I Kings 4

 

 

                        Solomon’s State and Court Officials (vs. 1-19)

 

 

The account of Solomon’s marriage and entry upon his religious and judicious functions is

appropriately followed by a description of his court, of the great functionaries of the realm,

of his royal state and magnificence, and, lastly, of his varied and unprecedented wisdom.

It must not be supposed, however, from the occurrence of the lists in this particular place,

that they necessarily represent the appointments of the early part of Solomon’s reign.

The mention of two of the married daughters of the king (vs. 11, 15) has been generally

thought to prove that the record belongs to a much later period, and it certainly affords

a powerful presumption in favor of a later date. Too much stress, however, must not be

laid on this consideration, as the girls of the East marry early, and these may well have

been given to officers much their seniors, who had long been in office, and who had

merited this distinction (Joshua 15:16; I Samuel 17:25; 18:17) by the important services

they had rendered to the State.  If the historians of Israel were the prophets, nothing is

more natural than that they should record such details of the Augustan age of their race.

 

 

1  So king Solomon was king over all Israel.”  All later kings ruled but a part

of the land of Israel, as also did David at first.  2 And these were the princes which

he had; Azariah the son of Zadok the priest,” - It is worthy of remark that in the

lists of David the military officers of the kingdom occupy the first place; in those of

Solomon, the civil and religious dignitaries. “The princes of  Solomon are, with

one exception (ver. 4) ministers of peace.”  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:” -  the mention of Abiathar’s name after his deposition (ch. 2:27, 35) has

occasioned much remark, and has even led to the belief that he was subsequently

pardoned and restored to office but a simpler explanation is that his name is put

down here because he had been high priest, though for a brief period only, under

Solomon.  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:”  This appears

to have been now a recognized office (II Samuel 15:37; 16:16; I Chronicles 27:33),

 

6 And Ahishar was over the household:” We meet this office here for the first time,

an evidence of the growing size and magnificence of the court (ch.18:3; II Kings 18:18;

Isaiah 22:15) - “and Adoniram the son of Abda was over the tribute.” The forced

labor (ch. 5:13-14)  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:  4:16 Baanah the

son of Hushai was in Asher and in Aloth:  17 Jehoshaphat the son of Paruah,

in Issachar:  4:18 Shimei the son of Elah, in Benjamin:  4:19 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.”

 

 

                                                ADDITIONAL NOTES

 

“All Scripture is… profitable for instruction,  (II Timothy 3:16)  A bare list of names

may teach some lessons. We shall find in this list, first, some proofs of Solomon’s wisdom,

and secondly, some principles to guide our own conduct. First, however, let us remember

that to select faithful and efficient servants is one of the most difficult tasks of rulers.

(This is quite evident in the current leadership of the United StatesCY  - 2010)

The welfare of the whole State depends very largely on the choice. “Mine eyes shall

be upon the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me: he that walketh in

a perfect way, he shall serve me.  He that worketh deceit shall not dwell within

my house: he that telleth lies shall not tarry in my sight.   I will early destroy all

the wicked of the land; that I may cut off all wicked doers from the city of the

LORD.”  (Psalm 101:6-8.)   Now observe that here”

 

  • THE FIRST PLACE IS FILLED BY GOD’S PRIEST (v. 2). The

            minister of religion takes precedence of the ministers of state. The

            universal tendency is to put man first and God second. Solomon — if this

            list preserves the order of his arrangenments — put God first, in the person

            of His high priest. (This the mistake of the populace of the United

            States of America in their rush to “separation of church and state

            OVERKILL” – CY – 2010)

 

  • PRIORITY IS GIVEN TO THE OFFICERS OF PEACE (vs. 3, 4).

