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This chapter relates to us Solomon's splendour and greatness, An account of his princes; his twelve officers; the peace and extensiveness of his kingdom; and of his great wisdom.
1 Kings 4:1
(1) ¶ So king Solomon was king over all Israel.
This is spoken of in contradistinction to his father, who in the beginning of his reign had but part of Israel. And perhaps in contradistinction from all his successors, Solomon reigned over all Israel. And so doth Jesus over all his people, notwithstanding the malice of the enemy. All power is his in heaven and in earth. He is king of nations as well as king of saints.
(2) And these were the princes which he had; Azariah the son of Zadok the priest, (3) Elihoreph and Ahiah, the sons of Shisha, scribes; Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud, the recorder. (4) And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was over the host: and Zadok and Abiathar were the priests: (5) And Azariah the son of Nathan was over the officers: and Zabud the son of Nathan was principal officer, and the king's friend: (6) And Ahishar was over the household: and Adoniram the son of Abda was over the tribute.
Honourable testimony is given to his princes. But what were Solomon's princes to the princes of Jesus? Reader! think what an unspeakable privilege that is, which maketh poor sinners kings and priests to God and the Father! Sweetly Hannah sung over this when she said, he raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifted up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory: 1 Samuel 2:8 . And yet, if possible, sweeter still the apostle sounds an higher note, when speaking to believers in Jesus he saith, But ye are a chosen generation; a royal priesthood; an holy nation; a peculiar people; that he should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light! 1 Peter 2:9 .
(7) And Solomon had twelve officers over all Israel, which provided victuals for the king and his household: each man his month in a year made provision. (8) And these are their names: The son of Hur, in mount Ephraim: (9) The son of Dekar, in Makaz, and in Shaalbim, and Bethshemesh, and Elonbethhanan: (10) The son of Hesed, in Aruboth; to him pertained Sochoh, and all the land of Hepher: (11) The son of Abinadab, in all the region of Dor; which had Taphath the daughter of Solomon to wife: (12) Baana the son of Ahilud; to him pertained Taanach and Megiddo, and all Bethshean, which is by Zartanah beneath Jezreel, from Bethshean to Abelmeholah, even unto the place that is beyond Jokneam: (13) The son of Geber, in Ramothgilead; to him pertained the towns of Jair the son of Manasseh, which are in Gilead; to him also pertained the region of Argob, which is in Bashan, threescore great cities with walls and brasen bars: (14) Ahinadab the son of Iddo had Mahanaim: (15) Ahimaaz was in Naphtali; he also took Basmath the daughter of Solomon to wife: (16) Baanah the son of Hushai was in Asher and in Aloth: (17) Jehoshaphat the son of Paruah, in Issachar: (18) Shimei the son of Elah, in Benjamin: (19) Geber the son of Uri was in the country of Gilead, in the country of Sihon king of the Amorites, and of Og king of Bashan; and he was the only officer which was in the land.
Honourable account is also given of the purveyors of Solomon's household, whose office it was to provide sustenance for the king's table. Blessed Jesus! what an honour hast thou conferred on the ministers and stewards of thy mysteries, that they, as Scribes well instructed in thy kingdom, should bring out of thy treasury things new and old. Oh grant them grace, dearest Lord, all whom thou hast called and appointed to the work, that they may be found as is required of stewards, faithful! 1 Corinthians 4:1-2 .
(20) ¶ Judah and Israel were many, as the sand which is by the sea in multitude, eating and drinking, and making merry. (21) And Solomon reigned over all kingdoms from the river unto the land of the Philistines, and unto the border of Egypt: they brought presents, and served Solomon all the days of his life.
Perhaps the splendour and greatness of Solomon's person, court, and subjects, were never equaled by any prince. He not only governed his own people, but other nations were tributary to him. Now was fulfilled the promise made to Abraham, that his seed should be as the stars of heaven, and as the sand of the sea for multitude. Genesis 22:17 . But delightful as this relation is, as an history, the glory of it is nothing compared to the spiritual sense, considered with an eye to Jesus and his kingdom. If the Reader will read Psalms 72:0 with this chapter, and mark the features of both in reference to the Lord Jesus, he will discover that though in that psalm many things said in it may be applied to Solomon; many more in it cannot be applicable at all to him; and must be applied to the Lord Jesus Christ. David's prayer for Solomon, as the title of that Psalm expresses it, was therefore prophetically delivered in reference to Jesus. Solomon's reign indeed was a peaceable reign, a wise administration, and he a blessing to his subjects. But of Solomon it never could be said that he should redeem the souls of his people; that prayer should be made to him; and that his name should be continued as long as the sun. Reader! behold, I beseech you, in this delightful account of Solomon's splendour, glory, government, and the happiness of his people, the typical representation of our Jesus; who is not only king of Zion, but the desire of all nations; unto whom, either in love or fear, every knee shall sooner or later bow, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. The mirth of Judah and Israel may serve to teach us also what joy and gladness of heart constitutes the Redeemer's kingdom: his consisteth not indeed in meat and drink, but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. Romans 14:17 .
