« AnteriorContinuar »
and magnanimity, and of obedience and loyalty to his sovereign, who, from a spirit of jealousy, unjustly sought to take away his life. The friendship of David, and Jonathan the son of Saul, is justly celebrated as excelling all the pictures of friendship which we have received from pagan antiquity; nor can the heathen poets furnish any thing equal to the piety, the beauty, and the sublimity of the hymns of the royal Psalmist. David greatly extended the dominions of Israel, and kept the people faithful to their law; and though he was guilty of very heinous sins (for which he was severely punished,) yet did his quick and deep contrition, and the general course of his life, shew that “ his heart was right before God;" God was therefore pleased to promise David, that he would “establish his house and the throne of his kingdom for ever(b);" which was a declaration that the Messiah was to be a descendant of David. When David drew near his death, after a reign of forty years, he caused his son Solomon 1015. to be anointed king, having been informed at the time when he proposed “to build a house for the ark of God,” that Solomon was appointed to be his successor.
Solomon, whose early piety, wisdom, and humility, rendered him the admiration of the world,
having (b) 2 Sam. c. 7. v, 13 and 16.
having been thus chosen by God to succeed to the throne of David, and “to build him a house for the tabernacle of his glory,” began his reign with very distinguished marks of divine favour. By the command of God he built a temple at Jerusalem, for which David had only been permitted to collect materials, “because he had shed blood abundantly, and had made great wars(c).” This temple,
This temple, which in riches and magnificence exceeded every other building upon earth, was built, after the model of the tabernacle, upon Mount Moriah, an eminence of
Mount Sion, in seven years and a half; and after 1004. it had been consecrated with great solemnity, the
ark of the covenant, the autographs of the holy Scriptures, and the other sacred things belonging to the tabernacle, were removed into it. The reign of Solomon, “who passed all the kings of the earth for riches and wisdom,” was the most brilliant period of the Jewish history. “ He reigned over all the kings, from the river (Euphrates) even unto the land of the Philistines, and to the border of Egypt(d);" yet," for his peace he was beloved.” Towards the close of life, however, Solomon tarnished the glory of his name, and“ did evil in the sight of the Lord.”.
(c) i Chron. c. 22. v. 8.
“ For it came to pass when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods : and his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father (e).” It seems, indeed, as if his heart had been so far corrupted by a long series of luxurious prosperity, as to have led him to persist in the abominations of idolatry, notwithstanding the warning he had received; wherefore God declared, that, “ he would for this afflict the seed of David, but not for ever.” Solomon was allowed to possess the “ kingdom all the days of his life for his father David's sake; but he was informed that God had appointed Jeroboam, his servant, to be king over ten of the tribes of Israel after his death (f);" and he might justly fear, from the disposition of his son
Rehoboam, (e) 1 Kings, c. 11. v. 4.
(f) God declared to Solomon, that he would give one tribe to his son Rehoboam, 1 Kings, ch. 11. v. 13. By this might be meant one tribe besides the tribe of his own house, which God had promised to David “ should be established for ever." Benjamin “ was the least of all the tribes of Israel," and it is generally supposed it had been an appendage to the tribe of Judah, or at least much mixed with it, from the time of the slaughter of the Benjamites, mentioned Judges, c. 20, and that it was therefore included in the tribe of Judah, with which indeed it had been connected from the time of the distribution of the land, Joshua, c. 18, in this promise to Solomon.
Rehoboam, that still greater punishment would follow: and thus were the latter days of this illustrious monarch, who reigned through a space of forty years, embittered by the prospect of calamities impending over his posterity, and by the sorrowful conviction derived from his own experience, " that all is vanity and vexation of spirit,” 'to those who “ forsake the law of the
Lord, and keep not the covenant of their God." 975. The extreme folly of Rehoboam's conduct,
upon his ascending the throne, induced ten of the tribes to revolt immediately, and they chose Jeroboam for their king. Two tribes only, namely, those of Judah and Benjamin, remained faithful to Rehoboam. Thus two kingdoms were formed; that under Jeroboam and his successors was called the kingdom of Israel; and that under Rehoboam and his successors was called the kingdom of Judah. The capital of the latter was Jerusalem, which had been the seat of government since the eighth year of David's reign. The capital of the former was at first Shechem, then Tirzah, and afterwards Samaria, the principal city of the tribe of Ephraim, whence this kingdom is also sometimes called the kingdom of Samaria, and sometimes the kingdom of Ephraim.
Jeroboam, fearing that the ten tribes, by going regularly to offer sacrifice at the temple of
Jerusalem, might return to their allegiance to the house of David, set up, in opposition to the warning he had received from the prophet Ahijah, two golden calves, and erected altars at Dan and Bethel, the two extremities of his kingdom, and ordered that sacrifices should be offered at those places instead of Jerusalem; and because the priests and Levites, leaving their respective cities situated within his dominions, had gone
to reside at Jerusalem, he made priests from the lowest of the people. Many persons also, from every one of the ten tribes, who were desirous of worshipping God at Jerusalem, left Jeroboam, and settling in the kingdom of Judah, added considerably to its strength. Jeroboam was succeeded by his son Nadab. After Nadab had reigned two years, he was killed by Baasha, who usurped the kingdom, and destroyed the whole race of Jeroboam, according to Ahijah's prophecy (g). But the kings of Judah were all descendants of Rehoboam, and consequently of David, as God had promised him : “ When thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom (h).”
(g) i Kings, c. 15. V. 27. c. 14. v. 10. (h) 2 Sam. c. 7. v. 12.