            Scribes come before warriors. In David’s day it was otherwise. But there

            has been an advance, and here is the proof of it. War is essentially

            barbarous. Among savage tribes warfare is chronic. As men become wiser

            and more civilized, the appeal to brute force is less frequent. Wiser, for war

            means unwisdom somewhere. More civilized, for the history of civilization

            tells how the wager of battle, which is now confined to nations, was once

            employed by tribes, provinces, and private persons. So that, in this

            particular, the wise son was greater than the pious father. For this reason

            Solomon may build the temple which his father’s blood-red hand may not

            touch. For this reason the son, not the father, is the favorite type of the

            Prince of Peace. One of the world’s greatest generals (Napoleon) said

            there were but two great powers, the sword and the pen, and that, in the

            long run, the former was sure to be overcome by the latter. Solomon

            would seem to have been of the same opinion. The “scribes” and the

            recorder precede the “captain of the host.”

 

  • MANY PLACES ARE FILLED BY THE FUNCTIONARIES OF

            HIS FATHER (vs. 3, 4, 6, and cf. v. 16). An Eastern autocrat

            generally appoints his associates of the harem (ch. 12:10), his

            personal favorites, to positions of trust. Solomon showed his wisdom in

            retaining the faithful servants of his predecessor (compare the folly of

            Rehoboam,  (ch. 12:8), and his example thus confirms his precept

            (Proverbs 27:10), “Thine own friend and thy father’s friend forsake not.”

 

  • SOME PLACES ARE FILLED BY HIS OWN SONS-IN-LAW (vs.

            11, 15). This does not argue nepotism, or favoritism as the hand of the

            king’s daughter was often bestowed as the reward of distinguished services

            as mentioned above. It may have been the due recognition of fidelity and

            ability. In any case the alliances would strengthen Solomon’s throne.

            Alien princes would, no doubt, have been proud to espouse Solomon’s

            daughters, but he preferred to marry them to faithful subjects. Blood is

            thicker than water.

 

  • ALL PLACES OF TRUST WERE FILLED BY PERSONS OF

            PIETY. The number of priests’ or prophets’ sons employed by Solomon is

            very remarkable (vs. 4, 5, 14, and possibly 15). He knew that those who

            were taught in the law of the Lord would best keep and best enforce the

            law of the realm. Those who “fear God” are those who “honor the king”

            (I Peter 2:17). Witness Joseph, Obadiah, Daniel, and the three Hebrew

            children. Even irreligious masters know the value of God-fearing servants.

            God blesses the house of Potiphar for the sake of its pious steward. (Genesis

            39:1-6) – Piety involves probity and excludes peculation and malfeasance.

 

  • EVERY OFFICER HAD HIS PLACE AND KEPT IT. There were

            definite duties, definite districts. The prefectures were so many parishes.

            Each was responsible for his own and for that only. Order is Heaven’s first

            law. The prosperity of Solomon’s reign may have been largely due to his

            system and method. There is a hierarchy and a due order in heaven. The

            angels would almost seem to have their districts (Deuteronomy 32:8,

 

 

                        Solomon’s Rule, State, and Wisdom (vs. 20-34)

 

The remainder of this chapter, which describes to us the extent and character of Solomon’s

sway (vs. 20-21, 24, 25), the pomp and provision of his household (vs. 22-23, 26-28),

and his profound and varied wisdom (vs. 29-34), has every appearance of a compilation

from different sources. It scarcely has the order and coherence which we should find in the

narrative of a single writer.

 

20  Judah and Israel were many, as the sand which is by the sea in multitude,

eating and drinking, and making merry.”  In the reign of Solomon, (1014 B.C.)

God’s promises to Abraham (1872 B.C.) were fulfilled  858 years later – see Genesis

22:17.  21 And Solomon reigned over all kingdoms from the river unto the

land of the Philistines, and unto the border of Egypt: (even earlier promised,

1913 B.C. – another promise of God fulfilled – Genesis 15:18 – in ch. 8:56,

Solomon says “Blessed be the Lord, that hath given rest unto His people

Israel, according to all that He promised:  there hath not failed one word of

all His good promise, which He promised by the hand of Moses his servant”

also compare Joshua 21:45, 23:14-16 – all God’s promises will be fulfilled, even

to the end of time – CY – 2010) - “they brought presents, and served Solomon

all the days of his life.”

