Rather than reading the Bible through the eyes of modern secularism, this provocative six-part course teaches you to read the Bible through its own eyes—as a record of God’s dealing with the human race. When you read it at this level, you will discover reasons to worship God in areas of life you probably never before associated with “religion.”
© Charles A. Clough 1997
Charles A. Clough
Biblical Framework Series 1995–2003
Part 4: Disciplinary Truths of God’s Kingdom
Chapter 1: The Golden Era of Solomon: The Discipline of Blessing
Lesson 71 – Golden Era of Solomon: Sanctification, Queen Hatshepsut, Hebrew Bible
4 Dec 1997
Fellowship Chapel, Jarrettsville, MD
Each event builds on the previous event and what we’ve tried to do is associate the great basic doctrines of the Christian faith with these crucial historical events, because it’s through these events that God originally revealed Himself. By studying the details of these events you load your mind with the imaginative power of the Word of God, because these events actually happened, it’s not just some Bible stories; these are as real as the discovery of American by Columbus. We want to recall a few things that we learned when we were talking about the conquest and settlement, and the accession and reign of David.
As we go into the golden era of Solomon, from this point on through the next four events we’re going to increasingly deal with what is an area of truth that is biblically known as the doctrine of sanctification, or the doctrine of Christian growth. And it will be illustrated in many ways, but we want to get oriented to that we want to review some basic concepts. I’d like to start by going into the Scripture where we left off last time with Solomon’s great dedication prayer in 1 Kings 8. This is one of the key chapters in the book of Kings because he dedicates his marker, his historical marker. The highlight in Solomon’s life was getting that temple built. The building of the temple, the dedicating of it, was probably the great grand act of his career. He had some very serious problems toward the end of his life and there have been believers who have argued that Solomon wasn’t a believer, but that’s because they don’t understand sanctification very well.
Solomon, in 1 Kings 8, is praying a very careful prayer. One of the neat things about studying some of the great biblical prayers is that the first thing that strikes you when you study them in detail is that they were not just spontaneous prayers. We’re not saying they were ritualistic either, it was rather than when these biblical prophets walked into the presence of God to pray their prayer, they approached it more like we would approach going into, say, a courtroom and making a petition. You consult with your attorney; you design the thing to make sense in terms of the law under which the judge worked. You wouldn’t just go in there and blabbermouth, you’d go in there and have a thorough objective and you’re have a reason presentation, and what you find when you study biblical prayers, it’s not that they don’t carry emotion because they do, but there’s a structure to biblical prayers. They drift neither in one of two extremes, they’re neither ritualistic where they walked in and read it, nor are they just spontaneous, whatever happens to come to your mind type prayers. They were thought through petitions to the King of kings, carefully constructed.
1 Kings 8 is one of these massively well-constructed prayers, by probably the wisest man who ever lived, apart from Jesus. In verse 22, “Then Solomon stood before the altar of the LORD in the presence of all the assembly….” To review some of the highpoints of that prayer, some of the doctrine that Solomon pulled in, just so we realize that what we have done in this series is we have covered many of these truths that he’s pulling out to compose his prayer to God. Let’s watch some of the things that he does. Verse 23, “And he said, O LORD, the God of Israel, there is no God like Thee in heaven above or on earth beneath,” with that one clause, the clause that modifies the character of the God to whom he prays, he has defined the nature of God, and he had gone back to that first event that we studied, creation. I want you to see this, because when I first pulled these events out, I didn’t pull them out of a bag. What I did is I went back through and did an analysis of the great prayers and addresses of the Bible, and I simply went back and asked myself what did the Holy Spirit emphasize when these great men either prayed a very important prayer, or gave a very important address, like for example Acts 7 with Stephen. Stephen gives that address, we often think of it as just a spontaneous thing; that was a history lesson, a profound history lesson. Stephen must have given thought to that for year, it may have come out spontaneously in the moment of his death, but it was the product of years of study of the Word. It was not something that just happened.
This is one of those same kinds of things. Solomon has meditated long and deeply about what he’s doing here, and we want to track with him. We’re in sort of a school house in which we’re listening to one of the wisest prayers every made. “O LORD, the God of Israel, there is no God like Thee in heaven above or on earth beneath.” You’ll notice that he calls God by two names; he calls God “God” which is His creator name, Elohim, and he also calls Him Yahweh, the word translated L-O-R-D in caps. When you see the name LORD capitalized, that draws emphasis to the covenant relationship. So he’s talking to the LORD in a covenant relationship, who happens also to be the creator of the universe. He ties those two ideas together. So it’s covenant and creation in one clause.
Then he goes on, “who art keeping covenant and showing lovingkindness to Thy servants who walk before Thee with all their heart.” There are several interesting things that he’s doing there. Notice he’s characterizing God’s behavior. How do you characterize God’s behavior? We could say it’s gracious, it shows His sovereignty, it shows His omnipotence, but what he chooses to emphasize is God keeps covenant. God keeps covenant! And this goes back to the fact that the God of the Scriptures, while we have studied His attributes again and again, we said He is sovereign, He is holy, He is love, He is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, He is immutable, He’s eternal and all the other attributes that people speak about. But these two attributes set up His covenant, the fact that He is sovereign, the fact that He is omnipotent, and of course He’s gracious so all His covenants come out of love. These attributes are emphasized when He speaks and He addresses the creature and He defines down here some sort of a covenant or contractual agreement. We’ve mentioned this many times, that we make sure we always view our God in terms of His behavior; He’s faithful to what He has said He’s going to do. We have a built-in measure of His behavior because He announces ahead of time that He’s going to do certain things, and He signs a contract, that’s what covenant means, a contract, and He agrees that He will do certain things, and in some contracts we are supposed to do certain things. Behavior is measured by those yardsticks, the yardstick of the covenant. So everything is controlled in Scripture, not controlled by man, controlled finally by God, but it is controlled and there is a structure.
