Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, June 25th, 2024
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12
We are taking food to Ukrainians still living near the front lines. You can help by getting your church involved.
Click to donate today!

Bible Commentaries
1 Kings 10

Carroll's Interpretation of the English BibleCarroll's Biblical Interpretation

Verses 1-29



1 Kings 8:1-10:29; 2 Chronicles 5:2-9:28

This discussion begins on page 178 of the Harmony, and relates to the dedication of the Temple. We have already shown that the building of the Temple was the greatest work of Solomon; that it made the greatest impression upon the world’s mind of any structure that had ever been erected in human history. The importance of the Temple was to insure a central place of worship, or of sacrifice, rather. The object of it was to bring about unity of faith, and national unity among the people. The idea comes from the following legislation by Moses: "When you shall obtain possession of the land and have become established, then you shall have one place in which to appear before the Lord." In brief, the purposes of the Temple were these:

1. To provide a fixed habitation for Jehovah.

2. To provide a central place of worship where the tribes might assemble at the three great annual festivals and thus preserve the unity of the nation, Jehovah being the center of unity. In other words, as we explained on Leviticus, there must be: (a) A place to meet Jehovah on the throne of grace. (b) Sacrifices, or means of propitiation, (c) Priests, or Intermediaries between Jehovah and the people, (d) Times in which to approach him, that is, with daily, weekly, monthly, and annual offerings, (e) A ritual, telling how to approach him.

3. To prefigure the more glorious building, the church of our Lord. A magnificent building, with an imposing ritual, and with fixed times of gathering the whole nation together, would bring about this unity of faith and unity of national life. The building having been completed, Solomon now proposes publicly and formally to dedicate it to the service of God. God had told him when he commenced the building that he would inhabit the house built for him, and now Solomon proposes, by a very solemn national service, to consecrate this house to the Lord. I do not suppose that from any other one source, indeed from all other sources put together, we get the idea of dedication services so much as from this. The house could not be dedicated as soon as it was finished. It was several months from the time it was finished until it was dedicated. There had to be an appropriate time. It must be on the occasion of one of the great national feasts; so it was probably several months after the house was completed before the dedication services took place.

The first thing was to secure a great convocation of the people, and it is repeatedly stated that from Hamath on the north, or from the Euphrates River, unto the river of Egypt on the south, throughout the length and breadth of the land the princes, the rulers of the people, the representative men, were all commanded to be present. So it was a very great national convocation. The next step was to bring into this house all of the sacred things that survived from Moses’ time, and including those that had been prepared by David. So with great ceremony the old tent that Moses built, the brazen altar of burnt offerings, the table for the shewbread and the golden candlestick, were all brought and put in this Temple. Those of them no longer usable, for instance the tent, and a great many of the old-time utensils, were stored away and preserved as relics, including the brazen serpent Moses had made. We hear of that in a later reign and find out the last disposition of it. Then the ark itself was brought from the tent in which David had placed it, and it was put in its place in the most holy place. It was necessary to make a new lid for it, or mercy seat. A long time had elapsed, nearly 500 years, since it was made, and when they opened it there was found in it nothing but the two tables of stone upon which God had inscribed the decalogue. From the Pentateuch we know that other things had been put there. For instance, Aaron’s rod that budded, the pot of manna, and quite a number of things were put by the side of the ark, but when they brought that ark in that is all there was in it. Probably at the time it was captured by the Philistines come of these things were taken out.

The preliminary steps of the dedication were: (1) Placing in the treasury of the house all the things dedicated by David. (2) Placing all the sacred vessels and furniture in proper position. (3) The offering of multitudinous sacrifices. (4) The priests carrying into the most holy place the ark of the covenant. (5) As the priest issues from the most holy place, and the one hundred and twenty other priests standing east of the altar blow their trumpets, and the great Levite-choir bursts into a song of praise and thanksgiving, with cymbals and other instruments, saying, "For he is good; for his mercy endureth forever." (6) Then the cloud, symbol of divine presence and glory, filled all the house.

So it had been when Moses finished the tabernacle, and so it was at Pentecost, after the Lord had built his church) that the Holy Spirit came down in consecrating, attesting power.

Now, having all the sacred things in place, Solomon had a platform of brass erected, about seven feet square, for himself, a kind of pulpit, so that he would be sufficiently lifted up above the people to be seen as well as heard, and we now note a singular fact, viz.: that Solomon acted as both king and high priest, a royal priest, a priest on a throne, and all through his life, he seems not only to perform the functions of the high priest, but he keeps the entire priesthood subject to his immediate control. Nothing is more evident in the study of his life than that the throne, in this case the civil power, kept the priesthood, the religious power, in subservience.

