so-called, God himself is equally far away.
2. God granted that petition, not simply because it was a heart's true desire, but because it was also "most expedient"—it was a true heart's true desire! It was "most expedient" for Solomon, for the high place he held, and "all Israel"—"thy people"—over whom he reigned.
3. God crowns the answer with promise as well. The precious thing granted by way of answer, incomparably the best thing by far, God wreathes with splendour—a splendour, he expressly says, unknown before, and hereafter never to be eclipsed! So, how often has it been that those who have with single eye, steadfast heart, sought first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, have found all other things added to them! So, how often has it been that "those who feared God" have found they "lacked no good thing"! And even earthly honour, earthly wealth, earthly good, have been bestowed with overflowing cup on those who could safely receive it, because they had shown they desired first, prayed first, for purer, higher good—the real, the right, the true, the lasting.
HOMILIES BY W. CLARKSON
2 Chronicles 1:1
A bright beginning.
It is far from being everything when we make a good beginning; for many a bright beginning has a very dark ending. Yet is it a very great advantage to start well on our course. Few men ever commenced their career under more favourable auspices than did King Solomon, when "he sat on the throne of the Lord as king, instead of David his father" (1 Chronicles 29:23). He had much to sustain and to encourage him.
I. THE HERITAGE HE HAD FROM HIS FATHER. It was much to him that he was "Solomon, the son of David." He was known to be the favourite son and chosen heir of his illustrious father. All the strong attachment which the people felt for the late (or the dying) sovereign went to establish his son upon the throne. Solomon acceded to the gathering and deepening affection which his father David had been winning to himself through a long and prosperous reign. All the influence which an honoured and beloved leader can convey to his successor was communicated to him: thus was he "strengthened in the kingdom."
II. CONSIDERABLE PERSONAL ADVANTAGES. "The Lord magnified him exceedingly." Taking this with the same expression (and the words that accompany it) in 1 Chronicles 29:25, we may safely infer that God had given him:
1. A noble and commanding presence, such as attracts and affects those who behold it (see Psalms 45:2).
2. A winning address, a bearing and demeanour which drew men to him and called forth their good will.
3. A mind of unusual capacity, an intellectual superiority that enabled him to acquit himself honourably in private and in public affairs. Thus was he "magnified exceedingly;" he was held in high honour, was "made great" in the estimation of all the people.
III. THE FAVOURING PRESENCE OF GOD. "The Lord his God was with him." How much is held and hidden in that simple phrase," God was with him" (see Genesis 21:22; Genesis 39:2; 1 Samuel 18:14)! It meant that God was with him to shield him from harm, to direct him in difficulty, to inspire him with wisdom, to sustain him in trial, to enrich him with every needful good. God was attending his steps and "laying his hand upon him."
We may say that this was not only a bright, but even a brilliant, beginning of the king's career. We cannot hope for a commencement like that; that is only granted to the few, to the very few indeed. This is true, but it is also true that to most if not to all men, certainly to those of us who have a knowledge of God in Christ Jesus, there is possible a bright beginning of active life. In all or nearly all cases there is:
1. A heritage from those who have gone before us. From our parents, from our forefathers, from the toil and struggle and suffering of our race, there comes to us a heritage of good. This may be material wealth; or, if not that, knowledge, truth, wisdom, precious thought in striking and powerful language, inspiring examples of heroic deeds and noble lives. If not sons of such fathers as David, we are the children of privilege, we are "the heirs of all the ages."
2. Some personal advantages; either in bodily skill, or in address, or in mental equipment, or in strength of will, or in force of character.
3. God's gracious and favouring presence. For if we are "reconciled to him by the death of his Son," we may most surely count on the promise that he will be "with us;" with us not only to observe our course and mark our life, but to direct our ways, to "strengthen" us in our sphere, however humble our kingdom may be—to make our life fruitful of good and blessing, to enrich us with much pure and elevating joy, to guide us to the goal and to the prize. Let us but yield ourselves to him whose we are, and to that service where our freedom and our duty alike are found, and ours will be a bright beginning that shall have promise of a still fairer and brighter ending.—C.
2 Chronicles 1:3-5
The ark and the altar; obedience and sacrifice.
