In our last study, we zoomed through chapters two through seven, watching as King Solomon constructed and dedicated the temple. Tonight, we will be covering the final two chapters that the Chronicler devotes to the reign of Solomon.
Solomon's building projects had lasted 20 years (7 for the temple, 13 for the house - 1Kings 6:38-7:1). As you recall, Solomon had solicited the help of Khee-RAWM, the king of Tyre, for supplies and workers for these projects (2Chr. 2). Solomon's original plan was to pay with huge quantities of wheat, barley, wine, and oil (2Chr. 2:10). However, it would seem that over the course of the project, Solomon went over budget, and became more indebted to Khee-RAWM than he had planned.
It was agreed between them that 20 Israelite cities in the northern region of Galilee would become the territory of Tyre, in exchange for a large quantity of gold which Solomon needed to finish. But then a problem arose. The author of Kings tells us,
1Kings 9:12-13 ...Khee-RAWM came out from Tyre to see the cities which Solomon had given him, and they did not please him. He said, "What are these cities which you have given me, my brother?" So they were called the land of Kaw-BOOL to this day.
"Kaw-BOOL" means "binding." Khee-RAWM obviously was not happy with the arrangement, and felt that he had gotten stuck in an unfair contract that he couldn't get out of.
In the end, the cities were transferred back to Israelite ownership, either after Solomon paid Khee-RAWM back, or Khee-RAWM simply gave them back.
Solomon had these cities settled by the Jews, and invested in their improvement and expansion.
2Chr. 8:3-6 Then Solomon went to Kham-ATH Tso-BAW and captured it. He built Tad-MORE in the wilderness and all the storage cities which he had built in Kham-AWTH. He also built upper Bayth Kho-RONE and lower Bayth Kho-RONE, fortified cities with walls, gates and bars; and Bah-al-AWTH and all the storage cities that Solomon had, and all the cities for his chariots and cities for his horsemen, and all that it pleased Solomon to build in Jerusalem, in Lebanon, and in all the land under his rule.
Solomon had finished the local projects, and now he's expanding the kingdom. This was the largest that the nation of Israel would ever expand before the Millennial Reign of Christ on earth.
How was this accomplished? Solomon exercised the proper priorities: start locally, then expand. This basic business and biblical principle is often ignored by new ministries and ministers. Wanting to take the world for Jesus Christ, they try to do everything at once. "We'll have a building project, a radio station, vacation Bible school, a jail ministry, community evangelism outreaches..." But because they do too much too soon, they don't have the finances, the resources, or the personnel to accomplish everything. They get spread too thin and quickly burn out.
I have learned that you've got to plant and water and wait for a long time before even one plant grows successfully. In the parable of the sower, Jesus talked about scattering seed on soil. If the seed falls on good soil, it will grow into a plant, and that plant will produce seeds amounting to 100, 60, or 30 times what was sown (Mark 4:8).
And so you can't expect to successfully farm 100 acres until you've invested your resources in the one acre. If you're doing a ministry, start with the most important thing, then expand and occupy territory as you can.
Remember, God didn't give the Promised Land to the Jews all at once. Moses said,
Deut. 7:22 "The LORD your God will clear away these nations before you little by little; you will not be able to put an end to them quickly, for the wild beasts would grow too numerous for you."
Solomon did used slaves to build the cities. They were not his fellow Jews, but the Canaanites peoples who had not been removed by the Israelites when they entered the Promised Land.
Early in Solomon's reign, he had formed a marriage alliance with Pharaoh, the king of Egypt (1Kings 3:1). This was a common practice among royalty to maintain peaceful relations between kingdoms. After all, there is lots of incentive not to start a war with your neighbor if he's your wife's dad...
She had been living in Jerusalem during the building projects, but not in David's palace. Solomon had decided that because the ark of the covenant had been in that place, it was holy.
It seems to me that Solomon had to be aware that this was not a marriage he should be getting into. But then again, I'm always amazed at the stories I hear about people getting married.
Often, people disappear from church for a long time, and then finally come back months or years later, but now they're married.
They are often self-conscious or embarrassed about who they married. "He/she is an unbeliever... we fell into sin... I knew you wouldn't approve... he/she's got problems... my parents told me it was wrong..." Hello? If you're embarassed or uncomfortable about who you're marrying, maybe there's a problem?
2Cor. 6:14-16 Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God...
What was Solomon thinking? She's too unholy to live in David's house? And yet he still married her? Amazing!
It seems that Solomon is maintaining his routine of sacrifices and worship. And yet, day by day, his heart is growing more and more distant from the Lord.
Solomon begins to engage in international commerce and trade on both land and sea.
Solomon's fame spread throughout the known world. By the time the stories got down to the Queen Sheba in the south, where Yemen is today, she couldn't believe what she was hearing. The stories sounded so crazy that she thought there must be a game of telephone going on. Certainly she was hearing gross exaggerations about this King of Israel.
