Twenty years later, after the completion of the temple and Solomon’s palace, Solomon continues to build “and all the chariot cities and the cities of the cavalry, and all that Solomon desired to build in Jerusalem, in Lebanon, and in all the land of his dominion” he built! Solomon building up his cavalry goes against the Lord’s instructions for kings (Deuteronomy 17:16). The Lord desires for His people to trust Him and not in horses and chariots – “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; but we will remember the name of the Lord our God” (Psalm 20:7).
“Now Solomon brought the daughter of Pharaoh up from the City of David to the house he had built for her, for he said, ‘My wife shall not dwell in the house of David king of Israel, because the places to which the ark of the Lord has come are holy.’” Several commentators concluded that Solomon knew that his pagan wife was unholy and that his marriage to her was not pleasing to the Lord. However, at this time, Solomon is still worshiping the Lord and has not turned to foreign gods. Eventually Solomon will marry many more pagan women, which will lead to his downfall. But for now, Solomon is faithful to the religious practices of the Lord at the temple – “Then Solomon offered up burnt offerings to the Lord on the altar of the Lord that he had built before the vestibule, as the duty of each day required, offering according to the commandment of Moses for the Sabbaths, the new moons, and the three annual feasts—the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks, and the Feast of Booths.”
Solomon raises up a labor force from the people who were left in the land. He doesn’t make the Israelites forced laborers, but he uses them to oversee the labor force. However, at some point Solomon puts his people under heavy labor because when his son, Rehoboam, becomes the next king, the people are going to ask him to lighten the heavy burden that his father put on them (1 Kings 12:3-5).
“Now when the queen of Sheba heard the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the Lord, she came to test him with hard questions… So Solomon answered all her questions; there was nothing so difficult for the king that he could not explain it to her.” When she sees his wealth and wisdom with her own eyes, she professes “Blessed be the Lord your God!” The Lord pours out His blessings upon His people to not only bless them, but so those around them will take notice and praise Him! When Jesus arrives on the scene, He will rebuke religious leaders with this story of the queen of Sheba when they ask Him to perform a sign to prove Himself. In response, Jesus will say “An evil and adulterous generation asks for a sign… The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here” (Matthew 12:38-42).
The Lord is the One who made Solomon great —“So King Solomon surpassed all the kings of the earth in riches and wisdom. And all the kings of the earth sought the presence of Solomon to hear his wisdom, which God had put in his heart.” However, Jesus is declaring in His statement to the religious leaders that He is greater than Solomon because He is! He is God! The religious leaders will not believe that Jesus is Lord, even after He performs numerous miracles. Their request for a sign will just be another attempt to find something on Jesus to bring Him down, and Jesus knows this. The story of the queen of Sheba points out the fact that a pagan queen traveled from far away to see the splendor of the Lord. However, Jesus, the Son of God in the flesh, will stand right in front of these religious leaders’ faces, yet they will not believe, and they will be condemned for it.
We end the reading with a description of all the silver and gold Solomon acquired for himself, as well as the horses, some of which he imported from Egypt for trade. Solomon is disobeying several rules laid out by God for His kings – “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.’ Neither shall he multiply wives for himself, lest his heart turn away; nor shall he greatly multiply silver and gold for himself” (Deuteronomy 17:16-17). In Solomon’s later years, he will write the Book of Ecclesiastes, which we will soon read, where he will conclude that there is no meaning to be found in worldly pursuits and possessions —it is all meaningless apart from the Lord.
Solomon is just a man, like his father David. Although the Lord anointed them as kings of Israel, the people are still in need of a better King, the perfect sinless King Jesus Christ. Solomon is going to suffer consequences for his own disobedience, but Jesus is going to suffer, not for his own disobedience, but for the sins of the world. Soon we will read about the consequences as a result of Solomon’s rebellion against the Lord, but before we get to that part of the story, tomorrow we begin reading some of Solomon’s writings. So keep reading. (2 Chronicles 8:1-18, 1 Kings 9:15-10:13, 2 Chronicles 9:1-12, 1 Kings 10:14-29, 2 Chronicles 9:13-28, 2 Chronicles 1:14-17)