King David had grown old. His active life had taken its toll of his body, and as he neared the age of seventy his vital heat failed him even though he was covered with clothes. And his servants found a special nurse for him, Abishag, a beautiful virgin from Shunem, who cherished him and lay in his bosom to warm him. But the king knew her not.
This incident is told to show that David was too stricken to attend to affairs of state. For the sake of the spiritual sense, the emphasis lies on his lack of warmth. David represents the spiritual truth which rules in the spiritual mind truth of the Word taken up from a man's memory by being transposed into a spiritual form, as spiritual ideas of which man is not aware, yet which enrich his spiritual conscience. But a man can see spiritual and even celestial truths in rational form; for every one is equipped to know and understand such truth if he only allows his thought to be elevated into spiritual light, apart from the prejudices of his proprium. Still, unless his will is at the same time raised into spiritual heat, his thought sinks back into merely natural light. (DLW 258) A spiritual conscience is therefore powerless and incapable of ruling in man when there is no love for spiritual truth; as happens when the natural man plots a rebellion against the uses of charity. Then David is cold. For no amount of truths can make the spirit warm. And Abishag was called in, to represent an unattached and virginal affection which can for a time cherish, serve, and maintain spiritual life without itself being raised up to enjoy it.
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Every man, as he grows old, becomes concerned about the future of his family and of the forensic uses which he must leave for other hands to carry on. As death approaches, life can be seen as to its whole drift, and essentials stand out in important relief, while other things sink back as insignificant. For man's ruling love is then settled, and its wisdom such as it may be has been harvested. He can discern past errors without passionately flying to their defense; he can more clearly see the principles which made his uses real. His last words, when fully attested, have a certain binding force upon his posterity as a "last will and testament" which directs to a conclusion the work he had begun, and shifts its responsibility to younger shoulders.
The "last words" of David (cited in our last chapter) therefore prescribe that "he that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God." (2 Sam. 23:3) David does not here name which of his sons would succeed him. But when he added, "he shall be as the light of morning when the sun ariseth, a morning without clouds, as the tender grass springing forth from the earth sparkling after rain" he seemed to suggest the name of Solomon, which means "peace." And among his intimates it was known that Solomon was the king's choice.
Yet Adonijah, an older son who had been born in Hebron, did not wait for his father's commands, but conferred with Joab and with Abiathar the priest (a descendant of Eli), and prepared chariots and horsemen and fifty men to run before him. And saying, "I will be king 1" he invited the king's sons and the men of Judah to a feast in his house below Jerusalem. But Solomon, and Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah and his troop of mighty men who were David's body guard, he called not.
Now David was very fond of Adonijah, and had never scolded him or denied him anything. Adonijah was also a very handsome man, like Absalom before him. His attempted coup d'etat had apparently much the same spiritual significance as the abortive rebellion of Absalom a rebellion of a state in the natural mind, an evil state based on a perversion of the sense of the letter of the Word. But Adonijah's rival was not David, but Solomon. Adonijah's prime intent was to prevent Solomon from ruling Israel.
The sacred text goes on to tell how this plot was frustrated. Nathan the prophet showed Bathsheba, the mother of Solomon, that only quick action could save their lives. Bathsheba then went to the king's sick bed, told him what had occurred, and reminded him of his promise that Solomon would inherit his throne. Nathan came in also, reinforcing her petition. And David, rallying his strength, called Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet and Benaiah the captain of the "mighty men," and ordered them to let Solomon ride on the king's mule down to the brook Gihon in the valley below Mount Zion, and there anoint him, blowing the trumpet to proclaim him, with the shout, "God save king Solomon!" And the people who had streamed out of Jerusalem after him, piped with pipes and made enough noise to make the earth shake with the sound.
Then all the guests of Adonijah, having just made an end of eating, were startled to find that their plot was nipped in the bud; and they fled in all directions, and Adonijah took refuge in the tabernacle, holding on to the horns of the altar until Solomon sent for him and put him on probation as long as wickedness should not again be found in him.
Shortly afterwards David was on his death bed. His charge to Solomon was to walk according to the law of Moses. But he also told Solomon to even the scores with Joab, who, while he had not gone with Absalom, yet had joined Adonijah's rebellion and had also murdered two worthy men; and with Shimei, who had cursed David; but to show kindness to the house of Barzillai who had befriended David in a time of need. Then "David slept with his fathers and was buried in the city of David."