Solomon’s posture in this dedication was standing at the introduction, standing when he goes to pronounce the benediction, but in offering prayer, he kneels, and that is the first place in the Bible where kneeling for prayer is mentioned. You read in the Bible about standing to pray and sitting to pray, and here we have kneeling to pray, showing that the posture is not essential to the act. One can pray lying down, but kneeling is very reverential, and congregations should observe one form.

Standing up before the people, his opening address reverts to the fact of God’s promise to David that a son should succeed him, and that this son should build him a house, and God’s promise to live in the house when it was built. He then commences his prayer, and it is a very remarkable one. His first petition is that the Lord would accept and continually look toward this structure, really inhabit and be present in it. The other elements of the petition are clearly set forth in the text here. Look on page 180 of the Harmony. First, the position with reference to the making of an oath where there is an issue between neighbors, and the difficulty cannot be settled by outside testimony, then all oaths shall be made before God. A man, as in the presence of God, shall solemnly swear that what he says is the correct version of the case. That is called an appeal to the judgment of God. It was a favorite method of settling matters throughout the middle ages. For instance, a nobleman might testify about a case, another challenge his testimony, and they would agree to refer it to the arbitrament of God, as decided in battle, and the two knights would come out and fight in the presence of many witnesses with judges governing all the forms of it, and trusting to God that the right should triumph in that fight.

In Ivanhoe, you have an account of an appeal to the judgment of God in the fight between Ivanhoe and Sir Brian de Bois-Guilbert in order to settle a charge against the Jewess, Rebecca. She appealed to the trial by combat and said let God say if she was a witch, as they charged, and so the case was fought out. Hundreds of instances are noticed in history, romance, and poetry of this appeal to God. Another method of appeal, mentioned also by Sir Walter Scott, is that when one was found to have died by violence, all of those whose circumstances made it possible that they might have participated in that murder were required to come up before the judge and with the murdered man’s body shrouded in a white sheet, put their finger on the dead man and swear that they had nothing to do with that murder, and the legend taught that if the real murderer did come and put his hand on the man, then blood would flow out from the wound and thus convict him. Now Solomon prayed that in any case of issue between two neighbors, where there were no means of settling it by outside testimony, and they come before God, that God would decide the case so as to justify the innocent and condemn the guilty.

His second petition is with reference to defeat in battle. This people is a glorious people. War will doubtless arise, and they that go out may be defeated. If they be defeated, he says it will be on account of their sins, and, convicted of sin by public defeat, if they there on that battlefield turn toward the Temple and pray God to forgive the sin, then Solomon asks that their national sin be forgiven.

He next considers the case of droughts. That whole country is subject to drought, and it is easy for all the sources of life to be dried up in severe drought. Drought in the Bible is represented as serving Jehovah; that it comes from him. Elijah prayed that it might not rain for three years and six months, and it didn’t rain, and he prayed that it might rain, and it rained. Now he says, "when a time of drought comes on this land on account of sin, if this people pray toward this Temple, asking God to open the windows of heaven and send rain upon the land, then hear thou in heaven and forgive the sin and send rain." You notice how he is connecting the Temple with all the great vicissitudes of life.

Following that come famines and pestilences. Famines may result from wars, in destroying the products of the land, or they may result from plagues, as of locusts. Now, when a famine or a pestilence, or a contagious or epidemic disease, comes – and the whole country was subject to them, as we would have here in this country, if there should come the Asiatic cholera, or the yellow fever – then let the people pray, and his petition is that when these displays of divine wrath against the sins of men are made, that they will remember that here at Jerusalem in the Temple is a throne of grace unto which any man may come boldly in time of need and ask divine interposition and pardon. We will find numerous examples of all these in the history as we go on.

He then takes the case of a stranger. This is a beautiful thought. Some stranger from a foreign country, not one of the chosen people of Israel, may be in exile, banished from his own land, no light from heaven, seemingly, by the selection of Israel barred from the commonwealth of God, yet if this stranger comes to that Temple and lifts up his heart to God, then Solomon prays that the Lord will hear that stranger. That gets to be a very big item of the New Testament gospel. You remember Paul says to the Ephesians, "Ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and of the household of God." In this prayer of Solomon is a forecast of the abrogation of the middle wall of partition between the Jew and the Gentile. All peoples, all races, tribes, tongues, and kindreds may come before the Lord. Paul enunciated it in Mars’ Hill when he said, "God made of one blood all nations of men that inhabit the face of the earth, and appointed their seasons and their boundaries with a view that they might seek after him and find him." Now if a stranger comes to this house of God and honestly seeks a blessing from God, he may find it. That is a good thought. While our houses of worship are not temples, yet they ought to be places attractive to strangers. "Here the people of God are meeting and I am an outsider. Will I be welcome? Is there anything here for me? Will anyone speak a word of comfort or peace to my soul?"

