Jun. 25. Why Are We Here?

Eccl. 10:1-12:14

“Dead flies putrefy a perfumer’s ointment…” A lifetime reputation for good built by honesty, honor and service to God and man can be destroyed by a single moral failure. Humility before those in authority is a virtue lacking in many people. A person’s words have a way of reaching unintended hearers. Silence will prevent one from making harsh and foolish statements that can be used against him at a later time.

“Cast your bread upon the waters, For you will find it after many days.” One cannot sit idly by and expect society to care for him. It is necessary to invest time and monetary resources into our own well-being and for the care of others who are unable to provide for themselves. One who has refused to help others cannot expect assistance if he becomes needy. As we have opportunity, we are to do good to all people, especially to God’s children.

The wise man admonished his readers to, “Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth…” It is a beautiful sight to behold God fearing young people living for Him while they are full of strength and energy. Solomon painted a picture of old age in which the vitality of youth has vanished into physical and mental weakness. Man has often asked, “Where did I come from and why am I here?” The first part of the question was answered at the beginning of this study. God created/made us. Solomon answered the second part as he closed Ecclesiastes. “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man’s all.” Another of man’s questions is, “Where am I going?” That question is partially answered at the close. “For God will bring every work into judgment, Including every secret thing, Whether good or evil.” For the rest of that answer, please continue our study of God’s word.


Jun. 24. Wisdom’s Value

Eccl. 7:1-9:18

The wise man listed a series of “better thans” as he continued his observations about life and death. A good name is “better than” precious ointment or riches. One should be careful to guard his good name as it can be destroyed by a single careless moment. Mourning and sorrow are “better than” feasting and laughter. A person with a frivolous nature can overlook the serious and important side of improving his life and the world around him. Anger is an emotion that everyone expresses at times, but it should be kept under control and not allowed to explode at the least provocation. Solomon related a series of statements of wisdom relating to the folly of living for the present instead of building toward the end of life.

We live in a society of laws. Solomon stated that a wise person keeps the king’s commandments. In today’s Christian age, we are commanded to obey the laws of the land—unless they conflict with God’s laws. Man has a tendency to reason that when the righteous have hardships and the wicked prosper, that there is neither reward for righteousness nor punishment for wickedness. However, that is vain thinking. There will be justice in the end.

Solomon pointed out that the righteous and the wicked all have a common end. They all die. After death, there is nothing left for man in this world. As long as one lives, there is still hope that he may be able to accomplish something with his life. We must recognize the opportunities to serve God and our fellowman and do so with zest and enjoyment.


Jun. 23. Vanities of Life Cont’d

Eccl. 3:1-6:12

When God created the earth, He instilled within nature certain laws, seasons and patterns. Man cannot change what God has decreed. One must recognize and adapt to the seasons that surround him and render due reverence to his Creator. There are seasons to be born and to produce for the good of oneself and his fellowman. In time, the seasons for all of that will cease. When they do end, man and animals are the same, as both return to the dust of the earth. However, there is one vast difference. Man’s soul goes upward back to God. One should enjoy the endeavors of life instead of constantly complaining about the negatives that occur.

The wise man had seen within his life of power and wealth that there was also much unhappiness. His worldly possessions could not give him comfort. In his melancholy mood, he could visualize a certain blessing in death where he could find that comfort. Solomon recognized the power of companionship. Man needs someone with whom to share his rewards and disappointments. If one falls, the other can pick him up. Body warmth from a spouse in a cold bed is mutually beneficial. It is not God’s plan for man to be the center of his own existence.

“Walk prudently.” Watch your step is good advice for all in all circumstances. One shouldn’t make rash statements or vows unless he is fully prepared fulfill his words. God would rather have no vow than a broken vow. The person who works to amass a large fortune is never satisfied. Whatever he has is not enough and the fear of losing it keeps him from peaceful sleep. Everyone is born into this world naked—without possessions. Whatever fortune one builds in this life will not follow him to the grave. However, it is wise to enjoy the fruits of one’s labor while he lives without being controlled by them. True enjoyment comes when those fruits are used in the service of God and one’s fellowman.