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Solomon carried out his father's last commands. His patience with Adonijah came to an end when Adonijah persuaded Bathsheba to ask Solomon to allow him to marry Abishag, David's virgin widow. Solomon considered this an impudent request, equivalent to asking for the kingdom. For it appears that an oriental despot inherited not only the throne, but his predecessor's harem. (Cp. 2 Sam. 12:8) Thus Solomon found occasion to put Adonijah to death. Abiathar was thrust out of his priestly office the last of Eli's line. Joab in accordance with the law of Moses was slain even as he held on to the horns of the altar which he refused to leave. (Exodus 21: 14) Shimei was killed for disobeying Solomon's command not to leave the city.
And so the kingdom was established in the hand of Solomon. It is plain that the bloody acts of retribution which marked the opening of his reign and which find far more terrible parallels in the history of most monarchs of that time in the spiritual sense represented the aftermaths of the judgment which had been signified by the wars and tribulations of David's lifetime; a judgment by which the natural man became subservient to the spiritual and by which hypocritical states as well as openly rebellious affections were removed from the life of the mind. For Solomon himself had the reputation of a man of peace as his name indicated. And his spiritual role in the story of Israel is clearly shown in the description of his reign.
Solomon, like David, represented the spiritual mind which is opened, although man is unaware of it, during regeneration. But Solomon obviously represents an even higher degree of that mind, or that which is spoken of as the celestial or the interior rational. It is opened especially by "a love of the Lord from the Lord," a love of celestial uses. It is opened when a man has an aversion for evils. It follows, that with such a man not only is the rational regenerated, but also the lower natural. And we are told in the doctrine that few at this day are regenerated as to the sensual degree of the natural. (AC 9726, 7442:4, SD 4629 1/2) With the celestial man there is however a conjunction of the spiritual degree with the lowest natural. (AC 1434) And in Solomon's reign this is represented even by the first thing told of him that he made affinity with Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and took his daughter to wife. (AE 654: 29, 33) For Egypt signifies the knowledges of truth and good, and indeed all scientifics about natural things and their causes. (AC 5223:2, 5213e)
Solomon "loved the Lord," But he sacrificed and burnt incense in various "high places." And one of these places was at Gibeon. There he offered a thousand burnt offerings. And there the Lord appeared to him in a dream, and asked him what he wished for. Solomon humbly said that he was like a little child. He needed an understanding heart to judge the Lord's people. And God commended him for not having asked for long life or riches or revenge on his enemies. "Behold, ... I have given you a wise and understanding heart ... I have also given you what you have not asked both riches and honor . . ." And Solomon woke up and behold, it was just a dream ! But he arose, and came to Jerusalem and offered up burnt offerings there, before the ark.
His wisdom soon proved itself. When two women both claimed to be the mother of a child, he commanded that the child be divided by the sword; whereat the true mother was revealed by her willingness to give up the child.
His power grew. He appointed eleven princes (or cabinet members') and twelve provincial governors. "Judah and Israel were as many as the sand of the seashore . . . eating and drinking and making merry." At last it was a happy land! "Judah and Israel dwelt safely, every man under his vine and under his fig tree, from Dan even to Beersheba, all the days of Solomon." From the river of Egypt to the Euphrates, the kings of the border states brought him tribute. The daily rations of his court were huge, including thirty oxen and a hundred sheep "beside harts and roebucks and fallow deer and fatted fowl." And there were forty thousand stalls of horses for his chariots and twelve thousand horsemen ! His wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the sons of the east and all the wisdom of Egypt! His fame was in all nations round about. He spake three thousand proverbs, and his songs were a thousand and five. He spake of trees, from the cedar of Lebanon to the hyssop that springs out of the wall; he spake of beasts and fowls and creeping things and fishes. (Cp. AC 5223) And there came of all people to hear the wisdom of Solomon, from all the kings of the earth who had heard of his wisdom.
But much of the fame of Solomon is connected with his building a magnificent temple of Jehovah. This was done in fulfilment of his father's ardent desire to build such a house of God. David had not been permitted to do so, because he had been constantly involved in struggles with external enemies and with the foes of his own household. Now his son Solomon sent to Hiram, king of Tyre, who had ever been a lover of David, and agreed to supply Hiram with wheat and oil if Hiram would bring down timber of cedar and fir from Lebanon, shipping it on floats down the coast to Judah. Solomon's plan was not confined to the temple, for he needed also to build a "house of the forest of Lebanon" as a palace, and Millo, another house, for Pharaoh's daughter, and besides this he wanted to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem and reconstruct a great number of cities and rear up fortified store cities.