(22) And Solomon's provision for one day was thirty measures of fine flour, and threescore measures of meal, (23) Ten fat oxen, and twenty oxen out of the pastures, and an hundred sheep, beside harts, and roebucks, and fallowdeer, and fatted fowl. (24) For he had dominion over all the region on this side the river, from Tiphsah even to Azzah, over all the kings on this side the river: and he had peace on all sides round about him.
The provision for Solomon means for his court and servants. But what an astonishing allowance, and this not for an occasional feast, but for every day's table. One of the old writers hath computed that the bread and flesh here set down would afford ample food, even as a feast, for nearly fifty thousand men. But Reader! after having our astonishment carried to the utmost stretch, in considering such a daily supply for such a multitude; how infinitely short doth this fall of the daily supply of our Jesus's table. He openeth his hand, and filleth all things living, both in providence and grace, with plenteousness! What a thought! David, after enumerating the several works of inanimate creation, speaks in one of his psalms of the animated part, and breaks out into those devout expressions; these wait all upon thee that thou mayest give them their meat in due season. Psalms 104:27 . Reader! let us cherish this thought, for it is a very sweet and refreshing one. Jesus feeds his people. Jesus keeps a daily, nay an hourly court: a constant table. He still receiveth sinners, and eateth with them. He will not remit the bounties of his house, neither will he send the poor and the hungry empty away. If, dearest Lord! in the days of thy flesh thou didst supply the wants of thousands in the wilderness, by multiplying a few loaves and fishes into ample food for all; surely thou wilt not relax in thy mercy now, when all power is thine in heaven and in earth! Thou wilt feed thine hidden ones with the bread that is handed in secret, and give them to eat of that bread which perisheth not in the using, but endureth unto everlasting life. Lord! (I would say for myself and for all thy people), evermore give us this bread, which is thyself. John 6:33-35 .
(25) And Judah and Israel dwelt safely, every man under his vine and under his fig tree, from Daniel even to Beersheba, all the days of Solomon.
It is charming to see the safety and security of Solomon's subjects. But what is this compared to the everlasting safety and security of Jesus's servants! how beautifully the prophet sings of this, looking into gospel days, and in reference to our Jesus. See Hosea 14:7 .
(26) And Solomon had forty thousand stalls of horses for his chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen. (27) And those officers provided victual for king Solomon, and for all that came unto king Solomon's table, every man in his month: they lacked nothing. (28) Barley also and straw for the horses and dromedaries brought they unto the place where the officers were, every man according to his charge.
We may (still carrying on the idea of Solomon's splendour) have a conception of the greatness of his equipage by the number of his horses. But how much more interesting is the view of Jesus' glory, of whom the sacred writer tells us, the chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels, and the Lord is among them as in the holy place of Sinai. Psalms 68:18 . If it were not for swelling this commentary to too great a bulk, I should beg the Reader to indulge me with the throwing in a few thoughts on what Jesus saith to his church, in that sweet song Solomon wrote under inspiration, in allusion to this very subject of the horses of those days. I have compared thee, O my love, to a company of horses in Pharaoh's chariots. Song of Solomon 1:9 . Believers, in the eye of Jesus, are chosen, select, beautifully singled out as a chosen generation and a royal priesthood, by redeeming grace, as the choicest horses are marked for the royal chariots. Moreover, they are purchased at an high price; for believers are bought with no less a price than the blood of Christ. Horses also are costly. We read of a single one of Solomon's valued at 150 shekels of silver: See 1 Kings 10:29 . But how precious in the sight of God are the souls of his people! and as the horses of Pharaoh's chariots we may well suppose were properly fed, trained, and not used in ordinary service; so the people of God are fed with the bread of life, trained by divine grace, and employed only in the ways and commandments of the Lord, whose service is perfect freedom. But I must not enlarge on those points.
(29) ¶ And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and largeness of heart, even as the sand that is on the sea shore. (30) And Solomon's wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the east country, and all the wisdom of Egypt. (31) For he was wiser than all men; than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, and Chalcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol: and his fame was in all nations round about.
