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and of the cause of it. Nor did this happen only once. signally has this warning been again fulfilled, since the rejection of Jesus by the Jews, as well as in the times of the Babylonian captivity. Most signally is this warning fulfilled at this moment, when not only are the Jews a byword in all lands, with their temple laid low even to the ground, but their church also, the living temple, is in ruins; its constitution and services as ordered in the Law, being lost, and those of which they were the figures not having been adopted by them in their place.
How far then are we justified in applying warnings such as these to ourselves as a Christian nation? How far does our national prosperity now depend on our good conduct as a nation? We should perhaps err in expecting any such certain and immediate national retribution; if at least by prosperity we mean that which is usually so called in the world. Or at least we shall err in arguing for the certainty of any such retribution, from the fact that God did so deal with the Israelites. For this nation was, we know, the object of a special providence. This people had the Lord for their King in this world. And even when they resolved to have a sovereign on earth, like the nations round about them, still did the Lord vouchsafe to interfere signally and supernaturally, to reward them and chastise them as their Sovereign. For ourselves we can lay claim to no such honourable privilege. And yet we may apply to our own case this general assertion, that "righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people." Prov. 14. 34. We may see how this is true, in the issues of God's ordinary providence, by the tendency of religious principles to produce diligence, and temperance, and harmony, the three chief sources of prosperity on earth. And we may be sure that it is fulfilled in that best of exaltation, the eminence of grace and godliness, which comes of serving the Lord faithfully; as well as in that worst of reproach, the being lightly esteemed of God, which is the sure portion of all those who dare to despise Him.
We own it possible then that God may sometimes see fit to afflict a righteous nation, as well as a righteous individual; which in both cases may be alike a token of his love. We forbear to apply his dealings with the nation of the Israelites as a sure precedent of his dealings with a nation of Christians. But we may apply them closely to his dealings with each Christian national church. For of each such church we may justly think that the community of Israel was a type. Let our church then take heed to itself, that it never desert the true way of the Lord. Let our church and all its members beware, that they walk before God in integrity of heart, aiming only and stedfastly at God's glory, and never turning aside from the way of his commandments into any path of man's devising. And let both our church and nation do all that in them lies, if they would enjoy the favour of the Lord, that as in Israel of old, so now with us, the church and the nation should be one.
The buildings and 10 And it came to pass at the end of twenty years, when Solomon had built the two houses, the house of the LORD, and the king's house,
11 (Now Hiram the king of Tyre had furnished Solomon with cedar trees and fir trees, and with gold, according to all his desire,) that then king Solomon gave Hiram twenty cities in the land of Galilee.
12 And Hiram came out from Tyre to see the cities which Solomon had given him; and they pleased him not.
13 And he said, What cities are these which thou hast given me, my brother? And he called them the land of Cabul unto this day.
14 And Hiram sent to the king sixscore talents of gold.
15 And this is the reason of the levy which king Solomon raised; for to build the house of the LORD, and his own house, and Millo, and the wall of Jerusalem, and Hazor, and Megiddo, and Gezer. 16 For Pharaoh king of Egypt had gone up, and taken Gezer, and burnt it with fire, and slain the Canaanites that dwelt in the city, and given it for a present unto his daughter, Solomon's wife.
17 And Solomon built Gezer, and Beth-horon the nether,
18 And Baalath, and Tadmor in the wilderness, in the land, 19 And all the cities of store that Solomon had, and cities for his chariots, and cities for his horsemen, and that which Solomon desired to build in Jerusalem, and in Lebanon, and in all the land of his dominion.
wealth of Solomon.
20 And all the people that were left of the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites, which were not of the children of Israel,
21 Their children that were left after them in the land, whom the children of Israel also were not able utterly to destroy, upon those did Solomon levy a tribute of bondservice unto this day.
22 But of the children of Israel did Solomon make no bondmen; but they were men of war, and his servants, and his princes, and his captains, and rulers of his chariots, and his horsemen.
23 These were the chief of the officers that were over Solomon's work, five hundred and fifty, which bare rule over the people that wrought in the work.
24 But Pharaoh's daughter came up out of the city of David unto her house, which Solomon had built for her: then did he build Millo.
25 And three times in a year did Solomon offer burnt offerings and peace offerings upon the altar which he built unto the LORD, and he burnt incense upon the altar that was before the Lord. So he finished the house.
26 And king Solomon made a navy of ships in Ezion-geber, which is beside Eloth, on the shore of the Red Sea, in the land of Edom.
27 And Hiram sent in the navy his servants, shipmen that had knowledge of the sea, with the servants of Solomon.
28 And they came to Ophir, and fetched from thence gold, four hundred and twenty talents, and brought it to king Solomon.
The surpassing glories of heaven.
The possession of so many noble buildings, and the credit and glory of having built them, formed a part of the prosperity which God promised to give Solomon in this present world. We may look therefore upon these houses of state, and cities of stone, and on the nations of bondservants, and fleets of ships laden with gold, as a counterpart to the fertility of the soil; a blessing of the same kind, over and above the excellency of the land flowing with milk and honey. To the gifts of nature, as we may call them for distinction's sake, were added those of art. With the abundant produce of one land were joined the many rare and precious productions of other and distant countries. The king of Tyre, in whose eyes the cities of Galilee seemed mean, supplied gold, and "shipmen that had knowledge of the sea" to supply it yet more abundantly. The king of Egypt brought his army to fight for Israel against Canaan, and to restore Gezer to the inheritance of the Lord. See Josh. 10. 33. all the people that were left of the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites," these were made to do the hard labour of the state; whilst the children of Israel were enjoying at their leisure its honours, and pleasures, and emoluments.
