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from before the altar of the Lord, from kneeling on his knees.” We are told too that when the prayer was ended he “ blessed all the congregation of Israel with a loud voice, saying, Blessed be the Lord.” Whence we may learn, that to bless God, and to thank Him for his goodness, is one way to ask of Him to bless us. And now let us observe the terms in which Solomon asks of God a blessing on “his people Israel.” After blessing the Lord, and thanking Him, he prays that God would be with him and with the Israelites as He was with their fathers, that He would be with them to keep them in his ways, and that He would bless them by complying with the requests of the prayer already offered, and that He would do so for this end, and with this fruit, that God might be known for God in all the earth. At the same time he exhorts the people to let their heart be perfect with God to fulfil his will in all things. This then is true blessedness; to have God with us, and to be serving and obeying Him, in all we do. And these are the blessings which above all others we do well to ask of God, namely, “spiritual blessings." in Christ Jesus. Eph. 1. 3. These alone can yield true happiness on earth. These alone can render all our other blessings really blessed unto us. Faith, hope, and love, zeal in well doing founded upon thankfulness for benefits received, patience in tribulation, self denial, humility, and true piety, these things let us chiefly beseech God to give, both to ourselves and others ; 07, to sum up all in one, a heart “perfect with the Lord our God.”
We have good reason to think that Solomon, at this period of his life, had this true devotion of heart and soul to the service of the Lord. And in the abundant sacrifices which he offered, he gave proof that he was willing to shew forth God's praise not only with his lips but by his actions. At the same time we may justly suppose, that as far as the true meaning of these sacrifices could be then understood, they were intended by Solomon to express, that he trusted not in righteousness of his own, but had faith in a Saviour to come. With this view of his intent in sacri. ficing, how doubiy striking is the circumstance, that the altar was too small for the abundance of his offerings; how doubly interesting the assurance, that the people went away from the sacrifices with joy and gladness in their hearts, “ for all the goodness that the Lord had done for David his servant, and for Israel his people.” For this surely was the chief goodness of all, an atonement really able to satisfy for sin, a temple which though destroyed would be raised up in glory never to perish, and a sacrifice once offered therein, which would be effectual for evermore. Happy Israelites, as many as through the shadows of the Law had a foresight of the substance of the Gospel! Happy, far happier, Christians, who have the substance of the Gospel, in all its fulness, at once revealed to their faith, and fulfilled in their experience!
The Lord appeareth to Solomon the second time. 1 And it came to pass, when the throne of Israel. Solomon had finished the build- 6 But if ye shall at all turn from ing of the house of the Lord, following me, ye or your children, and the king's house, and all and will not keep my commandSolomon's desire which he was ments and my statutes which I pleased to do,
have set before you,
and 2 That the Lord appeared to serve other gods, and worship Solomon the second time, as them : he had appeared unto him at 7 Then will I cut off Israel out Gibeon.
of the land which I have given 3 And the Lord said unto him, them; and this house, which I I have heard thy prayer and thy have hallowed for my name, will supplication, that thou hast made I cast out of my sight; and Israel before me: I have hallowed this shall be a proverb and a byword house, which thou hast built, to among all people: put my name there for ever; 8 And at this house, which is and mine eyes and mine heart high, every one that passeth by shall be there perpetually. it shall be astonished, and shall
4 And if thou wilt walk before hiss; and they shall say, Why me, as David thy father walked, hath the LORD done thus unto in integrity of heart, and in up- this land, and to this house? rightness, to do according to all 9 And they shall answer, Bethat I have commanded thee, and cause they forsook the LORD wilt keep my statutes and my their God, who brought forth judgments:
their fathers out of the land of 5 Then I will establish the Egypt, and have taken hold upon throne of thy kingdom upon other gods, and have worshipped Israel for ever, as I promised to them, and served them : thereDavid thy father, saying, Therefore hath the Lord brought upon shall not fail thee a man upon them all this evil.
LECTURE 566. The dealings of God with Christian nations. One very important use of the Old Testament history is the manifestation of God's justice, mercy, and truth, in his dealings with the Israelites as a nation. Of this the words before us are a striking instance, addressed as they are not to Solomon alone, nor only to the Israelites of one generation; but to the whole body, king and people, in all their generations collectively. Nor can we read them without coupling with them in our minds their terrible fulfilment in after times. When kings and people turned away from following the Lord, when they went and served other gods and worshipped them, then, we know, the Lord God Jehovah, the one only living and true God, did cut off Israel out of the land which He had given them, and did cast out of his sight the house which He had ballowed for his name. And whilst his people became a proverb and a byword among others, his ruined temple was a monument and memorial of their rejection by Him, and of the cause of it. Nor did this happen only once. Most 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 temperancc, 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 wealth of Solomon. 10 And it came to pass at the 20 And all the people that were end of twenty years, when Solo- left of the Amorites, Hittites, mon had built the two houses, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebuthe house of the LORD, and the sites, which were not of the childking's house,
ren of Israel, 11 (Now Hiram the king of 21 Their children that were left Tyre bad furnished Solomon after them in the land, whom the with cedar trees and fir trees, children of Israel also were not and with gold, according to all able utterly to destroy, upon his desire,) that then king So- those did Solomon levy a tribute lomon gave Hiram twenty cities of bondservice unto this day. in the land of Galilee.
22 But of the children of Israel 12 And Hiram came out from did Solomon make no bondmen; Tyre to see the cities which So- but they were men of war, and lomon had given him; and they his servants, and his princes, and pleased him not.
his captains, and rulers of his 13 And he said, What cities chariots, and his horsemen. are these which thou hast given 23 These were the chief of the me, my brother? And he called officers that were over Solomon's them the land of Cabul unto this work, five hundred and fifty, day.
which bare rule over the people 14 And Hiram sent to the king that wrought in the work. sixscore talents of gold.
24 But Pharaoh's daughter came 15 And this is the reason of the up out of the city of David unto levy which king Solomon raised; her house, which Solomon bad for to build the house of the LORD, built for her: then did he build and his own house, and Millo, Millo. and the wall of Jerusalem, and 25 And three times in a year Hazor, and Megiddo, and Gezer. did Solomon offer burnt offerings
16 For Pharaoh king of Egypt and peace offerings upon the altar had gone up, and taken Gezer, which he built unto the LORD, and burnt it with fire, and slain and he burnt incense upon the the Canaanites that dwelt in the altar that was before the LORD. city, and given it for a present So he finished the house. unto his daughter, Solomon's 26 And king Solomon made a wife.
navy of ships in Ezion-geber, 17 And Solomon built Gezer, which is beside Eloth, on the and Beth-horon the nether, shore of the Red Sea, in the land
18 And Baalath, and Tadmor of Edom. in the wilderness, in the land, 27 And Hiram sent in the navy
19 And all the cities of store his servants, shipmen that had that Solomon had, and cities for knowledge of the sea, with the his chariots, and cities for his servants of Solomon. horsemen, and that which Solo
28 And they came to Ophir, and mon desired to build in Jeru- fetched from thence gold, four salem, and in Lebanon, and in hundred and twenty talents, and all the land of his dominion. 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.
6 And 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.