How came it to pass that the ark was in one place, and the tabernacle and the brazen altar in another? How did it happen that the ark was in Jerusalem, and the altar of sacrifice at Gibeon? Surely they should have been together. So it was originally ordained; so it was at the beginning; and that was the final disposition. There was something irregular and not according to the commandment in the arrangement described in the text. It is difficult to understand how such a departure from the Divine plan could exist in a dispensation in which careful and even minute conformity to detail was accounted a virtue. The connection and the disconnection of these two institutions may suggest to us—
I. OUR TWOFOLD OBLIGATION AS SYMBOLIZED BY THE ARK AND THE ALTAR.
1. Of these one is worship or sacrifice. Men approached the altar of Jehovah with their gifts or sacrifices, and they then came consciously into his presence; they brought their oblations to him; they made a direct appeal to him for his mercy and his blessing. This forms one part; and a large part, of the obligation under which we rest toward God. Jew or Gentile, under any dispensation whether old or new, we are sacredly bound to draw near to God in reverent worship, to bring to him our pure and our costly offerings, to entreat of him his Divine favour, to pay unto him our vows.
2. The other is obedience. The ark contained the sacred tables of the Law on which were written by the hand of Moses the ten commandments. This was the great treasure of the ark, and it was always associated with these two tables; it was, therefore, the symbol of obedience. Both Jew and Gentile are under the very strongest bonds to "obey the voice of the Lord," "to keep his commandments," to do that which is right in his sight, and to shun all those things which he has condemned.
II. OUR TEMPTATION. We are often tempted to do in life and in fact what was pictured here—to put a distance between the altar and the ark, between worship and obedience. Too often there is a very wide gap, even a deep gulf, between the two. One man makes everything of forms of devotion, and nothing of purity and excellence of conduct. Another makes everything of behaviour, and nothing of worship. We are led, either by the current of the time or by the inclination of our own individual tem- perament, to go off in one direction and to leave the highway of Divine wisdom; to exaggerate one aspect of truth and to depreciate another; to put asunder what God has joined together and meant to go together. And this exaggeration, this separation, ends in error, in faultiness, in serious departure from the mind and the will of God.
III. OUR WISDOM. As, later on, the ark and the altar were reunited, as they both stood within the precincts of the temple, and spoke of the vital connection between sacrifice and obedience, so should we see to it that, if there has been any separation of these two elements of piety in our experience, there should be a reunion and, in future, the closest association.
1. The habit of obedience should include the act of worship; for worship is one of those things which God has enjoined.
2. Each act of obedience should spring from the impulse which worship fosters—a desire to please and honour the present and observant Lord.
3. Worship should lead up to and end in obedience; for "to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams" The devotion that ends in service, in purity, in truthfulness, in fidelity, in self-forgetting kindness, is after the mind of Jesus Christ. Let the ark never be far from the altar, but worship and obedience be always in close companionship.—C.
2 Chronicles 1:7-12
The Divine responsiveness, etc.
From the interesting scene described in these verses (more fully in 1 Kings 3:1-28.) we may glean some lasting truths.
I. THAT WE MAY CONFIDENTLY RECKON ON THE DIVINE RESPONSIVENESS. Solomon went to Gibeon with "all the congregation," in very great state, to seek the Lord there, and there he offered abundant sacrifices (2 Chronicles 1:6). And God responded to his act of piety by seeking him, by coming to him and making him a gracious and generous offer. Without any state, in lowliest obscurity, we may repair to the quiet and solitary place, and there seek God; and there, too, he will seek us and manifest himself to us, and he will bless and enrich us also. There is an unfailing and a large responsiveness in "him with whom we have to do."
II. THAT GOD HAS MANY WAYS OF ACCESS TO HIS CHILDREN. (2 Chronicles 1:7.) In Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon "in a dream by night" (1 Kings 3:5). At other times he appeared to his servants in a vision in their wakeful hours (Exodus 3:2; Isaiah 6:1). Our Lord was seen by the Apostle Paul under circumstances that were unique (Acts 9:1-43.), and subsequently he manifested himself in other ways to his servant. God has access to us—his children—in many ways. At any time he may "lay his hand upon us;" he may make known his will to us. It is our wisdom to expect it; it is our duty to pray and to look for it.
