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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary
1 Kings 3

 

 


Verse 1

1 Kings 3:1 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.

Ver. 1. And Solomon made affinity with Pharaoh.] That his kingdom might the better be established, [1 Kings 2:46] which albeit God had promised, yet Solomon knew that his providence was to be served, and all good means used.

And took Pharaoh’s daughter.] After he had first taken Naamah, the Ammonitess, Rehoboam’s mother, a year and more before David’s death: for Solomon reigned but forty years, [1 Kings 11:42] and Rehoboam was forty-one years old when he began to reign. These ladies probably were proselyted, ere Solomon married them: else the marriage could not be lawful. It was in his best time that he did it; neither is he anywhere blamed for this with Pharaoh’s daughter at least, to whom both David is thought by some to allude in Psalms 45:10, and Solomon in the Canticles; yet others think otherwise. Josephus saith he married Pharaoh’s daughter in the first year of his reign, while his father David was yet alive. Those who hold he did ill in it, say, that God afterwards punished him for it, in his posterity, by Shishak, king of Egypt. How fearfully the wrath of God fell upon the Protestants in France, for that unhappy marriage of the king of Navarre with the daughter of France, a Papist, a little afore the Parisian massacre, who knoweth not?

And the house of the Lord.] This Solomon would finish, before that he would set up the queen’s palace; such was his zeal, while young: but he suffered sad decays afterwards I read of a holy man who oft prayed that he might keep up his young zeal with his old discretion.


Verse 2

1 Kings 3:2 Only the people sacrificed in high places, because there was no house built unto the name of the LORD, until those days.

Ver. 2. Only the people sacrificed in high places.] And Solomon not only permitted it - though it were a fault [Leviticus 17:3-4] - but was himself also in the common error; through a perverse imitation of the ancient patriarchs: yea, and peradventure of the neigbbouring heathens, who did the like, as Xenophon testifieth of the Persians, and Apollonius of the Romans.

Because there was no house.] This excused them a tanto, from so much, but not a toto: from all, for it was no better than will worship. But why was there yet no house built, since Solomon had now reigned three or four years? It was a great work, and required great preparation both at home and abroad, &c. Great bodies, we say, move slowly: neither is it to be doubted but the business was expedited as much as might be, since Nescit tarda molimina Spiritus Sancti gratia. Zeal is of quick despatch.


Verse 3

1 Kings 3:3 And Solomon loved the LORD, walking in the statutes of David his father: only he sacrificed and burnt incense in high places.

Ver. 3. And Solomon loved, the Lord.] Being first loved by him, his Jedidiah, his darling: for our love to God is but the reflex of his to us first. [1 John 4:19]

Only he sacrificed, &c.] He climbed those misallowed hills; yet loveth he the Lord, and is loved of him. Such is the mercy of our God, that he rather pitieth than plagneth us for our well meant weaknesses, for the infirmities of upright hearts.


Verse 4

1 Kings 3:4 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.

Ver. 4. And the king went to Gibeon.] To seek God; and that he might be the better prepared to build the temple, whereunto he now thought it but time to address himself.

For that was the great high place.] Because there was the tabernacle [1 Chronicles 16:39] and the altar of burnt offering; [1 Chronicles 21:29] hence there was great resorting to it.


Verse 5

1 Kings 3:5 In Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, Ask what I shall give thee.

Ver. 5. In Gibeon the Lord appeared, &c.] Solomen worshippeth God by day: God appeareth to him by night. Well may we look to enjoy God, when we have served him. The night cannot but be happy whose day hath been holy. (a)

Ask what I shall give thee.] And saith not God as much in effect to every faithful petitioner? [Matthew 7:7 James 1:5 Isaiah 45:11]


Verse 6

1 Kings 3:6 And Solomon said, Thou hast shewed 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.

Ver. 6. And Solomon said.] Though asleep, yet thus he said in his heart, and perhaps with his mouth too; as some have prayed notably in their sleep, the roof of their mouth being "like the best wine, that goeth down sweetly, causing the lips of those that are asleep to speak" [Song of Solomon 7:9]

According as he walked before thee.] "The hand of our God is upon all them for good that seek him." [Ezra 8:22]


Verse 7

1 Kings 3:7 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.

Ver. 7. And I am but a little child.] So he seemed to himself; though his father counted and called him a wise man, [1 Kings 2:9] even before that wonderful increase of his wisdom after David’s death. See the like modesty in Agur, that great wise man. [Proverbs 30:2-3]

I know not how to go out or come in,] i.e., To sway this massy sceptre, to rule this great people. An allusion to captains or shepherds, or, as some think, to a little child who learneth of his mother to go out and come into the house. (a)


Verse 8

1 Kings 3:8 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.

Ver. 8. Is in the midst of thy people.] As lordkeeper of both tables of the law; as an antesignanus, a supreme governor. Royalty without wisdom is but eminent dishonour.

A great people.] The greater is my charge, and must be my care, who am yet unexperienced, unqualified.


Verse 9

1 Kings 3:9 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?

Ver. 9. Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart.] Heb., A hearing heart; for wisdom is gotten by prayer and hearing the word, by begging and digging, as Proverbs 2:3-4; we also must run the like method, [James 1:5] ran through all the exercises of Christ’s school, if we would be wise to salvation.

That I may discern between good and bad.] Rupertus blameth Solomon for this, that he asked of God wisdom, and not holiness rather, bonum illud quod verum et summum est, which is the principal good thing. But it was doubtless a saving and sanctifying knowledge that Solomon prayed for, and obtained; not an apprehensive knowledge only, and notional, but effective and practical also, and directive of the life. Socrates, the wisest of all the Greeks, made no distinction between σοφια, wisdom, and σωπροσυνη, good conversation. Ignorat sane improbus omnis, saith Aristotle, He is not wise that is ill-conditioned.


Verse 10

1 Kings 3:10 And the speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing.

Ver. 10. That Solomon had asked this thing.] He could not have so done, had not God given him to do it. He accepteth and crowneth his own gifts in us.


Verse 11

1 Kings 3:11 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;

Ver. 11. And hast not asked for thyself long life.] Which yet most men covet. [Psalms 34:12] {See Trapp on "Psalms 34:12"}

Neither hast asked riches.] As the many do. [Psalms 4:7]

Nor hast asked the life of thine enemies.] Which, oh, how sweet is it to vindictive spirits! And God, we see, here taketh distinct notice of that which men most desire.


Verse 12

1 Kings 3:12 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.

Ver. 12. So that there was none like thee before thee.] Solomon was not only wiser than Trismegist, Orpheus, Homer, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Lycurgus, Ptolemy Philadelph - who was βασιλευς φιλολογωτατος, saith Cyril, a most learned king, but also Abraham, Moses, David, yea, Adam himself after the fall: he was the wisest mere man, take him for everything, that ever was; insomuch as he had all manner of knowledge, natural and supernatural, infused into him - his deep insight into the mystery of Christ, he discovered in the Canticles - and so became a notable type of Christ, "in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." [Colossians 2:3] And here Solomon had more than he asked, so have we; [Ephesians 3:20] and not only more than he asked, but other things also that he asked not.


Verse 13

1 Kings 3:13 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.

Ver. 13. Both riches and honour.] Seek God’s kingdom first, and then other things shall seek us fast enough. [Matthew 6:33] Piety hath plenty of these things cast into the bargain, as it were, and assured her. [Proverbs 3:16 1 Timothy 4:8]


Verse 14

1 Kings 3:14 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.

Ver. 14. And if thou wilt walk in my ways.] It hath been before observed that God’s promises are with a condition, which is as an oar in a boat or stern of a ship, and turneth the promise another way.

As thy father David did walk.] Examples are the best lectures, and virtue the best example.


Verse 15

1 Kings 3:15 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.

Ver. 15. And behold it was a dream.] But a divine dream, very well worth the heeding. There are also dreams diabolical. Eusebius writeth that Simon Magus had his devils ονειροπομποι, by whom he caused people to dream great matters of him, and highly to admire him. That was a strange dream which Jerome (a) had, when he was not only reproved but beaten black and blue for reading Cicero rather than the Holy Scriptures; this voice being uttered, as he perfectly remembered, Ciceronianus es, non Christianus, - Thou art a better Ciceronian than Christian.


Verse 16

1 Kings 3:16 Then came there two women, [that were] harlots, unto the king, and stood before him.

Ver. 16. Then came there two women that were harlots.] Or rather hostesses; for harlots would not have been so hardy as to have appeared in their colours before Solomon, who was yet in his prime, and zealous for God’s law. If, therefore, these were harlots, they were privy harlots; for there were then no stews or brothel houses allowed, as are now at Rome, and other places in Italy, for a commonwealth, say Papists, and for the avoiding of greater evils, adultery, incest, &c. But what saith Augustine? Cursed be that remedy of sin that is itself a sin. God will not have such a gain to be recompensed with such a loss.


Verse 17

1 Kings 3:17 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.

Ver. 17. I and this woman dwell in one house.] They lived together, but scarce dwelt together, as one saith of married couples that disagree, quorum coniugium nihil aliud est quam coniurgium.


Verse 18

1 Kings 3:18 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.

Ver. 18. That this woman was delivered also.] Hence some argue that they were not harlots, because they use not to bring forth children; or if they do, they usually make them away as soon as they are born.

There was no stranger with us in the house.] This made the case so difficult, because there was not witness to be had, nor any other way of discovery left to see to, nisi hariolari in re dubia, but to give a guess at the business. (a)


Verse 19

1 Kings 3:19 And this woman’s child died in the night; because she overlaid it.

Ver. 19. Because she overlaid it.] And now she hath stolen my child; not that she careth for it, or grieveth for her own, but for fear she should be questioned for smothering her child.


Verse 20

1 Kings 3:20 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.

Ver. 20. While thine handmaid slept.] But how could she certainly tell what was done when she was asleep? The proofs in this cause alleged were so weak and unsatisfactory, that it was thought the wit of man could not determine it. But "a divine sentence was in the mouth of the king: his lips transgressed not in judgment." [Proverbs 16:10]

And laid her dead child in my bosom.] This was Qυχρον παραγκαλισμα, a cold bosomful, as one calleth a bad wife. And another complaineth of some in these days, that, harlot-like, they take their dead and putrid fancies, and lay them in the bosom of the Scripture, as of a mother, while they go about to give unto it, and not to receive from it the sense; wresting it to their own destruction.


Verse 21

1 Kings 3:21 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.

Ver. 21. To give my child suck.] This is a check to those nice dames that needlessly refuse to suckle their own children. Not harlots only, but "sea monsters draw out their breasts, and give suck to their young." [Lamentations 4:3]

Behold, it was not my son.] Though death had somewhat altered the features of the child, yet the true mother could not be mistaken in it.


Verse 22

1 Kings 3:22 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.

Ver. 22. And the other woman said, Nay.] This said, Nay, and that said, Yea; vocis et clamoris contentione inter se more suo certabant; and because there were neither proofs nor witnesses, the hearers haeserunt animis penduli, dubiique, earum utri credendum potius esset, an earum neutri, as Cicero (a) saith in another case, hung in suspense, and could not tell which to believe.


Verse 23

1 Kings 3:23 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.

Ver. 23. The one saith, This is my son,] q.d., This is a blind business: here is no better proof than the one is Aio, I affirm, and the other is Nego; I deny, neither is the one of better repute or credit than the other, as being both harlots.


Verse 24

1 Kings 3:24 And the king said, Bring me a sword. And they brought a sword before the king.

Ver. 24. Bring me a sword.] For what purpose? thought the standers by; wondering and perhaps laughing within themselves. The actions of wise princes are riddles to vulgar constructions: nor is it for the shallow capacities of the multitude to fathom the deep projects of sovereign authority. (a)


Verse 25

1 Kings 3:25 And the king said, Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one, and half to the other.

Ver. 25. Divide the living child in two.] This he spake for trial, (a) and that he might make nature speak in the true mother. The like is recorded of Claudius Caesar, and of Galba, of Charles the Great, and of Alphonsus of Arragon, when but newly come to his crown.

And give half to the one, &c.] So the Arminians would divide man’s salvation between God’s free grace and man’s free will; Papists between Christ and their own good works.


Verse 26

1 Kings 3:26 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].

Ver. 26. For her bowels yearned.] Good blood, we say, will not belie itself: good nature will work.

O my lord.] Parce puero, spare my child: this she would have said to the king. Give her, &c. This she saith to the officers.


Verse 27

1 Kings 3:27 Then the king answered and said, Give her the living child, and in no wise slay it: she [is] the mother thereof.

Ver. 27. She is the mother thereof.] As appeareth by her natural affection. Ownness maketh love. Prolem quisque amat non quia pulchram, sed quia suam.


Verse 28

1 Kings 3:28 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.

Ver. 28. And all Israel heard,] sc., Of the king’s singular sagacity.

And they feared the king.] Good men reverenced him; bad men stood in awe of him, as a sharp and severe judge.

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on 1 Kings 3:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/1-kings-3.html. 1865-1868.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, October 31st, 2020
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30
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