Clarence E. Mason's "OLD
The History of Israel: Part
5b of 9
THE UNITED KINGDOM:
ASCENSION OF SAUL TO DEATH OF SOLOMON
1 Samuel 8 and 1 Kings 11 through 2 Chronicles 9
E. Mason, Jr.
Philadelphia College of Bible
THE UNITED KINGDOM: ACCESSION
OF SAUL TO DEATH OF SOLOMON (1040-931 B.C.) 1 Samuel 8 - (1
Kings 11\ 2 Chronicles 9)
With the choice of Saul to be their
first king, the people of Israel enter a new era—the monarchy. Review again
the periods of Hebrew history according to Whitcomb’s chart. It is during
the monarchy that the nation reaches its greatest strength.
Introduction to the books of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles Samuel and Kings
tell the story of the rise, growth, division, and fall of the Hebrew monarchy,
from the time of Samuel through the division of the kingdom, the histories
of both kingdoms, to the fall of Jerusalem, 586 B.C.
Chronicles gives a somewhat parallel account, beginning (after nine chapters
of genealogies) with the death of Saul. After the division, Chronicles traces
the history of only the southern kingdom, Judah, and ignores Israel except
when she has contacts with Judah. The story is continued through the captivity,
and closes with a short account of the decree of Cyrus permitting the return.
The Chronicles is more interested in the religious life of the nation; the
author of Kings, with the political life. Hence, details about a revival
would best be sought in Chronicles; details about wars, in Kings.
- SAUL - DAVID - SOLOMON - JUDAH & ISRAEL
- DAVID - SOLOMON - JUDAH ONLY
- REIGN OF SAUL, 1 Samuel
8 - 2 Samuel
- Inauguration of the monarchy,
1 Sam. 8-10
While there was certainly an element of rebellion against God in the
Israelite request for a king, in that it was prompted by a desire
to be “like all the nations, “ and in that it may not have been God’s
time for the change, still it was God’s plan that Israel should ultimately
have a king. Provision for such had been made in the law (Dt. 17:14-20).
Messiah, when He comes, will be a king. Note further that the kingdom
continued the theocracy. Israel (when she had pious kings) was never
an absolute monarchy. God by His law (Dt. 17:14-20), or by a prophet
(1 Ki. 20:17-29), was always above the king.
- Events in Saul’s reign,
1 Sam. 11-2 Sam. 1
- Campaigns against
various Canaanite nations, 1 Sam. 11-14
Saul carries on the work of the judges; in many respects he was
little more than a judge.
Note 1 Samuel 13:19-22. Israel had no iron weapons except agricultural
implements. The Philistines knew the secret of iron smelting and
smithing and, keeping the secret from the Hebrews, maintained
the military advantage. It is interesting that David spent a considerable
time in Philistia while he was hiding from Saul. He pretended
to be mad. After David became king, he had constant victory over
the Philistines. From the excavation of Palestinian cities it
is evident that the Philistines were more advanced culturally
than the Israelites, and that they had the use of iron before
the time of David, while the Israelites used iron widely only
during and after David’s time (cp. 2 Sam. 12:31; 1 Chr. 22:3;
29:7). Is it too much to assume that David alertly learned the
secret of this early “atomic bomb”? On Iron in Israel, see G.
E. Wright’s “Iron in Israel, “ Bib. Arch. May, 1938, I, 2, 5-8;
Bib. Arch. May, 1943, VI, 2, 33-36.
- Campaign against
Amalekites and final rejection of Saul, 1 Sam. 15
Recall the battle with the Amalekites (Ex. 17:8-16) and God’s
command for their later utter destruction (p. 23). From this time
God has rejected Saul as king and has chosen David, although David
does not begin to reign for some years. Most of the rest of 1
Samuel deals with Saul’s efforts to kill David.