When Solomon prays these kinds of prayer, you see the prophets praying them too, realize that these are men who lived in a profoundly pagan world, a world filled with the gods and goddesses of chance and chaos, where they could travel a few hundred miles to the northeast and wind up seeing the Assyrian pantheon, they could travel 700-800 miles southwest and wind up looking at Horus and the Egyptian pantheon. In all these cases of these polytheistic things you have the world run by a committee; no one is finally in charge. So ultimately paganism is always controlled by chance, because you never can tell which god or goddess on the committee right now, tonight, is ruling. Even if you did know which god or goddess is ruling tonight in the committee, then you couldn’t know next week whether he or she is still going to be there. By the way, they had perfect gender balance; there were both gods and goddesses.
In Israel we have a covenant God who controls everything and there’s no committee, absolutely no other voice mentioned. So we have a solitary God speaking a contract into existence. On the basis of that frame of reference, he says you are “keeping covenant” and “chesed,” that Hebrew word translated lovingkindness. That’s the Hebrew word which means covenant love, love in connection with a covenant. “… to Thy servants who walk before Thee with all their heart,” and that’s a theme that’s going to come out here. Part of the covenant that we are talking about is the Sinaitic Covenant, and the Sinaitic Covenant is a conditional covenant, it has cursings and it has blessings; blessings for people who positively respond, cursings for those who negatively respond and there is no choice. The Sinaitic Covenant defines the kingdom of God, it tells Israel, “I am your King,” says God, and if you go along with the program you get blessed; you fight me and you’re going to get cursed, because I intend to bring this nation to a glorious conclusion in history and I’m going to do it. If you fight me, then I’m going to drag you kicking and screaming toward that goal, and it’s going to hurt, but My goal (God’s goal) will be attained. So the Sinaitic Covenant is important because of its structure.
We want to map that structure just a little bit against some of the previous covenants. So far we have studied the Noahic Covenant, or the New World Covenant we called it, and we said that covenant is an unconditional covenant in the sense that it is made, and it outlines the providential reign of God in the physical universe. That covenant is what we need to think of as Christians when we study science, physics, chemistry, etc. Don’t get snookered by this thing that is repeated ad nauseum, and we use it in our own vocabulary and we have to be careful about this phrase, “natural law.” There is no such thing as natural law. Think about it. Nature makes laws? Who makes laws? Who made the “natural law?” The natural law, what we call natural law is really, if you think about it, based on observation. If it’s based on observation, what have we observed? God’s providential reign. So we get slightly paganized here when we think about natural law. What we really are looking at is a description of how God has behaved.
The fallacy that we studied two years ago in Genesis is that because we see Him behaving this way now at this era of history we think He always behaved that way, when the Bible says no, He didn’t always behave that way; at times He speeded processes up and slowed processes down. What about the long day of Joshua, it wasn’t an optical illusion, it was a genuine case where the Bible says the sun and the moon stopped. That is the statement. You can have all kinds of explanations for that but the drama of it was what? What was God trying to do in that long day, what was He showing Joshua? Joshua had gotten himself in a mess, he got in the wrong covenant and was all screwed up, so he got caught with his army, he got snookered into protecting people he shouldn’t have even been in a relationship with, but he promised them, he was a man of his word, he went ahead and said okay, I promised I’d help you, so he goes into it and gets involved in a big war, and God comes to his aid at a very critical time.
The point there is the Bible carefully adds the note, a little footnote in the verse that says there never was a day like that before it or after it. I submit to you there’s been optical refraction going on for centuries. That isn’t what explains that day. That day was a unique day in the history of the cosmos; never had astronomical bodies behaved that way. We have a problem accepting that because we start in the wrong place, we think what we really have is natural law and then God and men both obey this natural law. That’s false. We submit to what is called natural law, but it really isn’t, it’s God’s covenant rule, and the Noahic Covenant is a revelation of His rule from the time of Noah to the time of the return of Christ. The Noahic Covenant specifies certain things, for example, it guarantees the existence of planet earth. That’s why we never have to worry about an asteroid breaking up the planet. No asteroid is going to break it up, it might hit the planet, there might be a disaster that way, but the planet earth is going to be around. It’s got to be or this covenant is broken. We don’t care about what astronomical theory is involved; we just know the Noahic Covenant guarantees us certain things. This sets up the environment.
Then inside that environment we have the second covenant, which is the Abrahamic Covenant. The Abrahamic Covenant is a covenant of election in which God began a missionary maneuver in history. He abandoned all other cultures and set up and focused His program from this point on through a nation called Israel. Why did He do that? Because He was prejudiced? He did that because all nations had rebelled against Him. All nations had forsaken Him. He didn’t have to work anymore with anybody, be thankful He started all over with somebody new, that’s what we ought to be thankful for instead of fussing about it—why’d He pick the Jews …. That’s not the approach. He chose to work through the Jewish people; He brought them into existence with Abraham and through them the Scriptures, etc. That’s the covenant that guarantees the land, the seed, etc. we studied that.
That’s the election, so that guarantees a certain destiny to Israel. The question is, even though Israel’s destiny is guaranteed, the problem is that or every Jew in Israel isn’t necessarily part of the Abrahamic Covenant. Only those who have responded to the election in God are the real seed of Abraham. To control the further life of Israel He adds the Sinaitic Covenant, but when He adds the Sinaitic Covenant it’s given to the whole nation which includes believers and unbelievers. So we have two parts inside that Sinaitic Covenant, and it’s not guaranteed that the unbelievers are going to convert. There’s no guarantee there. So when the Sinaitic Covenant comes in, it simply addresses the nation, God is going to rule this entity, including these guys AND these guys. And He says blessing for positive volition toward God and cursing on negative volition, and those are the terms of His rule. The Sinaitic Covenant isn’t what gives Israel her destiny. Watch this; don’t mix up the two covenants. This covenant describes cause and effect in her history, it doesn’t guarantee anything. The Sinaitic Covenant doesn’t guarantee the destiny of Israel. That is guaranteed by the Abrahamic Covenant, not the Mosaic Covenant.
