Prophet Series: A brief history of Solomon as background for the prophets Shemaiah and AhijahPosted: Fri. Oct, 7 2016
Prophet series: A brief history of Solomon as background for the prophets Shemaiah and Ahijah
I realize that as we develop the list of prophets of Israel we are going over the history of Israel and that is a good thing. First off, if you were to go online or look in a book for the list of Israel's prophets, you would find that not every list is identical. In fact, most lists do not mention Shemaiah and Ahijah, but I am thorough if anything, and although they don't appear in the scripture often, what they do is significant, has great lessons for us, and in any case I would hate to leave them out. That said, I did leave out the prophet Gad, not to be confused with the tribe of Gad, who prophesied concurrent with Nathan in the time of David and who figured prominently in the instance when David sinfully numbered the people, 2SA 24:11-19, and at one time as David was fleeing the wrath of Saul, he warned David to leave the stronghold of Moab and flee into the forests of Judah, 1SA 22:5. The prophet Gad also wrote a history of the acts of David, 1CH 29:29.
So we move from the reign of David to Solomon and onto the split of the kingdom from northern ten tribes to southern two tribes in which these two prophets are involved. We would not understand the prophesies of Shemaiah and Ahijah without first understanding a brief history of Solomon and his son and successor Rehoboam. There are many great lessons in this history and we will paint broad strokes with minimal detail. So put on your history caps and get ready.
One other thing before we get started. It is important to know that the Bible is not a history book but a revelation of God. It contains history but only as it pertains to the times of God's revelation. It is not a secular but a prophetic history, and being such, it is not arranged according to the chronological succession of events, but grouped so as to bring into prominence that which concerns the kingdom of God. We cannot find all the history of Israel or the world within its pages, but we can find the revelation of God which captured the gaze of men at certain times in the past. Ok, now put on your history hats.
Solomon became king at a young age. He was likely instructed by Nathan the prophet and grew up at time when all of Israel's enemies had been defeated, at least for a while. He was a humble and wise young man who loved God and he was ready and motivated to do what a servant of God and king of His nation was called to do.
His kingdom was thoroughly and elaborately organized. His method of taxation was fair. The provinces were managed fairly by his counselors. It was a time of great prosperity and peace. The time of the Judges had been one of struggle and disorganization and David's kingdom was one of war and conflict but Solomon's reign was a period of peace emblematic of the Prince of Peace. All of it was administered by a dashing and wise king.
Solomon married the daughter of Pharaoh making an allegiance between the now strong Israel and Egypt in the south. This was not strictly against the Law, which forbade Israel to marry the children of Canaan, EXO 34:16; DEU 7:3. She would not be implemented with the other women who had led Solomon in his later years to promote idol worship, which may mean that she was a good wife and possibly a proselyte of Israel.
Solomon was spiritual. He loved the Lord. When the Lord asked him in a dream, "Ask what you wish Me to give you," Solomon, like any prayer with thanksgiving, petition, and supplication, thanked God, admitted that he was young and unwise, and asked for wisdom, which God gave him in abundance and then added to it riches and honor.
Not satisfied with the idle life of an Eastern monarch Solomon poured over all the knowledge he could find, which was much. He set the example and gave the encouragement to study of literature, philosophy, and natural sciences to the people. But his great love, that which he threw all his energy into, was building the house of the Lord, the Temple which David so greatly desired to build. Israel, as a nation, was not intended to attain pre-eminence either in art of science. This was delegated to the Gentile world. To Israel was specially entrusted the guardianship of that spiritual truth, which in the course of ages would develop in all its proportions, till finally it became the common property of the whole world. This Solomon knew, and so uncommon to most men who pursue the flesh in their youth only to become pursuers of God in their older years, Solomon was the exact opposite. In his early years his heart gravitated towards God and His will, but his heart was turned away from God in his older years.
1CO 3:10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building upon it. But let each man be careful how he builds upon it.
EPH 5:15-16 Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.
2Jo 8 Watch yourselves, that you might not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward.
With the aid of the king of Tyre and many Phoenician tradesmen as well as Jewish, Solomon built a great and wonderful house for the Lord and filled it with the finest woods, purest gold, purest marble, and all skillfully and artfully carved. It is difficult to describe the magnificence and the beauty of this temple. Upon its completion, Solomon humbly and honorably dedicated the new temple and it was immediately filled with the glory of the Lord. No longer was the sanctuary an unsettled tent, now it was permanent, which was another sign of the peace of Israel.
Mount Moriah was not enough to hold such a structure and so extensive substructures were reared enlarging the temple mount. Not far from there Solomon built for himself an enormous and elaborate royal palace. The beauty of its design inside and out was renown. He enlarged and fortified the city wall. Due to foes on all sides of the nation he built strongholds as defense, building up Hazor to the north, Megiddo in the Plain of Jezreel, and Gezer in the south. In each, Solomon provided armies, cavalry, and chariots. The country was wealthy, secure, and possessed the wisest of kings and the most beautiful of temples. What could possibly go wrong?
