2 Chronicles 1 – Solomon Seeks God
A. Solomon meets God at Gibeon.
1. (1-4) Solomon brings the leaders of Israel to the tabernacle at Gibeon.
Now Solomon the son of David was strengthened in his kingdom, and the LORD his God was with him and exalted him exceedingly. And Solomon spoke to all Israel, to the captains of thousands and of hundreds, to the judges, and to every leader in all Israel, the heads of the fathers’ houses. Then Solomon, and all the assembly with him, went to the high place that was at Gibeon; for the tabernacle of meeting with God was there, which Moses the servant of the LORD had made in the wilderness. But David had brought up the ark of God from Kirjath Jearim to the place David had prepared for it, for he had pitched a tent for it at Jerusalem.
a. Now Solomon the son of David was strengthened in his kingdom, and the LORD his God was with him: Solomon made a great start to his reign as king, and God blessed it. His father David left him with almost every possible advantage and his kingdom was strong.
b. Then Solomon…went to the high place that was at Gibeon: Solomon made these special sacrifices at Gibeon because the tabernacle of meeting with God was there. Though the ark of the covenant had been brought to Jerusalem (the place David had prepared for it), the tabernacle itself stayed at Gibeon.
i. Morgan on the phrase, tabernacle of meeting: “That is, it was the place where the people met with God. That is always the idea; not the meeting of the people with each other, but their meeting with God.”
ii. We can track the progress of the tabernacle and the ark of the covenant in the Promised Land:
· Joshua brought both the ark and the tabernacle to Shiloh (Joshua 18).
· In the days of Eli the ark was captured and the tabernacle wrecked (1 Samuel 4, Psalm 78:60-64, Jeremiah 7:12 and 26:9).
· The ark came back to Kirjath Jearim (1 Samuel 7:1-2).
· Saul restored the tabernacle at Nob (1 Samuel 21).
· Saul moved the tabernacle to Gibeon (1 Chronicles 16:39-40).
· David brought the ark to Jerusalem and built a temporary tent for it (2 Samuel 6:17, 2 Chronicles 1:4).
iii. There are several reasons that could explain why David did not bring the tabernacle from Gibeon to Jerusalem.
· He may have believed if the tabernacle was there the people would be satisfied with that, and they would lose the passion and vision for the temple God wanted built.
· It may be that the tabernacle was only moved when it was absolutely necessary – as when disaster came upon it at Shiloh or Nob.
· It may be that David was simply focused on building the temple, not continuing the tabernacle.
2. (5-6) Solomon and the assembly seek God together.
Now the bronze altar that Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, had made, he put before the tabernacle of the LORD; Solomon and the assembly sought Him there. And Solomon went up there to the bronze altar before the LORD, which was at the tabernacle of meeting, and offered a thousand burnt offerings on it.
a. Now the bronze altar that Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, had made, he put before the tabernacle of the LORD: This was the same altar made in the wilderness between Egypt and the Promised Land (Exodus 38:1-2). This altar was at least 500 years old and had received many sacrifices over Israel’s long history since the Exodus.
b. Solomon and the assembly sought Him there: Solomon and the people of God sought the LORD at the place of atoning sacrifice. This was the Old Testament equivalent to “coming to the cross” in seeking God.
i. This was an important event marking the “ceremonial” beginning of Solomon’s reign. Solomon wanted to demonstrate from the beginning that he would seek God and lead the kingdom to do so.
c. And offered a thousand burnt offerings: This almost grotesque amount of sacrifice demonstrated both Solomon’s great wealth and his heart to use it to glorify God.
3. (7-10) Solomon’s request.
