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4. And the king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there; for that was the great high place: a thousand burnt offerings did Solomon offer upon that altar.
5. In Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, Ask what I shall give thee.
IV. SOLOMON'S WISE CHOICE, 1 Kings 3:4-9. Early in his reign, probably as soon as the kingdom was established in peace, and free from danger, Solomon summoned the chief military leaders, the judges, governors, and the chief of the fathers (2 Chron. 1 : 2), to inaugurate his reign with a great religious festival. They met at Gibeon, the great high place near Jerusalem, because here was the ancient tabernacle so associated with their early history, and the brazen altar made by Bezaleel nearly 500 years before, under the shadow of Sinai ; and because here Zadok, the newly appointed sole high priest, had charge of the sacrifices. Here Solomon offered a thousand burnt offerings, which served also to provide the necessary food for the immense assembly.
The Object, and the Result, of this great meeting was to unite the people under Solomon, to show the nation that he stood by the religion and the God of his fathers, to extend the influence of religion over the nation, to learn the sentiments of the people, and to bring all into harmony with himself and his plans. No kingdom can endure unless founded on deep religious sentiments. And no individual character is at its strongest or greatest without a religious basis.
Solomon stood on the threshold of a great, prosperous, well-organized kingdom, the most hopeful the world had seen. He might make it the ideal kingdom of the world, proclaiming the one true God, and true worship, and perfect righteousness.
It was in such an atmosphere, and with such preparation, that the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream.
Dreams. It is a fact, still unexplainable, that God does yet at times manifest his will to his people in dreams. It does not follow, however, that all dreams have any real significance in our lives. They “ become significant when they are the concentrated essence of the main stream of the waking thoughts, and picturesquely exhibit the tendency of the character.” - Dods. The visions of men have had powerful influence on the world. The visions of the prophets have opened doors of glory into the future, to draw men on to a better life. “ God comes to every one in youth, if not in such a dream as Solomon's, at least in some other way as real.” Dr. J. R. Miller.
“Daughters of time, the hypocritic days,
Bread, kingdoms, stars, and skies that hold them all." - Emerson.
The Summons. 5. Ask what I shall give thee. There was no limitation in the offer. All ways of life were thrown open to him. He might choose anything since God in his omnipotence would supply it. This was a test of what was really uppermost in his desires.
Choosing is a test of character. It is not what we get, but what we choose ; not money or poverty, but the love of money ; not success in gaining pleasure, but what we put first in our life, that tests us as to what we really are. What we have and what we do often depend on many things outside of ourselves. What we choose is the work of our hearts and wills.
Illustrations. Temptations to a wrong choice meet every young person, in many ways. He cannot escape from them, but he can resist them, and make the right choice. “ The proverb says : We cannot prevent birds of ill-omen from flying over our heads, but we can keep them from building their nests in our hair. These thoughts may flit by, but unless you hold on to them they will do no harm. Let them go.
A man in the woods seeing his friend had caught a wildcat called to him, 'Shall I come and help you hold him?' 'No,' he answered, 'I wish you would come and help me to let him go.' It is here that you need help, to let your wrong thoughts go.' It is really quite easy. You hang on to them by a power called 6. 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 hast kept for him this great kindness, that thou hast given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day.
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. 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?
10. And the speech pleased the LORD that Solomon had asked this thing.
attention. All you have to do is to relax your grip and they drop out like a penny out of your hand ; they do not have to be pulled like teeth.” The Y. M. C. A.'s Two States.
The Conditions Determining the Choice. First, the memory of what God had done for his father. So we are influenced by God's goodness to our fathers, and their gratitude to God, and their following of God, to ourselves choose what is right in the sight of God.
Second. His work was laid on him by God. The fact that God has put a man in a position of trust or duty creates an obligation to fulfil the trust and perform the duty. Whatever God gives us to do, he will enable us to carry on to its fulfil
If therefore we are sure that we are in the place where God has put us, it is incumbent upon us to choose what is right, and will enable us to fill that place best.
Third. He was young and inexperienced, as compared with his father, who had had a considerable training before he came to the throne. I know not how to go out or come in. This expression is proverbial for the active conduct of affairs. Solomon had as yet no experience in governing men. This was a strong reason for asking what he did.
Fourth. The work to be done was very great. The nation was great ; a turbulent people, often going astray, often contending with each other, with strong wills and an impulsive temperament. Should he make mistakes there were plenty who might be opposed to him, and brothers of full age ready to lead them.
The same four reasons still exist why every child should make Solomon's wise choice. God has been infinitely merciful to him in the past. He is “ heir of all the ages.” God has given him a place and a work in the world. He is young and inexperienced ; the responsibility is great ; the issues of eternal moment ; life or death depends upon the choice.