Ill. THAT SOLOMON SHOWED A DEEPER WISDOM THAN ANY HE ASKED GOD TO GIVE HIM. He asked for "wisdom and knowledge" (2 Chronicles 1:10); and the wisdom he asked for was cleverness, penetration, political sagacity, subtlety of mind to read the thoughts of men, readiness to see at once what was the expedient policy to adopt, range of human learning. All this was valuable, and much to be desired; but all of this together was not wisdom of so deep and precious a kind as that shown by Solomon in making the choice he made. To ask for that gift which would enable him to fill well the sphere in which Divine providence had placed him,—this was better than all possible intellectual equipments. No learning, no talent, no genius, is of such value and importance as the spirit of fidelity. Everything else without that will leave life a failure and make man a guilty being. But to be possessed with the spirit of faithfulness, to be supremely desirous of taking the part and doing the work to which God has called us,—this is the true success, and this will end in well-being of a pure and lasting kind.
IV. THAT WE SHOULD BE CONCERNED TO MAINTAIN AND EVEN TO ENLARGE THE HERITAGE WE HAVE RECEIVED. (2 Chronicles 1:8.) Solomon evidently felt deeply impressed, if not oppressed, with the thought that his father, David, had left a very great and serious charge in his hands, and he was rightly anxious that it should be well maintained. It becomes us, as members of. a family, as citizens of the nation, to consider what we have inherited from those who have gone before us—from their labours and sufferings and prayers, and to ask ourselves what we are about to do to guard and to strengthen, and, if it may be so, to enlarge and enrich that precious legacy.
V. THAT IF WE SEEK THE BEST WE SHALL FIND MORE THAN WE SEEK. (2 Chronicles 1:11, 2 Chronicles 1:12.) Solomon's happy experience of God's graciousness is very far indeed from being singular. We may all participate here. If we seek rightness of soul with him we shall find it, end not only that, but a profound and most blessed peace of mind as well. If we seek purity of heart, we shall find what we seek, and happiness beside. If we seek the good of others we shall secure that end, and we shall at the same time be building up our own Christian character. Pursue the very best. and with the best of all will come that which is good, that which is not the highest, but which we shall be very glad to have and to enjoy.—C.
2 Chronicles 1:7
God's offer to the young.
"What a splendid and enviable position!" we are inclined to say; "one removed from ours by the whole breadth of fortune. How utterly unlike the conditions under which we freed ourselves to-day!" But is it so? Is there not, on the other hand, quite as much of comparison as of contrast between the position of the young sovereign and our own, as we look forward to the future that awaits us? Does not God say to each one of us, "Ask what I shall give thee?"
I. THERE IS A NOBLE FUTURE IN FRONT OF US. Only a very small fraction of mankind may look for royalty or high rank, for large wealth or extensive power. But it is highly probable that if this were our lot, we should envy those who, in hummer spheres, were saved the many penalties of prominence and power. And, apart from this, there is a very true heritage which is open to us all. More or less at our command. are—beginning at the bottom of the scale, and moving upwards:
1. Bodily comforts; and these lowest gratifications are the more worthy and lasting as they are more pure and moderate.
2. Human friendship—domestic love, the sweet and sacred ties of the heart and the home.
3. Mental activity—the intellectual enjoyment which comes from the observation of the works of God and the mastery of the works of men; all the keen, strong, elevating delights of the active mind.
4. The service of God, the friendship of Jesus Christ; thus realizing the end and attaining the true satisfaction of our being.
5. Working with God; out-working with him the great redemptive scheme he has designed and is effecting.
6. A high and happy place in the heavenly kingdom. Such large and noble heritage God offers to give the children of men, whether born in a palace or in a cottage.
II. GOD MAKES THIS OFFER ON CONDITIONS. His offer to Solomon was not absolutely unconditional; he would not have been the wise or learned man he became if he had not studied; nor the rich man he became if he had been a mere spendthrift, etc. God is too kind to any of his children to grant them his gifts without attaching Conditions which must be fulfilled. He says, "Here is my gift, but you must ask me for it; and the way to ask for it is to fulfil the conditions on which I bestow it. Shall I give you temporal prosperity? ask for it by being diligent, temperate, civil, faithful. Shall I give you human love, the esteem of those around you? ask for it by being virtuous, honourable, generous, amiable. Shall I give you knowledge, wisdom? ask for it by being studious. Shall I give you eternal life? ask for it by fulfilling the conditions on which it is promised—repentance toward God, and faith in Jesus Christ. Ask what I shall give you; take the course which you know is the one constant antecedent of my bestowal."
