1 KINGS 10:1 – 12:33 and JOHN 5:1–47
1 Kings 10
In verses 1-13 we have the account of the Queen of Sheba’s visit to Solomon. She had heard of his fame and the glory of the kingdom and she felt compelled to see for herself if all that was said about Solomon was true. The Lord Himself references this visit in Math 12:42. This was a very great distance she would have travelled so as to satisfy her curiosity. She sought to test and prove him with difficult questions as well as share many of the things that were on her heart. We have to appreciate that what was taking place at Jerusalem would resonate beyond those immediate boundaries.
Today, if there is a worldwide event of significance you immediately find attention coming from many places. This event was unlike any other. The Queen of Sheba was a wealthy and influential dignitary who took great pains to travel such a distance. This speaks as to how glorious the things surrounding Solomon actually were. She was so impressed at every aspect of the kingdom that her breath was taken away (vs 5). One can only imagine what it must have been like. The glorious temple, the royal demeanour of the attending servants, the abundance and the wisdom that Solomon conveyed in the end was too much for her. She makes the statement that she heard so much about Solomon but not even the half of it had been told. She recognized the hand of God as being upon him. She also took note of the joy and happiness of his servants as they went about their respective tasks. It does provide a window into what it will be like when a people will behold the wisdom of the Lamb Himself.
The Queen was very generous in the gifts that she brought unto Solomon. In verse 10 we see that she gave 120 talents of gold and various spices. This amount of gold is the same that Hiram provided to Solomon as seen in 1 Kings 9:14. The number 120 has significance. Moses lived for 120 years and we have been able to break his life down into 3 segments of 40 years each. The first 40 years we can say were the years where he experienced his call while in Egypt. The second forty years were the years in Midian where he was chosen to be the leader that God would use. He qualified for the call during those wilderness years of obscurity. The third set of 40 years was when he led Israel out of Egypt and throughout the wilderness. These were the years where he showed himself faithful (Rev 17:14). We mentioned previously that there were 120 priests sounding trumpets in unison at the dedication of the temple (2 Chr 5:12-13). It was at that moment when the glory came down. There were the 120 gathered together in one accord in the upper room when the Holy Spirit came upon the early church at Pentecost. We can see that Solomon’s kingdom is exceptional in every way and by all appearances on his way to a glorious, long lasting rule. There is a clue from another verse that gives cause for concern.
1Ki 10:14 Now the weight of gold that came to Solomon in one year was six hundred threescore and six talents of gold,
Does the number 666 have any particular meaning? It was said earlier how we see the two extremes through the life of Solomon and this chapter helps to bring this more clearly into view. Though we do not yet see outward issues this verse gives an indication of what is to come. It is important to note this because if we lived in Solomon’s day we may never think that such a thing could be possible. There is no way that someone who knows and loves God as we see in Solomon could ever present to us aspects of the man of sin, the antichrist. This one man gives a picture of the future glorious reign of Christ and yet will later present many of the characteristics of the antichrist. This chapter helps to drive this message home. What happened between his early and latter years? What happened between the early years when he wrote the Song of Songs/Proverbs to the time of his last book of Ecclesiastes? There will be many insights and keys that will come forth that will help us. This period is a most important one to note due to its parallel meaning for the last days.
Actually we do not have to travel much further in seeing what contributed to Solomon’s downfall. Remember our constant referencing the law of Kings from Deu 17? Here is a brief review of the appropriate verses:
Deu 17:16 But he shall not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt, to the end that he should multiply horses: forasmuch as the LORD hath said unto you, Ye shall henceforth return no more that way.
Deu 17:17 Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away: neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold.
In the remaining verses (vs 16-29) we see Solomon increasing his wealth and his army by way of added horses and chariots; both of which were violations of the stated law of Kings. If you read on in Deu 17 you see that when the king would assume the throne he was to have a copy of the law and to read it all the days of life. We can see right away that this was not being done. There is another law of Kings that Solomon violated and perhaps this was the most serious. It is picked up in the next chapter.
1 Kings 11
Solomon’s heart has now opened up to other women from other nations. One would think that Solomon with all his wisdom and knowledge would be able to turn the hearts of the foreign women to the True and Living God. This was not the case. As he grew older Solomon’s heart began to turn to their foreign gods. This is so difficult to try and even conceive knowing the heart that Solomon had for God in his younger years. One must try and understand how the Lord’s heart must have felt.
The law of Kings as stated in Deuteronomy addressed the issue of multiplying wives. Did Solomon violate this law? How does 700 wives and 300 concubines sound? The result of this indulgence was his heart turning to other gods such as Ashtoreth and Milcom. We have the reverse of a Gospel example where Jesus sought to satisfy the thirst of a woman who longed for husbands and relationships. She only had 5 husbands; Solomon had 700 wives and added concubines. He sought out fulfilment of his thirst on a much larger scale. Solomon was one who obviously should have known better. Jesus spoke of water that will quench an eternal thirst while Solomon went looking to other means.
