We begin now with the first—the Greatness of Christ. He is brought into view by the foreshadowing in Solomon, whose name, as you know, was alternatively Jedidiah: ‘Beloved of God’ (2 Samuel 12:25). How Solomon was chosen is a very remarkable and very wonderful thing, and we shall say something about that presently. But you remember the statement made at Solomon’s birth: “David comforted Bathsheba his wife... and she bare a son, and he called his name Solomon. And the Lord loved him; and He sent by the hand of Nathan the prophet; and He called his name Jedidiah, for the Lord’s sake” (2 Samuel 12:24,25; ASV). Just store that up for a little while.
But as we approach Christ through Solomon, there are several fairly general things which lead us on. Solomon, in the first place, was the one in whom the full thought of kingship according to God’s mind is set forth, in principle and type. We know that his reign was the peak of Israel’s history. Although David is always referred to as Israel’s greatest king, and rightly so, nevertheless Solomon brings out all the glory of David; he is the full, ripe fruit of David’s kingship, and he comes into his place as at the very top of all kingship in Israel on one spiritual principle, and that principle is sonship. Sonship is the full, ripe fruit of Divine thought. There is no higher thought in the Divine mind, and no possibility greater and higher for any being, than that of sonship in the Divine sense. The calling to sonship is the greatest thing that ever God has extended to anyone. In Christ sonship is full, and Solomon represents that truth and principle of sonship. “Solomon... shall be My son, and I will be his father” (1 Chronicles 22:10). “Of all my sons, (for the Lord hath given me many sons,) He hath chosen Solomon” (1 Chronicles 28:5). It is the gathering up of sonship in a full sense and full measure in him, and that is a pointer to Christ. That gives us a very full indication of what kingship is according to the Divine mind; it is sonship.
All that is true of Solomon and is recorded of him is just a shadow of what Christ is spiritually. You begin at the top stone in the fullest sense, the full and the final revelation of God, God’s speech. “God, having of old time spoken unto the fathers in the prophets by divers portions and in divers manners, hath at the end of these days spoken unto us in His Son” (Hebrews 1:1,2), or, literally, “hath spoken Son-wise.” You cannot go further than that. He has reached the end of all parts, and found inclusiveness and finality in His Son. That, then, is why Solomon occupies the place that he does occupy as at the very peak of kingship; it is the principle of sonship embodied. He, then, is the ripe fruit, or full expression, of the Divine idea—kingship. For kingship is a Divine idea, a thought in the mind of God.
His Moral and Spiritual Kingship
But now, in relation to what we have just said about sonship, that Divine thought concerning kingship is not just of an office nor of a position. Kingship, in God’s mind, is a matter of a kind of person—but not any person. God does not make anybody a king; it is a kind of person. It is moral and spiritual. Moral and spiritual factors support the Divine Throne, and God’s king must be the full expression of moral and spiritual features. With God, a king is only a king when he is of kingly character, and not because he comes in a line of succession, nor on any other ground of choice and selection at all. With God, kingship is kingly character, and Solomon, marvellous to say, is brought, in the sovereignty of God, to that place where kingship reaches its full expression, so far as the type is concerned, though that, of course, always falls short of reality.
When you pass from Solomon to Christ, then you have this very thing in pre-eminence. “I have set My king upon My holy hill” (Psalm 2:6). Why? Because He is kingly. In the fullest, most complete sense, He is the embodiment of all those high thoughts of God, both morally and spiritually. When we speak about Jesus Christ as being Lord, and when we think of Him in terms of kingship, lordship, rulership, and of His kingdom, we are not thinking of temporal things. We are thinking of spiritual things. He holds His position in virtue of His character, and what He is in person. There is none like Him.
But then note another thing. Here is this Divine thought and idea about kingship which is represented by Solomon in such a full way, but where you have a Divine thought carrying a Divine intention, you will always have another thought, something which is intended to take the place of the Divine thought. So in the matter of kingship you have to go back in the history of Israel, and you find the Divine thought subverted. The first of the line of actual, temporal kings was Saul, and Saul was not God’s thought, but the embodiment of man’s thought. At a point when the spiritual life of Israel was very low, and spiritual matters were not dominant, Satan found his opportunity—as he always does when the spiritual life gets low. He rushed in, took advantage of the spiritual condition, and suggested the idea of kingship to men of low and poor spirituality, which meant that, not having God’s thoughts and God’s mind (because they were not men of the Spirit) they accepted the suggestion and found a king after their own mind. Thus they precipitated this matter, forestalled God’s thought, and pushed Saul in. Do you notice how that has happened again and again—a Divine thought carrying a Divine intention, and then the enemy seeking to forestall and putting in something on the same principle, but of a different kind? It nearly happened with Solomon himself. Solomon was chosen and David had given his word about him; then Adonijah, his brother, worked subtly and gathered leaders around himself. He made a feast and was proclaimed king, in order to carry away the throne from Solomon. Thank God, it did not work, but you can see what took place, and how exactly this is in keeping with something that commonly happens. It is going to happen in the supreme way. God is about to bring in, finally and fully, His King—His Son—and Satan will have Antichrist, the embodiment of all human thoughts about kingship, pushed to the fore to try and anticipate God.
