This chapter relates the gracious circumstance of the Lord's second appearance to Solomon. An interview takes place between Solomon and Hiram. Solomon's yearly sacrifices are also mentioned in the close of this chapter.
(1) В¶ And it came to pass, when Solomon had finished the building of the house of the LORD, and the king's house, and all Solomon's desire which he was pleased to do, (2) That the LORD appeared to Solomon the second time, as he had appeared unto him at Gibeon. (3) And the LORD said unto him, I have heard thy prayer and thy supplication, that thou hast made before me: I have hallowed this house, which thou hast built, to put my name there forever; and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually. (4) And if thou wilt walk before me, as David thy father walked, in integrity of heart, and in uprightness, to do according to all that I have commanded thee, and wilt keep my statutes and my judgments: (5) Then I will establish the throne of thy kingdom upon Israel forever, as I promised to David thy father, saying, There shall not fail thee a man upon the throne of Israel. (6) But if ye shall at all turn from following me, ye or your children, and will not keep my commandments and my statutes which I have set before you, but go and serve other gods, and worship them: (7) Then will I cut off Israel out of the land which I have given them; and this house, which I have hallowed for my name, will I cast out of my sight; and Israel shall be a proverb and a byword among all people: (8) And at this house, which is high, everyone that passeth by it shall be astonished, and shall hiss; and they shall say, Why hath the LORD done thus unto this land, and to this house? (9) And they shall answer, Because they forsook the LORD their God, who brought forth their fathers out of the land of Egypt, and have taken hold upon other gods, and have worshipped them, and served them: therefore hath the LORD brought upon them all this evil.
What can be equally precious to a believing soul, as the intercourse which is kept up at a mercy seat? It was not enough, in the Lord's esteem, that he condescended to answer Solomon and his people, on the great day of the dedication, by consuming the sacrifices they offered with fire, which was always considered, in the old church, the highest token of divine approbation; (see 2 Chronicles 7:1-3. This was the second visit of the Lord. And what was the purport of the visit, explained on gospel principles? Is it not, that the eyes and the heart of Jehovah, are forever looking with complacency and delight upon him whom this temple of Solomon represented? Oh! delightful thought! in Jesus his church is perpetually and everlastingly beheld and accepted. How sweetly the prophet describes it; Behold the man whose name is the Branch: he shall build the temple of the Lord; and he shall bear the glory. Zechariah 6:12-13. Reader! observe very particularly, the sin of covenant breaking, to which the Lord refers; going and serving other gods. This is strikingly contrasted with the conduct of David, who, amidst all his transgressions, never fell into idolatry. The Lord foreseeing the events which were to follow in the afterlife of Solomon, and the Babylonish captivity, for the apostacy of Israel, here most clearly pointed out the sure consequence. But let the Reader also observe, how gracious the provision for Israel's recovery, by the sovereignty of his own grace, when chastisements should have taken place, and by virtue of his covenant engagements. This is more fully and circumstantially set forth in Psalms 89:1; to which I beg the Reader to turn: Psalms 89:28-35.
(10) В¶ And it came to pass at the end of twenty years, when Solomon had built the two houses, the house of the LORD, and the king's house, (11) (Now Hiram the king of Tyre had furnished Solomon with cedar trees and fir trees, and with gold, according to all his desire), that then king Solomon gave Hiram twenty cities in the land of Galilee.
The amity between these princes may serve, to teach us the happy state of Solomon's reign. Such, Reader, would be the blessed effects in the reign of Jesus, if all his followers felt his sweet constraining grace. Isaiah 65:25.
(12) And Hiram came out from Tyre to see the cities which Solomon had given him; and they pleased him not. (13) And he said, What cities are these which thou hast given me, my brother? And he called them the land of Cabul unto this day. (14) And Hiram sent to the king sixscore talents of gold.
We are not to suppose that this displeasure of Hiram, carried with it the smallest anger; so far from it, that he called Solomon brother, while expressing his disapprobation of those cities. But the sense is, that Hiram's pursuits in trade and navigation, differed so widely from agriculture and husbandry, that those cities were not at all suited to the genius of the men of Tyre. Hiram gave them again to Solomon; for so we read, 2 Chronicles 8:2.
(15) В¶ And this is the reason of the levy which king Solomon raised; for to build the house of the LORD, and his own house, and Millo, and the wall of Jerusalem, and Hazor, and Megiddo, and Gezer. (16) For Pharaoh king of Egypt had gone up, and taken Gezer, and burnt it with fire, and slain the Canaanites that dwelt in the city, and given it for a present unto his daughter, Solomon's wife. (17) And Solomon built Gezer, and Bethhoron the nether, (18) And Baalath, and Tadmor in the wilderness, in the land, (19) And all the cities of store that Solomon had, and cities for his chariots, and cities for his horsemen, and that which Solomon desired to build in Jerusalem, and in Lebanon, and in all the land of his dominion. (20) And all the people that were left of the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites, which were not of the children of Israel, (21) Their children that were left after them in the land, whom the children of Israel also were not able utterly to destroy, upon those did Solomon levy a tribute of bondservice unto this day. (22) But of the children of Israel did Solomon make no bondmen: but they were men of war, and his servants, and his princes, and his captains, and rulers of his chariots, and his horsemen. (23) These were the chief of the officers that were over Solomon's work, five hundred and fifty, which bare rule over the people that wrought in the work. (24) But Pharaoh's daughter came up out of the city of David unto her house which Solomon had built for her: then did he build Millo.
