CRITICAL NOTES.] The reign of Solomon is comprised in nine chapters of this book, corresponding to 1 Kings 1-11, and forms the third part of the whole work. This chapter contains the sacrifice at Gibeon, the vision and the wealth of Solomon.
2Ch .—Solomon's offering at Gibeon. Strengthened, a favourite word (cf. 2Ch 12:13; 2Ch 13:21; 2Ch 21:4), meaning established, firmly settled in government. Magnified (1Ch 29:25). 2Ch 1:2. All Israel, by their representatives. Captains (1Ch 27:1; 1Ch 28:1). Judges desirable on all occasions like this (1Ch 23:4). Chief of fathers. Heads of families still recognised, though having no special function (cf. Speak. Com.). 2Ch 1:3. Gibeon. Through inroads of Philistines, tabernacle removed from Shiloh to Nob (1Sa 21:1); after destruction of Nob by Saul to Gibeon (1Sa 22:9). 2Ch 1:4. Ark separated from tabernacle, consequently two centres of worship (cf. account in 1 Chronicles 13, 15). 2Ch 1:5. Altar (marg.) "was there;" this, therefore, the legitimate place of worship. Sought, i.e., frequented it, in the habit of making use of it [Speak. Com.]. Some give "sought Him, the Lord."
2Ch .—Solomon's vision at Gibeon. Night, after sacrifice, through dream (1Ki 3:5-15). 2Ch 1:8. Me to reign. First case of son succeeding father. 2Ch 1:9. Promise, special, made to David, that his successor should be wise and able to judge. Though no express record, Psalms 72, amounts to nearly the same; a Psalm undoubtedly Messianic, yet its primary subject is Solomon. May we not understand Solomon here as calling upon God to make good this prophecy, to "establish" this implied "promise"? [Speak. Com.] 2Ch 1:10. Knowledge, insight (cf. Dan 1:4-17; Ecc 10:20). Wisdom, the power of applying knowledge rightly. Go out, do all parts of the kingly office; reminding of Deu 31:2; 1Sa 18:13-16; 1Ki 3:7. 2Ch 1:11-12. God's answer. Long life omitted here, given in 1Ki 3:14, conditionally. Riches and wealth, stores of commodities ready for use.
2Ch .—Solomon's riches came "from the high place that was at Gibeon to Jerusalem" [Speak. Com.]. 2Ch 1:14-17. This passage is very nearly identical with 1Ki 10:26-29. The only difference of any importance is the addition here (2Ch 1:15) of the words "and gold," which do not occur in 1Ki 10:27. The touch thus added is characteristic of the writers of writer of Chronicles, who is more rhetorical and more bold in his use of hyperbole than the author of Kings [Speak. Com.].
THE SPLENDID BEGINNING.—2Ch
Solomon magnified in character, accession, and choice. Many princes have had good fathers, wise training, and great privileges, but lacked wisdom and turned out badly. Solomon crowned while David lived, surrounded by a loyal people and blessed by Divine Providence. His beginning wise, most promising and glorious.
I. Solomon's accession to the throne was providentially secured. "The Lord his God was with him." Chosen, he was enthroned, not deprived of the kingdom. Endangered by sedition, he was "strengthened," established. The feast of conspirators broken up. Adonijah fled to the altar for refuge. God's providence opened up the way, and God's promise was fulfilled. In allusion to the rapid suppression of resistance, and to this signal entrance on his new reign, without rival or rebel, Solomon declares, "As the Lord liveth, which hath established me and set me on the throne of David my father," &c.
II. Solomon's claims to the throne were sanctioned by a representative assembly. He was confirmed by recognition and allegiance of all the tribes in representatives. Captains, judges, and heads of families, princes, and people—all received him. Those in authority should side with right and use their influence to promote true religion and God's glory. Weakness in kings, selfishness in rulers, and disaffection in people, outrage liberty, destroy the peace, and endanger the throne of kingdoms
"Let not the world see fear and sad mistrust
Govern the motion of a kingly eye" [Shakes.].
III. Solomon's accession to the throne was signalised by solemn acts of worship. "All the congregation with him," a vast concourse of dignitaries in solemn procession on its way up the hill to Gibeon, six miles north of Jerusalem, to offer royal sacrifices!
