Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The Queen of Sheba's Visit to Solomon

1st Kings 10:1-13

Solomon had vast treasures of gold and silver, and precious things of every kind. His people also were rich and happy. Solomon worshiped and served God faithfully and God, as He had promised, blessed him greatly.

When David had wanted to build a temple, for God's worship at Jerusalem, God had told him that his son Solomon should build it. So, when he came to the throne, Solomon built this temple of the richest materials, and in the most costly manner.

Cedar, olive-tree wood, fine brass, pure gold, silver, and precious stones and craftsmen from Tyre, who were famous for their skill, wrought them for him.

The Temple was built on Mount Moriah and took seven years to build. When it was finished, Solomon dedicated it to God in a solemn assembly of the people and the Lord God filled it with His glory, as He had done the Tabernacle in the wilderness.

The wisdom of Solomon was celebrated not only among his own people, but in all parts of the East, whose kings sent messengers to him, that they might hear it for themselves.

The Queen of Sheba came to Jerusalem, with a caravan of people, and camels carrying gold, precious stones, and spices, as presents for the great king, so that she might know, by conversing with Solomon, whether he was so wise as had been told her.

When she heard his wisdom, and had seen the splendor of his court and palace, she was so overpowered that she fainted. She said to the king that before she came she did not believe what had been told her in her own land of his wisdom and greatness, but now she saw that not even half of it had been made known to her. Happy were they who served before him, and continually heard his wisdom. She thanked God for having given such a king to his people Israel. When Solomon had also given her costly presents, she and her caravan returned to their own country.

As Solomon grew older, instead of serving and worshiping God as he had done, he began to worship false gods. God, as He had warned let trouble come upon him and his kingdom, so that, after his death, ten of the tribes were taken away from his son, and set up into a separate kingdom, that of Israel, which was never again united to the kingdom of Judah.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

The Judgment of Solomon

1st Kings 3:16-28

Solomon was the greatest king that ever reigned in Israel and was also one the wisest man that ever lived. When he first came to the throne, God appeared to him one night in a dream, and asked what gift He should bestow upon him.

Solomon prayed that He would give him wisdom to govern his people. God was pleased that he had asked wisdom instead of riches, or conquests, or long life. He told Solomon that because he had done so, not only would He make him wiser than any man who ever lived, but that he should be rich and famous above all kings of the earth. If he would obey Him in all things, long life should also be added to the other good gifts which were to be his.

In those days it was the custom for kings to sit in some public place, where their subjects as had wrongs to complain might plead their cause before them, and obtain justice.

One day two women came before Solomon. One of them told him that she and the other woman both lived in one house, and each had a very young child. In the night the child belonging to the other woman died, and its mother exchanged it for the living one, putting her own dead child in her neighbor's bed as she lay sleeping, and taking the living child to herself.

In the morning, the mother of the living child discovered that the dead child was not her child but the woman whose child was dead would not give up the one that she had stolen. The two women stood there before the king, each one contending that the living child was hers, and that the dead child belonged to the other.

Solomon asked for a sword, when it was brought, he told them to divide the living child in two, and give half of him to each of the women. The woman who had falsely claimed the child made no objection to this decision. But the real mother could not bear it. Rather than have her son killed, she was willing to lose him altogether and she cried out not to harm the child and to give the child to the other woman.

The king saw at once which of them the child belonged and he said, "Give her the living child, for she is its mother."

All the people of Israel, when they heard of this judgment of Solomon, knew that God had indeed given him wisdom to do justice among his subjects and they held him in great awe and reverence.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Solomon Is Crowned King

1st Kings 2:1-11

When Absalom died the people were anxious to bring the king home again, they were so eager, that they quarreled among themselves because the men of Judah, David's own tribe, were the first to bring him on his way to Jerusalem.

The quarrel ended and the men of Israel again revolted from the king. Joab who was a skillful soldier, though he was a very bad man, succeeded in putting down the insurrection.

David's troubles were not over yet. First famine and then bad diseases in which seventy thousand of the people died, came upon his kingdom.

When David was old and feeble, near death, his son Adonijah set himself up to be king after his father instead of Solomon, whom God had appointed to succeed David.

Adonijah had taken upon himself royal status. Joab and other officers of the kingdom were with him, and the people acknowledged him as king. News of this was brought to David, who at once decided to prevent disputes about the succession after his death by having Solomon crowned during his own lifetime.

He called Nathan the priest, Zadok the prophet, and Benaiah the captain of his guard, and told them, with a number of his officers to take Solomon, and, place him upon the king's mule (which it was death for any subject to ride), bring him down to Gihon, a fountain near Jerusalem, and there, with sound of trumpet, anoint, and proclaim him king over Israel.

They took him there and proclaimed him king the people followed and shouted "God save King Solomon!" till the city rang again.

Adonijah and his friends were at this time rejoicing together and while they were feasting, one of his soldiers came and told them that David had made Solomon king of Israel.

When they heard this, they were so frightened that each one ran away as quietly as he could. Adonijah, fearing that his life might be in danger for attempting to seize the kingdom, fled to the altar for protection. Anyone who laid hold of the horns of the altar was considered under God's protection, and therefore safe from his enemies.

Solomon sent for him, promising him safety if he submitted to him. Adonijah went and did homage to his brother, who let him go home peaceably. Soon after this David died, and was buried at Jerusalem.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

David is King

2nd Samuel 1 to 2nd Samuel 18

Saul was severely wounded in his last battle with the Philistines and he killed himself for fear of being captured by his enemies.

After his death the tribe of Judah chose David for their king, and he reigned for eight years. At the end of that time he became king over the whole Israel. He fought and having won, took back Jerusalem from the Jebusites, who had got possession of it. He made it his capital city, and lived there in a fine palace which he built for himself.

He really wanted to build a temple where the ark of God might be placed, and God might be worshiped with more splendor than He had been in the Tabernacle. God was pleased that David desired to do this, but told him that not he, but his son Solomon, who was to succeed him, would build the Temple.

David had many children, and among these his son Absalom was his favorite. He was very handsome and not only his father, but all the people of Israel loved him. Absalom was a vain, worthless young man, and caused his father much sorrow by his wicked conduct. He murdered one of his half brothers. He had been banished for a very long time and then when he was permitted to come again into the king's presence, he very soon raised a rebellion against him, in order to seize the crown for himself. Many people joined Absalom in his rebellion, that David fearing for his life was forced to escape from Jerusalem to the wilderness.

The good king sorely grieved that his favorite son would want to kill him. But he trusted that God, who had so often delivered him, would do so now. He soon drew round him forces enough to meet those of his rebellious son, and a pitched battle was fought between them.

The troops of Absalom were defeated and slaughtered and Absalom tried to from escape from the battlefield. His mule carried him under a large oak-tree and his hair caught in the branches, and the animal galloping off, left him hanging there.

One of David's army, who saw this, instead of releasing him, ran and told Joab, David's chief captain, who, though he had received a strict order from David to spare the life of his son, hastened to him, and cruelly killed him by thrusting three darts through his heart.

When word was brought to David that Absalom was slain, he wept and mourned for him, exclaiming, "Oh, my son Absalom, my son! I would have died for you!"

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