With the Temple and palace finished, the LORD appeared to Solomon a second time (1 Kings 9:2), and reaffirmed His covenant with David, Solomon’s father. He promised to bless Solomon if he would be a man of “integrity [pure; innocent] of heart, and in uprightness [honesty; walking a straight path], to do according to all that [the LORD had] commanded… [to] keep [observe; heed] my statutes [ordinances; rules; laws] and my judgments [verdict]” (9:4). God promised His blessings and favor on Solomon’s lineage, if He honored and obeyed Him (9:6).
There were conditions to God’s blessings, and Solomon was warned, should he or his children disobey the Law and Commandments and turn to idols, the nation would be “cut off” (9:6-7). The ruins of the Temple would become a “proverb and a byword” (9:8), a lasting reminder to all who passed through the land of how Israel forsook the LORD, and brought God’s judgment upon the nation (9:5-9).
1 Kings 9:10-14 provides us a passing event between Solomon, and Hiram the king of Tyre. Perhaps to pay debt he owed in the cost of materials for constructing the Temple, Solomon gifted Hiram twenty cities in Galilee of northern Israel. Apparently, Hiram felt slighted by the inferiority of the cities given to him by Solomon, and we read, “they pleased him not” (9:12).
Solomon also built and fortified cities (9:15-21), requiring a taxation or levy on the people (9:15). Cities were built that served both as storehouses for grains, and as Solomon’s military outposts (9:19). Many of the children of Israel’s enemies had remained in the land, and Solomon graciously allowed them to work and live in peace (9:20-21). He wisely employed men of his own nation to serve as soldiers, civil servants, leaders, and military leaders (9:22). Five hundred-fifty men of Israel served as supervisors of Solomon’s projects (9:23).
Solomon moved his Egyptian wife from David’s palace, located near the Temple mount in Jerusalem (9:16, 24). We also learn how Hiram, king of Tyre, had assisted Solomon in building a fleet of ships, and they engaged in maritime trade with other nations (9:26-28; 2 Chronicles 8:17-18).
Mirroring the record of Solomon’s accomplishments recorded in 1 Kings 9, 2 Chronicles 8 repeats the feats of Solomon at the close of his twentieth year as king (8:1).
2 Chronicles 8 concludes noting the various sacrifices Solomon offered, and his observance of the feast days: the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks, and the Feast of Tabernacles (8:13).
Solomon also followed his father David’s organizational plan for those who served in the Temple (8:14).
Closing thoughts – Let’s remember Solomon’s commitment to the LORD and his faithful observance of the sacrifices, and feasts days according to the Law (8:12-13). The king made worship a priority, and assured the priests and Levites would perform their duties, and faithfully lead the people in praising the LORD and singing the psalms (8:14-15).
The title of Psalm 134 is “A Song of Degrees,” and should be a familiar one to the followers of www.HeartofAShepherd.com. We have noted the same title on numerous occasions, and you may recall the psalms which bear that heading are believed to have been sung by pilgrims approaching Jerusalem for festivals, and by Levite singers when the priests ascended the steps of the Temple.
Psalm 134:1–3 – 1Behold, bless [praise] ye the Lord, all ye servants [slaves; ministers] of the Lord, Which by night stand [remain] in the house of the Lord [Yahweh. 2Lift up [raise up] your hands in the sanctuary [holy place], and bless [praise] the Lord. 3The Lord that made heaven and earth bless thee out of Zion [i.e., Jerusalem].
What is the duty of man? It is to “bless” and praise the LORD! All who serve the LORD, not only His ministers, but all His servants are to praise Him; especially those who minister in His house.
Before sunrise, the priests and Levites were busy preparing for the day; preparing not only the Temple and its courts, but themselves. For, the character of those who served the LORD, and who were charged with leading His people in worship, was to be holy. The hands to be lifted up in His sanctuary, were to be holy hands.
In his first epistle to Timothy, Paul expressed his longing that “men pray every where, lifting up holy hands” (1 Timothy 2:7-8). Such should be the desire of those who lead in worship, and for all the congregation itself.
Remembering our God is Creator of heaven and earth, may all who worship the LORD Who chose Zion, the place of His Temple, be blessed!
The author of Psalm 146 is not identified; however, his purpose in writing the psalm is obvious, for it is a song of praise to the LORD. Notice the psalmist employed in Psalm 146, numerous names for God that describe His divine nature, personality, and character. [The text in brackets is the amplification of this author.]
Directing his worship and adoration to the One worthy of praise, the psalmist begins:
Psalm 146:1-2–1 Praise [Hallelujah; Glory; Boast; Celebrate] ye the LORD[Yahweh; the sacred name of the LORD]. Praise the LORD[Jehovah; Eternal, Self-Existent God], O my soul. 2 While I live [have life] will I praise the LORD: I will sing praises [sing psalms] unto my God[Elohim; mighty God] while I have any being.
Exhorting and admonishing the people to not put their trust or confidence in man (146:3-4), we read:
Psalm 146:3-4 – 3 Put not your trust [confidence] in princes [rulers], nor in the son [children] of man, in whom there is no help [salvation; deliverance]. 4 His breath [man’s breath] goeth forth, he returneth to his earth [dies]; in that very day [time] his thoughts [plans, plots] perish.
