Studies in Chronicles
A GREATER THAN SOLOMON IS HERE
2nd Chronicles 8 – 9
Through these two chapters the inspired chronicler records the splendour and majesty of Solomon’s remarkable reign. Writing for the benefit of the remnant who were resettling Judaea after the Babylonian exile, the historian wanted his readership to be clear that these tremendous records were neither myths nor exaggerations. Therefore he identified the sources from whence this information could be gleaned. These sources would trace their information back to eye witness accounts of these wondrous times:
\”Now the rest of the acts of Solomon, first and last, are they not written in the book of Nathan the prophet, and in the prophecy of Ahijah the Shilonite, and in the visions of Iddo the seer against Jeroboam the son of Nebat?\” (2Ch 9:29)
To understand these times from the perspective of a New Testament Christian, however, we need go no further than Christ, the great interpreter:
“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.” (Matthew 12:42)
Solomon throughout Hebrew history was the example of what is possible when a people chose first to honour God and when a ruler accepts that righteousness alone will exalt a nation. But even Solomon in all of his genius and godliness was flawed. Solomon would die and with his passing a golden age disappeared never to return.
But Christ is greater than Solomon.
The splendour of this ancient King and the greatness of his reign is a shadow, a faint shadow through which we can trace the glories of another King who will never die and whose glories cannot fade.
Solomon directs our attention away from men and their failings to the one who can never fail because a greater than Solomon is here.
1: HIS PROSPERITY
In 2nd Chronicles 9:13-28 Solomon’s extensive wealth is described.
While his gold is described, particular attention is given to the throne, which was intended to create a sense of awe among his subjects:
“Moreover the king made a great throne of ivory, and overlaid it with pure gold. And there were six steps to the throne, with a footstool of gold, which were fastened to the throne, and stays on each side of the sitting place, and two lions standing by the stays: And twelve lions stood there on the one side and on the other upon the six steps. There was not the like made in any kingdom.” (2nd Chronicles 9:17-19).
The lions, identified the royal line of Judah with the number twelve symbolising his rule over the entire nation. Ivory and gold emphasised that this was a throne of righteousness and justice.
This throne, which was unlike any other throne in the world illustrates the authority and righteousness of Christ’s throne the one who reigns forever and ever:
\”Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre”. (Psalm 45:6)
Let us stand in His presence with a sense of awe and wonder; our Shepherd, Priest and King.
The chronicler also relates the means by which Solomon acquired wealth though trading with other nations and receiving the gifts that they brought.
This reminds us of Christ who from across the world has received the gifts of precious souls, who are His inheritance according to the terms of the Covenant of Grace. His elect people are the gemstones set in the breastplate of his heart and they are the jewels whom He will gather together, in the last day, and not one will be lost. All of this reminds us of the riches of grace and of glory which are also the enjoyment of all of God’s people in Christ:
“…that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints” (Ephesians 1:18).
2: HIS POWER
Much is made in these chapters of Solomon’s power in terms of the cities he built, the peoples he subjugated and the fortifications which he erected. The most astonishing aspect of his power is the manner by which he established Israel as the most significant middle eastern empire of his generation. Ancient historians are agreed that this was a period when the traditional of powers of Babylon and Assyria did not assert themselves leaving a power vacuum which Solomon under God, certainly exploited. Solomon’s empire reached to the north, as far as the Euphrates in modern Syria and Turkey, with his southern frontier in modern Egypt. His influence extended further still among states which depended upon him for trade. He had a particularly close relationship with Tyre and Sidon, modern Lebanon, whose ships carried trade throughout the Mediterranean into Asia, Africa and Europe.
\”And he reigned over all the kings from the river even unto the land of the Philistines, and to the border of Egypt.\” (2 Chronicles 9:26)
Solomon, under God, established this extensive Kingdom for Israel and her people. Yet this was a fleeting moment as this empire declined becoming just a memory.
Christ, however, as our King declares that He has all power in heaven and in earth. With this power He establishes the Church, His kingdom on earth, which He promises to build and maintain.
All peoples flow into this Kingdom as the Gospel is extended throughout the world, far beyond Solomon’s sphere of influence.
“But the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it. And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.” (Micah 4:1-2)
In 2nd Chronicles 8, however, the seeds of Israel’s demise are identified through Solomon’s marriage with an Egyptian princess. While she was not permitted within the precincts of the temple she brought an influence, along with the other Gentile wives that Solomon wed, which would affect him as an old man and would ultimately bring disaster in future years.
While this warns us of the consequences of sin, it also reminds us of the Saviour, our heavenly bridegroom whose kingdom is everlasting because He never fails.
How encouraging that a greater than Solomon is here!
3: HIS PREEMINENCE
Solomon as king was preeminent in his generation.
“And king Solomon passed all the kings of the earth in riches and wisdom. And all the kings of the earth sought the presence of Solomon, to hear his wisdom, that God had put in his heart.” (2nd Chronicles 9:22-23).
The story about the visit by the Queen of Sheba, probably from modern Yemen in the south of the Arabian Peninsula, illustrates this prominence. She was astonished beyond measure on seeing Solomon’s wealth and buildings and on hearing his wisdom. The description of the effect that Solomon had upon her is full of Gospel application:
“…when she was come to Solomon, she communed with him of all that was in her heart. And Solomon told her all her questions: and there was nothing hid from Solomon which he told her not…And she said to the king, It was a true report which I heard in mine own land of thine acts, and of thy wisdom: Howbeit I believed not their words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen it: and, behold, the one half of the greatness of thy wisdom was not told me: for thou exceedest the fame that I heard. Happy are thy men, and happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and hear thy wisdom.”
This reflects our Saviour who listens to us, who reveals his will and wisdom, who is so remarkable that words cannot relate the half and whose servants are the happiest people on earth.
As Solomon was at the heart of Israel’s greatness and of the world’s trade so Christ is preeminent in the world. No-one can be compared to Him…ultimately when we reach glory and see Him face to face we will say the half hath not been told because a greater than Solomon is here.