25 Feb — 2 Mar 2008

Issue No. 8            

King Solomon was a wise and great king. This is so well known that we forget that he was greater in riches than all the other kings of the earth (1Kings 10:23). The Holy Bible gives us a very good idea of how rich he was. “The weight of 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” (1Kg 10:14, 15). That’s 23 metric tonnes of gold a year. At today’s prices that would be worth about $1 billion.

 

Apart from this, Solomon also had a fleet of trading ships. “Once every three years it returned carrying gold, silver and ivory, and apes and baboons” (1Kg 10:22). And you can be sure that the fleet was not carrying back just a few grammes of gold. So all in all, Solomon’s coffers were overflowing with gold. Can we say that King Solomon was like King Midas who turned everything he touched into gold?

 

Now, knowing that Solomon had so much of the yellow stuff, I wonder what great public works he did with it. History mentions no public schools or hospitals for the people during Solomon’s reign. So what did he do with all that gold and wealth?

 

Mickey Chiang: King Solomon alias Midas

Solomon of course built the great Temple in Jerusalem. According to the Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia, the Temple project and the building of an even grander palace cost Solomon some US$4.4 billion in 1975 dollars. Things have more than doubled in price since then, so in 2008 dollars it would be a staggering US$9 billion, or around $13 billion in Singapore dollars. Hard to believe? Behold: “Solomon covered the inside of the temple with pure gold” (1Kg 6:21). That’s right, he even “covered the floors of both the inner and outer rooms of the temple with gold” (1Kg 6:30) and overlaid the wooden wall carvings in the inner sanctuary with gold “hammered evenly over the carvings” (1Kg 6:35). Solomon did not stint on the Lord’s Temple. It was truly magnificent.

 

But what else did Solomon do with the rest of the enormous wealth God gave him? He built a string of strategically located fortified cities with 40,000 stalls for horses, and accommodation for 12,000 cavalrymen and 1,400 war chariots. These guarded the trade routes and stood ready to repel any invasion, be it from the north, south, east or west. This heavy expenditure on defence was a prudent move.

 

However, with great wealth comes a great temptation to become more self-centred and to indulge oneself in luxury and mindless expenditure. And Solomon eventually fell to the temptation. He built a “great throne” like none ever seen before and overlaid it with ivory and gold, and all the goblets and household articles in his palace were made of pure gold (1Kg 10:18). Well, lifting heavy gold goblets and utensils is one way of getting one’s daily arm exercise….. And, my, the serving girls must have been really muscular?

 

Perhaps Solomon did not know what to do with the spare gold he had when he ordered the making of two hundred large shields of gold and three hundred smaller gold shields. Say, isn’t gold a soft and very heavy metal? Can one carry a very heavy shield for long? Will a soft gold shield withstand arrows and spears? Were the shields for ornamental and ceremonial purposes only?

 

Installing a gold-plated tap in his personal office toilet led to the downfall of the man running the National Kidney Foundation in Singapore, a charity-funded organization. Solomon, however, did not lose his job. Nevertheless, if we read the passage 1Kg 10:14 to 1Kg 11: 41 do we not see that the latter period of Solomon’s reign was characterized by self-indulgence, and dissipation of wealth and vitality on a huge harem of wives and concubines totaling a thousand women. Was God unhappy with the latter part of Solomon’s reign? For smouldering troubles such as external military problems and rebellion cropped up in this latter period, and they burst into flames during the reign of Solomon’s son. Are these not recorded in 1Kg 11:14 to 12:20?

 

The Bible account of Solomon’s reign ends on this sad note. Solomon was the wisest man of his time. But even such wisdom by itself could not prevent Solomon from straying into folly as he grew older. We all need to guard our actions closely, and constantly depend on God to keep us from straying from His narrow way. And are we spending wisely the money God gives us?

 

Temple of Solomon (www.templemount.org/solomon.html)

Text Box: Chapel: 20 Feb 2008

 

At chapel last week we learnt how to be “life-long theologians”. Prof Paul Stevens, speaking from the book of Job, brought to our attention God’s rebuke of Eliphaz the Temanite: “My anger burns against you and against your two friends, for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.” (Job: 42.7 ESV)

 

This accusation against Job’s friends might surprise us because they spoke of God in the most theologically orthodox of ways. Job, on the other hand, was totally unconventional. He ranted and raved against his circumstances. He refused to accept that he deserved any of them and openly argued with God. So how had Job spoken “rightly” about God? What made him a true theologian?

 

Prof Stevens took us into Job’s story from the beginning to the end: how

Job became the pawn in the dual between God and Satan, how he was the first recorded human in the Bible to believe in the Gospel of Christ and how he finally repented for the right reasons. He repented of having had too small a God to a realization of a big God. He also saw that this big God was beautiful and awesome, before whom he could only be silent.

 

Job was a true theologian because he spoke to God. His friends spoke only about God. The prayers of Job might not have been conventional but they were true and acceptable to God. Job never prayed for healing and he never asked: “why me?” To be truly a person who knows God (and therefore, a theologian) it is essential that we know how to pray to Him.

 

Prof Stevens ended his message with a touching story of a friend who exemplified the intriguing words of Job 6.14 (NIV): “A despairing man should have the devotion of his friends, even though he forsakes the fear of the Almighty”. Through his reflections Prof Stevens helped us to think about how suffering can bring out what we truly believe about God, and how important friends are to us as we work our way through them.

 

(Pauline Koe)

Text Box: Announcements

New Admission

Graduate Diploma in Education for Christian Formation

Angela Soh served as an OMF Missionary in Taiwan for about ten years after completing her studies at the polytechnic and service in the marketplace. She is now a Children’s Ministry Staff and also responsible for the Ladies’ and Parenting Ministries at The Bible Church. 

 

Library News

Library lockers are available for rental between Jan- Jun 2008. New application will be approved based on priority needs. Rental is $10.00 per semester, payable by cheque or in cash at the time rental contract is approved. Please check with the library for more details.

31 Tanjong Pagar Road, Singapore 088454   Tel: 62276815   Fax: 62276816   Email: bgst@pacific.net.sg

 

To access previous issues of BTW  click archives | To access BGST website click HOME