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Bible Commentaries
1 Kings 11

Gray's Concise Bible CommentaryGray's Concise Commentary

Verses 1-43


WISDOM AND WEALTH (1 Kings 9:26 to 1 Kings 10:29 )

A look at a map in the back of your Bible may identify the locality of 1 Kings 9:26 , whence Solomon, with Hiram’s help, extended his influence by sea. Ophir (1 Kings 9:28 ) has been regarded as a general name for all the southern territory in the neighborhood of the inland seas. A “talent” is not easy to estimate but, on the supposition of some that a talent of gold represented about $30,000, we have here a contribution of between $12,000,000 and $14,000,000. In our clay not so much, but in that day a tremendous fortune.

One result of expansion by the sea was the visitors it brought, as illustrated by the Queen of Sheba, whose country cannot be identified except in a general way as indicated by our Lord (Matthew 12:42 ; Luke 11:31 ). A query arises as to whether 1 Kings 10:9 means that she was really converted to Jehovah as the result of what she saw and heard.

The “targets” or shields of 1 Kings 10:16 , usually made of wood and covered with leather, were weapons of defense for the palace. (See 1 Kings 14:26 .) “Tarshish” (1 Kings 10:22 ) is a general term for the west, as Ophir was for the south, and points to Solomon’s commercial ventures across the Mediterranean.

1 Kings 10:26 shows him departing from the commandment of God about horses and chariots (Deuteronomy 17:16 ), and at a wholesale rate, judging by 1 Kings 10:28-29 in the Revised Version.


What had become of Solomon’s wisdom? The answer is that the wisdom he had was of the earthly rather than the heavenly kind. It was sufficient to keep the city but not to keep his heart. It helped him rule the kingdom but not his own spirit. Was Solomon really regenerated, who can tell? (Compare Proverbs 31:1-3 and Ecclesiastes 4:13 .) The princesses were daughters of tributary kings taken as hostages perhaps, or to strengthen Solomon’s hands in the political sense; but the concubines were secondary wives not having the same recognition in the kingdom.

Compare 2 Kings 23:13 for the name given to that part of Olivet on which Solomon built the temples for the false gods. These he had been induced to worship through the influence of his harem. God alone knows what loathsome wickedness this may have introduced into Israel.


What aggravated Solomon’s offense (1 Kings 11:9-10 )?What judgment is threatened (1 Kings 11:11 )? But what mercy is shown and why (1 Kings 11:12 )? To what extent was the kingdom to be rent from Solomon (1 Kings 11:13 )? The significance of this is that in the line of David that “greater than Solomon” was to come of whom we learned in 2 Samuel 11:0 . (Compare also 1 Kings 11:35-36 .) We shall see later that not only was Judah left to Solomon’s son, but Benjamin and Levi as well, three tribes, although here named as one. Many individuals and families in the other tribes in addition stayed with him for religious reasons. (See 1 Kings 12:17 and 2 Chronicles 11:12-13 .) Who was the first rod of God’s anger raised against Solomon (1 Kings 11:14 )? And the second (1 Kings 11:23-25 )? And the third (1 Kings 11:26 )?

This last was the most formidable because of the internal commotion he aroused. He came first into notice as a mechanical engineer in charge of some of Solomon’s many works (1 Kings 11:27-28 ); but God had chosen him for a higher task, the knowledge of which seems to have turned his head (1 Kings 11:29-31 ). He could not wait patiently for God to remove Solomon as David did in the case of Saul, but began to take matters into his own hand with the consequences in 1 Kings 11:40 .

Observe the name of the book of record from which the inspired compiler of 1 Kings may have obtained his data (1 Kings 11:41 ), and compare with it the statement in 2 Chronicles 9:29 .


1. Has your Bible any maps?

2. What can you recall of Hiram’s history?

3. What two geographic names having a general application are given here?

4. How much value may have been represented by a talent of gold?

5. Have you a copy of the Revised Version?

6. How would you discriminate in the case of Solomon’s wisdom?

7. Have you compared the Scripture references in this lesson?

8. What name was given that part of Olivet on which Solomon built the idol temples?

9. Name the three tribes that remained loyal to the house of David?

10. Name the three human scourges of Solomon towards the close of his life.

11. What prophet is named in this lesson?

12. What data may the compiler of Kings have had to draw upon?

Bibliographical Information
Gray, James. "Commentary on 1 Kings 11". Gray's Concise Bible Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jgc/1-kings-11.html. 1897-1910.
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