More kings of Israel, then exile

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A. KING DAVID SAVES UP FOR THE BUILDING OF THE TEMPLE.

Our previous Bible study was about the first two kings of Israel, Saul and David. David was a man after God’s own heart and under him the kingdom of Israel flourished.  All the surrounding enemy nations were conquered and made to pay taxes to Israel.  Huge amounts of gold and silver came into David’s hands.  Some of these he used to build a palace for himself but he also saved up a fortune to construct a temple for God.  The Lord, however, did not allow him to build the temple himself but ordained that his son would do that.

B.  DAVID APPOINTS SOLOMON TO TAKE HIS PLACE.

When David grew old, he appointed one of his many sons, a man called Solomon, as successor. Solomon was a talented man, wise, upright and he too loved God just as his father David had. Let us now read about him from 1 Kings chapter 3:3-14:

Solomon showed his love for the LORD by walking according to the statutes of his father David, except that he offered sacrifices and burned incense on the high places.  4  The king went to Gibeon to offer sacrifices, for that was the most important high place, and Solomon offered a thousand burnt offerings on that altar. 

C. KING SOLOMON IS HIGHLY BLESSED BY GOD.

5   At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.”  6  Solomon answered, “You have shown great kindness to your servant, my father David, because he was faithful to you and righteous and upright in heart. You have continued this great kindness to him and have given him a son to sit on his throne this very day. 

7  “Now, O LORD my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties.  8  Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number.  9  So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?” 

10  The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this.  11  So God said to him, “Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice,  12  I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be.  13  Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for— both riches and honour—so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings.  14  And if you walk in my ways and obey my statutes and commands as David your father did, I will give you a long life.” 

What wonderful promises this young king received from God.  How fortunate the nation of Israel was to have such a God fearing ruler.  If only all the nations would elect such God loving rulers what a wonderful world it would be.

D. THE KING IS PROVEN TO HAVE GODLY WISDOM.

Very soon after Solomon received this promise, his wisdom was put to the test. Two sinful woman, harlots, came to his court to present their case.  They were sharing a room and both gave birth to baby boys at about the same time.  One night one of these ladies rolled over onto her baby while she was sleeping and the baby died.  As soon as she discovered it, she exchanged the two babies, taking the live baby for herself.  When the other lady awoke the next morning, she discovered that her baby was dead.  She however took a good look at the dead baby and saw that it was not hers.  An argument arose between the two of them but they could not settle the dispute. So they went to the King’s court that he might decide to whom the live baby belonged. 

What a difficult case for a human judge and now all the eyes were on king Solomon. He had to give the verdict.  He realised that further questioning of the two wordly women would not reveal the truth. So he followed another route, calling on an armoured guard, saying: “Bring a sword”.  Then, when the guard stood before him with the sharp shining sword in his hand, he shouted: “Now cut the living baby into two halves.  Give one half to the one lady and the other half to the other.”  The woman who had stolen the living baby immediately, gleefully agreed, shouting, “Now he won’t be mine neither yours.”  The true mother of the child however cried out in shock, “Oh my Lord please give him to this other lady and do not kill him.”  King Solomon replied, “That is the true mother, give the child to her.” 

The court officials were amazed at the King’s wisdom and this story was told all over Israel so that the King became greatly respected. The nation could see that he had godly wisdom.

E. THE TEMPLE GETS BUILT.

One of the first things king Solomon did after he became king, was to build a temple for God. Up till this time, although all the people were living in homes built of brick and stone, the tent tabernacle was still all that had been provided as a place of worship.  Solomon now built the temple according to the plans which God had revealed to his father  David.  It really was a most beautiful building.

Just like the tabernacle it consisted of two rooms.  The room furthest from the entrance, called the “Holiest of All,” was screened off by a curtain.   In this room, the Ark of the Covenant was placed.  The temple was built with cut stone and covered on the inside with expensive wood.  Then it was covered with gold both on the inside and on the outside.

F. GOD TAKES POSSESSION OF THE TEMPLE.

Once it was completed, God showed his acceptance by filling it with His glory. This is recorded in chapter 8:10,11:

“When the priests withdrew from the Holy Place, the cloud filled the temple of the LORD.  11  And the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the   LORD filled his temple.”

G. THE GLORY OF HOLY SPIRIT INDWELLING A CHRISTIAN.

As we proceed with these teachings and get to the second portion of the Bible, the New Testament, we will discover that God compares many of the Old Testament things to us as Christians.  One such example we find in the first Book of Corinthians, chapter 6 verse 19:  Let us read it:  “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you,  which you have from God?”

The Lord is here comparing  the body of a person who has accepted Jesus as Saviour to a temple, like the temple which Solomon built.  Now, that temple was very, very wonderful to look at, for it was, as we have seen, covered with gold.  When the sun was shining, the whole building would glitter. When you approached the city of Jerusalem, that would be the first building you would see when you are still a long way off. 

But the outward appearance of the building was not the real importance of it.  What made it unique was the fact that God came to live within it by His Spirit.  He demonstrated His presence by a cloud coming down and filling the temple.  The presence of God was so strongly felt within that cloud that even the holy priests could not do the work for which they had been appointed. 

