1 Kings 9
In this chapter we have,
I. The answer which God, in a vision, gave to Solomon's prayer, and the
terms he settled with him,
1 Kings 9:1-9.
II. The interchanging of grateful kindnesses between Solomon and Hiram,
1 Kings 9:10-14.
III. His workmen and buildings,
1 Kings 9:15-24.
IV. His devotion,
1 Kings 9:25.
V. His trading navy,
1 Kings 9:26-28.
|God's Answer to Solomon.
||B. C. 1001.|
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,
2 That the LORD appeared to Solomon the second time, as he had
appeared unto him at Gibeon.
3 And the LORD said unto him, 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; and
mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually.
4 And if thou wilt walk before me, as David thy father walked,
in integrity of heart, and in uprightness, to do according to all
that I have commanded thee, and wilt keep my statutes and my
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, and will not keep my commandments and my statutes
which I have set before you, but go and serve other gods, and
7 Then will I cut off Israel out of the land which I have given
them; 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:
8 And at this house, which is high, every one that passeth by
it shall be astonished, and shall hiss; 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,
and have taken hold upon other gods, and have worshipped them,
and served them: therefore hath the LORD brought upon them all
God had given a real answer to Solomon's prayer, and tokens of his
acceptance of it, immediately, by the fire from heaven which
consumed the sacrifices (as we find
2 Chronicles 7:1);
but here we have a more express and distinct answer to it.
I. In what way God gave him this answer. He appeared to him, as he had
done at Gibeon, in the beginning of his reign, in a dream or vision,
1 Kings 9:2.
The comparing of it with that intimates that it was the very night
after he had finished the solemnities of his festival, for so that was,
2 Chronicles 1:6,7.
1 Kings 9:1,
speaking of Solomon's finishing all his buildings, which was not till
many years after the dedication of the temple, must be read thus,
Solomon finished (as it is
2 Chronicles 7:11),
1 Kings 9:2
must be read, and the Lord had appeared.
II. The purport of this answer.
1. He assures him of his special presence in the temple he had built,
in answer to the prayer he had made
(1 Kings 9:3):
I have hallowed this house. Solomon had dedicated it, but it was
God's prerogative to hallow it--to sanctify or consecrate it. Men
cannot make a place holy, yet what we, in sincerity, devote to God, we
may hope he will graciously accept as his; and his eyes and his
heart shall be upon it. Apply it to persons, the living temples.
Those whom God hallows or sanctifies, whom he sets apart for himself,
have his eye, his heart, his love and care, and this perpetually.
2. He shows him that he and his people were for the future upon
their good behaviour. Let them not be secure now, as if they might
live as they please now that they have the temple of the Lord
No, this house was designed to protect them in their allegiance to God,
but not in their rebellion or disobedience. God deals plainly with us,
sets before us good and evil, the blessing and the curse, and lets us
know what we must trust to. God here tells Solomon,
(1.) That the establishment of his kingdom depended upon the constancy
of his obedience
(1 Kings 9:4,5):
"If thou wilt walk before me as David did, who left thee a good
example and encouragement enough to follow it (and advantage thou wilt
be accountable for if thou do not improve it), if thou wilt walk as
he did, in integrity of heart and uprightness" (for that is the
main matter--no religion without sincerity), "then I will establish
the throne of thy kingdom, and not otherwise," for on that
condition the promise was made,
If we perform our part of the covenant, God will not fail to perform
his; if we improve the grace God has given us, he will confirm us to
the end. Let not the children of godly parents expect the entail of the
blessing, unless they tread in the steps of those that have gone before
them to heaven, and keep up the virtue and piety of their ancestors.