III. EVERYTHING HANGS ON THE WISDOM OF OUR CHOICE.
1. It is sad to think that many go through life without caring to accept God's challenge at all; they pass through a life charged with precious opportunities, freighted with golden chances, never caring to inquire how much they may make of the life that is slipping through their hands.
2. Others deliberately choose the lower good; they ask for comfort, for pleasure, for gratification, for abundance of earthly good, or for nothing higher than human love.
3. Our wisdom is to ask God for the highest good; for the diamond, and not the granite; for the cup that heals, and not for that which soothes; for the key that opens to the rich treasury, and not that which unlocks only a cabinet of curiosities; for that which will make the heart pure and holy, and the life noble and useful, and which will make death to be lighted up with a glorious hope;—to ask for heavenly wisdom and eternal life. We should ask for the best because it is the best and highest; and also because, as with Solomon, it commands the lower good as well (2 Chronicles 1:11, 2 Chronicles 1:12). Let us seek first the kingdom of God, because that is the one good, the supreme thing to seek, and also because other and lower things are added to it (Matthew 6:33).—C.
2 Chronicles 1:13-17
From the altar to the throne.
A great step was now taken. Solomon, the young man, mounted the throne of his father David; in so doing he assumed the function of one who had behind him a large and varied experience, and who had above and around him the assured and proved loving-kindness of God. Solomon began his reign most promisingly. We gather—
I. THAT HE DID WELL TO STEP TO THE THRONE FROM THE ALTAR. He came "from before the tabernacle … and reigned" (2 Chronicles 1:13). There could have been no place so suitable as that where Jehovah was worshipped from which to ascend to kingly power. There is no resort so good as the throne of grace, from which we can ascend any throne of authority or power to-day. It is well, indeed, to pass from intercourse with God to association with men and to the conduct of human affairs. The visit to the house of the Lord, fellowship with Christ at his table or in our own chamber, will give a calmness of spirit, an unselfishness of aim, and a steadfastness of principle which will go far to qualify us for the difficult duties and heavy burdens and the serious battles of daily life.
II. THAT ONE MAN MAY HOLD IN HIS HAND THE WELL-BEING OF MANY. Solomon "reigned over Israel." In those days reigning meant governing. And though the Hebrew monarchy was not actually absolute, it was invested with great power. A good sovereign wrought great blessings, and a bad one caused terrible evils to his country. Great power, in the shape of royal authority, has passed or is passing away. But still men "reign'" over others—lead, direct, rule, influence, mightily affect them for good or evil. Very great power has the statesman, the preacher, the poet, the principal, the teacher. The possession of power is usually esteemed a thing to be greatly coveted. But it is as full of solemn responsibility as it is of noble opportunity; it calls for a deep sense of obligation and accountability; also for peculiar prayerfulness of spirit and of habit. Humble and not proud, conscious of dependence on God and not self-sufficient, should be the man of high position and commanding influence.
III. THAT AFFLUENCE MAY BE A GOOD SIGN, BUT IT IS A PERILOUS CONDITION. All those instances of national prosperity related in the text—the abundance of horses and chariots, and of gold and silver, the cultivation of choice trees, etc.—were signs that Jehovah was favouring the land, and that Solomon was fulfilling his early promise. But affluence, whether individual or national, is a dangerous condition. It tends to luxury; and luxury leads only too often to sloth and self-indulgence; and these lead straight to wrong-doing and impiety. It is "a slippery place," where a few can walk without stumbling, but where the many slip. and fall.
1. Envy not the greatly prosperous; plenteousness of gold and silver may impoverish the soul while it enriches the treasury.
2. Care much, care most, for the abundance of Christian truth, of sterling principle, of generous helpfulness.—C.
HOMILIES BY T. WHITELAW
2 Chronicles 1:1-6
The beginning of a reign.
