God appears to Solomon again

Chapter 9

God appears to Solomon again

v1 So Solomon finished the *temple of the *Lord. He finished the royal palace and everything else that he wanted to do.

v2 Then the *Lord appeared to him again as he had at Gibeon. v3 The *Lord said to him, ‘I have heard your prayer and all that you asked me to do. I have made this *temple *holy which you have built. People will give honour to me there for always. I will watch over it and I will love it for all time.

v4 Be honest. Have a sincere heart as your father David did. Obey my laws. Obey all the commands that I give you. v5 If you do these things, your own *descendants will always rule *Israel. I promised this to your father David. I said to him, “Your *descendants will always rule over *Israel.”

v6 But suppose that you or your sons turn away from me. Perhaps you do not obey the laws and commands that I have given to you. Then you go and *worship other gods. v7 Then I will remove *Israel from the country that I have given to them. I will *reject this *temple as a place where people *worship me. Then people will laugh at *Israel and it will be like a lesson for other people. v8 This *temple is very great now. But then, people will be full of terror when they see it. They will ask, “Why did the *Lord do this to the land and the *temple?” v9 People will answer. “It is because his people turned away from the *Lord their God. He had brought their *ancestors out of Egypt. But they *worshipped and served other gods. That is why the *Lord brought this *disaster on them.” ’

God appeared to Solomon as he had done in chapter 3. Then he promised to give him the wisdom that he needed to rule the country. Here he made another promise to Solomon. He would *keep the *covenant which he made with David his father. But the promise depended upon whether or not Solomon and his *descendants obeyed God. They might turn away from God and *worship other gods. If so, the *temple would become a ruin (a building that people have broken). Other people would learn a lesson from this.

Jesus promised that he would give his people *everlasting life. ‘They will never die. Nobody can take them away from me’ (John 10:28). However, Colossians 1:23 says this. ‘You must continue to be loyal.’ Some people may turn away from their beliefs. This may show that they were never really Christians at all. We need to have the fruit of God’s *Spirit in our lives (Galatians 5:22-23).

In verse 3, God explains how special the *temple was. It was not merely a place for *worship or for ceremonies. In the original language, God says that his ‘name’, his ‘eyes’ and his ‘heart’ would always be there:

·    The word ‘name’ means God’s honour, character, authority and strength.

·    The word ‘eyes’ means that God would watch his *temple and his people. He would watch them in order to protect them. And he would also watch them in order to show kindness to them.

·    The word ‘heart’ should remind us how much God loves his people. He would show that love to them by means of the *temple.

v10 It took Solomon 20 years to build the *temple and the palace. v11 King Hiram of Tyre had given Solomon all the wood and all the gold that he wanted. So Solomon gave him 20 towns in Galilee. v12Hiram went to see these towns, but he did not like them. v13 He said, ‘I do not like the towns that you have given me, my brother.’ Therefore, he called the area Cabul (without value). People still call it that today. v14 Now Hiram had sent the king 4 tons (4000 kilos) of gold.

Solomon gave Hiram 20 towns in Galilee. Some people think that he did this in order to *borrow some gold from him. But Hiram did not like the towns. 2 Chronicles 8:2 tells us that Hiram gave them back to Solomon. Some people think that the towns were not very good ones. Other people think that Solomon took the gold from King Hiram. Solomon intended to return it later, so he lent the towns to Hiram. In other words, Hiram would receive income from the towns until Solomon returned the money. And then Solomon got the towns back.

So we cannot be sure about the facts of this matter. But we can see clearly that Solomon was not generous. And that surprises us. We would expect Solomon to be very generous to Hiram. Hiram had done many things to help Solomon when he was building the *temple. And Hiram had either lent or given a large quantity of gold to Solomon. But these towns disappointed Hiram. Clearly, he expected something better.

This chapter continues with an account of how Solomon forced people to work for him. Solomon was learning how to control people. And he was learning how to gain unfair benefits from other people. In the end, such activities would upset people greatly. They were part of the reason why Solomon’s *kingdom divided in two after his death.

v15 Solomon forced people to build the *Lord’s *temple. They also built his palace, the defences and the city wall of Jerusalem. He also built again the cities called Hazor, Megiddo and Gezer. v16 The king of Egypt had attacked and *captured Gezer. He had burned the city. He had killed the *Canaanites who lived in it. Then he gave it to his daughter, Solomon’s wife, as a wedding gift. v17 So Solomon built Gezer again. He also rebuilt Lower Beth Horon, v18 Baalath and Tadmor in the desert in his country. v19 He also built all his cities for his stores. He built the towns for his horses and *chariots. He built whatever he wanted in Jerusalem, Lebanon and in all his *kingdom.

v20-21 Solomon used as his slaves the *descendants of the people called *Amorites, *Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. These people were not *Israelites. They were groups of people. These groups had all lived in Canaan before the *Jews lived there. The *Israelites had been unable to kill them all when they *captured the country. They are still slaves today. v22 But Solomon did not make any of the *Israelites into slaves. They were his soldiers, his officials, his officers and his captains. They were the people who controlled his *chariots and horsemen. v23 They were also the chief officials who controlled Solomon’s schemes for building. And 550 officials controlled the men who did the work.

v24 Solomon built the city’s defences. He did this after the king of Egypt’s daughter moved into her palace. Until then, she lived in the city of David. Solomon had built the palace for her.

v25 Three times a year Solomon *sacrificed *burnt offerings and *fellowship offerings. He did this on the *altar that he had built for the *Lord. He also burnt *incense in front of the *Lord when he offered these *sacrifices. So he obeyed God’s instructions about the *temple.

v26 King Solomon also built ships at Eziongeber. That is near Elath in Edom. It is on the shore of the Red Sea. v27 Hiram sent some sailors with experience. They served in the ships with Solomon’s men.v28 They sailed to Ophir and they brought back 14 tons (14 000 kilos) of gold. They gave these to King Solomon.

This section tells us about how Solomon carried out his schemes for buildings. It says that only foreigners were slaves. But the *Israelites had to work as well. They also paid big taxes. These were two of the reasons why the *kingdom divided after Solomon’s death. Note that Solomon built God’s house first, then his own house. Afterwards, he built the one for his wife. He also built defences for Jerusalem city.

Three times a year Solomon offered *sacrifices to God on the *altar. This would be the *Festival of bread that would not rise. It would also be the *Festival of Weeks and the *Festival of Shelters.

Hiram’s workers built the ships and his sailors operated them. Many people think that Ophir was in Southern Arabia. Some people think that it was Sri Lanka. The gold was worth many millions of pounds or dollars in today’s money.

Solomon had become a very wealthy and powerful king.