Sunday, May 22, 2016

[Matt's Messages] "A Breathtaking King"

“A Breathtaking King”
The King of Kings in the Books of Kings
May 22, 2016 :: 1 Kings 9:1-10:29 

Our current sermon series is called “The King of Kings in the Books of Kings” and this is our fifth message in this series on the story of the kings of Israel.

We’ve been learning about King Solomon who succeeded his father David, prayed for wisdom, ruled a prosperous kingdom, and built an amazing temple.

Last time, we attended the astonishing dedication service for the new and glorious temple. An innumerable amount of sacrifices were made, and King Solomon prayed a magnificent prayer of dedication thanking the Lord for giving the temple to him and to Israel and asking the Lord to hear the prayers offered at and towards the temple, and then hearing those prayers from heaven to provide merciful divine answers.

Remember that? We only got through chapter 8.

In chapter 9, the LORD answers Solomon’s prayer! God shows up personally and gives him both a reassurance and a warning.

And then the rest of chapters 9 and 10 tell the story of the midpoint and the beginning of the second half of Solomon’s reign over Israel.

I’ve entitled this message, “A Breathtaking King” because in chapter 10 there is a royal visitor to Israel whose breath was taken away by what she saw in this kingdom and in this king.

Among other purposes, these two chapters of holy Scripture are here in our Bibles to give us a glimpse of the glory of God as He revealed it the rule of King Solomon.

And it’s breathtaking! At least it should be.

Now today, I want to do things a little differently than we normally do.

Normally, I read a little bit and then preach a little bit and then read a little bit more and then preach that little bit, right?

Today, I want to read and explain some things as we go along through both chapters, but I want to wait until the end to fully draw our life-lessons out of the text. Okay?

So there will be three points of application today, but we’ll wait until the end to draw them together. Okay? So stay with me.

So in chapter 9, the LORD Himself shows up and speaks to Solomon a second time. Chapter 9, verse 1.

“When Solomon had finished building the temple of the LORD and the royal palace, and had achieved all he had desired to do, the LORD appeared to him a second time, as he had appeared to him at Gibeon.”

Remember the first time? That was back in chapter 3. That was at the beginning of Solomon’s reign when God offered Solomon anything he wanted.

What did Solomon pick at that time?


And that pleased the Lord. And so He promised to give the king that wisdom and to also give him the things he might have asked for. Like what?  Riches, and honor, and victory from his enemies, and a long life.

Well, now the LORD has appeared a second time, not to ask Solomon what he wants,  but to tell him that He has heard Solomon’s prayer at the temple.

Verse 3.

“The LORD said to him: ‘I have heard the prayer and plea you have made before me; I have consecrated this temple, which you have built, by putting my Name there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there.”

That’s a “yes” by the way. That’s a big “yes.” The Lord is saying “yes” to everything that Solomon prayed in chapter 8.

And that “yes” comes with some instructions. Verse 4.

“‘As for you [Solomon], if you walk before me in integrity of heart and uprightness, as David your father did, and do all I command and observe my decrees and laws, I will establish your royal throne over Israel forever, as I promised David your father when I said, 'You shall never fail to have a man on the throne of Israel.'”

Do you see what he’s saying there?  He’s saying that He is looking for another king with a heart for the heart of God. Another man who is a man after God’s own heart. Another David.

And if Solomon will be another David, he will experience the blessings promised to David.

Like we said before, “You’ve got one job.” The king of Israel has many duties, but just one job. To walk with God keeping His covenant and leading the people to do the same.


But the Lord also has a warning for King Solomon. If he doesn’t do his one job, there will be consequences. V.6

“‘But if you or your sons turn away from me and do not observe the commands and decrees I have given you and go off to serve other gods and worship them, then I will cut off Israel from the land I have given them and will reject this temple I have consecrated for my Name. Israel will then become a byword and an object of ridicule among all peoples.

And though this temple is now imposing, all who pass by will be appalled and will scoff and say, 'Why has the LORD done such a thing to this land and to this temple?'

People will answer, 'Because they have forsaken the LORD their God, who brought their fathers out of Egypt, and have embraced other gods, worshiping and serving them–that is why the LORD brought all this disaster on them.'’”

Those are ominous words. They are not new thoughts. This is the deal that they have had ever since Deuteronomy.

This is the same deal that Solomon just prayed from in the last chapter.

