"And those officers provided victual for King Solomon, and for all that came unto King Solomon's table, every man in his month; they lacked nothing." (1 Kings 4:27)
What a comfortable feeling must this have been: they lacked nothing. May you and I find the same fullness in Christ, that it may be said of us, they lacked nothing.
In noticing our text for a little while this morning, it is recorded of Solomon, King of Israel, of his greatness, and of the peace in his nation: "And Judah and Israel dwelt safely," and if so, surely the Christian may feel that he too is dwelling safely in his Lord, who is said to be a strong tower; they may kill the body, that is all a man can do, but they cannot kill the soul; they dwelt safely every man under his vine and under his fig tree, from Dan even unto Beersheba--that was the length of the land--all the days of Solomon. (1 Kings 4:25)
We shall first notice this man Solomon.
Thirdly--The plenty that all found at King Solomon's table.
Lastly--There was such a profusion of food, and of everything that was good, that they lacked nothing.
In this world, the poor child of God seems to lack everything very often. Perhaps we should fail to notice gospel things in the historical parts of the word, were it not that the Saviour said in Matthew 11:12,13: "And from the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John;" prophesied of him, but more especially of his Lord and Master. We are bound to believe that where we read anything in the scriptures, it is all pointing to Christ. We admit there are many scriptures wrapped in obscurity, but we may conclude that Christ is aimed at, and prophesied of. And the Lord said, "And if ye will receive it, this is Elias which was for to come. He that hath ears to hear let him hear." (Matt. 11:14) For the word, the law, the prophets and all the scriptures testify of Christ, so that in the type, or the anti-type, Christ is found everywhere. And so in the person of Solomon. Perhaps some may say, "If Solomon was such a good man as he is represented to be, how was it he was drawn into idolatry?" Solomon and every other person whose history is recorded in the scriptures, and all those who get to heaven, do not get there by their own goodness; salvation is by grace; and Solomon was saved by grace; notwithstanding all the evils that he committed in his last days, grace covered his transgressions, and hid the sin, and he was saved.
First--Solomon, like the Saviour, was a child of promise. (2 Samuel 7:10) "Moreover I will appoint a place for my people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in a place of their own and move no more; neither shall the children of wickedness afflict them any more, as beforetime." "And when thy days be fulfilled" (the days of David) "and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers" (how kind the Lord was to tell him all this) "I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom." Then Solomon was the child of promise, so was the Saviour the promised seed, and every believer is one of God's promised seed. The promises are made to Christ, and to his Church and people, and all the promises in Him are Yea and Amen. Yes, I will do it, saith the Lord, I have engaged to bring it to pass from the beginning to the end, to the glory of God by us. How it works out in the experience of the church of the living God.
Not only so, but Solomon was God's son, "I will be his father, and he shall be my son," and so was Christ the Son of God. He is set forth before us as the Son of God, and O! the sweet mercy that all believers are spoken of, whatever their feelings may be, as the sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty. Do we realize this every day? Do we think of Him as our Father; do we love Him as our Father; do we believe that He is doing the very best for us? Ask a tried Christian, and perhaps he will say, No! I labor, toil and strive, and when I have done all, I do not succeed. But you cannot see the hand of the Lord, the cloud will be removed presently, your trials will cease, and you, with all who fear the Lord, will say the ways of God were right. A son! What a sweet relationship is this; how beautifully it is brought before us. Let Solomon in all his glory appear in this chapter, but believers see in Christ a greater glory than in Solomon.
Solomon was rich, and large-hearted, and wise, so was Christ. "Who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption." (1 Cor. 1:30) It does not say that we are made wisdom, but that Christ is made that to us. He has proved that to His Church and people. He is their wisdom, and hence in infinite wisdom the Church is provided for. The sacrifice was promised, it has been offered and accepted, and the people of God are wise in Him; and wisdom is justified of all her children, because the Lord is their Teacher and their Guide. So Solomon was a type of Christ, and it is said the Lord loved him--God loved His Son and declared it. "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased, hear him." (Matt. 17:5) The Lord give us grace to listen to what He has said, to walk according to His word, and to love Him. As if the Lord had said: "Do not listen to the voice of the tempter, do not listen to the voice of trouble, give no heed to the suggestion of unbelief in the mind." Hear Him! He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. So the children of God are anxious to hear and read what Christ has said.