For these enterprises Solomon raised a levy of thirty thousand men who worked in shifts of ten thousand in the forest on Mount Lebanon, with another seventy thousand to carry and eighty thousand to hew. Solomon's builders and Hiram's artisans hewed costly stones and cut the timber to fit the plans.
Solomon had reigned for four years, when he began his seven year task of erecting the temple. Four hundred and eighty years had passed since Israel, a rabble of nomads, fled from Egypt. And twice four hundred and eighty years were to go by until the coming of the Lord.*
Solomon built his temple carefully and reverently, of stone made ready before it was brought thither so that neither hammer nor ax nor tool of iron was heard in the house while it was being erected. For Jehovah had promised that here He would dwell among the sons of Israel.
The house was sixty cubits (c. 90 feet) long and 20 cubits wide and 30 cubits high. There were windows of narrow lights, and a porch before it. Against the walls were additional chambers, in three stories all around the house, each story 5 cubits high. The floors and walls and ceiling were of cedar, the doors and posts of olive wood, part of the floor being additionally covered with planking of fir. No stone was visible within. All was cedar, carved with knops and flowers, and overlaid with gold. Two great "cherubim," of olive wood, each ten cubits high. were overlaid with gold and set in the sanctuary (or oracle). and the doors to this room were carved with cherubim and palm trees and open flowers.
Solomon's own house, "The House of the Forest of Lebanon," was larger, but its timbers were not overlaid with gold. Its foundation was of great stones sawed with saws, stones of eight and ten cubits each. The house had forty-five pillars of cedar, in three rows, and windows on both sides, and a pillared porch where Solomon had his judgment throne a throne of ivory, overlaid with gold, and with six steps guarded by twelve lions.
To do the brass work for the court of the temple Solomon imported a craftsman from Tyre, Hiram, whose mother was from Naphtali. He cast two great pillars with ornate chapiters of molten bronze, and a molten "sea" or basin, ten cubits wide and resting on twelve oxen; and also ten bases and ten lavers and pots and shovels. And Solomon also provided for the holy place a new altar of incense and censers and a table for the shewbread, and candlesticks, five on each side; all of gold.
And when these things were ready, the older furnishings of the tabernacle were put among the treasures of the temple.
And Solomon assembled all the elders, tribal chiefs and heads of families in Jerusalem to bring the ark out of its tent on Mount Zion into its new abode. Now "there was nothing in the ark save the two tables of stone which Moses put there at Horeb." Solemnly the priests carried the ark, amid continual burnt offerings, and placed it beneath the wings of the cherubim, leaving the ark itself unseen in the darkness of the most holy, but with its staves protruding into the holv place. And it came to pass that a cloud of the Lord's glory filled the house so that the priests could not remain to minister.
Then Solomon spake: "Tehovah said that He would dwell in the thick darkness." He turned his face to the congregation and blessed them and began his address of dedication. And then he spread his hands to heaven before the altar and prayed the praver that forever placed him among the wise on earth: "Jehovah God of Israel: There is no god like Thee in heaven above or on earth beneath, who keepest covenant and mercy with Thy servants who walk before Thee with all their heart . . . Behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain Thee; how much less this house that I have builded ? . . . Yet have respect unto the prayer of Thy servant . . . that Thine eves may be open towards the place of which Thou hast said. My name shall be there. . . . Hear Thou in heaven Thy dwelling place, and when Thou hearest. forgive!"
And when his long prayer was finished Solomon blessed the congregation and said, "The Lord our God be with us, as He was with our fathers; let Him not leave us or forsake us: that He may incline our hearts unto Him to walk in all His ways . . . that all the people of the earth may know that Tehovah is God and none else."
So Solomon dedicated the temple and the court and offered burnt offerings, and the feast that he gave to all the people lasted fourteen days.
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Whence came all the wealth which Solomon thus poured out in public works and for private magnificence? The text tells of Pharaoh taking a city from the Canaanites and presenting it to his daughter; of Hiram king of Tyre supplying Solomon with gold, in ample return for some twenty small border cities. It tells of Solomon levying a tribute on the remnants of the Canaanitish tribes still living in the land. It also shows that Hiram supplied experienced sailors for a navy that Solomon built to trade in the Red Sea, and which brought gold from Ophir as well as precious stones and woods. But this was apart from what he received from trade and taxes and tributes and the revenue from the traffic lanes which he controlled between Africa and Asia. And when the queen of Sheba visited him to test his wisdom, she brought immense presents of gold and spices and jewels. It was no wonder that all king Solomon's cups and platters and utensils and even the shields and targets that hung in his hall were of solid gold ; "none were of silver: it was nothing accounted of in the days of Solomon!"