But this is the high point of the Old Testament. The apparent climax of the story that started back in Genesis! All of the promises of God seem to be coming together in one place!

And the question is: will it last?

Or will it all fall apart?

Will Solomon and his sons be thumbs up or thumbs down kings?

Because it matters.

What is in their heart matters. V.8

“And though this temple is now imposing...” It’s high. It’s tall. It stands out–it won’t matter if your hearts are not where they should be.

There is no substitute for a heart for God.

Even the past blessings of God are no substitute for a heart for God.

Yes, the temple is glorious. But where is your heart, Solomon?

That’s the question that confront him and the question that plays out over the next 3 chapters.

What has been the answer so far? Thumbs up or thumbs down?

It’s been thumbs up!  We’ve seen a few hints of a storm brewing, but by and large, Solomon has done very well.

And you know what, most of chapters 9 and 10 tell the same story.

But there are few more storm clouds gathering on the horizon here, and then chapter 11 will tell what Paul Harvey was call “the rest of the story.”

V.10 “At the end of twenty years, during which Solomon built these two buildings–the temple of the LORD and the royal palace–King Solomon gave twenty towns in Galilee to Hiram king of Tyre, because Hiram had supplied him with all the cedar and pine and gold he wanted.  But when Hiram went from Tyre to see the towns that Solomon had given him, he was not pleased with them. ‘What kind of towns are these you have given me, my brother?’ he asked. And he called them the Land of Cabul [good-for-nothing], a name they have to this day. Now Hiram had sent to the king 120 talents of gold.”

I think this story is a little mixed. Solomon ends up in a good place. He gets lots of gold. Like 4 whole tons of it.

And he seems to continue to have the upper hand with the neighboring kingdoms. He comes out on top in this deal.

But this is the first time there seems to be a crack in his relationship with Hiram. Before it was all hunkey-dorey. Now, not so much.

The thing that worries me the most is that Solomon seems to be selling off parts of Israel to another nation, and the king of Israel should never do that. This is the Promised Land. Not something that Solomon can rightfully sell.

And I’m not sure what to make of the next section dealing with forced labor. It seems both good and bad, too. V.15

“Here is the account of the forced labor King Solomon conscripted to build the LORD's temple, his own palace, the supporting terraces, the wall of Jerusalem, and Hazor, Megiddo and Gezer. (Pharaoh king of Egypt had attacked and captured Gezer. He had set it on fire. He killed its Canaanite inhabitants and then gave it as a wedding gift to his daughter, Solomon's wife. And Solomon rebuilt Gezer.) He built up Lower Beth Horon,  Baalath, and Tadmor in the desert, within his land, as well as all his store cities and the towns for his chariots and for his horses–whatever he desired to build in Jerusalem, in Lebanon and throughout all the territory he ruled.

All the people left from the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites (these peoples were not Israelites), that is, their descendants remaining in the land, whom the Israelites could not exterminate–these Solomon conscripted for his slave labor force, as it is to this day.

But Solomon did not make slaves of any of the Israelites; they were his fighting men, his government officials, his officers, his captains, and the commanders of his chariots and charioteers. They were also the chief officials in charge of Solomon's projects–550 officials supervising the men who did the work.

After Pharaoh's daughter had come up from the City of David to the palace Solomon had built for her, he constructed the supporting terraces.”

Again, this is a little ambiguous.

It shows that Solomon was wise and skillful in the use of a large work force and that the covenant people of God were not enslaved. Solomon wins again.

But it’s interesting that he also never completed the work of purifying Israel himself. Just like in Judges, Solomon didn’t completely drive out the Canaanites. Interestingly, Pharaoh seems to be able to do that in Gezer, but Solomon can’t.

I think that relationship with Pharaoh and his daughter is not really good for Solomon or for Israel.

And yet Solomon is walking with God at this time. And he’s faithfully fulfilling the worship obligations of the covenant. Verse 25.

“Three times a year Solomon sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings on the altar he had built for the LORD, burning incense before the LORD along with them, and so fulfilled the temple obligations.”

Solomon was doing his “one job.”

And he was being blessed. V.26

“King Solomon also built ships at Ezion Geber, which is near Elath in Edom, on the shore of the Red Sea. And Hiram [good old Hiram, they’re still friends] sent his men–sailors who knew the sea–to serve in the fleet with Solomon's men. They sailed to Ophir and brought back 420 talents of gold, which they delivered to King Solomon.”