I. THE KING'S PERSON MAGNIFIED.
1. The owner of an auspicious name—Solomon, "Peace," equivalent to Friederich or Frederick Perhaps
(1) alluding to the fact that when he was born his father was at peace with God (2 Samuel 12:24). God's mercies, especially to the soul, are worthy of commemoration (Psalms 103:2).
(2) Reflecting the peace which at that time prevailed in the land, his birth most likely not having taken place till after the capture of Rabbah, and the termination of the Ammonitish war (Keil). When David's greater son, the Prince of Peace, was born, "the (Roman) empire was peace."
(3) Prognosticating the peaceful character of his rule (Psalms 72:7), and the undisturbed rest of his reign (1 Kings 4:24; 1 Chronicles 22:9).
2. The son of a distinguished father—David. Originally a Bethlehem shepherd-lad (1 Samuel 16:1), Jesse's youngest son climbed the giddy heights of fame with marvellous celerity and success, becoming in swift succession a brilliant warrior, a skilful harper, an agreeable courtier, a popular leader, a trusted sovereign, a sweet singer, a devout psalmist, a far-seeing prophet. Possessed of almost every qualification requisite to render him the idol of his fellows, he found the pathway of greatness easier to tread than do men of smaller stature and less-gifted soul. To have been the son of such a sire was no mean honour to Solomon, though it entailed upon him correspondingly large responsibility; while, if it multiplied his chances of achieving in the future a similar distinction for himself, it no less certainly created for him difficulties from which otherwise he might have been exempt.
3. The heir of a prosperous empire—Israel. The kingdom inherited by Solomon had been carved by the sword of David. The Philistines had been driven back to their plains, retaining, however, the strongholds of Gath and Gezer at the edge of the hill country. The capital of the Ammonites, Rabbah, had been taken, and the census embraced all the Holy Land from Beersheba to Sidon, ruled by the king at Jerusalem".
4. The representative of a Divine Superior—Jehovah. Solomon ascended David's throne by Divine right, because by Divine grace and for Divine ends (Psalms 2:6). Solomon was Jehovah's vassal, and held his regal power only on condition of ruling in Jehovah's name and for Jehovah's glory (2 Samuel 22:3). If Solomon was Israel's king, Jehovah was Solomon's.
II. THE KING'S THRONE ESTABLISHED.
1. By removal of his enemies. In particular by the execution of three dangerous characters.
(1) Joab, his cousin (1 Chronicles 2:16), a general of commanding abilities and restless ambition, who with the army at his back might soon have embroiled the land in war and prevented the hope of a peaceful reign from being realized.
(2) Shimei, a Benjamite, a personal enemy of David (2 Samuel 16:5-13), who, besides having broken his parole (1 Kings 2:36-46), could not be trusted not to contrive mischief against David's son.
(3) Adonijah, a half-brother of Solomon (2 Samuel 3:4; 1 Chronicles 3:1), a formidable rival, who, in virtue of his right of primogeniture, pretended to the crown, and might have been the means of stirring up civil faction in the land, Difficult to justify on grounds of Christian morality, these assassinations nevertheless contributed to the establishment of Solomon's throne.
2. By the union of his subjects. As yet the empire was undivided. The ten tribes still adhered to the house of David. "All Israel obeyed him, and all the princes and the mighty men, and all the sons likewise of King David, submitted themselves unto Solomon the king" (1 Chronicles 29:23, 1 Chronicles 29:24).
3. By the help of his God. "The Lord his God was with him, and magnified him exceedingly." As Divine grace set, so Divine power kept him on the throne. Without Heaven's favour and assistance kings just as little as common men can prosper. As Jehovah giveth the kingdom to whomsoever he will (Daniel 4:25), so through him alone can kings reign (Proverbs 8:15). He also removeth and setteth up kings (Daniel 2:21); yea, the hearts of kings are in his hand (Proverbs 21:1). Jehovah was with Solomon in virtue of the promise made to David (2 Samuel 7:12), and because of the piety which still distinguished himself (2 Chronicles 1:6; cf. 2 Chronicles 15:2). This was the true secret of Solomon's prosperity upon the throne no less than of Joseph's in the prison (Genesis 39:2).
