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Let's turn to II Chronicles chapter 1.
I Chronicles brought us up unto the death of David, and II Chronicles begins with the reign of Saul and it covers the remaining history of the kings of Judah. Now this is the chronicles of the kings of Judah. It does not really deal with the kings of Israel, but concentrates upon the southern kingdom, the kingdom of Judah. There were, perhaps, chronicles of the kings of Israel. Those we do not have. But these are the chronicles of the kings of Judah, and I Chronicles occupies itself primarily with the kingdom of David. For it was under David that the kingdom was brought to the zenith, the apex of its glory and power. And Solomon stepped in and following his father who had laid a beautiful foundation and enjoyed, really, the benefits of his father's reign.
Under Solomon the kingdom began to deteriorate. And just so quickly the kingdom fell apart. At the death of Solomon, when his son Rehoboam took over, the kingdom became divided, and what was once a mighty, powerful kingdom soon became a weakened, such a weakened state that the glorious treasures that had been amassed by David and by Solomon were soon taken by Shishak, the king of Egypt. And the glory and the power and the wealth of the kingdom were soon destroyed.
So, as we get into the second book of the Chronicles of the kings of Judah,
Solomon the son of David was strengthened in his kingdom, and the LORD his God was with him, and magnified him exceedingly ( 2 Chronicles 1:1 ).
Solomon began his reign with great power. Power that was handed to him, really, from his father David. But also power from the Lord, because in the beginning Solomon's heart was right before God.
And Solomon gathered the people together at Gibeon, for the tabernacle of the Lord, at that time, was in Gibeon. Now there were two tabernacles at this time. David had erected a tent in Jerusalem for the Ark of the Covenant. When they brought the Ark of the Covenant back to Jerusalem, David made a tent for the Ark for the Covenant in Jerusalem. But the real worship center of the nation was still at Gibeon where the tabernacle, modeled after the tabernacle in the wilderness, existed, and the altar where they would go up to sacrifice unto God was at Gibeon.
And so Solomon gathered the people together to the high place that was at Gibeon; for there was the tabernacle of the congregation similar to the one that they had had in the wilderness. And the ark of God David had brought from Kirjathjearim to Jerusalem and had built a tent for that. And Solomon went up there to this brass altar before the Lord, which was at the tabernacle of the congregation, and he offered a thousand burnt offerings upon it ( 2 Chronicles 1:3 , 2 Chronicles 1:4 , 2 Chronicles 1:6 ).
Now Solomon was an extravagant fellow. A thousand burnt offerings. And he was extravagant in all that he did.
In that night did God appear unto Solomon, and said unto him, Ask what I shall give thee ( 2 Chronicles 1:7 ).
That's almost like some of the plots of the fairy tales that you read, you know, the fairy goddess or the genie or whatever. Ask whatever you want. I sometimes wondered myself if God should come to me and say, "Ask what you want Me to give to you." I've wondered what would I ask God for. What would be my request? And I've often thought as I mused on this, I think I would turn it right around and say, "God, You give me whatever You want to give me." Because you see, I may be thinking of much less than what God wants to give. He loves me so much that He desires to just give to me. And I might be saying, "Lord, I'd like to have a thousand dollars." And He may want to lay a million dollars on me. And why should I cut Him short?
I think that we fail to realize how much God really loves us. And what God is willing to do for us. "For if God spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how much more then shall He not freely give us all things?" ( Romans 8:32 ) Look what God has already given for you. Consider it. He spared not His own Son, and if He spared not His own Son but delivered Him up for you, how much more will He freely give you all things? Jesus said, "Henceforth you've asked nothing in my name. Ask." And in the Greek it's in the intensive, which translated more literally would be, "Ask, please ask, that you may receive, that your joy may be full" ( John 16:24 ). God is wanting to bless you. God is wanting to bless your life, because God wants your life to be an instrument through which the world around you might know the joy and the blessing of serving the Lord. And so God desires, God delights in giving good things to His children.
"Ask what I shall give thee."
And Solomon said, You have showed great mercy unto David my father, and You have made me to reign in his place. Now, O LORD God, let thy promise unto David my father be established: for You have made me the king over a people that are like the dust of the earth as far as number. Give me now wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people: for who can judge this thy people, that is so great? ( 2 Chronicles 1:8-10 )
So Solomon's request, "Wisdom and knowledge, God. That I may know how to go in and out before these people, because the task that has been laid upon me, reigning over Your people, is greater than I can actually handle. And so, Father, grant me the wisdom and the knowledge, really, to do Your business. Grant me, Lord, that which I need to do the things that You want me to do."