Whether a prince among men or the common man, all live under the sentence of death (Romans 6:23). When their breath disappears as a vapor (James 4:14), their bodies return to dust (Genesis 3:19), and their plans and designs perish with them (146:4).
Such was the spiritual lesson from the parable of the rich man (Luke 12).
The rich man had experienced an overflow from the fruits of his labor at the time of harvest, and determined to hoard the abundance of God’s blessings (Luke 12:17-18). The LORD, however, judged the man a fool (Luke 12:19-20); his affections had been on earthly riches, and he, though rich, died a spiritual pauper. Such a man plots and plans for this temporal life, but fails to give thought of eternity. He is a fool, for he “layeth up treasure for himself and is not rich towards God” (Luke 12:21).
While the rich man’s affections and treasures perished with him, the psalmist described a man who looks to the LORD as “Happy” (146:5).
Psalm 146:5– 5 Happy [Blessed; prosperous]is he that hath the God [Almighty God] of Jacob for his help [aid], whose hope [expectation]is in the LORD his God:
The psalmist gave four divine attributes that give us cause to trust the LORD. (146:6-9)
The first, we should trust the LORD because He isCreatorof heaven, earth, the sea and “all that therein is” (146:6).
Psalm 146:6 – 6 Which [The LORD] made [fashioned; i.e. created] heaven, and earth, the sea, and all that therein is: which keepeth [preserves; guards] truth for ever [i.e. for God is forever faithful; trustworthy]:
We should trust the LORD because He isfaithfulandtrue, and “keepeth truth for ever” (146:6b).
We should also trust the LORD because He isjustandcompassionate. (146:7-9)
Psalm 146:7-9 – 7 Which executeth [lit. to make or prepare]judgment for the oppressed: which giveth food to the hungry. The LORD looseth [sets at liberty]the prisoners: 8 The LORDopeneth the eyes of the blind: the LORD raiseth [lifts up; comforts] them that are bowed down: the LORD loveth the righteous [just]: 9 The LORD preserveth [keeps watch; regards; saves]the strangers [sojourners]; he relieveth [bear witness; admonish; protects]the fatherless and widow: but the way [journey; path]of the wicked [ungodly; guilty]he turneth upside down [subverts; thwarts; overthrows].
Finally, we should trust the LORD because He is KingEternal, the God of Zion of whose kingdom there is no end (146:10). We read:
Psalm 146:10 10 The LORD shall reign for ever, even thy God, O Zion, unto all generations. Praise ye the LORD.
How foolish to trust man, or place your confidence in earthly possessions! The LORD is eternal, just, compassionate, faithful, true, and He is your Creator!
Today’s Scripture reading continues the historical record when Solomon dedicated the Temple in Jerusalem. The text before us is nearly identical to that which we considered in 1 Kings 8.
As a reminder, 1 & 2 Chronicles are thought to have been penned by Ezra, the leader of the second remnant of Jews to return to Israel following the Babylonian captivity (Zerubbabel led the first remnant, and had rebuilt the Temple in 538 B.C.). When Ezra arrived in Jerusalem around 458 B.C., he found the Hebrew people had once again turned from the LORD, and His covenant with the nation (i.e., the Law and Commandments). For that reason, Ezra set forth a reminder of Israel’s history as a nation, and the glory of her golden years under the reigns of David and Solomon.
Having already detailed the furnishings of the Temple, and the sacrifices that hallowed the dedication of that house of worship, I invite you to consider Solomon’s posture and prayer of dedication.
With the Ark of the Covenant in its place beneath the outstretched wings of the cherubim in the Oracle (i.e., the Holy of Holies), the LORD descended upon the Temple in a cloud, and His presence had filled “the house of the LORD” (5:13-14). So great and awesome was the sight, that the priests dared not “stand to minister by reason of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of God” (5:14).
The descent of the LORD in the cloud had confirmed for Solomon and the congregation of Israel, that God had blessed the Temple with His presence (6:1-2). We can imagine Solomon’s joy as he turned to the people and blessed them in the name of the LORD (6:3-4). Solomon recalled how the LORD had chosen David and his sons to be the lineage to rule Israel, and He had chosen the city of Jerusalem for His Temple and earthly-habitation (6:5-6). David had desired to build the Temple, but God had denied the king that privilege, and chose his son instead (6:7-9). All that the LORD had promised, He had fulfilled, and the presence of the LORD in the Temple was testimony to His blessing and presence (6:10-11).
We have considered Solomon’s prayer in our study of 1 Kings 8:22-53, and it is again recorded for us in today’s Scripture. 2 Chronicles 6 gives us some detail regarding the king’s humble posture. We have seen how Solomon had humbled himself and prayed on his knees, but here we find he had knelt before the LORD and the people on a raised platform, with his hands uplifted toward heaven (6:12-13).
