Sunday, March 22, 2009

Solomon and the Prophecy of Deuteronomy 17:14-20

Deuteronomy 17:14 "When thou art come unto the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, and shalt possess it, and shalt dwell therein, and shalt say, I will set a king over me, like as all the nations that are about me;
15Thou shalt in any wise set him king over thee, whom the LORD thy God shall choose: one from among thy brethren shalt thou set king over thee: thou mayest not set a stranger over thee, which is not thy brother.
16But he shall not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt, to the end that he should multiply horses: forasmuch as the LORD hath said unto you, Ye shall henceforth return no more that way.
17Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away: neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold.
18And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites:
19And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them:
20That his heart be not lifted up above his brethren, and that he turn not aside from the commandment, to the right hand, or to the left: to the end that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he, and his children, in the midst of Israel."

In Amos 3:7 we have the general principle of communication between God and man. "Surely the Lord God (Jesus) will do nothing, but He revealeth His secret unto His servants the prophets." This thought is restated in I Peter 1:10-13 and Jesus is clearly identified as the Author of these thoughts. "Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into."

In the Bible it is clearly written that Moses was a prophet, and a special one at that, for Jesus talked with Moses face to face, not just through dreams of visions. John 5:45-47; Luke 24:13-27; Deuteronomy 34:10; Numbers 12:1-8 Scripture indicates that God used Moses to accomplish many things and one of those things was to give an unusual prophecy in the middle of Deuteronomy about an event that is clearly in the future. Jesus, through Moses, tells us that in the future, from the time of Moses, that Israel would be established and that when they are settled they will think that they want a king so that they would be like all the nations that would be around Israel. This prophecy states that they will reject Jesus as their King and not choose to reveal Him to the world around them. The prophecy predicts that Israel would choose to be carnal like the nations around them. The prophecy predicts that Jesus is still so interested in Israel that He chooses to instruct them on how to deal with this future king, that though they have rejected Him, He will not reject them.

The prophecy of Deuteronomy 17 was clearly fulfilled. Israel did reject Jesus as their king and wanted to have a man to be their king just as the nations around them. Jesus, in His great mercy, allowed them to have a king but still chose to lead the people through His direct involvement in the process and still led Israel through the king, and through prophets and priests. In I Samuel 8 we have the story of Israel’s rejection of Jesus and then the sad story of the first king – King Saul. After Saul we have the glorious reign of David, and then the special king Solomon, of whom this study is being written about. Solomon was the fulfillment of God’s desires for Israel, and for whom the special instruction of Deuteronomy 17 was written to protect him from the special problems that he was to face as king of Israel.

Moses, through the guidance of the Spirit of Jesus, states that when Israel wants to have a king like the nations around them that this king must be from Israel and cannot be a stranger. This king must be of the nation of Israel and can not be of an outside nation. The king of Israel must be of the same people, he can not be an outsider. Solomon was clearly of Israel and was clearly not a stranger to the people. This prophecy is also a prophecy of Jesus as well, all prophecy focuses on Jesus and His kingdom. Jesus, the true King of Israel, can not be a stranger to Israel, He must be bone and flesh of Israel. Genesis 2:23; Genesis 29:14; I Chronicles 11:1; Romans 1:3; Luke 3:23-38

The second facet of the prophecy of Deuteronomy 17 is that this king is not to go to Egypt to get horses. Horses and chariots are always used in the Bible to convey military activity, and military might and power. In Isaiah 31:1 Jesus instructs us saying "Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help: and stay on horsed and trust in chariots, because they are many, and in horsemen, because they are strong; but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the Lord!" Jesus was to be the strength of Israel and it was through His power that Israel was to be protected, not through horsed, chariots, or standing armies, but through the power of Jesus alone.

Jesus seeing that this future king would be tempted in the area of horses and chariots, and be tempted to trust in the arm of flesh, Jesus specifically instructed the king not to trust in horses and not to return to Egypt to get them. Yet, sadly to say, Solomon did not profit from this instruction. Solomon rebelled against the Word of God and returned to Egypt to get horses and chariots. I Kings 10:28-29. I Kings 4:26 states that Solomon acquired 40,000 horses. II Chronicles 9:25 states that Solomon had 4000 stalls of horses. In either case Solomon chose to reject Jesus’ counsel and to have a strong physical (carnal) military presence. He had not learned from his father David that "Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; but we will remember the name of the Lord our God." Psalms 20:7 "An horse is a vain thing for safety: neither shall he deliver by his great strength." Psalms 33:17. David knew that there was no safety in horses and chariots. David had learned that Israel’s only hope was in obeying the Word’s of Jesus and surrendering to His counsel and His might. When David had victory over foreign armies, with their horses and chariots, he hamstrung (houghed) the horses so that they could not be used for fighting. II Samuel 8:4 But Solomon disobeyed this counsel from Jesus.

On the other hand Jesus learned the lessons recorded in Scripture well. When here on the earth Jesus did not use the weapons of the world to accomplish His purposes. He chose the weapons of the Spirit. He changed hearts and did not kill the body. Jesus learned from where Solomon failed. Jesus did not depend upon Egypt for counsel or for military prowess, He depended upon the Word of God and the Love of His Father in heaven.

In Deuteronomy 17:17 Jesus warns Solomon that he is not to multiply wives unto himself, because to multiply wives would put a severe strain on the relationship between the king and his God. Jesus had clearly stated the principle of true marriage – one wife married to one husband. In every Bible story where there were multiple wives there is also recorded the story of fighting and stress in the family, and often disobedience to the things of God. Genesis 4:21-24; Genesis 16,21; Galatians 4:21-31Genesis 29-30.

