A Greater Than Solomon
ROBERT G. LEE, D.D., LL. D.
PASTOR, BELLEVUE BAPTIST CHURCH MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
- A GREATER THAN SOLOMON (Second Sermon) 21
- JESUS WAS GREATER AS TO THE HOME PREPARED.. 21
- JESUS WAS GREATER THAN SOLOMON AS TO GIFTS RECEIVED.. 23
- JESUS WAS GREATER THAN SOLOMON AS TO SACRIFICES MADE. 26
- JESUS WAS GREATER THAN SOLOMON IN DEATH.. 29
- THE FACT OF SALVATION. 41
- HATED FOR TELLING THE TRUTH.. 48
- AHAB PERSUADING JEHOSHAPHAT TO WAR. 49
- THE PROPHESYING PROPHETS. 51
- THE PREACHER APPEARING BEFORE THE KINGS AND FALSE PROPHETS. 55
- MICAIAH FACES THE KINGS AND THE PROPHETS. 59
- THE PROPHET PUT IN PRISON. 62
- “YE ARE YET IN YOUR SINS” 75
- “THEY ALSO WHICH HAVE FALLEN ASLEEP IN CHRIST ARE PERISHED” 76
- “BUT NOW IS CHRIST RISEN FROM THE DEAD” 79
- THE WORLD’S GREATEST LOVE STORY. 83
- THE PRINCIPAL PERSON OF THE WORLD’S GREATEST LOVE STORY. 83
- THE PURE PASSION OF THE WORLD’S GREATEST LOVE STORY. 85
- THE POSITIVE PROOF OF THE WORLD’S GREATEST LOVE STORY. 89
- THE PLAIN PLAN OF THE WORLD’S GREATEST LOVE STORY. 91
- THE PERPETUAL PROMISE OF THE WORLD’S GREATEST LOVE STORY. 93
Behold, a greater than Solomon is here (Matt. 12: 42).
Great things said Jesus about himself. Thinking of this world’s darkness, he said: “I am the Light of the world.” Thinking of humanity’s homelessness: “I am the Door.” Thinking of our waywardness: “I am the Way.” Thinking of our need of protection: “I am the Good Shepherd.” Thinking of our fruitlessness that dishonors God and burglarizes our souls: “I am the Vine.” Thinking of the world’s deadness in sin: “I am the resurrection, and the life.” Thinking of the greatness of Jonah, behind the curtain of whose preaching Nineveh shifted scenes of riot for penitential tears: “A greater than Jonah is here.” Thinking of Solomon’s wisdom, glory, greatness: “A greater than Solomon is here.”
But greater is Jesus than anything he is ever likened to – something far more than the most illustrious in the census of the world. His life is an episode between two eternities – one stretching back before all worlds, the other forward forever. Human language falls short of expressing all that he is, even as a thimble lacks capacity to hold Niagara Falls. The Fact of facts, the Bible’s theme – he stands alone, august, unique, supreme. All comparisons, all similes, all metaphors but skirt the edges of the glory of this matchless person in whom all sanctities and sufferings unite. “His name shall be called Wonderful!” (Isaiah 9: 6). And, though a thousand names be used, Christ, the loftiest ideal of all literature, the highest personality of all philosophy, the supremest problem of all criticism, the fundamental doctrine of all true theology, the cardinal necessity of all spiritual religion, the outstanding miracle of all ages, was, and is, the superlative of anything you choose to call him.
We would pitch our mental tents today on that vast field of thought which Jesus puts before us when, speaking of himself, he said: “Behold, a greater than Solomon is here.”
Let us note:
The Scribes and Pharisees, whose cautious creeds Jesus had condemned, whose inexcusable blunders concerning the sabbath he had reproved, whose vaunting self-righteousness he had blasted, whose ritualistic shows utterly void of spiritual reality he had unmasked, whose blind guidance he had put on the guillotine of his rebuke – these said: “Master, we would see a sign from thee” (Matt. 12: 38).