Solomon continued his admonishments toward the proper use of wealth. He stated that a common evil among men is to amass a great fortune, but never get to enjoy it, because of unhappiness or loss. It would have been better if he had died before his birth. One should have peace of mind with what he has instead of worrying over what he wants. Life is too short and eternity too long to live an unhappy and miserable life.


Jun. 22. Vanity of One’s Existence

Eccl. 1:1-2:26

The writer of Ecclesiastes identified himself as the Preacher, son of David, king in Jerusalem. He also referred to himself as “king over Israel in Jerusalem.” There are some who question whether Solomon was truly the writer of this book, but with that introduction and the wisdom that he possessed, one can, indeed easily accept Solomon as its author. “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity” is the theme of Ecclesiastes. The word vanity may be defined as emptiness.

Generations of life and seasons come and go, but the earth remains unchanged. Cycles of nature continue to repeat in their seasons. Rivers flow into the seas, but they are not overflowed. They evaporate and return to their beginnings and repeat the cycle. Nothing changes and nothing new is added. A man’s existence is of no significance in the broad scheme of the universe. However, man does have the unique character of being a living soul to prepare for life after leaving this earth. Solomon with all of his knowledge, wisdom, riches and honor concluded, “For in much wisdom is much grief, And he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.”

The wise man suggested areas in his life that should have brought joy to him. Surely pleasure, laughter and “a good time” would satisfy a man’s heart and bring joy to him. He was a man of great work and worth with servants to see to all of his needs. Every luxury attainable by man was his to enjoy. Whatever he desired was his. However, with all of his wisdom, he realized that he and a fool would be the same in death. The fruits of Solomon’s labor would go to someone else who had not labored for them after his death. History relates how this was true in the evil reign of his son, Rehoboam who succeeded him to the throne. If all of these worldly blessings could not bring happiness to Solomon, we should take heed and place our treasures in heaven instead of on earth.


Jun. 21. Queen of Sheba Impressed by Solomon and His Glory

I Kin. 10:1-29; II Chron. 9:1-28

With God’s promise of wisdom, glory and great riches, it seemed that everything Solomon touched turned into additional wealth. His fame spread far and wide.

Sheba was a kingdom in the southwestern area of the Arabian Peninsula in what is now Yemen. The queen of Sheba hearing the reports of his great wisdom went to Jerusalem to test Solomon and to determine for herself if the things that she had heard were actually true. She was so impressed with his wisdom and the proficiency with which he operated, she stated, “It is a true report…However, I did not believe the words…indeed the half was not told me…” The queen also recognized that it was not just Solomon, but that the God of Israel had blessed him and his people.

Another reason for the queen’s visit was probably to strengthen commercial ties between the two kingdoms. She and Solomon exchanged gifts that probably preceded more extensive commercial trade.

Solomon’s fame continued throughout the region, especially southward into Arabia. His wealth increased through gifts from other kings and through commerce.


Jun. 19. God’s Second Appearance to Solomon

I Kin. 9:1-9; II Chron. 7:12-22

Years earlier, God had appeared to Solomon and promised great wisdom, wealth and honor. After Solomon’s fervent temple dedication prayer, God appeared to him at night and consecrated the temple. He also renewed the promise that He had made to David stating that if he and his sons continued to follow David’s example, the kingdom would forever remain with them. However, if they strayed from God’s ways, the kingdom and all that pertained to it would be taken away. His special blessings carried special conditions then and they also have special conditions during today’s Christian age. The Jews did reject God and He allowed them to be destroyed as a nation. Their only hope today is through obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ.


Jun. 17. Preparations and Construction of God’s Temple

I Kin. 5:1-18; II Chron. 2:1-3:17; I Kin. 6:1-38

Solomon’s father, David had been a close friend with Hiram, king of Tyre and that friendship continued between the king of Tyre and Solomon. Soon after he had settled in as king of Israel, he began to make preparations to construct the temple of God that his father had been prevented from building. Since God is everywhere and cannot be contained, the temple was not to actually house Him, but was a place for the people to worship Him.

Lebanon was a land of abundant timber that could be used for building. Solomon sent a letter to Hiram proposing that he would provide grain and wine in exchange for the timber and craftsmen to oversee the work. Since Hiram needed the grain and wine, that was a win, win deal and he replied to Solomon his agreement to the proposition.

Logs were tied together as rafts and floated to Solomon where they were taken apart and moved overland to the building site. In an age of primitive mechanization, many thousands of workmen were required to prepare the timbers and stones for the temple construction.

On the second day of the second month of the fourth year of Solomon’s reign as king, the temple construction began in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah on the threshing floor site that David had purchased from Ornan. Considering that a cubit is eighteen inches, the foundation of the structure was ninety feet long, thirty feet wide and forty-five feet high with an additional fifteen-foot vestibule extending from the front.

The stones for the temple foundation were completely sized at the quarry so there would not be the metallic sounds of any hammering or chiseling at the construction site. Even as large and elaborate as the stones were, they were covered with cedar beams and boards. The walls were cedar panels and the floors were cypress. All of the wooden surfaces were overlain with gold. There were also ornate carvings of cherubim and flowers.

Immediately inside from the front vestibule was the inner sanctuary and beyond that room was the Most Holy Place. Two cherubim were placed inside the Most Holy Place. Their wing spans were fifteen feet each and they stretched across the entire room. They were also fifteen feet high. Surrounding the temple were smaller rooms built against the outside wall. After a construction time of seven years the temple of the Lord in all of its splendor was completed.


Jun. 16. Attitudes of Man

Prov. 21:1-22:16

“Better to dwell in a corner of a housetop, Than in a house shared with a contentious woman.” That statement can also be applied to a woman living in a house with a contentious man. Life is too short to be lived in constant turmoil. Men of low character seek the easy, fast and evil methods to get their desires in this life. Their profit is only fleeting while God blesses the wise and diligent in their efforts. God looks with disdain at the proud and haughty person. He is pleased when the rich share their goods with the poor who cannot help themselves.

“A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches…” A person’s reputation built upon his deeds is of great influence in this world. One can build a good reputation with good deeds or a wicked reputation by committing evil deeds. A single unwise act can destroy a lifelong good reputation that no amount of wealth can restore. Solomon pointed out the relationship between sowing and reaping. That principle is dominant throughout the pages of Scripture. The wise plan ahead to prepare for the perils of life. Children who are well-trained are prepared for the life ahead. The fruits of the lazy and scornful are poverty and strife. Whatever seed that is sown will yield the same fruit in return.


Jun. 15. Miscellaneous Proverbs of Solomon

Prov. 16:1-20:30

Man usually places himself first before others and God last, if at all. However, the following writings of Solomon stress the importance of placing God first and ourselves last in our relationships. “There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.” One may have difficulty understanding or accepting the concept that God’s ways are ALWAYS better than man’s ways. BUT, if we cannot conform to His will, the end result is spiritual death.

The wise man continued to express the exaltation of the wise and the downfall of fools. A wise man recognizes that adversity in one’s life serves as a refining process to strengthen the soul; whereas, fools rejoice at the calamities of others.

It is difficult to categorize all of the proverbs that were written by Solomon. A fool refuses to accept truth as he insists in talking instead of listening. Solomon again states the emptiness of a fool’s behavior and the dangerous uses of the tongue. The attributes of the wise are contrasted to the follies of the foolish. Pride is an abomination to the Lord, but the humble are pleasing to Him. The wise man stressed the importance of avoiding partiality in judging between wickedness and righteousness. There are numerous blessings in having a happy home and close friends. When all others forsake us, home, family and friends are our refuge. However, “A man who has friends must himself be friendly.”

Solomon continued his thoughts regarding the poor, rich, wise, fools, laziness, justice and the use of the tongue. Instructions on child rearing and treatment of parents were included in this series of proverbs. As undesirable as poverty is, it is more honorable than corrupt riches. The goal of everyone should be to fear/respect God and heed His counsel.

As one considers the proverbs of Solomon, much wisdom is presented to the reader. Wise and foolish people and actions are portrayed. God’s people should be the utmost examples of the wise. The use of strong drink brings out the foolishness of man. His senses are dulled and being deceived, he thinks that he is wise, but shows himself to be a fool. Solomon warned his readers against its use.

