THE OLD TESTAMENT SPANS SOME 4000 YEARS. Of its 39 books, ten cover a period of only 120 years.1 This time period is often referred to as the Golden Age of Israel. Divided into successive 40-year reigns by three kings, the era has always been an irresistible source for comparison and contrast. But the lives and times of Saul, David, and Solomon speak more directly to us today than they have to any other generation.
As the Church prepares to enter her own “Golden Age,” she is well instructed to look back on this epoch for instruction that will be both fundamental and necessary for the days ahead. The power of God will become most evident in those who are not satisfied with any of the “camps” and pine for the “new thing” that God is preparing, even if the process is to be a long and painful one.
The reigns of Saul and David can be likened to past moves of God which have gone on in the Church. “Solomon’s reign” in the Church is yet to come and will be so glorious that every stream and movement of Christianity will be raised up to see the glory of God. No group will see itself as independent of the others or more favored by the Lord.
In looking to these three kings to find direction for today, the most important thing to keep in mind is that Saul, David and Solomon are not two-dimensional Bible characters. Neither are they Door #1, Door #2, or Door #3. Each is an extremely fluid model, in which God had different purposes for each and a different calling to accomplish His mission. Each had different strengths and weaknesses; not to mention severe failures. But God is calling each one of us today to have the zeal of David and the wisdom of Solomon.
The amazing thing about Solomon was his ability to serve the purposes of God in his generation: a virtue elsewhere attributed to David (Acts 13:36). Why did God give Solomon such incredible wisdom? It was not simply because he was David’s heir; nor was it so people would honor him. It was because of Solomon’s humble and sacrificial prayer that he might govern properly. The riches and honor that came to Solomon were given to him by God because he did not request them when God told Solomon he could have anything he asked for (1 Kings 3:11,12).
When Solomon ascended the throne of his father he became commander-in-chief of a fierce war machine. David had established an army that simply could not be defeated. In the same way, we owe the saints of past moves of God our gratitude for gaining ground we often take for granted. Using David’s armies, Solomon had the opportunity to build an empire like that of Rome. He could have used his newfound wisdom to build a kingdom like that of Greece, having ushered in something of a Jewish Renaissance.
“Not satisfied with the idle life of an Eastern monarch, he set the example of, and gave encouragement to, study and literature – the range of his inquiries extending not only to philosophy and poetry, but also to natural sciences in all its branches.“2
But neither of the two types of empires would do. And the combination would certainly have produced a spiritual city much more like the old Babylon than the new Jerusalem
It is no small thing to turn one’s attention away from building an empire to building a temple, even if it was only a temporary change. From our perspective, the choice should be an obvious one. But would we do the same if the choice was offered? Solomon’s story is presented to us today so that the choice can be just as easy. As God raises us up to be a prophet to the nations, anoints us to deliver the afflicted, and financially prospers us, will we use these resources to build an empire, or will we use them to build the Temple of the living God – the New Jerusalem?
God revealed to Solomon that He would give him great wealth and honor because he sought first the kingdom of God – His wisdom and grace. It was only fitting that wealth and honor be used as a testimony of the Lord’s supremacy over every other nation and religion. So it will be in our day. Just as an entire nation came to pay homage to Solomon and his God through the lips of the Queen of Sheba, so tremendous advances will be made by the Gospel in the years ahead.
During the Golden Age, the Church will no longer be at war with many of its present enemies; rather she will be feared by them. Some will fear her simply because of her overwhelming spiritual authority. Others will more properly fear her because she is the representation of God’s truth on earth. Sheba paid homage to the God of Israel out of reverence. Edom did so because it knew of military superiority. Every nation, tongue and people will be able to recognize the Church in all her glory and receive God as their God, or lay low to fight another day.
In another vein, Solomon’s heart-aching compromises sadden the soul. Yet they provide instruction we must heed. In the coming Golden Age there will be unholy alliances with New Age forces. The anointing upon the Church will be so powerful that spiritual reality will be evident to all kinds of mystical organizations. The principle to learn here is this: Solomon built the temple largely with materials from nations other than Israel. Just as God sent Joseph into Israel and Daniel into Babylon, so He will send His sons into all kinds of other groups to draw out precious stones that will be masoned in right along with the rest of us. For many this will be a stumbling block, but don’t be surprised to see sovereign moves of God among the mainline denominations and even among questionable sects.
Of course, we shouldn’t make alliances God has clearly forbidden. The way to tell the good from the bad will be to simply look at the fruit. Who is being influenced by whom? The world may have left its mark on Joseph and Daniel, but it was only in culture and not in conscience. The effects of these men on Egypt and Babylon, on the other hand, are legendary.
If it is the era of Solomon – “The Golden Age” – that we are entering into, we need to embrace Solomon’s strengths and reject his weaknesses – as well as those of David and Saul. As surely as God lives, the whole earth will be full of His glory. The way to prepare for that is not to be lounging around in an elegant palace waiting for David to die. It is to be serving God’s sheep, surrounded by green pastures and quiet waters, fighting off the bears and lions, dreaming of the day when we will be called to accomplish all of the purposes of God in our generation.
1 The reigns of Saul, David and Solomon: see 1&2 Samuel, 1&2 Kings, 1&2 Chronicles, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiaties, Song of Songs.
2 Alfred Edersheim, Bible History of the Old Testament, (Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, Michigan) vol. 5, p.69,70.