<< 1 Kings 10: The Abundance of Gold in the Reign of Solomon >>
“And all king Solomon’s drinking- vessels were of gold, and all the vessels of the house of the forest of Lebanon were of pure gold; none were of silver; it was nothing accounted of in the days of Solomon.”-I KINGS x, 21.
IF the world were full of the love of the Lord Jesus, our Creator, our Saviour, our Father, and our King, and of our fellow human beings as His children, what a glorious world it would be! a world of wisdom, peace, and blessing. Even the conception of such a state of things seems but the faint imagining of a condition, beyond all hope of possible realization, which can only be regarded as “The faint exquisite music of a dream.”
Yet why have we day-dreams at all, except to foreshadow what may be. The world has had a golden age, why may it not return?
It is true that cruel phantasies at present possess mankind. Men are like inhabitants of a low dark valley, spending their time in gathering its dust into heaps, and contending to the death for the privilege of owning the largest hillock. But everyone feels impulses higher and nobler than this. Each immortal being has yearnings for unselfishness, for innocence, for virtue, for wisdom, and for peace. Why cannot we seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and depend that all other things will be added unto us? The Scriptures undoubtedly in multiplied and varied phrase proclaim that a period will be arrived at on earth when “The Lord shall be King over all the earth,” when” The knowledge of the Lord shall cover the earth, as the waters cover the sea; and none shall hurt nor destroy in all the Lord’s holy mountain” (Isa. xi. 9). Far, very far off it may be before this and many splendid divine declaration of Scripture concerning the future glory of the world shall be realized, but the Word of God will be fulfilled for all that. The Lord’s kingdom will assuredly come, and the Lord’s will shall undoubtedly be done on earth, as it is done in heaven.
In the typical dispensation of the Jews, this celestial condition of the Church and the world was represented by the wealth, the glory, and the peace of the reign of Solomon. It was literally true in the reign of that son of David, that peace, and all the arts of peace brought prosperity, wealth, and abundance to the extent described in the text. Trade and commerce connecting Israel with distant lands in ties of mutual benefit poured riches around, so that not only was plenty enjoyed, but sumptuousness and magnificence were attained; and gold to an unparalleled extent was seen, and silver was accounted of but little.
Yet this is written in the Word of God, not to make us proficient in history, or to excite our admiration for this abundance of earthly splendour, but to represent to us the glorious state that shall be: the golden age again; when men shall beat their swords into plough-shares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; when nation shall not lift up itself against nation, neither shall they learn war any more (I sa. ii. 5; Micah v. 3). Gold is regarded in divine things as the symbol, among metals, of the highest good, that is, love to the Lord. The qualities of gold perfectly correspond to those of the golden principle of love to the Lord supremely, and for this it is used in Scripture. Hence, we may readily perceive that the abundance of gold in Solomon’s reign typified the abundance of love, and all heavenly treasure, which will exist when the Church has accomplished its victories over naturalism and selfishness, and the Lord Jesus reigns over a regenerated world as the Divine Prince of Peace. As to the world in general, having regard to its present condition, it might indeed be thought that such views of the future, if not Utopian, can have no practical value, but it is well to remember that the Word of the Lord reveals such truths for our comfort, and it can never be wrong to learn what Divine Wisdom teaches. And, besides that, the order of progress for the world and the order for one individual are the same, and though we may not hope to behold any great advance of the general state of mankind in our time, yet individuals may realize golden things for themselves. They may receive from the Lord the gold of heaven, and be solitary pioneers of exalted states and of blessed achievements, in which perfect humility and heavenly wisdom shall give perfect peace.
That gold is recognised in Scripture as corresponding to heavenly goodness of the highest kind, may be gathered not only from the direct words of our Lord, ” I counsel thee to buy of Me gold tried in the fire that thou mayest be rich” (Rev. iii. 18), but from its use in every part of the Divine Word, In the first land mentioned as being watered by the first river flowing out of Eden, now known to be an allegorical representation of the highest state of happiness, it is said “in that land there was gold, and the gold of that land was good” (Gen. ii. 11, 12). When the. ark, the mercy-seat, the altar, and the vessels of the tabernacle were commanded to be made of pure gold, we cannot fail to feel there must have been a divine propriety in the choice that these-patterns of heavenly things, as the apostle calls them, should be made of that valuable metal. And that reason can hardly be any other than that gold, the best of the metals, is the appropriate symbol of love, the best of heavenly principles.
When the Lord through His prophets foretold the wonderful change which His coming into the world would make in religion, by the substitution of the spirit of religion for the mere symbolic form of it which existed among the Jews, He said” For brass I will bring gold, and for iron I will bring silver, for wood brass, and for stones iron: I will also make thy officers peace, and thine exactors righteousness” (Isa. Ix. 17). The explanation virtually follows in the succeeding verse, “”Violence shall no more be heard in thy land, wasting nor destruction within thy borders : but thou shalt call thy walls salvation, and thy gates praise.” For what can take away all violence, wasting and destruction, but that Christian love which is the essence of good-will, and, as the apostle says, “fulfils the law” and” worketh no ill to the neighbour.” The prophet Jeremiah speaks of gold manifestly in the same way. He says, ” How is the gold become dim? how is the most fine gold changed?” The stones of the sanctuary are poured out in the top of every street. The precious sons of Zion, comparable to fine gold, how are they esteemed as earthen pitchers, the work of the hands of the potter (Lam. iv. 1, 2).
The seven golden candlesticks mentioned in Rev. i. are called the Seven Churches (ver. 20), and although it is indeed a chief duty of a church to hold up the light of truth amidst surrounding darkness, yet love is the golden substance from which alone she can do it effectively. The Lord Himself was seen by St. John as girded around with a golden girdle, because this symbolized the divine affection, from which descends the sphere of love which is derived from Him, which encircles His children, uniting them to each other and to Himself. Lastly, the holy city, New Jerusalem, the Church now diffusing itself among men, AND THE GRAND CHURCH OF THE FUTURE, is said to be a golden city. “The city was PURE GOLD, like unto clear glass;” “and the street of the city was PURE GOLD” (Rev. xxi. 18-21). What can that pure gold be, but the spirit of pure love?
“For love within itself includes
The source of all beatitudes.”
Love is the golden principle. Love enriches, embellishes, and blesses mankind. Without love nothing can impart true and lasting felicity. With love the humblest gifts are valuable and valued, and the humblest position of life contains the real essentials of happiness. The gift of loving is heaven’s greatest boon to man, And he who cannot love may have splendid talents, may win position, wealth, applause, and fame, but will never succeed in possessing that without which all other possessions are cold, hollow, and valueless, the gift of being happy, in making others happy. This is divine gold. Gold abounded so much in the reign of the earthly Solomon, to represent that in the celestial condition of the Church, when the Lord Jesus in His glorified humanity would be truly and supremely loved as Lord of all, there would be an abundance of this spirit of holy Christian love. The whole interior of the Temple was covered with gold, the altar, and all the consecrated vessels were of gold: there were ten great lamp-holders of gold: the throne of the king was covered with gold. There were” two hundred targets” (or large shields), and “three hundred (other) shields of gold:” and “all king Solomon’s drinking vessels were of gold, and all the vessels or the house of the forest of Lebanon were of pure gold; none were of silver: it was nothing accounted of in the days of Solomon.”
If we notice the leading qualities of gold, we shall discern how perfectly they correspond to the leading qualities of heavenly love.
There is its wonderful malleability and ductility. Though very heavy it can be beaten out until it is lighter than air. It is so ductile that it is said a comparatively small portion could be drawn out as wire to compass the whole world, It will enter, into and cover, embellish, and improve objects of all shapes and sinuosities. All patterns can be gilded, and brightened, and however old, or however often used, the gold retains its intrinsic value. Gold never corrupts or grows old.
All this can be truly said of genuine Christian love. It is the most solid and the most sacred substance the human soul can have, but how wonderfully it can be stretched out. Its sympathies flow forth in all directions. There is no sorrow to which it will not bend, there is no grandeur which it will not adorn. Love will clothe the house of prayer with devotion, and it will wipe away the orphan’s tear. Colour and distance of country make no difference to love it will gild and glorify them all. It will penetrate the prison and the forest, to liberate the captive and to elevate the savage. Love will circumnavigate the globe to carry out its mission of raising the down-trodden, and replacing the manacles of misery by the golden links of mutual affection. Love is the grand miracle-worker. It turns a barren waste into stores of blessing. It transforms the wilderness into an Eden, and the desert into a garden of God. Love never dies. Like the soul, in its inmost being it is blest with perpetual youth. Talents become feeble, and knowledge grows dim, but love, the true vestal and perpetual fire, burns on with undiminished flame even among the mists of this lower world, until it is transplanted to the warm mountains of the better land, where it will glow and bless for ever.
Gold is superior to the action of acids. Inferior metals are fretted and agitated by the bitter action of acrid fluids, but gold remains uninjured. Let the acid be keen and biting as it may, true pure gold remains with Its substance unhurt, and its lustre undimmed. It is exactly the same with true heavenly gold. The acids of bitter temper, the provocations of satire, and the jeers of malice, make disturbance enough in the affairs of the world, but where genuine Christian love exist they assail in vain. Love never faileth. “Love suffereth long and is kind. Love is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil: rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth In the truth: beareth up all things; believeth all things; hopeth all things; endureth all things.”
One of the amazing things in the world is the enormous production there is of mental acid. Every little thing that is unusual will excite some people. Charity suffereth long, but they will suffer nothing. A word, a look, will be enough for a sulk, or enough for an open quarrel. They don’t believe they ought to bear anything; and if the whole world does not give way to their humour, the gall of bitterness comes from them in stream of malicious words, Many of these are professing Christians, pretended servants of Him who is the Divine Lamb. Instead of forgiving their brother seventy times seven, their spite and venom are often more withering and enduring than will be found among many who make no profession of following Him who said, ” Love one another, as I have loved you.”
These often excuse themselves, and lay the fault upon their temper, as if temper were something distinct from themselves. Self-love is always bad tempered to those who thwart it. If our religion does not soften and sweeten our tempers, we may be assured that it has very little heavenly gold in it. If we are ready to say sharp words at every little excitement, if we retaliate bitter word for bitter word, scorn for scorn, fretfulness, impatience, and vexation for every little inconvenience, mishap and disadvantage, we may depend upon it, there is much alloy mixed up with our gold, or what we take to be gold is only some baser metal. If true heavenly love be in us, we shall have heavenly patience. The more heavenly love we have, the more gentleness we shall have, the more self-conquest, and the more true gold.
It is said all the drinking vessels of king Solomon were of pure gold. The streams of intelligence and wisdom are represented in Scripture by things which can be drunk. For these, the soul can be thirsty. Hence we read, “Ho, everyone that thirsteth come ye to the waters. Come, buy wine and milk, without money and without price” (Isa, lv, I). There is wine from our Father’s kingdom, the sincere milk of the Word, and living water, to which everyone is invited to come.
These can feed, cheer, purify, and satisfy us at every stage of our spiritual pilgrimage. But, when we have arrived at the celestial state, we shall always get our supply with golden drinking vessels, or in other words we shall seek by every draught of wisdom we take to become more loving, more innocent, more pure, and more kind. We shall desire the truth from love, as well as speak the truth from love. From love we shall read, from love we shall study, from love we shall learn, from love we shall meditate, from love we shall act, or from love refrain from acting. This glorious principle will he the ground of all our activities, and of all our peace. On the two commandments of love, our Lord said, all the law and the prophets hang, and from the spirit of love to the Lord, and to our neighbour, all the efforts and the acts of the Christian who has become more than conqueror through Him that loved Him will be derived. All the drinking cups, and all the vessels of the house of the king, the house of the forest of Lebanon will be of pure gold.
