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The Reign of Solomon
I. Solomon reigned over a great empire. The Jews were never masters of so wide an extent of land before or after as in his days. The king himself began his reign in a spirit which promised well for the coming time. He asked God neither for long life nor for riches, nor for victory over his enemies;; but for a wise and understanding heart to discern between good and bad, that he might be able to do true justice among so great a people; and immediately the wisdom given in answer to his prayer was put to a sore trial, and proved itself equal to the need; and all Israel, we are told, feared the king for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him to do judgment. This is the first mark of Solomon's reign. The ruler of the people is also the wisest of the people. The second mark is of another kind; we must attend to it well if we would understand the rest of the Bible. It is the building of the temple.
II. When the peaceful Solomon was settled in his kingdom, he began to build the temple of the Lord. He knew as he said 'that the heaven of heavens cannot contain the Most High; yet he rightly prepared for Him a house set apart from all common uses, which should bear His name and be the sign of His presence, and he rightly poured forth upon this house of God all his riches to make it beautiful and wonderful to behold. That temple of Solomon was the beginning of our Churches.
III. The latter end of Solomon's reign is sad to think of. His many heathen wives turned away his heart after other gods. He had freely spent his riches in building a temple for the Lord, but he did not keep his own heart pure and true to the Lord; that Divine temple he neglected. His sin no doubt spread far and wide among the people. The worship of idols came in once more in the very sight of the new temple. When he died and his son Rehoboam became king, a day of reckoning followed. By his bad conduct as a ruler Rehoboam goaded a large part of the people into rebellion. Ten out of the twelve tribes refused to obey him and set up another king; only two remained faithful to him. From this time the ten tribes are called the Kingdom of Israel or Ephraim, the two tribes are called the Kingdom of Judah. Cut off from Jerusalem and the temple the Kingdom of Israel fell at once into idol worship, yet great and true prophets were not wanting; and the deeds of Elijah and Elisha remind us that God did not forsake even those who were estranged from His holy place and from the kingly family of David. The story of the Kingdom of Judah is sad enough likewise. The end of both kingdoms is the same. Both become the victims of powerful foreign nations. The Kingdom of Israel is destroyed by the Assyrians who carry the people into captivity. The Kingdom of Judah, often threatened, often reduced to sore straits, lasts on three or four generations longer and then its day of doom comes. Jerusalem is taken, and the people of Judah are dragged away as captives to Babylon.
A. F. Hort, Sermons on the Books of the Bible, p. 59.
References. LXII. 1 . W. C. E. Newbolt, Church Times, vol. lviii. 1907, p. 586. T. T. Carter, Lent Lectures, 1860-1866, p. 374. LXII. 1, 2, 6, 7. A. G. Mortimer, The Church's Lessons for the Christian Year, part i. p. 151. LXII. 1, 6, 7. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture Isaiah XLIX.-LXVI. p. 200. LXII. 2. "Plain Sermons" by contributors to the Tracts for the Times, vol. ix. p. 3. LXII. 4. R. F. Horton, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lxvii. 1905, p. 276. LXII. 5. R. E. Hutton, The Crown of Christ, vol. ii. p. 417. H. P. Liddon, Sermons Preached on Special Occasions, 1860-1889, p. 320. J. Stalker, Christian World Pulpit, vol. liv. 1898, p. 371.
This is the double counsel for the Christian soldier, and it links together working and praying.
I. Observe how the natural blends with the supernatural. Take ye no rest Therein our Lord was our pattern. How He toiled! 'I must work while it is day. The night cometh when no man can work.' I am inclined to think that never perhaps since the beginning of the Christian Church was this precept nearer to receiving a complete obedience. Take ye no rest. Most of us are very busy. The day begins early and ends late, and some of the hours are long, and perhaps the most comforting thought that comes to you ere you sleep is that you have done the best that ever you could. Often, no doubt, the tired body makes a tired soul, and there is too frequent feeling of disheartenment and defeat.
II. So let us lay the stress on the second part of the precept 'Give Him no rest'. That is what the issue of the battle turns on. You give yourself no rest, you give no rest to the workers under you; you are prompt to censure anyone who seems to neglect anything; you are willing to rally the little strength you have left for any new burden. Try this, Give Him no rest.
Our Lord in a peculiar and remarkable manner insisted on this and practised this. He taught it in those strange parables which shed such a shower of light on His inner mind. It is strange to think that He Himself gave His Father no rest. It might seem as if He, least of all, needed to pray. The Prince of this world had nothing in Him; He was holy, harmless, and undefiled, separate from sinners. Yet to this duty and privilege of importunate prayer the mystical body are called by their Covenant Head. We know how He prayed on the mountain and in the desert. I agree with Bishop Monrad, who says that the words 'He offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears,' refer rather to a habit than to a particular instance. He prayed without ceasing, and He calls upon us to do the same.
In temporal things there is often a limit to importunateness. God may say to us, 'Speak no more to Me of this matter'. 'I besought the Lord thrice,' said St. Paul. But when we are praying for conversions importunity cannot be pressed too hard. We are not to give runaway knocks at the heavenly door; we are to knock there till we are answered.
W. Robertson Nicoll, British Weekly, 25 March, 1909.
References. LXII. 6-7. A. F. Winnington Ingram, Banners of the Christian Faith, p. 76. W. F. Cobb, Christian World Pulpit, vol. liii. 1898, p. 58. J. T. Briscoe, ibid. vol. lvi. 1879, p. 181. R. Waddy Moss, The Discipline of the Soul, p. 153. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxvii. No. 2189. LXII. 10. Ibid. vol. xix. No. 1131. H. J. Wilmot-Buxton, Sunday Lessons for Daily Life, p. 122. W. Brooke, Sermons, p. 256. LXII. 11, 12. Spurgeon, ibid. vol. xxxiii. No. 1947. LXII. 12. Ibid. vol. ix. No. 525. C. A. Kelly, Christian World Pulpit, vol xviii. 1905, p. 57.
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Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Isaiah 62". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany