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Greater In Riches and Wisdom

by David Johnson

(Transcribed from the Words of Life Radio Program.)


IMG_0666     It is a privilege to be together again as we look into the Word of God together.  The title for the lesson, “Greater in Riches and Wisdom” and the text is taken from the Old Testament book of 1 Kings, chapter 10 beginning in verse 14 through verse 25.  Listen to the Word of God.

The weight of the gold that Solomon received yearly was 666 talents, not including the revenues from merchants and traders and from all the Arabian kings and the governors of the land.  King Solomon made 200 large shields of hammered gold, 600 bekahs of gold went into each shield.  He also made 300 small shields of hammered gold with three minas of gold in each shield. The king put them in the palace of the forest of Lebanon. Then the king made a great throne inlaid with ivory and overlaid with fine gold. The throne had six steps and its back had a rounded top. On both sides of the seat were arm rests with a lion standing beside each of them. Twelve lions stood on the six steps, one on either end of each step. Nothing like it had ever been made any other kingdom. All King Solomon’s goblets were gold.  And all the household articles in the palace of the forest of Lebanon were pure gold. Nothing was made of silver because silver was considered of little value in Solomon’s days.  The king had a fleet of trading ships. At sea along with the ships of Hiram, once every three years it returned carrying gold, silver and ivory and apes and baboons. King Solomon was greater in riches and wisdom than all the other kings of the earth. The whole world sought audience with Solomon to hear the wisdom God had put in his heart. Year after year everyone who came brought gifts, articles of silver and gold, robes, weapons and spices and horses and mules. This is the Word of God. May he add his blessing to the public reading of his Word.

Soon we will celebrate America’s President’s Day, a special commemorating probably our two greatest president’s birthdays: George Washington’s, our first president, whose birthday is on February 22nd and Abraham Lincoln’s birthday on February 12th, even honoring all of our American Presidents.

In the Bible Israel is the nation of focus. The two greatest kings of Israel were undoubtedly David and Solomon, so far, with some similarity to our Washington and Lincoln. King David was the first king of the most  prominent tribe of Judah and Solomon was the king that finally brought peace and eventual prosperity from war, similar to Washington and Lincoln.  Our focus will be King Solomon, known especially for his wisdom and wealth.  And as we make application to our national leadership and nation.

The riches of Solomon’s reign was spectacular. Even Hollywood, many decades ago tried to capture Solomon’s splendor with a movie entitled Solomon’s Mines.   Perhaps you recall the actor Stuart Granger in the lead role as Solomon. The Hollywood Script took its cue from the Scriptures, captured and condensed partly in our study passage in 1 Kings chapter 10 verses 14 through 25. Let’s look more closely.

Verse 14.  It says there: The weight of the gold Solomon received yearly was 666 talents. This amounts to about—according to scholars—about 25 tons of gold or 50,000 pounds of gold every year. That is an enormous wealth just in gold. For example, by contrast or comparison, our US mint at Fort Knox, which is south of Louisville, Kentucky, operates a depository there for the storage of some of our US gold reserves.  I considered calling Fort Knox to ask how much gold is stored there for comparison sake, however, I quickly reconsidered, because I didn’t want a SWAT team to hit the parsonage.

Nevertheless, in verse 15 it says, in part, not including the revenues from merchants, traders and all the Arabian Kings and governors of the land, which means that probably more gold and other precious metals and gems and commodities, plus from taxes and tariffs and tolls, from overland caravans and seaports controlled by King Solomon. A tremendous, spectacular wealth.

Since our President Washington till today our presidents have usually insisted on more and more taxes usually and many different varieties. America today has a budget in the trillions with a T, in the trillions of dollars.  No longer backed up entirely by gold reserves. In fact, America today is also trillions of dollars in national debt.  Our presidents are largely responsible for this today.  According to the United States Department of Treasury, in 1865, that is Lincoln’s presidency, our gross national debt  amounted to about 75 dollars per person.  By 2007 our national debt has amounted to 29,864 dollars per person. But consider that in 2007 our total population was only about eight and a half times as large as 1865.  Yet our gross national debt was more than 3350 times as large as in 1865.  And, therefore, our nation debt per person has skyrocketed to about 400 times as great as it was in 1865 by just the year 2007.  Imagine the numbers today.
So do our current presidents need wisdom concerning our great wealth today, regarding our budget, regarding our tax dollars? Absolutely.

In 1 Kings chapter 10 and verses 16 through 21 it details Solomon’s use and measurement of just his gold.  For example, in verse 16 it says, in part: 200 large shields of hammered gold of 600 bekahs or about seven and a half pounds of gold, went into each shield.  That is about a total of 1500 pounds of gold. In verse 17 it says, in part:  300 small shields of hammered gold with three minas or about three and three quarter pounds of gold into each shield. That is about 1125 pounds of gold for a combined total of about 2625 pounds of gold just in shields, probably only for ceremonial use, since they were made out of pure gold.