Solomon’s prayer acknowledged the greatness of the LORD, and that there was none other God like Him. He had kept covenant with His people, and promised mercy to those who would walk in obedience (6:14). The king acknowledged God’s faithfulness to His promises (6:15), and prayed the LORD would fulfill His promise for David’s lineage to rule as long as his children obeyed the law (6:16). Solomon longed for the perpetual presence of the LORD, and that every prayer of His people would be heard (6:17-21).
We have considered the specifics of Solomon’s prayers for God’s mercy upon Israel (6:22-27), and His request, should the people be driven out of the land and taken captive, the LORD would hear their cry and restore them to the land (6:28-31).
2 Chronicles 6:32-33 reminds us that the LORD’s presence in Israel was to be a testimony to non-Hebrews that the God of heaven hears and answers the prayers of those who call upon Him. Like Daniel, who prayed toward Jerusalem when he was in captivity, Solomon prayed the LORD would hear the prayers of His people from afar, and would “maintain their cause” (Israel’s national interests as a people, 6:34-35).
Acknowledging the universal sinfulness of humanity, Solomon prayed, “there is no man which sinneth not” (6:36). The king prayed God would show His mercy to the people when they confess their sins, repent, and turn to Him (6:37-39).
Solomon’s prayer closed with him asking the LORD to not only hear his prayer, but for His presence to rest upon the Temple, and to “remember the mercies of David thy servant” (6:42).
Closing thought – Our next Scripture reading, 2 Chronicles 7, will begin with the LORD making His presence known in the fire He sent from heaven to consume the offerings (7:1). What a glorious confirmation of God’s presence and blessing!
The Sovereignty of God is one of the great doctrines of the Scriptures, and has been a spiritual anchor for believers who have found themselves in the midst of trials and troubles. The Word of God reveals that He is Creator, and is therefore the Sovereign Ruler of the universe, all nations and people. Solomon, because his son would be king, and men’s lives and the future of the nation would rest in his hands, stressed the importance of both planning, and trusting God. Solomon wrote:
Proverbs 16:1 – “The preparations[plans; blueprints; i.e., plan for battle]of the heart[mind; thoughts; emotions]in man[belong to; are the responsibility of man], and the answer[reply]of the tongue, is from the LORD.”
It is that man bears the responsibility of planning and preparing for each day, as well as for the future; but the final answer to man’s preparations is from the Lord, the Sovereign of all. Whether a king plans for battle, or a humble farmer plants his crops; success is dependent upon the LORD’s blessings. Wise men plan, but the wisest of men acknowledge, and accept the sovereignty of God. In the words of Solomon, “the answer” (whether the outcome is favorable or unfavorable) is from the Lord.
Closing thought – Those who lack faith, and are unwilling to accept that God is sovereign, will be overtaken by racing thoughts, and fears that will erode strength.
Remember: A wise man plans, and will then “trust in the LORD with all [his] heart” (Proverbs 3:5a).
Are You Feeling the Heat of Fiery Trials? Look Past the Flames! (17:3)
Fire is one of nature’s most valuable, yet destructive elements. The fire of a BBQ grill can stir a hungry appetite with the aroma of flame-broiled meats. Fire in a boiler can power a mighty steam engine, and turn massive electric turbines. Fire unleashed, however, can make a trail of destruction devastating everything in its path, rendering pain and sorrow.
Capitalizing on the theme of fire, Solomon compared the flames of a furnace that smelted and purified silver and gold, to the fiery trials God employs to test the hearts of His spiritual sons and daughters.
Proverbs 17:3 – “The fining pot [refining] is for silver, and the furnace for gold: but the LORD [Jehovah; Self-existent] trieth [proves; examines] the hearts.”
The process of purifying precious metals required intense heat. A smelter would take a refining pot of raw silver or gold, and sit the pot in the midst of an intense fire. He would then melt the raw material, causing the dross to boil to the top, where a skimmer would remove the impurities, leaving pure silver or gold.
Comparing times of trial and trouble to a refining pot and furnace (17:3b), Solomon taught his son to anticipate the LORD would prove, test and purify the hearts of His people by fiery trials. Trials and troubles not only test the heart, but purify the motives, and humble the spirit of a man. Nearly a thousand years later, James exhorted believers:
James 1:2-3 – “My brethren, count [consider] it all joy when ye fall into [encounter] divers temptations [trials; adversity]; 3 Knowing this, that the trying [testing; proving] of your faith worketh patience [strength; perseverance].”
The singe of fiery trials can hurt and humiliate, if not received with a humble, broken spirit. Trials can also benefit us, by burning away the crutches of self-will, and independence. The betrayal of a friend, or the rejection of a loved one can benefit us when we trust the way of the LORD is perfect, good and altogether right (2 Samuel 22:31; Psalm 18:30; Romans 8:29-29).
Job, the Old Testament patriarch, confessed, “But he [the LORD] knoweth the way that I take: when he [the LORD] hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold” (Job 23:10).
Closing thoughts – Are you feeling the heat of fiery trials and troubles?
I know it hurts, and you want to flee the flames of pain and disappointment. It is tempting to focus on the circumstances, and personalities who have hurt and disappointed you. My exhortation and counsel is:
Look past the flames! Trust God will take you through the pain, to the other side!