Jesus said: “An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas” (Matt. 12: 39).
And then, following words of warning with the statement that focalized a life-time, he said: “The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here” (Matt. 12:42).
Silent the Bible as to what they answered or did not answer him. But I think their lips answered him with sneers, their noses with sniffs of scorn. I think their eyes answered him with malicious leering, their fingers by clenching into fists – as though they would strike him. I think their tongues answered him by breeding venomous comment, their ears by purposeful deafness. I think their faces answered him with scowls of resentment, their shoulders with shrugs of contempt, their hearts with adamantine iciness. I think their evil souls answered him with hate, their feet by moving as though they would trample him down.
And had their thoughts been put into words, they would have said something like the following: Solomon, a king’s son, was born in a palace; you, a carpenter’s son, were born in a barn. Solomon came from great Jerusalem; you came from an obscure and obscene village. Solomon had many servants; you have none. Solomon was on a throne forty years; you, never once. Solomon wore kingly robes; you wear a peasant’s garb. Solomon drank from vessels of gold; you ask drink of a Samaritan harlot. Solomon had much money; you have not a penny. Solomon had armies; you rake gutters for followers; Solomon built great cities; you make chairs and plowshares. Solomon hired many; you hire none. Solomon lived in mansions; you wander homeless. Solomon was thirteen years building his own house; you build nothing, and own no home. Solomon had navies that sailed all seas; you have not even a fishing boat. Solomon, having fourteen hundred chariots and twelve thousand horsemen and forty thousand stalls of horses, rode in comfort and splendor; you wearily walk. Solomon was given rich gifts; who giveth to thee? Solomon dined with the Queen of Sheba and took the spirit out of her with the meat of his table, with the sitting of his servants, and the attendance of his ministers and their apparel and his cup-bearers; but you eat with publicans and sinners. How, then, can you be greater than Solomon?
We know that human language can never compass Christ’s glory and greatness. The most remarkable phenomenon that ever crossed the horizon of this world, the centerpiece of civilization in character, he is immeasurable by the highest standards. Every comparison – inspired and uninspired, every comparison – evangelistic and prophetic, every comparison – apostolic and human, falls short as a spent arrow that misses the mark by a great distance. Jesus is to history’s best character as light to darkness, as blessing to cursing, as holiness to sin, as life to death, as music to discordant noise, as heaven to earth.
The world over, architects, striving to build cathedrals worthy of him, fall short of their high objectives. Painters, vieing with painters, lack competency to create figures beautiful enough to adorn his sanctuary walls. A sense of inadequacy falls oppressively upon musicians who try to create music sweet enough for his hymns of praise. Sculptors, searching all quarries, nowhere find marble white enough for his brow. Orators, whose sentences are flights of golden arrows, express only a meager measure of the honor due him. Writers, words dropping from their pens like golden pollen from stems of shaken lilies, feel the inadequacy of all words to set him forth in his beauty. Devout poets, reaching from pole to pole with the wings of their poetic genius, struggle for some metaphor with which to express him. Profound scholars, rushing with archangelic splendor through mysterious realms of thought, fail to express his glory. As no artist can frame a picture large enough to include all sunrise and sunset glories, so no voice can compass, no pen can include the full statement of Christ’s character. Son of man, without sin, he represents all humanity, knowing all its temptations (Heb. 4: I5), burdens, stresses – feeling in himself every fire that ever burned within the human breast, every sigh of peace that ever lulled life’s tumult into momentary tranquillity. Son of God, with power, he expresses the soul and nature of God with entire precision and finality. Making known the eternal counsels of the godhead, he revealed God in his attributes. “God was in Christ” (2 Cor. 5: 19). “Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?” (John 14: 9.)
“Behold, a greater than Solomon is here.”
- In WISDOM Solomon was great.
And all Israel heard of the judgment which the king had judged; and they feared the king: for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him, to do judgment (1 Kings 3:28).