Laziness is another characteristic of foolish people. They use poor excuses to avoid work and at harvest or pay day, they have nothing. Wise people are industrious and peaceable. They seek counsel from others when making important decisions. Deceit and dishonesty are condemned by the wise man as abominations to the Lord.


Jun. 14. Wisdom of Righteousness

Prov. 12:1-15:33

Man’s character is evidenced by his words. It has been said that if one keeps his mouth shut, people will think that he is a fool, but if opened, it removes all doubt. Solomon pointed out many contrasts between the words of a wise man and a fool. Self-control and slowness to speak when angry are marks of a wise person whereas, a foolish person is quick to express his thoughts. Words are like toothpaste—once they are “out of the tube,” they cannot be replaced. One may apologize and express sincere regret, but the damage has been done and may never be repaired. Solomon also contrasted diligence with laziness. “The hand of the diligent will rule, But the lazy man will be put to forced labor.”

There are more aspects to wisdom that merely acting upon one’s knowledge. “A wise son heeds his father’s instruction.” Wisdom even without worldly knowledge can lead a person to be industrious, righteous, humble and faithful. Also, a fool may possess enormous worldly knowledge, but be a scoffer, lazy, wicked, rich in worldly riches—but spiritually poor and proud. Much has been written and said about proper discipline for children. Solomon wrote, “He who spares his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him promptly.”

The wise man continued to show the differences between the wise and foolish. When a person opens his mouth, the fruits of his speech reveal whether he is wise or foolish. It is important that we refrain from scornful and hurtful words that can injure relationships beyond repair. Even though apologies are given, sometimes the scars from the pain last for a lifetime. One’s words should be truthful and edifying. “There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.” God’s ways are always the right ways and man has no right to try to change them. The wisdom of God leads man in the right way. That is true whether it involves an individual or a nation of people. “Righteousness exalts a nation, But sin is a reproach to any people.”

A person’s tongue is one of the smallest members of the body, but it has the most influence. Foolish tongues have caused much heartache in the world, while the words from wise tongues have prevented and eased many sorrows. The words that are spoken determine ways of lives and courses of history. Solomon wrote, “A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.” The wise man added other gems of wisdom following these words and most of them involve the use of the tongue, either directly or indirectly. One’s heart is the source of emotions such as love, hatred and anger. Those emotions are then expressed by the wise or foolish use of the tongue. Taste your words before you speak them for you may have to eat them later.


Jun. 13. “Lady Wisdom” Speaks; Wisdom and Foolishness Contrasted

Prov. 8:1-11:31

Wisdom is personified as a woman who speaks to all of mankind. Before the world was created, she was present. It was through her that God created the world and all the things that are in it. Just as the evil woman is eager to entice foolish men, wisdom also calls all men to accept her. She speaks truth, righteousness and knowledge. The fruit of wisdom is more precious than the most precious metals and gems. Men have a choice. Acceptance of wisdom leads to life and rejection leads to death.

When one wishes to lavishly entertain guests, he prepares a huge feast. Wisdom has built her house with perfect materials. Everything for the feast is well prepared and available to all who are willing to partake. Those who refuse her instructions hate the ones who would correct them in their errors. However, the person who accepts wisdom loves correction and will use it to make himself better. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Wisdom promises increased days of life. In deep contrast the feast provided by the sinful woman offers the pleasures of life that seem to be sweet at the time, but in the end, “Her guests are in the depths of hell.”

“A wise son makes a glad father, But a foolish son is the grief of his mother.” The wise man wrote a series of contrasting statements. Wise and righteous are terms that describe the best characteristics of man. They are depicted as being loving, obedient, industrious and peaceful. Some of the blessings that accrue to those individuals are long life, riches, security, salvation, knowledge, understanding, life, gladness and strength. Fools on the other hand are wicked, shameful, violent, slanderous, hateful and lazy. Instead of blessings, fools suffer the consequences of their choices. They become poor, downcast, lost in sin, liars and destroyed with shortened lives.

“Dishonest scales are an abomination to the Lord, But a just weight is His delight.” This is the first of a long series of directly contrasting statements presented by the wise man. It should be the desire of everyone to live positive lives before God and his fellowman and to reap the reward promised to the righteous at the end.