1 Corinthians 10:13 – “There hath no temptation [trouble; trial] taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer [allow] you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape [to pass through the trial], that ye may be able to bear it.”
Will you turn your hurts and sorrows over to the LORD, and trust Him?
I welcome hearing how this wonderful truth has moved your heart to let go of your pain, fears and anxieties, consciously placing your trust in the LORD. You may email me at: HeartOfAShepherdInc@gmail.com
Proverbs 10:12 – “Hatred[an attitude that detests, despises]stirreth up[awakens]strifes[discords; contentions]: but love[genuine, sincere love of a friend]covereth[conceals; hides; passes over] all sins[transgression; rebellion; guilt].”
Have you ever wondered why there is so much strife and discord in the world? Solomon diagnosed the root cause of a pervasive, contentious spirit, and stated simply: “Hatred stirreth up strifes” (10:12a). To state the same judgment in a different way: Hatred, not love, disrupts, denigrates, damages, and devastates all whose life it touches. Hatred provokes strife in marriages, families, friendships, and congregations.
Paul identified pride as the root cause of envy and strife in his letter to Timothy (1 Timothy 6:4). John wrote concerning Diotrephes, who was a cause of grief and a source of discord in the early church: “Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence[ambitious, and striving to be first] among them,receiveth us not” (3 John 1:9). Some will dress up strife in a garb of religious piety; however, the presence of unresolved conflict is indicative of an unforgiving spirit. Such a spirit, if unchecked, will become antagonistic, and destroy friendships, families and fellowships.
A second principle from Proverbs 10:12 is, “love covereth all sins” (10:12b).
Biblical love does not overlook sin, for that would contradict the ways of the LORD, (Proverbs 3:11-12), and the Scriptures. After all, believers are commanded to lovingly, and meekly address sin in each other’s life (Matthew 18:15-17; Galatians 6:1). What does it mean, “love covereth all sins?”
Sincere, genuine love longs to forgive, and will not unnecessarily expose the sins, failures, and shortcomings of one who is loved. Biblical, Christ-like love is longsuffering, kind, gracious, and forgiving (1 Corinthians 13:4-6).
Closing thought – In his letter to believers in the 1st century, Peter wrote: “And above all things have fervent charity [self-sacrificing love] among yourselves: for charity shall cover[forgives; overlooks] the multitude of sins[personal offenses]” (1 Peter 4:8).
You and I should not be surprised that hatred stirs up strife; however, we should be concerned that some who profess to love others, readily entertain and expose their failures.
Hatred reveals, what love conceals; hatred exploits, what love forgives (Ephesians 4:31-32).
Proverbs 10:31– “The mouth[speech; utterance]of the just[righteous; lawful]bringeth forth[utters; bears the fruit of]wisdom[shrewdness; skillful use of knowledge]: but the froward[perverse; swearing]tongue[speech; evil speaker]shall be cut out[cut down; destroyed; punished].
The tongue was a frequent subject of Solomon’s proverbs, and the Scriptures abound with examples of its use, and misuse. James wrote, “the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things…6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity…8 the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison” (James 3:5-6, 8).
Controlling one’s tongue is a challenge; however, it is not the small member in our mouth that is the trouble. The problem is the heart.
The words and conversations of the God-fearing righteous will evidence grace, godly wisdom and discernment. By contrast, the tongue of the wicked is perverse, and will be known for lies, and speaking evil of others. Jesus taught His disciples, “those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart…For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies” (Matthew 15:18-19).
Proverbs 10:32 – 32The lips[language; speech]of the righteous[just; lawful]know[perceive; understand; acknowledge; observe]what is acceptable[desired; delightful; pleasing]: but the mouth[speech; utterance]of the wicked[ungodly; lawless]speakethforwardness[perverse; is obstinate].”
Listen to a man’s conversation long enough, and you can discern his character. We would do well to understand that words matter, and they are a window into the soul. The substance and character of a man will be revealed in his words. A good, just man will encourage the soul with words that edify, and are pleasing. A righteous man understands the power of a well-spoken word (Psalm 37:30). The wicked, however, are proud and their words cut, and conversations are perverse.
Closing thoughts – What do your words and conversations reveal about your character?
Be careful how you answer that question. The true measure of your inner man is revealed in your words and conversations. Understanding the power of a spoken word, we would do well to embrace Paul’s challenge to believers of the church in Colosse:
Colossians 4:6 – 6 Let your speech[word; conversation]be alway [ever] with grace [acceptable; favor; kindness], seasoned [i.e. spiced; prepared] with salt [purifying; a natural preservative], that ye may know how ye ought [should] to answer [respond] every man.
The book of Proverbs magnifies WISDOM as its central theme, and challenges us to make the pursuit of WISDOM a daily priority. The first ten verses of Proverbs 4 chronicles the legacy of godly wisdom Solomon had received from his father, King David (Proverbs 4:1-10). Solomon wrote concerning his father’s instructions:
Proverbs 4:3-4– “For I was my father’s son, tender and only beloved in the sight of my mother. 4 He taught me also [perhaps “laid down the law”], and said unto me, Let thine heart retain my words: keep my commandments, and live [prosper].”