God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much (1 Kings 4:29).
For he was wiser than all men… and his fame was in all nations round about (1 Kings 4:31).
And there came of all people to hear the wisdom of Solomon, all kings of the earth, which had heard of his wisdom (I Kings 4:34).
And when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon.., she came to prove him with hard questions. And Solomon told her all her questions (1 Kings 10:1, 3).
And all the earth sought to Solomon, to hear his wisdom, which God had put in his heart (1 Kings 10:24).
- In RICHES Solomon was great.
And Hiram sent… to Ophir, and fetched from thence gold, four hundred and twenty talents ($12,000,000), and brought it to king Solomon (1 Kings 9:27, 28).
And the navy also of Hiram brought… great plenty of almug trees, and precious stones (1 Kings 10:11).
Now the weight of gold that came to Solomon in one year was six hundred three score and six talents of gold (about $20,000,000) (1 Kings 10:14).
And she gave the king an hundred and twenty talents of gold ($3,000,000), and of spices very great store, and precious stones (1 Kings 10: 10).
Traffic of the spice merchants, and of all the kings of Arabia, and of the governors of the country (1 Kings 10: 15).
Two hundred targets of beaten gold… three hundred shields of beaten gold; three pounds of gold went to one shield (1 Kings 10:16, 17).
A great throne of ivory, and overlaid with the best gold (1 Kings 10:18).
And all king Solomon’s drinking vessels were of gold (1 Kings 10:21).
And the king made silver to be in Jerusalem as stones (1 Kings 10:27).
King Solomon exceeded all the kings of earth for riches (1 Kings 10:23).
- In his RULE Solomon was great.
So king Solomon was king over all Israel (1 Kings 4: 1).
And 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 (1 Kings 4: 25).
And the time that Solomon reigned in Jerusalem over all Israel was forty years (1 Kings 11:42).
Solomon sat on the throne of the Lord… and prospered; and all Israel obeyed him (1 Chron. 29:23).
And the Lord magnified Solomon exceedingly in the sight of all Israel, and bestowed upon him such royal majesty as had not been on any king before him in Israel (1 Chron. 29:25).
Let us ask
- Jesus was greater as to BIRTH.
Concerning Solomon’s birth, we read these words: And David the King begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias (Matt. 1:6).
Concerning Jesus’ birth, we read:
Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us (Matt. 1:18-23).
Solomon was born in a chandelier-illuminated palace in Jerusalem. But Jesus, who had glory with God before the world was (John 17:5), was born among cattle in a lantern-lit barn in Bethlehem – “because there was no room for them in the inn.” Born he in the saddest hour in the world’s history – when “the sceptre was frozen with the tyranny of impeached civilizations,” when religion was clasping fingers with idolatry. Born he in a world crisis, the Jewish race “sleeping in robes of beautiful prophecies,” Athens “drunk with the wine of skepticism,” India dreaming of Buddha, Persia “wearing upon her brow a funeral wreath,” while the Coliseum typified the cruelty of the Roman Empire. But Christ’s birth and life and death made little Bethlehem, “the little of the thousands of Judah” (Micah 5: 2), “mightier than Caesar’s throne, mightier than Plato’s school, mightier than Zion’s fame,” – and today the meanest stones of this village outrank gold. Jesus made Bethlehem greater than Athens, civilization’s queen – greater than Rome, the world’s capital – greater than Jerusalem, the city of national memories, glorious with a thousand years of history. For Jesus was the Light – God-seen, the Word – God-heard, the Life – God-felt. Moreover, this Jesus whom neither calendars nor clocks nor contemporary historians took note of, has bent the date lines of all nations around his lowly cradle. Today, as through all the days of all the years, the world over, the dates on newspapers printed, the dates on checks drawn, the dates on deeds recorded, the dates on money coined or spent, the dates on cornerstones placed, the dates on monuments erected, the dates on documents filed, the dates on letters written so testify.
The Greeks tried to date time from their Olympiads. The Romans tried to date time from the founding of their imperial city. Justinian tried to date time from his tax levies. LaPlace tried to date time from the conjunctions of certain planets. The French Revolutionists tried to date time from the year one of their revolution. And all failed – miserably, woefully. But what the Jews could not do, what the Greeks could not do, what the Romans could not do, what the French could not do in the matter of dating time, Jesus did – gloriously did. Cradled in a stable, this timeless Christ has Christianized the calendar of the world. But no one dates a letter from Solomon’s birth. Truly, “a greater than Solomon is here.”
- He was greater in WISDOM.
Jesus knew afar Nathanael’s character. He penetrated “the secret wonder” of Nicodemus. He knew the impure life of the Samaritan woman. He knew the hidden thoughts of his disciples. He needed not that any should tell him the unspoken questions and secret plottings of his enemies. He knew the perplexities of the rich publican. He knew the troubles of widows. He knew the sorrows of children. Jesus knew men better than they knew themselves. “He knew that Peter was an insolent coward, that Thomas was a quicksand of skepticism, and that the heart of Judas was a smoldering black flame of treason.” Not marked with the imprint of the school, he confounded and confused the scholars with his answers to their questions and with his questions they could not answer. Born in a village, he knew the men of the cities. A man of peace, he knew the soldiers entirely. A poor man, he knew the perplexities and loneliness of the rich. He knew, even as he knows now, our thoughts afar off. “But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man” (John 2: 24, 25). And still he is the Holy One “who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption” (1 Cor. 1: 30).
Solomon, wiser than all the wisest men, knew something of God’s creations! Of him it is written: “And he spake of trees, from the cedar tree that is in Lebanon even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall: he spake also of beasts, and of fowl, and of creeping things, and of fishes” (1 Kings 4:33).
But Christ, in his creative wisdom, made all things that Solomon had knowledge of.
All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made (John 1:3).
For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: and he is before all things, and by him all things consist (Col. 1:16, 17).
God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds (Heb. 1:1, 2).
Solomon knew the fowl of the air; but he could not, as could Christ, mark every sparrow’s fall, in desert or jungle or garden or city street. Solomon knew much of fishing; but he could not, as could Jesus, as did Jesus, put enough fishes in an all-night empty net to sink two ships (Luke 5: 7). Solomon “spake of fishes”; but he could not, as could Jesus, as did Jesus, cause a fish to carry tax money in its mouth and swallow the hook of a penniless apostle (Matt. 17: 27). Solomon knew much of trees; but he could not, as could Jesus, as did Jesus, blight a barren fig tree with a few quiet words. Solomon spake of stars; but he could not, as could Jesus, as did Jesus, number the stars and “mete out the heavens with a span.” Solomon spake also of beasts; but he could not, as did Jesus, cause two thousand hogs to be devil-possessed and drown themselves (Mark 5:9-16). Solomon knew about winds (Eccl. 1:6); but he could not, as could Jesus, as did Jesus, rebuke stormy winds and raging seas into peace (Matt. 8:23-27). Solomon could enter the palace through great doors; but he could not, as did Jesus, enter an upper room, the doors being shut (John 20:19). Solomon knew much of navigation; but he could not, as could Jesus, as did Jesus, walk on the sea (Matt. 14:25). Where Solomon’s knowledge was partial and faulty, Jesus’ knowledge was perfect and full.
- Jesus was greater as a TEACHER.