When and where did the cracks and the openings for all of this begin to take place? Perhaps it is when he took the daughter of Pharaoh to wife (1 Kings 3). Why would he do that? Was it for the purpose of extending his rule and authority beyond Jerusalem and Israel? In any case he did not heed the lessons from his father. David paid such an extraordinary price which Solomon would have been well aware. Simply put, he disregarded God’s law in addition to not heeding the instruction from David his father. We must not make the same mistake. David spoke of God’s law in glowing terms. Yes, he failed God and disobeyed some of His laws however he had a heart that was able to experience restoration. He could sing of the law as being perfect, converting the soul Psa 19:7. In the same Psalm he goes on to say that more to be desired are the laws of God than gold (Psa 19:10). David had his failures and weaknesses but it was his love for the law of God that made room for restoration. The same cannot be said for Solomon especially as he grew in age. He was instructed, he had great wisdom and knowledge as seen in the giving of many Proverbs but there appeared to be a failure of personal implementation in his own life. The law of Kings was to serve as a daily reminder to those who would later sit upon the throne to help keep and guide them.
Deu 17:18 And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites:
Deu 17:19 And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them:
Deu 17:20 That his heart be not lifted up above his brethren, and that he turn not aside from the commandment, to the right hand, or to the left: to the end that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he, and his children, in the midst of Israel.
The developing testimony of Solomon was that he did evil in the sight of the Lord (vs 6). It became even worse as he now began to build altars and high places to other gods, catering to the hearts of other wives. God was angry as his heart had now turned away after having appeared unto him on two different occasions (vs 9). The Lord then declares that He will rend and divide the kingdom away from Solomon while keeping Judah for David’s sake and for Jerusalem which he has chosen. What a tragic testimony and end for someone who had every advantage and privilege from his early years. Israel was only able to have 3 kings over the whole of Israel before it was to be divided. This indicates that coming to the throne and being able to maintain proper rule is not an easy road. The failure seen in David’s sin and Solomon’s rule can be traced back to Deuteronomy 17.
David repented and was able to be restored albeit after significant judgements. Solomon did not have the advantage of really having to pay a price like David in the lead-up to his assuming the throne. It can be likened to the baby boomer generations of the 1950 and 60’s. They (my generation) had it easy compared to our forefathers who experienced war, the great depression and other challenges. We did not appreciate the price that was paid which soon resulted in an entitlement mentality. The fruits are now there for all to see and it is not pleasant. This generational perspective helps us to distinguish between David and Solomon.
God now has lifted the hedge of protection that was over Solomon and Israel. There were adversaries that God stirred up against him. There was a prophet by the name of Ahijah who spoke of the future division that would take place. Solomon’s end was a tragic one and will be taken up in further detail a bit later on. He reigned in Israel for forty years.
1 Kings 12
King Solomon has now passed on and Rehoboam his son has now assumed the throne. Jeroboam who was once close to Solomon comes up from Egypt and pledges to serve Rehoboam provided they lighten up on the heavy type rule that his father brought forth in his later years. Rehoboam consults with different groups; one consisted of older men with the other being the younger. The counsel of the older men was to speak well to the people and as a king be a servant unto them. This would help ensure that they would serve the king forever. Rehoboam forsook their counsel and took the advice of the younger men. Their counsel was to rule over the people with a rod of iron; to place upon them heavy burdens. It may be good for a moment to pause and reflect upon this incident.
This event served as the catalyst for the division of the kingdom. Why would Rehoboam resort to such unreasonable counsel? To me much of the responsibility and blame is to be placed upon Solomon. This was prophesied when the Word of the Lord came to him. His indulgences and turning of heart to other gods paved the way for such sentiment to prevail. Once again all we have to do is look at life to understand how all this happens.
Society today in every form is consumed with the need of satisfying “self”. You see it in entertainment, culture and even in the church. In my home country laws are constantly being rewritten for the purpose of edifying and liberating self. It is an “all about me” mentality that prevails. The older generation of men knew what service and servanthood meant. They probably had memories of Solomon’s earlier days or even perhaps memories dating back to the time of David. Even in the church we need to be very careful about a Rehoboam type spirit. There can be a tendency to easily dismiss the “older guard” and their way of doing things.
I learned something from my dad in the last few years that he worked. He worked for the railroad and there came a time when the railroad industry looked to nationalize the railroads and bring in a whole new order of management. The new management primarily consisted of young men with college degrees with no practical experience, who introduced a whole new way of running the railroad. My dad said he was not adverse to some changes but it was the total discarding of older management and their collective wisdom through many years of experience that resulted in problems. Everything was now facts and figures and there was no room for seasoned advice from older men who could have helped certain situations. We need to guard against this kind of mentality.
