F. W. Peers, Southall
'So when David was Old . . . , he made Solomon his son king over Israel', so reads 1 Chronicles 23.1; but it is important to notice that the choice was in line with the mind of God; 'and of all my sons . . he hath chosen Solomon'. The divine choice was followed by the unsuccessful attempt of Adonijah, Solomon's brother, to seize the kingdom. This principle of divine choice still applies to those called to spiritual rule in the assemblies; 'and to all the flock over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers', Acts. 20. 28. There is no self appointment; envy, jealousy and 'personal rights' are not qualifications for eldership. See 1 Tim. 3.1-7 and Titus 1. 5-9. David did not hold on to the reins until his death, but realized that
A Younger Man
suitably endowed, should take his place. True, it was not long before he died that he handed over, but maybe there is a spiritual lesson here. Occasionally we find older men, who without doubt have served the Lord well, but are now 'past it', yet loth to give place to younger men obviously fitted by God for His work, thereby thwarting the Spirit-given gift. On the other hand, some younger men fail to prove themselves 'pillars in the church' and cause those feeling the strain of years to say with grief, 'I have no man like-minded who will naturally care for your state', Phil. 2. 20.
As Moses counselled Joshua, so David counselled Solomon 'keep the charge of the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes and his commandments . . . that thou mayest prosper in all that thou doest', 1 Kings 2. 3. This brings to mind Paul's advice to Timothy, 'If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of doctrine', 1 Tim. 4. 6. Thus as 'good ministers' finish their work, the responsibility falls upon the Joshuas, the Solomons, and the Timothys. Brought up under the influence of such godly men they will be equipped and ready to serve the Lord likewise.
As Solomon began his reign he had
A Remarkable Dream
(see 1 Kings 3) in which it appears that the Lord tested him. 'Ask what I shall give thee', said the Lord. Rising above all self-interest Solomon prefaced his request by an acknowledgement of God's goodness, and a confession of his own weakness and insufficiency, v. 7, then, aware of the responsibility which rested upon him, he requested an understanding heart. This pleased God. All who exercise a proper care for the saints, or indeed undertake any work for the Lord, need understanding hearts; the Lord who met Solomon's need will meet their's today (see Jas. 1. 5).
Deuteronomy 17. 18-19 shows that one called to rule in Israel was required to write a copy of the Law and to keep and read it all the days of his life - 'that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, to keep all the words of the law and statutes and to do them'. Paul's advice to Timothy is its counterpart for this age, 'study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth'. Only those familiar with the Word can instruct others, and one of the qualifications of an elder is that he should be 'apt to teach'.
In his youth, Solomon loved the Lord, but in later life he became sensual; his love for the Lord grew cold and resulted in a disregard of His Word. Was it not the Lord's condemnation of the Ephesian assembly that it had left its first love? Maybe this is the reason for the poor spiritual condition in some assemblies today. A proper regard for His Word springs from a love for the Lord and a desire to keep His commandments; this will leave no room for human innovations.
The Law also prohibited
with the nations around, Deut. 7. 3-4, but it was disregarded with sad results. The Holy Spirit, through Jude, exhorts to earnest contending for the faith (all of it) which was once delivered unto the saints - by setting this aside as 'narrow-mindedness' encouragement is sometimes given to fellowship in things contrary to the Word of God. Such spiritual 'mixed marriages' cannot please God, who has left the 'whole counsel of God' for compliance thereto. Truth concerning
The Wisdom of Solomon
spread far and wide. The Queen of Sheba had heard of his fame concerning the name of the Lord and of his acts and of his wisdom and the justice of his administration. The name of the Lord, our gathering centre, the divine authority in all things, should have its rightful place amongst us; but does it? Can His blessing rest upon things which lack His authority? Care for the flock should always be with justice and without favour, yet fear and favour have been known to obstruct the disciplinary measures provided for in the Word.
With due regard for the safety of the nation, Solomon built a rampart round the city, 1 Kings 9, and other fortifications where needed to protect from enemy attack. Present-day Solomons will see to it that those in their care are fortified against the wiles of the enemy by being 'girt about with truth'. The 'cities of store' would suggest that assemblies should be liberal store cities for the spiritual needs of the saints. There would then be no need for any to seek elsewhere for sustenance.
The Building of the Temple
was without doubt the outstanding event of Solomon's reign. However, he only carried on where his father left off. Although it is referred to as 'the temple which Solomon built', mention is made of the huge number of men employed on the task. The Lord takes note too of those 'workers together with Him' in the erection of His spiritual house.
Reference to the building of the tabernacle, Exod. 40, shows that 'Moses finished the work' and 'the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle'. In a similar manner 'was ended all the work that king Solomon made for the house of the Lord' and 'the cloud filled the house of the Lord', 1 Kings 8. 10. The temporary nature of the tabernacle gave place to a more endurable building, which however has long since gone. A new era ensued, consequent upon the finished work of Christ, so that the Most High who dwelleth not in the temples made with hands, Acts 7.48, is now pleased to reside in the 'temple of the living God', 2 Cor. 6. 16. This new spiritual house, composed of living stones' taken by grace from nature's quarry, is now in course of building and presently will be completed. (Though God, who sees the end from the beginning, sees it as complete even now.) God will then, in and through it, display His glory. This house will never pass away but will, in keeping with the foundation on which it is built, be eternal.
Built on Christ, the only foundation and chief corner stone, it is, nevertheless, built on the foundation (of doctrine) of the apostles and prophets, Eph. 2. 20, and Paul laid such a foundation at Corinth and he warned others to take heed how they built upon it, 1 Cor. 3. To build without regard to the divine plan and specification will not meet with the approval of the Master Builder. Sad to say there will be much 'jerrybuilding' for the burning in that day.