THE HISTORY OF THE BIBLE
King Saul to the Babylonian Captivity
In a series of studies I have tried to set before you those historical events that are covered by this book that we call the Bible, a word that really means “The Books.” It embraces four thousand years, plus or minus a few years, from the creation of man to the close of Revelation, the last book.. We have learned that all Bible history is divided into five periods. The first three periods have been presented, and in this lesson I call your attention to number four. We might call this period as the time of the Kingdom. or Monarchy. It extends from about 1100 B.C. to 587 B.C. and covers some 500 years. It is the time of their beginning as a kingdom and their end as a kingdom. It tells us of their first king and their last king. It tells of their glory days and their tragic return to slavery.
The first thing of interest about this time period is that for the first time they had an earthly king, and all Israel became his subjects. This was something entirely new for God's chosen nation. This nation had no earthly kings before 1100 B.C. In the previous period from Moses to Samuel, some 400 years, Israel was a Theocracy with a God-ruled system of government. The only King they had was God and the country was ruled by fifteen Judges directly under God's control.
When Samuel, the last of the Judges grew old and his sons began to rule over Israel, the Bible tells us they perverted judgment and injustice filled the land. For this reason the nation demanded a change be made in the form of government. They demanded of Samuel that a king be appointed over them like all the nations round about them. When the people made this demand, Samuel was terribly grieved and carried the matter to the Lord in prayer. God said to Samuel, “Go on and do as they request, for they have not rejected you but Me. They don't want me to be their King. They are simply treating you like they have treated from the time I brought them out of the land of Egypt.” God commanded Samuel to warn the people that the King will take their sons to fight his wars and lay other burdens on them of a financial nature, but they would not listen to Samuel. Therefore, for the first time in their history, God allowed Israel to become a Monarchy, a form of government where there is a single earthly ruler of the state.
The first three kings of Israel were Saul, David and Solomon, and each one enjoyed a forty year reign as the King of Israel. Each one was anointed with the holy oil of God, used to anoint the High Priest and the
regular priests. God directly chose each of these men to serve as the King of Israel. It would appear that from the time of Rehoboam, Solomon's son, the kingship became a matter of heredity, and each king appointed one of his family to take his place on the throne. The kings of Israel that God subsequently approved of were few and far between. Solomon was followed by his son, Rehoboam, and throughout the reign of twenty-one kings down to the days of Zedekiah in 587 B.C., they all occupied the throne of David in the city of Jerusalem on Mt. Moriah. David was by and far the greatest of all their kings, and after he became king the throne of Israel was henceforth called the throne of David.
Because of Solomon's grievous sin of allowing idolatry to be practiced in Israel, God took the kingdom away from him and gave ten tribes to a man named Jereboam, who established the worship of the golden calves and would have nothing to do with Jehovah and His religion. The ten tribes worshiped the golden calves until they were taken away captive to Assyria in 722 B.C. They lost their identity and became absorbed into the countries of the Middle East. The southern Kingdom of Judah became as sinful as the ten tribes and were allowed to exist for another 135 years until they were carried away captive into Babylon in 587 B.C. The throne of David was vacated in 587 B.C., and the Jewish nation has not had another earthly king in Jerusalem to this day. To prevent these two catastrophes, down the ensuing years God sent Israel thirteen prophets in an effort to restore the nation to God's good favor. He sent them four major prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel, and in addition 9 minor prophets. They are all listed in the index of your Bible. It was during this fourth period of Bible history that most of the prophecies about the coming of Christ were made to Israel. Such is a brief history of Israel from their first king to their last king, covering a period of some 500 years.
There were many great men who lived during the fourth period of Bible history. Among them were several great kings of Israel, and other great men among the great prophets who predicted the coming of Christ and the blessings He would bring to the world. In my judgment two of the most important men belonging to this period were David and Solomon, who served as kings of Israel.
David has the distinction of being the greatest of all the kings of Israel. He reigned forty years over Israel and from that time the throne of Israel was called the throne of David. He was so great his name was given to the great Messiah who was to arise in Israel and save both Israel and the
Gentiles. Ezekiel 37:24 says, “David my servant shall be king over them, and they shall have one shepherd.” A new David was to arise in Israel, not the old David who had been in the grave hundreds of years, but a new king like David of old. Jesus Christ was the second David. In Psalm 89:20 God said, “I have found my servant David: with my holy oil I have anointed him....Once I have sworn by my holiness; I will not lie to David. His seed shall endure forever, and his throne as the sun before Me. It shall be established forever like the moon...(Psalm 89:35-37). There is a king sitting on David's throne today, but not in Jerusalem. The throne of David was transferred to heaven unto the right hand of God. Christ, as the second David, is now sitting on that throne.
David was more than a king.. He was a warrior, an accomplished musician, and a poet. Seldom are so many abilities combined in one person, and then all these abilities developed to such a high degree as did David. He should be considered one of the world's greatest poets, if not the greatest poet. His poetry excels all other poetry in that God is in his poetry. All of his poems, all of his psalms are about God. There are 150 chapters in the book of Psalms and he wrote most of them.
