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Bible Commentaries

Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible

1 Kings 4

Verse 19

1 Kings 4:19. And he was the only officer Each officer presided over his land or province. Houbigant.

Verse 21

1 Kings 4:21. And Solomon reigned over all kingdoms This would be better rendered, Solomon reigned over all the kingdoms or provinces which were from the river, &c. 1:e. from the Euphrates to the Nile. The bounds of his kingdom were, the Euphrates to the east; the country of the Philistines, which bordered upon the Mediterranean sea, to the west; and Egypt to the south; so that he had the kingdoms of Syria, Damascus, Moab, and Ammon, which lay between Euphrates and the Mediterranean; as, indeed, without such a number of tributary kingdoms, we cannot conceive how the country of Israel could have furnished such a constant supply of provisions and other things necessary for the support of this prince's grandeur. We have, in this description of the extent and peace of Solomon's kingdom, an ample completion of God's promises to Abraham.

Verse 23

1 Kings 4:23. And fatted fowl See Nehemiah 5:18.

Verse 26

1 Kings 4:26. And Solomon had forty thousand stalls of horses In 2Ch 9:25 he is said to have had four thousand stalls. The smaller number, according to Houbigant and the best critics, is to be preferred. See Houbigant's notes, and Kennicott's 1st Dissert. p. 133.

Verse 28

1 Kings 4:28. Straw for the horses See Jdg 19:21 whence there is room to think, that this was not straw to litter with. The litter now used for horses, &c. in the east, is their own dung, dried in the sun, and bruised between the hands, which is heaped up again in the morning, and in the summer sprinkled with fresh water to keep it from corrupting. Observations, p. 209.

REFLECTIONS.—1. Solomon's kingdom was prodigiously extensive: not only Israel submitted to his gentle sway, but all the nations which his father had conquered by arms; nor did any of them think of struggling against an administration so wise and equitable. Note; More extensive is the dominion of the Prince of Peace, even from pole to pole; and those who know the blessings of his government count their service perfect freedom.

2. The people of Israel and Judah were immensely numerous, and lived in affluence. Their families grew like flocks, according to the promise, Genesis 22:17. Safe and secure from all their enemies, they sat every man under his vine and his fig-tree, their property secure, their provisions abundant, and their hearts filled with joy and gladness, in the enjoyment of the blessings that God had bestowed upon them. Note; More numerous far are God's spiritual Israel, more secure their portion, more substantially abiding their joys; their kingdom is not meat and drink, but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.

3. Vast was the daily provision for Solomon's table, sufficient to serve, at two pounds of bread each, besides meat, no less than 29,160 men. Our great Solomon supplies a more numerous family with daily bread, and this not that bread which perisheth, but which endureth to everlasting life.

Verse 29

1 Kings 4:29. Largeness of heart, even as the sand that is on the sea-shore That is, says Calmet, as one cannot count the number of the sands of the sea, so neither could one comprehend the extent or the depth of his wisdom: or, as the sands of the sea are innumerable, so the vast capacity of his genius could comprehend innumerable different objects without confusion and disorder. We may take largeness of heart for grandeur of soul, magnanimity, generosity, liberality. Lord Bacon observes, that as the land upon the sea-shore incloses a great body of waters, so Solomon's mind contained an ocean of knowledge.

Verse 30

1 Kings 4:30. Solomon's wisdom excelled, &c.— There were three nations in the east of Canaan, which were very famous for their wisdom and erudition: the Chaldeans beyond the Euphrates, the Persians beyond the Tigris, and the Arabians on the nearer side of the Euphrates, a little towards the south: but whether the Persians and Chaldeans were remarkable for their learning in Solomon's days, is much doubted among commentators. The book of Job sufficiently shews, that the Arabians (for of that nation was Job and his friends) were famous for their learning in ancient times: and as to the Chaldeans and other Oriental people, since the sons of Noah took up their habitation about Babylon and the neighbouring countries, it is reasonable to suppose, that where mankind first began to settle themselves into regular societies, there arts and sciences first began to appear. The Egyptians, however, pretend to precedency in this and several other accomplishments. They say, that the Chaldeans received the principles of philosophy at first from a colony which came from Egypt; and indeed Diodorus makes mention of such a colony, conducted by Belus. But the Chaldeans, on the other hand, maintain, that it was from them that the Egyptians received their first instructions, and, according to some, that Abraham was the person who first communicated to the Chaldeans the knowledge of astronomy and other sciences. However this be, Solomon received from God a perfect knowledge of all that useful and solid learning for which the eastern people and the Egyptians were justly famed; for, (as it follows,) he was a great moral philosopher, a great natural philosopher, and an excellent poet. It is uncertain who were the three persons mentioned in the next verse. It is generally supposed, that Ethan is the same with him who is mentioned at the head of some of the Psalms, particularly Psalms 89:0.

Verse 32

1 Kings 4:32. And he spake three thousand proverbs, &c.— Josephus, who loved to magnify every thing that concerned Solomon, instead of three thousand proverbs, tells us that he composed three thousand books of proverbs. The greater certainly is our loss, if the thing were credible; because all the proverbs of Solomon which we have, are comprized in the book which goes under that name, and in his Ecclesiastes. Of his numerous poems we have none remaining except his song of songs, unless the 127th Psalm (which in its Hebrew title is ascribed to him) may be supposed to be one of them. There have been some spurious pieces attributed to him. See Le Clerc, and Calmet.

Verse 33

1 Kings 4:33. He spake of trees, &c.— The several books which treated of the nature and virtue of animals as well as plants, are supposed to have been lost in the Babylonish captivity; but Eusebius, as he is quoted by Anastasius, informs us, that king Hezekiah, seeing the abuse which his subjects made of Solomon's works, by placing too much confidence in the remedies which he prescribed, and the natural secrets which he discovered, thought proper to suppress them all. Notwithstanding this, since his time many wicked and pernicious books concerning the secrets of magic, medicines, and inchantment, have appeared under the name of this prince, in order to gain the more credit and sanction.

Verse 34

1 Kings 4:34. And there came of all people to hear, &c. from all kings It is a conceit of one of the Jewish interpreters, that all the kings of the neighbouring countries went to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and that, upon their return, their subjects came to them, to hear what he had said: but, as we hear of none, except the queen of Sheba, who came to visit Solomon, we cannot but think, that if any other crowned heads had resorted to him, the history would have recorded them as well as her. The words denote no more, than that the kings of all the neighbouring nations sent their ambassadors; and people of every land, who had heard of Solomon's fame, came to see him: for, as an ingenious writer observes, "no spectacle is more lovely and grateful than a wise and good king: all men flock to see him, and to partake of his pious and prudent mind. They who see him are loth to leave him, and they who hear of him, are as desirous to see him as children are to find their unknown father." Dion. Prusoeus, Orat. de Regno.

REFLECTIONS.—Vast were his dominions, prodigious his revenues; but greater than both were his treasures of wisdom.

1. God gave him an understanding deep as the great abyss of waters, and large as the sand on the shore, capacious, distinct, and comprehensive. Chaldea and Egypt afforded none equal to or like him; and the wisest of his cotemporaries acknowledged his superiority. Note; (1.) Every good gift cometh from above. God teacheth man knowledge. (2.) Uncommon abilities are a greater obligation to use them with uncommon diligence to the glory of the giver.

2. His productions were a proof of the wisdom that he possessed. As a sage, he spake three thousand proverbs, wise sayings, and observations, for moral conduct. As a poet, his compositions were numerous as exquisite, amounting to a thousand and five. As a philosopher, he dived into the secrets of nature, described all herbs, birds, beasts, with their nature, use, and qualities. Note; (1.) That is valuable wisdom which communicates its discoveries for general utility. (2.) A poetic genius is a blessing, when, like Solomon's, our songs speak of the beauties of our Immanuel.

3. The fame of such wisdom could not but spread abroad, and, curious to hear, or desirous to learn, people from all regions flocked to his court; and distant kings sent their ambassadors, by personal converse to bring them specimens of his superlative understanding. Note; They who would be wise to salvation, must go to Jesus to learn, and they will find that a greater than Solomon is there.

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Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 1 Kings 4". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/tcc/1-kings-4.html. 1801-1803.