III. THE KING'S ALLEGIANCE TENDERED.
1. Before the tabernacle of the Lord. This then at Gibeon, five miles north-west of Jerusalem. Originally a Canaanitish royal city (Joshua 9:17; Joshua 10:2), and afterwards the scene of a clever fraud perpetrated upon Joshua by its inhabitants, as well as of a bloody battle in their defence (Joshua 10:1-14), it latterly became in David's time, because of the presence of the tabernacle, a Levitical city with a high place presided over by Zadok and his brethren (1 Chronicles 16:39). Thither accordingly Solomon repaired to inaugurate his reign by professing fealty and submission to the King of kings.
2. With the offering of sacrifice. Within the tabernacle court stood the brazen altar of Bezaleel (Exodus 38:1), upon which were offered a thousand burnt offerings—a magnificent service, even for a king, and symbolic of
(1) the homage he presented to Jehovah,
(2) the consecration he then made of himself to the work to which Jehovah had called him, and
(3) the desire he cherished that his reign might be begun and ended in Jehovah's favour and under Jehovah's protection.
3. "In the presence of his people. "All the congregation," in its representatives, "went with him to the high place at Gibeon." Not ashamed of his religion, Solomon acknowledged his dependence on and submission to Jehovah in the most public manner. So are kings, princes, subjects, all men, expected to confess God and Christ before men (Matthew 10:32).
1. The value of a good beginning, in business as in religion.
2. The need of Divine assistance in all undertakings.
3. The propriety of consecrating all to God in youth.
4. The possibility of declining from early faith.
5. The duty of never being ashamed of religion.
6. The melancholy fact that good men may do doubtful actions.
7. The beauty and propriety of social worship.—W.
2 Chronicles 1:7-12
A young king's choice.
I. THE PERMISSION GRANTED TO SOLOMON. "Ask what I shall give thee." Granted:
1. By whom? God (Elohim), the Giver par excellence, of whom David had said, "All things come of thee" (1 Chronicles 29:14); "The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord" (Psalms 33:5); and whom a New Testament writer describes as "the Father of lights," etc. (James 1:5, James 1:17). The invitation here accorded to Solomon, after the manner of Oriental monarchs (Esther 5:6; Esther 9:12; Matthew 14:7), was and is pre-eminently after the manner of the King of kings (Matthew 7:7; James 1:5). Christ extends the same to his followers: "If ye shall ask anything in my Name, I will do it" (John 14:14; cf. John 16:23, John 16:24).
2. When? "In that night;" i.e. after the day in which Solomon had been offering sacrifice—not without significance. God is not likely to appear at night, at least in grace, to them who have been unmindful of him throughout the day.
3. How? In a dream-vision (1 Kings 3:5), which, however, warrants not the deduction that the incident had no solid basis of reality, and that here is only the record of a dream. Even were this correct, it would not be without value as showing the current and tenor of Solomon's thoughts and feelings during the preceding day. Men seldom have pleasant dreams of God upon their midnight couches who have not had him in their thoughts all their waking hours. Yet that in Solomon's dream were a veritable manifestation of God to his soul, and a bona fide transaction of asking and answering, of giving and receiving, is proved by the fact that Solomon obtained what he asked.
4. Why? To prove what was in Solomon's heart, to test whether the ceremonies of the preceding day had been the outcome and expression of a genuinely devout soul, to ascertain whether he had ascended the throne with a clear grasp of the situation, whether he knew what he most required for the successful execution of his kingly office. So God still tests his people and men in general by extending to them a similar permission to that he gave Solomon (Matthew 7:7), and by occasionally in his providence bringing them into situations where they must choose, as Solomon was invited to do, what they shall have as their chief good.
