Researched and studied by HH, Sir Godfrey Gregg D.Div
1 Kings 10:18.
The regal splendour of Solomon was representative of the kingly glory of Him who was greater than Solomon, and whose kingdom is a spiritual kingdom that shall endure forever. The wealth and magnificence which distinguished the reign of the Israelitish monarch presented a type of the spiritual riches and grandeur, the abundance of wisdom and knowledge, of goodness and truth, provided for mankind under the dominion of the King of kings, the Lord the Saviour. For this reason the particulars recorded in the Word concerning Solomon are the means of religious instruction, shadowing forth the mysteries of the Lord’s kingdom, and introducing us into a knowledge of the things of the Church and heaven, as they exist without us, and as they must, in order to our salvation, be formed and established within us.
Solomon as a king represented the Lord as to His regal power and government. And the kingly power and government of the Lord, as distinguished from the priestly, are, those which He exercises from His Divine truth, as distinguished from those which He exercises from His Divine love. Much is said in Scripture of the Lord as a Priest and as a King, but except the spiritual sense, none but a worldly or natural idea of the subject can be entertained. The common idea is, that the Lord’s priestly office consists in presenting the offerings of the faithful to His Father, and pleading for their acceptance on account of His own merits; and that His kingly office consists in ruling in the spiritual affairs of men in the name and by the authority of the Father. This opinion, while in itself natural, is grounded in the belief of a plurality of persons in God, and cannot exist without it. But there is no God but in the Lord Jesus, and that which is called a distinction of office, is the Lord’s government, as exercised by Him over angels and men in different states of spiritual perfection. The kingly government of the Lord is the government of His Divine truth, and His priestly government is the government of His Divine love: and these two kinds of government do not originate in any official distinction in the Lord, but in a difference of state in those who are the subjects of His government, both in heaven and in the world.
Solomon representing the Lord as a king, the Divine government of the Lord’s truth, or of the Lord as the Truth itself, is described representatively by the throne which Solomon made, and of which there was none made like it in any kingdom.
A throne is a sacred symbol of government and of the kingdom over which it is exercised. Heaven is the throne of God. This is the general meaning of a throne; and the other significations which it has, as of dominion and judgement, are all included under this since heaven as a kingdom cannot stand without them: for judgement and justice are the habitation of God’s throne. The throne of Solomon was the symbol of that which is called the throne of God—His kingdom consisting of the Church and heaven—the government of His Divine truth in heaven and in the earth.
As Solomon was a type of the Lord as the Saviour of men—of the Lord in the Humanity which He assumed and glorified in the world— the throne which Solomon made was symbolical of the kingdom which the Lord established when He was in the world, and which was and is distinguished from all the kingdoms or churches which existed previous to His coming in the flesh. If it were our purpose to engage the reader’s attention on the nature of the kingdom and government of the Lord under the Christian dispensation, as it is in its general form, and as it consists of the many, we should point out the nature and ground of the difference. But it is intended more especially to consider the subject in its particular sense and in its individual application; to consider the kingdom as it is to rule in the mind of every member of the Church—the throne as it is to be set up in every heart. Let us then consider the subject under this view.
” Solomon made a great throne of ivory, and overlaid it with the best gold.”
The first peculiarity of this throne is, that it was made of ivory: and ivory signifies rational truth—or spiritual truth is rationally seen and applied. This signification of ivory arises from the circumstance that an elephant signifies the natural mind in general, and the tusks of the elephant, as being the instruments of his power and the weapons of offence and defence, and also as being white and of a fine texture, signify the most excellent truth of the natural man, which is rational truth.
Ivory is mentioned in several parts of Scripture, where the truth of this kind is treated. Once in three years, the ships of Tarshish brought gold and silver, ivory, apes, and peacocks (1 Kings 10:22). In the 27th chapter of Ezekiel, at the 5th and 15th verses, we read, as indicating the wealth of Tyre, that their ships had oars of oak and benches or seats of ivory; and that the merchants of many countries had brought them horns of ivory and ebony. Tyre signifies the knowledge of truth by which we acquire intelligence: and this knowledge is signified by a ship, the oars of which were of oak and their benches of ivory: oars denote those things of the understanding which are allied to the senses, and ivory those which belong to reason: horns of ivory denote the power which is derived from truth rationally understood.
We read in Scripture of palaces, houses, and beds of ivory; palaces and houses signifying the mind itself as formed or regenerated from rational truth; doctrine derived from such truth being meant by beds of ivory. In the 45th Psalm, which treats of the Lord’s union with the Church, all His garments are said to smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces, whereby they have made Him glad: the perfumed garments out of the ivory palaces are truths derived from the Lord, grateful to the perception of the rational mind—or from their being seen in the clear light of reason.
Truths of this description are eminently those of the Christian Church, and more especially of that Church as it exists under the Lord’s Second Advent. For the glory and also the power of Christian truth arise from the circumstance, that it is not only acknowledged to be of Divine authority, but it is seen to be of Divine wisdom. The simple acknowledgement of the truths of Revelation causes them to enter into the natural or external mind, where they remain as matters of science and authority; but perception introduces them into the rational or internal mind, and renders them subjects of light and reason. The acknowledgement without the perception of truth is that which gives rise to a state and sense of servitude, but the perception of truth produces a state and sense of freedom: for when one thus knows the truth, the truth makes him free; and he whom the Son, who is the Truth itself, makes free, is free indeed.