Jun. 12. A Father’s Wisdom

Prov. 4:1-7:27

Many wise men have walked upon the earth. However, they did not have the miraculous source of their wisdom that blessed Solomon. Much of their wisdom came from hearing and heeding the words of their fathers. In like manner, foolish men have refused their fathers’ instructions. Just as there have been untold continued generations of wise men, sadly many generations of foolish men still follow the examples set by their fathers hundreds of years earlier. Learning without wisdom is useless. One becomes an “educated fool.” Wisdom is most important in one’s life. Solomon stated, “Get wisdom! Get understanding! Do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth. Do not forsake her, and she will preserve you; Love her, and she will keep you.” If everyone would follow those words, the world’s prisons could be demolished and its military forces could be disarmed. One must keep his heart and words pure and his feet straight. “Ponder the path of your feet… Do not turn to the right or the left…”

The father turned his thoughts to purity in marriage for his son. It is easy for one to be caught up in an immoral relationship. Solomon described the enticements of a wicked woman and cautioned, “Remove your way far from her, And do not go near the door of her house…” Evil is disappointing in this life and most certainly in the next life. He urged his son to remain faithful to the wife of his youth. Society has forsaken the wisdom of one husband and one wife for life. Instead, man’s wisdom says, “We’ll get married and if it doesn’t work out, we’ll divorce and marry someone else.” The words “commitment” and “till death do us part” are being ignored. One may appear to escape the consequences of his sin for the present, but in the end, God will bring him into judgment.

As the wise man continued his warnings to his son, he addressed the dangers of binding oneself for the debts of another. Many friendships and family relationships have been destroyed because of debt defaults of friends and family members. He also advised against laziness. The animal world teaches the value of working to provide for one’s present and future needs. “Go to the ant you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise…” Some individuals thrive on causing trouble and hard feelings among other people. Solomon listed seven things that the Lord hates. All of them deal with keeping healthy relationships with our fellowman. Theft is a serious offence in the eyes of God and man, whether it is the theft of a man’s wife or personal possessions. Untold harm has been caused by man’s unfaithfulness to the vows of marriage. Destroyed homes, poverty, broken hearts and disrupted churches have resulted from brief adulterous relationships. “Can a man take fire to his bosom, And his clothes not be burned?”

The father continued to urge his son to embrace wisdom as a near relative. He also continued his warning to flee from the enticements of evil women. The young are especially vulnerable to the temptations of the flesh. However, Solomon’s warning applies to all ages as men can be easily enticed by seductive and flattering lips. Sin in general uses that same glamorous appeal to cause the downfall and ultimate destruction of unsuspecting individuals.


Jun. 11. Jewels of Wisdom from Solomon’s Proverbs

Prov. 1:1-3:35

Solomon, like his father, David was an inspired writer of Scripture. With the great wisdom given to him by God, he was able to impart much of that into his writings. Many, but not all of the proverbs were attributed to him. Proverbs may be defined as brief statements with evident truths.

The proverbs writer began by describing the contrasts between those who are wise and those who are fools. “A wise man will hear and increase learning…But fools despise wisdom and instruction.” To know wisdom is the key to the success of a godly life. He continued by admonishing obedience to the instructions of one’s parents instead of consenting to the enticements of sinners.

Wisdom is personified as an ever-present woman calling out instructions to all. Those who refuse to hear her will bear the consequences of their foolishness, but those who listen to her will, “Dwell safely, And will be secure, without fear of evil.”

For every action, there is either a positive or negative reaction. If one diligently receives the words of wisdom into his heart, he will find the knowledge of God and reap the benefits of His directions. However, the negative reaction to the one who turns to the immoral woman of sin is to be cut off and uprooted from the earth.

Youth is the age in which to obtain wisdom. However, it is sometimes very difficult for the young to grasp the gravity of sage advice. The wise man summed up the entire philosophy of life in one short statement. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.”

The Proverbs writer instructed the youth to recognize that they do not know all of the answers to life’s challenges. They must look to the Lord to direct them from the pitfalls of evil. Children are God’s gifts to parents, but parents are also God’s gift to them. It is through their parents that young people receive the chastisement of the Lord for the errors of their ways. “For whom the Lord loves He corrects, Just as a father the son in whom he delights.”

Wisdom is priceless. It is worth more that precious metals, gems and anything else that one may desire. Wisdom is the source of long life, riches, honor and peace. God perfected His creation by wisdom. A wise person is able to lie down and enjoy sweet sleep free from fear. He will promptly pay what is due and live peaceably with his neighbors. “The wise shall inherit glory, But shame shall be the legacy of fools.”


Jun. 10. Solomon Asks for Wisdom

I Kin. 3:1-4:31; II Chron. 1:1-17

In order to form alliances with other kingdoms, marriage between kings and daughters of other kings was a common event. One of Solomon’s first acts as king was to form the first of his many such alliances by marrying the daughter of Pharaoh, king of Egypt.

“High places” were elevated open-air sanctuaries patterned after Canaanite worship places that were forbidden by Hebrew law. However, those places were sometimes used by the Israelites prior to the construction of the temple.

While at one of those high places at Gibeon, God appeared to Solomon in a dream and asked the new king what He could give him. In a deep sense of humility, Solomon asked for, “An understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil.” Since he did not ask for long life, riches or the life of his enemies, that request pleased the Lord. He gave not only wisdom, but also promised him riches and honor. If he would walk in God’s ways and keep His commandments as David had walked, He would lengthen his days.

Solomon was called to use his newfound wisdom to settle a dispute between two mothers who claimed the same newly born baby. He determined the true mother when she objected to dividing the child into two pieces to share with the two women. Rather than see her little one killed, she said, “O my lord, give her the living child, and by no means kill him.” That judgment established great respect for Solomon among all of Israel.

When David had become king forty years earlier, the Israelite kingdom was divided. Judah accepted him as their king, but the remaining tribes anointed Saul’s son, Ishbosheth to succeed their father as their king. After seven years, he was overthrown and David became king of all the reunited Israel. Through David’s strong leadership, the kingdom remained united and Solomon was able to become king of all Israel.

After appointing his many leadership positions, Solomon presided over God’s people during a peaceful era.

It is difficult to imagine the great wisdom and wealth that he possessed. He had forty thousand stalls of horses for his chariots. There were twelve thousand horsemen. He appointed twelve governors to provide for his household and guests. Each governor was responsible for one month’s service during the year.

Solomon’s God-given wisdom excelled the wisdom of all men. He was the author of many great literary works. “And men of all nations…came to hear the wisdom of Solomon.”


Jun. 9. Solomon’s Reign Begins

I Kin. 2:13-46

With the advent of a new king, shedding of blood frequently occurred. If the king forcibly gained the throne, a bloodbath of his enemies and rivals could be expected. In a peaceable ascension to the throne, there were also certain individuals who posed a real or imagined threat to the new king. Solomon had been informed by his father of delayed punishment of two such men.

Obviously Adonijah, Solomon’s older half-brother was a perceived threat to the new king. Taking part of a deceased king’s harem was equivalent to claiming his kingdom. When Adonijah asked for Abishag to be given to him as a wife, Solomon did perceive that request as equal to asking for the kingdom. Benaiah became the king’s executioner as he killed Adonijah.

Many years earlier, God had stated to Eli that the priesthood would be taken from his descendants. Abiathar, the last of Eli’s lineage had followed Adonijah as he had attempted to become king instead of Solomon. Solomon spared his life because of his loyalty to David, but did remove him from the priesthood and sent him into exile. Zadok succeeded him as priest.

Joab had also followed Adonijah’s rebellion. Upon hearing of the purging of Solomon’s rivals, he fled to the tabernacle and held the horns of the altar for refuge. That was a holy place that even criminals could go to escape death. However, a presumptuous murderer should be dragged away and put to death. Upon Solomon’s orders Benaiah executed Joab for his murders. He was then named commander of the army of Israel.

Shimei was placed under house arrest for his crime of cursing David during Absalom’s rebellion. He swore an oath that he would not leave. Three years later, he went to Gath to retrieve two runaway slaves. When word of that came to Solomon, he commanded Benaiah to put him to death.

With Adonijah, Joab, Shimei and Abiathar removed from his presence, Solomon had purged the political, religious and military threats from his reign.