I Kings 9

 

 

THE ANSWER TO SOLOMON’S PRAYER (vs. 1-9)

 

This chapter opens with an account of God’s second appearance to Solomon.

It must not be supposed, however, from the apparent close connection of this

relation with the preceding narrative, that it stands to it in equally close

chronological order. It probably finds a place here because the historian has

grouped together all the suitable materials in his possession which related to

the temple.

 

1  And it came to pass, when Solomon had finished the building of

the house of the LORD, and the king's house, and all Solomon's

desire which he was pleased to do,”  By desire”we are not to understand

pleasure buildings” (cf. vs. 10, 19). The chronicler gives the true meaning:

all that came into Solomon’s heart.” It is, however, somewhat doubtful what

works are comprehended under this term.  II Chronicles 7:11 limits it to the

two great erections already described — “all that came into his heart to make in

the house of the Lord and in his own house.” But it is by no means certain that

our author intended the word to be thus restricted; it is quite possible, e.g., that

some of the buildings mentioned below (vs. 15-19) are to be included. But

another question of much greater importance presents itself here. In the

Divine communication of vs. 3-9 there is constant and unmistakeable

reference to the prayer of dedication (see especially v. 3); in fact, this

message is the answer to that prayer. It has been held, consequently, that

the answer must have followed, if not immediately, yet soon after the

petitions were uttered; if so, the dedication must clearly have taken place,

not on the completion of the temple (ch. 6:38), but on the

completion of the palace, etc.; in other words, the temple must have been

finished fully thirteen years before it was consecrated and occupied.

Rawlinson suggests that the delay was perhaps occasioned by the

circumstance that the furniture of the temple was not till then ready; but

ch. 6:38, in Hebrew, seems to state distinctly that all the vessels and

appointments of the sanctuary were finished at the date there given.

Reasons have been given elsewhere (see note on ch. 8:1) in

support of the position that the dedication possibly have been delayed for

so long a period, especially after the strenuous efforts which had been

made to hurry on the undertaking. Nor does the text, when carefully

examined, really require this hypothesis; indeed, it suggests some reasons

for thinking that a considerable period must have intervened between the

prayer and the response. For the tone of this response is unmistakeably

foreboding, if not minatory. Vs. 6-9 contain a stern warning. But there

was nothing, so far as we know, in the attitude of Solomon or of Israel at

the time of the dedication to call for any such denunciation. At that time, as

the prayer surely proves, Solomon’s heart was perfect with the Lord his

God. But the response has unmistakeably the appearance of having been

elicited by signs of defection. The wide difference, consequently, between

the spirit of the prayer and the tone of the answer suggests that some time

must have elapsed between them, and so far supports the view that the

dedication was not delayed until the palace, etc., was completed. And it is

also to be remembered that the prayer of dedication had not been without

acknowledgment at the time. The excellent glory which filled and took

possession of the house was itself a significant and sufficient response. No

voice or vision could have said more plainly, “I have heard thy prayer, I

have hallowed this house.” But when, some thirteen years later — about

the very time, that is, when he was at the height of his prosperity, and

when, owing to the completion of his undertakings, we might fear lest his

heart should be lifted up with pride — when Solomon and his court began

to decline in piety and to go after other gods, then this merciful message

opportunely refers him to the prayer which he was in danger of forgetting,

and warns him of the consequences of the apostasy to which he was

tending.

 

2 “That the LORD appeared to Solomon the second time, as he had

appeared unto him at Gibeon.”  (ch. 3:5)

 

3  And the LORD said unto him,” - This message is given at greater

length in II Chronicles 7:12-22. Vs. 13-14, e.g., contain a reference

to that part of the prayer which related to drought and rain – “I have

heard thy prayer and thy supplication, that thou hast made before me:

I have hallowed this house, which thou hast built, to put my name there

for ever;” - As Solomon offered it, so God accepted it, in perpetuity. That

the house was subsequently “left desolate” and destroyed (II Kings 25:9)

was because of the national apostasy (v. 8-9) – “and mine eyes and mine

heart shall be there perpetually.”  In ch. 8:29, Solomon asked that God’s

eyes may be open… towards the house.”  The answer is that not only His

eyes shall be open, but eyes and heart shall be there, the eye to watch, the

heart to cherish it.

 

9:4 And if thou wilt walk before me, as David thy father walked, in

integrity of heart, and in uprightness,” - David was not perfect, as our

author tells us elsewhere (ch.1:6; 15:5;  ; II  Samuel 24:10). His integrity

consisted in his unvarying loyalty to the true God. Even when overcome

by that fierce temptation (II Samuel 11.) he never faltered in his allegiance

to the truth.  There was no coquetting with idolatrous practices;  Psalm

18:20-24 – “to do according to all that I have commanded thee, and

wilt keep my statutes and my judgments:”

 

5  Then I will establish the throne of thy kingdom upon Israel for

ever, as I promised to David thy father, saying, There shall not fail

thee a man upon the throne of Israel.  6 But if ye shall at all turn from

following me, ye or your children,” – the promises of God are to us and

our children (Acts 2:39)  - “and will not keep my commandments and my

statutes which I have set before you, but go and serve other gods, and

worship them:  7 Then will I cut off Israel out of the land which I have

given them;” (Deuteronomy 4:26-27; and for the fulfillment see II Kings 25:

