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Bible Commentaries
1 Kings 9

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-9

First Kings - Chapter 9 AND Second Chronicles - Chapter 7, 8

God’s Second Appearance, 1 Kings 9:1-9 AND 2 Chronicles 7:11-22

The parallel accounts in Kings and Chronicles differ somewhat more than do accounts in other places, but describe the same event and times. This occurrence was after Solomon had completed all his building projects to his own satisfaction. It was then the Lord again came to Solomon by night in a dream, as He had done in the early years of his reign, when He promised the young king wisdom surpassing all others. This second appearance was doubtless intended to assure Solomon that the Lord approved of his building and organization for the worship of Israel. At the same time it was given as an encouragement to continue the things of David his father which had brought the blessings of the Lord in David’s reign. Finally it served to warn Solomon that he not fall into disobedient ways which would cause forfeiture of the blessings the Lord promised.

In regard to His assurance, the Lord told Solomon He had heard the prayer and supplication he had made on the occasion of the temple’s dedication. God had hallowed the house, or made it holy to Him, that it should always be called by His name. There sacrifices should be made to Him according to His statutes, and in Israel’s doing His eyes and heart would be upon it always. The Chronicles account particularizes, with a passage in verses 13, 14, which is among the best known of the Old Testament. If by disobedience the Lord must chastise the land by drought, insect infestation, or pestilence, Israel may humble themselves and return to Him, seeking His mercy. He promised to hear them on those occasions and to heal their land. This promise is still applicable to the Lord’s people everywhere.

The admonition of Solomon follows the assurance and encourage­ment. Solomon should take his father’s example and stay close to the Lord in his walk. If he would do this the Lord reiterates His previous pro­mise to continue his children on David’s throne, and the kingdom would be established for ever. Strict warning is sounded for the contrary be­havior. Should his descendants, however, turn away from following the Lord and refuse to keep God’s commandments and statutes the pro­mises will fail. The plural "ye" in verses 6 (Kings) and 19 (Chronicles) show that the people of Israel are involved in this warning against apostasy.

In those times of apostasy, when God’s people have gone after pagan gods, He will cut them off from their land. Then this "high" house, the magnificent temple, will be a heap of ruins. People passing by will be astonished and hiss (cluck their tongues against their teeth, or whistle) at the magnanimity of its destruction. They will ask, "Why has the Lord done this to His house and land?" And others will reply that they have forsaken their God, who delivered them from Egypt and gave them the land, and they have turned to false gods and worshipped and served them.

Solomon and Israel failed to heed the Lord’s admonition, and it happened to them as they were warned in this appearance of the Lord (2 Chronicles 29:8). There is like danger for God’s people today who turn away from serving Him (Romans 11:21).

Verses 10-19

Two Friendly Kings, 1 Kings 9:10-19 AND 2 Chronicles 8:1-6

These verses show that Solomon was occupied in his building projects for a period of twenty years, notably in building the temple and palace. He had been furnished with building materials for the construction from Hiram (Huram in Chronicles), the king of Tyre, who remained his steadfast friend. Most importantly Hiram had supplied most of the cedar, cypress (fir), and gold, all that Solomon required for his building. In return Solomon had ceded twenty cities (literally, settled places) in Galilee to Hiram. Hiram came to see the cities and was quite displeased with them.

Hiram had spoken sarcastically of the cities to Solomon,

according to the Kings account, and had called them the land of Cabul, which literally means "fettered." He seems to have thought them so useless that he gave them back to Solomon, apparent from the Chronicles account. However, the men seem to have remained friends. Hiram sent to Solomon 120,000 talents of gold (about $131,000,000 in today’s values) to build the temple and palace, Millo, the wall of Jerusalem, store cities, and cities for his chariots, horses, and horsemen, throughout the land, including Lebanon.