Let us note that, not only in these great ways, but in every way, a low state of spiritual life is always Satan’s opportunity for giving something on a Divine principle, but which is itself false. The only safety is in a fulness of spiritual life. That is what came out in Solomon—safety when things were at fulness in Israel. There was no chance for anything else to come in. Safety is not along the line of suspicion, watching like dogs for every bit of heresy, and seeing whether things are sound. Safety is in the absolute lordship of Jesus Christ, and all that that means. If the people of God get there, they need not worry about the success of these other things at all. I said at the beginning that there are all kinds of maladies afflicting the Church which are due to this smallness of spiritual life, and these maladies are suspicions, prejudices, fears, all this which is going about and which is deadening and crippling and paralysing the life of the Church. If we were only in the full flood of spiritual life and all that Christ in His place means, we would be delivered from all these things and would be getting on with the work of building the House, instead of all the time being taken up with the question: ‘Is this quite safe, quite sound?’ Well, Saul was the embodiment of man’s idea, not God’s, and he was the attempted forestalling of that Divine thought, as Antichrist will be; but it is doomed, as are all man’s ideas when they get in the way of God’s. Ultimately, they are doomed.
One further thing about Solomon. He came to his place, and held it, by Divine sovereignty because he was beloved of God. Those two things must always be kept together. Sovereignty, yes, but because he was beloved of God. There is the mystery of Solomon’s birth. We know who Bathsheba was and what happened, the tragedy and the breakdown in relation to Solomon’s birth, and if we begin to ask questions we get into difficulties; but we have to see a sovereignty at work behind this. And, while we do not link that with the Lord Jesus, there is a line, even in His case, which carries this wonderful principle. It is sovereign grace. Oh, if anybody is the embodiment of sovereign grace in full expression, it is Solomon. Do you remember the genealogy of the Lord Jesus at the opening of the Gospels and some of the people mentioned in it? Rahab the harlot—and Christ came of her. And Ruth the Moabitess. You say that these are dark steps leading up to Christ. But are they? It depends upon how you look at it. They lead right up to Him Who is the embodiment of sovereign grace, and that is all you have to say about it. Grace to Rahab! Ought she to be in the Divine line? And ought Ruth to be here? A Moabitess, concerning which people and nation the word had been uttered: “A Moabite shall not enter into the assembly of the Lord; even to the tenth generation shall none belonging to them enter into the assembly of the Lord for ever” (Deuteronomy 23:3)! What has gone wrong? Grace has triumphed over law—that is all! “Where sin abounded, grace did abound more exceedingly” (Romans 5:20), and in Christ that is gathered up. And, mark you, it was at that place where in type He had fulfilled all the work of grace for us in death, burial and resurrection—at Jordan—that the heavens were cleft, and the voice was heard: “This is My beloved Son” (Matthew 3:17)—beloved of God. On the other hand, belovedness is all on the ground of grace: “He hath made us accepted in the beloved” (Ephesians 1:6); “Who delivered us out of the power of darkness, and translated us into the kingdom of the Son of His love” (Colossians 1:13). So Solomon has his place in sovereignty, but only because he is beloved of the Lord. Of course, I am not touching upon the Divine rights of the Lord Jesus as equal with God, on His rights to reign, or to be Lord; for what I see is that the Bible is not, in the first place, occupied with what God and Christ are in Themselves, outside of this universe and remote from us. The Bible is concerned with how They have come into our life, into our world, and the ground upon which They have adopted this world, this creation—and that is grace. And sonship, so far as the New Testament is concerned, is always linked with Divine grace. You find sonship in redemption, reconciliation, justification. It is a spiritual, not an official, matter, through the grace of God.
Why did God act so lavishly and unrestrainedly with Solomon? It takes a lot of room in the books of Samuel, the Kings and the Chronicles, far more than I shall be able to give you as a background even for what I have to say, but it seems, as you read, that the Lord was just falling over Himself where Solomon was concerned to lavish good things upon him—give, give, give! The Lord gave him riches and honour (2 Chronicles 1:12), and it seems that He found no restraint whatever in just letting go to Solomon. Why? Because He was seeing through Solomon to the One Whom He intended Solomon to represent as fully as ever one can be a representation of the Lord Jesus. God was saying, in effect: ‘If we are going to have a representation of the real thing, we will have a real representation and do it thoroughly.’ He went as far as He could go with a man who was not His Son in reality in this spiritual sense, because He saw the other Son all the time.
Dear friends, does that not come right back to us with this: that a true apprehension and appreciation of the Lord Jesus is the way right into the countenance of God? Do you want spiritual fulness? Do you want to know all this wealth of which we shall speak as possessed by, and given to, Solomon? Do you want to know where God’s smile can rest upon you, and He be without restraint in your spiritual enlargement? How can it be? Not by straining, nor searching, nor any kind of inward scrutiny, struggle, or effort, but by appreciating His Son rightly, being occupied with Christ, seeing and apprehending God’s Son in reality by the Holy Spirit. The way to walk in the light of the Divine countenance where God can give to you, can lead and teach, and can enrich and enlarge you, is an adequate apprehension of the Lord Jesus. Be occupied with Him and the strain goes out. You notice that in those days when Solomon was in his place there was rest round about (1 Kings 4:24); the land had rest and the people had rest—they found rest unto their souls. It is just like that when the Lord Jesus has His place and we, by the Spirit, are seeing Him. The strain goes out, rest enters in, and the inward civil war stops. Yes, it is all bound up with God’s Son having His full place, with our being occupied with Him and seeing Him by the Spirit.
This is only a glimpse, a fragment, of the greatness of Christ, but, oh! it is so true that if conditions spiritually are to be in the Church again as they were typically in Israel in the days of Solomon, we shall have to get away from the littleness of our apprehension of truth and have a great enlargement of heart. May the Lord grant us eyes to see a larger Christ than ever we had imagined, a larger Cross, a larger Church, and a larger Word of God!