So, she scheduled the two-month-long trip to meet this man. When she arrived, she tested him with "difficult questions." The Hebrew term is "khee-DAW," meaning "riddles, puzzles, or trick questions." The queen of Sheba was going to thoroughly test whether Solomon was really the wise man he was reputed to be.
As Solomon demonstrated his wisdom and answered her questions, something interesting happened: she opened up and began to speak with him about all that was on her heart.
Saints, I believe that the world is even more desperate now to open up their hearts to those who have wisdom from God. They are searching for it everywhere, counseling with Dr. Phil and cracking open fortune cookies. But they need real wisdom, not shallow sayings about self-esteem and psychologists' opinions. True wisdom comes from God. Solomon himself wrote,
Prov. 2:6 For the LORD gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding.
The surest way to be showing wisdom from God is to be speaking the Word of God. If we are busy doing that, many people will open up their hearts. I believe that's why Solomon also concluded that...
Prov. 11:30 ...he who is wise wins souls.
Solomon was able to answer all of her questions because...
2Pet. 1:3 ...His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him...
The queen of Sheba recognized Solomon's wisdom not only in his words, but in the order that everything was happening in Solomon's house. From the way the table was set to the clothes of the servants and they way they sat, she saw that they strove for excellence and paid attention to detail.
This has always been a real goal of in this ministry. Whatever we put our hand to should be done with wisdom: it must be thought out, done well, and cared for.
Some come down on me for this. "Come on, you're just being picky. You're too strict. Let's relax a little bit." But I say, "Excellence and organization, things being clean and orderly - these things demonstrate visually that the wisdom of God is present spiritually." Our God does things excellently, and we should imitate Him. Paul the apostle said,
1Cor. 14:40 ...all things must be done properly and in an orderly manner.
The queen told Solomon that she'd thought she was hearing exaggerations about his wisdom. But now she realized that the stories hadn't even done him justice. She said,
2Chr. 9:6 "...I did not believe their reports until I came and my eyes had seen it."
Here is an interesting thought: She doubted what she heard, yet she was open to find out, and even pursued the knowledge. Jesus spoke about this very thing in the gospel of Luke.
When the scribes and Pharisees were in unchangeable disbelief, Jesus told them,
Luke 11:31 "The Queen of the South will rise up with the men of this generation at the judgment and condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and behold, something greater than Solomon is here."
The queen will be commended for her search for truth. Those who refuse to believe in Jesus Christ will be condemned because they have made no effort to learn the truth.
Too many people today view the gospel with doubt until someone takes the initiative to pursue them, addressing every one of their doubts. And yet, the Queen of Sheba didn't mail a letter saying, "Hey Solomon, I don't believe a word I'm hearing about you. If I'm going to believe any of it, you're gonna have to come down here and prove yourself." Instead, Jesus said that "she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon."
Never forget that God has promised,
Jer. 29:13 'You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart."
Reading these descriptions about King Solomon's massive amounts of gold, and the notoriety he gained with all of the world's leaders, we can see that he epitomized the "rich and famous."
This is something that so many people are seeking: fame and fortune. But why? "I want to be known, I want to be recognized. I want to be able to buy anything I want to make me happy."
Saints, this is one of the biggest lies ever fed to humanity. Being famous is a curse that I hope you never experience. And being rich isn't at all what people think it is. Late in Solomon's life, he wrote,
Eccl. 5:10-12 He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves abundance with its income. This too is vanity. When good things increase, those who consume them increase. So what is the advantage to their owners except to look on? The sleep of the working man is pleasant, whether he eats little or much; but the full stomach of the rich man does not allow him to sleep.
In the height of Solomon's prosperity and notoriety, all he found was vanity and misery.
Oh, and it drew him further and further away from God, as he continued to do the three things the king of Israel was forbidden to do:
Deut. 17:16-17 "...he shall not multiply horses for himself, nor shall he cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, since the LORD has said to you, 'You shall never again return that way.' He shall not multiply wives for himself, or else his heart will turn away; nor shall he greatly increase silver and gold for himself."
The Chronicler has spared us from most of the terribly tragic details of Solomon's life. About his many foreign wives turning his heart away from God, of his idol worship, and all the rest. However, they are not being covered up. The author refers us to the entire story of Solomon as written by these various men. All it takes us is an hour in 1Kings to get the scoop.
This week, a good friend of mine had every gory detail of his life, every hidden sin, splashed on the front page of his local newspaper. If even half of what is being written is true, he will never again be believed as a man of integrity or ministry. I don't want to trash Solomon for his wrongdoing. I just want us to learn from his mistakes, and be challenged to get rid of those things that one day may rise up to destroy us.