“We speak that we do know” (John 3: 11). Leaving behind him no interrogation points, his teaching giving the humbler virtues crowns of gold, he made alien skies friendly. With teachings simple as a meadow-brook, yet with ocean depths the plumb line of the most brilliant brain cannot fathom, he bridged chasms that yawn between sex and sex, between sect and sect, between mass and class. Leaping across conventional chasms, spurning all national bouridaries, assaulting all superficialities, he taught as no man ever taught, or ever will, or can. Amid all teachers he burns like the sun amid candles – excels the brilliance of the best teachers as a forest fire outshines a torch. Keeping warm and sympathetic hands on practical life, he moves among the great as a river among rivulets. Teaching men how to die unto self and unto the world and yet master both, he dwells apart in his unrivaled genius. Anticipating every social, political, moral, and religious truth that has been taught in the last nineteen hundred years, he stands among all teachers as a great palm in a desert of mediocrity. Teaching in paradoxes, superlatively supreme he is. You must lose life to find life, hold by letting go, win by losing, multiply by dividing, be wise by being foolish, increase by diminishing, live by dying. So says Christ, whose every doctrine was, and is, a palace of hope. His teaching, building palaces upon the graves of slain passions, exalting defeat and suffering into stepping-stones to a larger faith, claims the sovereignty of the world.
The master minds of the ages – searching, scrutinizing, sifting, studying his teaching – have never diminished his teaching, never exhausted it. They cannot add to nor subtract one word from what he said. Every truth uttered by all men in all realms in the last nineteen hundred years – in realms scientific, in realms geological, in realms psychological, in realms theological, in realms sociological – in any realm, in all realms – is rooted like a rainbow in something Jesus said. He has the words of eternal life. Bring all your questions to the Son of God. He has the answers. Tell him anything – everything. Put all your inquiries to the Son of man – and, when you have his answers, you will be constrained to say, “Behold, the one-half of the greatness of thy wisdom was not told me.” Not until skepticism can say and prove that “a greater than Christ is here” will we turn our allegiance from Jesus of Nazareth who “spake as never man spake,” saying, “Behold, a greater than Solomon is here.”
- Jesus greater in BUILDING.
The Temple which Solomon built was the most magnificent building the world ever saw. Some hundred and eighty three thousand, six hundred men were employed in the work – thirty thousand Israelites in the Lebanon mountains where the timbers were cut, seventy thousand strangers as bearers of burdens, eighty thousand strangers to hew stones in the mountain quarries, and thirty-six hundred officers and overseers. This vast army of workmen were seven and one-half years engaged in the construction. Every timber and stone was cut to fit so snugly in its place that after they were delivered on Mount Moriah, where the Temple was built, “there was neither hammer nor ax nor any tool of iron heard in the house while it was in building” (1 Kings 6:7).
David had gathered vast quantities of gold, silver, brass, and precious stones for the work. God made the plans for the building, revealing them to David by the Spirit. And David handed them over to Solomon, saying: “The Lord made me understand in writing by his hand upon me, even all the works of this pattern.” It is spoken of as “the pattern of all that he had by the Spirit” (1 Chron. 28:12-19).
The cost of the most magnificent of modern buildings is a trifle compared to that of Solomon’s Temple, which, according to estimates given in the bulletin of the Illinois Society of Architects, reached the tremendous total of more than eighty-seven billion dollars – in present-day values. And if the daily food for each man, according to present-day values, was forty-five cents each, the sum total for feeding this army of workmen would be over three hundred million dollars.
Facing the east, the Temple, its entire front from foundation to roof overlaid with plates of solid gold, had a dazzling brightness in the morning sun too great for the unshaded eye.
The dedication of this gorgeous Temple surpassed human description. At its dedication all Israel gathered. “Also at the same time Solomon kept the feast seven days, and all Israel with him, a very great congregation, from the entering in of Hamath unto the river of Egypt” (2 Chron. 7:8). Four thousand ushers served. An orchestra of four thousand instruments played (1 Chron. 23:5). A great choir of Levites sang. As Solomon finished the dedicatory prayer, the glory of God filled the Temple so that the priests could not enter for sometime. “Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the Lord filled the house. And the priests could not enter into the house of the Lord, because the glory of the Lord had filled the Lord’s house” (2 Chron. 7:1, 2).