Rehoboam left no room for alternatives and ploughed through with his own aggressive agenda. We do see that it was the Lord allowing for this to take place due to the prophetic Word given by Ahijah the prophet (vs 15). Jeroboam then realized that there was no place for him in Jerusalem as did all of Israel. They returned to their places and then called Jeroboam to reign over them. Rehoboam then sought to go to war to bring all of Israel back into his fold but was restrained by the Word of the Lord (vs 23-24). Jeroboam then worried that Israel would one day return to Rehoboam especially when they would go to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices.
Jeroboam then commits a grievous sin before the Lord which would forever mark him and his succeeding line of kings. He set up two altars to serve as a substitute for going to Jerusalem and declared them to be their gods. He then appointed priests of the basest of men who made sacrifices in both Bethel and Dan. This was an extreme abomination due to Jeroboam having no authority in taking on the role of a priest or establishing the altar of sacrifice in just any place. This is not what God had in mind when looking to establish a kingdom. Israel is now only 4 kings into their monarchy and already it has divided. This should send a very strong message to us as to what constitutes royal rule. It begins with a royal priesthood; a people who love God, His laws and ways and seeks to keep them.
Jesus comes to Jerusalem and stops by a pool named Bethesda. He is about to perform another miracle on behalf of a man who has suffered with an infirmity for 38 years. There was an unusual and unpredictable means of healing that took place at this pool and there was no way for this man to be healed due to his inability to get into the pool at the appointed time. Try and think how he must have felt in being helpless while others who were able to get into the water received their touch of healing. On this day the Lord took note of this man and his condition and asked him if he would be made whole (vs 6). The man expressed his predicament of not being able to help himself.
Perhaps it would be good if we could put ourselves into this man’s shoes. Have you been seeking for a miracle or answer from God in a particular area? Can you relate to the frustration of this man as you witness other people being blessed? It is not that one would begrudge another person’s healing but one cannot help and wonder if there time would ever come. It is important to note the number of years this man was infirmed because it does have significance. The number 38 is the number of years that the children of Israel had to wander in the wilderness after forfeiting their opportunity to enter the Promised Land (Num 13). The Bible defines the purpose of the wilderness as a process in seeing what was in their hearts, to see if they would keep God’s commandments or not (Deu 8:2). It can be a difficult period in the life of a believer but it provides the Lord an opportunity to do a greater work in one’s life. The wilderness gets to the heart; it is that inner work of circumcision that results in our being made whole. It seems that this miracle is meant to serve as a sign for those who hear and observe the healing this man experienced. This man was not only healed, he was made whole which speaks of something greater. A wilderness experience, the outworking of the message of the Cross is what makes us complete and whole. There are a few other takeaways from this miracle. The name Bethesda means house of kindness. We need to appreciate the kindness of the Lord. It speaks of putting one’s own ambitions and interests aside for the purpose of helping others.
Psa 117:2 For his merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the LORD endureth for ever. Praise ye the Lord.
Kindness can be likened to a garment that we can either put on or put off. It is one of the 10 garments that Paul exhorts us to put on as seen in Col 3:12. The Lord took note of this man in need and in an act of great kindness, ministered unto him. We may be in need of a miracle, a fresh touch from God but we also need to be proactive in seeing how we may be used of God to help meet the needs in others.
Rom 12:10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;
As with many of the other miracles that Jesus performed this too was done on the Sabbath day. Jesus gave His accusers more fuel for their anger by stating that He only moves and works when His Father in heaven works (vs 17). The Jews sought to kill Him all the more due to these statements however the Lord did not back down. In fact He goes right to the heart of who He is, why He came while at the same time showing forth the hypocrisy of His accusers. He speaks as to the mission and message of John the Baptist, describing him as a burning light. He then speaks of Himself and the work He is called to do by His Father as an ever greater witness (vs 36). The Lord makes clear that these men have not the love of God within them while they go around acting indignant when Sabbath laws and other rituals are violated. He challenges them to search the scriptures that they so highly tout and see if these things concerning Christ are actually true. These Jews put such a high premium on Moses and yet the Lord says to them if you truly believe Moses you would believe “my” words and whom “I am”. In the end Moses will be their judge because he testified of the Lord.
John 5 reveals the close intimate relationship that Jesus had with His Father. It may be difficult to fully appreciate the depth and scope of this unity due to the diminished role of true fathers in today’s society. Jesus so loved His Father that He ministered and moved in accordance to the Father’s heart. There was a level of mutual trust that is seen whereby the Father commits responsibility and judgment into the capable hands of the Son. He does this because He knows that the Son can be trusted. Jesus does not shy away from the threatening of His accusers when they charge Him with blasphemy but rather takes up the opportunity to further illustrate the love and commitment between both Father and Son. In these last days there will be a great restoration of fathers to sons and mothers to daughters (Mal 4:4-6). John 5 is a beautiful picture of a true Father/Son relationship and it needs to be seen in conjunction with the miracle and subsequent discourse with the offended Jews.