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Bible Commentaries

Grant's Commentary on the Bible

1 Kings 9

Verses 1-28



The Lord had appeared to Solomon before he built the temple (ch.3:5), now at its completion the Lord appears again to him. There was a danger of Solomon's being puffed up with pride because he was so greatly blessed as the king of the most illustrious nation on earth and had built the most magnificent building that has ever been built. Thus, the appearance of the Lord to him was necessary to give him a sober and subdued realization that he was only a servant of the God of Israel.

God assured Solomon that He had heard his prayer (v.3) and had consecrated the temple as His earthly dwelling, so that His eyes and His heart would be there perpetually. The significance of this consecration of the temple is tremendous. Jerusalem was established as the center of all God's dealings on earth because the temple there is the dwelling of God. Though at the present time the temple is no longer standing, yet the Lord's eyes remain there in perpetuity. He will eventually restore the temple.

The Lord's promise to Solomon at this time is however conditional on Solomon's walking before the Lord in integrity of heart, keeping God's commandments, His statutes and judgments. If Solomon did so, then God would establish his kingdom over Israel forever, and he would not fail to have a descendant to sit on the throne of Israel.

If Solomon or his sons turned from God's commandments, however, and descended to the level of worshiping false gods, God promised just as firmly that He would cut off Israel from the land He had given them and would bring the temple down to nothing, so that other nations would consider Israel with contempt, asking why the Lord had done such a thing to His people. The answer would be given them that Israel was guilty of forsaking the Lord after having been so greatly blessed by Him. Turning away to serve other gods, they brought such a calamity on themselves (vs.6-9).

These verses (6-9) are clearly prophetic of what would happen to Israel, to Jerusalem and the temple. For centuries now Israel has continued in a condition of disobedience to God and have forfeited all right to ever have a king descended from Solomon. In fact, though Solomon is in the official genealogy of Christ (Matthew 1:6-40.1.7), yet Christ actually descended through Nathan, the son of David (1 Ki 3:31). Thus God's promise to Israel stands, but apart from Solomon's line, except that officially Christ is Messiah through Joseph, who was not actually His father. The wisdom of God is clearly and beautifully seen in considering the genealogy of Matthew which begins with Abraham and ends with Christ's being the official son of Joseph; and comparing this with the genealogy in Luke which proceeds backward from Joseph to Adam. In this the genealogy is different, indicating that Joseph is only mentioned because he was the husband of Mary, the genealogy therefore being actually that of Mary.



Solomon finished building his houses in 20 years, and in appreciation of Hiram's great help in furnishing lumber and gold for the temple, Solomon gave Hiram 20 cities in the land of Galilee (vs.10-11). These cities were not pleasing to Hiram., however (v.12), and he let Solomon know that they were less than pleasing, though he did not apparently refuse them, but only asked, "What kind of cities are these which you have given me, my brother?" (vs.11-12). He named them "Cabul" which means "good for nothing."

Solomon certainly did not have God's approval in giving away these cities, for the Lord had said before, "The land shall not be sold permanently, for the land is Mine; for you are strangers and sojourners with Me" (Leviticus 25:23). Solomon had no right to give away the least part of the land, for it did not belong to him: it belongs to God. Can we today give away any part of the inheritance God has given to believers "in heavenly places"? Primarily the inheritance belongs to the Lord Jesus, who graciously shares it with us (Ephesians 1:9-49.1.11). We have no liberty to dispense with any part of it.

Hiram's displeasure with the cities illustrates the fact that unbelievers cannot understand nor appreciate the preciousness of the spiritual blessings with which believers are blessed "in heavenly places in Christ." The religious world will use such truths from the Word of God in order to boast about their religious character, but they do not value them as vital and necessary for proper living.

Hiram however, being the head of a prosperous maritime nation, could afford to be generous, just as the United States has in past years been lavish in giving or lending to other nations. Hiram gave Solomon 120 talents of gold (v.14). Of course Solomon had paid well for all the help Israel had received from Hiram in their building program. But unbelievers do not want to appear under any obligation to believers, just as believers should not put themselves under obligation to unbelievers.



In verse 15 we are told of a labor force that Solomon raised for building the temple, his own house, the Millo (a citadel, possibly a tower in the fortifications of Jerusalem), the wall of Jerusalem, Hazor, Megiddo and Gezer. These were areas that evidently needed repair, for Gezer is specially mentioned as having been captured from the Canaanites by Pharaoh king of Egypt, giving the city as a dowry to his daughter, whom Solomon married (v.16). Added to Gezer were Lower Beth Horon, Baalath and Tadmore, spoken of as a storage cities for Solomon's chariots, his cavalry and other branches of his wealthy administration (vs.17-18).

Israel had not expelled all the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites from the land, and those who were left Solomon conscripted as forced labor (vs.20-21). Thus he had full control of the country. When the Lord Jesus takes His kingdom, there will be those from the nations who will submit to Him in spite of not having genuine faith (Psalms 18:43-19.18.45).

Israelites, on the other hand, were free men, not forced laborers (v.22), just as believers today serve the Lord in willing-hearted obedience, whether in conflict or whatever service. Some of Solomon's servants were men of war, officers or captains, commanders of his chariots and of his cavalry. 550 others were officials over Solomon's work.

Why was Solomon not satisfied to have his Egyptian wife come to stay with him in his house? Instead he built a house for her. The reason he gives for this is seen in 2 Chronicles 8:11, "My wife shall not dwell in the house of David king of Israel, because the places to which the ark of the Lord has come are holy." This was formally correct, for she was a foreigner, but it shows clearly that Solomon was not morally correct in marrying her, for they could not live a normal married life.

The Millo then is spoken of as being built. This was evidently a citadel, a tower in the fortifications of Jerusalem. Solomon fortified his kingdom against the possible attacks of enemies, but he had already entertained the enemy in his kingdom by marrying an Egyptian woman!

Solomon did not at first leave God out, in fact he offered burnt offerings and peace offerings three times a year and burned incense (v.25). It is sadly true that he gradually became more and more uncaring as regards the commandments of the Lord, for his great wisdom did not protect him from evil. Yet his kingdom prospered tremendously. He built a fleet of ships near Elath on the shores of the Red Sea that he might transport valuable goods from other countries to Israel (v.26). Hiram joined him in this project by sending experienced seamen, since Tyre was a prominent sea trading country. It was not a long distance to go to Ophir, in Saudi Arabia, where, at that time, there was much gold, though now, it is reported, no gold is to be fond there at all. Perhaps Solomon obtained all the gold that was there, the amount being 420 talents, which amounts to 55,000 pounds! Having such wealth, why did he tax the people so heavily? (1 Kings 12:4).

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Bibliographical Information
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on 1 Kings 9". Grant's Commentary on the Bible. 1897-1910.