But Jesus, working no more in a carpenter shop, builds a temple in which the redeemed from all tribes and tongues are the living stones, the “stone which the builders refused” being the “head stone of the corner” (Psalm 118: 22) – “a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious.” So Peter, by the Holy Ghost, wrote: “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2: 5).
Such glorious truth Paul had in mind when, by the Holy Ghost, he penned these immortal words:
Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit (Eph. 2:19-22).
- Jesus greater as to a THRONE.
Great indeed the throne Solomon made! Solomon “made a great throne of ivory and overlaid it with the best gold.” Let the Bible describe this throne:
Moreover, the king made a great throne of ivory, and overlaid it with pure gold. And there were six steps to the throne, with a footstool of gold, which were fastened to the throne, and stays on each side of the sitting place, and two lions standing by the stays: and twelve lions stood there on the one side and on the other upon the six steps. There was not the like made in any kingdom. And all the drinking vessels of king Solomon were of gold, and all the vessels of the house of the forest of Lebanon were of pure gold: none were of silver; it was not any thing accounted of in the days of Solomon (2 Chron. 9:17-20).
But Jesus left a throne in heaven, came “out of the ivory palaces into a world of woe,” where cold chilled him, where rain soaked him, where thirst parched him, where hunger bit him, where unkindness smote him, where toil all but exhausted him. When “the silver pendulum of a star swung across the sky in Bethlehem,” and the King of heaven, “the high and lofty One who inhabiteth eternity” (Isa. 57; 15), came down from an assembly seraphic to an assembly diabolic, from the song of angels to the hoot of a mob, from the hallelujahs of the throne to the hell-brewed hissing of the wilderness, from the hails of heaven to the nails of earth, from those who acclaimed him worthy of worship to those who claimed he was worthy of death.
And his throne on earth was not of ivory overlaid with gold, but of wood splotched with his own blood – hard wood to which hard-hearted men with harder hammers held in hard hands spiked his hands, and battered his feet. From a throne, where he was worshiped as the one who “liveth forever and ever” and as one worthy the crowns cast before the throne and as one “worthy… to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing” (Rev. 5:12), he came down to Golgotha, the place of a skull, where head-wagging mockers added wounds of tongue to wounds of nails. But this holy Christ coming from Edom, “with dyed garments from Bozrah, …glorious in his apparel, traveling in the greatness of his strength” (Isa. 63:1), says: “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne” (Rev. 3:21).
How much greater than Solomon was Jesus,
Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Phil. 2:6-11).
- Jesus Greater in PRAYER.
At the Temple dedication, on a brazen platform, sat Solomon attended by his bodyguard of five hundred men, each bearing a shield of gold. Here Solomon, so surrounded, “kneeled down upon his knees before all the congregation of Israel and spread forth his hands toward heaven” and prayed. And Solomon was never greater than in this gloriously great and humble prayer which began with these words:
O Lord God of Israel, there is no God like thee in the heaven, nor in the earth; which keepest covenant, and shewest mercy unto thy servants that walk before thee with all their hearts: thou which hast kept with thy servant David my father that which thou hast promised him: and spakest with thy mouth, and hast fulfilled it with thine hand, as it is this day. Now therefore, O Lord God of Israel, keep with thy servant David my father that which thou hast promised him, saying, There shall not fail thee a man in my sight to sit upon the throne of Israel: yet so that thy children take heed to their way, to walk in my law, as thou hast walked before me (2 Chron. 6:14-16).
A prayer which he closed with these words:
Now, my God, let, I beseech thee, thine eyes be open, and let thine ears be attent unto the prayer that is made in this place. Now therefore arise, O Lord God, into thy resting place, thou, and the ark of thy strength: let thy priests, O Lord God, be clothed with salvation, and let thy saints rejoice in goodness. O Lord God, turn not away the face of thine anointed: remember the mercies of David thy servant (2 Chron. 6:40-42).
But Jesus sometimes prayed all night. Luke says: “And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God” (Luke 6:12).
