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Bible Commentaries
1 Kings 9

Bridgeway Bible CommentaryBridgeway Bible Commentary

Verses 1-9

The dedication ceremony (8:22-9:9)

Solomon then went up on to a specially made bronze platform, knelt down and prayed to God in the presence of the assembled people (2 Chronicles 6:12-13). He admitted that only God’s grace had allowed his father and himself to fulfil their wish of building God a symbolic dwelling place. He prayed that God’s grace would rest likewise upon his royal descendants after him (22-26). Solomon knew there was no necessity for the temple, because God dwells everywhere. But he asked that God would graciously hear his prayer and the prayers of the people when they came to the temple to pray (27-30).

Because the temple was a place of prayer, Solomon thought of various circumstances when people would go there to pray. He asked that judges, such as himself, would have God’s help in making legal judgments where the evidence was uncertain (31-32; cf. Exodus 22:7-12). He thought of cases where God might punish his people through war, famine, disease or other disasters, and he asked that when they repented, God would forgive them (33-40).

In a public display of concern for foreigners, Solomon prayed that they too would come to know God, and that God would answer their prayers as he did those of Israelites (41-43). He asked that God would hear the Israelites when they prayed for success against their enemies in war (44-45). Finally, he asked that God would hear them when they cried for mercy from those whom he sent to punish them (46-53).

God demonstrated his acceptance of Solomon’s prayer by sending fire from heaven to burn up the sacrifices (2 Chronicles 7:1-3). Solomon then prepared to pray for God’s blessing upon the assembled people (54-55). He praised God for his faithfulness to his promises, and asked that God would help his people to obey his law (56-61). The ceremony concluded in typical fashion with large numbers of sacrifices (62-64), and public celebrations continued for a further week (65-66).

In accepting the temple, God again reminded Solomon that the important ‘house’ was not the house of God (the temple), but the house of David (those whom God had appointed to govern Israel for ever). Though in relation to the people they were kings, in relation to God they were servants, and they had to be obedient to his will if they were to enjoy the fulfilment of his promises (9:1-5). Solomon had built the temple to show that God dwelt among his people. But if the king or his people rebelled against him, God would destroy the temple to show his displeasure with them (6-9).

Verses 10-25

Building development in other cities (9:10-25)

Earlier Solomon had borrowed from Hiram about four thousand kilograms of gold to help finance his ambitious building programs. In payment of these debts, Solomon gave Hiram twenty cities in northern Israel. Hiram was not satisfied with these cities and returned them (which meant that Solomon had to look for other ways to repay the loan) (10-14; see 2 Chronicles 8:1-2).

To strengthen Jerusalem’s security, Solomon rebuilt the Millo (some sort of defence fortification) and all the damaged sections of the city wall. He also rebuilt ruined cities, established army bases at strategic points, and equipped selected cities to store the farm produce collected to maintain the government (15-19; cf. 4:7,22-28; 5:11). He made all foreigners slaves. Israelites, though not officially slaves, were treated little better (20-24; cf. 12:4).

Solomon kept the covenant requirements in relation to the annual religious festivals. His harsh treatment of his subjects, however, showed little regard for other covenant requirements, such as those concerned for people’s well-being (25; cf. Exodus 23:9,Exodus 23:14-17; Leviticus 19:13).

Verses 26-28


Trade, fame and wealth (9:26-10:29)

Always alert in business dealings, Solomon saw the opportunity for further profits by cooperating with Hiram in trade transport. Goods from the Mediterranean were received at Hiram’s port of Tyre, taken overland to the Israelite port of Ezion-geber at the northern tip of the Red Sea, then shipped east, possibly as far as India. Since the Israelites were not a seafaring people, Solomon hired seamen from Hiram to teach and guide his men. Goods that these ships brought back from the east further enriched the two kings (26-28; cf. 10:11-12,22). (‘Ship of Tarshish’ was a technical name for a certain kind of ocean-going merchant ship. It was not an indication of the port to which or from which a ship was sailing.)

Archaeology indicates that Solomon mined and smelted iron and copper in the region of Ezion-geber, from where he shipped the materials east (cf. Deuteronomy 8:9). The strategic and economic importance of Ezion-geber (or Elath) was a cause of frequent conflicts between Jerusalem and Edom, the original owners of the port (cf. 2 Kings 14:22; 2 Kings 16:6).

People of other nations heard of Solomon’s reputation for wisdom, and on one occasion the queen of an Arabian country visited Jerusalem to test him with hard questions. She was amazed not only at Solomon’s wisdom but also at the splendour of his court (10:1-9). At the same time both she and Solomon took the opportunity to have some useful trade exchanges (10-13).
Solomon gained further wealth by taxing all goods that passed through Israel along the international trade routes. He spent much of this wealth extravagantly, to give his city and palace a splendour unequalled among the nations of the region (14-22). Nations that sought his favour also brought him expensive gifts (23-25). Besides building a large horse and chariot force for himself, he became the middleman in an international horse and chariot trade that further enriched him (26-29).
The reign of Solomon saw the beginnings of a strong merchant class in Israel. Previously Israel’s economy was largely agricultural and pastoral, but gradually the merchants gained control over the farmers. Over the next two centuries conditions for the farmers worsened and social injustice increased, causing prophets such as Amos, Hosea, Isaiah and Micah to condemn the corrupt society and announce its coming judgment.

Bibliographical Information
Fleming, Donald C. "Commentary on 1 Kings 9". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bbc/1-kings-9.html. 2005.
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