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Bible Commentaries
1 Kings 9

Gray's Concise Bible CommentaryGray's Concise Commentary

Verses 1-28


THE TIME (1 Kings 8:1-2 )

Since the temple was completed in the eighth month of the previous year (1 Kings 6:38 ) and not dedicated until the seventh of the following, how shall we explain the interval? The reason usually assigned is that the king waited for the feast of tabernacles in the fall when one of the greatest assemblies took place, and for this purpose the most appropriate.


Observe who were the leading actors (1 Kings 8:3 ). Also what articles they carried (1 Kings 8:4 ). The “tabernacle” means the old tabernacle of the wilderness, which had been located at Gibeon and was now to be preserved in the temple at Jerusalem.

Notice the sacrificing on the march (1 Kings 8:5 ). Notice that it was the original ark of the covenant that was placed in the most holy place of the temple (1 Kings 8:6 ). “The wings of the cherubim” mean those that Solomon caused to be placed there, and larger than those of Moses’ time which were firmly attached to the ark itself (Exodus 37:7-8 ). The staves at the end of the ark were drawn out to be seen in the holy place, but not beyond it (1 Kings 8:8 ). This was to guide the high priest on the day of atonement, that he might be able to enter the most holy place in the thick darkness (Exodus 25:15 ).

Note what the ark contained (1 Kings 8:9 ), and compare Hebrews 9:4 . This last Scripture should be understood as teaching that the things it names were placed by and not in the ark (see Exodus 16:33 ; Numbers 17:10 ).


It is only necessary to compare these verses with Exodus 40:34 , to see the significance of this act of Jehovah. He thus established Himself in Israel and took His seat on the throne of His glory. What satisfaction it must have brought to Solomon, and indeed all the faithful in Israel. What a reward for their endeavors! Oh, if they had only been faithful thereafter, that the Lord might never have departed from them! What a different story this world would have had to tell.

But how glad we should be that that glory is coming back to Israel, and the world is at length to be blessed thereby. Let us pray for the peace of Jerusalem. They shall prosper that love her (Psalms 122:6 ).

SOLOMON’S BLESSING (1 Kings 8:12-21 )

Just what is meant by the “thick darkness” (1 Kings 8:12 ) is not easy to determine unless it is the cloud and pillar of fire of earlier days which indicated

.Jehovah’s presence. The rest of the words of Solomon’s blessing, however, are plain.


For the place where the king stood and knelt see 2 Chronicles 6:13 . How strange that the king should have thus ministered and not the high priest? But it was lawful for him to minister about holy things though he might not minister in them.

After the ascription of praise to Jehovah (1 Kings 8:22-30 ), the prayer contains seven petitions or references to as many occasions when His interposing mercy might be required. Let the student discover them (1 Kings 8:31-53 ).

The chapter closes with an account of the surpassing number of sacrifices presented and the rejoicing of the people for the goodness of God.

JEHOVAH’S RESPONSE (1 Kings 9:1-9 )

If the words of this vision are studied carefully they will be found to contain an answer to all Solomon’s petitions.

1 Kings 9:7-9 , however, are a prophecy finding a sad fulfillment in our time because of Israel’s unfaithfulness. Their location in the record at this point leads up to the story of the king’s worldly ambitions which were the beginning of the nation’s decline.


For the twenty years that Hiram the king aided Solomon (1 Kings 9:10 ), Solomon gave him twenty cities, a city a year. Doubtless they were adjacent to his territory and were those which never had been conquered by Israel and were still inhabited by Canaanites.

These cities being unacceptable to him (1 Kings 9:12-13 ), he was recompensed in some other way, and Solomon took control of them in his own hands and peopled them with Israelites (2 Chronicles 8:2 ).

THE LEVY (1 Kings 9:15-25 )

The dedication of the temple seems to close at verse 25, which is why the preceding verses about the levy are included in this lesson, though their exact bearing upon it may not appear at first sight. Perhaps the connection is discovered by going back to 1 Kings 5:13 and the following verses.

However, the reason for the levy of both men and money is clear from the many great works Solomon undertook as indicated in this chapter. Observe that the people levied upon (1 Kings 9:20-22 ) were the Canaanites who had not been subdued or exterminated at the conquest. (See 2 Chronicles 2:18 .) As prisoners of war they did the drudgery, while the men of Israel had the more honorable employment.


1. At what period of the year did this ceremony occur?

2. What evidence have we that the Mosaic tabernacle had been preserved all this time?

3. Have you read Hebrews 9:4 , and if so, how would you explain it?

4. How did God indicate His acceptance of the work?

5. Memorize Psalms 122:0 .

6. How would you explain the ministering of the king on this occasion?

7. Name the subjects of the seven petitions of Solomon’s prayer.

8. Why did Solomon make levies of men and money at this time?

9. Who were especially levied upon and why?

10. With what general statement of Solomon’s religious spirit does the lesson close?

Verses 26-28


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 9". Gray's Concise Bible Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jgc/1-kings-9.html. 1897-1910.
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