The Choice. 9. Give therefore, in view of all these considerations, an understanding heart. Wisdom for the administration of his duties, wise principles, and wisdom in the application of them to the nation. What Solomon asked for was practical wisdom, sagacity, clearness of judgment and intellect in the administration of justice and in the conduct of public affairs. It would also include an aptitude for the acquisition of the higher branches of philosophical knowledge, natural and moral, which constituted the learning of his age.
But it meant even more than this. Solomon's own descriptions of wisdom imply that it rests upon a moral basis. No man can be a wise judge or wise king who is not first a good man. " The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”
V. THE DOUBLE BLESSING, 1 Kings 2 : 10–15. And the speech pleased the Lord. Why? (1) It was right, noble, unselfish, like God himself. (2) It rendered it possible for God to give him large measures of the best things in all the universe. (3) It furnished an opportunity to give many other things. God loves to give. He gives us all we can beneficially receive. The more he can give us the better he is pleased.
11. And God said unto him, Because thou hast 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;
12. 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.
13. And I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches and honour: so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee all thy days.
14. 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.
11. Because thou hast . . . not asked for thyself. God names some of the things which Solomon might have chosen ; things which many a king of that age would have considered the first thing of importance, — long life, not so common among kings then as it might have been ; riches, the aim of multitudes of people, kings and commons alike ; and considered by many the source of all other good things worth while; the life of enemies, which would have made the other two more probable. Because he had not asked one of these things, God would give him a double blessing.
The First Blessing. The Wisdom he asked for. Instances of
Solomon's Dream. his wisdom are given in the chapters that follow. His building of the temple together with his gardens and palaces, his water works and city improvements, governmental plans and commerce, – are all proofs of the blessing he had received. So that there was none like thee, etc. This has been literally fulfilled in history. His name still remains the symbol of the highest wisdom in this world's affairs.
The Second Blessing. The Worldly Blessings for which he had not asked. Both riches and honor ; see the following lessons.
14. And if thou wilt walk in my ways : I will lengthen thy days. This promise was conditional. It would not be wise to lengthen the days of an unrighteous man. As the condition was not observed (1 Kings 11 : 1-8), the right to the promise was forfeited, and it was not fulfilled. He died at the age of 60, ten years younger than his father David.
The ancient proverb," the good die young,” is not proved by the facts. While there are always many exceptions to such rules as these, yet it may safely be said, that the doing of God's will does on the whole lengthen life.
15. And Solomon awoke; and, behold, it was a dream. And he came to Jerusalem, and stood before the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and offered up burnt offerings, and offered peace offerings, and made a feast to all his servants.
15. And Solomon awoke ; and, behold, it was a dream. But its results were real, because the dream expressed what Solomon really was, and did actually choose.
VI. CHOOSING THE BEST THINGS. There are some who say that Solomon did not choose the best, but only the second best. Wisdom is always light. Worldly wisdom is light for this world, and for this world's work is as much better than folly as walking in the light is better than groping in the dark. But it is not a substitute for piety ; it is the instrument of piety, adding to its usefulness and value. All Solomon's wisdom did not prevent him from falling into sin and folly.
Still we are told in verse 3 that " Solomon loved the Lord.” His very choice proved that he had “the fear of the Lord which is the beginning of wisdom.” He was first devoted to God's cause, the cause of religion, the cause of God's people ; and now he wanted the wisdom needed to fulfil his duties, and carry on God's work. He was unselfish.
What is True Wisd and How Can We Get It? “ The mind of God sees that to be folly which we think to be wisdom (1 Cor. 3:18-23). The late Professor Hodge suggested one time that he who attempts to convert the world by mathematics, or metaphysics, or moral philosophy is foolish, and his wisdom is folly.'
Kemp. If we want to know the characteristics of true wisdom, which cometh “ from above,” through faith in Jesus Christ, we may read them in James 3 : 17.
“ Has it occurred to you how much our life is made up of choices ? We choose to rise about six instead of seven in the morning. We choose or reject certain food for meals. We decide to read Ben Hur and reject Adam Bede. We choose Frances for our chum rather than Mildred. We resolve to study music instead of painting. Shall it be this or shall it be that ? Choose we must. A refusal to choose is in it. self a choice.
“A boy said to a middle-aged millionaire, 'It must be great to be rich. Just think what you can have.' The man replied, “My boy, you can eat three meals a day, and that's all I can do. I can only wear one suit of clothes at a time. A modest sum can make you comfortable in your own home. Many a time I've had money in my pocket, but my heart's been aching. Some day the doctor is going to say to me,
"I can do nothing more for you ; better settle up affairs ” — and all the money I have won't bring health.