"What Christ has said must be fulfilled,
On this firm Rock believers build."
O that we may attend to His sayings, His invitations, His promises, and all that He has declared in the scriptures for lost and ruined sinners. We admire what He said to John's two disciples: (Matt. 11) "The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up." It gets still more and more wonderful, but beyond all these miracles He said: "And the poor have the gospel preached to them." (Luke 4:18) That seemed to be the summit of it all. Poor simple man has the Gospel preached to him, and if it was not all of free grace it would be no gospel to us; if pardon, peace, and heaven did not come to us in that way--because we could not fulfill the terms--therefore we should be lost. And He said further: "And blessed is he whosoever shall not be offended in me." We are not offended in Him. We bless the Lord for that. O that I could so speak, and that the Holy Spirit would put such power in it, that your unbelief might be routed from your minds, and that you might feel and know that you are among the blessed ones that are not offended in Him.
Solomon loved the Lord. Does not every Christian do that? But we say our love is so cold and faint; but it shows there is some love in the heart! If we feel that our hearts are not so inflamed with love as we could desire, yet if it be but faint and very weak, we acknowledge that there is some love in the heart to Him; and this bruised reed shall not be broken, and this smoking flax will not be quenched, until judgment is brought forth unto victory; and the poor bruised reed and smoking flax shall come off more than conquerors through Him that loved us. Are you satisfied with that?
Solomon loved the Lord, and the Lord loved Him, and as we sometimes sing:
"Whom once He loves He never leaves,
But loves him to the end."
Then He loved Solomon all through his earthly career. But did he not sin? Yes, and even in this I think he was a type of Christ; for the Saviour saw His Church ruined in the fall, and became subject to the law to redeem those under the law; our sin became His by imputation, yet He was the holy, harmless Jesus, the Son of God.
When we get the Spirit's teaching, then we see our folly and confess it, we see our danger and flee from it, we see our Refuge and run into it.
"When I can read my title clear
To mansions in the skies,
I bid farewell to every fear,
And wipe my weeping eyes."
We read that Solomon made a porch for the throne where he might judge: and the Lord Jesus is our Judge; it is here we come with all our trying cases. Satan assaults us, tells us many wicked things; that we are altogether wrong, and we have to come to Him for judgment, and we are quite satisfied that He should be our Judge. The Lord is our King and our Judge, the Lord is our Lawgiver, and he will save us. What a mercy when we are made honest, to have our consciences searched, and our sins brought forth under the rod of the word: we are not to be judged of ourselves, but Jesus Christ has His porch of judgment where He judges and acquits every penitent sinner. That is a wonder! Have you not sometimes gone from His presence, wondering that such a sinner could be pardoned? But He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Is anything more surprising to the Christian than this, when he is obliged to come to the Lord to confess he has done wrong, and then for a sweet peace to overflow his soul that passeth all understanding. He wonders at it. It is like the woman of whom the Saviour said: "He that is without sin among you let them cast the first stone." (John 8:7) They hung their heads, and retreated one by one, till they were all gone. Then the Saviour said, "Woman, where are thine accusers, hath no man condemned thee?" and she said, "No man, Lord." And He said, "Neither do I condemn thee; go, and sin no more." (John 8:10,11) Was it not all of grace? We need not be afraid to bring our cases to Him and tell Him all about it; how we have wandered, how we have sinned, and how we fear we shall be condemned to the flames of hell. He knows all that. May we be enabled to tell Him all, and He will speak pardon to our souls.
1 Kings 7:8.--"And his house where he dwelt had another court within the porch, which was of the like work. Solomon made also an house for Pharaoh's daughter, whom he had taken for his wife; like unto this porch." He made a house for his wife, and the Church is said to be the wife of Christ. "Thy maker is thine husband, the Lord of Hosts is his name, and thy Redeemer the Holy one of Israel." (Isa. 54:5) If we know anything about union with Christ, we are set forth in the scriptures as His bride, part of Himself: and all His affections are centered in His Church, and all He has done from everlasting has been for the comfort of His Church. Jesus Christ has made a house for His bride in the Church of God, it is the house of God, the pillar and ground of the truth. Do you feel at home with the people of God, or more so with the people of the world? If you love the world, go and enjoy it if you can, till God smites the heart, and then you will seek a home in the Church. My young friends, do you feel a knitting to Christ, drawn to love the name of Christ? This shows that you are part of the Church of God, and the Bride of Christ, and you will be glad to turn to the people of God.
No more a stranger and a guest,
But like a child at home."
What a sweet mercy, when we feel at home with God's people and in worshipping with them. I can certainly say that my happiest moments are in this pulpit. I envy no minister in the world. I dwell among mine own people, and I love them.
Pharaoh's daughter was not of the children of Israel; we were not always Christians if we are now; we were not always the children of God manifestly, but Solomon sent for her and built an house for her, and I bless God that His people are looking forward to a house in heaven, a house not made with hands eternal in the heavens. This house is prepared for every one that is brought to know the Lord; and we shall remain here till He takes us home to it in His own time. He keeps us here as long as He will, that we may glorify His name. I daresay some of us may say, when we are in pain here, I wish He would take us up there. However, He has prepared the home. O those sweet words, "I go to prepare a place" (to make a home) for you, to make it ready. As sure as we are His, He will make us as willing to go to the home in heaven, as He is to receive us. You say, "I do not feel ready;" perhaps not, but He has told you that He will be with you, and would you dare doubt Him?
As Solomon did all these things, so Christ has done all for His Church and people.
Secondly. These officers provided victual for King Solomon, and for all that came unto King Solomon's table.
In the scriptures everything is prepared. Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath also furnished her table. The officers are not always ready; it is very sad when a minister stands up before a congregation and knows not what to say. He has been searching the word of God, and cannot get a subject for the people, and he is obliged to go to the Lord for it.
These officers provided for Solomon's table monthly. So I understand this to be the meaning of what the Lord said to Peter. "Feed my sheep, feed my lambs. Feed the Church of God which he hath purchased with his own blood." (Acts 20:28) God's people want food, they are a hungry people, hungering for better things; they want heavenly food; and they say sometimes, as Jacob did: "Go again and buy a little food."
The people of God, when they meet together, do not want to be censured; they want food to cheer and comfort their souls, just as food cheers and comforts the poor.
Thirdly. The officers were appointed to supply Solomon's table. I do not know whether we must give credit to all the Jews wrote, but they tell us that there were sometimes 60,000 at his table. Solomon's provision for one day was thirty measures of fine flour and three-score measures of meal, ten fat oxen, and twenty oxen out of the pastures, and an hundred sheep, beside harts and roebucks, and fallow deer, and fatted fowl.
There must have been a large number to consume all that. This brings us to our Gospel table. At this very hour there are many poor hungry ones in the different places of worship, hoping to be fed from the table of King Jesus. I believe, notwithstanding the times we are living in, and the death-like state of the Church, that there are many seeking the Lord, wanting food. We want it. One is saying "Lord, give me a sense of pardoning love, it is all I can desire." It is at the Gospel table in rich abundance. The table of our Lord Jesus Christ is always loaded with everything we need. Another is saying, O! that I could enjoy Christ, the Bread of Life." Do we hunger for it? Here is abundance in the gospel, an overflowing for every hungry soul. The Psalmist said, "My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God; when shall I come and appear before God?" None but He who gave the thirst can satisfy it; none but He who made us hunger can satisfy the soul; and He that created the hunger will satisfy both it and the thirsty one in His own time, I am sure He will!
We do not read where the multitude of guests came from who dined at Solomon's table; but the rich abundance of the Gospel table makes the sinner's heart dance for joy. What did we come for today? One is burdened and wants relief. Another is wanting strength to bear him up against the trials of time. The Master's presence is seen, His voice is heard; what does He say? "Eat, O friends; drink, yea drink abundantly, O beloved!" (Songs 5:1) What stores of grace and glory do we find treasured up in our Lord Jesus Christ. The Gospel table is the same as ever. Here His people are satisfied; sometimes they get a little comfort; it is not every word that affects their hearts, not all the preacher may say will satisfy them; but some expression they say was beautiful to them, they enjoy it; and I like people to enjoy the Gospel. Another will say that a verse of a hymn was sweet to his heart, and he felt all the better for the worship of God. So His people partake of the bounties of His grace, "My God shall supply all your needs according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus." (Phil. 4:19) Another has lost a loved one, and wants a little comfort; it is all at the Gospel table. Christ's invitations are: "Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." (Matt. 11:28) There is the character. "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters." (Isa. 55:1) There is the character again. "Whosoever will let him take of the water of life freely." (Rev. 22:17) Will? why the man is longing for these rich gifts, the Lord gave him the will. Some will walk away from the house of God, and say, they did not see anything particularly interesting in it. We cannot open the eyes of the blind. Those that hunger and thirst, those that are found in the way, will find there is rich abundance in Christ; grace for every day, foretastes of heaven, not a little merely, but sometimes a rich abundance. And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment, and he said, "Friend, how camest thou in hither, not having on a wedding garment?" and he was speechless. (Matt. 22:11,12) He was to be turned out. The King comes to see those that listen to His sweet words. What was it sustained our forefathers so that they could go to prison and to the stake even in this town? I suppose their names are to be wiped out from history now, but they are registered in heaven. You may plant a tree and perhaps it grows in the dust of martyrs. This country is covered with the dust of martyrs, God took them home to glory in that way. As our forefathers were strengthened, so shall the people of God be strengthened and fed, nourished and built up, and receive the truth in the love of it.
Lastly. They lacked nothing.
They all had as much as they desired. I daresay they talked of the King on their way home, and of what a wonderful feast it was. What an abundance our Lord has promised us. And if you can enjoy Christ and live upon His fullness, you do not lack anything. That is a promise of the Lord to the Jewish people. Deut. 8:7: And Moses noticing how the Lord had supplied His people, said, "For the Lord thy God bringeth thee into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills: a land of wheat and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates, a land of oil olive, and honey; a land wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack anything in it." This land is typical of the fullness there is in Christ for all His people; and when God's people live upon Christ by faith, they live in a land where they lack nothing; but if we get away from Him, and think of other things, what is there we do not want?
So, too, Nehemiah exalted and extolled the God of heaven for His great goodness: and in the ninth chapter, where he is telling the people how the Lord appeared for them and sustained their forefathers in the wilderness, 21st ver. he said--"Yea, forty years didst thou sustain them in the wilderness, they lacked nothing." God supplied their need, the water ran, the manna fell every day, until they came to the borders of the land of Canaan; they lacked nothing. I can see how it is we get so dissatisfied; we think of our unworthiness and wretchedness, and then we feel that we want everything; but when we are enabled to look to Christ, there is peace, joyous foretastes of heaven, all treasured up in Christ; there is everything.
Those that are the most hungry will feel the most thankful afterwards, and it is so with the people of God now. He satisfies His poor with bread. "My people shall be satisfied with my goodness, saith the Lord." (Jer. 31:14)
We want nothing more than we have in Christ. Here the weak, sick, tempted, poor, and tried, find comfort and support in Him. There is such a fullness in Him, that we can lack nothing. It is here that murmuring dies, that unbelief gets such a blow, that for the time being he dies; we thought he was dead fifty years ago! Pride dies, and withers away like a flower in the sun, and everything that is wrong departs, and everything that is right and good we receive; and it makes us comfortable and happy, and notwithstanding our poverty in ourselves, we trust we shall go away home to glory, saying, we "lacked nothing."