DEAD MEN’S BONES
Before Solomon began to fall away from
the ways of the LORD, and integrated the worship of the various Gentile deities
into the temple he had built, he saw himself as the prophesied Son of
David who would bring the glory of God to the entire world. His kingdom
was the wealthiest in the world at the time, and his temple was the most
magnificent temple ever built. As most know, he was considered the wisest man
in the world.
“So king Solomon exceeded
all the kings of the earth for riches and for wisdom” (I Kings 10:23).
It seemed obvious that the
prophecy given to his father David, wherein the prophet Nathan
said that David’s Son would sit on the throne of Israel forever, applied
to him. For instance, when David was at the peak of his kingdom
(and desired to build a temple for the LORD), God dispatched Nathan to tell
Him it would be David’s Son who was to build the great temple:
“I will raise up thy seed
after thee, which shall be of thy sons; and I will establish his kingdom. He
shall build me an house, and I will stablish his throne forever” (I
Chronicles 17:11, 12).
The adjacent heathen religious
traditions were in place in the Gentile nations surrounding Israel long before
Solomon, as evidenced by place names in time periods preceding Solomon’s
generation. For instance, hundreds of years earlier, as the Israelites were
fleeing the Egyptians in the great Exodus, the LORD told Moses the specific
escape route He desired His chosen to use.
“Speak unto the children of
Israel, that they turn and encamp before Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the
sea, over against Baal-zephon” (Exodus14:2).
The name “Zephon” is a
rough equivalent of the Hebrew term for the North, and the compound name
links the term to a religious site associated with the devilish deity Baal.
Since this was about 1550 BC (over 500 years before Solomon), we can see some
form of the veneration of Baal was already in place. This is no
surprise, since the Egyptians, who had kept the Hebrews in slavery for 430
years, had their various gods as well. We would do well to remember the words
of the prophet Amos, who mentioned the heathen gods Moloch
and Chiun, that the Israelites honoured during their days in the
wilderness – again, hundreds of years before the days of Solomon.
“In the wilderness forty
years, O house of Israel…ye have borne the tabernacle of your Moloch
and Chiun your images, the star of your god, which ye made to
yourselves” (Amos 5:25, 26).
The point is, when Solomon built
his magnificent temple, he was certainly aware of the various deities of the
nations surrounding Israel; but Solomon was also aware of the LORD’s call
to Israel informing them that He had chosen them to be a nation set above
all other nations.
“For thou art an holy
people unto the Lord thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special
people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth”
As we’ve shown, the role of
the mediator between God and those who are apart from Him is
repeatedly seen as Israel. To repeat, the prophets tell us that Israel
was the agent between the LORD and the rest of the nations. Recognition of this
triune architecture in the LORD’s redemptive plan, is crucial in
understanding why God chose a people who would interface between Him and the
“…thou, Israel, art
my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend. I
the Lord have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will
keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the
Gentiles” (Isaiah 41:8, 42:6)
If we approach this alignment with
simple logic, it’s not difficult to see the dark presence which opposes
God’s agenda, would be arrayed against the LORD’s servant Israel.
From the Egyptians who sought to retain the servitude of the Israelites, to the
various tribes that consistently warred against the young nation, conflict was
predictable. To rephrase that thought, if the devils could destroy Israel, the
Lord’s chosen would not be able to fulfill their role as God’s
emissary to the much larger body of humanity.
The epitome of this clash was seen
in the tumultuous military victories of David. This fact was recounted by the
LORD when King David purposed to build a great temple for his
“I took thee from the
sheepcote, from following the sheep, to be ruler over my people, over Israel:
and I was with thee whithersoever thou wentest, and have cut off all thine
enemies out of thy sight” (II Samuel 7:8).
As we learn from David’s
colorful history, when he remained in accord with the Spirit of the LORD, he
was unbeatable. David’s cumulative victories, in which he acquired the
wealth of those he had vanquished (in addition to the tribute he received from
other nations that yielded to him), created the most dynamic power of the time.
Thus, David determined it was time to put that enormous wealth to
work, and build a great temple for the LORD.
The temple would be
his crowning achievement, and it would become an integral part of the glorious
story of God, which would be consistent with Israel’s calling as the
nation which represented the LORD to the rest of the world. Instead of the LORD
meeting Israel in a tent (known as the tabernacle), David would
build a permanent dwelling place for God. However, the LORD God almighty, is
above and beyond the constraints of time. As He responded to David’s
intent to build Him a temple, He looked far into the future at the eternal
temple, which the New Testament tells us is the body of Jesus Christ.
“I am God…declaring
the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are
not yet done” (Isaiah 46:10).
Interacting with King David
in 1,000 BC, the LORD could see David’s distant descendant Jesus
Christ (David’s “Son”), and the body of Christian
believers who form the heavenly temple, and the city of New Jerusalem.
“And I John saw the holy
city, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride
adorned for her husband. Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will
dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with
them, and be their God”
“Ye are the temple of
the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them,
and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people”
(Revelation 21:2, 3; II Corinthians 6:16)
Thus, the LORD told David that the
great king would not build a temple for Him, but God would build a house
for David, through the person of David’s Son – and
“David’s Son” would sit on the throne of that temple
“Also the Lord telleth thee
that he will make thee an house. And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt
sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed
out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build an house
for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever. I will be
his father, and he shall be my son” (II Samuel 7:11-14).
The New Testament clearly informs
us Jesus is a direct descendant of David, and it is
self evident the people of Judaea took the Old Testament statements concerning
the temple to be a Messianic prophecy, for they repeatedly called Christ
the Son of David.