- David anointed, 1
- Campaign against
Philistines; David slays Goliath, 1 Sam. 17
- Saul seeks to kill
David; David in exile, 1 Sam. 18-27
- Last campaign against
Philistines; death of Saul, 1 Sam. 28-2 Sam. 1 (1 Chr. 10) At
the conclusion of the battle of Mt. Gilboa, Israel was in little
better condition man when Saul became king. They were overrun
by the the Philistines. Saul’s reign ended in complete failure—personal
and national. There are two ways of resolving the seeming contradictory
accounts of Saul’s death. One is given in SRB, p. 353, n.l. The
other simply understands that the Amalekite was lying (2 Sam.
1:6-10) in hope of reward.
- REIGN OF DAVID, 2 Samuel
2 - 2 Kings 2 (1 Chronicles 1-29)
David was one of the world’s greatest men. His greatness was four-sided:
king, warrior, poet, religious reformer. He “united at once four of the
great scepters that rule the heart of man.” In addition, he was one of
the greatest O.T. saints. Little wonder that Messiah should be called
“Son of David.”
Saul was set aside, but not David, and to the very end of the monarchy
David’s descendants continued to rule over Judah. ft is David who, with
Solomon his son, brings in the Hebrew nation’s greatest days. He began
to reign c. 1000 B.C.
We have already considered David’s youth and God’s choice of him to be
king. We now take up the story with the death of Saul.
- David’s reign over Judah
(7 ½ years), 2 Sam. 2-4
- David sets up his
regime with Hebron as capital, 2 Sam. 2:1-4
For 7 ½ years David reigned over only his own tribe, while the
rest of Israel gave allegiance to Saul’s son Ishbosheth.
- David commends the
Jabeshites, 2 Sam. 2:4-7
- Civil war: Ishbosheth,
king of Israel, 2 Sam. 2:8-4:12
The boundary between the two Hebrew groups at this time was substantially
that between Judah and Israel during the Divided Kingdom. Ishbosheth
seems to have been a puppet, controlled by his chief-of-staff,
Abner. The war is summarized in 3:1. After the death of Abner
and Ishbosheth, Israel was ready to accept David,
- David’s reign over all
Israel (33 years), 2 Sam. 5-1 Ki. 2 (1 Chr. 11-29)
- Made king over united
Israel; captures Jerusalem, 2 Sam. 5:1-10 (1 Chr. 11:1-11)
Jerusalem was a very ancient city, probably the strongest in the
land. Melchizedek (Gen. 14) had been a king of Salem (i.e., Jerusalem).
The king of Jerusalem was defeated when Joshua invaded Palestine
(Josh. 10) and for a brief time the Israelites seem to have captured
at least a part of the city and set it on fire (Jud. 1:8). However,
they could not hold it (Jud. 1:21), and when David became king,
Jerusalem was still a Canaanite city. It was easily defended because
of its location on the Judean highlands (Ps. 125:1-2), and the
Jebusites boasted that their lame and blind could defend it. However,
in their self-confidence they left unguarded their most vulnerable
point, the gutter or watercourse. This was an underground tunnel
which brought in water from the Gihon spring just outside the
wall on the east of the city. This tunnel was the city’s main
source of water, so important during a siege. David and his men
climbed in through the tunnel and captured the city without a
fight. (On Geography and History of Jerusalem, see WHA, pp. 97-99;
“Jerusalem,” ISBE. Vol.111, 1595-1621.’)”
The importance of David’s making Jerusalem his capital can hardly
be overestimated. It was centrally located, a great fortress,
and was not connected with either of the regimes during the civil
war just past. It became the heart of the new Israelite nation.
Note: Jerusalem was “Jebusite Salem, “ (i.e., Jebu-Salem, later
changed to Jerusalem for euphony of sound) until David took it
through Joab’s assault (1 Chr. 11:4-9). This feat of Joab made
him captain of the host.
- Hiram’s league with
David, 2 Sam. 5:11-12
Tyre was the principal city of Phoenicia, the great seafaring
nation on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea, just north of Israel.