It is not indeed to be understood that the mental perception of truth, considered simply as an operation of the mind, can give this freedom. But when we speak of the perception of truth we include in that perception the love and the practice of truth, without which there can be no real perception. For how can the understanding perceive the truth which the will opposes and the life belies? We do not really see the truth of any part of Revelation or religion, but what we practice as well as intellectually acknowledge. It is only in proportion as we do the Lord’s will that we know His doctrine to be true and Divine.
This is not left to be inferred or understood in the present instance: it is expressed. For the throne, while said to have been made of ivory, is described as a great throne, and as having been covered over with gold. And greatness implies goodness; for there are two things —magnitude and number—which denote goodness and truth. Gold also signifies goodness or love. The greatness of the throne indicates, therefore, the essential goodness of the Lord’s kingdom and government; and gold, with which the throne was covered, indicates goodness in which truth is grounded and in which it is manifested, the goodness of heart and holiness of life.
The throne of the Lord, or His government and kingdom, as set up in the regenerate mind, is formed from the truth, but that truth must be grounded and manifested in love and goodness. It must have goodness as its inward essence and goodness as its outward form. And indeed what is the Divine government if it does not include and comprehend the government of the heart and the actions? We are gifted with the capacity and the means of knowing and understanding the Lord’s will, but it is only that we may love and do it.
This truth is still further taught and enforced in the present case: there is another predicate which directs us to goodness as entering into the perception and use of the truth which is accommodated to the apprehension of the reason. The top of the throne was round behind; and of forms, what is round or circular is predicated of goodness, and what is angular is predicated of truth. For this reason, as well as for another, the steps by which there was the ascent to the throne signify truths. And as there are a connection and correlation between truth and goodness, this is expressed in the description, that “the throne had six steps, and the top of the throne was round behind.” Although the terms which express the size and form of the throne both denote goodness, they do not denote goodness of the same kind and degree. The goodness denoted by magnitude is more especially the goodness of love, that denoted by form is more especially the goodness of truth. The truths by which goodness is attained is signified by the steps by which there was the ascent to the throne. Steps denote truths, for it is by means of truths that the mind is elevated from a natural to a spiritual state of the will, or is raised from earth to heaven. Jacob’s ladder, which reached from earth to heaven, was an emblem of the revealed Word, which connects heaven with the world and the Lord with man; and the steps of that ladder signified the truths of the Word, by which there is a descent of God through heaven to man, and an ascent of man through heaven to God. The steps which went up to the throne of Solomon were six; for six is a number which signifies truths: but this number implies at the same time states of labour and trial. These, as well as truths, are meant by the six days in which God is said to have created the world, and by the six days which man was appointed to labour, preparatory to the seventh day, in which he was commanded to rest, as God had rested from all His works which He had created and made. The six days in which the Lord Himself is said to labour are all the states of instruction and labour through which He conducts those who are being regenerated, the state of regeneration itself being meant by the seventh day of rest. Heaven is hence called rest, and life on earth, which is preparatory to endless life in heaven, is called labour; for the state of the soul in heaven compared with its state on earth is as a state of rest compared with a state of labour—labour implying resistance to evil and temptation, and the doing of good from a sense of duty more than from a feeling of delight. The necessity of conquering evil, as a means of attaining to the state and kingdom of heaven, is plainly declared by the Lord, in His address to the Church of the Laodiceans: “To him that overcomes 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.” To sit with the Lord in His throne is to be in His kingdom, and to have dominion over all the lower thoughts and affections of the mind, through which there had been a temptation. As this labour is spiritually meant by the six days of Creation, and is implied by the six steps of the throne of Solomon, the Lord in His address to the Laodicean Church calls Himself the beginning of the Creation of God, since from Him is all spiritual creation, which is regeneration, or the creation of a new heart and of a right spirit within us. The number six denotes states of trial and labour, as well as states of truth, because states of truth, compared with a state of good, are states of labour. Truth is given to lead us to goodness. It is given to discover to us our evils of heart and life; for we should not know sin but by the law: but it is also given us to lead us to resist and forsake evil, since the knowledge of evil, without the inducement and power to remove it, would be of no advantage, but would rather be a curse than a blessing. The power to resist evil resides in truth and comes to us by the truth; not that truth alone has this power, but the power is in it and by it. Power originates in goodness, but goodness has no power but by truth as an instrument. As all spiritual power conies to us by truth, and as, when grounded in goodness, truth is able to conquer all the evils of heart and life, therefore twelve lions stood upon the steps of Solomon’s throne, as emblems of the complete and irresistible power of a true faith—that is, of faith grounded in love. For he who has faith, such faith as the Gospel requires, even as a grain of mustard seed, shall say to the sycamine-tree, or even to the mountain, “Be you plucked up, and cast into the midst of the sea,” and it shall obey him; for true faith has power to remove false and evil principles, which the tree and the mountain signify, and send them to that kingdom whence they came.