SOLOMON’S ACHIEVEMENTS 2 Chronicles 5–9
“May Your eyes be open toward this temple day and night, this place of which You said You would put Your Name there” (2 Chron. 6:20).Solomon’s early concern for God’s glory, and the wisdom that attracted rulers of surrounding nations, serves as an example of the ministry of the Davidic Ruler yet to be born.
A “type” is an Old Testament person, event, or institution that corresponds in some significant way with a New Testament person, event, or institution. Solomon, as one who became king in accordance with God’s promise to David, corresponds in some ways to THE Descendant of David, Jesus Christ, who will fulfill all elements of that promise and rule forever. The Chronicler selected those achievements of Solomon which exemplify the ministry of the coming Messiah. Specifically the Chronicler draws our attention to Solomon’s concern for God’s glory, shown in the dedication of the temple. He also draws our attention to the fact that Solomon’s fame spread across the ancient world, and drew Gentiles to Israel. As Isaiah 60 says of the Messianic Age, “Nations will come to Your light, and kings to the brightness of Your dawn. . . . And all from Sheba will come, bearing gold and incense and proclaiming the praise of the Lord” (vv. 3, 6). In these things at least Solomon is a type, or example, of the Messiah that the Chronicler was sure would come.
Solomon’s concern for God was shown in bringing the ark to the temple (5:1–14), in praising God for fulfilling His promise (5:1–11), in dedicating the temple with prayer (vv. 12–42) and sacrifice (7:1–10), and was confirmed by God’s appearance to Solomon (vv. 11–22). The prominence of Solomon’s kingdom (8:1–18), fame (9:1–12), and splendor (vv. 13–31), suggest the glories of a messianic kingdom to come.
Understanding the Text
“The priests then brought the ark of the Lord’s covenant to its place in the inner sanctuary of the temple” 2 Chron. 5:1–14. When construction was complete, the temple furnishings were carried in by the priests. The occasion was one of great celebration. Every priest was consecrated in order to carry out the massive sacrifices. The most significant act was placing the ark of the covenant in the holy of holies, where it would remain, unseen except once each year by the high priest. The temple, bright with the beauty of the gold and craftsmanship lavished on it, was nothing apart from the presence of the ark within it. All its beauty was a tribute to that object which symbolized the forgiving presence of God. Today God is present within the hearts of believers. No miracle of medical science can scan our hearts and detect the divine Spirit. But, like Solomon, we can lavish concern on providing the Lord with as beautiful and holy a residence as possible. Through the beauty of our lives others may sense the reality of the God within, who is the source of all our love and goodness. “While the whole assembly of Israel was standing there” 2 Chron. 6:1–11. Like Solomon, the believer today speaks both to other human beings and to God. What do we say to others? Solomon’s theme as he spoke to all Israel was simple. “God is faithful.” God had promised David that Solomon would sit on his throne, and that Solomon would build a temple for the name of the Lord. What God said had now been fulfilled. So Solomon reminded Israel of the divine promise, and praises God for His faithfulness. When we share our faith with others it’s usually more effective to witness to God’s faithfulness than to engage in a theological argument. We too can testify that God has kept His Word to us, and point others to the promises He makes to them in Christ. “Then Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord” 2 Chron. 6:12–42. What do we learn from what Solomon said to the Lord? For one thing, we learn that there is no situation in which God’s people cannot call on God to forgive, and to restore lost blessings. “My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place” 2 Chron. 7:1–16. Solomon dedicated the temple to the Lord, and in response fire fell from heaven and the glory of the Lord, as a visible cloud, filled it. This evidence that God chose to dwell in the temple moved an awestruck Israel to worship and praise. This was undoubtedly what some have called a “mountaintop experience.” It was a moment in time when God’s people experienced His presence; when they felt especially close to the Lord and were, for the moment, wholly dedicated to Him. The problem with mountaintop experiences is that sooner or later we find ourselves again in the valley. The emotion fades; the pressures of daily life intrude. All too often we even make unwise choices and wander from God’s pathway. Then, suddenly, we realize we’ve lost that intense glow, that sense of dedication, that overpowering love for God, we felt on the mountaintop. How do we recover after we’ve wandered deep into some dark valley? After God had revealed His glory to an ecstatic Israel, He gave this prescription to Solomon. “If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” There is a way back. Humble yourself. Pray and seek God’s face. Turn from wicked ways. God promises to hear, to forgive, and to heal. God remains on the mountaintop, as His presence remained in the Jerusalem temple. However deep our valley, God invites us to turn, and climb back to Him. “Pharaoh’s daughter” 2 Chron. 8:1–11. In ancient times treaties were frequently sealed by the marriage of a royal daughter to a foreign king. However, Egypt resisted this custom. The fact that Solomon was given Pharaoh’s daughter in marriage is strong evidence of the reputation, power, and glory of Israel and of Solomon himself. “You have far exceeded the report I heard” 2 Chron. 8:12–9:30. The splendor of Solomon’s kingdom and his worldwide reputation exemplifies the influence David’s future, greater Son will have. The Chronicler emphasized Solomon’s successes, but the story of the visit by the Queen of Sheba is particularly important. She represents all the Gentiles, who will come to Jerusalem in the Messiah’s day to learn from the One who will fulfill all God’s promises to David. The story is significant for us too. We are to attract non-Christians to Jesus by the quality of our lives. The sour believer who grimly confronts every acquaintance with real or supposed sins is not the kind of witness God calls to the stand to testify to His goodness.
When to Pray (2 Chron. 6)
The better we know God, the more comfortable we are in prayer. This simple truth is illustrated in Solomon’s prayer dedicating the Jerusalem temple. Solomon understood completely that God is transcendent. “The heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain You,” Solomon cried. “How much less this temple I have built?” Yet Solomon also realized that God is present, here and now. “Will God really dwell on earth with men?” The wonderful and amazing answer is, “Yes!” And, in Solomon’s day, the symbol of that vital, living presence of God with men was the temple God had chosen as the place to put His name. But do we truly realize that God, who is too great to be contained in the vast universe, is with us always? Or do we at times forget His commitment to be “with men”? Certainly when we’ve sinned, or fallen short in some awful way and are overcome by shame, we’re likely to feel far from God. And even to feel that He has left us too. Perhaps that’s why Solomon goes on in his prayer to list occasion after occasion when God’s hand would lie heavy on Israel, and to ask that then, when Israel is furthest from God, He might hear “when a prayer or plea is made by any of Your people Israel.” What a reminder for us, as we read Solomon’s long list of times when there is a need to pray but we may hesitate in fear or doubt. God has committed Himself to be “with men.” Because God transcendent is also God present with us, we can come to Him even when we feel farthest away, and know that He hears our prayer.
God is never farther than a prayer away.