Peace with Tyre was a great factor in permitting the growth of
the Hebrew people under David and Solomon.
- Ark brought to Mt.
Zion, 2 Sam. 6:1-19
God had commanded His worship to be localized in one central place
(Dt. 12). After the conquest of the land, the tabernacle, with
its equipage, was set up in Shiloh, where it remained during the
period of the Judges O08!1. 18:1; Jud. 18:31). With the capture
of the ark by the Philistines, the tabernacle lost its glory and
its value. In the reign of Saul it was at Nob (1 Sam. 21:1; Mk.
After the loss of the ark to the Philistines (1 Sam. 4) it never
again was returned to the tabernacle. The Philistines soon returned
it to Hebrew territory (1 Sam. 5:1-6:11). It was kept in the home
of pious Hebrews successively at Beth-shemesh, Kirjath-jearim,
and at Perez-uzzah (1 Sam. 6:12-20; 7:1-2; 2 Sam. 6:1-11). David
now brings the ark up to Jerusalem, where he put it in a temporary
tabernacle erected for it, although the original tabernacle was
still at Gibeon (2 Sam. 6:12-23). Later it was placed in the Holy
of Holies in Solomon’s temple.
This bringing of the ark to Jerusalem was David’s second great
political stroke consolidating his reign. It made Jerusalem the
religious capital as well as the civic capital of the nation.
It was also a tremendous help to the reformation of Hebrew religion.
During the period of the Judges and the reign of Saul, the ark
was in private hands and the tabernacle nearly deserted in a small
Judean town. The result was that every man worshiped when, where,
and whom he pleased (recall the book of Judges). But God, to protect
the people from such apostasy, had commanded them to worship at
only one place—where He should put His name (Dt. 12). David, led
by: God, now sets up the worship at Jerusalem, the only approved
place of worship and this greatly tends to discourage idolatry
- David’s desire to
build a temple; Davidic covenant, 2 Sam. 7; 1 Chr. 17 See SRB,
p. 362, n.2. A most important note on the Davidic Covenant.
- David’s foreign wars,
2 Sam. 5:17-25; 8; 10; 12:26-31
Palestine is located in the center of what has been called “The
Fertile Crescent.” On either side (at the ends of the crescent)
lay great world powers, Egypt in the southwest, and Mesopotamia
in the northeast. It has therefore been impossible during most
of its history for Palestine to control a great empire. Either
Egypt or Mesopotamia was constantly annexing Palestine as a prelude
to conquering her enemy at the other end of the crescent. Compare
the condition of Poland historically, between Germany and Russia.
However, the political condition in the fertile crescent at the
time of David and Solomon was one of decline. Both Mesopotamia
and Egypt were in weakness. Egypt had been powerful; Assyria would
yet be so. Israel now expands into this political vacuum and fills
up the outline of empire originally traced in the promise to Abraham—from
the river of Egypt (not the Nile, but Wadi el Arish, south of
Beer-sheba), traditional boundary between Egypt and Palestine,
to the river Euphrates (Gen. 15:18).
David also finally subdued the Philistines; they never had much
importance after this time and the Israelites gradually took over
the Philistine coastlands. However, they gave their name to the
whole country of P(h)alestine (Philistine).
- David’s kindness
to Mephibosheth, 2 Sam. 9:1-13It was customary for the first king
of a new dynasty to kill all male members of the old dynasty and
preclude any insurrection (2 Ki. 10:1-12). David here shows his
greatness and keeps his promise to Jonathan.
- David’s sin against
Uriah, 2 Sam. 11:1-12:25 Cp. Ps. 51; 32; etc.
