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This chapter opens with the relation of some of the first events which took place in the beginning of Solomon's reign. His marriage with Pharoah's daughter. God's appearance to him in a dream. His choice. And the chapter concludes with an account of his sound judgment, in deciding a matter of controversy between two harlots.
1 Kings 3:1
(1) ¶ And Solomon made affinity with Pharaoh king of Egypt, and took Pharaoh's daughter, and brought her into the city of David, until he had made an end of building his own house, and the house of the LORD, and the wall of Jerusalem round about.
This marriage with a stranger to the house of Israel, appears to have been a very strange event: and yet we do not find it reprobated. Some have thought that before the marriage took place, she was proselyted to the true religion. Be this as it may, from the wonderful book which he wrote upon this occasion, (as is said) the Song of Songs, which is Solomon's, we cannot but hope that the hand of the Lord was in it. And it is remarkable, and well worthy the Reader's attention, that the strange gods, which it is said in the after period of his life his idolatrous wives and concubines led him to, are not said to have come from Egypt. See 1 Kings 11:1-5 . And it is yet worthy of further remark by the Reader, that the prophet Isaiah speaketh of Egypt as the third with Israel, and the Lord of hosts shall bless them together, saying, Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of mine hands, and Israel mine inheritance. See Isaiah 19:24-25 . But may we not go yet one step further on this subject, and observe, that as Solomon was an eminent type of Jesus, may not this marriage with Pharaoh's daughter be considered as a figure of Christ's union with the Gentile church?
(2) Only the people sacrificed in high places, because there was no house built unto the name of the LORD, until those days.
This sacrificing on high places is uniformly spoken of in the Old Testament scripture as improper, and contrary to the divine appointment. Deuteronomy 12:2-6 .
(3) And Solomon loved the LORD, walking in the statutes of David his father: only he sacrificed and burnt incense in high places.
This is a beautiful, but short account of Solomon. He loved the Lord. A volume could not say more. Reader! do not forget that the love of any man towards the Lord is an evidence of the Lord's love to him; for the apostle saith, we love God because he first loved us. And as the Lord sent by Nathan on the birth of Solomon, and called his name Jedediah, which signifies beloved of the Lord; this therefore is abundantly plain. 2 Samuel 12:25 .
(4) And the king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there; for that was the great high place: a thousand burnt offerings did Solomon offer upon that altar.
The Reader will do well to compare the parallel history of Solomon, as we have it related in the opening of the second book of the Chronicles. There we learn that this high place at Gibeon was the proper consecrated place of worship, the tabernacle of the congregation being there. So that this high place differed most essentially from the general acceptation of what is called high places in the Old Testament. See 2 Chronicles 1:3 .
(5) ¶ In Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, Ask what I shall give thee.
The Old Testament scriptures hold forth to us many examples of this kind, of the Lord's appearing to his servants in dreams and visions of the night. But, Reader, do you suppose that the chosen people of the Lord were more favoured on this account than they are now? Since the Son of God came down and tabernacled among us, was it to make our privileges less? If so, might we not say, " Lord! thou appearedst to Solomon and others in days of old, and didst bid them ask of thee blessings. Bring us back to these darker dispensations again!" - Reader, what say you to this? Could you use such language? And yet doth not, in fact, everyone in reality say this, and even worse, who doth not by faith keep up a constant communion, through Jesus, with our covenant God in him, with full assurance, according to Jesus's own promise, that whatsoever we ask the Father in his name, he will give it. John 16:23 . Did we but believe, heartily and cordially believe, the record that God hath given of his dear Son, we should, as heartily and cordially believe also, that all that Jesus hath promised is yea and amen in, him. So far, therefore, is it from our privileges being lessened since redemption-work was finished by Jesus, that they are increased beyond all conception of increase. And, instead of the Lord now appearing to his people in visions and dreams of the night, he manifests himself to them by faith in the clearest tokens of noonday. If a man love me, (saith Jesus) he will keep my words; and my Father will love him, and we will come and make our abode with him. And so of the Spirit of truth, the promise is the same, though the world cannot receive him, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him; but ye know him, for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. Oh! precious, precious consideration, in proof of the indwelling residence of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, in the hearts of the Lord's people! See John 14:23 and John 14:17 .
