Solomon in All His Glory
July 23rd, 1961 @ 7:30 PM
SOLOMON IN ALL HIS GLORY
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1 Kings 3:5-14
7-23-61 7:30 p.m.
Let us turn in the Book to 1 Kings, 1 Kings chapter 3, 1 Kings chapter 3. The title of the sermon tonight is Solomon in All His Glory, and the reading of our passage will be God’s promise to him, and then the sermon will be how God fulfilled that glorious promise. First Kings chapter 3, and we shall read together verses 5 through 14, 1 Kings 3, verses 5 through 14, now together:
In Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, Ask what I shall give thee.
And Solomon said, Thou hast showed unto Thy servant David my father great mercy, according as he walked before Thee in truth, and in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with Thee; and Thou has kept for him this great kindness, that Thou has given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day.
And now, O Lord my God, Thou hast made Thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in.
And Thy servant is in the midst of Thy people which Thou hast chosen, a great people, that cannot be numbered nor counted for multitude.
Give therefore Thy servant an understanding heart to judge Thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this Thy so great a people?
And the speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing.
And God said unto him, Because thou has asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life; neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies; but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment;
Behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee.
And I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches, and honor: so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee all thy days.
And if thou wilt walk in My ways, to keep My statutes and My commandments, as thy father David did walk, then I will lengthen thy days.
[1 Kings 3:5-14]
Now the sermon tonight is how God followed through and how God was faithful and Solomon was unfaithful, and how all of that was fulfilled just as the Lord had said. Now, Saul was content to dwell in Migron. He was content to dwell under a pomegranate tree [1 Samuel 14:2]. And then a little later, he was content to dwell under a tamarisk tree on the high place of Gibeah [1 Samuel 22:6]. He was a tribal chieftain, the king over Israel [1 Samuel 10:1. David built him a house in the city of Zion, just where Mount Moriah runs down to the Kidron Valley [1 Chronicles 15:1].
But when you come to the days of Solomon, you step out of the simplicity of the days of Saul and the warring days of David, into the luxury and the uxoriousness of an Oriental court. God gave to Solomon all of those things that a man’s heart could imagine: worldly things, riches, and fame, and glory, and honor, and all of the world marveled at the favor and blessing of heaven upon King Solomon. For example, here in chapter 4, you have recorded the princes who sat at his table and who were the lords in the land: There was Azariah; there was Elihoreph and Ahiah, the secretaries of state; there was Jehoshaphat the historiographer, the chronicler, the recorder; there was Benaiah the captain of the hosts; there was Zadok and Abiathar, the priests; there was Azariah and Zabud, sons of Nathan, Nathan the brother of Solomon—the nephews of Solomon. They are men who are charged with being superintendents, farmers general—to supply all the necessities for the court. And then there was Ahishar who is the king’s chamberlain, his high steward. In order to get to see the king, you had first to go through this functionary. Then here was Adoniram who was over the tribute [1 Kings 4:1-6]. That is the first time you come across that office. For when you have a great, lavish court, it takes heavy taxation to support it. And so unpopular was this man’s office, that in the successor, he was stoned to death [1 Kings 12:18].
And then Solomon had twelve officers, and each one of those officers was responsible to provide for the court for one month [1 Kings 4:7]. And to show you the elevation of those twelve officers, two of them here in verse 11 and verse 15 and in 1 Kings, fourth chapter, they are sons-in-law of Solomon [1 Kings 4:11, 15]. Those two out of the twelve had married the daughters of the king. Then in verses 22 and 23, you have a very interesting note about the lavishness of that court and its size. “And Solomon’s provisions for one day were thirty kors of fine flour” [1 Kings 4:22]. That’s two thousand five hundred eighty gallons of fine flour. And for one day, to feed that court, it took three-scores, it took sixty measures of meal. It took five thousand one hundred sixty gallons of meal. In other words, to feed that court that surrounded Solomon, it took two thousand five hundred eighty gallons of fine flour, five thousand one hundred sixty gallons of meal, it took, according to verse 23, every day: “Ten fat oxen, and twenty oxen out of the pasture, and an hundred sheep besides…” And then it named the wild game, “harts, and roebucks, and fallow deer, and fatted fowl” [1 Kings 4:23]. By the consumption of that much food, Solomon had around him at least ten to fourteen thousand courtiers. What a court! What a court!
And then he had, in verses 24, 25; he had dominion from the Euphrates River down to Egypt, and from the Mediterranean Sea into the great lost waste of southern Arabia [1 Kings 4:24]. How was he able to sustain a vast court like that? Well, I will tell you why.
Did you know that if you had nothing of taxes to pay for the military establishments of the United States, did you know we would be rich, everyone of us? The millions and the billions and now the trillions of dollars that we are pouring into armament, and into armies, and into defense: all of that is wasted!
Did you know there are people who have the persuasion that prosperity comes with war and preparation of war? Nothing could be more unreasonable or a greater denial of economics than a thought like that. The reason Solomon had this vast affluence was because the people were at peace. And the energies of the nation, and the entire prosperity of the nation was poured into these things that the people enjoyed themselves. And if you ever think that prosperity comes from war and from armament, and if we were to cut out these things, the people would immediately be impoverished, why, just carry it to its logical conclusion. When you make a battleship, you don’t promote the prosperity of a people! And when you make guns and tanks and when you teach men to march and to drill, you don’t make for the prosperity of the people! All of that is wasted!
For if that kind of a thing made for prosperity, then what we better do is this: divide our great population into half, and let about ninety million of us make balloons, and let the other ninety million of us puncture them as they’re made. This bunch makes them over here, and we puncture them over here. And just keep it up; just keep it up. That is a false idea of prosperity.
But when you’re making a battleship, you’re not making refrigerators and automobiles. And when you’re pouring your tax money into all of these things of armament, then you are not building houses with it; and you’re not buying rugs, and furnishings, and draperies, and furniture, and all the other things that go into the affluence and prosperity of a people. That is one of the fallacious things of all time, that war makes for prosperity. It doesn’t. It makes for heavy, grievous, burdensome, oppressive taxation; and by and by it makes for bankruptcy and for the ruin of the economic life of a people!
Now the reason all of this was possible in the days of Solomon was because they were at peace. And the energies and the wealth and all the abilities of the nation were poured into the prosperity of the people, and Solomon and his Oriental court lived at the top of the heap. He lived in the glory of the most gracious era that the Jewish people ever knew.
All right, now let’s look at how Solomon fared. Turn over here to the seventh chapter of 1 Kings, and briefly we are going to see what he built. Now, Solomon built the temple—and next Sunday we are going to talk about Solomon’s temple—now, Solomon built, he built his house. It took seven years to build the temple. He spent thirteen years building his house [1 Kings 7:1]. You have it translated here in the revised version, in the Authorized Version, you have, “he built also” [1 Kings 7:2]. Well that word “also” ought to be translated “for.” “For he built,” and then you have the story of the building of his house.
First of all, there was the House of the Forest of Lebanon, 1 Kings 7:2, “He built the House of the Forest of Lebanon.” Then it describes there how big it is. And they called that beautiful palace “the Forest of the House of Lebanon; the House of the Forest of Lebanon” because of the great columns that were in it, and it looked like a great forest of Lebanese cedars [1 Kings 7:2-3].
And the most remarkable thing about that palace was this: that on the walls were two hundred shields of solid gold, big enough to cover a man’s body. And there were three hundred shields of solid gold that you call “bucklers,” big, round shields that a man would hold on his arm, those beautiful shields must have been gloriously, intricately traced and decorated and chased, and all of the things that went with them [1 Kings 10:17]. Can you imagine having a palace, and in that palace were two hundred shields as big as a man made out of solid gold and three hundred bucklers made out of the solid gold? [1 Kings 10:16-17]. That is just one thing that he had in that beautiful palace. Then in the sixth verse: and in front of the House of the Forest of Lebanon, he had a porch of pillars [1 Kings 7:6].
And then, look in the next verse, and then further away, he made a porch for the throne, and that throne is described here [1 Kings 7:7]. The world had never seen anything like it. It was made out of ivory and overlaid with pure gold, and it was raised six steps on all four sides [1 Kings 10:18]. And then the back was rounded, and the arms were like lions. And there were three lions, as those steps came up, on each one of the four sides. There were twelve lions, representing the lion of the tribe of Judah [1 Kings 10:19-20]. And it was on a sea of glass. It was on mirrors, and when the queen of Sheba came and looked, it looked as though the throne sat on the beautiful blue sea itself. The world had never seen anything like it!
And then in the eighth verse: then he had the secluded, cloistered court, and house where all of his wives and all of harem was kept. And he had there a spatial and beautiful palace for the house of Pharaoh and for Pharaoh’s daughter [1 Kings 7:8]. Then it says all of these were made out of the beautiful and polished stones and overlaid with cedar and chased with gold [1 Kings 7:9].
Then we turn over to the ninth chapter of the Book of 1 Kings. You have in the ninth chapter at verse 26; you have the story of the fleet of Solomon which was a marvelous and unusual thing [1 Kings 9:26]. At the Gulf of Aqabar, down there on the Red Sea, Solomon built a fleet. And they went to Ophir, that’s, to India, and they brought back four hundred twenty talents of gold every time they made a trip to India—a talent is a weight, about what a man could carry—and in one trip they would bring to Solomon four hundred twenty talents, all that a man could carry, four hundred twenty of them in gold. They would do that in one trip. Now look over here in chapter 10 and verse 11: “And the navy of Hiram brought gold from Ophir, and they brought in from Ophir great plenty of almug trees and precious stones,” all that brought from India [1 Kings 10:11].
Now turn over here to chapter , chapter 10 it is, verse 22: we are looking at this navy. “And the king had at sea a navy of Tharshish” [1 Kings 10:22]. Now, some people used to think that that navy went to Spain. No, a great navy such as the Phoenicians used that went to Spain was called the Tyrian navy, a Tharshish navy. And once in three years—it took them three years to make that journey to India—and once in three years came the navy of Tharshish, bringing gold, and silver, and ivory, and apes, and peacocks, and almug trees [1 Kings 10:22].
Now all of those are Sanskrit names; that’s the reason that we know that Ophir refers to India. Solomon’s navy went to India and brought back, listen, I have never in my life seen jewelry, jewels, precious stones as in India. Those maharajas and those leaders over there put their fortunes in gems. And I spent two days in one of the great cities of India just sitting there, looking at one of those Indian merchants as he spread those jewels before me. He said there were only three precious stones. The first most precious is an emerald; the second most precious is a ruby; and the third most precious is a diamond; and he used diamonds just as decorations.
When finally, after he showed me the rubies and the emeralds and all, I said, “Listen, don’t you have any diamonds?” He said, “I got them by the bucket full, but they’re not worth anything.”
“Law, me!” I said, “Not worth anything?” I said, “Just bring some out and pass them to me.” I wish I could have brought one back for each one of you. He had them there like headlights; and yet he used them just for decoration. I never saw such beautiful, incomparably and inexpressly glorious necklaces in my life, bracelets, arm-bands, never! From India and those ships that went to India brought back loads of gold and precious stones.
And then, can you imagine what gog-eyed multitudes crowded around the court of king Solomon to look at those wrinkled apes? Never had seen anything like that in their lives, and bless your heart every time I look at one of them I sometimes halfway believe that he might be somebody’s fifth cousin. I know people that look just like that. Astonishing, amazing, I don’t know why I’m looking at you. Why, I can just imagine that.
Most people never see anything like that. They never heard of anything like that. And when he brought those apes back, those monkeys, oh, I can imagine the whole world turning upside down. The little kids, all of them going around there, looking at those things that Solomon had, nobody ever saw anything like that. And peacocks, you know to this day, I don’t believe a peacock is a real thing. I just cannot imagine anything that pretty. When he struts and he spreads out the feathers of his tail, and all those iridescent colors begin to shine—you know, he does all of that to attract a female. Isn’t that remarkable? Isn’t that unusual? And we do the same thing today, do the same thing today, exactly just like that peacock. Just exactly!
Every once in a while a mother will come up to me and say, “Oh, pastor what am I going to do about this ragamuffin boy of mine? I don’t know why, he is the despair of my life. He won’t wash his ears. He won’t comb his hair. He won’t tie his tie. He won’t shine his shoes. I don’t know why, he is the despair of my life.”
I say, “Now, listen mama. Listen mama. Don’t you let it worry you about that boy. You just wait awhile, and upon a day and upon a day, there will be traipsing by, some floosie little old thing with golden hair and blue eyes and dressed in pink, and that boy will put axle grease on his hair. That boy will shine his shoes. He will tie his tie a half dozen different ways. Man, he’s got it!” Just like that peacock trying to impress some pretty little thing. Isn’t that a sight? Isn’t that a sight? Oh, they thought it was too. All the peacocks that he brought back, and the almug tree, that’s sandalwood; and out of it they made the psalteries and the harps and all the things.
Are we going to stay here all night or am I going to quit? They were amazed. They were amazed. And the king made silver to be in [Jerusalem] as stones, and cedars made he to be as sycamore trees that are in the vale for abundance. None of Solomon’s vessels were of silver. It was counted as nothing in the days of Solomon. For every vessel Solomon had was made out of solid gold. Imagine that, beneath his dignity to drink out of a silver cup. It had to be made out of beaten and pure gold. Oh, it was a remarkable thing!
Now let me close, let me close, for I must. You know what God said to him? God said to him, “And Solomon, and Solomon, if you will listen to Me and keep My commandments, and walk in My ways and observe My statutes, I will lengthen your days, and I will establish your kingdom. And it will live forever if you will just listen to Me and walk in My ways” [1 Kings 3:14].
Now I want you to look at what Solomon did. One of the first things that he did, it says over here in the Book of Deuteronomy, Deuteronomy 17:14 and following, Deuteronomy 17:14 and following. Look at what God says:
When thou art come unto the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, and shalt possess it . . . and I will set a king over thee, then thou shalt in any wise set him king over thee, whom the Lord thy God shall choose: one among thy brethren… [And now look at it] And 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 not henceforth return that way.
First of all: he is not to have horses and not to have chariots [Deuteronomy 17:16]. Second: “Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away” [Deuteronomy 17:17]. Third: “Neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold” [Deuteronomy 17:17].
And it shall be with him, that he shall follow therein all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord . . . that his heart be not lifted up above his brethren, and that he turn not aside from the commandment, to the right, or the left: to the end that he may prolong his days in his kingdom; he, and his children, in the midst of Israel [Deuteronomy 17:19-20].
All right, what did he do? Well sir, I want you to know the first thing he did. He began to multiply chariots: “And Solomon had forty thousand stalls of horses for his chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen” [1 Kings 4:26].
You just ought to read Josephus as he describes Solomon’s court; just a little sentence or two about it. Josephus says that when Solomon went out, he went out in the most glorious chariot the world had ever seen, made especially for him by Pharaoh down in the land of Egypt, and pulled strong by prancing steeds. And then he was followed by archers on horses, and then they were followed by flaming youth, chosen for their stature and for their beauty and for their long, raven hair. And Josephus said that their hair was sprinkled with gold dust. And when Solomon went forth in his glorious chariots, and these horsemen riding behind him, and those youths on horses with their raven locks, glittering in the gold of it, sparkled and shined and glistening in the sun, he said there was nothing like it in all of the earth. Do you think that contributed to humility? Do you think that contributed to lowliness of spirit and of life?
That’s the first thing, multiply his chariots; and then, and then—I haven’t time to expatiate on it. Just exactly how would a man expatiate on seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines? How many of you just got one wife? Seven hundred, seven hundred wives! Seven hundred! Why, man, no wonder he died in the youth of his life, seven hundred of them, and three hundred concubines! [1 Kings 11:3]. And God said, “You are not [to] do that” [Deuteronomy 17:17].
And then the Lord God said, “And you are not to multiply to yourself gold and silver” [Deuteronomy 17:17]. You’re not to do it. Give it to God! Give it to God! And you know, could I just pause here to say to our people, I think one the sorrows that I observe in life is this, that a man will hoard, and hoard, and hoard, and hoard, and hoard, and hoard, and then die and leave it all behind. Some of the richest people we’ve had in this church, keep, and keep, and keep, and keep, and die and leave it all behind, and the government takes practically all of it, and the rest of it, people fight over and get angry and go to court about, and on and on and on.
I think you ought to have enough to live on, and you ought to have enough for security, and you ought to have enough for your children, and you ought to have enough for life. I think God would be pleased with us, “He that provideth not for his own, and especially for those of his own household, has denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel” [1 Timothy 5:8]. You ought to do that under the commandment of God.
But as God prospers you and as the Lord blesses you, don’t multiply silver and gold to yourself. Give it to God! Give it to the Lord! Bless His name with it. Use it for Him; Solomon didn’t do that. Everyone of those commandments Solomon broke. And you remember what you read? “If you will do this,” said God, “I will lengthen your days” [1 Kings 3:14]. So his days were cut off. And, “I will establish his kingdom” [2 Samuel 7:12] and his kingdom was torn apart. And ten-twelfths of it were destroyed forever [2 Kings 17, Amos 9:8], and finally the other two-twelfths were [2 Kings 20:17-18].
I had a whole lot of things to say. Let me just conclude it. And Solomon said here as he wrote in his book, “I gave my heart to these things, and I gave my heart to those things, and I gave my heart to other things” [Ecclesiastes 1:13, 17], “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man” [Ecclesiastes 12:13]. And that’s it! That’s it!
“Solomon in all of his glory,” Jesus said, “one of these lilies, one of these lilies, Solomon in all of his glory is not arrayed like one of these” [Matthew 6:29]. And I could imagine His holding up one of those flowers of the field. “How soon it passes; how soon it perishes. And Solomon in all of his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”
And that’s so true in life; if you had the world, and all of its banks, and all of its wealth, and all of its gold, and all of its affluence; it all was yours just for a little while, and then it’s gone. And even then, it’s nothing compared, nothing comparable to the favor and the blessing of God, even as God is able to work in the fashion one little humble flower.
Solomon said at the end of the way, in his old age, “Hear me, hear me, for the whole of man is blessed, not mirth and not laughter and not fame and not riches and not the multiplication of pleasures, but the whole of a man is reverently to look unto God [Ecclesiastes 12:13]. “The beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord” [Proverbs 9:10], reverently look unto God and to walk in His ways.”
Oh, that God would put such a heart in us, to bow in His presence, to open our heart to His Word, and to walk in His pilgrim way. That’s the blessed life; that’s the full and the rich and precious life, and that’s the life God offers to us tonight in Jesus our Lord.
We are going to sing now, going to sing. And while we sing our song, somebody you give his heart to Jesus, come and stand by the pastor. Somebody you put his life in the fellowship of this church, come and give the preacher your hand. If you are in the balcony, down one of these stairwells, at the front or the back; or if you are on this lower floor, into the aisle, and you are close to an aisle in this church, this wonderful church, step out into the aisle and come down to the front. “Preacher, here we come. This is my wife. These are our children.” Or, “This is just my wife and I. There are just two of us.” Or is it a youth or a child? As God shall say the word and lead in the way, would you come tonight? On the first note of the first stanza, “Here I am, preacher, and here I come.” While we stand and while we sing.