- Troubles following
upon David’s sin, 2 Sam. 13-20
- Affair of Amnon
and Tamar, 13
- Absalom’s rebellion,
- Sheba’s rebellion,
- Three years’
famine; Philistine uprising, 21
- David’s psalm of
praise (Ps. 18), 2 Sam. 22
- David’s last words,
2 Sam. 23:1-7
- David’s mighty men,
2 Sam. 23:8-39
- David numbers the
people, 2 Sam. 24
This chapter will be better understood when it is realized that
the expression “number the people” in the O.T. times means “mobilize
for war.” Only men of military age are numbered, and Levites (4-D’s)
were exempt (Num. 1:47). Evidently it was not God’s desire for
the aged David to prepare for further war.
- David’s preparations
for the temple, 1 Chr. 22-29
On musical instruments of Israel, mentioned in such passages as
1 Chr. 25:1, see 0. R. Sellers’s “Musical Instruments of Israel,”
gib. Arch. September, 1941, IV, 3, 33-47.
- David appoints Solomon
his successor; dies, 1 Ki. 1-2
- REIGN OF SOLOMON, 1 Kings
2-11; 2 Chronicles 1-9
Solomon, building on the foundation laid by David his father, brought
the nation to its greatest heights. Two recent discoveries throw light
on Solomon’s reign:
Solomon’s Stables at Megiddo
Megiddo was the great fortress-city on the edge of the plain of Esdraelon.
Here if anywhere there should be remains of Solomon’s military establishment.
We have already mentioned the importance of the horse in warfare. 1 Kings
9:15,19; 10:26 inform us that Solomon did much building, mentioning Megiddo,
and then refer to his great military forces, especially horses and chariots,
“bestowed in the cities for chariots.” Megiddo has been excavated, and
found to have been one of these chariot cities. The stables were composed
of units built on a standard plan to house some 480 horses. Hitching posts,
stone mangers, and cobblestone floors (to keep the horses from slipping)
have been found intact. That Solomon could have had so large an installation
at just one place in his kingdom—there must have been other such elsewhere—indicates
his wealth and military power.
Ezion-geber; Pittsburgh of the Ancient East
Locate Ezion-geber on a map. It is down in the desert, far from all civilization.
It is hard to see how anyone would ever build a city there. Yet 1 Kings
9:26-28 refers to this place as a seaport of Solomon. Excavation shows
that this was the case. The arid mountainous area near Ezion-geber contains
much copper and some iron (Dt. 8:9). When Ezion-geber was uncovered, it
was found to have been a compact metal smelting and manufacturing city,
which cleverly utilized the strong winds which sweep down the Wadi Arabah
from the Dead Sea for forced-air draft forges. No other such city was
ever found from ancient times. Solomon had the city built there, near
to the metal supply, using the wind for bellows. Then, when the metal
had been made into objects for trade, his ships took the objects southward,
sold them, and returned with gold and other wanted objects (1 Ki. 10:11).
Ezion-geber is a great commentary on Solomon’s wisdom, as well as his
prestige and riches.
For archaeological light on Solomon’s feign, you may read:
Free, pp.168-170. Glueck, Nelson. The Other Side of the Jordan. New Haven:
“Ezion-geber, Solomon’s Naval Base on the Red Sea, “ Bib. Arch. September,
1938, I, 3, 13-16.
“Ezion-geber: Elath, Gateway to Arabia,” Bib. Arch. December, 1939, U,
“Ezion-geber: Elath—City of Bricks with Straw, “ Bib. Arch. December,
1940, III, 51-55.
Wright, G. E. “Discoveries at Megiddo,” Bib. Arch. May, 1950, VIII, 2,
36-46. WHA, pp. 47-48.
- Solomon’s accession and
reforms, 1 Ki. 2:12-46
- Solomon’s treaty with
Egypt, 1 Ki. 3:1-3
- Solomon’s wisdom, 1 Ki.
Solomon is the great example of one seeking first God’s kingdom and
righteousness and having all other things added (Mt. 6:33).
- Solomon’s empire. 1 Ki.