On that night God appeared to Solomon, and said to him, “Ask! What shall I give you?” And Solomon said to God: “You have shown great mercy to David my father, and have made me king in his place. Now, O LORD God, let Your promise to David my father be established, for You have made me king over a people like the dust of the earth in multitude. Now give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people; for who can judge this great people of Yours?”
a. God appeared to Solomon: 1 Kings 3:5 tells us that this remarkable visitation from God happened in a dream. This is one of the more significant dreams in the Bible.
i. “It is interesting to note that notwithstanding the fact that the ark was not there, God met with Solomon and communed with him.” (Morgan) Here God made it clear that His presence was not to be superstitiously restricted to an association with the ark of the covenant.
b. Ask! What shall I give you? This was an amazing promise. God seemed to offer Solomon whatever he wanted. This wasn’t only because Solomon sacrificed 1,000 animals. It was because his heart was surrendered to God, and God wanted to work something in Solomon through this offer and his response.
i. The natural reaction to reading this promise of God to Solomon is to wish we had such promises. We do have them.
· Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you (Matthew 7:7).
· If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you (John 15:7).
· Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us (1 John 5:14).
ii. “The problem for many Christians, then, is not whether they will receive anything when they ask, but whether they will ask at all.” (Selman)
c. You have shown great mercy: Before responding to God’s offer and asking for something, Solomon remembered God’s faithfulness to both David and now to himself.
d. Now give me wisdom and knowledge: Solomon asked for more than great knowledge; he wanted wisdom, and according to 1 Kings 3, he wanted it in his heart, not merely in his head.
e. That I may go out and come in before this people: This was a Hebrew expression that meant, “That I may fulfill my duties before this people.” Solomon asked for the knowledge and wisdom necessary to be a good king.
i. “Such words referred originally to military leadership (1 Chronicles 11:2; cf. 1 Samuel 18:13) but are here broadened into representing good governmental administratorship in general.” (Payne)
B. God answers Solomon’s request.
1. (11-12) Solomon receives wisdom and blessings from God.
Then God said to Solomon: “Because this was in your heart, and you have not asked riches or wealth or honor or the life of your enemies, nor have you asked long life; but have asked wisdom and knowledge for yourself, that you may judge My people over whom I have made you king; wisdom and knowledge are granted to you; and I will give you riches and wealth and honor, such as none of the kings have had who were before you, nor shall any after you have the like.”
a. Because this was in your heart: God was pleased by what Solomon asked for, in that he knew his great need for knowledge and wisdom. God was also pleased by what Solomon did not ask for, in that he did not ask for riches or fame or power for himself.
i. Solomon’s request was not bad. We are specifically told in 1 Kings 3:10 that the speech pleased the LORD. Yet we can also ask if this was the best Solomon could ask for. “Was this the highest gift that he could have asked or received? Surely the deep longings of his father for communion with God were yet better.” (Maclaren)
ii. Solomon did his job well – as well or better than anyone. Yet as his falling away in the end showed (1 Kings 11:1-11) there was something lacking in his spiritual life. “There is no sign in his biography that he ever had the deep inward devotion of his father. After the poet-psalmist came the prosaic and keen-sighted shrewd man of affairs.” (Maclaren)
b. Wisdom and knowledge are granted to you; and I will give you riches and wealth and honor: God not only answered Solomon’s prayer, He answered it beyond all expectation. Solomon did not ask for riches and wealth and honor, but God gave him those also.
i. “God’s answer was a beautiful instance of the overflowing love and grace of the divine heart. All the things Solomon set aside for the sake of wisdom were also given to him.” (Morgan)
ii. Appearing in his dream, God answered Solomon’s prayer and made him wise, powerful, rich, and influential. His reign was glorious for Israel. At the same time, his end was tragic. We can fairly say that Solomon wasted these gifts God gave him. Though he accomplished much, he could have done much more – and his heart was led away from God in the end (1 Kings 11:4-11).
iii. “Instead of being the wisest of men, did he not become more brutish than any man? Did he not even lose the knowledge of his Creator, and worship the abominations of the Moabites, Zidonians, and [so forth]? And was not such idolatry a proof of the grossest stupidity? How few proofs does his life give that the gracious purpose of God was fulfilled in him! He received much; but he would have received much more, had he been faithful to the grace given. No character in the sacred writings disappoints us more than the character of Solomon.” (Clarke, commenting in 1 Kings)
2. (13-17) The great wealth of King Solomon.