When I was pastor of the First Church in Waco, two deacons had a special duty. Every Sunday morning, as soon as the bell tapped to call the Sunday school together for its final exercises, these two deacons arose and went down on the streets of Waco and spent the time till the opening song of the church service inviting strangers on the streets to come to church. One notable incident occurred. They brought a man in that way one day and he was converted. I think I never heard anything more touching than his relation of the fact that a very gentlemanly old man saw him on the street where he was wandering without money, no place to go, without a friend in the world, and asked him to come to church, which led to his salvation.

Solomon then takes up the case of battle. This is before the battle is joined. Is there such a thing as the decision of battle by the Almighty? Infidels adopt the theory of the French Marshal – that God favors the heaviest battalions in the fight. But the battle is not always to the strong. Patrick Henry insisted upon that in his speech before the House of Burgesses. Solomon wanted that thought fixed in the very hearts of his people, that before they fought they should pray. At the great battle of Agincourt, when a very small English army was surrounded by an enormous French army, say 25,000 against 100,000, just before the fight the English army prayed that the French king says, "Are they prostrating themselves in homage to us already? Do they acknowledge their defeat?" One who knew them replied to the king, "No, sire. They are taking their case to their God, and they will fight the better for it when they get up off their knees." One of the soldiers, in the English civil war, remarked to Prince Rupert that he feared Cromwell’s Ironsides when they knelt and prayed just before a fight and rose singing, "Let God arise and his enemies be scattered." In the book of the Maccabees there is a marvelous illustration of this, when Judas Maccabaeus with 10,000 men defeated 100,000, having made a solemn appeal to the God of battles before the issue was joined.

It is related as an incident of colonial history that in the war between France and England, with the battlefield over in this country, that the French at a serious crisis dispatched a great fleet with 3,000 soldiers and 40,000 stands of arms to turn the scale, and as that armament approached this continent, the colonists felt that if it arrived safely they were lost, and so the preachers gathered the people for prayer that God might save them from this armament, and even as they prayed a storm came and scattered the fleet, wrecking many of the vessels, drowning most of the soldiers, and sinking most of their munitions of war.

The climax of Solomon’s prayer anticipates a time when his people, on account of very grievous sin, shall be carried into captivity, their city taken, and over there in a land of exile they should become slaves of a foreign power. In this dire disaster, if they should repent and remember and look back toward Jerusalem and to this house, then might the Lord forgive them there and restore them to their land. We see Daniel carrying out this thought, as every day he would open his window and look toward Jerusalem and pray, doing just what this prayer suggests. Against the royal edict he would turn toward the Temple and pray. In Daniel 9:19 we find a famous prayer confessing the sins of the people and repeating the promise in the prophecy of Jeremiah that the seventy years of captivity is nearly out, and crying out, "Oh Lord, hear! Oh Lord, forgive," and even while he is praying an angel comes, touches him and tells him that his prayer is heard and shows him that not only will they be restored at that time, but unveils the prophecy concerning the restoration and rebuilding of Jerusalem and the length of time to elapse between that event and the birth of the long-looked-for Messiah, as you will find in the conclusion of Daniel 9.

Having offered this great prayer, Solomon arose and pronounced the benediction. As soon as this prayer ended, confirmation came in a very remarkable way. Fire came down from heaven and burned up the sacrifices that had been placed upon the altar, and not only that, but God appears to Solomon as he had appeared to him at Gibeon, and uses this language, which Spurgeon makes the text of one of his great sermons: "And Jehovah said unto him) I have heard thy prayer and thy supplication, that thou hast made before me! I have hallowed this house, which thou hast built to put my name there forever." On the next page it says, "Now I have chosen and hallowed this house, that my name may be there forever; and mine eyes and my heart shall be there perpetually." In another place he says, "My hands shall be there." Now Spurgeon takes for a text: "My name shall be there, my eyes shall be there, my heart shall be there, my hands shall be there." "Whoever comes to that place of worship, I see him. Whoever prays, I hear him. Whoever pleads, I love him and I save him by my hand." Spurgeon makes a great sermon out of it, and I suggest it as a good text.

