2 Chronicles 7-9: Golden Age of Israel

Chapter 7

In response to Solomon’s understanding of the gospel as to why and how the LORD’s steadfast love endures forever, the kindling fire of the LORD fills the Temple in v.1-3.  The manifold offerings were accepted (v.4-6), the offering overflowing into the middle of the court before the Temple because the bronze altar was not sufficient!  This is a beautiful time of worship, the type of overflowing love which the Father gives to us through His Son, hence the celebration of the Feast of Booths here between the 15th to the 22nd of the seventh month as described in Leviticus 23:

“33  And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 34  “Speak to the people of Israel, saying, On the fifteenth day of this seventh month and for seven days is the Feast of Booths to the LORD. 35  On the first day shall be a holy convocation; you shall not do any ordinary work. 36  For seven days you shall present food offerings to the LORD. On the eighth day you shall hold a holy convocation and present a food offering to the LORD. It is a solemn assembly; you shall not do any ordinary work.”  As I have explained here, the Feast of Booths is a feast which reminds us of Hebrews 11:8-10, of Abraham looking forward to the day of meeting the God the Father face to face, starting and ending the festivities with rest, foreshadowing the eternal Sabbath of New Creation.  With this “rest” in mind, Solomon sends the people away to their homes, joyful and glad of heart (v.10) because of the LORD blessing the Israelites through David and Solomon, symbolic of his actual blessing through his only begotten Son Jesus.

Jesus then appears to Solomon in the evening (v.12), He responds verbally to Solomon’s pleading in chapter 6, essentially stating that He has chosen and consecrated the Temple that His name may be there forever, His eyes and His heart there for all time (v.16).  Yet, again, v.17-22 is a reminder of the demise of Israel as the kings failed to walk with Christ – failing to receive the wisdom, the Spirit, whom Solomon asked for after he was anointed a second time as king.  Yet, the caveat is still v.36-39 in chapter 6 – that even if Israel does become a proverb and a byword among all peoples (v.20-22), a reminder of those who forsake the LORD, He will still forgive so long as Christ is their King – for His steadfast love endures forever.

Chapter 8

Now we turn to the daily life of the Israelite – and here we see Solomon assigning forced labour tasks to the Gentiles, the once-enemies of Israel; rather than destroying them, he extends his hand gracefully to keep them in the land although as bondservants of Solomon.  Contrarily, the Israelite enjoys other positions of work (v.9), a sign again of the “work” in new creation.  This “work” should be placed in the context of the various ministries and delegations in 1 Chronicles 27-29 under the ruling of David (v.14) – and the three annual feasts as described throughout Leviticus as reminders of the Trinity, from the Son (the Passover), to the Spirit (the Pentecost), and to the Father (Sukkot).

Here there is a seemingly strange interjection of Solomon’s visit to Ezion-geber and Eloth in the land of Edom, and together with Hiram, going to Ophir to obtain 450 talents of gold.  Matthew Henry observes it thus:

“He did himself in person visit the sea-port towns of Eloth and Ezion-geber; for those that deal much in the world will find it their interest, as far as they can, to inspect their affairs themselves and to see with their own eyes, Canaan was a rich country, and yet must send to Ophir for gold; the Israelites were a wise and understanding people, and yet must be beholden to the king of Tyre for men that had knowledge of the seas. Yet Canaan was God’s peculiar land, and Israel God’s peculiar people. This teaches us that grace, and not gold, is the best riches, and acquaintance with God and his law, not with arts and sciences, the best knowledge.”

It is indeed true that the Temple is already filled with gold, to convey the majesty of the LORD’s presence through Israel; yet Israel is not rich with gold itself but with other natural resources (Numbers 13:27).  Israel is therefore not a “self-sufficient” nation, but a nation which requires inheritance of resources from neighbouring nations, but not by becoming their allies or assimilating their practices (Deuteronomy 18) – but by preaching the gospel to them (Matthew 5:5) and teaching all to be meek before the LORD.  This is adequately expressed in chapter 9, with the Queen of Sheba’s visit (carrying spices and gold) immediately juxtaposed to Solomon’s expeditions for these resources.  One can presume that Solomon’s dedication to the LORD in the previous chapters, and his voyages to Ezion-geber, Eloth and Ophir have created the impression of a priest-king-evangelist, missional in his outlook and ensuring that other nations are, too, blessed by the gospel.

Chapter 9

See my commentary on the Queen of Sheba’s visit here.  Her contribution to Israel is described to have coincided with Hiram’s contribution – both bringing gold – one from Sheba, the other from Ophir (v.10) and rare elements for the Temple, Solomon’s house, and lyres and harps for the singers.

However, this is but the beginning of the famed “Golden Age” of Israel – and quite literally so.  From v.13-28, we see a variety of gold and silver brought in from explorers, merchants, from the kings of Arabia and governors of the land – used for shields (v.14-16), for overlaying a great ivory throne (v.17-18), for the king’s drinking vessels (v.20) – and the resources kept coming (v.21; making silver as common as stone v.27).  This grand depiction of the LORD’s material and spiritual blessing is summed in v.22-23 – “Thus King Solomon excelled all the kings of the earth in riches and in wisdom.  And all the kings of the earth sought the presence of Solomon to hear his wisdom, which God had put into his mind“.  They came not to receive items from Solomon – but simply to learn of the LORD’s wisdom!  Such was the glorious kingdom under the headship of a king who followed, sought, and met with Christ.  Never was the gospel so gloriously communicated in Israel, not until the time of Christ’s first coming.

2 Chronicles 7-9: Golden Age of Israel

1 Samuel 24: The restoration of spiritual Israel

This is our David who is being pursued by Israel, the man after man’s heart – Saul – what is he but a “dead dog”, and a “flea”? (v.14).  Yet once again it is David’s humility which drives people’s repentance.  Like his self-election in the defeat of Goliath (1 Samuel 17) whereby he was rejected by men, here it is by his rejection and purity that Saul’s heart is turned over just like the days when David played the soulful harp as mediation between Saul and the Father in heaven (1 Samuel 16:23).  Indeed, just as ‘out of the wicked comes wickedness’ (v.13), is this implication not applied to Saul’s life, that he is practicing wickedness by pursuing David our Christ who is freed from all wickedness in Whom is the Spring and Tree of Life (Psalm 1 and 2)?

There is no denial of David’s righteousness representing that of the persecuted Second Person of the Trinity.  “You are more righteous than I, for you have repaid me good, whereas I have repaid you evil” (v.17).  Is that not the focus of the gospel, that He died for men whilst we were sinners (Romans 5:8)?  That we are the very people taunting Him as He hung on the cross yet He repaid our insults with intercession for forgiveness (Luke 23:34)?  Saul is subject of David’s work of salvation for Israel on numerous accounts; his battles result in victory, yet Saul’s wars are endless (1 Samuel 14:52).

Furthermore, Saul has been in persistent denial of David’s status as the new and truly elected king of Israel.  Though his son had long recognized this truth and recommitted himself to covenanting with this Son of Man (1 Samuel 20:17), Saul is the hard-hearted and hard-necked Israel, more like his enemy the Philistines than the spiritual Israelite.  And like Jonathan, Saul finally recognizes the humble Bethlehemite in Jesus Christ – “Swear to me therefore by the LORD that you will not cut off my offspring after me, and that you will not destroy my name out of my father’s house”.  What forgiveness, completely contrasted to the death of Ahimelech and his father’s house!  Yet, both shall rejoice in heaven, both Saul and Ahimelech, for it is by David’s victory that salvation is achieved; and though Stephen had died at Saul’s hands (Acts 7), the love of God in Jesus Christ’s cruciform work is not removed from Paul either (Romans 8:38).  It is by the tearing of the robe of Samuel that we foresee the tearing of the kingdom from Saul’s grips (1 Samuel 15) so we see David cutting the corner of Saul’s robe (v.5-7) in the darkness and shadows of the Old Testament, and upon seeing light we see that the kingdom was never in Saul’s hands.  David’s action is a symbol of the removal of the kingdom of heaven from physical Israel – yet David is also an Israelite, but of mixed heritage.  The kingdom was and has always been in the global international church, filled with the children of Abraham who is not from the seed of Jacob.

And just as we return home, David continues to go up to the stronghold (v.22) interceding for us, always the persistent watchman on the wall (Ezekiel 3:7;  Hebrews 7:25).  It is by his watching that we are safely in the arms of the Trinitarian communion; it is by his prayers that we have entered into the intra-Trinitarian love (John 17); and it is by his victory that the light of God has shone brightly on the cross, and even brighter in new creation.  This is the beauty of the restoration of Israel, that Saul shall turn back from his envious rampage; that is the reason why Jacob was elected instead of Esau (Romans 9-10), because it is in Israel that all are saved, for Israel is the first chosen nation of Christ as the new creation is about establishing the forever-Christocratic nation of God around Whom we surround (Revelation 22:14).  Israel was never entirely rejected – in David’s words, “I will not put out my hand against my lord, for he is the LORD’s anointed”.  Indeed, even by the whisperings of the rejected around him to execute the first king of Israel (v.3-4), Israel was never meant to be rejected (Ezekiel 39:25; Amos 9:14; Zechariah 8).  Israel was meant to have her glory restored, but only upon the receiving of the wonders of Christ’s mediatory work; there are Israelites who have been saved for Christ prior to Saul’s final acceptance, as shown by those who plundered the Philistine city after Goliath’s defeat; not to mention Jonathan’s covenant with Christ as a foreboding of the inclusion of the house of Jonathan and his descendants into the book of life (Exodus 32:32), ultimately inclusive of Saul who is the shadow-head of Israel.  May David be glorified, that all who stand in Israel are saved!  That the Rahabs, the Naamans, the Egyptians, the Japheths, the Queens of Sheba are also given true glory in the true David of Bethlehem.

1 Samuel 24: The restoration of spiritual Israel