1. In obedience to divine law. The brazen altar was there (2Ch ); that is, the Gibeonite sanctuary was still the legal, the official and historically rightful place for burnt offerings.
2. In appropriate magnificence. The holocaust became the rank and attests the splendour of the sovereign on this occasion. Sacrifices abundant. Zadok the officiating high priest (1Ch ). The time-honoured altar prepared by the skill of Bezaleel in the wilderness (Exo 38:1).
IV. Solomon's accession to the throne was in a spirit of devout supplication. How many kings begin their reigns; how many youths in critical moments, turning-points in life, begin their course altogether differently! Alas! many gain distinctions, enter life fully equipped, for awhile out-distance others; but with the turn of fortune fall behind and end in ruin. Solomon remembered the position of his predecessor, his own youth and weakness, the responsibility under which he was placed, and made request for gifts and grace to help him. When Victoria learned that she was about to become Queen of England, her first words to the Archbishop of Canterbury were, "I beg your Grace to pray for me." Together they knelt, and the new reign began with prayer.
V. Solomon's accession to the throne was unequalled in splendour. None before him, nor after him, had the like (2Ch ).
1. Outward splendour. "Riches and wealth and honour." Good in themselves and good as a means of usefulness. The good which the world seeks; but this honour decays. All worldly greatness is fleeting in character and worthless at last. "We brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out."
2. Moral splendour. "Wisdom and knowledge" higher than material wealth. The riches of Crœsus would not add a fraction of value to a man. "The gold is but the guinea stamp." "How much better is it to get wisdom than gold! and to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver." Better, for it enriches its possessor, creates higher enjoyments, invests with greater dignity, and is destined to longer existence. "King Solomon exceeded all the kings of the earth for riches and for wisdom."
Probably at the close of festivities on Gibeon, when the mind of Solomon had been elevated, and his heart touched, that God appeared to him in a dream; gave him the option of everything good in the world. He felt intense desire, and offered earnest prayer for wisdom. Whether the dream was imaginary or not, the choice was made, and God's grant of it real. Learn—
I. That ability to discharge the duties of our calling is most desirable. Some time since a paper appeared in a popular Review under the title, "What knowledge is of most worth?" the object of which was to show the sufficiency of what is generally called science to guide in life. "The universal reply is science. This is the verdict on all counts." But what is meant by science? If mere education without religion, knowledge without wisdom, we cannot agree with it. There is a difference between science and wisdom. Wisdom is the right use of knowledge. Science seeks truth for its own sake, wisdom for practical uses. Science exercises the intellect, wisdom affects the heart. A man cannot be wise and able to fulfil his mission who does not use what he knows. Wisdom is the principal thing, therefore get wisdom, to govern as kings "in righteousness and judgment," to rule as masters "in the fear of the Lord," to win souls as ministers, for "he that winneth souls is wise."
II. That this ability can only Come from God. Solomon's surroundings favourable, education good, friends numerous, and wealth enormous, but he lacked wisdom, and looked to God for it. True wisdom is needed as much to build up the Christian Church, to govern a kingdom and rule a house, as to rear the tabernacle. If there be capacity, culture and application may make a scholar, a philosopher, or an orator. But "the wisdom which is profitable to direct" is "the wisdom from above." We must look to the source from whence Bezaleel and Aholiab gained their skill and ability (Exo ). "Give me wisdom and knowledge."
III. That where the desire for this ability is supreme, God will honour and bless it. "I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked" (1Ki ). Great pretension to wisdom often covers the want of it. Shallow streams make greatest noise. There must be—
1. Intense desire. A feeling of deep want. "This was in thine heart." Opinionated, self-sufficient men will never get it. A craving for its possession, growing out of sense of need, a cry of the soul, "Where shall wisdom be found?"
2. Earnest search. Mere want or desire not enough. There must be effort, honest, strenuous, and persevering. A search as for silver and gold. "If thou seekest her as silver, and search for her as for hid treasures, &c."
3. There must be prayer. "Give me now wisdom and knowledge." God will honour our petitions when sincere; will give inferior when we ask for superior blessings. God gave the wisdom asked, and the wealth unasked. If we value and pray for understanding, God will do for us "exceeding abundantly above all that we can ask or think." "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him."