Here we arrive at the pinnacle of Solomon's glory; the wisdom and largeness of heart which the Lord gave him, not simply in human sciences, though here we find he surpassed the most eminent for learning among the Egyptians and Chaldeans; but Solomon excelled in that wisdom which maketh wise unto salvation. And Reader! do observe the expression; it is said that God gave it to him. Yes! it is not to be acquired. It is not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord. Zechariah 4:6 . But Reader! when you have paid all due respect to what is here said concerning Solomon's wisdom; think only what a shadow the whole of it formed of that, of which the substance is in the person of Jesus, who is emphatically called, by way of summing up his character, Wisdom itself; and in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Proverbs 8:0 throughout. Colossians 2:3 . Oh! thou who art the wisdom of God and the power of God for salvation to thy people! how fully doth all wisdom centre in thy person, and manifest itself in all the saving offices, relations, and characters, by which thou art made known to thy people! and Reader! while you and I are looking up to our only wise God and Saviour, as the apostle Jude his servant justly calls him, let us ask for a portion of that wisdom which maketh wise unto salvation, and that our souls may know the precious assurance, and rejoice in it, that he is made of God to us both wisdom and righteousness, sanctification, and redemption; that all our glorying may be in the Lord. 1 Corinthians 1:30-31
(32) And he spake three thousand proverbs: and his songs were a thousand and five. (33) And he spake of trees, from the cedar tree that is in Lebanon even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall: he spake also of beasts, and of fowl, and of creeping things, and of fishes.
Whether the book of Proverbs which bears his name, or any part of it, is in the number of those 3000; or whether the song of songs, which also he wrote, is among the 1005 of his songs; is not easy to say. It should seem that, as we have reason to hope all Solomon's writings were to the divine glory, the sacred historian had these in view which are divinely inspired. And especially, as Solomon is said to have been wiser than Ethan and Heman, some of whose writings also were inspired, and are handed down to us in the collection of the book of psalms, as maschil or matter of instruction. See Psalms 88:0 and Psalms 89:0 . whose names in the title those psalms bear. But certainly both in human and divine learning, the general tendency of this account is to point out Solomon's pre-eminency.
(34) And there came of all people to hear the wisdom of Solomon, from all kings of the earth, which had heard of his wisdom.
What honour the Lord put upon Solomon! but what glory hath the Father given to our Solomon, his dear and ever blessed Son! in whom it hath pleased him that all fulness should dwell, and to whom all the kings of the earth, and all nations, must come to receive out of his fulness, and grace for grace. Oh! may my soul come and turn aside from all created wisdom, all the powers of human knowledge and learning, to behold in thee, thou blessed Jesus, that wisdom which eclipses all earthly science, and puts out, by thy meridian brightness, the glow-worm shining of nature's glory. Let me behold thy rays, let me be brought under thy wings, thou Sun of Righteousness, for in thy light shall I see light! Psalms 36:9 .
IN beholding the greatness and majesty of Solomon, as this chapter represents him; his riches, his courts, his retinue, his servants, and more especially his great wisdom; I desire to ascribe all due praise and glory to the Lord God of Solomon, in distinguishing his chosen with such marks of his love and favor; and to bless so bountiful a God in having given such power unto men. But from the court of Solomon, and all his grandeur, my soul desires rapidly to take wing, and flee by faith to the court of heaven, and behold Jesus in the midst of the throne, as possessing all power in heaven and in earth. What was Solomon in all his glory compared to him who maketh the clouds his chariot, and walketh upon the wings of the wind? Nay, Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed in point of beauty like even the lilies of the field. But thy throne, blessed Jesus, as one with the Father, in the nature of the Godhead, was and is thine, from everlasting, and so must be to all eternity. And as the mediator, thou art in full right of the throne forever and ever. Methinks the thought of Solomon's court, prompts my soul to contemplate with the eye of faith the unfailing splendors of thine. Yes! heavenly King! my soul beholds thee as king over all; God blessed forever. I see thy princes like Solomon's. I view thine officers whom thou hast appointed over thine household, to give thy people meat in due season. I behold thee encircled with all the innumerable host of angels; the spirits of just men made perfect; the noble army of martyrs; the glorious company of apostles; the venerable host of patriarchs; the sacred band of prophets; the multitude which no man can number, who have come out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb; the church above triumphant; the church below still militant; all Judah and Israel, and the nations that are saved by thy blood: all! all! are of thy court, and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour unto it. To thee then, King of kings, and Lord of lords, do, come to hear thy wisdom, to see thy glory, to adore thy name, and to bow my knee before thee, as my Saviour, my king, and my God.
Oh! then blessed Jesus, do thou maintain thy kingdom in my heart. There reign, there rule, there govern; there give out of thy fulness and of thy wisdom. And while the services of every creature, the praises of every angel, and the love and affection of every redeemed soul, become thy just revenue; oh! Lord God, let the poor worm that is now looking up to thee partake of thy bounty, and be enabled to give to thee of thy praise; till from living under the grace of thy courts here upon earth, thou shalt call me home to live eternally under the more immediate view of thy glory, and the everlasting enjoyment of thy presence in thy courts above; where the city hath neither the need of the sun, nor of the moon to shine in it; for the glory of the Father doth lighten it, and thou dearest Lamb of God, art the light thereof. Amen! Amen!
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on 1 Kings 4". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany