Seafaring Dreams

THE BIG IF OXYMORON…God already knows.

God Did hear Solomon’s prayer, and now he will answer that prayer.  He presents the classic “if” choice; to serve or not to serve God.  But he already knows what our choices will be, so the plan will unfold in his time. 

And it came to pass, when Solomon had finished the building of the house of the LORD, and the king’s house, and all Solomon’s desire which he was pleased to do,  That the LORD appeared to Solomon the second time, as he had appeared unto him at Gibeon.  And the LORD said unto him, I have heard thy prayer and thy supplication, that thou hast made before me: I have hallowed this house, which thou hast built, to put my name there for ever; and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually.  And IF thou wilt walk before me, as David thy father walked, in integrity of heart, and in uprightness, to do according to all that I have commanded thee, and wilt keep my statutes and my judgments:  Then I will establish the throne of thy kingdom upon Israel for ever, as I promised to David thy father, saying, There shall not fail thee a man upon the throne of Israel.  1 Kings 9:1-5

This is all good; David was a good example, and God’s promise to him was all good enough.  God has the alternative option for any potential backsliding though,

But IF ye shall at all turn from following me, ye or your children, and will not keep my commandments and my statutes which I have set before you, but go and serve other gods, and worship them:  Then will I cut off Israel out of the land which I have given them; and this house, which I have hallowed for my name, will I cast out of my sight; and Israel shall be a proverb and a byword among all people:  And at this house, which is high, every one that passeth by it shall be astonished, and shall hiss; and they shall say, Why hath the LORD done thus unto this land, and to this house?  And they shall answer, Because they forsook the LORD their God, who brought forth their fathers out of the land of Egypt, and have taken hold upon other gods, and have worshipped them, and served them: therefore hath the LORD brought upon them all this evil.  1 Kings 9:6-9

If God knows man, and the weakness of flesh, how can we hope to survive this?  Solomon will miss the mark as all of us do.  But God promised to give Solomon wisdom, and there is still hope.  For now he is free to indulge his season of prosperity and peace.  His friend the king of Lebanon, or Phoenicia, is sharing his success. 

And it came to pass at the end of twenty years, when Solomon had built the two houses, the house of the LORD, and the king’s house,  (Now Hiram the king of Tyre had furnished Solomon with cedar trees and fir trees, and with gold, according to all his desire,) that then king Solomon gave Hiram twenty cities in the land of Galilee.  And Hiram came out from Tyre to see the cities which Solomon had given him; and they pleased him not.  And he said, What cities are these which thou hast given me, my brother? And he called them the land of Cabul unto this day.  1 Kings 9:10-13

Well, Solomon didn’t impress Hiram with his gift of cities; they must have been a little rural for his taste.  The land of Cabul means something like a nasty place.  It didn’t seem to offend Hiram, as he sent gold and other gifts to Solomon.  Perhaps this was a bit of royal humor, or Solomon gave in other ways at other times.  Their friendship continued in any case.  I had a disagreement with a friend long ago, but his arm on my head was so long I couldn’t land a punch…he just laughed at me!

And Hiram sent to the king sixscore talents of gold.  And this is the reason of the levy which king Solomon raised; for to build the house of the LORD, and his own house, and Millo, and the wall of Jerusalem, and Hazor, and Megiddo, and Gezer.  For Pharaoh king of Egypt had gone up, and taken Gezer, and burnt it with fire, and slain the Canaanites that dwelt in the city, and given it for a present unto his daughter, Solomon’s wife.  And Solomon built Gezer, and Bethhoron the nether, And Baalath, and Tadmor in the wilderness, in the land.  1 Kings 9:14-18

Hiram donated to Solmon’s building fund.  Even the Pharaoh was giving gifts to his son-in-law Solomon.  His kingdom grew, and enemies paid labor as taxes to have peace. 

And all the cities of store that Solomon had, and cities for his chariots, and cities for his horsemen, and that which Solomon desired to build in Jerusalem, and in Lebanon, and in all the land of his dominion.  And all the people that were left of the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites, which were not of the children of Israel,  Their children that were left after them in the land, whom the children of Israel also were not able utterly to destroy, upon those did Solomon levy a tribute of bondservice unto this day.  But of the children of Israel did Solomon make no bondmen: but they were men of war, and his servants, and his princes, and his captains, and rulers of his chariots, and his horsemen.  These were the chief of the officers that were over Solomon’s work, five hundred and fifty, which bare rule over the people that wrought in the work.  1 Kings 9:19-23

Jews were not in bondage or slavery, but in positions of service and leadership.  While building cities and his own family homes, he also built a navy.

But Pharaoh’s daughter came up out of the city of David unto her house which Solomon had built for her: then did he build Millo.  And three times in a year did Solomon offer burnt offerings and peace offerings upon the altar which he built unto the LORD, and he burnt incense upon the altar that was before the LORD. So he finished the house.  And king Solomon made a navy of ships in Eziongeber, which is beside Eloth, on the shore of the Red sea, in the land of Edom.  And Hiram sent in the navy his servants, shipmen that had knowledge of the sea, with the servants of Solomon.  And they came to Ophir, and fetched from thence gold, four hundred and twenty talents, and brought it to king Solomon.  1 Kings 9:24-28

The Phoenician navy was the greatest of the ancient world.  When Hiram sent his sailors to train the Jewish navy, they were learning from the best.

Modern Israel is alive and well today and carrying on the tradition of the navy of Solomon.  This seems timely as today the modern Jewish navy will be confronted by the warships of Egypt and Turkey in the crisis of Gaza relief ships.

The Israeli navy has a modern history of heroic service in their battles of survival.  A classic is the adventure of The Cherbourg Boats.  Israel designed missile firing patrol ships capable of defeating the best Russian missile ships used by their Arab enemies.  A little intrigue was needed to get delivery from the French shipyard in time for the war though.  Google the book!

Those old type 3 ships have been replaced by type 5 now, and the Israeli navy has a potent naval force today.  These were built in the US to Israeli specifications.

God has made promises, and Israel is still here to prove that they are true.  Solomon is destined to stray, and Israel has too.  Both will discover the fulfillment of their promises as God himself is the guarantee of their hope.