“The book of the generation
of Jesus Christ, the son of David” (Matthew 1:1)
“And when Jesus
departed thence, two blind men followed him, crying, and saying Thou Son
of David, have mercy on us” (Matthew 9:27)
“And all the people were
amazed, and said, Is not this the son of David?” (Matthew
After David went to his eternal
reward, and his son Solomon came to power, Solomon presumed he
was the one to fulfill the prophecy which stated the son of David would build
the LORD a house. Thus, with the great wealth that David had accumulated, and
the great peace which ensued as a result of David’s incredible military prowess,
King Solomon was perfectly positioned to build the magnificent temple of
Alas, as we all know, when Solomon
took his many wives from among the Gentile nations, their presence was the
element which turned His heart away from the LORD.
“But king Solomon loved
many [foreign] women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the
Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites” (I Kings 11:1).
God had not only instructed the
Israelites that they were forbidden to allow any altars, images, or groves to
be constructed in the dominion of Israel, He had strictly prohibited mingling
the Gentiles with the Israelites in any marital sense.
“Neither shalt thou make
marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his
daughter shalt thou take unto thy son. For they will turn away thy son from
following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the Lord
be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly” (Deuteronomy 7:3, 4).
The first wife mentioned was the
daughter of the Egyptian Pharaoh, and she was the first of the foreign
royals that Solomon was to marry. She is described in the Bible as the Queen
of Sheba. Tradition tells us they had a child, and the Bible says that
she was so overwhelmed with Solomon and the glory of Israel and the temple, she
exuberantly glorified the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
“And when the queen of
Sheba had seen all Solomon’s wisdom, and the house that he had built, and
the meat of his table, and the sitting of his servants, and the attendance of
his ministers, and their apparel, and his cupbearers, and his ascent by which
he went up unto the house of the Lord; there was no more spirit in her”
(I Kings 10:4, 5).
After regaining her composure, she
exclaimed that when she heard about the amazing grandeur of Solomon and his
temple, “the half was not told me” (I Kings 10:7), and she felt
compelled to testify of the special role of Israel in the eyes of God
– even as she blessed the LORD.
“Blessed be the Lord
thy God, which delighted in thee, to set thee on the throne of Israel: because
the Lord loved Israel for ever….” (I Kings 10:9).
Under the Old Testament, Gentiles
were allowed to convert to the Israelite law, and worship the God of Israel.
Thus, the Queen of Sheba’s marriage to Solomon would have seemed
appropriate under the laws of Moses, as she clearly responded to the greatness
of the LORD – to say nothing of acknowledging Israel’s covenant
relationship as chosen of God.
We don’t know how much time
elapsed after Solomon married the daughter of Pharaoh before he married again,
but given her enthusiastic response to the earthly kingdom of God under the Old
Covenant, he may very well have concluded this would continue to be the result
of additional marriages to the various royal families. Remember, Solomon
perceived the prophecy to David that his son would sit on the throne of Israel
forever applied to him, as the flesh and blood Son of David. He
said as much at the dedication of the temple:
“And Solomon stood before
the altar of the LORD…and he said, Lord God of Israel…[you have]
kept with thy servant David my father that [which] thou hast promisedst
him…saying, there shall not fail thee a man in my sight to sit on the
throne of Israel” (I Kings 8:22-24).
Perhaps Solomon imagined that his
physical offspring would rule each of the nations for the LORD, oand this was
the fashion in which the light of God would shine to the Gentiles through
Israel. However, it’s clear his heart deceived him, as the
princesses, wives, and concubines of the nations were not to turn from
their vain worship of the devils, to follow the LORD. It should go without
saying the LORD’s plan for the prophesied “Son of David” did
not include diminishing the light of the LORD through disobedience to his statutes.
At first, the fervor toward the
LORD on the part of the great king would have compelled the wives to keep their
religious beliefs to themselves. As a case in point, when Solomon dedicated the
temple, he was definitely aware of the fact that Israel was to mediate the
light of the true God to the Gentiles:
people of the earth may know thy name, to fear thee, as do my people
Israel; and that they may know that this house, which I have
builded, is called by thy name” (I Kings 8:43).
In the earlier days of
Solomon’s reign, he would have required his wives to follow Yahweh, but
as he aged, and grew more deeply attached to so many women, they gradually
brought him to the point where he allowed their religious sentiments.
“For it came to pass, when
Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods”
(I Kings 11:4).
When Solomon was seduced by the
devils worshiped by his wives, he still maintained primacy for the LORD, in
that any adjacent temples are conspicuously absent. Solomon arranged for
“high places” for the minor deities, undoubtedly rationalizing the
LORD was still the primary God, as the massive temple was dedicated to Him;
whereas the many Gentile gods were relegated to inferior groves, altars, and
images. However, as most of us have learned, “a little leaven, leaveneth
the whole lump” (Galatians 5:9).
Further, as Solomon
acquiesced to the presence of additional deities, we have every indication that
he saw a role for the various “gods,” in addition to the primary
LORD of heaven. From there, it is a short step to the heretical idea these
Spiritual beings functioned as a divine council, directed by the
God of Israel, which formed a hierarchical pantheon of supernatural beings.
Thus, as Dead Men’s
Bones suggested back in chapter IV, the apostate concept wherein the
LORD of Israel supposedly rules over a divine council of heathen
“gods” (seen in the Baalim writings written in Syria
centuries after the time of Solomon), had spread to the religious
writings of the Gentile nations which were mingled with the
“And the Lord was angry
with Solomon, because his heart was turned from the Lord God of Israel”
(I King 11:9).
-- James Lloyd
To Be Continued
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