Page:A Brief Bible History (Boyd and Machen, 1922).djvu/35

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Solomon, designated by David to succeed him, did not gain the throne without dispute, but the attempt of Adonijah, another son, to seize the throne failed in spite of powerful support. The forty-year reign of Solomon was the golden age of Hebrew history — the age to which all subsequent times looked back. Rapid growth of commerce, construction, art, and literature reflected the inward condition of peace and the outward ties with other lands of culture. But with art came idolatry; with construction came ostentation and oppression; with commerce came luxury. The splendor of Jerusalem, wherein Solomon "made silver . . . to be as stones, and cedars ... as the sycomore-trees," I Kings 10:27, contained in itself the seeds of dissolution.

However, there are two great types of literature which found their characteristic expression in the days of David and Solomon and are always associated with their names — the psalm with David, and the proverb (or, more broadly, "wisdom") with Solomon. Kingdom, temple and palace have long since passed away, but the Psalter and the books of Wisdom are imperishable monuments of the united monarchy.

The Psalms

The Psalter is a collection of one hundred and fifty poems, of various length, meter, and style. As now arranged it is divided into five books, but there is evidence that earlier collections and arrangements preceded the present. Among the earliest productions, judged both by form and by matter, are those psalms which bear the superscription "of David," though it would not be safe to assert that every such psalm came from David's own pen or that none not so labeled is not of Davidic origin. Judged alike from the narrative in the book of Samuel, and from the traditions scattered in other books as early as Amos, ch. 6:5, and as late as Chronicles, I Chron. 15:16 to 16:43; ch. 25, David was both a skilled musician himself and an organizer of music for public worship. It is not surprising, therefore, to find a body of religious poems ascribed to him, which not only evidence his piety and good taste, but also, though individual in tone, are well-adapted to common use at the sanctuary.

The psalms are poems. Their poetry is not simply one of substance, but also a poetry of form. Rime, our famihar device, is of course absent, but there is rhythm, although it is not measured in the same