II. THE REQUEST PREFERRED BY SOLOMON. "Give me now wisdom and knowledge."
1. The purport of this request. If "wisdom "and" knowledge" are to be distinguished, which is doubtful, the former will be the general and the latter the particular, the former the principle the latter the application, the former the root the latter the fruit (cf. Proverbs 8:12; Ephesians 1:17); "wisdom," the soul's capacity for seeing truth and discerning its adaptations to the particular exigencies of life; "knowledge," that truth as apprehended and possessed by the soul. Solomon craved the spirit of wisdom, that with clear and single vision he might "see" God's will concerning himself in every situation in his future career, and the faculty of apprehension that he might always know what that will required him to do. No prayer could have been more appropriate in his lips at the important juncture in life at which he stood. No prayer could better befit any one at any juncture. The prime necessities of the soul are—an eye to see and light to see with, a capacity to find out and comprehend God's will concerning itself (Psalms 143:8). The Gentiles walk in the vanity of their minds, through the ignorance that is in them (Ephesians 4:18). God's people go astray mostly through defect of knowledge (Isaiah 5:13; 1 Corinthians 15:34).
2. The reason of this request. Solomon, conscious of inexperience and inability to discharge the duties of the kingly office, felt he could not rightly "go out and come in before" or "adequately judge" so great a people as Israel. A hopeful sign for Solomon it was that he knew and was willing to confess his want of wisdom and knowledge. As the first step towards holiness is to acknowledge sin, so the first genuine movement in the direction of self-improvement of any kind is the admission of defect. Solomon confessed himself a little child, who knew not how to go out or come in (1 Kings 1:7), and Tennyson in similar language depicts the natural condition of the race—
"Behold, we know not anything;
So runs my dream; but what am I?
An infant crying in the night,
An infant crying for the light,
And with no language but a cry."
('In Memoriam,' 54.)
It is doubtful, however, if that expresses the mood of any but the loftier spirits. When souls begin to cry for light they are no longer absolutely blind, but have become conscious of and are pained by the darkness.
3. The plea of this request. Not that he was a great man's son, and indeed a great man himself, at least in social position, or that his youth had been virtuously spent, and that he was even then piously inclined; but that God had graciously covenanted with David his father, promising to be a father to David's son, and to establish David's throne for ever (2 Samuel 7:12-16). So with no plea but that of grace, and no argument but that of God's covenant with men on the ground of Christ's sacrifice, need suppliants on any errand approach the throne of God.
III. THE ANSWER RETURNED TO SOLOMON. "Wisdom and knowledge is granted unto thee; and I will give thee," etc.
1. What Solomon had asked was obtained. So God still gives to them that ask him for the higher blessings of his grace—gives unconditionally, freely, and exactly as men ask. So Christ says to his disciples," All things whatsoever ye desire in prayer, believing, ye shall receive ' (Matthew 21:22). And even when they ask temporal or material blessings not inconsistent with their higher good, these are not withheld (Psalms 84:11). See the case of the blind men of Jericho who were cured (Matthew 20:34).
2. What Solomon had not asked was superadded. He had not asked wealth, fame, power, or long life; and just because he had asked none of these things, lo! all these things were added. So Christ says, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things [food, raiment, etc.] will be added"—thrown into the bargain (Matthew 6:33); and Paul adds that "God is able to do for us exceeding abundantly above all we can ask or think" (Ephesians 3:20, Ephesians 3:21).
1. The liberty God's people have in prayer.
2. The superiority of wisdom, i.e. of heavenly wisdom (James 3:17), over all earthly things (Proverbs 4:7).
3. The reality of answers to prayer.
4. The profit of sometimes limiting our requests at God's throne.—W.
2 Chronicles 1:13-17
The glory of Solomon.
I. HIS SPLENDID EQUIPAGE. "Solomon gathered chariots and horsemen."
1. A sign of great prosperity. Mentioned on this account rather than as a proof of the expensiveness and burdensomeness of Solomon's reign (Ewald).
(1) A discrepancy. Solomon had 40,000 stalls (1 Kings 4:26; Josephus, 'Ant. Jud.,' 8.2. 4); 12,000 horsemen and 1400 chariots (2 Chronicles 1:14; 2Ch 10:1-19 :26); 4000 stalls and 12,000 horsemen (2 Chronicles 9:25).
(2) An explanation. The stalls probably were 4000, the horsemen 12,000, and the chariots 1400. The Israelitish war-chariot, like the Egyptian and Assyrian, may have been two-horsed, in which case 1400 chariots would represent 2800 horses. A reserve force of 1200 would bring the total number of horses to 4000, which would require 4000 stalls: That the horsemen should be 12,000 may be explained by supposing that, as Solomon's equestrian equipage was more for show than action, each horse may have had a rider as well as each chariot a charioteer; or the term "horsemen" may have embraced all persons connected with the equestrian service.
