Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

1 Kings 10:12

The king made of the almug trees supports for the house of the Lord and for the king's house, also lyres and harps for the singers; such almug trees have not come in again nor have they been seen to this day.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Algum;   Harp;   Music;   Queen;   Solomon;   Women;   Thompson Chain Reference - Harps;   Instruments, Chosen;   Music;   Musical Instruments;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Music;   Pillars;   Trees;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Sabeans;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Arabia;   Music;   Solomon;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Israel;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Almug;   Harp;   House;   Sheba;   Solomon;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Commerce;   Kings, the Books of;   Phoenice;   Pillars;   Solomon;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Algum;   Book(s);   Economic Life;   Music, Instruments, Dancing;   Queen;   Riddle;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Almug;   Government;   Israel;   Sheba, Queen of;   Solomon;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Harp ;   Queen (2);   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Harp;   Sheba ;   Singing;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Dwelling;   Hiram;   Sheba;   Tyre;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Algum;   Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types - Scorpion;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Algum;   Music;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Algum;   Causeway;   Pillar;   Queen;   Queen of Sheba;   Terrace;   Kitto Biblical Cyclopedia - Arabia;  

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Pillars - The Hebrew word signifies ordinarily a “prop” (margin). It is generally supposed to mean in this place a “railing,” or “balustrade,” a sense which connects and harmonises the present passage with the parallel passage in Chronicles (marginal reference), where Solomon is said to have made of the almug-wood “stairs” for the temple and for his own house.

Harps - The Jewish harp כנור kı̂nnôr was of a triangular shape, and had ordinarily ten strings. It probably resembled the more ancient harp of the Assyrians, which was played with a plectrum, as was (ordinarily) the “kinnor.”

Psalteries - The psaltery, or viol. Hebrew: נבל nebel Greek: νάβλα nabla was a stringed instrument played with the hand; perhaps a lyre, like those on Hebrew coins, the sounding-board of which is shaped like a jug; or, perhaps, a sort of guitar, with a hollow jug-shaped body at the lower end.

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Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 1 Kings 10:12". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/1-kings-10.html. 1870.

The Biblical Illustrator

1 Kings 10:12

The king made of the almug-trees pillars for the house of the Lord.

Strength and sweetness

Pillars and psalteries were made out of the same timber, and in this respect we may take the tree of the text as a symbol of the strength and sweetness which inhere in the Christian character.

I. The first characteristic of the true Christian is strength. “Pillars for the house of the Lord, and for the king’s house.” The almug-tree was close in grain, firm in fibre, only such wood being fit for pillars. The people of God must first be strong in spirit. Our Lord Himself was distinguished by sublime faith and bravery, and His apostles and disciples shared His supreme power and confidence, bearing triumphantly immense strain and suffering, as a pillar its tremendous burden. Another point to be noted is this: in the various catalogues of the virtues which occur in the New Testament the virile virtues are as amply recognised as in the most austere ethical systems of Greece and Rome. And this strength of conviction, sternness of principle, and constancy of purpose, this force of character and conduct, formed the basis of the beauty and sweetness which distinguished the primitive Christians.

1. Without strength there is no beauty of life. Without depth and thoroughness character does not attain to sweetness. We say, “Beauty is skin deep”; but really this is a consolation of philosophy in which the consolation is much in excess of the philosophy, for beauty springs from the roots and foundations of things. The loveliness of the earth is maintained by forces which operate below the surface; the bloom of the human face is secured by the health of organs concealed in the depths of the body; and the loveliness and sweetness of character spring from the soul--spring from the soul when pure and strong. Without firmness and vigour character does not attain beauty and sweetness. Reality, solidity, and energy underlie all satisfying winsomeness of manner and conduct. Hidden within the leaves of the tree are stout boughs, beneath the blooming skin hide well-knit bones, the greensward rests on granite, and the basis of flowers is not rarely iron and flint. So genuine charm of character is impossible without strong conscientiousness, serious views, unbending principle, firm, pure, uncompromising purity of mind and heart. There is no short and easy way to grace of life; its secret is the strength and integrity of the soul. Seeking to make life sweet, first make your heart sound, for out of radical, organic purity blossoms real courtesy, gentleness, and the manifold graces of life. “Whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely.” The pure comes before the lovely. Do not patch, powder, and paint the face, get health at the centre; do not coax your dress, get a better figure; do not revise your etiquette, be transformed in the spirit of your mind. Depth, strength, vitality, freedom, harmony, love, joyfulness are the roots of beautiful Christian character. “Out of the heart are the issues of life,” and in the love of God, the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, do we find the secret of satisfying and abiding sweetness.

2. As there is no real grace of life without strength, so there is no efficient service without it. “He made pillars for the house of the Lord.” Men efficient for high holy service in God’s Church must possess positive qualities, elements of strength and stability, independence of thought, uprightness of character, steadfastness of faith, and power of patience and sacrifice. Fussy men in all the denominations seem to be pillars, but in fact are poor creatures of little moment. The secret of efficiency is reality. Lath-painted iron is soon detected; without sincerity, strength, and self-forgetfulness service is shallow and sterile. “And he made pillars for the king’s house.” If we are to render real and permanent service to the State, we shall need the strong, fine qualities of the Christian character. We cannot make a pillar of bamboo: there must be something in it, something of heart of oak, solidity of marble, texture of iron and bronze. “He who would become a pillar in Church or State must first be a pillar in deed and truth.” Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out.”

II. The complementary characteristic of true christian character is sweetness, “Harps also and psalteries for singers.” Fragrance and music proceeded from the wood that furnished the pillars: so Christian character suggests harmoniousness, smoothness, sweetness. Mr. St. John, the naturalist, relates that when exploring the recesses of the Highlands he frequently came into contact with men living in the rude Highland way, and at first he thought them morose, unobservant, stupid; but as he continued to live amongst them the truth appeared: they appreciated their majestic hills and lakes more keenly than their visitor did, in their soul was the love of beauty, and in their lips the law of kindness; they were really thinkers, poets, saints. Many Christians who ruffle the polite and provoke the reproach of aestheticism are really the gentlest and loveliest of men and women. Forbidding to the hasty glance and superficial judgment of dilettantism, it is the exterior only that is uncut and unpolished, which is, after all, infinitely better than social refinement hiding moral rottenness. Harriet Martineau, writing about the disappointing revelation of the true Walter Scott in Lockhart’s Life, ends with this just reflection: “If great men fall below our expectation, let it be remembered that there is another point of view from which the matter should be looked at--that we gain thus a new sense of the glory and beauty of virtue and incorruptibleness in the humble matter of everyday life.” Dexterous exhibitors introduce into the flower-shew blooms which put to shame their modest neighbours, but when the prizes are adjudged these pretentious flowers are rejected when it is discovered that their leaves and petals are artificial and doctored; so the great Day will doom many a manufactured article, and confer the final reward upon flowers of the field whose whole charm was truth and sweetness. We, therefore, magnify conscience at every turn, and think to show how much we have of it by ignoring the obligations of grace, and blurring the beauty of holiness whenever it tends to reveal itself. A perverse conception of the Puritan deforms our sanctuaries, impoverishes our worship, and blights our character. In the house study to express the sweetness of Christian character. One of the finest aspects of modem times is the art that is finding its way into lowly homes, and giving the touch of grace to every humblest, household, necessary thing. “The aim of art is to express the sublime in the trivial,” said J. F. Millet; and if in the home we reveal our sublime faith and righteousness in doing gracefully many little things, the home will be far happier than it sometimes is. In the business sphere is much need of sweetness. Nowhere is gentleness more effective than in the stern world of toil and trade. Silk is said to be stronger than steel, and the graciousness of a strong man renders him as nearly omnipotent as a mortal may come. The lyre ought to figure in business as well as the firm, hard columns; and fine behaviour and persuasive speech in those who rule without a moment’s surrender of right and authority, are more influential than any outburst of vulgar wrath. Instead of a cudgel try a psaltery. In our entire intercourse with general society we need to cultivate this grace of spirit and life. A sceptical writer in a current magazine argues that the old evidences for Christianity are utterly discredited, and that the one consideration which now gives sanction and effectiveness to its claim is “ the beauty of the character of Jesus Christ.” We do not for a moment agree with this contention; but it is undeniable that no evidence for Christianity is so commanding as that drawn from the incomparable, transcending loveliness of our Lord. (W. L. Watkinson.)

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Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "1 Kings 10:12". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/1-kings-10.html. 1905-1909. New York.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And the king made of the almug trees pillars for the house of the Lord, and for the king's house,.... Or terraces, as in 2 Chronicles 9:11, causeways; and means the ascent or causeway he made from his own house to the temple; the pavement of which, as Jarchi interprets the word here, was made of the wood of these trees; or the supports of it, or rather the rails on each side, on which men might stay themselves as they passed along, as Ben Gersom; and since this ascent was admired by the queen of Sheba, it is particularly observed what wood it was made of, and from whence it came:

harps also, and psalteries for singers; these musical instruments were made of the same wood; JosephusF9Antiqu. l. 8. c. 3. sect. 8. says of amber, and that their number was 400,000:

there came no such almug trees, nor were seen unto this day; not in the land of Israel, neither before nor since, see 2 Chronicles 9:11.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on 1 Kings 10:12". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/1-kings-10.html. 1999.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

1 Kings 10:12 And the king made of the almug trees pillars for the house of the LORD, and for the king’s house, harps also and psalteries for singers: there came no such almug trees, nor were seen unto this day.

Ver. 12. Nor were seen unto this day.] Therefore they were not the same, but far better than those algum trees that came from Lebanon. [2 Chronicles 2:8]

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Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on 1 Kings 10:12". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/1-kings-10.html. 1865-1868.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Almug trees, called also (by an inversion of the letters, which is usual among the Hebrews) algum trees, 2 Chronicles 2:8 9:10; whereof there were some in Lebanon, 2 Chronicles 2:8, but the best sort came from Ophir, as is here said.

Pillars, or supporters, either for the ascent or stairs, by which they went from the king’s house to the temple; see 1 Chronicles 26:16 2 Chronicles 9:11; or for divers parts both of the Lord’s and of the king’s house.

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 1 Kings 10:12". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/1-kings-10.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

12.Pillars — Rather, a balustrade to fend the side of some elevated passage or stairway. 2 Chronicles 9:11 reads מסלות, which may mean either an elevated walkingplace or a staircase. The latter meaning is here the more probable. The balustrades of the stairways in the temple and in the palace were made of this celebrated wood.

Harps’ psalteries — See note on 1 Samuel 10:5.

No such almug trees — Those supplied by Hiram (2 Chronicles 2:8) were of an inferior quality. Compare note at chap. 1 Kings 5:8.

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Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 1 Kings 10:12". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/1-kings-10.html. 1874-1909.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Rails. Hebrew mihsad, "pillars, supporters, or banisters." (Haydock) --- Most interpreters suppose the rails were on each side of the road, leading from the palace to the temple. (Calmet) --- Paralipomenon stairs. --- Citterns, or harps and lyres. (Haydock) --- Hebrew, "kinnoroth and nebalim."

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on 1 Kings 10:12". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/1-kings-10.html. 1859.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

And the king made of the almug trees pillars for the house of the LORD, and for the king's house, harps also and psalteries for singers: there came no such almug trees, nor were seen unto this day.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 Kings 10:12". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/1-kings-10.html. 1871-8.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And the king made of the almug trees pillars for the house of the LORD, and for the king's house, harps also and psalteries for singers: there came no such almug trees, nor were seen unto this day.
pillars
or, rails. Heb. a prop. harps.
1 Chronicles 23:5; 25:1-31; Psalms 92:1-3; 150:3-5; Revelation 14:2,3
Reciprocal: 2 Chronicles 9:11 - harps;  Revelation 18:12 - merchandise

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 1 Kings 10:12". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/1-kings-10.html.