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M. The word onyx seems to have been given in Scripture not only to a precious stone or gem, but also to a very valuable kind of marble which was sometimes called Parian marble, and which was remarkable for its bright white colour. The stone prepared by David for the temple was probably this marble onyx. Onyx stones are sometimes found still of a large size : but there is no end to our wanderings ; and I must make haste to finish my account of David.
From what you have already heard, you may suppose that David had the temple of God much in his thoughts all the latter days of his life. One of the last things recorded of him in the Bible, is that before his death he assembled all Israel together, and talked to his son Solomon a great deal about the building of the temple before the whole congregation, telling him how he wished it to be done, and begging him to spare no pains in seeing that every part of this holy building was exceedingly beautiful.
Nor was the pious David merely anxious that his son Solomon should build a house for the Lord; the first wish of his heart was, that he should serve God with a perfect heart, and with a willing mind, and this he most solemnly entreated him to do in the presence of all the people, saying unto him, “ The Lord searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts : if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever.” Then David made all the people join him and his son in a solemn act of worship; and he blessed the Lord before all the congregation, and addressed to Him a prayer worthy for its piety, its beauty, and its humility, of being written in
the word of God. We will turn to it there, and read it together.
And when he had finished his prayer, he called upon all the congregation to bless the Lord. And they sacrificed sacrifices, and offered burnt offerings unto the Lord; and anointed Solomon the son of David to be king in his father's place; “ for the days drew nigh that David should die.” And he died soon after this“ in a good old age, full of days, riches, and honour. And David slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David."
FOURTEENTH SUNDAY EVENING.
THE WISDOM AND GLORY OF SOLOMON.
M. As soon as David was dead,“ Solomon sat on the throne of the Lord” as king, instead of his father, and prospered : and all Israel obeyed him; and all the princes and the mighty men, and all the sons likewise of king David, submitted themselves unto Solomon the king. And the Lord gave Solomon favour 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. And Solomon, the son of David, was strengthened in his kingdom, and the Lord his God was with him, and magnified him exceedingly. The pious David had continued, as we have seen, to the end of his life, to exhort and charge Solomon to serve the Lord with a perfect heart and with a willing mind, assuring him that, if he did no, it would be well with him, but that, if he forsook
nours, and pleasures, and a long life in which to enjoy them. But Solomon appears to have felt, that none of these things were what he wanted; for he might have been very rich and great, and yet not have been a good king, which was what he desired above every thing. He seems to have had a grateful sense of the mercies God had already shown him, and an humble feeling of his own unfitness for the high situation in which he was placed, in being king over the people of the Lord. In this temper of mind, he did not allow his thoughts to rest for a moment on the wealth, grandeur, and power of the world, but simply asked of God, “ a wise and understanding heart.” Happy choice! Solomon's speech pleased the Lord, and he said unto him; “Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked riches, wealth, nor honour, neither yet hast asked long life, but hast asked wisdom and knowledge for thyself, that thou mayest judge my people over whom I have made thee king; behold I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and understanding heart, so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall arise like unto thee.” God said also unto Solomon, “ I have also given unto thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches and honour, so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee all thy days.” In what a happy state of mind must Solomon have returned to Jerusalem, having had so gracious an answer to the prayer which he had offered up. Nor had he been there long, before he found occasion for the wisdom which God had promised him: for there came to him two women, who had been living together in one house, each with a
young child of her own. Now one of these children had died in the night; and the woman to whom it belonged, had taken away the other living child from its mother whilst she was asleep, and put her own dead child in its stead. Now when the mother of the living child awoke in the morning, she soon found out what had been done : for to her every feature of her infant's face was well known; she could not be deceived about it. A great quarrel then began between her and the other woman, who would not give up the living child; and at last they determined to go before the king, and to let him judge between them.
E. But how could king Solomon tell, mamma, to which of the women the baby belonged ?
M. It was a difficult question indeed, and the manner, in which the king settled the dispute, showed plainly that the Lord had already sent down upon him that wisdom which he so eagerly desired. For “the king said, Bring me a sword; and they brought a sword before the king: and the king said, Divide the living child in two; and give half to the one, and half to the other."
E. Oh ! mamma, how cruel ! I no not like king Solomon now.
M. Stop a moment, my love ; he was wise, but not cruel, as you will soon see; though I doubt not that all the people, who were gathered around the king, thought, as you think, at first, and shuddered, when they heard the command of the king.
But what were the feelings of the two women, when they saw what Solomon was about to do? The real mother was soon found out by the difference of their conduct at this dreadful moment. The woman