THE BLESSEDNESS OF WISDOM.—2Ch
I. It helps to govern life. "Who can judge this thy people?"
1. By giving insight. "Knowledge of men and things," understanding of the times in which we live, and their demands upon us.
2. By imparting activity. "That I may go out and come in before this people." Public activity unceasing and unchecked.
3. By teaching us to avoid evil and do good. "Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee." "When thou goest thy steps shall not be straitened" (freedom in the great highway of life); "and when thou runnest thou shalt not stumble" (safety in activity) (Pro ).
II. It endows with best wealth. Wealth of soul. "For the soul to be without knowledge it is not good." Wealth of the character. "She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace; a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee." An ornament better than kings' robes, a crown not of fading laurels or rusting metal. Adornments of holiness preparing for the crown of glory which fadeth not away. Character better than cash, the only wealth that will go into the other world, and determine condition there. "Treasures of wickedness profit nothing, but righteousness delivereth from death."
III. It ensures permanent good. It is excellent in itself, described as "the fear of the Lord," and "the knowledge of God," blessing the intellect and the heart. In this life often brings riches, honour, length of days, and unequalled privileges. But these things may all end. Heavenly wisdom is supereminent, an eternal possession, a treasure we can lay up in heaven. It sets before us the way of life, and secures our salvation. Worldly good pertains to earth only; here is limitless blessing helping to escape the miseries of false choice, and giving endless possession of perfect bliss.
HOMILETIC HINTS AND SUGGESTIONS
2Ch . God with him.
1. God is often against the kings of the earth. This seen in the disasters which he brings on their armies, &c., and may be illustrated by the histories of many kings mentioned in the Bible.
2. God is with some kings for the punishment of others. The wicked are the sword of God.
3. God was with Solomon for the good of Israel; with him in answer to prayer.
4. God was not with Solomon unconditionally [Bib. Museum].
2Ch . How to get rich. "Ask what I shall give thee, &c." Observe, for the acquirement of the highest wealth that "asking"—
1. Is the simplest method. Only a word.
2. Is the divinely appointed method (Mat ; Mar 14:38).
3. Is the only method. Purchase is impossible. Deserts? We have none.
4. Is the certain method. It never has failed yet.
5. Is the abundantly enforced method. Enforced by the whole Bible, by the story of God's acts, the promises and exhortations, the life and death of Jesus.
6. Has ever been the abundantly successful method [R. A. Griffin].
2Ch . Solomon's Choice. I. The address which God made to Solomon when He said, "Ask, &c.," He does in effect make to each of us, especially to the young. II. Though we need not the qualification which Solomon required for his kingly office, yet we all need spiritual wisdom and understanding, and may therefore imitate his example. III. God is pleased with those who make the choice and offer up the prayer of Solomon. Because—
1. It is the effect of His grace;
2. It indicates opinions and feelings similar to his own;
3. It indicates humility;
4. It shows a benevolent concern for his glory, and for the happiness of their fellow-creatures;
5. It actually tends to promote his glory. IV. All who make this choice and adopt this prayer shall certainly be favoured with a wise and understanding heart [Dr. Payson].
The Prayer for Wisdom. I. Come and see a youth who at a critical moment is found in prayer. II. Come and see a king's son who prays exclusively for wisdom. III. Come and see a humble one who prays not in vain. IV. Come and see here a favoured one who receives much more than he asks for. V. Come and see an unhappy one who by his own fault has forfeited the blessings of his prayer [Dr. J. Van Oosterzee].
That which before us lies in daily life
Is the prime wisdom" [Milton].
This passage refers to commerce with Egypt in exports and imports, and is like 1Ki . The road from Egypt to Syria not always under the control of the Israelites. Solomon gained complete possession of the country and took the trade in horses between Egypt and northern nations into his own hands.
I. Wealth derived from trading speculations. In addition to large treasures collected and bequeathed by his father, Solomon's wealth derived from commerce with other nations. His fleets brought gold and silver from Ophir and Tharshish, and made them plenteous as stones in Jerusalem. His chariots and chariot horses or chargers were of the best kind of Egyptian breed and highly valued. Kings of the Hittites and Syria welcomed Jerusalem as the opening of an emporium for trade. Inland cities founded for special markets, and lofty towers on the coast pointed to commerce with distant countries.