Not on a brazen platform, but in a mountain, apart, Jesus prayed. “And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone” (Matt. 14:23).
And nothing Solomon ever prayed reached the heights or depths of Jesus’ prayer when he prayed:
Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me. And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them (John 17:24-26).
And Mark says: “And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed” (Mark 1:35).
And alone in Gethsemane – Judas plotting with the enemy, the sleeping disciples failing to watch, Jesus, sweating blood, prayed. And an angel, availing himself of the opportunity the disciples threw away, came to strengthen him. But the one who prayed alone there, his face to the earth (Matt. 26:39), “being in an agony” (Luke 22:44), “sore amazed and very heavy, …his soul exceeding sorrowful unto death” (Mark 14: 33, 34), while his disciples slept, is now our eternal intercessor. No better can such truth be expressed than in Hebrews 7:24-26:
But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens.
- Jesus Greater in PROVISIONS made.
The greatness and abundance of Solomon’s provisions is made known to us in the Scriptures, when we read:
And Solomon’s provision for one day was thirty measures of fine flour, and threescore measures of meal, ten fat oxen, and twenty oxen out of the pastures, and a hundred sheep, beside harts, and roebucks, and fallowdeer, and fatted fowl. For he had dominion over all the region on this side the river, from Tiphsah even to Azzah, over all the kings on this side the river: and he had peace on all sides round about him (1 Kings 4:22-24).
But, with all the abundance he had, Solomon could not, as did Jesus, take five loaves and two small fishes and feed five thousand hungry men besides the women and the children. Solomon, could not, as did Jesus, change water into wine. Nor could Solomon, as did Jesus, provide things more needful than something to eat and something to drink and something wherewithal to be clothed. Solomon could not reach his king’s finger to the eyes of a blind man and touch those sightless orbs and say, “Receive thy sight.” But Jesus could, and did, provide sight for the blind. Solomon could not touch dead eardrums and make them to be keenly sensitized to every sound – whispers, thunders, songs, words; but Jesus could, and did, provide the deaf with hearing. Solomon could not make the dumb to speak; but Jesus could, and did, loose the frozen fountains of speech until the dumb went away singing aloud the praises of God. Solomon, with all his wealth, could not purify the defiled. But Jesus could, and did, lift up the outcast and take the defiled “out of the horrible pit and out of the miry clay, establishing their going and putting a new song in their mouths, even praise unto God.” Solomon could not, with all his power and glory, bring health to the sick. But Jesus could, and did, make pale cheeks bloom afresh, make palsies flee, and fevers to die. Solomon, with all his wisdom, so exceedingly great, could not restore a crazy man’s reason. But Jesus could, and did, make the deranged to be “clothed and in his right mind.” Solomon, with all his reach of power, could not cast out devils. But Jesus could, and did, make the foaming maniac to become instantly as placid as a child. Solomon, with all his modes of travel, could not enable a cripple to travel without crutches and bed. But Jesus could, and did, make the club-foot agile and nimble, withered hands normal and skilful. Solomon could not, with all knowledge of men, provide forgiveness for sins. But Jesus could, and did, saying oft: “Thy sins be forgiven thee.” “The Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins.” Solomon, with all his power to command, to cast down, to set up, to bring low, to grant favors, could not provide spiritual power for the ignorant and the untaught and the obscure. But Jesus could, and did, giving proof by his works and causing us to believe for his works’ sake, that a greater than Solomon is here.
Some years ago, near Camden, South Carolina, my native state, there was a fire that burned joy out of homes and sorrows into hearts, that burned flowers of heart’s-ease out of love gardens and thorns of suffering into loving souls. What a fire it was! A fire that scorched and seared human hearts with sorrow, a fire that blasted parental hopes, a fire that left a community of homes and a multitude of lives in the black shadows of bleak bereavement and desolating death!