This is the picture of the mind that has been opened even to the celestial degree and has been integrated so that the internal man is conjoined with the natural. The celestial is characterized by love to the Lord. This is represented by Solomon's building the temple and by the gold that abounded in his kingdom; also by the peace that prevailed in his reign, and the humility and wisdom with which he was endowed.
Solomon's kingdom clearly represents the state of the regenerate man as well as the Church triumphant. In a still more sublime sense, this greatest of the kings of Israel is a type or a prophetic representative of the Lord in His glorified Human, as to His presence both in the celestial kingdom of heaven and in the spiritual kingdom of heaven. For as the Lord by His struggles of temptation fought against the hells and subdued them, so David's life was one of combat, resulting in a final victory. David at last defeated his external and domestic enemies, and at the end of his life Judah and Israel were for the first time united securely together, so that Solomon could rule over both. But Solomon stands for the Lord in His state of glorification. (AE 654:29, DP 245) For the Lord's glorification was finally effected when the Divine truth in His Human Divine was united with the Divine good, or the Divine Spiritual with the Divine Celestial; and by this final union, the Doctrine tells us, the spiritual kingdom and the celestial kingdom of heaven were conjoined. (AC 3969:9)
The regenerate state of man is also pictured in the glorious reign of Solomon. The three houses which Solomon erected have their counterparts in the mind of the man of the Church. (AE 654:33) There is a spiritual mind, signified by the temple with its sanctuary, its holy place, and its courts the celestial, spiritual, and spiritual-natural degrees from which man's final motives are inspired. There is a rational mind, signified by the "House of the Forest of Lebanon" where Solomon conducted the government and pronounced his judgments. And there is man's lower natural, the part of the mind where he collects the knowledge and experience by which love and wisdom are confirmed, which was signified by Millo, the palace of Pharaoh's daughter. When the mind is so built and ordered that all these degrees and levels work in conjunction, because no evils disturb their harmony, a wealth of uses can bring increasing delight and the things of the world become the means by which the wisdom of heaven comes to its fruition.
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David, for all his greatness, never measured up to Solomon. In David we see the manner by which spiritual truth is gradually established as a conscience which leads to the uprooting of hidden lusts of evil and of deceptive falsities. Yet this conscience with the spiritual man is, so far as man can discern it, only an imperfect refraction of the rays of the Divine glory in the clouds, even though it is truly the token of an everlasting covenant with the Lord. Therefore David, in his "last words," also meekly confesses: "Although my house be not so with God, yet hath He made me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure; for this is my salvation, and all my desire, although He make it not to grow."
But through such a confession which marks the summit of its illustration the spiritual conscience can surrender its authority to a higher wisdom of life, springing from a celestial love of the Lord. An inmost conscience, or perception, which is celestial and interiorly rational, is then established, by which evils are judged at first approach, by sheer aversion. According to the literal story, David, having abdicated in favor of his chosen son, dies. But in a spiritual sense he is raised again, in a new form, as Solomon.
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As is well known, David was a prophetic type of the Lord who was to come on earth. But the Word contains interiorly series within series of meanings, like wheels within wheels. Thus it is well to note that David and Solomon also represent the Lord in His second advent. For (as has previously been shown) King Saul represented the literal sense of the Word, specifically as understood in the Christian Church; and his life story shows how the authority placed in the letter of the Word was misused in the Church so that it could not defend itself against the falsity of "faith alone," signified by the Philistines. The spiritual sense of the Word, like the ark of the covenant, had already been lost and neglected. It was David, signifying the Lord in His second advent, who brought back the ark and replaced it in its tabernacle. The spiritual sense was restored and the Divinity of the Word again demonstrated by the publication of the Arcana Coelestia, in the years 1749 to 1756.
The statement is however made, that before the crucial year 1757 much of the communication between heaven and mankind had been cut off by the presence of evil spirits in the upper ranges of the world of spirits. "Revelations for the New Church" could therefore not be made before a last judgment had purified the world of spirits. (CLJ 12, LJ post. 134, AE 1217) The Arcana indeed prepared the way for this last judgment, by disclosing the spiritual sense of the Word and thus displaying the interior evils of spirits and men. Yet the reception of this Divinely revealed spiritual truth was not possible before the last judgment. (AC 32, 2121, 2123, 2242:3) In the Arcana Coelestia we find many anticipations of the coming judgment and many predictions of a New Church to come. In it, the spiritual sense of the Word is, like the ark of the covenant, recovered, recognized and returned into its holy tabernacle. Within its expositions, or appended thereto, are contained the doctrines of heaven truths in full unity with the Doctrine of the New Church later published. Still this Doctrine is not yet given in categorical organized form addressed "for the New Church." The ark of the new covenant in the Arcana dwelt as yet within curtains, in its holy tabernacle; but the temple had not yet been built.