Among his other projects Solomon built and restored the twenty cities of Cabul and settled Israelites in them (see Chronicles account). He also took Hamath-zobah, a notable place on his northwest frontier, this being one of the few military engagements of Solomon during his reign. His store and chariot cities were built with this gold and timber of Hiram, also, so that the levy continued to be used for laborers throughout Solomon’s reign. It would be a later point of contention between the tribes when Solomon had died. These were constructed in the land of Hamath, and in the cities of Beth-horon (upper and lower), northwest of Jerusalem. They were fortified and walled, with gates and bars. Other places so fortified included Baalath, in the Philistine plain, west of Jerusalem; Hazor, north of Chinnereth (Sea of Galilee); Megiddo (which gives its name to Armageddon), northward in the valley of Kishon; Gezer, a Philistine city, in the coastal plain. This city had been captured and destroyed by the Pharaoh of Egypt and given as a present to his daughter, who had married Solomon.

Solomon restored Gezer in his .building. Another notable place fortified by Solomon was Tadmor, later called Palmyra by the Greeks. It was an oasis in the desert, far to the northeast, between Damascus and the Euphrates River. It was athwart the ancient caravan route from Mesopotamia, going down to Egypt through Damascus and the land of Canaan (Israel).

Verses 20-28

Commentary on 1 Kings 9:20-28 AND 2 Chronicles 8:7-18

Solomon found laborers for his public works from the ranks of the Canaanites, descendants of those whom Israel had failed to exterminate from the land, following the conquest under Joshua. No doubt their labor was a form of enforced servitude. Since the land belonged to Israel by grant from the Lord these Canaanite people were landless and, therefore, may have been blessed by the opportunity to earn a livelihood through Solomon’s works.

Solomon did not put Israelites into such service, but did draft them for more honorable work, such as soldiers, princes, captains over his chariots, horsemen and such. At best the people of Israel were still hard put under obligation to their king, of which Samuel warned them when they anointed Saul about a century earlier (1 Samuel 8:10-18). Solomon’s officers numbered two hundred and fifty, of five hundred fifty (Kings), a probable scribal error in one or the other account.

The reference to Pharaoh’s daughter is interesting. It appears that Solomon was well aware that it was not according to God’s will that he should have married this pagan woman. He respected the Lord enough that he would not allow Pharaoh’s daughter to dwell in the palace where once the ark of the Lord had been in the days of David. Instead of this he constructed for her a palace of her own.

This passage also stresses the greater faithfulness of Solomon in worshipping the Lord in the earlier part of his long reign of forty years. He carried out all the formalities of properly dedicating the temple when it was complete in every detail. The Levitical author of Chronicles is careful to fully account of Solomon’s piety. He gave a set rate daily of things for the sacrifice and offering.

He observed all the sabbaths, the new moons (first day of the months), the solemn feasts, just as Moses commanded Israel. The three special feasts (Exodus 23:14-19) he was careful to keep. These were 1) the feasts of unleavened bread, which began with Passover; 2) weeks, or Pentecost as later known; 3) tabernacles, the autumn festival of joy.

The author of Chronicles continues to stress the temple ritual and service carried out by Solomon. He followed the program established by David, his father, for the priests and the Levites. They were required to serve according to their courses in their respective offices. These included, besides the priests themselves, the musicians and singers, the porters at the gates, and the overseers of the treasuries.

Solomon launched a navy with the aid of Hiram, king of Tyre, and his sailors. He constructed a deep sea port on the Elanitic Gulf of the Red Sea. This is the same area east of the Sinai peninsula known today as Sharm-el-sheik. It was then in the land of Edom, and was known as Ezion-geber and Eloth (sometimes Elath).

The experienced and knowledgeable sailors of Hiram accompanied the ships of Solomon and his servants as far as the land of Ophir. This place is believed to have been the southwestern corner of the Arabian peninsula at the southern end of the Red Sea, known today as Yemen. From this place the ships of Solomon brought four hundred fifty talents of gold (in today’s values about $450,000,000). God’s promise to make Solomon rich was abundantly coming to pass.

Some lessons to stress: 1) the warnings and admonitions of God’s word leave men totally without excuse when their sins bring His judgment on them; 2) the sins of Christian professors of faith bring shame and reproach on the Lord and His cause; 3) those who follow the Lord may leave after them a legacy of lasting good and testimony for Christ; 4) one may serve the Lord well in his youth, but grow weary in well-doing and forfeit his reward (2 John 1:8).

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on 1 Kings 9". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/1-kings-9.html. 1985.
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