Lasting Rule Depends on Promoting True Worship
THE great unavoidable obstacle that has always faced rulers striving to build or perpetuate a government is that they have to die and pass their power and authority on to successors. Many are the rulers who have sought immortality or who have even claimed immortality. Nevertheless, they died and eventually their governments fell into decay and ruin. But if a right kind of king could live forever and hold his government intact, it would be to the everlasting benefit of his subjects.
Even dynasties or family lines have been unable to hold a kingship forever. The Bible tells us, however, that Jehovah God has covenanted with a certain man that one from his family line will be able to sit on the throne forever and that the authority and realm of this kingship will continue to increase until it extends its dominion over the entire earth. As an assurance, God used this man and his son, along with the capital city of that kingdom, to make a miniature pattern of what this enduring kingdom would be like; in other words, a small-scale kingdom of God actually functioned so that interested ones among mankind could see what is required of one who would hold a lasting kingship and what the rule of this kingdom would mean and so could confidently place their trust and hope in it.
The man God used in this way was King David, not arbitrarily, but because David was the kind of ruler God approves. David began to rule over the tribe of Judah in 1077 B.C.E. and over all Israel in 1070 B.C.E. But before the full pattern of the promised permanent kingdom could be made, an appropriate capital city had to be selected and certain developments had to take place. Note that the things David did show what God requires of this lasting ruler, accurately foreshadowing the things to be done by His permanent king.
RIGHT KIND OF RULER
David desired God’s rule to be exercised over all the God-given land. When he began to reign he selected Jerusalem as appropriately situated for his capital. But Jerusalem was still occupied by enemies, pagan Jebusites. Now, as king, not only over Judah, but over all the tribes, he could move against Jerusalem, located in the territory of Benjamin. God blessed his zeal and courage and David proceeded to capture the stronghold of Zion or Jerusalem. After David transferred his capital from Hebron to Zion it came to be called “the city of David.”—2 Sam. 5:6-9; 1 Chron. 11:6-8.
King David followed God’s laws of justice and righteousness and enforced them, and the fame of Zion or Jerusalem began to go out to the nations round about. (Ezek. 16:14) The Philistines, outstanding practicers of Babylon-rooted religion, tried to overthrow David. But David checked these Babylonish enemies of true worship in two crushing victories.—2 Sam. 5:17-25.
Now firmly established in his kingdom, David lost no time in promoting the worship of God among the people, putting the interests of Jehovah’s worship first. Since the days of High Priest Eli the ark of the covenant had not been at the Tabernacle built by Moses. For many years it had been kept in a home at Kiriath-jearim (Baale-judah). (1 Sam. 4:1 to 7:2) David now had the Ark carried up to Mount Zion and placed in a tent in the city of David. He made arrangements for the worship of God by appointing ten Levites and two priests to serve before the Ark and took the lead himself in true worship, on that day composing and singing a new psalm, saying: “Give thanks to Jehovah, you people; call upon his name, make his deeds known among the peoples! . . . ‘Jehovah himself has become king!’ . . . Give thanks to Jehovah, you people, for he is good, for to time indefinite is his loving-kindness.” To this song the people said Amen.—1 Chron. 15:1 to 16:36; 13:1-12; 2 Sam. 6:1-19.
David did not take the glory and credit to himself as Israel’s real king, but he recognized that he ruled in the name of Jehovah on “Jehovah’s throne.” (1 Chron. 29:23) And the people were encouraged to recognize this in the psalm of Korah’s sons:
“Jehovah is great and much to be praised in the city of our God, in his holy mountain. Pretty for loftiness, the exultation of the whole earth, is Mount Zion on the remote sides of the north, the town of the grand King. . . . May Mount Zion rejoice, may the dependent towns of Judah be joyful, on account of your judicial decisions. March around Zion, you people, and go about it, count its towers. Set your hearts upon its rampart, inspect its dwelling towers, in order that you may recount it to the future generation.”—Ps. 48:1-14; see also Psalm 76:1, 2.
“To obey is better than a sacrifice,” God’s prophet Samuel had told disobedient King Saul. (1 Sam. 15:22) David recognized that obedience to God is required of even a king if his rulership is to last. Would his dominion be removed like his predecessor Saul’s? David’s love for God and his zeal for exalting and promoting Jehovah’s worship would be the determining factors.