So when Solomon is talking about “showing lovingkindness to Thy servants who walk before Thee with all their heart,” he is obviously talking about those who are responding. And when he says that You are “keeping covenant,” he implies that He is keeping the Abrahamic Covenant, He is keeping the Sinaitic Covenant, and the issue of the covenant isn’t here so much as it’s the keeping of covenant. God is a covenant keeping God.
Verse 24, “Who hast kept with Thy servant, my father David, that which Thou hast promised him,” now we have another covenant that comes into play because out of the core of believers comes David. And David is going to be used to reveal what leadership looks like, what does the king look like in the future, for this future time down here. This revelation comes through this king and he is protected by the Davidic Covenant and the Davidic Covenant focuses on a blessing. Remember the Abrahamic Covenant had a seed, land and worldwide blessing. That little seed promise of the Abrahamic Covenant is now amplified in this Davidic Covenant. The Davidic Covenant is further revelation. So the Abrahamic Covenant and the Davidic Covenant plug together, both of them are unconditional; the Davidic Covenant is an unfolding of that earlier Abrahamic Covenant in certain details. Solomon, having richly in verse 23 in his prayer, already basically analyzed history as a covenant driven thing, it’s not random.
Then he says, verse 24, You “have kept with Thy servant, my father David, that which Thou hast promised him; indeed, Thou hast spoken with Thy mouth and hast fulfilled it with Thy hand as it is this day.” What’s this day? The day the temple as dedicated. What did God promise David would happen with David’s son? David wanted to build a temple, and God said no, I’ll build you a temple and then we’ll let your son build Me a temple. The temple that God built David was a living temple, the temple of his seed that would go on forever and reign. Solomon is sharp, he remembered what his dad taught him, and now he recognizes that God has given an opportunity in history and it’s not just something that happened that day. The thing that we want so see about this rich and deep prayer is that what happened that day when that temple was dedicated was a day in the life of all these covenants. There was a whole chain of events that was going on, all through the wars of the conquest, all through Saul’s time, all through David’s time and Solomon was conscious of that chain of moments. He recognized that this day, when he dedicated that temple, was a momentous forward step that God was making. That’s where you can get emotional.
You can have an emotional response but the emotional response isn’t floating in a vacuum, it’s not detached, it’s carefully in response to this exciting work that God is doing. People who have this view of history are powerful. This is what gives you strength to keep on going on. When everything falls apart what keeps you going is the fact that you know how the game is coming out. You know and have confidence that God reigns through all of the chaos, through all the details. That’s what’s going on here. Solomon is a powerful person.
He says in verse 25, “Now therefore, O LORD, the God of Israel,” here’s the petition in his prayer “keep with Thy servant David my father that which Thou hast promised him, saying, You shall not lack a man to sit on the throne of Israel, if only your sons take heed to their way to walk before Me as you have walked.  Now therefore, O God of Israel, let Thy word, I pray Thee, be confirmed which Thou hast spoken to Thy servant, my father David.” He had carefully studied the fine print in the contract. Let’s go back to the contract. Turn back to 2 Samuel 7. When God gave the covenant to David, here’s how it originally came to David from God. Let’s go back to 2 Samuel 7:12, “When you days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom.  He shall build a house for My name,” see what he’s doing, Solomon is tracking these clauses in that Davidic Covenant, his prayer isn’t just something he thought of that day five minutes before he got up. It says, “He shall build a house,” was Solomon building a house that day in 1 Kings 8? Yes he did, he finished it, this is the dedication. So he says aha, this fits. “…and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.  I will be a father to him and he will be a son to me,” there’s the father-son relationship of the Davidic king and his God, by the way, that’s the first time in the Scripture where you have father-son relationship really come out in its glory.
But notice a catch to verse 14, there’s another clause, and that clause in verse 14 sets up the destiny for 1 Kings 2-10, the whole life of Solomon, the whole structure of the golden era is set into verse 14. Here’s the clause that controlled probably forty years of history in Solomon’s life. “…when he commits iniquity, I will correct him with the rod of men and the strokes of the sons of men.  But my lovingkindness shall not depart from him as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you.” What word did Solomon use when he was setting up his petition in his prayer? O God, You keep covenant and lovingkindness. Do you see how he latched onto that? Let’s think of why Solomon latched on to that in his prayer. This is the neat stuff and this comes out in the New Testament but I always like to go to the Old Testament because in the Old Testament it’s fresh and I learn a little more sharply by looking at the Old Testament, I guess I’m too familiar with the New Testament, and I have to get hit with it from another angle.
Here’s Solomon’s situation. This circle represents his security; this circle represents the fact that God, through the Davidic Covenant, has secured his throne, his dynasty. Solomon operates from a position of strength, at least at this point he does. He remembers the Davidic Covenant, but he’s also smart enough to know that this doesn’t give him license, the same problem we have in the Christian life. He also knows that down here is a circle of his obligations; this is what God does, this is what he ought to do, these are the commands, if you will. He may do God’s will, he may not do God’s will, but whether he does God’s will or doesn’t do God’s will at any moment doesn’t change this; this is a historic promise, this goes on regardless of whether he gets up on the right side of the bed in the morning or the left side of the bed. His security and the life of the dynasty doesn’t hinge on every little moment of his life, whether he’s in fellowship or out of fellowship, whether he confesses his sin or doesn’t confess his sin.
However 2 Samuel 7:14 says what happens if Solomon gets out here, is God going to let that go on, and if not, why not. If it’s a father–son relationship and the father has a destiny for his son, his son may be disobedient …. You have children at times you sit there and you can get embarrassed by what they do, and do you know why you’re embarrassed, you feel like going through the floor sometimes, or denying their heritage, say they must be somebody else’s kids, they can’t be mine. But you can’t do that and that’s precisely what makes you embarrassed as a parent, because no matter what these clowns do, it reflects on you, period, and you can’t escape that. That’s the same thing with God. Solomon is His son, so the family relationship never gets ruptured. God can get very embarrassed as a parent, and God has a way of handling that problem, it’s called discipline, so God disciplines the son and Solomon knows that God is going to do that, at least at this point in his life he remembers that. Understand when we go back to 1 Kings 8, there’s a dynamic that’s working here. Solomon understands his position before God but he understands if he gets out of line, God will discipline.
Notice something else, we picked this up when we went through David’s confession, this is kind of a repetition of what we did with David. One of the problems in confessing sin, particularly if it’s been a real ripper, you’ve got all the social aftereffects that come with it. The problem is that when we confess our sin, to God by the way, we can ask forgiveness from those people we’ve hurt, that’s another issue, but when we confess our sin, as David made clear in Psalm 51, it is to God and God alone because it is God and God alone who calls the shots on what is right and what is wrong. It’s not society. The problem is if we think that we’re violating social rules and that’s all it is, what we have done to ourselves spiritually is we’ve submitted to peer pressure. We’re back to where we were when we were teenagers, if everybody wears red pants I’ve got to wear red pants. If everybody dyes their hair green, I’ve got to dye my hair green. That’s all peer pressure; it’s going along with the crowd. And God doesn’t want us to go along with the crowd, God wants us to go along with Him, and we have to get it through our heads that ultimately the control is God’s law, God’s absolutes, and not what society dictates. So when we go to confess, what we’re doing is we’re confessing to God for a violation of these things that we should have done and didn’t do, or vice versa, we didn’t do what we ought to have done.
The confession is made to God. If we do that, with conviction, and we’re convinced, yes, I have sinned against God, and yes He has a case against me, and yes, were it not for the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ I could go to hell, if I come out of that conviction and I deal with this, and I go before God and I go back to square one, when I became a Christian, and I realize the cross, that’s why I continue to be saved, that’s my security, I am forgiven at that point. The problem is that I have all this crud, aftereffect and debris, pieces and garbage that I still have to walk through because that doesn’t go away, rarely does that go away. So I still have to walk through the muck. When I do that, there’s a tendency to think, about four days later, day one I confessed, then about the fourth day into this mess I get my eyes off the Lord, off of His grace, and onto this mess, and what other people think of me, and what happens? Now I begin to get the thought that God too hasn’t forgiven me, and once that thought is slipped into our hearts, faith dies.
You can’t trust the Lord if you think He’s angry with you. There’s no way you can trust His promises if you think He’s ticked, because you’re saying to yourself well, His promise is there but He’s not going to keep His promise to me. You can’t get the “faith engine” going because now we’re back to a works situation. What suddenly has happened is that we’ve bought into works. We started with grace, because we realize we can only be forgiven by God’s grace; we march down and on the fourth day we’re in the middle of all this chaos and somebody says something or looks at us the wrong way, and we get our eyes on the situation and now we’re back to works. Now we think to ourselves, I’ve got to do penance, I’ve got to do 84½ good works today to negate all this, then the next day I’ll do some more good works, etc. That’s just a lot of religious bologna because we’re totally wiped out in the area of grace and faith.
Solomon faces this problem too, and the problem he’s going to face is that he knows he’s secure, he gets out of fellowship, he sins against the Lord, he confesses sin, but he’s still going to get disciplined. The discipline can occur before confession, on a timeline, because maybe we’re out of it over here and God applies the discipline as a wakeup call. Yoo-hoo, somebody home down there? He has to do that and we all can cite embarrassing things that have happened to us in our lives, things that maybe happened privately, things that happened publicly, where’s God had to kick us in the you know where to get our attention. Then we confess our sins, and then He may still continue to discipline because He wants to teach us something.
He may want to teach other people something. In David’s case the principle was that the leader, if he fooled around and he messed up, there would be some very dynamic heavy consequences from that. That’s a lesson, it’s all David’s sons had to learn, and it’s a lesson the whole dynasty had to learn. So it was pedagogical. But it wasn’t judicial, it wasn’t that God for years afterwards, every time David lost a son, number one, number two, number three, number four, it wasn’t that God was punishing David judicially to exact some sort of blood atonement out of his sons. That wasn’t the point. The point was that certain disciplinary procedures had to occur because of who God is. He wants to teach, not just us, but those other people around us, the rest of the body. So we all are being taught through this disciplinary process.
That’s why it’s sobering, that’s why Paul in the New Testament says if you’re a church elder and you’re a leader, that’s one of the stickiest things that I would personally hate to be, it’s just a discomforting thing to have to be a leader and step into a mess and administer discipline. It’s hard to do, and you have to do it because this is what God says, yet sometimes you don’t want to, and there are torn emotions about it. It will help to realize that when we’re doing that kind of thing we are not exacting a legal judicial thing. We have nothing to do with that. Discipline by the elders of a church body is a pedagogical thing, it’s part of the hand of God, it’s a wakeup call, it’s a discipline move, but there’s no atonement going on. If church discipline is part of atonement, we’ve lost the atonement, because now we’ve interjected works again; there’s some sort of ecclesiastical procedure now that substituted for the finished work of Christ on the cross. Is it finished or isn’t it finished? It’s finished! It can’t be added to by some church act. All of these things, whether we get discomforted by doing them but part of the discomfort comes from well, gee, who am I to judge. But it’s not that kind of thing, it’s a pedagogical thing, it’s an enforcement thing, it’s a parental thing, parenting. God is the ultimate parent.
Coming back to 1 Kings 8:25, notice what he says, “…if only your sons take heed to their way to walk before Me as you have walked,” he’s quoting 2 Samuel 7:14. Then he asks, verse 26, “Now therefore, O God of Israel, let Thy word, I pray thee, be confirmed which Thou hast spoken to my father, David.” Maybe Solomon did, maybe he didn’t know, but do you know what he was doing in this prayer? He was ensuring that he would be disciplined for the rest of his life, because he brought down the terms of the Davidic Covenant willingly and of his own volition on himself and said, treat me, O Lord, the way you said you would treat David’s son. So later on, God has a way of disciplining… God disciplined Solomon in a different way than He disciplined David. The two are two different men, two different lives, two different sin patterns. The discipline is different but it’s still there. We’ve gone through this exercise, introducing Solomon at the time of 1 Kings 8.
Just as kind of getting a quick idea of this golden era that we’re talking about, go down to 1 Kings 8:62. Look at the statistics at what was going on at the dedication of the temple. Just think of this, you’re a movie producer and you have an assignment, make a set and show on camera this thing. So you start reading, “Now the king and all Israel with him offered sacrifice before the LORD.  And Solomon offered for the sacrifice of peace offerings which he offered to the LORD, 22,000 oxen and 120,000 sheep. So the king and all the sons of Israel dedicated the house of the LORD.” I guess so! Talk about a bloody mess, can you image the magnitude of this thing?
What it smacks of is the tremendous wealth that these people had. By this time in history the Jews had prospered. Every historian that I’ve read in this period of time makes mention of the fact that at this point in Israel’s history they had something rare in the ancient world; they had a developed middle class. Most ancient societies had the very wealthy and then you had the poor. One of our young people wrote a paper on the law, and how the law in Israel is different from the law outside of Israel, and one of the things that she noticed was that in the law outside of Israel there’s a dual standard. If somebody runs into problems and if they’re in this class they get treated one way; if they’re down in the poor class they get treated another way. In Israel it’s class-less. The only class distinction you find in the Mosaic Law is the slaves who have come in from the outside. Here you have a developed middle class, able to afford 22,000 oxen, 120,000 sheep, and willingly dedicate this to the temple. That gives you some idea of the size.
To get more of an idea of the golden era, turn to 1 Kings 4:20 for some other introductory statistics about Solomon. It says, “Judah and Israel were as numerous as the sand that is on the seashore in abundance;” and notice this little phrase in verse 20, “they were eating and drinking and rejoicing.” That’s not condemnatory, that’s a description of their economic blessing. This is a time when Israel was blessed like crazy. It was one of the highlights of their national life at this point. Solomon ruled. Think of the Middle East today. Think of the countries that are enveloped in verse 21 “Now Solomon ruled over all the kingdoms from the River,” the river there is talking about the river up at the north end, the north part, in the Lebanon area, beyond Lebanon. “Solomon ruled over all the kingdoms from the River to the land of the Philistines and to the border of Egypt; they brought tribute and served Solomon all the days of his life.” So he ruled from Lebanon, the land of the Philistines is along the coast, and the border of Egypt. So today that would be all the land of Palestine, it would include Syria, southern Lebanon, part of Jordan and then down probably inside the present boundary of Egypt. That’s how big Israel was at that time.
Look at this little statistic, 1 Kings 4:22, “And Solomon’s provision for one day,” this is the provision for his palace and for the temple life, his “provision for one day was thirty kors of fine flour and sixty kors of meal,” which I take is somewhere like ten bushels,  “ten fat oxen, twenty pasture-fed oxen, a hundred sheep besides deer, gazelles, roebucks, and fattened fowl.” One day, that’s what the temple consumed, every day, 365 days a year, tribute flowing into the temple. Verse 24, “For he had dominion over everything west of the River, from Tiphsah even to Gaza, over all the kings west of the River; he had peace on all sides around him.” See one reason why the nation could be prosperous, they weren’t in war. Verse 25, “So Judah and Israel lived in safety, every man under his vine and his fig tree, from Dan even to Beersheba, all the days of Solomon.” Now some more statistics. Verse 26, “And Solomon had 40,000 stalls of horses for his chariots, and 12,000 horsemen.  And those deputies provided for King Solomon and all who came to King Solomon’s table, each in his month; they left nothing lacking.  They also brought barley and straw for the horses and swift steeds to the place where it should be, each according to his charge.  Now God gave Solomon wisdom and very great discernment and breadth of mind, like the sand that is on the seashore.”
Notice this, don’t take this lightly, verse 30 is a statement and if you’re at all interested in ancient history please note verse 30 carefully. Remember verse 30 when you study history because you’re going to get all this stuff, the way the secular person in the classroom teaches this is Israel’s always kind of sidelined, some little dinky nation down in the ancient world, some people question if it existed, and that’s always trying to downplay the existence of God’s nation. It’s always been that way, always will be that way until Jesus returns. 1 Kings 4:30, “And Solomon’s wisdom surpassed the wisdom of all the sons of the east,” that’s the Mesopotamian plain, that’s the great Babylonian and Assyrian civilizations that were known for their wisdom. He “surpassed the wisdom of all the sons of the east, and all the wisdom of Egypt,  for he was wiser than all men,” and now interesting, in verse 31 is a list of his contemporaries who were Gentiles, unfortunately we don’t know more about these guys, but here’s an actual catalogue from other nations in secular history. He was wiser “than Ethan the Exrahite, Heman, Calcol and Darda, the sons of Mahol; and his fame was known in all the surrounding nations.” Remember verse 31, that last clause because we’re going to come back to that. There’s a little footnote to history on some of the ripples that Solomon started that we still feel in our [blank spot, may read verse 32, “He also spoke 3,000 proverbs, and his songs were 1,005.]
He’s a genius, he’s a musician, what is it this guy didn’t do? In Ecclesiastes, all the things that Solomon did, he built two navies, one to patrol the east side of the world and one on the west side in the Mediterranean. Verse 33, “And he spoke of trees, from the cedar that is in Lebanon even to the hyssop that grows on the wall,” what does that make him? A botanist. “…he spoke also of animals and birds and creeping things and fish.” What does that make him? A zoologist.  “And men came from all peoples to hear the wisdom of Solomon, from all the kings of the earth who had heard of his wisdom.” Was he an important man in ancient history or what? That’s why in your thinking, if you want to get an image in your head of what this is, you like to read history, you like to read biographies, the best parallel biography I can suggest to read, if you want to go to an encyclopedia or something, would be Leonardo DaVinci. He probably in our civilization comes closest to Solomon. That guy was into everything, reason, art, he sketched helicopters, boats, submarines, this guy was a genius, anything he did besides painting. So Leonardo DaVinci comes closest to Solomon, but I don’t really think that if you put them against each other I still think Solomon would beat him because Solomon had a lot more different areas that he was expert in than Leonardo DaVinci.
This gives us a glimpse of some of the great riches and wealth of Solomon in the golden era. One other chapter in Kings that is also sort of a catalogue of these profound days is 1 Kings 10, this is mysterious woman that it’s debated in history who she was. 99% of the historians think she’s a queen from some little Arabian country. I’m not persuaded of that, however; if you change and alter the chronology of secular history and realign the time lines, as Immanuel Velikovsky did years ago, what you find is that this queen has another identity. If this readjustment of the chronologies is right, and the word “Sheba” is preserved in the middle of the name of one of the most famous women of Egypt, Hatshepsut. Note the middle of her name; “p” and “b” are interchangeable. So it’s suspected, if you alter the chronologies and you buy into that, that this queen is not a queen from some little Arabian offbeat province, but she’s none other than the grand queen of Egypt.
She led a very interesting life, this queen, because she went, according to her chronicles she went to a place midway in her reign called “God’s land,” and scholars of Egyptian history can’t figure out where she went but she went to this strange place called “God’s land.” They think it’s east Africa somewhere. And she goes to this land and she meets these impressive wise people, and she comes back with a list of things that she got from this land called “God’s land,” and strange as it may seem, the list parallels 1 Kings 10. But historians can’t believe it’s the same woman because they lived at different times in history, if the chronologies that we’re taught in history classes are right. But if we alter them it seems to fall into place.
The other interesting thing about Queen Hatshepsut is she goes back and she does something which is not really known, but she disturbs profoundly the religious life of Egypt. She does something to alter the temple in Egypt that really hacks off the priesthood, and either she dies in oblivion or she dies as a hated woman, hated not because of the population, apparently she’s a very popular ruler, but she was hated by the bureaucrats for something that she did to the temple worship. It’s also stated that she had a son by the name of Thutmose III. Thutmose III aligned himself with the priests and what he is known for in history is taking plaster and going everywhere his mother had a monument to her and plaster over it with himself. So for a long time nobody knew there ever was a woman on the throne of Egypt, until accidentally the plaster started falling off some of these things and they realized, that’s not Thutmose, underneath there lo and behold, there’s a woman here. That’s how Queen Hatshepsut’s reign began to be exposed when the plaster started falling off some of these monuments.
This queen comes to Solomon, and she came to Jerusalem with a very large retinue. That tells you right away that she’s not just some little sweet sister from the desert. She’s bringing quite a lot of stuff. [1 Kings 10:1, “Now the queen of Sheba heard about the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the LORD, she came to test him with difficult questions.  So she came to Jerusalem with a very large retinue, with camels carrying spices and very much gold and precious stones.”] “When she came to Solomon, she spoke with him about all that was in her heart.  And Solomon answered all her questions; nothing was hidden from the king which he did not explain to her.” If she was that Queen Hatshepsut, think of her education and training, she was a learned woman. She wasn’t somebody that didn’t know what was going on. She had a very good classical education and she had a lot of questions about life and history, so she said I’m going to go over to Israel and find out from this guy Solomon what’s going on.
Verse 4, “When the queen of Sheba perceived all the wisdom of Solomon, the house that he had built,” now think of the fact that if she had come out of Egypt she had her own temples and pyramids. But when she saw the temple,  “the food on his table, the seating of his servants, the attendance of his waiters and their attire, his cup-bearers, and his stairway by which he went up to the house of the LORD, there was no more spirit in her.  Then she said to the king, ‘It was a true report which I heard in my own land about your words and your wisdom.  Nevertheless I did not believe the reports, until I came and my eyes had seen it. And behold, the half was not told me.” That’s an expression we use in our language, the half of it wasn’t told me, this is where that expression comes from, the Queen of Sheba. “And behold, the half was not told me. You exceed in wisdom and prosperity the report which I heard.  How blessed are your men, how blessed are these your servants who stand before you continually and hear your wisdom.”
Notice verse 9, a very interesting spiritual dimension to this woman, “‘Blessed be [the Yahweh] the LORD your God who delighted in you to set you on the throne of Israel because the LORD loved Israel forever, therefore He made you king, to do justice and righteousness.’” What in verse 9 tells you immediately this woman is one shrewd lady? What has she picked up on to allow her to say that particular phrase? That tells you that she’s understood something? The covenant structure. Do you suppose she might have talked about history to Solomon and Solomon was telling her how history proceeds under the grand theme of the God whom made heaven and earth, among whom there is no equal, including yours Queen, and that this God that created the universe, the heavens and the earth, as he was witnessing to her. He may well have led her to the Lord; this may be a confession of faith here. Verse 10, “And she gave the king a hundred and twenty talents of gold, and a very great amount of spices and precious stones. Never again did such abundance of spices come in as that which the queen of Sheba gave King Solomon.” It’s those notices that convince me that this woman is not an ordinary desert queen.
Look at this for another little tidbit on the golden era of Solomon, literally the golden era. 1 Kings 10:14, “Now the weight of gold which came into Solomon in one year was 666 talents of gold.” If you take 666 talents, and the question is how much is a talent but suppose that we use a small talent, which is 30 kilograms, 666 talents per year times thirty gives you 19,998 kilograms, there’s 2.2 pounds to a kilogram, something like that. That gives you 43, 956 pounds, multiplied by 16 ounces and multiplied by $300, which is about the price of gold today, and you come out with something well over $200,000,000 in solid gold, a year, for 10, 15, 20 years. Can you imagine what his treasury looked like? What do you suppose this did to the economy of Israel? It stabilized it. They didn’t have paper money like we do. Talk about a gold-backed currency, this whole nation was put in a tremendously economically powerful position because the national treasury was so enormous, there’s an economic momentum to this thing.
Lest some of you think we’re getting very materialistic, what did I say? What is one of the signs of blessing, under the principles of the Sinaitic Covenant, back in Deuteronomy 28 and Leviticus 26? We listed them: economic prosperity. Economic prosperity under the Sinaitic Covenant was a manifestation that God was blessing. Economic deprivation, this is nationally speaking, it’s not saying that everybody was blessed and all the good people were blessed and the bad people weren’t. It’s collective, the nation as a collective entity here.
Look what else. 1 Kings 10:15, “besides that from the traders, and the wares of the merchants and all the kings of the Arabs and the governors of the country,  King Solomon made 200 large shields of beaten gold, using 600 shekels of gold on each large shield.” It describes what he made. Verse 18, “Moreover, the king made a great throne of ivory and overlaid it with refined gold.  There were six steps to the throne and a round top to the throne at its rear, and arms on each side of the seat, and two lions standing beside the arms.  And twelve lions were standing there on the six steps on the one side and on the other; nothing like it was made for any other kingdom.  And all King Solomon’s drinking vessels were of gold, and all the vessels of the house of the forest of Lebanon were of pure gold. None was of silver; it was not considered valuable in the days of Solomon.” The Scriptures can’t give us enough to say that this was the wonderful time, the renaissance of the nation.
I haven’t even covered the thing that was mentioned earlier, in 1 Kings 4 but I’m going to close with a little addition to show some of the literary accomplishments of Solomon. I have here a Hebrew Bible. The Hebrew Bible has three parts to it, the Old Testament, the law, the prophets and the writings. If you look at this Bible it won’t correspond to what you have in your lap, it has all the books in it, but the books are in a different order. Let me show you what the books are and see if you can notice something. The first five books are the same as ours, the Pentateuch. Then the thing called the prophets begins with Joshua, and it goes Joshua, then Judges, Samuel, Kings, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and then all the Minor Prophets down to Malachi. Why do you suppose Joshua and Judges are considered by this Bible to be in the same section with the prophets? The answer is because what are the prophets doing? By the way, the Hebrew Bible starts with what we would say is the backwards side, back here is law, here’s the Torah. On top of the Torah are these prophetic books. What is the prophet’s job in history? To administer the covenant. They are the testimony that whose behavior is being measured?
This third part of the Bible is called the writings. Here’s a strange collection, and we leave you with this collection and why is it that these books are collected together. Job, Proverbs, Ruth, Song of Songs, Ecclesiastes, Lamentations, Esther, Daniel, I thought Daniel would be a prophet. Nehemiah, Ezra, Chronicles. Now what is going on and why are these books gathered together. If you take a college course in the Bible where they try to tear it apart on you, what they’re telling you is that the reason all these, because these are the late books of the Bible, they approach this Canon as though it’s chronological. But this third section of the Bible actually is the third section that depicts what wisdom is, and on page 6, I quote Robert Gordis who is a Jewish rabbi. All the books that I just told you about are either describing what wisdom is or they’re an artistic expression of wisdom. The Psalms, an expression of wisdom. Proverbs defines what wisdom is. Ecclesiastes, a deep and profound philosophic book. Song of Songs, marriage and sex are mentioned there, quite explicitly in the Hebrew, the English translation tries to tone it down, that’s too bad because we should understand that that’s a big part of our lives and there ought to be a place in the Scripture where it’s discussed. And it is discussed there if you can get through all the translation problems.
Then you have books like Daniel. Why is Daniel in there when you’d think Daniel ought to be in the prophets? What did we say the prophets were? They administer the Mosaic Covenant to what nation? Israel. Who’s Daniel talking to? Gentiles. What did Daniel function as in society? What would we call Daniel today in our society? A foreign minister, he was involved as an advisor, maybe the national security counsel to the king; he was an advisor to a Gentile king. He was a wisdom man, he was giving wisdom to a Gentile ruler, so even though he has prophecy the real function of the book of Daniel is political wisdom. How does a king rule in light of God’s prophetic program? Anyway, look at Gordis’ conclusion:
“When the full scope of Hebrew Wisdom is taken into account, it becomes clear that the third section of the Bible, the Kethubim [‘writings’] is not a miscellaneous collection, but, on the contrary, possesses an underlying unity, being the repository of Wisdom …. Both the composition and the rendition of the Psalms required a high degree of that technical skill which is Hokmah….” See that word “Hokmah,” that’s wisdom. “Proverbs, Job, and Ecclesiastes, obviously belong in a Wisdom collection …. Lamentations is a product of Hokmah in its technical sense,” it’s a poem of lament with a wise artistic literary structure. “The book of Daniel, the wise interpreter of dreams, obviously is in place among the Wisdom books.”
Solomon, then, brought into existence the mighty architecture, the mighty economy and he was really the fountainhead that drove the generation of the great literature of Israel.
Next week if you will look at 1 Kings 2-10 and we’re going to look at how wisdom builds culture. We want to look at how wisdom generates culture because the next thing we’re going to do is go back to the doctrine of sanctification and ask ourselves, “Where does wisdom play a role in our Christian lives?” It’s there but where do we see it in our day. We’ll start with Solomon, build from him and then import it on over to the Christian life.
Question asked: Clough replies: You mean when they adjust the chronology? The chronological adjustment that we’re talking about is this. All through the ancient east the pottery and the dating system, they keep using the words late, middle and new. In Egypt, Egyptian history is viewed as old, middle and new kingdoms. Generally the Exodus is supposed to have happened there on that time scale. The problem that I have with this as a Christian that believes the Bible is that this is precisely the time when Egypt was the strongest, and there’s not a shred of evidence inside of Egyptian history that anything profound happened then. I can’t reconcile the fact that we have all these notices in the Scripture about these plagues, and Pharaoh loses a son, half his army gets wiped out in the Red Sea, and there’s nothing there in the Egyptian history? Of course the answer is well, it was there and the Egyptians didn’t like to talk about it, so they suppressed the history. But there are some more problems with that.
