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Bible Commentaries
1 Kings 9

Dr. Constable's Expository NotesConstable's Expository Notes

Verses 1-9

1. God’s covenant with Solomon 9:1-9

God responded to Solomon’s dedication of himself and his nation as He had responded to David (2 Samuel 7) and to Solomon earlier (ch. 3). He offered Solomon continued blessing for continued faithfulness.

First, God promised He would do what Solomon had petitioned in his dedicatory prayer (1 Kings 8:22-53; 1 Kings 9:3). Second, He said He would provide a continuous line of descendants from Solomon to sit on Israel’s throne if Solomon would continue to follow God faithfully. The alternative would have been cutting off Solomon’s descendants and replacing them with descendants from another branch of David’s family (cf. the fate of Eli’s house). God maintained Solomon’s line because, generally speaking, Solomon remained faithful to the Lord. Third, if Solomon, the subsequent kings, or the people abandoned the Lord’s covenant, He would do three things. He would remove the people from their land, abandon the temple, and make Israel a byword instead of a blessing. This, too, God did for Israel, because overall, Israel did not remain faithful.

"The rest of Kings will be preoccupied with the blessing which follows obedience and the curses enacted after any failure to obey. The reference point will be to God’s revealed word and the language is that of Deuteronomy." [Note: Wiseman, p. 125.]

Verses 1-28

D. The Fruits of Solomon’s Reign chs. 9-11

The writer next recorded what happened to Solomon and to Israel as a result of the king’s provision to exalt the reputation of Yahweh among His people. He narrated God’s covenant with Solomon (1 Kings 9:1-9), further evidences of Yahweh’s blessing (1 Kings 9:10-28), Solomon’s greatness (ch. 10), and Solomon’s apostasy (ch. 11).

Verses 10-14

Solomon’s gifts to Hiram 9:10-14

Solomon mortgaged 20 Galilean towns (settlements) bordering Phoenicia to Hiram. This brought the border of Phoenicia farther south. This arrangement compensated Hiram for all the lumber and 9,000 pounds of gold he had sent to Solomon for his building projects. Hiram may have called them Cabul, a word that sounds like the Hebrew word for "good for nothing" (1 Kings 9:13), because they were not in a productive region. This cheap gift did not contribute to ongoing good relations between Israel and Phoenicia.

"The border villages may have been fortified for defence [sic] purposes and seem to have been redeemed later (2 Chronicles 8:2), perhaps following successful trade (1 Kings 9:14) or tribute brought from Sheba (cf. 1 Kings 10:10)." [Note: Ibid., p. 126.]

"This episode shows a conniving side of Solomon." [Note: House, p. 157.]

Verses 10-28

2. Further evidences of God’s blessing 9:10-28

Somewhat after the mid-point of Solomon’s 40-year reign, God was blessing him for his faithfulness. What the writer described in this section took place after Solomon had completed his major building projects in Jerusalem, which took about 20 years.

Verses 15-19

Solomon’s public works 9:15-19

Solomon was powerful enough to conscript laborers to build the Millo and a wall around Jerusalem. The Millo (lit. filling) evidently refers to the terraces on the east side of Mt. Zion (cf. 2 Samuel 5:9). Solomon enlarged these so they connected the City of David with the temple and palace site. He also expanded the wall that encircled the City of David so it included the temple and palace complex to the north thus doubling the size of the city (1 Kings 9:15).

Solomon also rebuilt and fortified three large strategic defense centers: Hazor in the North (cf. Joshua 11:1), Megiddo in the Jezreel Valley (cf. Joshua 17:11), and Gezer in the West (1 Kings 9:15). Lower Beth-horon stood on a major western approach route to Jerusalem. He also fortified Baalath (site uncertain) and Tamar, south of the Salt (Dead) Sea, in Judah, [Note: See Rudolph Cohen, "The Fortresses King Solomon Built to Protect His Southern Border," Biblical Archaeology Review 11:3 (May-June 1985):56-70; and idem., "Solomon’s Negev Defense Line Contained Three Fewer Fortresses," Biblical Archaeology Review 12:4 (July-August 1986):40-45.] and he strengthened other towns (2 Chronicles 8:2-6). Solomon developed these towns to defend Jerusalem and Israel and to control the major routes into and through his empire. [Note: Bright, p. 192.] Were these projects partially flawed by dependence on the flesh? Possibly they were. David had evidently built defensive border cities during his reign as well. [Note: Y. Aharoni, "The Building Activities of David and Solomon," Israel Exploration Journal 24:1 (1974):13-16.]

Verses 20-23

Solomon’s forced labor 9:20-23

Solomon put the defeated native Canaanites to work on government projects (cf. Genesis 9:25-26). Nevertheless this plan proved to be a source of major dissatisfaction in Israel (cf. 1 Kings 12:4). There was a distinction in Solomon’s day between Israelites whom the king conscripted for temporary service and non-Israelites who were permanent slave laborers. The former served as military supervisors over civil forced labor gangs, for example. The latter were the native Canaanites who enjoyed no rights as free persons. [Note: J. Alberto Soggin, "Compulsory Labor Under David and Solomon," in Studies in the Period of David and Solomon and Other Essays, p. 266.]

Verse 24

Solomon’s house for Pharaoh’s daughter 9:24

Solomon was able to provide lavishly for his Egyptian wife, but he probably should not have married her in the first place (cf. 1 Kings 11:1-2).

Verse 25

Solomon’s annual offerings 9:25

The king offered sacrifices of worship three times annually, probably at the required feasts of Unleavened Bread, Pentecost (also called Harvest or Weeks), and Tabernacles (also called Booths or Ingathering).

"Solomon officiates at the three major festivals because in ancient Israel the king was a religious as well as a political leader. The king was God’s son by adoption (Psalms 2:7), a priest after the order of Melchizedek (Psalms 110:4), and his chief responsibilities were to defend the powerless and to maintain justice, righteousness, and peace (e.g., Psalms 72; Isaiah 9:7; Isaiah 11:2-5)." [Note: Rice, p. 76.]

Verses 26-28

Solomon’s navy 9:26-28

God blessed Solomon with an effective navy that brought added wealth from the south and the east. Ophir (1 Kings 9:28) evidently was in southeast Arabia (modern Oman and or the United Arab Emirates; 1 Kings 10:11; Job 22:24; Job 28:16). Other less likely sites that various scholars have proposed are southwest Arabia (modern Yemen), Somaliland (Somalia), and Supara in India.

The writer documented in this section further evidence of God’s blessing on Solomon that came to him for his dedication to God. The fertility motif stands out strongly here. Blessing in many different forms came to Solomon and Israel.

However, "Solomon’s defense works and monumental buildings drained the nation’s wealth while providing only a temporary appearance of strength and grandeur [cf. 1 Kings 12:4]." [Note: DeVries, p. 133.]

Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on 1 Kings 9". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcc/1-kings-9.html. 2012.
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