That’s at least 14 tons of gold.

And “gold” was not just a key word for the temple but for all of Solomon’s reign.

It was truly a golden age. And the rest of the nations took notice.

Chapter 10, verse 1.

“When the queen of Sheba heard about the fame of Solomon and his relation to the name of the LORD, she came to test him with hard questions.”

Do you know this story?

Some of us have heard of the Queen of Sheba, or the Queen of the South, but we don’t know that much about her.

While there is a diversity of opinion, most scholars today believe that the country of Sheba was located at the southern tip of the Arabian peninsula.  Where modern day Yemen is located.

She was the Yemeni Queen.

And she had heard about this King Solomon and was amazed at what she heard.

And perhaps Ophir from verse 28 of the previous chapter, Ophir was perhaps in or near her land. And she had gold there and Solomon and Hiram’s navy had been down the Red Sea to pick up some of her gold.

And she was amazed that the order was 14 tons of gold and wanted to see what kind of a king could need or want that much gold for his kingdom.

So she makes the more than 1000 mile trek from Sheba to Israel. Maybe as much as 1500 miles around 1000 BC. That’s one long trip for a head of state!

But she wants to take the tour herself.

And notice this. She wants to investigate Solomon not just because of his fame, but also because of the NAME of the LORD. She’s investigating God.

And she’s got some hard questions, some riddles, some puzzlers that she wants to run by Solomon because supposedly he’s wise. Do you see that? In verse 1?

Verse 2 tells us that she is an important person herself. A real big wig. V.2

“Arriving at Jerusalem with a very great caravan–with camels carrying spices, large quantities of gold, and precious stones–she came to Solomon and talked with him about all that she had on her mind.”

Can you imagine what this was like?

Her procession and entourage pulling into town?

She takes the tour. She looks over everything that Solomon has built and she asks him her toughest questions. She gives Solomon the test. And he passed; with flying colors!  V.3

“Solomon answered all her questions; nothing was too hard for the king to explain to her.  When the queen of Sheba saw all the wisdom of Solomon and the palace he had built, the food on his table, the seating of his officials, the attending servants in their robes, his cupbearers, and the burnt offerings he made at the temple of the LORD, she was overwhelmed.”

Is that what your version says?

The old King James says, “there was no more spirit in her.”

Some of the new versions say, “There was no more breath in her.” She was breathless.

In other words, she found this king and his kingdom absolutely breathtaking.

This wealthy powerful woman was speechless and amazed.

She was overwhelmed.


I can just see her gulping for air.

And this is what she says. V.6

“She said to the king, ‘The report I heard in my own country about your achievements and your wisdom is true. But I did not believe these things until I came and saw with my own eyes. Indeed, not even half was told me; in wisdom and wealth you have far exceeded the report I heard.

How happy your men must be! How happy your officials, who continually stand before you and hear your wisdom!

Praise be to the LORD your God, who has delighted in you and placed you on the throne of Israel. Because of the LORD's eternal love for Israel, he has made you king, to maintain justice and righteousness.’”

You are a breathtaking king!

What you have accomplished here is nothing short of miraculous!

You are so wise and your people must be so happy!

You answered my questions!

And this must come from your God.

Isn’t that interesting? Isn’t interesting that she drew the connection between all of thing blessing the LORD?

Solomon must have been doing his job right at that point.

Because this breathtaking king was pointing this pagan queen to his generous promise-keeping God.

She couldn’t believe what she was seeing. And she left a big gift. V.10

“And she gave the king 120 talents of gold (another 4 tons), large quantities of spices, and precious stones. Never again were so many spices brought in as those the queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon.”

And the author of our book kind of builds from there saying, in effect, you haven’t seen nothing yet. V.11

“(Hiram's ships brought gold from Ophir; and from there they brought great cargoes of almugwood and precious stones. The king used the almugwood to make supports for the temple of the LORD and for the royal palace, and to make harps and lyres for the musicians. So much almugwood has never been imported or seen since that day.)

King Solomon gave the queen of Sheba all she desired and asked for, besides what he had given her out of his royal bounty. Then she left and returned with her retinue to her own country.

The weight of the gold that Solomon received yearly was 666 talents [that’s like 23 tons every year v.15] not including the revenues from merchants and traders and from all the Arabian kings and the governors of the land.