David’s experience with many wives should have taught Solomon many lessons and especially David’s inability to train up his sons in the ways of God. David also shows that his behavior with Solomon’s own mother was a lesson regarding the dangers of seeking after many women. David’s experience with Bathsheeba lost the lives of many people. II Samuel 11:1-12:23
Yet again Solomon did not profit from this fabulous prophecy sent from Jesus to protect him. Solomon sought out many wives. Prophets and Kings 53-54 tells the sad story of Solomon’s thinking that making political and commercial alliances with heathen nations would "bring these nations to a knowledge of the true God…" These alliances "were sealed by marriages with heathen princesses. The commands of Jehovah were set aside for the customs of surrounding peoples." The prophecy of Deuteronomy 17:17 states that if the king were to do this that his heart would be turned away from God. This prophecy was fulfilled in I Kings 11:1-9

Jesus, on the other hand, reading this same prophecy, learned the lesson well. Jesus did not seek a bride but prepared Himself to accomplish His Father’s will. Jesus knew that if He was right with His Father His Father would find the bride for Him just as was revealed in Genesis 2:18-25 and Genesis 24. God had appointed a bride for Jesus and that bride was the church. Ephesians 5:23-32. Jesus did not seek multiple wives for there can be only one church. Jesus stayed in harmony with the counsel that He Himself had written in Deuteronomy 17.

The next section of counsel in Deuteronomy 17 was that of not multiplying to himself silver and gold. Solomon was blest by Jesus in asking for wisdom and of having an understanding heart to be able to rule of Jesus’ people in a way pleasing to Jesus. Since Solomon was wise enough to ask for these good gifts Jesus also blest Solomon with riches and honour. I Kings 3:13. It would appear that there is a balance point where one can receive riches and still keep humble before God as Abraham was for Abraham was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold." Genesis 13:2 Yet Solomon, for all of his wisdom, did not handle wealth as Abraham had done. In Prophets and Kings page 55 we are told what happened to Solomon:
"So gradual was Solomon's apostasy that before he was aware of it; he had wandered far from God. Almost imperceptibly he began to trust less and less in divine guidance and blessing, and to put confidence in his own strength. Little by little he withheld from God that unswerving obedience which was to make Israel a peculiar people, and he conformed more and more closely to the customs of the surrounding nations. Yielding to the temptations incident to his success and his honored position, he forgot the Source of his prosperity. An ambition to excel all other nations in power and grandeur led him to pervert for selfish purposes the heavenly gifts hitherto employed for the glory of God. The money, which should have been held in sacred trust for the benefit of the worthy poor and for the extension of principles of holy living throughout the world, was selfishly absorbed in ambitious projects.

Engrossed in an overmastering desire to surpass other nations in outward display, the king overlooked the need of acquiring beauty and perfection of character. In seeking to glorify himself before the world, he sold his honour and integrity. The enormous revenues acquired through commerce with many lands were supplemented by heavy taxes. Thus pride, ambition, prodigality, and indulgence bore fruit in cruelty and exaction. The conscientious, considerate spirit that had marked his dealings with the people during the early part of his reign, was now changed. From the wisest and most merciful of rulers, he degenerated into a tyrant. Once the compassionate, God-fearing guardian of the people, he became oppressive and despotic. Tax after tax was levied upon the people, that means might be forthcoming to support the luxurious court."

To add insult to injury Jesus records to Solomon’s account that he received 666 talents of gold per year. This is the only other record of the number 666 used in the Bible besides that of Revelation 13:18 What a sad testimony that Jedidiah, the beloved of the Lord, would stoop to such a state as to be a type of 666. The 666 talents of gold that came in appeared to be used by Solomon to build temples to his wives heathen gods. The 666 symbol was fulfilled in Solomon – he rebelled against God’s instructions and he used his rebellion to fill Jerusalem with many versions of false worship built on the mountain across the valley from Mount Moriah. Solomon built his heathen temples on the Mount of Olives in contrast with the true worship of God on Mount Moriah. II Kings 23:13 margin reference and PK 57

Jesus, on the other hand, learned the lessons well that are recorded in Scripture. Jesus lived to bless others. We are not told how much money came through Jesus’ hands but we do know that what money came in went out to the poor. Jesus was a faithful steward of God’s resources for He was faithful in all that God requires of a man. Jesus did not behave with money as Solomon did. He gave of all that He had to bless those around Him. Everything about Jesus was perfection, in Him the symbolic number of 7 was revealed – completeness (AA 585) in direct contrast with the number of 666 as revealed by Solomon in his rebellion.

Finally, Deuteronomy 17:18-20 instructs that this king should write the book of the law, and that he should read it all of his days so that he could keep the law, and do them, that his heart be not lifted up above his brethern, and that if he would do this his kingdom would be prolonged. We have no record of Solomon having the law written out for him nor of his reading the law. We do have the record of Josiah when he found the book and what he did with the book and the laws recorded therein. II Chronicles 34-35. We do know, however, that one of the primary things about Jesus was that He quoted Scripture constantly. Jesus was the living fulfillment of Psalms 119. He meditated upon and lived out the law of God constantly in his life. He learned the lesson that Solomon did not learn.

After reviewing Deuteronomy 17:14-20 we may be tempted to think that this section of Scripture was written only for the ancient kings like David and Solomon, or for even Jesus. But God has told us that all Scripture if profitable for our study. II Timothy 3:16. Jesus wrote this book to give us counsel and instruction. Jesus wrote this book for we are to be kings and priests in His kingdom. Revelation 1:6. We are to learn from Scripture. We are to learn from the failures and successes of Solomon, and we are to learn from the life of Jesus. It is our blessing to read Deuteronomy 17:14-20, learn its lessons, and live to the honor and glory of our King, King Jesus.

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