COVENANT FOR LASTING KINGSHIP
While David built himself a palace on Mount Zion, he did not deem it proper for himself to be dwelling in a house of cedars while the ark of God dwelt in a mere tent. He desired to exalt Jehovah God the real King by building a palatial temple to Jehovah. Jehovah responded in appreciation through his prophet Nathan:
“I shall prove to be with you wherever you do go, and I will cut off all your enemies from before you; and I shall certainly make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones that are in the earth. . . . ‘And Jehovah has told you that a house is what Jehovah will make for you. . . . I shall certainly raise up your seed after you, which will come out of your inward parts; and I shall indeed firmly establish his kingdom. He is the one that will build a house for my name, and I shall certainly establish the throne of his kingdom firmly to time indefinite. I myself shall become his father, and he himself will become my son. When he does wrong, I will also reprove him with the rod of men and with the strokes of the sons of Adam. As for my loving-kindness, it will not depart from him the way I removed it from Saul, whom I removed on account of you. And your house and your kingdom will certainly be steadfast to time indefinite before you; your very throne will become one firmly established to time indefinite.’”—2 Sam. 7:1-17.
What a blessing from the Universal Sovereign! David would be the first of a line of rulers whose kingship would never end. This covenant for the kingdom made evident that the Seed of God’s “woman” promised in the garden of Eden, the Seed of Abraham through whom blessings would come to all families of the earth, would be in the line of King David, of the house of Judah, from which the scepter would never depart.—Gen. 3:15; 22:18; 49:10.
King David was now like a cornerstone laid in Zion on which a royal house of rulers was to be built to represent the heavenly King, Jehovah. He expressed appreciation in prayer.—2 Sam. 7:18-29.
David’s successor was his son named Solomon, meaning “Peaceable.” He was also called by Jehovah Jedidiah, meaning “Beloved of Jehovah.” (2 Sam. 12:24, 25) What an honor it was for Solomon to be born in Zion! It greatly surpassed the honor of being born in famous Babylon. Psalm 87:2-6 describes this honor: “Jehovah is more in love with the gates of Zion than with all the tabernacles of Jacob [Israel]. Glorious things are being spoken about you, O city of the true God. . . . And the Most High himself will firmly establish her. Jehovah himself will declare, when recording the peoples: ‘This is one who was born there.’”
Solomon could actually be said to be born as king in 1037 B.C.E. Then, according to the covenant with David, Jehovah especially became a Father to him. David had subdued all the nations within the God-ordained boundaries of the Promised Land; so Solomon reigned from the river of Egypt on the south to Kadesh on the Orontes, eighty miles north of Damascus.—1 Chron. 29:23.
Jehovah gave David inspired plans for building the temple. Besides this, David gathered together much material and great contributions of money by himself and the people. He also contributed the exact piece of land for the temple structure. He realized that the nation’s prosperity depended on God, and that they were really only giving God glory with the things He himself owned and provided for them.—1 Chron. 29:10-16.
The temple plot was more than 2,400 feet above the Mediterranean sea level, on Mount Moriah, where Abraham had built an altar to offer up his son Isaac. A spur extending southward that came to be called “Ophel” connected it with Mount Zion. From any direction the worshipers would have to go up to the temple. (Ps. 122:1-4; Isa. 2:2) At the time that David had bought the plot a plague was on, and Jehovah’s angel had directed the building of an altar there. David offered a sacrifice and said: “This is the house of Jehovah the true God, and this is an altar for burnt offering for Israel.”—1 Chron. 21:14 to 22:1; 2 Sam. 24:10-25.
WORSHIP OF JEHOVAH EXALTED
David had Solomon anointed as king when David’s fourth son Adonijah planned to take over the throne. Later all the people anointed Solomon and submitted to him as king. (1 Ki 1:1-40; 1 Chron. 28:1; 29:20-28) From this point, to picture the exaltation of the true worship of Jehovah God by the Greater Solomon, Christ Jesus, the Seed of Abraham and Heir of David, and the accompanying blessings of his rule, God directed and blessed Solomon’s rule.
In the spring of 1034 B.C.E. Solomon began to build the temple. Because of David’s advance preparation, the magnificent edifice was constructed with noteworthy ease, taking only seven and a half years to build. But it was not complete in its furnishings until the ark of the covenant was brought into the temple’s Most Holy compartment. The inauguration account reads:
“At that time [the festival of booths] Solomon proceeded to congregate the older men of Israel, all the heads of the tribes, . . . Then the priests brought in the ark of the covenant of Jehovah to its place, to the innermost room of the house, the Most Holy, to underneath the wings of the cherubs. For the cherubs were spreading out their wings over the place of the Ark, so that the cherubs kept the Ark and its poles screened over from above.”—1 Ki. 8:1-7; Ex. 34:22; Lev. 23:33-36.