What about us? Are we also filled with the glorious presence of God?  Do we also sometimes fall on our knees or flat on our faces on the ground because the presence of God is so overwhelming within us?  Are there moments when you forget about all the other things and people around you and drink in the glory of His presence?  Moments when it is just Him and me and nothing and nobody else?  God wants to fill us completely, He wants to fill you entirely, therefor give yourself to Him totally and completely.

H. THE EXCELLENCE OF KING SOLOMON’S RULERSHIP.

Back to King Solomon. He did not only display great wisdom in the  hearing of court cases and in the building of the temple, but in every facet of the  administration of  the  country.  Israel became  an example of excellent administration and prosperity to the whole world. From every nation representatives came see this glorious nation.  They also sat down in his counsel hall and listened to his wisdom and God was greatly glorified. One of the rulers that heard of him and  visited him, was the queen of Sheba (Ethiopia). Let us read about this visit in chapter 10:1-10 and verses 23 and 24:

“When the queen of Sheba heard about the fame of Solomon and his relation to the name of the LORD, she came to test him with hard questions.  2  Arriving at Jerusalem with a very great caravan—with camels carrying spices, large quantities of gold, and precious stones—she came to Solomon and talked with him about all that she had on her mind.  3  Solomon answered all her questions; nothing was too hard for the king to explain to her. 

4  When the queen of Sheba saw all the wisdom of Solomon and the palace he had built,  5  the food on his table, the seating of his officials, the attending servants in their robes, his cupbearers, and the burnt offerings he made at the temple of the LORD, she was overwhelmed. 

6  She said to the king, “The report I heard in my own country about your achievements and your wisdom is true.  7  But I did not believe these things until I came and saw with my own eyes. Indeed, not even half was told me; in wisdom and wealth you have far exceeded the report I heard.  8  How happy your men must be! How happy your officials, who continually stand before you and hear your wisdom!  9  Praise be to the LORD your God, who has delighted in you and placed you on the throne of Israel. Because of the LORD’s eternal love for Israel, he has made you king, to maintain justice and righteousness.” 

10  And she gave the king 120 talents of gold, large quantities of spices, and precious stones. Never again were so many spices brought in as those the queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon.”

Now verse 23 and 24:

“King Solomon was greater in riches and wisdom than all the other kings of the earth.  24  The whole world sought audience with Solomon to hear the wisdom God had put in his heart.”

God had truly kept His Word and the promises he had made to Abraham, his friend.  He had multiplied his descendants enormously. He also brought them out of the slavery of Egypt, leading them through the desert.  He brought them into the Canaan, the land he had promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  He eradicated all their enemies and blessed them abundantly above any other nation on earth. 

Man easily makes promises, and just as easily breaks them, but God can be trusted completely.  What he determines to do, He completes and no one can stand in his way.  If you have surrendered yourself to Him, know for sure that you are in safe hands.  The good work that He began in your life, He will complete.  We read Phil 1:4-6:

“In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy  5  because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6  being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Yes, He will bring you  safely into his heaven above, into his eternal Jerusalem which is endlessly more beautiful and glorious than the city, palace and temple Solomon had built.  So, although we may sometimes feel weak, let us not doubt the almighty power of God.  He will never ever fail us.

I. SOLOMON’S LATTER DAYS.

Now let us return to Solomon. Sad to say, he did not persevere in following the Lord as his father David did. We read chapter 11:1-13:

“King Solomon, however, loved many foreign women besides Pharaoh’s daughter—Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians and Hittites.  2  They were from nations about which the LORD had told the Israelites, “You must not intermarry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods.”

Nevertheless, Solomon held fast to them in love.  3  He had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines, and his wives led him astray.  4  As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been.  5  He followed Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molech the detestable god of the Ammonites.  6  So Solomon did evil in the eyes of the LORD; he did not follow the LORD completely, as David his father had done.  7  On a hill east of Jerusalem, Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the detestable god of Moab, and for Molech the detestable god of the Ammonites.  8  He did the same for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and offered sacrifices to their gods. 

9   The LORD became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice.  10  Although he had forbidden Solomon to follow other gods, Solomon did not keep the LORD’s command.  11  So the LORD said to Solomon, “Since this is your attitude and you have not kept my covenant and my decrees, which I commanded you, I will most certainly tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your subordinates.  12  Nevertheless, for the sake of David your father, I will not do it during your lifetime. I will tear it out of the hand of your son.  13  Yet I will not tear the whole kingdom from him, but will give him one tribe for the sake of David my servant and for the sake of Jerusalem, which I have chosen.”

What a poor legacy for a father to leave to his son and for a king to leave to his nation!

After Solomon there were many other kings of which a few served the God of Abraham. Most of them, however, were wicked rulers serving the heathen gods.  The people themselves, the nation, did likewise and angered God by their wicked deeds.  And so the Lord sent a heathen king called Nebuchadnezzar to war against them.  He overcame them in battle and broke down the temple and the walls of Jerusalem.  Then he took captive all the leaders and more important people and carried them away to his country as his subjects.  All that remained of the glorious city and country, were the ruins and a small number of poor people. 

J. A LESSON TO BE LEARNED.

Let us never despise the grace of God.  While he blesses us, let we praise Him; when gives us the opportunity to repent let us hasten to do so for in the Book of Hebrews,  chapter 10:31 it is written:

It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Do continue with this series of Bible studies and do what they teach. You and your family will be enriched within and blessed in your daily responsibilities. The next teaching deal’s with Israel’s return from captivity.

SHALOM

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