We note the permanent use of the Temple: "Then Solomon offered burnt offerings unto the Lord on the altar of the Lord which he had built before the porch even as the duty of every day required." That is the daily sacrifice, offering according to the commandment of Moses on the sabbaths, then there are the weekly sacrifices, and on the new moons, which are the monthly sacrifices; and then on the great feast days three times in the year. There you have the whole cycle of the sacrifices to be offered in the Temple. Moses provided for morning and evening sacrifices in the tabernacle. Perhaps you have read The Prince of the House of David by Ingraham, an Episcopalian preacher. He represents the young Jewish lady that came from Alexandria on a visit to Jerusalem as being waked up just as the dawn flushed the eastern sky; the silver trumpets began to blow, and as those trumpets were blown everybody rushed to the housetops, and while they were looking at the Temple a great white cloud of incense rose up over the Temple and ascended to heaven, representing the morning prayers of the people, and they on the housetops prostrated themselves at the time of the incense and offered their morning prayers. That occurred every evening also, and it could be seen by everybody in the city, the going up of that great cloud of incense. They could hear the sound of those trumpets calling to prayer morning and evening. Solomon provided according to the ritual of Moses and David that these daily sacrifices should never be neglected in that Temple, nor the sabbatical, or weekly, nor the monthly, nor the annual sacrifices in the times of the great feasts.

I will devote the rest of the chapter to the glory of Solomon. You will note these words: "And the King made silver and gold to be in Jerusalem as stones, and cedars made he to be as the sycamore trees that are in the lowland for abundance. So King Solomon exceeded all the kings of the earth in riches and in wisdom. And all the earth sought the presence of Solomon, to hear his wisdom, which God had put in his heart, and they brought every man his present, vessels of silver, and vessels of gold, and raiment, and armor, and spices, horses, and mules, a rate year by year." Again, "And Solomon ruled over all the kingdoms from the river unto the land of the Philistines, and unto the border of Egypt: they brought him presents, and served Solomon all the days of his life. For he had dominion over all the region on this side the river, from Tiphsah even to Gaza, over all the kings on this side the river: and he had peace on all sides round about him. Judah and Israel were many, as the sand which is by the sea in multitude, eating and drinking, and every man under his vine and under his fig tree, from Dan even to Beersheba, all the days of Solomon."

As a sample of the glory of Solomon, we have the visit of the Queen of Sheba, who came, as our Lord said, from the uttermost parts of the earth. Commentators are divided as to whether she was a queen over, that best watered and most fertile part of southern Arabia, or whether she was the Queen of Abyssinia just across the dividing water in Africa. Most modern commentators make her the queen of what is called "Arabia Felix," but my own judgment is that she was the queen of Abyssinia. The tradition of her reign lingers there where recently King Menelik defeated the Italian armies, and where they still keep up certain forms of the Christian religion, whence also in New Testament times came the Ethiopian eunuch whom Philip led to Christ. By combining 1 Kings 10:1-13 with Matthew 12:42 you may make a great sermon with these heads: (1) She heard a rumor that there was a wise man who could answer any question. (2) She had hard questions knocking at the door of her heart, as every woman has. She determined, at any cost, to have these problems solved, so she makes this great journey, and when she gets there and he answers all of her questions and she sees his glory, his Temple, the way by which he went up into the Temple, the apparel of his servants, there was no more breath in her, that is, she fainted. You know some people are so finely strung that they will faint when looking at a great picture, or on being stirred by great music. From her words, "The half was not told me," we get our hymn, "The half has never yet been told."

My own sermon on Matthew 12:42 had these heads: (1) There shall be a resurrection of the dead. (2) It will be a general resurrection, (3) followed by a general judgment, (4) whose determining principle shall be: Men are judged according to their light. We may close this discussion with a brief account of Solomon’s relations with other governments.

1. Phoenicia. He inherited from his father a most valuable alliance with Hiram, king of Tyre, whose fleets controlled the Mediterranean Sea.

2. Egypt. His marriage with Pharaoh’s daughter held the friendship of the ruling dynasty in Egypt.

3. Friendly alliance with the Queen of Sheba.

4. In David’s time the Hittite nation at Hamath paid tribute. Solomon conquered the country.

5. By intermarriage he secured friendly relations with many countries, as most of his marriages were political.

6. By commerce through the Mediterranean he held friendly relations with the nations on its shores as far as Spain.

7. By commerce with the archipelagoes of the Indian and Pacific Oceans, he held friendly relations with the Orient, and Africa.