My boy, one day God offered me something far greater than money ; he offered me life and salvation in his Son Jesus Christ. I accepted him and I am rich. He has wisdom, he has power, he has wealth, he has eternal life, and since he lives within me I have these, for they are within him. This is the supreme offer God makes to man, and the offer is to all. Will you accept him ?' And he did. Have you?" - Mrs. L. D. Baldwin.
LESSON X (23). - September 5.
THE BUILDING OF THE TEMPLE. - 1 Kings 5:1-8: 66.
PRINT 1 Kings 8:1-11.
Devotional Reading : Psalm 100.
Lesson Material : 1 Kings 8:1-11.
Junior Topic : Solomon BuildS THE TEMPLE.
Lesson Material : i Kings 8:1-11.
Memory Verse : Neh. 10 : 39 (We will not, etc.). Intermediate and Senior Topic : PUTTING OUR BEST INTO THE HOUSE OF GOD. Topic for Young People and Adults : THE VALUE OF A HOUSE OF WORSHIP.
Additional Material : i Kings 8 : 27-53 ; Psalm 122.
THE TEACHER AND HIS CLASS. preparation for the asse
ssembly, and the
gathering of the people from all parts With the building of the temple came of the country. It is, however, possible a new era in the development of religious that the dedication was in advance of the power in Israel, for this temple centralized entire completion. religious interest, as do the great power plants, such as at Niagara Falls." This
THE ROUND TABLE. application can be made by the pupils, with a little guidance.
FOR RESEARCH AND DISCUSSION. The Primary grade should see in the
David's preparations for the Temple. Temple God's house, and should learn The sources and the cost of the materials used. how we should treat it, how we should The place and form of the Temple. behave in it, and why we should love it. Its size and its furnishings. The Juniors can learn in addition The order of exercises at the dedication.
Why was so much money expended on the Temple? something of the glory and beauty of Is there danger of making our churches too costly? Solomon's Temple.
The outward buildings as symbols of the spiritual life. The Intermediate and Senior pupils can be led to see why we should have THE TEACHER'S LIBRARY. churches in which to worship God, and why we should put into them our best Stanley's History of the Jewish Church, thought, to make them suited to the and Edersheim's The Temple and Its work that must be done in them, and Services, are still first rate, although they the best materials. The older ones can may be found only in second-hand book briefly discuss the question as to whether stores, and the older libraries. or not the church should be the most F. 0. Paine's Solomon's Temple. beautiful building in the town.
Sanday's Sacred Sites of the Gospels For the Young People and Adults describes the place where the Temple this is an excellent opportunity to study was built, although Herod's Temple then the tangible value of the house of wor- occupied it. Prof. George Adam Smith's ship to the town. The communities Jerusalem. All the Bible Dictionaries without such buildings can be compared and any good history of Israel will treat in various ways with those possessing of this theme. Skinner in The New them, to see the actual influence of the Century Bible, and Farrar in the Ex posichurch building upon the town. If it is tor's Bible. possible to get a speaker, or at least Letters between Solomon and Hiram, literature from the Church Building king of Tyre, are found in Eusebius, and Society, or the Home Missionary Society, also in Josephus' Antiquities, VIII, 2 : the hour will be found intensely interest - 6, 7, 8. ing.
PLAN OF THE LESSON. THE LESSON IN ITS SETTING.
SUBJECT : Building the Temple of God. Place. - Jerusalem. Perhaps also in- I. David's PREPARATIONS FOR cluding Gibeon.
TEMPLE AT JERUSALEM, 1 Chron. Time. — The Temple was begun in
28 : 1021; 29: 1-19. the fourth year of Solomon's reign, and II. SOLOMON'S PREPARATIONS FOR THE finished in seven and a half years. It
BUILDING, 1 Kings 5:1-18; 2 was completed in the eighth month of
Chron. 2:1-18. the eleventh year (1 Kings 6: 37, 38) III. THE BUILDING OF THE TEMPLE, and dedicated in the seventh month
I Kings 6:1-38 ; 7:13-51; of some year, presumably the twelfth.
2 Chron. 3:1-4 : 22. This would bring its dedication in IV. THE CEREMONIES OF DEDICATION, B.C. 1011, or Assyrian, B.C. 960. The
i Kings 8:1-66 ; 2 Chron. 5–7. time between the completion and the V. PUTTING OUR BEST dedication would be needed for the
HOUSE OF GOD,