So Solomon had made a total of 500 glittering gold shields, plus his usual military use of shields. Again, for comparison sake, to highlight the splendor of Solomon’s spectacular wealth, the leading United States state today in the amount of gold produced is measured in troy ounces, which is the state of Nevada. In 2004 the state of Nevada produced almost seven million troy ounces.   South Africa, the leading nation in the world producing gold, produced about 11 million troy ounces in 2004 according to the United States Geological Surveys.

Now, we should also understand that according to troy weight, a pound is only 12 instead of 16 ounces. So Solomon measured his gold in tons. Today gold’s major producers measure their gold in only troy ounces.  Think of our national leadership and how it needs wisdom even regarding America’s gold reserves.

In 1 Kings chapter 10 and verse 18 it says, in part, that the king made a great throne inlaid with ivory and overlaid with fine gold. Verse 20 ends with: Nothing like it has ever been made for any other kingdom.  We Americans should thank God that our original national leaders, including George Washington, sought and fought for a republic for the people and by the people, not the people of a kingdom ruled arbitrarily often on the whims of kings and queens or royalty instead of our republic.  Our only king as Christians is Jesus Christ, the King of kings. It is only to his throne that we bow. We, as Christians today, are only part of his kingdom. One day, yet future, we in Christ will reign with Jesus Christ for a thousand glorious years on this renewed, restored earth over all the nations. Yet we Americans should not forget our brave past either when, for example, in May of 1776 at a meeting of the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia a resolution was called to declare separation from British monarch, from British rule, that the American colonies would no longer be subject to King George III and his oppressive acts of taxation and intimidation.
President George Washington stated, quote:  No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand which conducts the affairs of men more than those of these United States.  We need more presidents like George Washington that acknowledge and adore the one true God of the Bible, the God not only of Israel, but the God of all the nations and to acknowledge this publicly even before the people, before the citizens of the nation.

President Abraham Lincoln stated and I quote: We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven, end of quote. We need more presidents like Abraham Lincoln to publicly before our people, before the peoples of the nations to thank the one true God of our tremendous bounty and blessing from our God, from the one true God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of the Bible.

In 1 Kings chapter 10 and verse 23 it says: King Solomon was greater in riches and wisdom than all the other kings of the earth.  Even the super rich pay taxes, but kings do not pay taxes.  They only collect taxes.  Even Queen Elizabeth II and her family today in the United Kingdom, that is Great Britain, are in large part supported by taxation of the British citizens. Their court, their family, by the British citizens, the people of Great Britain through their taxes.

The richest of rich today in large part measure their riches in paper currency or in stocks and bonds. King Solomon’s riches was primarily measured in gold tonnage.  What a difference, what a contrast. In verse 24 it says, in part: the whole world sought audience with Solomon to hear the wisdom God had put in his heart.  So leaders from other nations came to learn of Solomon’s wisdom even the great Queen of the South, the Queen of Sheba came from evidently a long distance to listen to the wisdom that God had given to Solomon, instilled by God, not just to marvel at his wealth, but to consider his wisdom and learn from him. And we surely today can also not only learn from godly men and women, but certainly learn wisdom from God through the Scriptures by the Holy Spirit as we study, as we reflect, as we ponder, as we seek to digest, to bring the Word of God into our hearts and minds that we can know the principles and precepts, the promises and the prophecies of God from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21, the whole counsel of God.

So what can we do as American citizens of our great country today regarding our current president and future presidents and all leaders in high places in high office? Well, the answer is given to us in Scripture. We have wisdom. We have principles and precepts revealed to us in Scripture that are certainly practical and applicable to us today even regarding our presidents, our leaders in our countries, certainly in America. The answer is found in 1 Timothy chapter two and verses one through two where it says, in part, the apostle Paul writing to the young man Timothy where he wrote: I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone, for kings and all those in authority.  Yes, God is in control, but our prayers, especially for presidents and leaders in high places can change the world. Our prayers moves the heart and mind of God as we pray fervently, of course, always in God’s will and according to God’s timetable. But as we continually pray persistently and consistently in our petitions, including praying for our leaders in high places, even our president. Many in positions of authority over us need Christ as Savior and Lord. And we certainly can pray for third spiritual need.  All need godly wisdom whether president or just a plain citizen. We all need wisdom from God, primarily today through his Word from other mature Christians and by the Holy Spirit.  But what if we don’t approve of the president or his policies? All the more reason to intercede on his behalf, to pray that our leaders, that our president would be led of God, would not neglect to seek the face of God in prayer themselves to know what is best, to do things in a way that would be pleasing to God, according to the Scriptures.

Do you realize that at the time the apostle Paul wrote this, this letter to the young man Timothy regarding urging that not only Timothy, but that he would share as a young leader with the churches where he was serving and teaching that first of all requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone, but also for kings and all those in authority. Do you realize that when Paul wrote this, that the very evil, imperial Roman Emperor Nero was in authority, was the emperor, was in charge of the Roman Empire. And he was very evil.  And yet Paul said: Pray for him.  And we need to pray without ceasing for our leaders today.


                                  David Johnson is minister of the Sellersburg Church of Christ, Sellersburg, IN.

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2 Corinthians 12:10