This terrible fire burned up a schoolhouse in which many young people, in the midst of a season of happy pleasure, were meeting. Over seventy of these young people, strong and lovely, in an inferno of ghastly horrors that came about when fire, man’s good servant, became man’s terrible master, were burned to death – while all attempts by frantic parents and horror-stricken citizens to rescue them from the death-trap were in vain.
During the heroic attempts at rescue, made by strong and frantic men, on the outside, one little lad in the burning furnace saw his father, in a delirium of mind-shattering helplessness on the outside. Stretching forth his youthful hands in piteous plea, the boy called: “Daddy, can’t you save me?” Above the roar of that schoolhouse furnace, above the crackle of the demon like flames, above the shriek of those twisting in the death-trap of flame, above cries of those who called in tortuous agonies for release from the prison-house of flame, the boy’s voice reached his father’s ears: “Daddy, can’t you save me?” But the father, suffering an eternity of torture in a single minute, knowing that no mortal arm could reach his boy, could do nothing else but stand dazedly by and see his boy die in the flames – withering quickly like a flower held in the blast of an acetylene torch. And that father, in the days that followed, hearing that voice night and day, in his waking hours and in his sleeping hours, did not live long – only about two years. His boy’s face in the fire was ever before him. His boy’s voice was ever in his ears.
Today, this poor old lust-burning, war-scarred, head-dizzy, body-weary, soul-sick, sin-damned, devil-prodded, iniquity-smitten, liquor-loving, hell-bound world cries out to Science, saying, “Can’t you save me?” And Science, telling us how far the earth is from the sun, but not able to tell us anything about how far God removes a sinner’s sins from him, shakes her head and says: “No, I cannot save you.” And this world, storm-tossed and driven, stretches out piteous hands of appeal, and cries mournfully to Education: “Can’t you save me?” But Education, shaking a truthful head, says: “It is not in me to save you!” And to Philosophy, tossing its taffy and messing around in its mud, the world, bowed down and broken, cries: “Can’t you save me?” But Philosophy, its lance broken on hard problems, says: “It is not in me to save you!” And to Sociology the world, bound and blind and grinding at the mills of materialism, turns, crying out as one who calls in a wilderness for a lost son: “Can’t you save me?” But Sociology, knowing that you cannot cure a smallpox patient by putting the patient in an art gallery, gives a sad “No.” And the world, sad and bad, diseased and disgraced, turns to Medicine, crying in frantic despair: “Can’t you save me?” But Medicine says: “I have nothing to cure the diseases of the soul.” And the world, on the downgrade and despondent, turns to Culture, asking I “Can’t you save me, Culture?” But Culture, putting bejeweled fingers on the world’s cancerous ulcers, says: “I cannot save you.” And the world, with its hoodlums and whores, turns to all its man-made schemes – schemes that are all the time administering laughing gas for the painless extraction of sin – and asks of these schemes: “Can’t you save me?” But all these man-made schemes, with a woeful sense of inadequacy pressing heavily upon them, say: “We cannot save you.” And still, even now, the world, the speed-crazy and demon-driven world, with its collapse in the home and corruption in the state, bruised and battered by the boomerang it has thrown out, cries to Legislation: “Can’t you save me?” And Legislation, oft uttering inarticulate laughter that holds God’s authority in contempt, oft “loosing wild tongues that hold not God in awe,” forgetting that “the wicked shall be turned into hell with all the nations that forget God,” says, “It is not in me to save you.”
But there is one who can save – JESUS, “able and willing, mighty to save,” the Christ who “receiveth sinful men,” the Christ who casteth out none who come unto him, the Christ who died the just for the unjust that he might bring us to God, the “greater-than-Solomon” Christ, whom God “hath appointed heir of all things.”
Sing above the battle strife,
Jesus saves! Jesus saves!
By His death and endless life,
Jesus saves! Jesus saves!
Yes, Jesus saves!
Yes, Jesus saves!
“Behold, a greater than Solomon is here.”