(6) And Solomon said, Thou hast showed unto thy servant David my father great mercy, according as he walked before thee in truth, and in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with thee; and thou hast kept for him this great kindness, that thou hast given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day. (7) And now, O LORD my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in. (8) And thy servant is in the midst of thy people which thou hast chosen, a great people, that cannot be numbered nor counted for multitude. (9) Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?
How delightful a petition this was of Solomon's! how different from men of the world! and how evident that his mind was under divine teaching. Reader! do not forget that we cannot pray as we ought, as the apostle saith, unless the Spirit teach us; whatever we say in prayer to our God in Jesus, God, by his blessed Spirit, must first say to us. Romans 8:26 . Under this heavenly teacher, what an high mercy it is, in the silence of the night, or amidst the tumults of the day, to have our souls going forth in prayer or praise to the Lord! David hath a beautiful thought on the subject when he saith, I will bless the Lord, who hath given me counsel; my reins also instruct me in the night seasons. Psalms 16:7 . Behold, Reader, the modesty, the humbleness, and teachable mind of Solomon. He calls himself a little child; one that knoweth not how to go out or come in, in the midst of such an enlightened nation as Israel. How sweet is it to behold ministers, both in church and state, thus diffident, and seeking grace from the Lord!
(10) And the speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing. (11) And God said unto him, Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life; neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies; but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment; (12) Behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee. (13) And I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches, and honour: so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee all thy days. (14) And if thou wilt walk in my ways, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as thy father David did walk, then I will lengthen thy days.
Do observe, Reader, how the Lord expresseth his approbation of what is in fact at the same time the precious workings of his own grace in their hearts. We have another beautiful example of the same kind in the gospel, where our Lord Jesus is said to have marveled at the faith of the centurion, meaning, that he called upon those around to take notice of it; when it was Jesus himself, as the author and finisher of faith, literally and truly wrought it in the poor man's heart. Matthew 8:10 . Do observe further, the bounty of our God in his gifts to Solomon. The Lord not only gave him wisdom and understanding, and all other blessings suited to his need for his exalted station; but, because he had passed by what men of the world would most covet, the Lord superadded all those unasked. But when you and I, Reader, have paid all due respect to the subject, as it concerned Solomon king of Israel, let us look at the subject a little more closely, and see whether a greater than Solomon is not typified here. Do I not see in what is said Jesus, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge? Solomon, as his type, had wisdom beyond all the kings of the earth. But that, spiritually considered, Jesus was implied in the whole, is evident from what the Lord promised by vision, when David, speaking by the Spirit of prophecy, declared in another scripture, Thou spakest in vision to the Holy One, and saidst, I have laid help upon one that is mighty, I have exalted one chosen out of the people. His seed will I make to endure forever, and his throne as the days of heaven. Compare this with Psalms 89:19-37 , and Psalms 72:0 . throughout.
(15) And Solomon awoke; and, behold, it was a dream. And he came to Jerusalem, and stood before the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and offered up burnt offerings, and offered peace offerings, and made a feast to all his servants.
Reader! it is impossible to enter into the full apprehension of what the feelings of Solomon were, unless, like him, our own souls have known somewhat of the refreshments of grace. But oh! the mind of man is certainly furnished by its great Author, when in a state of regeneration, for such manifestations of divine love. The patriarch Jacob's history affordeth a most delightful instance of the kind. Genesis 28:11-18 .
(16) ¶ Then came there two women, that were harlots, unto the king, and stood before him. (17) And the one woman said, O my lord, I and this woman dwell in one house; and I was delivered of a child with her in the house. (18) And it came to pass the third day after that I was delivered, that this woman was delivered also: and we were together; there was no stranger with us in the house, save we two in the house. (19) And this woman's child died in the night; because she overlaid it. (20) And she arose at midnight, and took my son from beside me, while thine handmaid slept, and laid it in her bosom, and laid her dead child in my bosom. (21) And when I rose in the morning to give my child suck, behold, it was dead: but when I had considered it in the morning, behold, it was not my son, which I did bear. (22) And the other woman said, Nay; but the living is my son, and the dead is thy son. And this said, No; but the dead is thy son, and the living is my son. Thus they spake before the king. (23) Then said the king, The one saith, This is my son that liveth, and thy son is the dead: and the other saith, Nay; but thy son is the dead, and my son is the living. (24) And the king said, Bring me a sword. And they brought a sword before the king. (25) And the king said, Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one, and half to the other. (26) Then spake the woman whose the living child was unto the king, for her bowels yearned upon her son, and she said, O my lord, give her the living child, and in no wise slay it. But the other said, Let it be neither mine nor thine, but divide it. (27) Then the king answered and said, Give her the living child, and in no wise slay it: she is the mother thereof.
