In 2 Chronicles 8-9 we see the relations between Solomon and the Gentiles. In 2 Chronicles 8 we see
1. which cities Solomon builds and fortifies (verses 1-6),
2. which workmen he uses (verses 7-10),
3. what provisions does he make for his Egyptian wife (verse 11),
4. how he keeps the temple service as it is arranged by Moses and his father David (verses 12-16) and
5. his trade with the nations (verses 17-18).
In Psalm 72 we read a prayer for the king and his son. In that psalm the rule of Solomon is described. With Psalm 72, the second book of Psalms (Psalms 42-72) closes. In Isaiah 60 we read a description of the glory of the coming kingdom of peace, where the power of the nations is brought to Him. Both sections can be connected to 2 Chronicles 8.
1 - 6 Solomon’s Building
1 Now it came about at the end of the twenty years in which Solomon had built the house of the LORD and his own house 2 that he built the cities which Huram had given to him, and settled the sons of Israel there. 3 Then Solomon went to Hamath-zobah and captured it. 4 He built Tadmor in the wilderness and all the storage cities which he had built in Hamath. 5 He also built upper Beth-horon and lower Beth-horon, fortified cities [with] walls, gates and bars; 6 and Baalath and all the storage cities that Solomon had, and all the cities for his chariots and cities for his horsemen, and all that it pleased Solomon to build in Jerusalem, in Lebanon, and in all the land under his rule.
Solomon reigned for forty years. About the building of the house of the LORD he did seven years (1Kgs 6:38) and about his own house thirteen years (1Kgs 7:1), that is twenty years together (verse 1). Solomon is a builder. He builds the house of the LORD and his own house (verse 1); he builds the cities which Huram gave him (verse 2); he builds Tadmor and builds in Hamath (verse 4); he builds upper Beth-horon and lower Beth-horon and he fortifies cities (verse 5); he builds all he desires (verse 6).
We are also builders. The only question is whether we are good builders or bad builders. We must build upon the foundation, “that is Jesus Christ” (1Cor 3:11). It is also important that we build with good material, that is to say that we bring the biblical doctrine that is really for building up the church and that we live as the Bible tells us. If we learn wrong things or if we allow sins in our lives, we do not build up the church, but we break it down.
Solomon started building these houses in the fourth year of his reign (2Chr 3:2). That means that more than the first half of his reign is over and the second part of his reign has arrived. We are then in the year 946 BC. In this second part of his government the decline begins. This can be read in 1 Kings, because there the kingship is described from the point of view of the responsibility of the king. In 2 Chronicles it is about God’s counsel. Here the reign of Solomon ends with a painting of the glory, as the Lord Jesus will possess it in the kingdom of peace.
Solomon is a man of great learning, but he does not spend his time only studying. He is also active. His scholarship leads him to act wisely. Here he is working on fortifying his land. Building and fortifying in a time of peace is necessary because the enemy is always lurking.
We must protect ourselves against savage wolves who will come in among us, not sparing the flock (Acts 20:29), against people who cause who cause dissensions and occasions of stumbling (Rom 16:17), against sectarian people (Tit 3:10-11), against false brethren (Gal 2:4-5), against false teachers (2Pet 2:1), against people who like Diotrephes want to be the first (3Jn 1:9).
7 - 10 The Workmen of Solomon
7 All of the people who were left of the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites, who were not of Israel, 8 [namely], from their descendants who were left after them in the land whom the sons of Israel had not destroyed, them Solomon raised as forced laborers to this day. 9 But Solomon did not make slaves for his work from the sons of Israel; they were men of war, his chief captains and commanders of his chariots and his horsemen. 10 These were the chief officers of King Solomon, two hundred and fifty who ruled over the people.
The power of Solomon is described both in the building of cities in the previous verses and in these verses in the enemies that become slaves. The Israelites are not slaves; they are the rulers and are given important posts. For all his buildings, Solomon needs a lot of people. They are taken from the remaining Canaanite peoples, who are explicitly said not to belong to Israel. That they are still alive is the result of Israel’s unfaithfulness to the LORD’s commandment to destroy them (Deu 7:1-6; 20:16-18).
11 The House of Pharaoh’s Daughter
11 Then Solomon brought Pharaoh’s daughter up from the city of David to the house which he had built for her, for he said, “My wife shall not dwell in the house of David king of Israel, because the places are holy where the ark of the LORD has entered.”