Isn’t that the desire of godly parents? To see their children, grow up, make wise decisions, and enjoy God’s blessing. Of course, the acquisition of wisdom is essential as the basis for making wise decisions. Solomon, quoting his father, writes:
Proverbs 4:7– “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get [acquire]understanding [discernment].”
When Solomon wrote of WISDOM, he was referring to the wisdom of God, not the wisdom of man. Biblical wisdom begins with being in a right relationship with God; after all, “The fear[reverence] of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7a).
Knowledge of God’s Word, and an obedient walk are fundamental to the acquisition of godly wisdom. While “a fool is right in his own eyes,” and can be taught nothing, “he that hearkeneth [listens and heeds] unto counsel is wise” (Proverbs 12:15). No wonder David challenged Solomon, “Wisdom is the principal thing!”
Closing thoughts – Good parents are concerned their children will grow up and make right decisions; but how many make the effort to teach them to love, fear, and obey the Lord?
Many well-meaning parents dedicate their lives to giving their children every opportunity to succeed. I fear, however, there are some who will learn too late there is something more to success and happiness than an education, possessions, and an inheritance—Wisdom.
Our chronological study of the Scriptures continues today in the book of Proverbs. Understanding it is impossible to mine the spiritual richness of this great study in godly wisdom in a few brief devotionals, I invite you to avail yourself of my year-long study in Proverbs that can be found at www.HeartofAShepherd.com.
Today’s Scripture reading is Proverbs 3 and Proverbs 4. As with all the chapters in Proverbs, the number of verses, and couplets of wisdom are daunting if addressed in a brief devotional. I must of necessity choose to focus on one or two proverbs from each chapter. This is the first of two devotional studies today.
Permit me to begin today’s second devotional by posing a question: “Who (or what) do you trust?” Some trust in their intellect. Others put their faith in the counsel of friends; however, I have found there are few whose counsel is spiritually wise, and can be trusted.
Some counsel others, “Follow your heart,” or “Trust your heart.” The Scriptures, however, warn: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)
I am afraid there are many believers that make life decisions without prayer, or seeking godly wisdom. Some make lifechanging, unalterable decisions that shadow the rest of their lives, and never take time to pray, seek wisdom, and wait on the Lord.
Knowing his son would one day be king, and hold in his hands the power of life and death, Solomon counseled his son:
Proverbs 3:5– “Trust[lean on; hope; be confident and secure] in [near; beside] the LORD[Jehovah, Eternal, Self-existent God] with all thine heart [mind, emotions, will]; and lean not [do not trust]unto thine own understanding [wisdom; knowledge].”
What does it mean to, “Trust in the LORD?” It means to be so close, and dependent on the LORD that His Spirit guides every thought and action. Permit me to offer you some counsel of mine own. Before you make a major decision in matters that require wisdom and discernment, consider the following four steps:
Cultivate a wealth of wisdom by reading and obeying God’s Word.
Bathe every decision in prayer, and in the light of truth.
Seek counsel from those whose lives are a testimony of godly wisdom and discernment. (Proverbs 11:14; 24:6)
Trust the Lord: Wait on Him, and weigh every thought and action in the light of His Word.
Proverbs 3:6 – “In all thy ways [journey; path]acknowledge [observe; know; recognize] Him [the LORD], and He shall direct [make smooth and straight; prosper; make pleasant]thy paths.”
Never make a vow, sign a contract, or make a commitment that you have not committed to prayer, and patience (Psalm 27:14). Solomon challenged his son to acknowledge the Lord “in all thy ways.” In other words, nothing was too small for him to take to the Lord.
Closing thoughts – Are you facing a major life decision? Have you cultivated a wealth of wisdom by studying and meditating in God’s Word? (Psalm 1:1-2) Have you prayed and sought godly counsel? Will you be patient, and wait on the Lord, and allow Him to guide in your choices, and make the way smooth and straight?
Psalm 27:14– “Wait on [hope; patiently wait; look for] the LORD: be of good courage [strong; courageous], and he shall strengthen [make you steadfast and stronger; bold] thine heart [thoughts; seat of your affections]: wait [patiently wait for and hope], I say, on the LORD.”
Today’s Scripture reading was authored by two kings of Israel, David and his son Solomon. Psalm 72 was most likely penned in the last weeks or months of David’s life, and was titled, “A Psalm for Solomon.” The last verse of the psalm identified the elderly king as its author with the words, “20The prayers of David the son of Jesse are ended” (72:20).
Psalm 72 – David’s Prayer for His Son, King Solomon
Psalm 72 expresses David’s prayer for God’s blessings on Solomon’s reign (72:1), and his prayer that his son will be a just, honest, and a good man.
In my opinion, Psalm 72:2-17 had an immediate application for Solomon’s kingdom, and a prophetic implication that will only be fulfilled during the millennial reign of Jesus Christ. David’s desire and prayer was that Solomon’s judgment as king would be righteous (72:2), and the effect of his rule would be one of peace (72:3-4).
Psalm 72:5-8 will only be fulfilled when Christ shall return, and rule the earth. His reign of righteousness will provoke fear and reverence over those whom He will rule (72:5), and like the rain and dew upon green pastures (72:6), His rule will bring peace (72:7). Though Solomon’s kingdom would be great, it is Christ’s future kingdom that will span “from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth” (72:8).
The reign of Christ will be compassionate, and “He shall deliver the needy when he crieth; the poor also, and himthat hath no helper. 13 He shall spare the poor and needy, and shall save the souls of the needy” (72:12-13). What a glorious day it will be when men will be redeemed “from deceit and violence” (72:14), and He will be continually the object of praise in the earth (72:15). Christ’s reign upon the earth will be a time of plenty (72:16), and His name, like His kingdom, will “endure for ever…and men shall be blessed in Him: all nations shall call him blessed” (72:17).
David concluded the psalm with a doxology offering praise and thanksgiving to God, and foreseeing the day the glory of the LORD would fill the earth (72:18-19).
The second half of today’s Scripture reading bears the name of its author, “The Song of Solomon.” The Song of Solomon has been described as a story of love, and a celebration of love between a man and woman. The book does bear messianic implications (meaning it is a prophecy, and portrayal of the millennial reign of Christ following His second coming). Throughout the book you will find Solomon expressing a young king’s passion, and love for a peasant woman whom he identified as a “Shulamite” (Song of Solomon 6:13).
Possible Interpretations of The Song of Solomon
It has been suggested that “The Song of Solomon” might be interpreted in three genres. Some suggest an Allegorical interpretation, and that it is a narrative describing God’s relationship with His people, Israel. Early church fathers took the approach that the Song of Solomon was meant to describe Christ’s love for His church. A Typical interpretation has also been suggested by some who contend, “The Song of Solomon” is descriptive of Christ’s love and relationship with the Church (Ephesians 5:25, 29).
For the sake of our brief study, I suggest a Literal interpretation of “The Song of Solomon.” I believe the narrative of the book is a story of romance, a love story. I suggest “The Song of Solomon” is a celebration of love and romance between the young king and the woman whom he loved. Song of Solomon 1 is the beginning of that courtship.
Following a literal interpretation, I tend to agree with some who suggest that King Solomon had departed his court and royal city, disguised as a lowly shepherd. That he had traveled northward, and in his journey noticed a beautiful young woman, a peasant laboring in a vineyard her family had leased, perhaps from the king himself (1:6).
Identified as a Shulamite (6:13), she did not recognize her king and, concluded she and the shepherd were of the same rank in society. Like many young women who dream of love, she met the stranger and was flattered and embarrassed by the attention he had shown her (1:2-4). Mindful of her skin tanned by the rays of the Middle Eastern sun, she reasoned within herself, “5I am black, but comely [beautiful], O ye daughters of Jerusalem, As the tents of Kedar [Bedouin shepherds], as the curtains of Solomon. 6Look not upon me, because I am black, Because the sun hath looked upon me: My mother’s children [not her brothers, but her step-brothers] were angry with me; They made me the keeper of the vineyards [another’s vineyards, perhaps the kings]; But mine own vineyard have I not kept” (1:5-6). She dreamed of meeting the shepherd again, and wondered where his flocks graze (1:7).
Romance was in the air, and she knew their interests were mutual; however, she did not know the object of her affections was Solomon, the king of Israel! (1:9, 15) Her love for the shepherd is expressed in verses 9-14. She imagined lying beside the shepherd on a bed of green grasses (1:16). With a canopy of cedar and fir branches above her head (1:17), she dreamed of love.
Closing thoughts – “Love is not blind.” Though their stations in life were different, the king loved the tanned skin woman who labored in the vineyard, and she loved him (though she believed him to be a lowly shepherd). Ignoring the traits that might have been undesirable (weathered skin, and calloused hands from labor), Solomon loved the young woman, and focused on the positives of her beauty and character.
Lesson – Negative traits will inevitably become obvious in your relationships (friendships, courtship, marriage, or church family). When they do, you have a choice:
Dwell on the negatives, or love and look past them.After all, “Charity [Love] thinketh no evil” (1 Corinthians 13:5).
When we began our study of 1 Chronicles, I noted the two books titled “Chronicles” were in fact, just that: chronicles of Israel’s history as a people, and nation, and most likely written during the post-exilic era (meaning the years following Israel’s Babylonian exile), Together, the Chronicles give us vital information. 1 Chronicles, in particular, gave us a parallel account of some events recorded in 1 Samuel and 2 Samuel. The history record found in 2 Chronicles parallels events that are detailed in 1 Kings 3 and 1 Kings 4.
For the sake of interpretation, I suggest that 1 Kings and 2 Kings are a record of historical events written from man’s viewpoint. By contrast, 1 Chronicles and 2 Chronicles, in my opinion, are written from God’s perspective.
1 Chronicles concluded with King David exhorting Israel to accept Solomon as king, and support him in the greatest undertaking of his life, building a Temple for the LORD in Jerusalem (1 Chronicles 29:1-25). With modest fanfare, David “died in a good old age, full of days, riches, and honour: and Solomon his son reigned in his stead” (1 Chronicles 29:28).