The temple area, as well as Zion, was now included in Greater Jerusalem; so God’s representative presence as he dwelt among the cherubs by his miraculous Shekinah light stayed within Jerusalem and Zion.—Ps. 80:1; 99:1; Isa. 37:16; Num. 7:89.
In front of all the congregation of Israel King Solomon, kneeling before the massive copper altar, indicated the lasting quality of the covenant for the kingdom in a long prayer of dedication. He asked that if Israel should sin so as to become captive in any foreign land, but should sincerely repent and pray to Jehovah in the direction of the land, then would Jehovah, please, hear them, show mercy and bring them to their God-given land. This was “to the end that all the peoples of the earth may know that Jehovah is the true God. There is no other.”—1 Ki. 8:22-61.
South of the altar stood a tremendous circular water basin, called the “molten sea,” fifteen feet in diameter and seven and a half feet high, resting on twelve images of bulls, each three of these facing in a different direction. (1 Ki. 7:23-26) The altar before which Solomon prayed doubtless stood at the exact place where David had built his altar. It was thirty feet square and fifteen feet high. (2 Chron. 4:1-5) Upon it a grand sacrifice was made on this inauguration day. God now showed his approval of the temple:
“Now as soon as Solomon finished praying, the fire itself came down from the heavens and proceeded to consume the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and Jehovah’s glory itself filled the house. And the priests were unable to enter into the house of Jehovah because Jehovah’s glory had filled the house of Jehovah. And all the sons of Israel were spectators when the fire came down and the glory of Jehovah was upon the house, and they immediately bowed low with their faces to the earth upon the pavement and prostrated themselves and thanked Jehovah, ‘for he is good, for his loving-kindness is to time indefinite.’”—2 Chron. 7:1-3.
Was Solomon the promised One who would hold the everlasting kingship? No, but as heir of David he accurately pictured the rule of the permanent Heir, in the building program he carried out to exalt Jehovah’s name and to bring prosperity and happiness to his subjects through righteous rulership and promotion of the worship of Jehovah.
During the next thirteen years King Solomon dwelt in his palace in the city of David on Mount Zion, about half a mile from the temple on Mount Moriah, while he carried out a governmental building program. He proceeded to build a new royal palace on Mount Moriah, immediately south of the temple, but on lower ground. South of this he built the Porch of the Throne, the Porch of Pillars and the House of the Forest of Lebanon.—1 Ki. 7:1-7.
Solomon now ruled from the Temple Mountain, Moriah. His wife, Pharaoh’s daughter, also moved to a new house built for her; she was not allowed to “dwell in the house of David the king of Israel, for the places to which the ark of Jehovah has come are something holy,” as King Solomon said.—2 Chron. 8:11; 1 Ki. 3:1; 7:8; 9:24.
Such were the beauty and grandeur of Solomon’s building works and of all the arrangements for taking care of them as to leave the beholder breathless, as in the case of the visiting queen of Sheba. (1 Ki. 10:1-5) Solomon’s long reign was one of glory, peace and prosperity. His subjects became many:
“Judah and Israel were many, like the grains of sand that are by the sea for multitude, eating and drinking and rejoicing. And Judah and Israel continued to dwell in security, everyone under his own vine and under his own fig tree, from [the city of] Dan to Beer-sheba, all the days of Solomon.”—1 Ki. 4:20, 25.
This was all a prophetic picture. David had been given a covenant for a lasting kingdom that was to be in his line. David had many kings of his line to sit upon the throne, but there was One to come who would take the kingship permanently. This One was the Greater Solomon, Christ Jesus. The peaceful reign of Solomon in which everyone was happy and sitting in his own allotment of land and enjoying the blessings of righteous rulership was pictorial of the reign of Christ Jesus the Greater Solomon, the Seed of God’s “woman,” the Prince of Peace. (Matt. 12:42; Isa. 9:6, 7) He, because of his immortality, has a lasting hold on the kingship and will keep it forever, rooting the line of David in the throne forever. But as to this pictorial kingdom of God and how it came to clash with Assyria, the Second World Power, please see our next issue.
[Map on page 541]
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Site of King’s Palace
CITY OF DAVID
Pool of Siloam
VALLEY OF HINNOM