The connection between Solomon and Pharaoh’s daughter is also found in 1 Kings, especially at the beginning of Solomon’s history (1Kgs 3:1). There his marriage with Pharaoh’s daughter is mentioned so early in his history as a precursor of the many wrong marriages he will later enter into. Here in 2 Chronicles the emphasis is more on the spiritual mind of Solomon. He realizes that his pagan wife cannot be connected to the service to the LORD in which “the house of David king of Israel” is leading.
We can learn a practical lesson here. It is a bad thing when husband and wife have no common interest in what is most important: the things of God. How else can two men walk together (Amos 3:3)? The love for Christ in husband and wife gives the strongest bond in marriage. How bad it is when either the husband or the wife has to enter the sanctuary alone, because the other does not care. The same goes for friendships. It is also not correct that there is a separation between our own house and the house of God, as Solomon puts it here. The atmosphere of God’s house must also be that of our own houses.
12 - 16 The Temple According to the Ordinance of David
12 Then Solomon offered burnt offerings to the LORD on the altar of the LORD which he had built before the porch; 13 and [did so] according to the daily rule, offering [them] up according to the commandment of Moses, for the sabbaths, the new moons and the three annual feasts—the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks and the Feast of Booths. 14 Now according to the ordinance of his father David, he appointed the divisions of the priests for their service, and the Levites for their duties of praise and ministering before the priests according to the daily rule, and the gatekeepers by their divisions at every gate; for David the man of God had so commanded. 15 And they did not depart from the commandment of the king to the priests and Levites in any manner or concerning the storehouses. 16 Thus all the work of Solomon was carried out from the day of the foundation of the house of the LORD, and until it was finished. So the house of the LORD was completed.
This section begins with “then” (verse 12). It seems to say that after Solomon had let Pharaoh’s daughter leave Jerusalem, he was again able to sacrifice. Solomon is here again the king-priest, like Melchizedek. He is herein a picture of the Messiah (Zec 6:13). He acts according to “the commandment of Moses” (verse 13) and offers the various daily, weekly, monthly, and annual prescribed sacrifices.
Solomon is the offeror and also takes care of the priests and the Levites. He ensures that they act “according to the ordinance of his father David” (verse 14). This also applies to the gatekeepers who sit at the gates to ensure that no unauthorized persons enter. There is no departing from “the commandment of the king” (verse 15), because this commandment is completely in accordance with what was said earlier by Moses and David.
Solomon does not use his wisdom to invent new forms of worship, not even by changing or adding anything, but rather by remaining in what he has been taught (2Tim 3:14). He uses his authority to maintain the statutes of Moses and his father David. Everything is shown as it is described in Ezekiel 40-48, where everything is connected to the glory of the kingdom of peace.
If everything is in order and goes well, it can be said that “the house of the LORD was completed” (verse 16). Before the service in the temple takes place as prescribed, the temple is not completed. The goal is only then achieved when the house also functions according to the intention that the builder of it had in mind.
17 - 18 The Gold of Solomon
17 Then Solomon went to Ezion-geber and to Eloth on the seashore in the land of Edom. 18 And Huram by his servants sent him ships and servants who knew the sea; and they went with Solomon’s servants to Ophir, and took from there four hundred and fifty talents of gold and brought them to King Solomon.
Solomon trades with the nations. The merchandise here is only gold, the gold of Ofir. When we think of Ofir, we have to think of areas or tribes that probably have been or lived in Arabia. Ofir is associated with Havilah, the land of good gold (Gen 10:29; 2:11-12).
Gold is a picture of glory; the radiance shows Divine glory. It has to do with paradise, a glory that has been lost by sin, but which here, as it were, is brought back by Solomon. He brings out the glory that is lost.
The glory that has shone in paradise, shines here in the hands of Solomon and will shine in the kingdom of peace the brightest and constantly. The line runs from the gold of paradise, via the gold here of Solomon, to the gold of the kingdom of peace (Isa 60:1-9).
Both the gold of paradise and that in the hands of Solomon is darkened by sin. With Solomon it is not a complete restoration of what has been lost in paradise by sin; it is only a temporary restoration. There has never been a restoration as in the days of Solomon, but that will also fade away with the glory that will come here with the coming of the great King.