2 Chronicles 1 opened with Solomon sitting on his father’s throne “and the LORD God was with him, and magnified him exceedingly” (1:1). Solomon began his reign, summoning “all Israel,” including the captains of his military, and governors, to gather at “Gibeon; for there was the tabernacle of the congregation of God, which Moses the servant of the Lord had made in the wilderness” (1:3). David had removed the Ark of God to a tabernacle he had prepared in Jerusalem, but the ancient Mosaic tabernacle, and the altar had remained in Gibeon (1:5-6), and there Solomon “offered a thousand burnt offerings upon it” (1:6).
As was recorded in 1 Kings 3, God appeared to Solomon at Gibeon, “and said unto him, Ask what I shall give thee” (1:7).
What an incredible opportunity from the LORD! “Solomon, name your heart’s desire, and I will perform it!”
Consider God’s proposition for a moment. Were God to grant you an opportunity to ask for something, for anything, and it would be granted, what would you request? Would you ask for riches? Possessions? Power? Popularity? Fame? Your answer to that question reveals a lot about who you are. Solomon’s answer would no doubt put us all to shame!
The young king did not request those things that carnal, worldly-minded men pursue. His request revealed a heart of sincere humility: “Give me now wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people: for who can judge this thy people, that is so great?” (2 Chronicles 1:10)
God knew Solomon’s heart and motives, and not just his request (1:11). The LORD commended Solomon and promised to reward him with not only wisdom and knowledge, but also “riches, and wealth, and honour, such as none of the kings have had that have been before thee, neither shall there any after thee have the like” (1:12).
God was true to His promise to bless Solomon (1:13-17). When the king returned to Jerusalem, he began gathering 1400 chariots, and 12,000 horsemen for his military (1:14). In fact, the wealth of Israel became so vast, that silver and gold were as plentiful as stones, and cedar trees as common as sycamore trees (cedar being the preferred wood for construction, 1:15).
Evidencing the wisdom of which God promised to bless him, Solomon’s kingdom became powerful, and Israel controlled the trade routes out of Egypt. He began trading in chariots and horses that were sent to kings of other nations (1:16-17).
Solomon’s officers’ names are given (1 Kings 4:1-6), beginning with Azariah, the high priest (4:2). The names of others who assisted Solomon are recorded including scribes who handled his correspondence with other nations (4:3), and a court clerk who kept a record of the affairs of state (4:3). There was Solomon’s military captain (4:4), priests who were his advisors (4:4b), a principal officer, and head of the officers (4:5). The steward of his household was named (4:6a), and the man charged with overseeing those who paid tribute (indentured servants to the king, 4:6b).
Twelve officers, each representing a district of Israel, were charged with providing household provisions to support the king’s court (4:7-19). There were also taxes levied on the people, and nations that paid tribute to Israel. The taxes went to support Solomon’s massive construction projects that included his palace, the Temple, and the city walls (4:20-28). Because Israel and the people were enjoying unprecedented prosperity, there was plenty of revenue for the government (4:26-28); however, as we will see later, the burden of taxation did inevitably become an oppression of the people. Following Solomon’s death, the people would demand the taxes be lessened (1 Kings 12:1-4).
The International Fame of Solomon’s Wisdom (4:29-34)
God kept his promise, and He “gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and largeness of heart, even as the sand that is on the sea shore” (4:29). Solomon’s fame increased, and the people of the east marveled that his wisdom and knowledge exceeded the men of the east orient (4:30-31). Three thousand proverbs were attributed to Solomon (many are recorded in the Book of Proverbs), and 1,005 songs (4:32). His knowledge of botany and biology excelled all men, and people and rulers from all the known world came to Jerusalem seeking an audience with the king (4:33-34; note, Matthew 12:42; Luke 11:31).
Closing thoughts – Solomon requested wisdom, and understanding, and God gave Him all that a man could desire. In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus admonished His followers, “take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?” (Matthew 6:31).
The LORD then promised, “33But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you”(Matthew 6:33).
What about you? Upon what have you set your desires and affections?
Today’s Scripture reading consists of two lengthy psalms: Psalm 37, “A Psalm of David,” and Psalm 71, a psalm whose author is not known (although it may have been penned by David in his old age). Today’s devotional is taken from a portion of Psalm 37.
Every day we are inundated by reports of wickedness that can only be explained as evidence of abject depravity. We cannot go a day without violence and wickedness blazed across news headlines; yet, when I was a child, parents allowed their children to play outside, unmolested, for hours on end, with ne’er a worry. What happened?
How should Bible-believers respond to a culture that is the antithesis of godliness and morality? Where do we focus our thoughts and emotions when we witness injustices that grieve the soul, and stir us to anger and indignation? Psalm 37 tackles those questions.
David wrote, “Fret [angry; angered] not thyself because of evildoers [wicked], neither be thou envious [jealous; provoked to jealousy] against the workers [makers] of iniquity [wickedness; unrighteousness]” (37:1).