In chapter 4 the tax collectors are named. Taxes were paid in produce;
coined money had not yet been invented. Large buildings found in cities
which were tribal centers are thought to be the centers of collection
mentioned in this chapter, from whence the royal table was provisioned
one month in a year. Thus was fulfilled 1 Samuel 8:11-18.
Tadmor in the wilderness (9:18), later called Palmyra, was a great
caravan city. Goods brought from the East for sale in Asia Minor and
Europe could be trans-shipped here, bringing great wealth to the city.
Probably Solomon obtained most of his wealth from trade. Compare Ezion-geber
(p. 42), Queen of Sheba (below).
- Solomon’s temple, 1 Ki.
5-8; 2 Chr. 3-8
Many attempts “have been made to reconstruct Solomon’s temple. The
truth is that we are not given enough facts in the Scripture account
to make a certain reconstruction. It was basically like the ancient
tabernacle, but larger and much more complex. Around it were storerooms
(for there was a great temple treasury) and courts, probably used
for public gatherings. The Lebanon mountains were the source of timber
for great buildings of that time. Cedar of Lebanon was taken as far
as to Egypt for palace and temple building. Note that Solomon drafted
Israelites for labor (1 Ki. 5; cp. 1 Sam. 8).
The following archaeological articles are largely sensible in their
approach: WHA, p. 48. Wright,
G. E. “Solomon’s Temple Resurrected,” Bib. Arch. May, 1941, IV, 2,
- Visit of Queen of Sheba,
1 Ki. 10
Sheba is located in the southwest corner of Arabia. It was an important
trading center, and point of origin of camel caravans. The visit of
the Queen of Sheba to Jerusalem was probably for making trade arrangements.
Very likely Solomon and the queen agreed on their respective spheres
of influence in the caravan routes, so as to keep from interfering
with each other.
- Solomon's harem and idolatry,
1 Ki. 11:1-13
A careful study of this passage and Deuteronomy 7:1-7 will show that
Solomon's sin was not in having many wives. This custom is never plainly
condemned in the O.T.; some of the greatest saints had more wives
than one. The sin lay in the fact that these wives were foreign ones--the
very modern problem of "mixed marriages" all over again--for
foreign women were heathen women. This is what led Solomon into idolatry.
It should further be noted that many of these women were more like
hostages than wives, for in those days wives were often exchanged
when treaties were made with foreign princes. In some cases this was
done in a treaty between "equals" in the hope of providing
better relations with the other treaty nation (1 Ki. 3:1).
On Ashtoreth, see p. 30. Milchom was Molech, "the reigning one,
" a baal (Baal is a common noun, meaning "lord, " and
was applied to many gods). He was worshiped with human sacrifice in
Phoenicia (1 Ki. 16:31; 18), and an exceedingly detestable feature
of Molech's worship was the burning of children to him in the fire
(Lev. 18:20; 20:1-5; 2 Chr. 28:3; 2 Ki. 21:6; 23:10,13). Chemosh was
worshiped in a similar manner (2 Ki. 3:27).
The Song of Songs (which is Solomon's) must have been written quite
early in Solomon's reign when his heart was tender toward God and
susceptible to a high standard of human affection. Note the comparatively
small number of treaty wives and concubines, contrasted with the thousand
mentioned in this section above (Song of Solomon 6:8-9). Much later,
after his long and bitter search "under the sun" (leaving
God out), he wrote Ecclesiastes, emphasizing the futility of life
unless God is dealt with directly (Eccl. 12:13-14). Proverbs followed
these experiences (Eccl. 12:9-12).
- Troubles toward the
end of Solomon's reign; his death, 1 Ki. 11:14-43
Solomon no doubt brought to Israel wealth and prestige such as she
had never known before, and with these, the inevitable accompaniments--loss
of simplicity of life and faith and a tendency to imitate the sin
and idolatry of the surrounding nations with whom Israel now had intimate
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