The tabernacle and the temple were both the abode of the same sacred ark. But it is noted in the Apocalypse Explained that "the tent of meeting was a more holy representative of the Lord, of heaven, and of the church, than the temple." (AE 700:33) And similarly, that Divine truths such as are of the spiritual sense are called holy only when they are in their ultimate in the sense of the letter. (AE 1088:2)
The life of David as a king, with its wars and civil commotions, together with the final retribution that overcame his enemies after his death, displays significant parallels to that last judgment which was being precipitated in the period during which the Arcana Coelestia was published; a judgment by which order was restored in the spiritual world.
And who can fail to see the likeness between the temple of Solomon and that holy city, New Jerusalem, which in the book of Revelation is described as descending from God out of heaven, and which signifies the Doctrine of the New Heaven and the New Church. The temple of Solomon with its adjacent palaces represented the organized doctrine "for the New Church" written and published as a rationally consistent system of teachings immediately after the last judgment of 1757, in volume after volume, Heaven and Hell, The Last Judgment, The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine, The Doctrines of The Lord, The Word, Life, and Faith, and many others, culminating in the True Christian Religion.
All the vessels of the tabernacle were brought into the new temple. All the truths of the Arcana Coelestia are found as intrinsic parts of the Doctrines later published. David was not himself permitted to rear the temple; but he had gathered treasure and material to be used in the project. (1 Chron. 22) It was for Solomon to add to this and build the temple and dedicate it for the use of the church.
And as Solomon excelled the wisdom of the east and the wisdom of Egypt, so do the Writings rest spiritual revelation upon natural truth, both symbolic and factual. The temple was made of cedar of Lebanon, which signifies rational truth that truth which interprets human experience in the light of heaven. And the foundations of the temple its stones and timber though hewn beforehand as if by Divine foresight, were fitted together so that neither hammer nor ax or any tool of iron was heard in the process of building. For in the Writings are imbedded the truths of all the ages the truths of ancient perception restored, the forgotten doctrines of the Ancient Word, the symbolic commands of the Mosaic law, and the surviving highlights of Christian faith; even as the New Jerusalem stands on twelve foundations garnished with precious stones the open truths of former revelations.
And this universal aspect of the Writings and of the New Church is reflected in Solomon's relations with all the countries round about. Israel became the center of commerce, the focus of wealth and wisdom. And we are instructed that the angels are as it were blind to the decadence of Solomon in his later days when he took seven hundred princesses for wives and three hundred concubines and set up shrines to all their gods; for in these extravagant trespasses the angels only perceive a symbol of the Lord's universal mercy and love toward the well-disposed in every religion, who live in mutual charity according to their lights, and who constitute in His sight one universal church and are joined with invisible bonds into a human form of uses a Grand Man in which those serve as the heart and the lungs who have the Word of God and thus can know and worship the Lord in spirit and in truth. Hence we read:
"Because the Lord, after the glorification of His Human, had power over heaven and earth (as He Himself says in Matthew 28:18), so Solomon His representative appeared in glory and magnificence and possessed wisdom above all the kings of the earth, and also built the temple. Furthermore, Solomon permitted and set up the worship of many nations, by which are represented various religions in the world. Similar things are meant by his wives, seven hundred in number, and by his concubines who numbered three hundred (1 Kings 11:3). For a "wife" in the Word signifies a church, and a "concubine" a religion . . ." (DP 245)
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Let us not think that Saul or David or Solomon or any other man could maintain a life good enough to give a picture of the Lord's Divine perfection. But the Word has many levels, and what appears in its literal sense has also its Divine intent not only to reveal the weakness and failure of man, the depths of evil which we seldom recognize in ourselves, but also to manifest the infinite mercy of the Lord.
That the three kings of United Israel each had the seeds of greatness, it would be ungenerous to deny. The pious man reads their story with sympathy, knowing that all greatness and virtue can represent and prophesy something Divine.
But when the prophecy is fulfilled, the representation fades and shrinks back into its human dimensions. And so, when we see the glory and the scope of the New Jerusalem and feel the presence of the wisdom of God in the Divine Doctrine in which the Lord again dwells with men, we see a glory that is not from man and know that One greater than Solomon is here.