8. By land-traffic he held friendly relations with Arabia, Mesopotamia, and the nations around the Caspian Sea.


1. What promise of Jehovah was made to Solomon when he commenced to build the Temple?

2. What command of Jehovah, through Moses, was fulfilled in the building of the Temple?

3. When then, in brief, were the purposes of the Temple?

4. What effect has this dedication on all subsequent dedications of buildings?

5. At what annual festival was the Temple dedicated?

6. What are the steps of offering the house, and how the divine acceptance signified?

7. What similar event occurred in Moses’ day, and what greater event in the New Testament day?

8. Describe the platform occupied by Solomon, and his posture in the several parts of the dedication.

9. In what double capacity does he act?

10. What were the salient points of his opening address?

11. The salient points of his prayer?

12. What evidence in later days that in accord with Solomon’s petition his people prayed toward Jerusalem?

13. In what signal way did confirmation come from heaven, that his prayer was answered?

14. Distinguish between the two manifestations of the glory of the Cloud, 2 Chronicles 5:13; 2 Chronicles 7:1-3.

15. What says the text of the glory of Solomon, and the extent of his kingdom? (See 1 Kings 4:20-25; 1 Kings 10:18-25.)

16. What our Lord’s reference to Solomon’s glory?

17. Recite the story of the Queen of Sheba. Where her country? What our Lord’s reference to it, and what the sermon outline on Matthew 12:42?

18. What was Solomon’s relations to foreign nations?

19. When and why Jehovah’s second appearance to Solomon?

Verses 1-10



1 Kings 8:4-27; 1 Kings 4:29-34; 1 Kings 10:1-10.

The scriptures that embody for us the account of the wisdom of Solomon are as follows: 1 Kings 3:4-27; 1 Kings 4:29-34; 1 Kings 10:1-10; the book of Proverbs; the book of Ecclesiastes; Solomon’s Song; Matthew 12:42; and Psalm 127. Other psalms are attributed to Solomon, but I think not rightly. Psalm 127 is unquestionably his.

The first passages cited give the narrative account, while Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, and Psalm 127 constitute Solomon’s contribution to the Bible as embodiments of his wisdom, while Matthew 12:42 institutes a comparison with One wiser than Solomon.

Before discussing the wisdom of Solomon I call your attention to Old Testament approaches to it. The first approach to it is found in Exodus 31:3-6 and repeated again in Exodus 35-36. These plainly declare that the artificers who made the different parts – the artistic parts – of the tabernacle and its vessels derived the wisdom with which they wrought them from God. They received the inspiration of God to do those things exactly right. The next approach we find in the life of David, an account of three wise women, 2 Samuel 14:2; 2 Samuel 20:16. The first one was Abigail; the second was a wise woman from Tekoah, employed by Joab to convince David that he ought to recall Absalom; the third was a wise woman in a city in the northern part of Palestine who, through her wisdom, saved the city from destruction by having the head of the rebel that had fled to them thrown over the wall to Joab. A fourth approach is found in the book of Chronicles (1 Chronicles 12:32) where reference is made to the men of Issachar that were wise and had understanding to the signs of the times and knew what Israel ought to do.

I now analyze for you the wisdom of Solomon. Our first inquiry is concerning its origin. On the divine side it is expressly stated that it is the gift of God (1 Kings 3, commencing with 1 Kings 3:5), but preliminary to the divine origin certain human factors explain how Solomon was prepared to make the extraordinary request for wisdom. He was only a boy. How did it ever occur to him to ask for such a gift as that instead of some other things?

That leads us to consider the human element in the origin. If you read in the book of Proverbs commencing at Proverbs 7:3 you see David’s instruction to him to get wisdom, to get understanding, as more precious than rubies and gold or anything else in the world. All those chapters cited, from the fourth to the seventh inclusive, give us David’s instructions and exhortations to his son. They tell us who put it into his mind to prize wisdom above all earthly things. What a glorious thing it is to have the right kind of a father! By reading Psalm 72 you get at another factor of the human origin. There his father is praying that his son may have the kind of wisdom to rule the people, and rule righteously. A little child whose father is continually speaking about the right kind of wisdom, and continually praying that his child may have it, will likely himself pray for it. David’s prayer and instructions are very touching. They account for the son’s wise response to God’s saying, "Ask what I shall give thee."

Another human factor appears in the book of Proverbs, the influence of his mother, Bathsheba, not only a beautiful woman but a really good woman, and a very wise woman. Solomon himself tells how his mother intervenes: "The words of King Lemuel, the oracle that his mother taught him." Lemuel is another name for Solomon.