[What did he do with all that gold?]

King Solomon made two hundred large shields of hammered gold; six hundred bekas of gold went into each shield. He also made three hundred small shields of hammered gold, with three minas of gold in each shield. The king put them in the Palace of the Forest of Lebanon.

Then the king made a great throne inlaid with ivory and overlaid with fine gold. The throne had six steps, and its back had a rounded top. On both sides of the seat were armrests, with a lion standing beside each of them. Twelve lions stood on the six steps, one at either end of each step. Nothing like it had ever been made for any other kingdom.

All King Solomon's goblets were gold, and all the household articles in the Palace of the Forest of Lebanon were pure gold. [Do you hear a pattern?]  Nothing was made of silver, because silver was considered of little value in Solomon's days.

The king had a fleet of trading ships at sea along with the ships of Hiram. Once every three years it returned, carrying gold, silver and ivory, and apes and baboons [for fun!].

King Solomon was greater in riches and wisdom than all the other kings of the earth.

The whole world sought audience with Solomon to hear the wisdom God had put in his heart. [Not just the Queen of Sheba but the whole world.] Year after year, everyone who came brought a gift–articles of silver and gold, robes, weapons and spices, and horses and mules. Solomon accumulated chariots and horses; he had fourteen hundred chariots and twelve thousand horses, which he kept in the chariot cities and also with him in Jerusalem. The king made silver as common in Jerusalem as stones, and cedar as plentiful as sycamore-fig trees in the foothills. Solomon's horses were imported from Egypt and from Kue–the royal merchants purchased them from Kue. They imported a chariot from Egypt for six hundred shekels of silver, and a horse for a hundred and fifty. They also exported them to all the kings of the Hittites and of the Arameans.”

No wonder the queen was overwhelmed!

Think about walking around seeing that temple, seeing those shields and those chariots and those horses and that throne. And all of that gold.

And on top of that, Solomon had answer to the toughest questions she had ever asked.

He was at that moment truly a breathtaking king.

So what?

How does story affect our lives today?

We know it does. It’s the Bible. So it’s useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.

But how in this case?

Why are these two chapters in our Bibles?

Let’s close with three points of application.  Number one.

This story is in our Bibles as:


What was the message that God had for Solomon when he showed up in chapter 9?

V.3 “I have heard the prayer and plea you have made before me.”

And verse 5, I’m doing what I “promised David your father.”

This breathtaking kingdom comes from the hand of a faithful and prayer-answering God.

Do you need to hear that this morning?

This breathtaking king and his kingdom show that God is faithful to all of His promises and that He listens when His people pray.

Do you need to hear that?

I do. Because it doesn’t always seems like God is keeping His promises or that He listens to prayer.

But think about this. This was a long time in coming.

Some of what you see in 1 Kings chapters 3 through 10 are the partial fulfillment of promises God made over a thousand years before this in the book of Genesis.

So, yeah, sometimes it seems like God’s never going to come through.

But He always does at the right time and the right way.


So keep on trusting. And keep on praying.

Here’s the second one.

This story is in our Bibles as:


Even though it’s a glorious time in Israel, you can feel that there are storm clouds gathering.

Solomon prayed like that last week.

And God says it right out in chapter 9 verses 6 through 9.

There’s a warning.

Walk with God and lead the nation to do it, too, or there will be consequences. Bad consequences.

“Even though you have the temple and you have My love, if I don’t have your hearts, if you forsake Me and turn away from Me, it will not go well for you.”

And we saw a few of the fault lines where the cracks seem to be inching out.

The relationship with Pharaoh and his daughter.
The strained relationship with Hiram and selling him some of the Promised Land, worthless or not.

And what about all of this gold?

We already said that there was a problem with a king multiplying horses. Deuteronomy 17 said that Israel’s king was not to do that.

It also says that the king of Israel “must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold” (Deut. 17:17).

I think that means, for himself. It’s one thing to deck out the temple in it, but it’s another to stick it into your own personal bank account.

I’m not sure.

When I read this chapter, I think that, in the main, the author approves of all of this gold and sees it as a sign of God’s blessing (and the promise He made Solomon in chapter 3).

The Queen of Sheba certainly did, and I think that God did, too.

Because there is nothing sinful about money.

But the love of money, that’s another story.

