And Solomon rested with his fathers and was buried in the city of his father David. And his son Rehoboam became king in his place.
I. GRANDEUR WITHOUT GODLINESS. The historian is drawing his records of the reign of Solomon to a close; and, in taking his view (or his review) of it, he has much to say of the splendours of his throne and of his surroundings; of the multitude of his horses and chariots, with their stalls and stables; of his store of gold and silver; of his apes and peacocks; of his ships and his cedars; but he says nothing of his service of Jehovah; nothing of the gratitude he showed to God for the very bountiful blessings he had bestowed upon him, and the high estate to which he had raised him, and the special gifts of mind with which he had endowed him. Hem there is a painful absence, a silence that speaks only too forcibly. When Solomon came to review his own life and to examine his own career in the light of early influence and special privilege, he must have felt constrained to be silent, or, if he spoke at all, to use the language of confession. There had been much grandeur but little godliness in his reign. And what had been the proved value of it?
1. The delight it had ministered to him had been of a less noble and less elevating kind, if not actually ignoble and injurious.
2. It bad led his mind away from sources of joy which would have been far worthier in themselves and far more beneficial in their influence.
3. It had raised a standard of excellency before the eyes of his subjects which can have had no enlarging and elevating effect upon their minds.
4. It must have awakened the cupidity of surrounding sovereigns and the envy of many among his subjects.
5. It must have been in painful, not to say guilty, contrast with much poverty in many hundreds of Hebrew homes.
6. It entailed a heavy penalty on the people in the shape of burdensome taxes. Grandeur without godliness is a serious sin and a profound mistake. It is as guilty as it is foolish. And so we find the man who "passed all the kings of the earth" in wealth and in a certain order of wisdom (ver. 22), going down into fault and failure because he lost that "fear of God" which he ought to have understood was "the beginning of wisdom." Unfaithfulness to the principles he learned in youth sent him down into his grave "prematurely old," his kingdom weakened, his character corrupted, his reputation bearing upon its face a dark and ineffaceable stain. How unspeakably preferable is -
II. SIMPLICITY AND SACRED SERVICE. Rather than have grandeur without godliness, who would not live in obscurity with a name that does not travel beyond his "native hills," in a home unfamiliar with ivory and gold, living on homeliest fare and dressed in plainest raiment, with the love of the heavenly Father in the heart, the sense of his abiding favour in the soul, Christ's happy and holy service for the heritage of the life, and his nearer presence the promise of the future? Before honour is humility, before grandeur is godliness, before gold and silver is a noble and a useful life. - C.
And Solomon slept with his fathers.
1. Why is this? For it was not so with David, his father, whose last days, and almost last thoughts, last prayers and exhortations, are fully detailed.
2. Nothing on the first sight, in popular judgment, appears more excellent and full of hope than that petition of Solomon when, just called to the throne, he asked of God wisdom and knowledge, "that I may go out and come in before this people." God granted him his request. His reign proved to be one of unexampled splendour. Prosperity almost to overflow poured in upon the nation. But as the monarch's glory increased, his personal character declined. He sank morally and religiously. He became tyrannical and despotic, and grievously oppressed his subjects. Then intense sensuality set in. So deeply did he fall that his name has been connected with the practice of the magical arts and sorceries denounced in the law of Moses.
3. How shall we account for this? Was it that from the first his heart was not set upon God, but upon self? that when he asked at first for wisdom to rule God's people, he only thought of the honour he would gain thereby? Or is it that we here witness in an individual the corrupting influences of a civilisation not merely luxurious, but high and cultivated, when it discards the faith in God?
4. Whichever it be, by both alternatives we are warned that wisdom, even high, intellectual, and varied, is not godliness, and cannot take its place; that where it is unsanctified, a worm lies at its root.
5. It is a solemn thought that the temple, the culminating point of Solomon's glory, was the harbinger, and in a degree the cause, of the decline of his nation. The exactions and the oppressive burdens its extravagant cost entailed upon the people alienated them, made the monarchy hateful, and prepared the nation for revolt:
6. Twice since has the same thing been witnessed. The sale of indulgences to help the building of St. Peter's led to the disruption of a large part of Christendom. So also the gorgeous palace of the French monarch, the memorial of his boundless luxury and consequent oppression, was the prelude of that great convulsion from which the nation has never recovered. Such is the logic of mere human splendour and luxury.
7. What was the end of this renowned monarch? What was the final stamp set upon his character? Scripture is silent on the point, and Christendom has always been divided in regard to it. Those who have thought and hoped the best of him have rested their hopes chiefly on the tenor of the Book of Ecclesiastes. But no tone of repentance pervades this solemn writing; no utterance of contrition or even personal remorse; not one such anguished cry for forgiveness as pervades several of David's psalms; no humiliation appears in it, not even such as Ahab's; no confession, even such as Saul's. Solomon appears to pass away and, "make no sign,"
(Archdeacon Grant, D. C. L.).
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