The phrase house of the forest of Lebanon was given to the house of the king, because of the abundance of cedar-wood used in its construction. That grand tree-the cedar of Lebanon is the symbol in nature and in the Word of God of the rational faculty, especially in its expansive and protective power. The rational faculty, with its great lines of thoughtful reasoning, is like the cedar with its branches, which are so many arms and hands covering and defending all who shelter under it from danger. The cedar-wood represents the results of reasoning, or reasons when the reasoning has ceased. The cedar-wood was present under the gold, but was not seen. The cedar of the house which was carved with knops and open flowers, all was cedar: there was no stone seen. The knops were egg-shaped fruit, opening and disclosing somewhat its interior, the flowers were unfolding their graces to the observer.
When the regenerated Christian acts from the high and pure principle which animates him, it includes the truest reason but without reasoning. He does what is right from love. His communication is yea, yea, or nay, nay. The law is written on his heart. He feels rather than reasons, but if the most perfect reasoning be applied to it, it will confirm all that has been done.
These carved ornaments would indicate that in every rational conception of the regenerate mind there is a tendency to goodness and truth. There is no barren reason–all flows forth into genuine piety and genuine righteous works. There are opening flowers. Sweet conceptlons of heavenly things delight and edify the mind. All things tend heavenward. In the whole frame of thought there is the divine stamp upon it. It fructifies and it adorns. There are knops and opening flowers.
The gold of the New Jerusalem is said to be transparent gold. “The street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass.” On earth, certainly, we have no tansparent gold. But, in the spiritual world, into which John’s spirit was enabled to see, there are many forms of substances unknown in this outer material sphere of things, and we doubt not among these will be transparent gold. It would seem to imply that the objects were full of love, and at the same time clearly wise—golden and transparent. The lesson is very nearly the same as that taught by all Solomon’s drinking cups, and all the vessels of the house of the forest of Lebanon being of gold.
Oh, what a grand state of man is that, when all he receives, as well as all he does, is from the golden spirit of love. Now, alas! too many spend their whole lives in empty nothings—in grovelling in the dust. It is said there is a nation of dirt-eaters in central America, who eat voraciously, but are gaunt, unsatisfied, and ever-hungry, because they are aiming to extract nourishment from that which is not bread. A sad picture it is, but a true illustration of the aims of those who are seeking angelic nourishment from sordid pleasure and earthly gain.
O, let us live for the golden age again! Let us seek from our Saviour the gold He invites us to receive-the love from Him, to Him and to all that are His. Let us seek His purity, though we may be tried in the fire of many a temptation and many a trouble. He will preside over the process by which we are rendered loving and good; and when the fires shall have done their work, we shall enjoy truly Christian love, and a calm and blessed peace. All our drinking vessels will be of gold: all the vessels of the king’s house of pure gold. Silver, it is said, was nothing accounted of in the days of Solomon. Silver represents the spirit of the Holy Word, as distinguished from the letter, which is represented in Scripture by iron. The spiritual sense of the Word glitters before the eyes of the understanding more than the letter, as silver shines with a richer radiance than iron. Silver is of great value in purifying gold, but after that work is done, would be little accounted of where gold was vastly abundant. So, likewise, when a soul has gone through its spiritual states in which the intelligence of inward truth. spiritual silver, leads it, and has entered into the celestial state in which love is all in all, then it will be truly said, silver is nothing accounted of. All our vessels, all our faculties will be formed of purified gold. The spirit of love, of holy celestial charity, has transfused itself from the Lord into our entire being. The Lord has been to such celestial Christians as a refiner and purifier of silver first, and He has purified them as the sons of Levi (Mal. iii. 3), He has then purged them as gold, that they may render to Him offerings of righteousness, and live in His golden city for ever and ever.
Author: JONATHAN BAYLEY –From The Divine Wisdom of the Word of God (1892)