Solomon's court. (1-19) Solomon's dominions, His daily provision. (20-28) The wisdom of Solomon. (29-34)
Verses 1-19 In the choice of the great officers of Solomon's court, no doubt, his wisdom appeared. Several are the same that were in his father's time. A plan was settled by which no part of the country was exhausted to supply his court, though each sent its portion.
Verses 20-28 Never did the crown of Israel shine so bright, as when Solomon wore it. He had peace on all sides. Herein, his kingdom was a type of the Messiah's; for to Him it is promised that he shall have the heathen for his inheritance, and that princes shall worship him. The spiritual peace, and joy, and holy security, of all the faithful subjects of the Lord Jesus, were typified by that of Israel. The kingdom of God is not, as Solomon's was, meat and drink, but, what is infinitely better, righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. The vast number of his attendants, and the great resort to him, are shown by the provision daily made. Herein Christ far outdoes Solomon, that he feeds all his subjects, not with the bread that perishes, but with that which endures to eternal life.
Verses 29-34 Solomon's wisdom was more his glory than his wealth. He had what is here called largeness of heart, for the heart is often put for the powers of the mind. He had the gift of utterance, as well as wisdom. It is very desirable, that those who have large gifts of any kind, should have large hearts to use them for the good of others. What treasures of wisdom and knowledge are lost! But every sort of knowledge that is needful for salvation is to be found in the holy Scriptures. There came persons from all parts, who were more eager after knowledge than their neighbours, to hear the wisdom of Solomon. Solomon was herein a type of Christ, in whom are hid all treasures of wisdom and knowledge; and hid for us, for he is made of God to us, wisdom. Christ's fame shall spread through all the earth, and men of all nations shall come to him, learn of him, and take upon them his easy yoke, and find rest for their souls.
1 Kings 4:1-6 . SOLOMON'S PRINCES.
1. So King Solomon was king over all Israel--This chapter contains a general description of the state and glory of the Hebrew kingdom during the more flourishing or later years of his reign.
2. these were the princes--or chief officers, as is evident from two of them marrying Solomon's daughters.
Azariah the son of Zadok the priest--rather, "the prince," as the Hebrew word frequently signifies ( Genesis 41:45 , Exodus 2:16 , 2 Samuel 8:18 ); so that from the precedency given to his person in the list, he seems to have been prime minister, the highest in office next the king.
3. scribes--that is, secretaries of state. Under David, there had been only one [ 2 Samuel 8:17 , 20:25 ]. The employment of three functionaries in this department indicates either improved regulations by the division of labor, or a great increase of business, occasioned by the growing prosperity of the kingdom, or a more extensive correspondence with foreign countries.
recorder--that is, historiographer, or annalist--an office of great importance in Oriental courts, and the duties of which consisted in chronicling the occurrences of every day.
4. Benaiah . . . was over the host--formerly captain of the guard. He had succeeded Joab as commander of the forces.
Zadok and Abiathar were the priests--Only the first discharged the sacred functions; the latter had been banished to his country seat and retained nothing more than the name of high priest.
5. over the officers--that is, the provincial governors enumerated in 1 Kings 4:17-19 .
principal officer, and the king's friend--perhaps president of the privy council, and Solomon's confidential friend or favorite. This high functionary had probably been reared along with Solomon. That he should heap those honors on the sons of Nathan was most natural, considering the close intimacy of the father with the late king, and the deep obligations under which Solomon personally lay to the prophet.
6. Ahishar was over the household--steward or chamberlain of the palace.
Adoniram--or Adoram ( 2 Samuel 20:24 , 1 Kings 12:18 ), or Hadoram ( 2 Chronicles 10:18 ),
was over the tribute--not the collection of money or goods, but the levy of compulsory laborers (compare 1 Kings 5:13 1 Kings 5:14 ).
1 Kings 4:7-21 . HIS TWELVE OFFICERS.
7. Solomon had twelve officers over all Israel--The royal revenues were raised according to the ancient, and still, in many parts, existing usage of the East, not in money payments, but in the produce of the soil. There would be always a considerable difficulty in the collection and transmission of these tithes ( 1 Samuel 8:15 ). Therefore, to facilitate the work, Solomon appointed twelve officers, who had each the charge of a tribe or particular district of country, from which, in monthly rotation, the supplies for the maintenance of the king's household were drawn, having first been deposited in "the store cities" which were erected for their reception ( 1 Kings 9:19 , 2 Chronicles 8:4 2 Chronicles 8:6 ).
8. The son of Hur--or, as the Margin has it, Benhur, Bendekar. In the rural parts of Syria, and among the Arabs, it is still common to designate persons not by their own names, but as the sons of their fathers.
21. Solomon reigned over all kingdoms from the river--All the petty kingdoms between the Euphrates and the Mediterranean were tributary to him. Similar is the statement in 1 Kings 4:24 .
22, 23. Solomon's provision for one day--not for the king's table only, but for all connected with the court, including, besides the royal establishment, those of his royal consorts, his principal officers, his bodyguards, his foreign visitors, &c. The quantity of fine floor used is estimated at two hundred forty bushels; that of meal or common flour at four hundred eighty. The number of cattle required for consumption, besides poultry and several kinds of game (which were abundant on the mountains) did not exceed in proportion what is needed in other courts of the East.
24. from Tiphsah--that is, Thapsacus, a large and flourishing town on the west bank of the Euphrates, the name of which was derived from a celebrated ford near it, the lowest on that river.
even to Azzah--that is, Gaza, on the southwestern extremity, not far from the Mediterranean.
25. every man under his vine and . . . fig tree--This is a common and beautiful metaphor for peace and security ( Micah 4:4 , Zechariah 3:10 ), founded on the practice, still common in modern Syria, of training these fruit trees up the walls and stairs of houses, so as to make a shady arbor, beneath which the people sit and relax.
26. forty thousand stalls--for the royal mews
28. Barley . . . and straw--Straw is not used for litter, but barley mixed with chopped straw is the usual fodder of horses.
dromedaries--one-humped camels, distinguished for their great fleetness.
1 Kings 4:29-34 . HIS WISDOM.
29. God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and largeness of heart--that is, high powers of mind, great capacity for receieving, as well as aptitude for communicating, knowledge.
30. Solomon's wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the east country--that is, the Arabians, Chaldeans, and Persians ( Genesis 25:6 ).
all the wisdom of Egypt--Egypt was renowned as the seat of learning and sciences, and the existing monuments, which so clearly describe the ancient state of society and the arts, show the high culture of the Egyptian people.
31. wiser than all men--that is, all his contemporaries, either at home or abroad.
than Ethan--or Jeduthun, of the family of Merari ( 1 Chronicles 6:44 ).
Heman--( 1 Chronicles 15:17-19 )--the chief of the temple musicians and the king's seers ( 1 Chronicles 25:5 ); the other two are not known.
the sons of Mahol--either another name for Zerah ( 1 Chronicles 2:6 ); or taking it as a common noun, signifying a dance, a chorus, "the sons of Mahol" signify persons eminently skilled in poetry and music.
32. he spake three thousand proverbs--embodying his moral sentiments and sage observations on human life and character.
songs . . . a thousand and five--Psalm 72, 127, 132, and the Song of Songs are his.
33. he spake of trees, from the cedar . . . to the hyssop--all plants, from the greatest to the least. The Spirit of God has seen fit to preserve comparatively few memorials of the fruits of his gigantic mind. The greater part of those here ascribed to him have long since fallen a prey to the ravages of time, or perished in the Babylonish captivity, probably because they were not inspired.