11, 21) – “and this house, which I have hallowed for my name, will I cast

out of my sight; and Israel shall be a proverb and a byword among all

people:” – the exact words of Deuteronomy 28:37.  Similar words in Micah

6:16. Much the same punishment is denounced in Leviticus 26:14-38, and

Deuteronomy 28:45, 63]:

 

8  And at this house, which is high, every one that passeth by it shall

be astonished, and shall hiss;” - “hiss,” is an onomatopoetic word. (The

use of words whose sound suggest the sense) - It does not denote the hissing

of terror but of derision; (Jeremiah 19:8; 49:17; Job 27:23; Lamentations

2:15-16) – This is a familiar word in Jeremiah  (see chps. 18:16; 25:9;

29:18; 50:13; 51:37, in addition to the passages cited above), and that the

other prophets rarely use it. This is one of the reasons to believe that

Jeremiah was the author of the Kings. The author indeed could hardly do

more than preserve its leading ideas, which he would naturally present in his

own dress - “and they shall say, Why hath the LORD done thus unto

this land, and to this house?”

 

9  And they shall answer, Because they forsook the LORD their God,

who brought forth their fathers out of the land of Egypt,” - Based

on Deuteronomy 29:25. Solomon in his prayer referred repeatedly to this great

deliverance, ch. 8:16, 21, 51, 53 - “and have taken hold upon other gods,

and have worshipped them, and served them: therefore hath the LORD

brought upon them all this evil.”

 

 

                        Solomon’s Buildings and Undertakings (vs. 10-28)

 

So far the historian has spoken exclusively of the two greatest works of Solomon’s

reign, the Temple and the Palace, and principally of the former. Even the message

just related was, as we have seen, the response to the prayer offered when the

temple was consecrated. But he now proceeds to mention other proofs of Solomon’s

greatness, and of the prosperity of his reign — doubtless because the glory of Israel

then reached its climax, and the author would be tempted to linger over these details

because of the dark contrast which his own time supplied — and this leads him to

speak of the means by which all these enterprises were accomplished. The particulars

here given are but fragmentary, and are grouped together in a somewhat irregular

manner. It would seem as if both this account and that of the chronicler had been

compiled from much more copious histories, each writer having cited those

particulars which appeared to him to be the most interesting and important. But

the design of the historian in either case is evident:

 

  • to recount the principal undertakings of this illustrious king, and
  • to indicate the resources which enabled him to accomplish such

            ambitious and extensive designs.

 

These latter were:

 

  • the alliance with Hiram, which secured him the necessary materials

            (vs. 11-14);

  • the forced labor of the subject races (vs. 20-23); and
  • the voyages of his fleet (vs. 26-28).

 

 

10  And it came to pass at the end of twenty years, (seven years on

the temple and thirteen on the palace) when Solomon had built the two

houses, the house of the LORD, and the king's house,  11  (Now Hiram

the king of Tyre had furnished Solomon with cedar trees and fir trees,

and with gold, according to all his desire,) that then king Solomon gave

Hiram twenty cities” (really they were mere villages. It is a genuine Eastern

trick to dignify a small present with a pompous name)  “in the land of Galilee.”

12  And Hiram came out from Tyre to see the cities which Solomon

had given him; and they pleased him not.”  It was corn lands he was most

in need of and his disappointment is amply accounted for by the fact that the

country assigned him was a hungry and mountainous, and therefore comparatively

useless, tract. The region lay on the summit of a broad mountain ridge.

 

13  And he said, What cities are these which thou hast given me, my

brother? And he called them the land of Cabul unto this day.”  The

word was obviously an expression of disparagement, if not disgust, which,

falling from Hiram’s lips, was caught up and repeated with a view to mark

not so much his displeasure as Solomon’s meanness.

 

14  And Hiram sent to the king six-score talents of gold.”

15  And this is the reason of the levy which king Solomon raised; for

to build the house of the LORD, and his own house, and Millo, and

the wall of Jerusalem,” - We learn from II Samuel 5:9 that David had

already built Millo and the wall. Rawlinson argues from ch. 11:27 that these

repairs had been “hasty, and had now — fifty years later — fallen into decay,”

and that Solomon renewed them. More probably the words indicate an

enlargement of the Tyropaeon rampart, and an extension of the walls. Solomon,

no doubt, wished to strengthen the defenses of the capital, on which he had

expended so much labor, and where there was so much to tempt the rapacity of

predatory neighbors – “and Hazor” - For the defense of the kingdom he built

a chain of fortresses “to form a sort of girdle round the land” (Ewald). The first

mentioned, Hazor, was a place of great importance in earlier times, being the

head of all those (the northern) kingdoms” (Joshua 11:10). It stood on an

eminence — as indeed, for the sake of security, did all the cities of that lawless

age (ibid. v. 13 –margin) ver. 13 marg.) — overlooking Lake Merom. It was at

no great distance from the north boundary of Palestine, in Naphtali (Joshua 19:36),

and being favored by position, it was strongly fortified — Hazor means

fortress — and hence Joshua made a point of destroying it. It appears,

however, to have speedily regained its importance, for in Judges 4:2, 17 we find

it as the capital of Jabin, king of Canaan. It was selected by Solomon as the best

site for a stronghold, which should protect his northern border, and as commanding

the approach from Syria. As it is not mentioned in ch. 15:20, it would appear to

have escaped in the invasion of Benhadad. Possibly it was too strong for him - 

and Megiddo” – (Joshua 12:21; 17:11; Judges 5:19). This place was chosen

partly because of its central position — it stood on the margin of the plain of

Esdraelon, the battlefield of Palestine, and the battles fought there prove its

strategical importance, (Judges 5:19; I Samuel 31:1; II Kings 23:29;  — and

partly, perhaps, because the high road from Egypt to Damascus passed through it.

It dominated the passes of Ephraim – “and Gezer-  This commanded the

approach from Egypt, and would protect the southern frontier of Solomon’s

kingdom. See Joshua 10:33; 12:12; 21:21; Judges 1:29; II Samuel 5:25;

I Chronicles 20:4. It stands on the great maritime plain, and is also on the coast

road between Egypt and Jerusalem.

 

The mention of Gezer leads to a parenthesis of considerable length (vs.

16-19). The question of the levy is put aside for the time, whilst the

historian explains how it was that the king came to build Gezer. He then

proceeds to mention the other towns built during the same reign.

 

16  For Pharaoh king of Egypt had gone up, and taken Gezer, and

burnt it with fire, and slain the Canaanites that dwelt in the city,

and given it for a present unto his daughter, Solomon's wife.”

Gezer was allotted to Ephraim (Joshua 16:3) and designated as a Levitical city

(ibid., 21:21), however, the Canaanite inhabitants had never been dispossessed

as the Lord had commanded - (Joshua 16:10; Judges 1:29), and they seem to

have enjoyed a sort of independence.

 

17  And Solomon built Gezer, and Bethhoron the nether,” - The object

of the king in fortifying this place was to protect the uplands of Judah, Benjamin,

and Ephraim against invasion from the Philistine plain.

 

18  And Baalath, (one of the names  which prove how ancient and

widespread was the worship of Baal) – “and Tadmor in the wilderness,

in the land,  19 And all the cities of store that Solomon had, and cities

for his chariots, and cities for his horsemen, (these were not so much

fortresses as places adapted to accommodate his calvary) and that which

Solomon desired to build in Jerusalem, and in Lebanon,” – It is highly

probable that pleasure houses were built in Lebanon (Song of Solomon 7:4,

passim [the writer has drawn throughout from sources cited]), for which

Solomon may well have had a strong affection, and pleasure gardens in Jerusalem

(Ecclesiastes 2:4-7).  We may reasonably imagine that in these latter he sought

to grow specimens of the plants, etc., about which he“spoke (ch. 4:33;

Ecclesiastes 2:5). “It is a curious fact that in the ground hard by the ‘fountains

of Solomon’ near Bethlehem, which exhibit manifest traces of an ancient garden,

and where the intimations of Josephus would lead us to suppose that Solomon

had a rural retreat, are still to be found a number of plants self sown from age to

age, which do not exist in any other part of the Holy Land” (Kitto, “Bib. Illus.”

vol. 4. p. 101). Some of Solomon’s journeys to these favorite resorts, we can

hardly doubt, are referred to in Song of Solomon 3:6-10; 4:8 sqq.; 6:11 -

 and in all the land of his dominion.”

 

20  And all the people that were left of the Amorites, Hittites,

Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites, which were not of the children of

Israel,  21 Their children that were left after them in the land, whom the

children of Israel also were not able utterly to destroy, (This was

disobedience as God had told them to exterminate them – CY – 2010) -upon

those did Solomon levy a tribute of bondservice unto this day.”

 

22  But of the children of Israel did Solomon make no bondmen:” –

This service, though compulsory, was not servile.  Bondage was forbidden –

(Leviticus 25:39) – The levy were treated as hired servants and had wages –

but they were men of war, and his servants, and his princes, and his

captains, and rulers of his chariots, and his horsemen.  23 These were

the chief of the officers that were over Solomon's work, five hundred

and fifty, which bare rule over the people that wrought in the work.”

 

24  But Pharaoh's daughter came up out of the city of David unto her

house which Solomon had built for her: then did he build Millo.  25 And

three times in a year did Solomon offer burnt offerings and peace

offerings upon the altar which he built unto the LORD, and he burnt

incense upon the altar that was before the LORD. So he finished the

house.”

 

26  And king Solomon made a navy of ships in Ezion-geber, which is

beside Eloth, on the shore of the Red sea, in the land of Edom.

27 And Hiram sent in the navy his servants, shipmen that had

knowledge of the sea, with the servants of Solomon.  28 And they

came to Ophir, and fetched from thence gold, four hundred and

twenty talents, and brought it to king Solomon.”

 

 

 

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