One of his psalms has become famous all over the world, and it just may be that more people have read and heard this psalm more than any other scripture in the entire Bible. It goes like this, “The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me. Your rod and your staff they comfort me.....” The last verse says, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
I wonder what there is about that poem that has captured the affection and admiration of the world? These are words people sorely need, especially on two occasions in life: when we are about to die and when we have to bury our loved ones out of our sight. David has given to those about to die the most comforting words to be found in the Old Testament. These are consoling words to a person on his death- bed. This psalm is read at funerals more often than any other passage in the Bible. The thoughts are very comforting to those who grieve and mourn. Only in the New Testament do we find language more assuring: “I go to prepare a place for you, and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and
receive you unto Myself, that where I am there you may be also.” We owe David a debt of gratitude for his wonderful writings.
I want to say one more thing about David. We first meet David in the Bible when he was a youth, taking care of his father's sheep. The Bible says he was “ruddy, with bright eyes and good looking.” It appears he had beauty of face and person, red hair, and the beauty of his eyes is especially noted in the Hebrew. Samuel anointed David as King with the holy oil, and the Bible says the Spirit came upon David from that day forward. That may account for much of the ability that he had.
The first test of David came when Saul was at war with the Philistines. The three oldest brothers in the family were at the front, and David was sent to carry food to his brothers. He arrived just in time to see Goliath, the giant, challenging any Israelite to meet him in single combat. He had come out every day for forty days and no Israelite would dare take him on. That's not surprising when we remember that Goliath was nearly ten feet tall. and covered in heavy armor. Shaquille O”Neal of the Los Angeles Lakers is just a little over seven feet tall, but this man was some three feet taller than Shaquille. If this man were on a basket ball court his head would be about even with the rim of the basket. David said, “I will fight that uncircumcized Philistine. His brothers scolded him, and King Saul refused to let him fight until David said a lion once took a lamb out of his flock one day; and I grabbed him by the beard and killed him and took the lamb out of his mouth. King Saul said, “Go and fight him.” David walked out to meet him without a suit of armor, Taking his shepherd's sling and five smooth pebbles from the brook, he went forth to what seemed the most unequal combat recorded in history. But the first smooth stone was enough. The giant had exposed his forehead, and the stone sank into the giant's forehead and he fell to the ground. David rushed forth and seizing the giant's own great sword, cut off his head. David was acclaimed the hero and savior of the nation.
In closing I will say a few words about Solomon, David's son and the next king of Israel. God appeared to him in a dream saying, “Ask what I shall give you?” Solomon said, “ Give me an understanding heart to judge your people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this your so great a people.” His request so pleased God that He gave him both wisdom and riches and said, “I have given you a wise and understanding heart, so that there has never been anyone like you before you, nor shall any like you arise after you.” Solomon put this great wisdom in two books of the Bible, which he wrote for posterity, the book of Proverbs and the book of Ecclesiastes.
proverbs and the book of Ecclesiastes. Mark the words of God!. He would have wisdom that no man ever had before him and no man will have after him. Here is a chance for doubters to check the accuracy and truthfulness of the Bible. This statement made by God is either true or false, and it can be tested and thus proven or disproven. Where before Solomon can such a collection of wisdom be found and where since? Where, except from above, could he have found the truths which he announced, the advice he gave on every question that arises in our daily lives?
Another note of distinction that belongs to Solomon is that God gave him the task of building the temple in Jerusalem. David wanted to build it, but David was a man of war and had shed much blood and for that reason he was not considered a fitting person to build the temple of Jehovah. It was one of the most beautiful structures of the ancient world and a monument to the devotion of Solomon and his people and a monument and to the skilled workmen: Hiram, King of Tyre, who supplied the material and Hiram from the tribe of Naphtali, the principal architect and engineer.
When the temple was completed, God appeared to Solomon a second time and said, “If you shall turn away from following Me, you or your children, and not keep my commandments and my statutes which I have set before you, but shall go and serve other gods and worship them, then I will cut off Israel out of the land which I have given them, and this house which I have hallowed for my name, I will cast out of my sight; and Israel will be a proverb and a by-word among all people.” Let people who scoff at prophecies like this in the Bible, let them visit Jerusalem today and see that nothing whatever remains of that temple. But you will find at the “Wailing Wall” Israelites who mourn the overthrow of Solomon's Temple, and that is the saddest scene I saw on my two visits to Jerusalem..
Not only did Israel fail to heed his warning, but Solomon himself did not heed God's warning. In his old days Solomon turned away from God and did not follow H im. How disappointing that one w ho could give such valuable advice to all generations should, at the end of life, have fallen from his high position The Bible says he loved many strange women and married hundreds of women from the idolatrous nations in the Middle East. The primary cause of his downfall is stated in I Kings 11:4, “For it was so, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not loyal to the Lord his God...”
His apostasy and downfall is proof that his words of wisdom came not from him but through him from the Holy Spirit.. He did not originate his words of wisdom for the edification of mankind. He was merely the instrument or conduit through which the heavenly wisdom flowed down from God to man. While he was under the divine influence of the Holy Spirit, he walked with God and his head was among the stars. When he did what was right in his own eyes, he was a pigmy, living a life of worldliness and a worshiper of false gods. Whether he ever made his life right with God is a matter of uncertainty. May we all learn from his mistakes.