That the cities.
Chiefly in acquiring cities rebuilt and taken from the enemy.
I. Cities for STORES (1 Kings 9:19).
II. Cities for COLONISATION.
III. Cities for PLEASURE.
IV. Cities for DEFENCE. Lessons:
1. That those who attend to the spiritual will not neglect the temporal interests of a nation.
2. That amidst the temporal interests of a nation great risks exist. Hence —
(1)Lessons of prudence.
(2)The danger of prosperity.
And Solomon brought up the daughter of Pharaoh.
We are to see in Solomon's action the working of a tender conscience; even though he may be appeasing his conscience by some trick or ceremony, yet he is showing us the working of the moral nature within the kingly breast. Yet there is a point to be noted here which is common to human experience: why should Solomon have married the daughter of Pharaoh? Why should he have, in the first instance, placed himself in so vital a relation to heathenism? Are there not men who first plunge into great mistakes, and then seek to rectify their position by zealous care about comparatively trifling details? Do not men make money by base means, and then zealously betake themselves to book-keeping, as if they would not spend money except in approved directions? Are there not those who have steeped their hearts in iniquity, and yet have washed their hands with soap and nitre? We are to beware of the creation of a false or a partial conscience, that makes up for sins of a larger kind by ostentatious devotion at the altar of detail and ceremony and petty ritual.
Consider Solomon's marriage with an Egyptian princess —
I. AS A MATTER OF POLICY. It sprang from —
1. A desire to counteract the influence of Hadad (1 Kings 11:14-20).
2. The wish to obtain support for his new dynasty and recognition from one of older fame and greater power.
3. Anxiety to strengthen himself by foreign alliances.
II. AS A SOURCE OF MORAL PERPLEXITY. What must be done with her? Solomon felt that a broad distinction must be made between the worship of Jehovah and idolatry.
III. AS THE BEGINNING OF TROUBLE. The policy advantageous at first, but ultimately proved hollow and impolitic. The reign which began so gloriously ended in gross darkness and fetish worship.
Then Solomon offered burnt offerings unto the Lord.
Solomon was great in burnt offerings. Do not men sometimes make up in burnt offerings what they lack in moral consistency? Is not an ostentatious religion sometimes the best proof of internal decay? It ought not to be so. The outward and inward should correspond. The action should be the incarnation of the thought. It is beautiful to look upon the Church engaged in much church-building and in strenuous endeavours against public sin; yet we must never forget that all this may possibly coexist with internal loss, decay, corruption. All action does not spring from life. Sometimes we try to make up by complex mechanism what is wanting in real vitality. It is often easier to offer burnt offering than to do some deed of moral heroism.
As the duty of every day required.
To some Christians "the sense of duty" and kindred phrases sound unattractive and suspicious. Yet it is dangerous even to minimise the sense of duty. A man who makes no terms with conscience, but does what God commands, will find his love grow stronger. A Christian's sense of duty is not the same as the sense of duty of one who has no faith. Natural religion would teach a man to be honest, sober, and industrious, but Christ's teaching goes far beyond this. Religious duties; purity of heart; forgiveness of others, etc
. But it is in the realm of supernatural help, prayer, and the sacraments that the greatest divergence is seen. "As the duty of every day required." Words such as these suggest that unless we are living a life of prayer, unless we are partaking of the life of Christ in the means He left for us to use, we are undutiful. What we claim for our religion is this —
1. The personal love of Christ will make us more severe with ourselves in performing "hard, unwelcome" duties of every day.
2. It will also claim from us earnest prayer, belief in the grace of the Holy Spirit, etc.