 

In America, the parallel idea is “a chicken in every pot!”  Solomon’s empire was a

foreshadowing of the Golden Age of the world, Jesus Christ ruling the earth

in the Millennium  - “and behold, a greater than Solomon is here” – (Matthew

12:42)

 

What if you are not around to experience it?  (see Matthew 8:11-12;  

Luke 13:28-30; Revelation 21:22-27;

 

The daily consumption of the royal household is now related to show the grandeur

and luxury of the court. And it agreed well with the greatness of the kingdom. The

lavish provision of Oriental palaces was evidently a subject of wonder and of boasting

to the ancients, as the inscriptions and monuments show.

 

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

fallow deer, and fatted fowl.  24 For he had dominion over all the region on

this side the river, from Tiphsah (a town on the west side of the Euphrates) even

to Azzah, over all the kings on this side the river: and he had peace on all

sides round about him.  25 And Judah and Israel dwelt safely, every man

under his vine and under his fig tree,” – a proverbial expression to denote rest

and the undisturbed enjoyment of the fruits of the earth -  “from Dan even to

Beersheba,” – from the extreme northern to the extreme southern boundary –

all the days of Solomon.  26 And Solomon had forty thousand stalls of horses

for his chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen.” - It has been supposed that this

warlike provision is mentioned to account for the peace of Solomon’s reign, and was

designed to overawe the tributary kings. But it is more probable that the idea of the

historian was, partly to exhibit the pomp and circumstance of Israel’s greatest king,

and partly to record a contravention of the law (Deuteronomy 17:16), which was

 one of the precursors of his fall.

 

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.

 

29  And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much,

and  largeness of heart, even as the sand that is on the sea shore.”

- in fulfilment of the promise of ch. 3:12 - wisdom and understanding (hm;k]j;,

wisdom, knowledge; hn;WbT], discernment, penetration. The historian, after

describing the prosperity of the realm, proceeds to speak of the personal endowments

of its head -  and largeness of heart exceeding much - the Easterns speak of the heart

where we should talk of head or intellect. These different words indicate the variety

and scope of his talents, in agreement with v. 33.

 

30 And Solomon's wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the east

country, and all the wisdom of Egypt.” - the name is here employed to designate

all the Arabian tribes east and southeast of Palestine — Sabaeans, Idumeans,

Temanites, Chaldeans. What their wisdom was like, we may see in the

Book of Job. Cf. Jeremiah 49:7; Obadiah 8 -  and all the wisdom of Egypt.  

The learning of Egypt was of great repute in the Old World. It differed very

considerably from the wisdom of Kedem, being scientific rather than gnomic

(Isaiah 19:11-12; 31:1-3; Acts 7:22) and including geometry, astronomy, magic,

and medicine. See Jos., Ant. 8:2.5; Herod. 2:109. 160. Wilkinson, “Ancient

Egyptians” vol. 2. pp. 316-465.

 

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.  It is a spirited and glowing description which the historian here gives of

Solomon’s wisdom. We may believe that it was not without a pardonable pride that he

recounted the rich endowments and the widespread fame of Israel’s greatest monarch.

But it is really one of the saddest chapters in the whole of Scripture — and one

of the most instructive. Manifold as were his gifts, marvelous as was his wisdom,

they did not preserve him from falling. It is a strange, shuddering contrast, the

record of his singular powers and faculties (vs. 29-34), and the story of his shameful

end (ch.11:1-14) How came it to pass that a man so highly gifted and blessed of God

made such complete shipwreck of faith and good conscience; that over the grave

of the very greatest and wisest of men must be written, “Fallen, fallen, fallen, fallen

 from his high estate”?  The causes of Solomon’s fall:

 

  • BECAUSE THE HEART WAS NOT KEPT. The intellect, was

            developed and cultivated at the expense or to the neglect of the spiritual

            life. “His wives turned away his heart” (ch. 11:4).  But how came one of so

            much wisdom to let his wives turn it away? Because the wisdom had dwarfed

            and overshadowed the soul; because the moral did not keep pace with the

            intellectual growth, and it became flaccid and yielding. It is dangerous for

            wisdom to increase unless piety increases with it. The higher the tower, the

            broader should be its foundations. If all the weight and width is at the top,

            it will come to the ground with a crash. Even so, if wisdom is not to

            destroy its possessor, the basis of love and piety must be broadened.