Somewhere between the finishing of the temple and the many other building projects we reach the period of Solomon's greatest worldly splendor, which also, so often marks the beginning of spiritual decay. So much building was going on all in the nation that labor needs and taxation rates increased. These undertakings began to be viewed by the people as a grievous service and a heavy yoke. Inner decay marked by luxury led to the weakening of the kingdom of Solomon. The grumblings from the burdens upon the people snaked their way through the kingdom, scattering seeds of discontent right through to the days of the reign of Solomon's son Rehoaboam, at which time they would ripen into open rebellion and divide the nation.
So true is it, that in the history of Israel the inner and outer always keep pace. Solomon's eye was slowly turned from devotion to God to beholding luxury. Everything had become un-Jewish and more and more Asiatic. His new merchants ships brought him apes and peacocks from Tarshish as well as all types of luxuries from around the world. He increased his luxury in order to emulate or outdo other kingdoms. The seed is pride or self-exultation and the soil and water are wealth and luxury.
1TI 6:17-19 Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.
The law of God clearly stated that the king was to have one wife, but Solomon saw the vast harems of his neighbors and wanting such prestige he added to himself the daughters of many influential foreign families. We wouldn't blame the lust of Solomon in this as much as we would his pride. If lust were the main drive then he would have done this as a younger man, but he only did so as an older man. He wanted prestige enough to violate the command of God and to ignore the foreign influences that these many wives and concubines brought him and the nation.
For the women in his harem, Solomon built altars so that they could worship their respective false gods. We don't hear that Solomon actually worshipped false gods but that he allowed it in the kingdom in order to appease his wives, possibly very nagging wives. During his time as king the Lord appeared to him twice and warned him against this very thing. In order to put this in perspective, the Lord did not appear to his father David once.
1KI 11:9-13 Now the Lord was angry with Solomon because his heart was turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice, and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods; but he did not observe what the Lord had commanded. So the Lord said to Solomon, "Because you have done this, and you have not kept My covenant and My statutes, which I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom from you, and will give it to your servant. Nevertheless I will not do it in your days for the sake of your father David, but I will tear it out of the hand of your son. However, I will not tear away all the kingdom, but I will give one tribe to your son for the sake of My servant David and for the sake of Jerusalem which I have chosen."
Our God is so gracious. In divine mercy God would not remove the kingdom during his lifetime and He would also allow one territory, Judah, to always remain in his family. However, the second gracious act was on behalf of David to whom God promised to have a son who would sit on the throne forever.
Before his death, the first symptoms of decline manifested themselves. Dark clouds were forming at the borders. A band of Edomites in the southwest were arming themselves for war under the prince Hadad. To the northeast Damascus had begun to oppose Israel under their king Rezon. What is ironic about this is that David crushed these people years earlier, but remnants of them remained and God was allowing them to gain strength so as to enact discipline upon His nation who had gone back to idol worship yet again. Jehovah didn't force them to beat the drums of war. Both Hadad and Rezon had lust in their heart to fight Israel, and whether they had the chance to fight or not, that lust would have burned in their souls.
Added to the turmoil outside the nation there began the brewing of turmoil inside the nation. The heavy taxation and labor had reached a tipping point for the people of Ephraim. Ephraim was still stinging from the fact that the house of Judah had taking hold of the throne. They saw themselves as potential rulers since many years earlier Jacob had prophesied:
GEN 48:19-20 his younger brother [Ephraim] shall be greater than he [Manasseh], and his descendants shall become a multitude of nations." And he blessed them that day, saying,
"By you Israel shall pronounce blessing, saying,
'May God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh!'"
Joshua himself was an Ephraimite and they commanded perhaps the most important territory in the land. Added to this tribal pride was the great taxation and labor demanded by Solomon and being from Judah, this was taken as an insult. One of their own, Jeroboam, whom Solomon not so wisely appointed as an overseer of the forced labor of his tribe was a "mighty man of valor" and an ambitious man. He had it in his heart to remove the throne from Judah in Jerusalem and strike its foundation in Ephraim. As the prophet Ahijah would tell him, his rebellion would be successful and the kingdom would indeed split. The north, made up of ten tribes, would use the name Israel and the south, made up of Judah and Benjamin, would use the name Judah. They would not unite again.
This history makes it possible to understand the prophetic ministries of Ahijah and Shemaiah. But also, we know that we have the writings of the Old Testament as an example for us. Not many of us will become kings nor accumulate the wealth and prestige of Solomon, but pride is common to the rich as well as the poor and any of us can slip and fall from grace due to that pride. We should all heed the lesson of Solomon's life and see our own lives as a lesson in faithfulness rather than tragedy.
Love to all the royal family,
Pastor Joe Sugrue
Grace and Truth Ministries