II. Wealth acquired in opposition to God's commands. The King forbidden to multiply horses and gold under the Theocracy (Deu ). He must trust in the Lord God, not in chariots and horses (Psa 20:7). Besides, in a hilly country like Judea, cavalry of no essential service; and going to Egypt might open up the way to idolatry and corruption again. But Solomon must equal other nations, hence his passion for horses, a prohibited luxury, led to risk and excess. Wealth gained unjustly is held insecurely. "Better is the poor that walketh in his uprightness than he that is perverse in his ways though he be rich."
III. Wealth therefore risky in its possession. Prosperity of Solomon his great misfortune. Indulgence outran want. Abundant leisure to gratify desires. Prosperous enterprises, rank, riches, and power were his. His fame spread and raised to the pinnacle of glory among nations. But ambition mastered him. Wealth the first step downwards. His wisdom availed little and his end ruin. Sad that a beginning so promising should end in consequences so fearful. The smallest departure from rectitude may lead to grievous errors and fearful miseries. Neither wealth nor worldly wisdom can check a downward course. "The prosperity of fools shall destroy them." "In all time of our wealth, good Lord, deliver us."
THE KING'S MERCHANTS.—2Ch
Linen yarn means influx (mikre), and thence import (mabo), contrast of export (Sept. 1Ki ); in which case the verse would run thus: "And the export of horses for Solomon was from Egypt; and the import which the king's merchants took was an import in price"—that is, in money. It was more convenient for Solomon to send cash than commodities in exchange for the chariots and horses [Murphy].
I. The advantages of commerce. In softening manners and breaking down prejudices. In helping industry, promoting peace, and stimulating into Nature's resources.
II. The blessings of the nation whose sovereign takes an interest in commerce. Kings may aid in developing commerce, reviving depressed industries, and in adopting enlightened policy. Our own country privileged. "As soon as the commercial spirit acquires vigour," says Robertson, "and begins to gain an ascendant in any society, we discern a new genius in its policy, its alliances, its wars, and its negotiations."
ILLUSTRATIONS TO CHAPTER 1
2Ch ; 2Ch 1:6. The national worship was still in the unsettled state in which it had been since the first entrance into Palestine. "The people sacrificed in high places." The chief local sanctity still adhered to the spot where "the Tabernacle of the congregation" stood, on what was called "the great high-place of Gibeon." Hither as on a solemn pilgrimage, with a vast concourse of dignitaries, the young King came to offer royal sacrifices on his accession. A thousand victims were consumed on the ancient altar. The night was spent within the sacred city of Gibeon. And now occurred one of those prophetic dreams which had already been the means of Divine communication in the time of Samuel. Thrice in Solomon's life—at the three epochs of his rise, of his climax, of his fall—is such a warning recorded [Dean Stanley].
2Ch . Wisdom consists chiefly in three things—
1. Knowledge to discern.
2. Skill to Judges 3. Activity to prosecute [T. Watson]. He showed his wisdom by asking for wisdom. He became wise because he had set his heart upon it [Stanley]. Who can? Wisdom is preferred to riches, to long life, and to victory over enemies—the common ambition of kings. Honourable to any man, but especially to one so young as Solomon; the dictate of early piety and of the purest patriotism; expressing the most profound humility in circumstances favourable to the growth of pride; so moderate and so modest; breathing sentiments of the deepest gratitude to God, and of entire devotion to the public welfare [Dr. T. Guthrie].
"Wisdom is ofttimes nearer when we stoop
Than when we soar" [Wordsworth].
2Ch . In thine heart. Without a rich heart wealth is an ugly beggar [Emerson].
2Ch . I will give. God is a light that is never darkened, an unwearied life that cannot die, a fountain always flowing, a garden of life, a seminary of wisdom, a radical beginning of all goodness [Quarles].
2Ch . Prosperity. Many are not able to suffer and endure prosperity; it is like the light of the sun to a weak eye—glorious indeed in itself, but not proportioned to such an instrument [Jeremy Taylor].
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 1". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany