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Bible Commentaries

James Gray's Concise Bible Commentary
1 Kings 3

 

 

Verses 1-18

SOLOMON’S GREATNESS AND WISDOM

HIS EGYPTIAN ALLIANCE (1 Kings 3:1-4)

It is disappointing at the beginning to speak of that which betokens neither greatness nor wisdom on Solomon’s part, looking at it from the highest point of view. This marriage with a heathen wife was contrary to the law of God (Exodus 34:16); and while it was entered into for political reasons, and to strengthen Israel’s hands, yet in the end it weakened them, as Israel came to trust in Pharaoh more than Jehovah.

And yet Solomon loved the Lord, and served Him with the limitations named in these verses, and the Lord was longsuffering toward him as with his father David.

Some think that since Solomon was not divinely rebuked for marrying this princess, as he was later for marrying other foreigners, she may have consented to become a proselyte to the Jewish religion. It is interesting also that the Song of Songs and Psalms 45 were probably composed in her honor, although both, in the mind of the Holy Spirit, had a typical reference to the relation of Jehovah to Israel, or Christ to His Church, or both.

The “high places” in 1 Kings 3:2, were altars erected on natural or artificial eminences, on the theory that the worshipper was thus brought nearer the Deity. They had been prohibited by Moses because of their association with idolatry (Leviticus 17:3-4, etc.); but, as the temple was not yet built in Israel and the tabernacle was moved about from place to place, they seem to have been tolerated without special rebuke from God.

HIS NOBLE REQUEST (1 Kings 3:5-15)

Observe that the wisdom Solomon desired was not of the heavenly but the earthly kind (1 Kings 3:9). Noble it was, and yet Solomon might have had something still more worth while had he sought it. How does God’s answer illustrate Ephesians 3:20?

Solomon’s expression “I am but a little child” (1 Kings 3:7) is not to be taken in the sense of years but experience. He was probably twenty at this period.

HIS STATE AND RETINUE (1 Kings 4:1-28)

How do 1 Kings 4:11 and 1 Kings 4:15 indicate that this chapter is dealing with a later period in Solomon’s reign?

Observe the development of the kingdom at this time as indicated by these officials. The word “priest” (1 Kings 4:2), it is thought, should be rendered “prince,” so that Azariah was probably prime minister; then follow three secretaries of state, a historiographer, a military commander in chief, a high priest, provincial governors, a confidential adviser, a steward or chamberlain, a state treasurer or collector of customs, etc. (1 Kings 4:2-6).

Afterward local revenue officers are named, for the taxes raised were in the products of the soil rather than money. These were put in store cities in the different localities until required at the palace (1 Kings 4:7-21). Compare 1 Kings 9:19.

The “provision” in 1 Kings 4:22-23 refers to the tables of the king’s concubines, courtiers, guests, etc., as well as his private board.

HIS FAME (1 Kings 4:28-34)

This exceeded that of the Chaldeans or Persians, or Egyptians, renowned as the last named were for all kinds of learning (1 Kings 4:30). There were none of his contemporaries he did not excel (1 Kings 4:31). He was author of wise sayings and songs by the thousands (1 Kings 4:32). He was a master of forestry and arbori- culture, of zoology, and ornithology and ichthology, so that kings as well as lesser people came to listen to and confer with him.

HIS FRIENDS (1 Kings 5)

Among the kings who came to pay court was Hiram of Tyre, who, whether he was the Hiram of David’s time, or his son or grandson, it is difficult to say. This results in a contract for the building of the temple, in which the skilled workmen of Tyre are yoked with the commoner laborers of Israel (1 Kings 5:6). Advantages are to be reciprocated (1 Kings 5:9). Compare 1 Kings 9:20 (also 2 Chronicles 2:17-18; 2 Chronicles 8:7-9), from which we gather who were the laborers Solomon laid tribute upon for this work. The stones in 1 Kings 4:17-18 are still seen in the lower foundations of the site of the ancient temple.

QUESTIONS

1. Have you read Psalms 45?

2. What does the Song of Songs typify?

3. Why were altars built on high places?

4. Quote Ephesians 3:30.

5. Name from memory the offices in Solomon’s kingdom.

6. Name some of the branches of Solomon’s learning.

7. For what arts or trades were the Phoenicians (or Tyrians) noted?

8. What do you recall of the dealings between Hiram and David?

 


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Bibliography Information
Gray, James. "Commentary on 1 Kings 3:4". The James Gray's Concise Bible Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jgc/1-kings-3.html. 1897-1910.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, October 15th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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