Here was an opportunity very speedily afforded, after the Lord's pouring out an understanding heart upon Solomon, for the exercise of it. No doubt, it became a very nice point, as there were no eye wit nesses to determine whose representation was true. Solomon showed his penetration by the proposed division of the living child. Not that the king would really have put it to the experiment; but it was to decide by calling forth the tender feeling of the real mother. The pretended mother, in a moment, plainly proved that she could never be the mother of a child, to consent to the slaughter of it for division. I would only desire the Reader to remark, the melancholy circumstance which those wretched women called harlots have, in a multitude of instances, shown by the willful murder of their base children. In order to hide their disgrace from men, they bid defiance to God: and in what nature shudders at, the murdering of their own poor, unconscious babes, have sought relief from their shame of uncleanness. Alas! what a state our nature is sunk to! There is another instruction we ought to gather from this view of the subject, namely, that while we behold this harlot with bowels yearning over her child for the salvation of the body; how ought it to teach every true parent to feel for the salvation of the soul? Oh! how lost to all bowels of compassion must those wretched parents be, who can look on and see the sword of God's offended justice uplifted, and ready to fall on their children, by reason of sin; and yet send forth no cry, offer up no prayer; nay, remain themselves and their children unconscious also, that without an interest in Jesus, who, like another Solomon, may stop the sword from its office, they must perish forever! Oh! precious Jesus! how is it possible for me to read this instance of the sword ready to devour, and not call to mind how the Lord Jehovah commanded the sword to awake and smite thee, who art fellow to the Lord of Hosts, that the Lord might lay his hand upon the little ones? Surely when thou wast smitten we escaped, and by thy stripes we were healed. Zechariah 13:7 ; Isaiah 53:0 .
(28) And all Israel heard of the judgment which the king had judged; and they feared the king: for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him, to do judgment.
Well might all Israel admire Solomon's wisdom on this occasion. And well may you and I, Reader, admire and adore Jesus, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. He is indeed both the wisdom of God and the power of his salvation, to every poor sinner that believeth; and the grand object and design of redemption is, to display the grace and goodness of Jehovah in this stupendous work, to the intent, that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God. So that every heart interested in this great salvation may well exclaim, Oh! the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! Ephesians 3:10 ; Romans 11:33 .
Oh! how precious the testimony the Holy Ghost hath given in this chapter to Solomon, that he loved the Lord! wilt thou, merciful God, shed forth a portion, and let it be as large a portion as my Soul can find capaciousness to admit, of the same heavenly principle in my poor heart also. Oh! dearest Jesus! give me grace to say, though, like Peter, a thousand actions seem to have denied it, Lord, thou knowest all things! those knowest that I love thee.
And wilt thou, Holy Spirit, visit me in the visions of the night! shall mine eyes prevent the night watches, that I may be occupied in thy word! will the Father of mercies come! will the Lord Jesus come; agreeably to that promise, and make his abode in my soul? Doth God indeed speak to me? Doth he graciously say, Ask what I shall give thee? Precious Jesus! give me thyself; for, having thee, I shall possess all things. Lord, it is not thy salvation only I desire; but thee. Not thy gifts only, but thyself also: not thy grace only, but thy person too: not that I may have life only, but that thou mayest be my life, and my portion forever. Yes! dearest Jesus! my soul through thy blessed teaching me these sweet lessons, my soul cannot rest short of anything but thyself. Since thou wert first pleased to look upon me, and speak to me, and show me thyself, my heart is not my own; thou hath drawn it up to heaven; and now, Lord, keep it forever, and give me thine. And since God my Father, and all his fulness is in thee; all joy in thee; all happiness in thee; I desire no happiness but thee. Witness for me, ye ministering spirits, sent forth to minister unto them who are the heirs of salvation; Jesus is my all, and in all. Whom have I in heaven but thee, and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. My flesh and my heart fail, but thou art the strength of my heart, and my portion forever!
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on 1 Kings 3". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25