What, my son? and what, O son of my womb? And what, O son of my vows? Give not thy strength unto women, Nor thy ways to that which destroyeth kings, It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink: wine; Nor for princes to say, Where is strong drink? Lest they drink, and forget the law, And pervert the justice due to any that is afflicted. Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, And wine unto the bitter in soul, But rulers should not drink.

Then follows her matchless ideal of a true wife – one of the brightest gems of literature. Early parental training from father and mother prepares the boy to ask for the best things. The book of Proverbs shows how well he understood the counsels of both parents, but his later life shows particularly his disastrous departure from his mother’s oracle. In other words, Solomon knew more wisdom than he practiced. His were not sins of ignorance. But when we inquire what prepared the parents to prepare the child, we go back again, as we always must, to God himself verifying the saying of James, "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning." This is manifest when we note that God’s promise to give David such a son (2 Samuel 7:12-16) occasions David’s prayer and instructions (2 Samuel 7:18-29; Psalm 72) and also quickened his mother’s interest (1 Chronicles 29:9; 1 Kings 1:28-29).

The origin of the wisdom of Solomon, therefore, stands thus: (1) God’s promise and oath; (2) parental instruction, counsel, and prayer preparing the child to appreciate and ask for the best things; (3) God’s calling out Solomon’s choice; (4) Solomon’s choice and request; (5) God’s gift of the thing asked for.

Second question: What that wisdom? Only foolish people think that wisdom and knowledge mean the same thing. You may know a great deal and be the biggest fool going. I have known people whose minds were like great lumber rooms full of odds and ends of all kinds of things, and yet they were not wise enough to make practical use of the miscellaneous material. Wisdom is the application of knowledge. "Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers." The elements of Solomon’s wisdom were as follows:

First, an understanding heart to discern justice and to judge righteously and rule righteously. His wisdom was given to him to fill his position as king of a great people. That is how he defined it: "Give me an understanding heart to discern judgment and to rule rightly over this so great people."

The second element was the regulation of passions and life. The book of Proverbs continually discriminates between the wise one and the simple one. A wise man, clearly discerning right things and applying right things, will not allow himself to be entrapped by seduction and temptation, but the simple one is led astray and a dart is thrust through his liver.

The next element of the wisdom was the right way of doing things. You may yourselves discriminate between wise and foolish pastors by comparing their methods of handling an affair. The most of the trouble that comes upon the churches comes by the unwise handling of delicate affairs. He may injudiciously gossip with his members about a delicate matter and so hopelessly stir up his church into hostile parties, or he may preach about it censoriously, or be hasty to commit himself on ex parte evidence until he will no longer be able to moderate with impartiality. The other, by wise handling, will heal the breach. When a difficult case is presented to a wise man his first words are, "Let us see how we can get at the heart of this matter and deal with it wisely so as not to harm but to do good." Up in New England it is a proverb that the wise housekeeper is a woman of tact. She may not see the right any better than some other woman, but she does the right better; she gets at it more skilfully.

The fourth element was his power to interpret things. Like these men of Issachar, who could not only discern the signs of the times, but could put a proper construction upon the march of events and hence could tell what Israel ought to do. Our Saviour rebuked the men of his day that while they could read the signs of the heavens, and tell when it was likely to be a fair or a cloudy day, they did not read the signs of the spiritual times, and allowed great calamities to come on them unprepared. This power to interpret applies to natural as well as to spiritual things. It has been said that no man can interpret nature who does not love nature. But Solomon loved nature, and he could get at the secret of the plant on the wall, and the cedar of Lebanon, and the birds that fly and the flowers that bloom. Tradition says that the birds loved him so that the doves would form a canopy with outspread wings under which he could march from his house to the Temple. You need not believe the legend, but it exhibits the people’s idea of Solomon’s power of interpreting the secrets of nature. It is said of Byron by Pollok that he laid his hand with the familiarity of a brother upon the ocean’s mane, and made the mountains his brothers, and the thunders talked to him as a friend. He himself exhibits his power in the famous poem, "An Apostrophe to the Ocean" – a matchless poem of its kind which all of you would do well to memorize. It commences thus: There is a pleasure in the pathless woods.