There’s probably a warning in there somewhere. A caution.

Don’t worship it!

Don’t come to love the gold of the temple instead of the God of the temple!

We just heard about that in Sunday School this morning.

Don’t forsake the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt.

Warning! Danger ahead. Don’t turn away!

Do you need to hear that today?

It’s sad. Because of what we’re going to read in the very next chapter.

Don’t turn away.

And don’t think that turning away is something you just do all of a sudden.

It can really creep in on you.

As the book of Hebrews says, “Hold firmly to the faith we profess.”

Don’t turn away.

As a pastor, the people I worry about the most are those who have made some kind of a start with the Lord, but then turned their back on Him.

That’s a scary place to be.

Do you know what happens to this temple and these people by the end of 2 Kings?

Do you know where this story is going?

This is a warning of the dangers of turning away.

And we need that warning when things are going well.

When we’ve got life by the toe, that’s often when we can mess the whole thing up.

We get our eyes off of the Lord and turn our own way.

Listen. Don’t.

Learn the lesson from the breathtaking king. Keep your eyes fixed on the Lord.

And number three.

This story is in our Bibles as:


This is just a preview of coming attractions.

Queen of Sheba, you ain’t seen nothing yet!

You think that Solomon’s kingdom left you gasping for air?

Wait until you see the kingdom of King Jesus!

I mean it.  I believe that God has given us this story to make us long for the kingdom to come.

There are hints of that already in the Old Testament.

Read Psalm 72 this afternoon.

Do you know who wrote Psalm 72?

A King named Solomon.

And he might be praying about himself, but I think it’s clearly prophetic, as well.

If I had time, I’d read it to you. It’s a prayer for the ultimate king of Israel in terms that are partially fulfilled here in 1 Kings 10, but not fully.

Somebody else has to come and fill these prayers up.

Somebody breathtaking!

Or read Isaiah chapter 60 this afternoon. That’s written long after Solomon had died, but the language of the predictions of the kingdom to come are drawn right out of 1 Kings 10. Even Sheba bringing gold to the king! Read it.

The point is that this is just a foretaste of the kingdom to come.

It’s to make you hunger and thirst for that kingdom.

Like the gold.

Think about the streets in the New Jerusalem. What are they paved with?

That’s more gold than Solomon had!

Silver might not have had any value but gold was valuable.

But in the New Jerusalem, it will be so “worthless,” they’ll pave the streets with it.

Solomon was a king like no other, blessed by God.

But there is a King to come to whom Solomon does not hold a candle.

That King will be breathtaking on an unimaginable scale!

Do you want to see Him?

Do you want to be a part of His kingdom?

Oh how happy you’ll be!

Oh how happy we’ll be!

To belong to that kingdom!

There’s only one way to get into that kingdom.

It’s to know, trust, and love King Jesus.

You know Jesus didn’t look like Solomon when He walked the earth.

He didn’t look glorious. He wasn’t impressive.

Even to other Jews.

And many are not impressed with Him today.

But He’s the only way.

Jesus told the unimpressed Pharisees, “The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation [of Israel] and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon's wisdom, and now one greater than Solomon is here.”

Jesus is greater than Solomon.

Solomon was just a foretaste of the glory to come.

And those Israelites couldn’t or wouldn’t see it. So they rejected their Messiah.

Don’t you do that, too.

Put your faith and trust in King Jesus and prepare to be overwhelmed with the breathtaking beauty of His Kingdom forever.


Questions for Group Discussion:

1. Review. Last week’s message was about the incomparable King of the temple. What did you learn last week that was really encouraging or helpful to you?

2. Read 1 Kings 9:1-9. In today’s message, the Lord appeared to Solomon a second time. What was His message(s) for Solomon?

3. Read 1 Kings 10:1-13. The other major visitor to Solomon’s king in today’s message was the Queen of Sheba. What did she experience on her tour of Israel?

4. Pastor Matt said that this set of stories is in our Bibles to be at least 3 things for us. What were they (hints: 1. Evidence 2. Peril 3. Future)?  Why do you think this story is in your Bible?

5. What was the application of each of these 3 items for our lives today?  How will you live differently because you have taken 1 Kings 9-10 to heart?


Messages in this Series:
01. Who Will Be King?
02. The Wisdom of the King
03. The Temple of the King
04. The Incomparable King of the Temple