2. An act of great wickedness. If the Divine prohibition (Deuteronomy 17:16) forbade not the actual possession of horses by Israelitish kings, it certainly condemned their indefinite multiplication. David respected this prohibition (2 Samuel 8:4; 1 Chronicles 18:4); Solomon overstepped its limits, consequently what Moses had predicted ensued—first Solomon sought a matrimonial alliance with (1 Kings 3:1), and then the people put their trust in, Egypt (2 Kings 18:24; Isaiah 31:1; Hosea 7:11). The glory of princes does not always harmonize with the commands of the King of kings. Solomon's horsemen and chariots were partly kept in Jerusalem to augment his magnificence, and partly distributed through chariot-cities, not so much to overawe the people as for convenience in providing fodder for the beasts, and meeting the state necessities of the king.
II. HIS ENORMOUS WEALTH. The revenues of Solomon were:
1. Varied. Gold and silver and cedar wood; the precious metals obtained from Ophir, in South Arabia (Ewald, Keil, Bahr, etc.), by means of Tarshish ships (cf. the modern expressions, "India-men," "Greenlanders"), which sailed from Ezion-geber, on the Red Sea (2 Chronicles 9:21; 1 Kings 9:26-28), and also from the numerous Eastern potentates—"all the kings of the earth" (2 Chronicles 9:23), who came to hear his wisdom, and brought every man his present, vessels of silver and vessels of gold (2 Chronicles 9:24); the timber purchased from Hiram of Tyre, and procured from Mount Lebanon (1 Kings 5:10).
2. Abundant. Making large allowance for rhetorical exaggeration, the crown wealth in Solomon's days was immense. Even if the gold and silver were barely as plentiful as stones (2 Chronicles 1:15), one may judge of its quantity by the statements that "the weight of gold that came to Solomon in one year was six hundred and sixty-six talents", besides that brought by chapmen, merchants, foreign kings, and provincial governors (2 Chronicles 9:13, 2 Chronicles 9:14; I Kings 2 Chronicles 10:14, 2 Chronicles 10:15). This accumulation of wealth in the hands of the crown, more accordant with ancient than with modem practice, was likewise then more excusable than now for obvious religious as well as political reasons.
III. HIS COMMERCIAL ENTERPRISE.
1. How far it extended. To Egypt, The first mention of commercial intercourse between Israel and Egypt, this is also one of the earliest indications of contact between these two peoples since the Exodus; and the silence of Scripture as to Egypt during the long interval between the Exodus and the age of Solomon receives a striking confirmation from the monuments, which show "no really great or conquering monarch between Rameses III. and Sheshonk I.".
2. In what it consisted. Horses and chariots. A native of Armenia and Media, whence it was fetched by the Jews to Palestine (Ezra 2:66), the horse had been used in Egypt from the earliest times (Genesis 41:43; Genesis 47:17), and in Solomon's time had been brought by the Egyptians to a high degree of cultivation in respect both of swiftness and courage—two qualities highly serviceable for war. Hence Solomon naturally turned to the Nile valley when he thought of setting up an equestrian establishment. The manufacturing of war-chariots had also engaged the attention of the Pharaohs and their people; and these likewise were imported by the Israelitish monarch. Taking the shekel at 3s. 4d; the price of a horse was £25, and of a war-chariot (perhaps with two horses and harness) £100 sterling.
3. By whom it was conducted. By the king's merchants, who were so called, not because, as foreign horse-dealers settled in the country, they were required to contribute to the king's treasury a portion of their gains in the shape of an income-tax (Bertheau), but because they traded for the king (Keil), acting as his agents, going down to Egypt, purchasing the animals in droves, and fetching them up for his use. So skilful did these merchants show themselves both in judging of the animals and in driving bargains with Egyptian dealers, and so far had their fame travelled, that their services were sought for by the Hittite and Syrian kings of the day.
1. The criminality of disobedience.
2. The danger of wealth.
3. The advantages of trade and commerce.—W.
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 1". The Pulpit Commentary. https://studylight.org/
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34