            “Knowledge bloweth up, but charity buildeth up” (I Corinthians 8:1). The head

            of a colossus needs the trunk of a colossus to sustain it.

 

  • BECAUSE HIS OWN PRECEPTS WERE NOT KEPT. It was because he

      leaned to his own understanding that this giant form fell prostrate (Proverbs

      3:5-6).  It was because he forgot his warnings against the strange woman

      that he fell a prey to strange women (Proverbs 2:16-19; 5:3-5, 20-23;

      6:24-29; 7:1-27).  The keeper of the vineyards did not keep his own (Song of

      Solomon 1:6). He was not true to himself, and he soon proved false to his God.

      After preaching to others, he himself became a castaway. (I Corinthians 9:27)

       A solemn warning this to every preacher and teacher that he should not do

 

                        “As some ungracious pastors do,

                        Show men the steep and thorny road to heaven,

                        While, like a puffed and reckless libertine,

                        Himself the primrose path of dalliance tread

                        And recks not his own rede.”

 

  • BECAUSE PRIDE POISONED HIS WISDOM AND PERVERTED

      HIS GIFTS. There was no decay of mental power; the force was unabated,

            but it was misdirected. Pride took her place at the helm. It is pride, not

            sensuality, that accounts for his army of wives and concubines. But if pride

            brought them, pleasure kept them. And when he put his heart into their

            keeping, they turned him about at their will (James 3:3-4). The heart carries

            the intellect along with it. (Here again compare his own words, Proverbs

            16:18; 4:23; Daniel 5:20.) Magnificent Solomon, unequalled in wisdom, how

            art thou fallen from heaven! Aye, and if we could but draw aside the veil; if we

            could but visit the spirits in prison (I Peter 3:19), we might perchance find among

            them one clothed of yore “in purple and fine linen” (Luke 16:19; 12:27), and

            who “fared sumptuously every day,” and looking into the anguished face

            might find it was none other than the brilliant and illustrious son of David,

            the chosen type of the Messiah, the very wisest and greatest of mankind.

            “The wisest, greatest, meanest of mankind.” We know of whom these

            words were spoken. But their true application is not to England’s greatest

            chancellor, but to Israel’s greatest king.

 

32 And he spake three thousand proverbs: and his songs were a

thousand and five.”  Of the former, less than one-third are preserved in the Book of

Proverbs (see Proverbs 1:1; 25:1); the rest are lost to us.  The Book of Ecclesiastes,

even if the composition of Solomon, can hardly be described as proverbs. Of his songs

all have perished, except the Song of Solomon, and possibly Psalms 72; 127; (see the

titles), and, according to some, Psalm 128.   33 And he spake of trees,  - His

knowledge was not only speculative, but scientific -  “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.”

 

 Solomon was a zoologist, he spake of beasts.

He was an ornithologist - he spoke of birds.

He was an entomologist - he talked of insects.

He was an ichthyologist - he spoke of fishes.

 

But in Jesus Christ, the Messiah the Prince, is the incarnation of Wisdom

He is “made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and

redemption - (I Corinthians 1:30)  and “in Him are hid all the treasures of

wisdom and knowledge”  (Colossians 2:3).

 

There is a wisdom in this world that is “foolishness with God  (I Corinthians  3:8)

and there is a wisdom which “descendeth not from above” –(James 3:15)

For example:

 

 How bad off is secularism in America?   In 2003 my Microsoft Works program

in spell check wanted to replace Immanuel with e-mail.

 

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.”  Both Jewish and

Mohammedan writers abound in exaggerated or purely fabulous accounts of

Solomon’s attainments and gifts. We may see the beginning of these in

Josephus, Ant. 8:2.5.

 

(There are millions in America that will not walk across the street to attend

church where Jesus is met and “BEHOLD, A GREATER THAN

SOLOMON IS HERE!” – CY  - 2010)

 

 

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