I detain not the Reader with any further observation upon these verses, than just to remark how much they teach us the importance of building for eternity. What a great account here is, of many cities, many inhabitants, much employment; and what is the sum total of all, but vanity and vexation of spirit. So Solomon himself draws the conclusion; and so must every wise man. Ecclesiastes 2:4. Blessed Jesus! give me grace to build on thee, the foundation stone in Zion, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. Lord! grant that it may be found this is mine, like thy servant, 2 Corinthians 5:1.
(25) And three times in a year did Solomon offer burnt offerings and peace offerings upon the altar which he built unto the LORD, and he burnt incense upon the altar that was before the LORD. So he finished the house.
I charge the Reader not to overlook this verse. You see that all Solomon's buildings, all his government concerns, and all his own domestic engagements, diverted not his mind from the observance of the divine law concerning sacrifices. Surely these were with an eye to Jesus. Deuteronomy 16:16.
(26) And king Solomon made a navy of ships in Eziongeber, which is beside Eloth, on the shore of the Red sea, in the land of Edom. (27) And Hiram sent in the navy his servants, shipmen that had knowledge of the sea, with the servants of Solomon. (28) And they came to Ophir, and fetched from thence gold, four hundred and twenty talents, and brought it to king Solomon.
It is supposed, and not without good reason, that the Ophir here spoken of is the same with what is now called Sri Lanka, in the East Indies. But, Reader, what is the golden wedge of Ophir, compared to the preciousness of Jesus. Isaiah 13:12. It is worthy the Reader's remark, that Judea, the Holy land, and what is called the glory of all lands, had no gold. And as the land, so the people of God. What are they, and who are they that are the excellent of the earth? James tells us, they are the poor of this world, rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom. James 2:5. Reader! see to it, that you are of this description. Remember who God's poor are: not simply poor in outward circumstances but poor in spirit. Jesus' followers. This is to do as Solomon, after all his attainments, recommended. Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, (says he), that is Jesus; for Jesus is the wisdom of God, and the power of God; and the man that getteth understanding; for the merchandize of it is better than the merchandize of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold. Proverbs 3:14.
CHIEFLY, and above everything related in this chapter, let my soul ponder over the wondrous condescension of God to Solomon, in what is here said of this second manifestation to him of his grace and love. And while I mark the tender mercy so shown, let me not forget that such honour have all his saints. Yes! blessed Jesus, though not equally splendid, yet equally certain, equally gracious, are thy visits. For thou hast left it upon record as if to silence all doubts and unbelief, that he that loveth thee shall be loved of thy Father, and thou hast added in that assurance, I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. Oh! wondrous love! oh! matchless grace! Lord how is it that thou dost manifest thyself unto thy people, and not unto the World!
We are not astonished, O ye carnal men, that you should gaze with such amazement as ye sometimes do at the followers of our Jesus! that we are (as David said) a wonder, to many is not so strange, since we are a wonder to ourselves. That we are born from above; that God condescends to acknowledge us for his children by adoption and by grace; that Jesus is not ashamed to call us his brethren; and the Holy Ghost makes our bodies his temple; when we think of these things, and consider our high calling; when we look within our hearts, and behold such coldness, deadness, and the want of affection to him, who hath so loved us as to beget us by his glorious redemption and his Father's grace to such an inheritance, oh! how passing in wonder must be the love of God which passeth knowledge!
My brother in Jesus! you I address, who profess to live in the hope and faith of these precious, these distinguished privileges! think, I charge you, (and while I charge you I desire to feel the full force of it upon my own heart) think, what manner of persons ought we to be in all holy conversation and godliness! Was the Lord thus gracious to Solomon? Did he appear to him twice? Did he solemnly charge him to flee from idolatry, and a breach of his holy covenant? Oh! then, let us consider the infinite importance of living to him who hath purchased our redemption with his blood; whose we are, and to whom we belong. If under the Old Testament dispensation of types and shadows, God was so jealous of his honour; can you suppose that now the whole is confirmed and sealed to us, as it is in the New Testament revelation of his blood, that he is less jealous of his honour, or that he will give his glory to graven images? Oh! my brother! if the Lord hath manifested himself to our hearts, and the grace of God hath appeared unto us, let us never forget what that grace teacheth, and what high claims are upon us; namely, that denying all ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.