So Solomon came to Jerusalem from the high place that was at Gibeon, from before the tabernacle of meeting, and reigned over Israel. And Solomon gathered chariots and horsemen; he had one thousand four hundred chariots and twelve thousand horsemen, whom he stationed in the chariot cities and with the king in Jerusalem. Also the king made silver and gold as common in Jerusalem as stones, and he made cedars as abundant as the sycamores which are in the lowland. And Solomon had horses imported from Egypt and Keveh; the king’s merchants bought them in Keveh at the current price. They also acquired and imported from Egypt a chariot for six hundred shekels of silver, and a horse for one hundred and fifty; thus, through their agents, they exported them to all the kings of the Hittites and the kings of Syria.
a. So Solomon came to Jerusalem…and reigned over Israel: Solomon actually reigned – or began his reign – in the great wisdom God gave him at Gibeon. A famous example of this wisdom is found in 1 Kings 3:16-28, where he wisely judged between two mothers who each claimed the same baby as their own.
b. And Solomon gathered chariots and horsemen: The famous stables of Solomon show what a vast cavalry he assembled for Israel. Unfortunately, it also shows that Solomon did not take God’s word as seriously as he should. In Deuteronomy 17:16, God spoke specifically to the future kings of Israel: But he shall not multiply horses for himself.
c. The king made silver and gold as common in Jerusalem as stones: When we think of Solomon’s great wealth, we also consider that he originally did not set his heart upon riches. He deliberately asked for wisdom to lead the people of God instead of riches or fame. God promised to also give Solomon riches and fame, and God fulfilled His promise.
i. We also consider that Solomon gave an eloquent testimony to the vanity of riches as the preacher in the Book of Ecclesiastes. He powerfully showed that there was no ultimate satisfaction through materialism. We don’t have to be as rich as Solomon to learn the same lesson.
ii. Certainly, Solomon presided over a prosperous and wealthy kingdom. Yet the Chronicler is also warning us here. He assumes that we know of the instructions for future kings of Israel in Deuteronomy 17:14-20. He assumes we know verse 17 of that passage, which says: nor shall he greatly multiply silver and gold for himself. God blessed Solomon with great riches, but Solomon allowed that blessing to turn into a danger because he disobediently multiplied silver and gold for himself.
iii. “There was nothing wrong in all this, but it created a very subtle peril. Prosperity is always a more insidious danger to men of faith than adversity.” (Morgan)
d. Solomon had horses imported from Egypt and Keveh: At the end of this great description of Solomon’s wealth and splendor, we have the sound of this dark note. This was in direct disobedience to Deuteronomy 17:16, which said to the kings of Israel: But he shall not multiply horses for himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, for the LORD has said to you, “You shall not return that way again.”
i.Keveh (also known as Cilicia) was “in what is now southern Turkey, at the east end of the Mediterranean…a prime ancient supplier of horses.” (Payne)
e. Thus, through their agents, they exported them to all the kings of the Hittites and the kings of Syria: This may explain why Solomon broke such an obvious commandment. Perhaps the importation of horses from Egypt began as trading as an agent on behalf of other kings. From this, perhaps Solomon could say, “I’m importing horses from Egypt but I am not doing it for myself. I’m not breaking God’s command.” Many examples of gross disobedience begin as clever rationalizations.
i. It is hard to know in what order Solomon’s compromise was expressed. Yet it is possible to say that this disobedience to this seemingly small command began the downfall of Solomon.
· First, in disobedience he multiplied horses for the service of his kingdom and he obtained them from the Egyptians (1 Kings 4:26, 10:28-29).
· Then, because of these connections with Egypt he married Pharaoh’s daughter (1 Kings 3:1).
· Then, because he started by marrying an Egyptian he married many other foreign women (1 Kings 11:1-4).
· Then, because of the presence of the foreign wives he built temples to their gods for their use (1 Kings 11:7-8).
· Then, because of the presence of these temples he began to worship these other gods himself (1 Kings 11:4-5).