What a beautiful request. Now a little further on when we get into our reading next week, we're going to find the prophet coming to Asa the king and declaring, "For the eyes of the Lord go to and fro throughout the entire earth to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose hearts are perfect towards Him" ( 2 Chronicles 16:9 ). Now here's Solomon expressing a heart that's really sort of completely towards God. "Ask whatever you want, Solomon." "Lord, I like to be famous. Lord, I like my footprint in Grauman's Chinese. Lord, I'd like to be rich." No, "Lord, You've placed a big, heavy responsibility upon me. You've made me the king in the place of my father over Your people. And God, I need wisdom and I need knowledge and just knowing how to do the work that you want done."
And God said to Solomon, Because this was in your heart, and you did not ask for riches, wealth, or honor, or you didn't ask for the life of your enemies, neither did you ask long life for yourself; but you've asked for wisdom and knowledge for yourself, that you may judge my people, over whom I have made you king: wisdom and knowledge is granted unto you; and I will give you riches, and wealth, and honor, such as none of the kings have had that have been before you, neither shall there be any after you that will have the like. Then Solomon came from his journey to the high place that was at Gibeon to Jerusalem, from before the tabernacle of the congregation, and he reigned over Israel. And Solomon gathered chariots and horsemen: and he had a thousand four hundred chariots, twelve thousand horsemen, that he placed in the chariot cities, and with the king at Jerusalem. And the king made silver and gold at Jerusalem as plenteous as stones, and cedar trees he made as common as the sycamore trees that grow in the vale abundantly. And Solomon had horses brought out of Egypt, and linen yarn: and the king's merchants received the linen yarn at a price. And they brought up from Egypt the chariots for six hundred shekels of silver, horses for a hundred and fifty: and so brought they out horses for all of the kings of the Hittites, and for the kings of Syria, by their means ( 2 Chronicles 1:11-17 ).
In other words, they began to be horse traders. They began to sell them to the nations around, the Hittites, and the Syrians, and so forth. Now it is interesting that Solomon began this horse trading with Egypt, it would appear, very early in his career. And in so doing, he was beginning to plant the seeds of destruction and deterioration of his kingdom. For in Deuteronomy, the Lord gave the law concerning the kings of Israel, and in the seventeenth chapter, in the fourteenth verse, the Lord said to Moses, "When the people come into the land, and they possess it, and they will say, 'We want a king like the nations that are about us.'" Then God gives requirements for the one that they should set forth as a king, but in verse sixteen, He said, "But he shall not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt, to the end that they should multiply horses" ( Deuteronomy 17:14 , Deuteronomy 17:16 ).
Now what does God have against horses? Nothing. He created them. But in those days the horse was a definite, decisive kind of weapon in battle. They began to measure the strength of an army by the number of the horses. A man on horseback had a definite advantage, and a chariot was a fearsome, awesome weapon of war. Sort of like tanks against infantry today. And so God did not want them trusting in horses. And in Psalms it said, "A horse is a vain thing" ( Psalms 33:17 ) as far as something to trust in. As it speaks about the contrasting, trusting in the Lord. "Some men trust in horses and some in chariots, but we will trust in the Lord our God" ( Psalms 20:7 ). And so many of the psalms are addressed to the fact that people were putting trust in horses.
Now the fact that Solomon began to amass this great number of horses, and for a time, Bible critics sort of assailed the biblical account because of the numbers of horses that Solomon had. And it tells how he built these cities and put stables in these cities and so forth. And now in the excavations, in many of these cities that Solomon had fortified, they have found, actually, the horse stables. In the city of Megiddo at the level of excavation that was at Solomon's time, you can see these stone troughs that they had carved out for the water for the horses, and the feeding troughs and all. They are there today and in vast numbers. And it all verifies, really, the biblical account of the vast numbers of horses that Solomon gathered.
And the tendency, though, was then to trust in the fact that you have in your army a certain number of horsemen and all. So it's amazing to me that so soon Solomon would forsake the law of the Lord and would begin to sow the seeds that ultimately were to deteriorate the kingdom. "
Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 1". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany