Tuesday 21st June 2022

1 KINGS 9

It is now 24 years into Solomon’s reign and the two gigantic building projects are completed (4 years before the temple was begun + 7 years building the temple + 13 years building Solomon’s palace).  Just as he did at the beginning of Solomon’s reign, The Lord appears again to him and speaks some personal warnings and promises.  Two main criteria were always uppermost in God’s mind: ‘Walk faithfully before me with integrity of heart and uprightness’ and ‘Observe all my commands and laws’.  A heart relationship and an obedient lifestyle!  If both these criteria were satisfied, then the result was that Solomon and his heirs would permanently rule over Israel and that the temple would be preserved as a perpetual centre of worship of The Lord.  This was the covenant agreement that God initiated and kept to.

The reverse was true for failure to keep to the requirements of this covenant; the list of consequences was much more detailed – given that God knew in advance that this would be the course of action that Israel would actually choose!  The destruction of the first temple was fulfilled under the Babylonian invasion, when the remaining population of Judah (the Southern Kingdom of the divided nation) was taken into exile.

In order to build the temple and palace, it appeared that more gold was required than originally anticipated and that Solomon gave twenty Galilean towns as collateral to Hiram, King of Tyre who had supplied the gold.  See 1 Kings 9:11-14 and 2 Chronicles 8:2,18.  The latter passage indicates that Solomon and Hiram had some kind of joint venture trading agreement and that later on much more gold was acquired by Solomon – this enabled him to remove the ‘mortgage’ on those twenty towns (which Hiram didn’t think much of in any case) and bring them back under Israelite rule.

Some descendants of the original inhabitants of the Land of Canaan were still alive at that time – in violation of God’s command that they be destroyed – and Solomon instead chose to use them as unpaid slave labour.  There is no criticism of this course of action in either Kings or Chronicles, however.  Pharaoh, King of Egypt, captured the city of Gezer, which the Ephraimites had never been able to conquer, and gave it to Solomon as a wedding dowry for his daughter, whom Solomon subsequently married.  In 2 Chronicles 8:11 it also mentions that one of the reasons that an additional palace was built for her was that, as a non-Israelite, it would not have been right for her to live in a place where the Ark had been housed.

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