The fifth element in his wisdom was largeness of heart, or broad-mindedness. The scripture statement is that he had largeness of heart as the sands of the seashore. Sam Jones used to say, "No man can be broad-minded who has ’possum eyes’ – so close together that you can punch out both of them at once with an old-fashioned two-tined table fork." Some men are so narrow that they cannot even conceive of a big, broad subject. But Solomon had largeness of heart. The next element of his wisdom was philosophy. The book of Ecclesiastes embodies it. He there seeks to ascertain the chief good and the chief end of man. What is that good thing that a man should do all the days of his life? Philosophy inquires into the reason of things, for the philosophy of a thing is the reason of a thing. You have already found out that I have little respect for uninspired philosophy. We might profitably omit the course from college curiculums. It is all sheer speculation from Thales to Epicurus and Zeno; from Aristotle to Kant; from Kant to the pragmatism of -Professor James of Harvard.

As William Ashmore in his review of Professor James, well says, "Lewes acted as a sexton in burying all the philosophies up to his time, and his successors have buried him." Their speculations after all are but "airy nothings," as varied as the shifting scenes in a kaleidoscope, and all as transitory as rainbows vanishing in the storm. Each successor does only one good thing – he brushes out the trail of his predecessor. Even Solomon goes a long and costly way in Ecclesiastes, to get at a conclusion obvious to a child’s faith. Carefully observe that wisdom should be invoked in order to do the right things in the right way in dealing with our fellow men and our God; to lead us in the paths of judgment, mercy, and truth.

The next point in the analysis is to locate the very beginning of real wisdom in the human heart, and here you find Solomon’s conclusion in Ecclesiastes in direct harmony with Job 28. That whole chapter is devoted to this question: "Where shall wisdom be found? and where is the place of understanding?" and concludes by saying, "The fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to depart from evil, understanding." When we come to the New Testament we find that James says, "If any man lack wisdom let him ask of God, who giveth liberally and upbraideth not, but let him ask in faith, nothing doubting. An unstable man wavering in all his ways, his prayers will not be answered."

The next element in the analysis is the antecedent characteristics of a seeker of wisdom. First, humility. Solomon says, "I am a little child"; a knowledge of his need, "I don’t know how to go out or to come in"; and next, prayer for it.

Our next item in the analysis of Solomon’s wisdom answers this question: How was that wisdom of his expressed? And the answer is, It is expressed, first, in deed, as when he made the decision about the baby and the two women claiming it; the second when he answered all the hard questions that the Queen of Sheba put to him and, by the way, he is the only man known to history who answered fairly all the questions put to him by a woman. It is also expressed in the books he wrote, treating upon the subject: Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, and one psalm. In these books he embodies it in proverbs, pithy sayings, and parables, contrasting one thing with another, a comparison obtained by putting two things parallel, which is the meaning of "parable" originally.

The next point in the analysis is the fame of his wisdom, or the impression that it made upon his own time and succeeding generations. According to a statement made in 1 Kings 4:34, Solomon’s fame went to all the kings of the earth. They all heard about him. The Queen of Sheba heard a rumor of him. It was carried on every ship, carried over every desert on every camel, carried by every traveler, "Over yonder in Jerusalem in the Holy Land is the wisest man the world ever knew. He can solve any perplexity; he can answer the hardest questions. He can deliver the most righteous judgments. He can discern the very heart of a thing and lay it open." The fame of his wisdom is evidenced by imitations in later days and by the increment of extravagant legends. The apocryphal books of "Wisdom" and "Ecclesiasticus" are imitations, centuries later; the first is an imitation of Proverbs, the second of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Solomon’s Songs. The so-called "Psalter of Solomon," consisting of eighteen psalms and found in the Septuagint, is another example of imitation. Indeed, a school of wisdom literature followed. The extravagant legends of his exorcism of demons and genii, his magical powers vested in incantations, seals, amulets, charms, and inscriptions, may be gathered from Josephus, the Koran, The Arabian Nights, and a world of Oriental literature. The Jews have a legend that when Alexander came to Jerusalem and learned about the wisdom of Solomon, he took back with him a copy of Solomon’s books and furnished them to Aristotle, and that he derived a large part of his philosophy from Solomons’ philosophy.

In this connection may be asked the date of the book of Job. Stanley, after a comparison of its style, thought, and turns of expression, with Solomon’s book, makes it a product of Solomon’s times. His argument is very inconclusive. On the other hand, Dr. Thirtle, in his Old Testament Problems takes the position that it was composed to pacify and instruct Hezekiah in his afflictions. His argument is much more plausible than Stanley’s, but the argument for the Mosaic authorship and time is much stronger than either. The book of Job is older, profounder, and more archaic than Ecclesiastes, Proverbs, or than Psalm 73 attributed to Asaph. Its correspondences with the Pentateuch are more numerous and more striking than can be traced in any literature of the days of David, Solomon, or Hezekiah. Moses, exiled for forty years in Midian, touching Job’s country, finds the opportunity arising from association with the characters in Job. The unmerited suffering of his people in the Egyptian furnace, of which suffering lie himself is an example, gives the clue to the book. The burning bush solves the problem, and after the lesson appropriately come Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, increasing the light. The book of Job shows how men without the revelations of the Pentateuch attempt to solve the problem of the unmerited sufferings of the righteous. Its key passages cry out for a revelation. It is on this theory that the first book of the Bible was to be written, therefore I count Job the first book of the Bible. The last thought in connection with Solomon’s wisdom is