Don’t allow the sins of the wicked to stir you to anger. Don’t be jealous when the wicked appear to prosper in their sins. Remember, there is pleasure in sin, but only for a season (Hebrews 11:25), and the wicked “shall soon [speedily; quickly] be cut down [cut off] like the grass, and wither [fade away; sink down] as the green herb [tender grass]” (37:2).
Like grass that withers under the summer heat, God’s wrath will inevitably consume the wicked in their sin.
Rather than fret and worry (37:1-2), we are to, “Trust in the Lord, and do good” (37:3).
Psalm 37:3 – “Trust [be confident; bold] in the LORD, and do good [pleasing; pleasant]; so shalt thou dwell [abide; remain; continue] in the land, and verily [truth; faithfully; believe] thou shalt be fed [shepherd; lit. graze or pastured].”
Not only must we not fret, and trust in the LORD; we must also “delight…in the LORD.” (37:4)
Psalm 37:4 – “Delight [be content] thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give [deliver; put; make] thee the desires [request; petitions] of thine heart [mind; feelings; understanding].”
To “delight” is to be content and satisfied. We delight in the LORD when we are content to enjoy His presence, study His Word, and accept that His will and purpose is always good (Romans 8:28-29). Consider what the LORD promises those who delight in the Lord: “Heshall give [deliver; put; make] thee the desires [request; petitions]of thine heart [mind; feelings; understanding]” (37:4b). Of course, when your delight is in the Lord, His will is your heart’s desire!
To thrive in a “sin mad world,” believers must “roll over on the LORD” their burdens, troubles, and anxieties. (37:5-6)
Psalm 37:5-6 – “Commit [roll over; trust] thy way [journey; manner; road; course] unto the LORD; trust [secure; confident; bold] also in him; and he shall bring it to pass [make; wrought; commit; create]. 6 And he shall bring forth [bring out; finish; i.e. make to appear] thy righteousness [justice; prosperity; justice] as the light [illuminate; i.e. light of day], and thy judgment [manner; right; cause] as the noonday.”
To “commit thy way” is to “roll over” one’s burdens onto the LORD. The “way” is one’s life path, road, and future. When we give our life to the LORD (Romans 12:1), we must learn to “trust also in Him” (37:5). David invites believers to be bold, and confident the LORD will accomplish His will in us. He will defend us from slander, and vindicate us [“thy righteousness”] in the light of day (37:6).
Surrounded by wickedness, and facing unjustified attacks of an enemy, we must seek that special place of finding “rest in the Lord.” (37:7-11)
Psalm 37:7 – “Rest [be still; silent] in the LORD, and wait patiently [lit. endure anguish; tremble] for him: fret not [don’t be soon angry] thyself because of him who prospereth [to succeed; to have success] in his way [journey; road; course], because of the man who bringeth [create; wrought; make] wicked devices [lewd; mischievous] to pass [creates wicked plots].”
The discipline of silence is nearly lost in today’s society. We are surrounded by noise and activity everywhere we go. Even worship services are filled with noise and activity! Yet, we are exhorted to “rest in the Lord,” be still, silent, and quiet. Sadly, many are unwilling to be quiet long enough to pray, and allow the LORD an opportunity to speak deep within their hearts.
Returning to the admonition he used in the first verse, David again urged, “fret [angry; angered] not thyself because of him who prospereth [succeeds; to have success] in his way [journey], because of the man who bringeth [create; wrought; make] wicked devices [lewd; mischievous] to pass [create; wrought; make]. 8Cease from [forsake; abandon] anger [wrath], and forsake [relinquish; abandon] wrath [fury; anger; rage]: fret [angry; angered] not thyself in any wise [altogether] to do evil [hurt; afflict; break]” (37:7-8).
Don’t allow the sins of others to provoke you to sin! Don’t be overcome with anxiety, when the wicked flaunt their sin, and appear to prosper.
Psalm 37:9-10 – “For evildoers [the wicked] shall be cut off [destroyed; consumed]: but those that wait upon [look for; expect; tarry] the LORD, they shall inherit [occupy; take possession of] the earth [land]. 10 For yet a little while [a brief time], and the wicked [ungodly; guilty]shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider [understand; perceive; regard] his place [home; country], and it shall not be.”
The lives of the ungodly are short-lived, but the LORD rewards those who wait on, and look to Him (37:9-10). David assured believers, “the meek [humble] shall inherit [possess; be heir; take possession] the earth [land; country]; and shall delight [refresh; delicate] themselves in the abundance [great] of peace [Shalom; completeness; happy]”(37:11).
Closing thoughts – Jesus Christ quoted Psalm 37:11 in His Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:5). While the world portrays the “meek” as weak, the biblical definition is of one who exercises spiritual discipline and self-control. The meek are, by God’s grace, and the work of His Holy Spirit, strong and tender. Of such a man, God promises, He will give him an inheritance, and lasting peace.
How should you respond to the evil and wickedness in the world? Don’t worry (37:2), trust the Lord (37:3), delight in Him (37:4), roll all your anxieties onto Him (37:5-6), and seek that perfect place of rest (37:7).