If you go back to this point in history … by the way, this would be 1400 BC and that would make Solomon down here at about 900 BC, Solomon had a son, Rehoboam and the civil war started and then they got invaded by Egypt, they called the Pharaoh that invaded here Pharaoh Shesonk so they think they have a match. Velikovsky back in the 60s pointed out a few fallacies here. He has not been accepted. This chronological revision has later been repeated by a Seventh Day Adventist scholar called Donovan Courville, he wrote a two volume book in which he tried to revise the chronology the same way. Now I understand there’s a guy in England that just had his book reviewed on BBC that’s trying to do this. But Velikovsky went back to the end of the middle kingdom, and he noted that there was an Egyptian poet that described what, for all the world looks like the plagues. That was that papyrus Ipuwer that I mentioned last year in connection with the Exodus.
Then there was a dark ages in which Egypt went down in history and there was a group of ruthless people that invaded Egypt from the northeast, called the Hyksos. What Velikovsky argued is that the Hyksos, that we know from Egyptian history, the name Hyksos is an alter ego of what we know in the Bible as the Amalekites. Where did Israel encounter the Amalekites? It was after they left Egypt and they came on the destruction, Egypt had been destroyed by the plagues, they walk out of Egypt to the east and who do they encounter but these people that are coming down here called the Amalekites. Egyptian history says that something happened, the Egyptian middle kingdom and collapsed and they were occupied on the northeast side by the Hyksos. This period of time would account for the fact that during the conquest and settlement there’s not one mention from 1400 BC, see what we do then is we move the Exodus to here at 1400 BC, Solomon would be up here, 900 BC, just as the new kingdom started. The Bible doesn’t have one reference, you can check this out in the concordance, from the time of Moses to the time of Rehoboam, Solomon’s son, there is not one reference to Egypt as a contemporary power. Why? Why if Egypt is strong, surely they had interactions, good grief, Solomon’s known all over the world. And the Queen of Sheba pops up from nowhere.
So what happens is that Velikovsky pushes Egyptian history forwards, makes the middle kingdom come forward to 1400 BC instead of earlier, and Donovan Courville who was a conservative Bible believer believes that this kingdom, the middle kingdom and the old kingdom are mere images of each other, that what we’ve done is we’ve confused dynasty listings and this one is the name of the other one, and that further collapses down the time period for Egyptian history. The problem is, the more you get into it the more you see it’s largely built on conjecture. It’s like astronomy, we say oh, look, light travels at 186,000 miles a second, etc. therefore the universe is this big. Well how do we know that the speed of light is uniform in space? That’s what you encounter here, it’s the same thing, you get squishy when you get into dates, to lock up dates. I was told when I took biblical history at Dallas Seminary that the last date that you can really put any weight on from the secular side is 700 BC, once you go earlier than 700 BC, now speculation builds on speculation, because we don’t have any clocks so what we have is king lists.
The problem with king lists, like dynasty so and so, dynasty so and so, king, king, the problem with that is we don’t know if those king lists have the same problem that the book of Judges has, because there’s a debate among Christians that there’s not enough time for all those judges in Judges to be chronological, some of them may have reigned like this, while one was in one part of the country another one was in another part of the country, they could have been contemporaneous. And that’s the same problem you get into with these dynastic lists. Secular historians don’t like contemporary co-regents. What they want is to string them linearly, and that’s the debate, whether they’re linear. So it just basically gets back to the fact that like everything else I’ve studied in my life in these biblical questions, the deeper you get the more confused you get because you get into the real experts, the guys that are real honest, not the high school science teacher or something, you get into the people that really know their business and they say, well gee, we really don’t know.
Question asked: Clough replies: I’m not sure I remember the details; it’s very fuzzy what happened to Queen Hatshepsut. I just know that she died in obscurity because her son covered her up, he hated his mother.
Question asked: Clough replies: Yes, what you’re talking about goes back centuries. Remember back years ago before the communists screwed it up in Ethiopia, there was a man called Haile Selassie and he was Emperor for decades in Ethiopia. His code, his alter-ego name was “the lion of the tribe of Judah.” The reason that is, is that the Coptic Church in Ethiopia, which is south of Egypt, traces their lineage back into the Old Testament. Remember there’s an Ethiopia in the book of Acts, it brings the gospel down to Ethiopia, but before that guy was led to the Lord there were believers, Old Testament believers down in Ethiopia according to tradition. That’s where this Jewish business came up. They claim that they are part Jewish, and they do that because they claim that the Queen of Sheba came back pregnant, and she had a baby and that baby had Jewish blood, and that led to this. I haven’t studied that whole tradition, I just have studied enough to know that this is a very strong tradition in northeast Africa.
Question asked: Clough replies: That’s the theory, that she did something, and nobody understands why this woman, who was so brilliant, went off to God’s land, came back and then started altering things to the point where she really ticked off political enemies. I say it makes sense if she went to Israel and Solomon led her to the Lord, and she came back and she realized this pantheon has to go. But the problem was she couldn’t just walk in there and destroy it because the priests ran the country, it was like they are the government, they are the bureaucracy. So she must have had to wheel and deal her way in but it became obvious that this reigning queen wasn’t too supportive of the bureaucracy and they probably resented her. I think it’s true, that we don’t understand why her son hated his mother. It could be a psychological thing, but they think there’s more to it than that, that he was ashamed of what his mother did, or something, but whatever it was, he had a problem with her because he just buried every memory that he could find of anything his mother ever did. History is exciting and I think it would be so neat if we could see all this fit together, because to me we’re being taught history wrong. To me the glorious God of the Scriptures has had to have shown Himself repeatedly in history and the fact that we don’t get reports of that, either those reports are buried or we have totally misinterpreted history.
Question asked: Clough replies: Visionism is as old as Adam and Eve. That was what we studied two years ago, that’s why I entitled the Part II series “Buried Truths of Origins,” because man wants to suppress the fact that he’s responsible to a Creator. We conveniently forget that. Cyrus Gordon said the human race is afflicted from time to time with collective amnesia.