The glorious antitype. – I must speak a little about him. In Matthew 12:42, Jesus says, "The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation and shall condemn it, for she came from the end of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold a greater than Solomon is here." In other words, in the New Testament is Wisdom. Paul says so, using the feminine form, Sophia, that is, the wisdom and power of God. John says so in using the masculine form Logos, or Reason.

The Pharisees asked this question: "Whence hath this man wisdom?" They wanted to get at the origin of Christ’s wisdom, seeing that he hath never learned. Whence his power to silence every gainsayer and to give answers to perplexities that startle the world today? Whence his wisdom? In Isaiah 11 is the prophecy concerning the origin of the wisdom of the great antitype of Solomon, the Prince of peace:

And there shall come forth a shoot out of the stock of Jesse, and a branch out of his roots shall bear fruit. And the Spirit of Jehovah shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of Jehovah. And his delight shall be in the fear of Jehovah; and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither decide after the hearing of his ears; but with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth; and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked. And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins" (Isaiah 11:1-5).

There is the sevenfold wisdom, meaning the perfection of wisdom. That wisdom was conferred upon Christ without mea-sure, and he, too, prayed for it as he came up out of baptism, for the Spirit descended upon him in the form of a dove, and ever afterwards every thought of his life, every step of his life, was in exact accord with the promptings of the Spirit of God that came upon him without measure. He spoke in parables, putting things alongside of each other, and he spoke in proverbs and epigrams, and the sayings of Jesus rule the world today. He rules in exact righteousness rich and poor alike.

The Jewish idea of wisdom far surpassed the Greek idea of it. Theirs was unaided human philosophy, and purely speculative. For example, Lucretius, in The Nature of Things, or the Epicurean philosophy at its fountain head, enunciates the essential features of modern evolution. See how the Stoics accounted for the origin of things and the government of the world! Their fate, and the chance of the Epicureans, are against God’s Providence. See how their wisdom had no practical effect on morals. Their wise men oftentimes were the vilest men, and in the highest attainments of their philosophies their cities rotted and became putrid in the sight of God. Not so with the wisdom that God gives. In the same way Gnosticism, a subjective infallible knowledge for the few, bred & varied progeny of asceticism, license, and antinomianism. Christ, then, is the great antitype of Solomon.


1. What scriptures give an account of the wisdom of Solomon?

2. As to its origin: (1) What the human element? (2) What the divine element? (3) What the summary of the origin?

3. As to its meaning and content: (1) Define wisdom as compared with knowledge, and tell who wrote "Knowledge comes but wisdom lingers." (2) Give the elements of his wisdom. (3) Show wherein is the superiority of the Hebrew wisdom over "the Sophia" of the Greeks.

4. How does Solomon go a long way to find his simple conclusion concerning the very beginning of wisdom?

5. What chapter of Job is devoted to the same inquiry and reaches a similar conclusion?

6. How does James, our Lord’s brother, tell us to get wisdom?

7. What was the antecedent characteristics of a seeker of wisdom?

8. How was Solomon’s wisdom expressed?

9. What was the fame of his wisdom: (1) As stated in this chapter? (2) As expressed in imitations? (3) As expressed in legends?

10. Cite an illustrious example of one brought to Solomon by the fame of his wisdom.

11. What was the effect on her of witnessing his wisdom?

12. What modern song perpetuates her saying?

13. Outline a sermon on our Lord’s reference to her in Matthew 12:42,

14. Who was the glorious antitype of Solomon?

15. What Greek word does Paul use in describing him?

16. What Greek word does John employ to the same end?

17. What was the puzzle to the Pharisees concerning him?

18. Quote the words of Isaiah answering their question.

19. What was the great contrast on practical lines between Christ’s Wisdom and the wisdom of Solomon?

20. Define Gnosticism and Agnosticism and contrast Christ’s wisdom with both.

21. Explain Solomon’s sacrifices at Gibeon instead of Jerusalem.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on 1 Kings 10". "Carroll's Interpretation of the English Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bhc/1-kings-10.html.
Ads FreeProfile