Such was the height of worldly prosperity attained to by the Israelites in the time of Solomon. A signal blessing, if viewed as a token of God's favour, and received with thankfulness as his gift, and enjoyed, in soberness of mind, as an earnest of those better things which God has prepared in another world for them that love Him. This is the view which we ought to take of any measure of prosperity which we may attain to here. This is the reflexion we may profitably make, on being told of the wealth and splendour to which Solomon and the Israelites were now promoted. Whatever there be on earth grand or beautiful, whatever sight or sound delightful to the sense, whatever pleasure we can here feel or conceive, in the possession of all that is most excellent or magnificent, in the provinces of nature or of art, all will be exceeded, beyond all comparison, by the least of all the joys and glories which await the true Israel of God, in the heavenly Jerusalem, to all eternity. Let us therefore now turn our thoughts from the gorgeous palaces of a Hiram and a Solomon, and resort to Him who dwelt and ministered in the cities of Galilee, in the despised "land of Cabul." Let us apply to Him for treasures more precious than the gold of Ophir, and seek through Him for a crown of glory that fadeth not away. Our way thereto on earth may sometimes be through a course of honour and abundance; but it will be found more frequently, and followed more easily, in a course of want, and affliction, and reproach. Whichsoever be our lot, we must in either case adopt the meek and lowly spirit of Him who had not where to lay his head. And if we would enter with Him into his glory we must be prepared to share his cross.
The queen of Sheba admireth Solomon's wisdom. 1 And when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon, concerning the name of the LORD, she came to prove him with hard questions.
2 And she came to Jerusalem with a very great train, with camels that bare spices, and very much gold, and precious stones: and when she was come to Solomon, she communed with him of all that was in her heart.
3 And Solomon told her all her questions: there was not any thing hid from the king, which he told her not.
4 And when the queen of Sheba had seen all Solomon's wisdom, and the house that he had built, 5 And the meat of his table, and the sitting of his servants, and the attendance of his ministers, and their apparel, and his cupbearers, and his ascent by which he went up unto the house of the LORD; there was no more spirit in her.
6 And she said to the king, It was a true report that I heard in mine own land of thy acts and of thy wisdom.
7 Howbeit I believed not the words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen it and, behold, the half was not told me: thy wisdom and prosperity exceedeth the fame which I heard.
8 Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and that hear thy wisdom.
9 Blessed be the LORD thy God, which delighted in thee, to set thee on the throne of Israel: because the LORD loved Israel for ever, therefore made he thee king, to do judgment and justice. 10 And she gave the king an hundred and twenty talents of gold, and of spices very great store, and precious stones: there came no more such abundance of spices as these which the queen of Sheba gave to king Solomon.
11 And the navy also of Hiram, that brought gold from Ophir, brought in from Ophir great plenty of almug trees, and precious stones.
12 And the king made of the almug trees pillars for the house of the LORD, and for the king's house, harps also and psalteries for singers: there came no such almug trees, nor were seen unto this day.
13 And king Solomon gave unto the queen of Sheba all her desire, whatsoever she asked, beside that which Solomon gave her of his royal bounty. So she turned and went to her own country, she and her servants.
Against neglecting our opportunities of saving knowledge. It is a remarkable expression, that "the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the Lord." And it may probably mean, that his renown was connected with Jehovah's name, as being known to be the consequence of God's special favour. We may suppose therefore, that amongst the hard questions which the queen of Sheba put to Solomon, were many
relating to the true God, and to the manner of the worship ordained in the Law, and to the revelation which He had given of his will; things of the deepest interest to a person of reflexion; such as a queen who came from far in search of wisdom was sure to be. And it is probably in connexion with this subject, that mention is made of "the ascent" by which Solomon "went up unto the house of the Lord." For whether this be the true meaning of the Hebrew words, or whether they mean, as others have translated them, "the sacrifices he offered;" in either case they point to God's service, and shew that the queen of Sheba admired Solomon's wisdom, with some reference to the God to whom he was beholden, for all he had, and did, and was.
And in like manner when the queen expressed her admiration at Solomon's prosperity, and declared how happy she esteemed the servants of the king, and all who heard his words, she fell into a strain of thanksgiving to God, not unworthy of the lips of a believer: "blessed be the Lord thy God, which delighted in thee, to set thee on the throne of Israel: because the Lord loved Israel for ever, therefore made he thee king, to do judgment and justice." Surely the queen of Sheba here well teaches us, to interpret all the glory of this highly favoured king, as a token of the faithfulness and loving kindness of the Lord. When therefore we meet with proofs of his wisdom and magnificence, when we have set before us the state of his court, and the riches of his treasury, let us say within ourselves, How true is God to his promise, how gracious is God to his people!
But we must not fail to remember also the use which our blessed Lord has made of this remarkable event in history. "The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon: and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here." Matt. 12. 42. Such was the mournful language of remonstrance, addressed to the Jews of our Saviour's time, by Him who spake as never man spake. Are not his words applicable to many even now? Are there not many who have now abundant opportunities to hear the wisdom which Christ vouchsafes to teach, and who have these opportunities in vain? Let them learn from the queen of Sheba, that no journey is too long or too laborious to take, no gifts too large or too costly to bestow, for the sake of adding to our knowledge in the things of God. Whether this were the kind of wisdom sought by her or not, it is the kind which we are bound to seek above all others. And it is only in proportion as we know God, by learning in humility of Christ, that we need not fear lest the queen of the south should rise up with us in the judgment to condemn us.
God grant that we may ever earnestly desire to know all his will, and ever heartily endeavour to do all we know; through Jesus Christ our Lord!