(2.) That the ruin of his kingdom would be the certain consequence of
his or his children's apostasy from God
(1 Kings 9:6):
"But know thou, and let thy family and kingdom know it, and be
admonished by it, that if you shall altogether turn from following
me" (so it is thought it should be read), "if you forsake my
service, desert my altar, and go and serve other gods" (for that was
the covenant-breaking sin), "if you or your children break off from me,
this house will not save you. But,
[1.] Israel, though a holy nation, will be cut off
(1 Kings 9:7),
by one judgment after another, till they become a proverb and a
by-word, and the most despicable people under the sun, though now the
most honourable." This supposes the destruction of the royal family,
though it is not particularly threatened; the king is, of course,
undone, if the kingdom be.
[2.] "The temple, though a holy house, which God himself has
hallowed for his name, shall be abandoned and laid desolate
(1 Kings 9:8,9):
This house which is high." They prided themselves in the
stateliness and magnificence of the structure, but let them know that
it is not so high as to be out of the reach of God's judgments, if they
vilify it so as to exchange it for groves and idol-temples, and yet, at
the same time, magnify it so as to think it will secure the favour of
God to them though they ever so much corrupt themselves. This house
which is high. Those that now pass by it are astonished at
the bulk and beauty of it; the richness, contrivance, and workmanship,
are admired by all spectators, and it is called a stupendous fabric;
but, if you forsake God, its height will make its fall the more
amazing, and those that pass by will be as much astonished at its
ruins, while the guilty, self-convicted, self-condemned, Israelites,
will be forced to acknowledge, with shame, that they themselves were
the ruin of it; for when it shall be asked, Why hath the Lord done
thus to his house? they cannot but answer, It was because they
forsook the Lord their God. See
Their sin will be read in their punishment. They deserted the temple,
and therefore God deserted it; they profaned it with their sins and
laid it common, and therefore God profaned it with his judgments and
laid it waste. God gave Solomon fair warning of this, now that he had
newly built and dedicated it, that he and his people might not be
high-minded, but fear.
|Solomon and Hiram.
||B. C. 1001.|
10 And it came to pass at the end of twenty years, when Solomon
had built the two houses, the house of the LORD, and the king's
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 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.
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
14 And Hiram sent to the king sixscore talents of gold.
What agreement was made between Solomon and Hiram, when the
building-work was to be begun, we read before,
1 Kings 5:1-18
Here we have an account of their fair and friendly parting when the
work was done.
1. Hiram made good his bargain to the utmost. He had furnished Solomon
with materials for his buildings, according to all his desire
(1 Kings 9:11),
and with gold,
1 Kings 9:15.
So far was he from envying Solomon's growing greatness and reputation,
and being jealous of him, that he helped to magnify him. Solomon's
power, with Solomon's wisdom, needs not be dreaded by any of his
neighbours. God honours him; therefore Hiram will.
2. Solomon, no doubt, made good his bargain, and gave Hiram food for
his household, as was agreed,
1 Kings 5:9.
But here we are told that, over and above that, he gave him twenty
cities (small ones we may suppose, like those mentioned here,
1 Kings 9:19)
in the land of Galilee,
1 Kings 9:11.
It should seem, these were not allotted to any of the tribes of Israel
(for the border of Asher came up to them,
which intimates that it did not include them), but continued in the
hands of the natives till Solomon made himself master of them, and then
made a present of them to Hiram. It becomes those that are great and
good to be generous. Hiram came to see these cities, and did not like
(1 Kings 9:12):
They pleased him not. He called the country the land of
Cabul, a Phoenician word (says Josephus) which signifies
1 Kings 9:13.
He therefore returned them to Solomon (as we find,
2 Chronicles 8:2),
who repaired them, and then caused the children of Israel to inhabit
them, which intimates that before they did not; but, when Solomon
received back what he had given, no doubt he honourably gave Hiram an
equivalent in something else. But what shall we think of this? Did
Solomon act meanly in giving Hiram what was not worth his acceptance?
Or was Hiram humoursome and hard to please? I am willing to believe it
was neither the one nor the other. The country was truly valuable, and
so were the cities in it, but not agreeable to Hiram's genius. The
Tyrians were merchants, trading men, that lived in fine houses, and
became rich by navigation, but knew not how to value a country that was
fit for corn and pasture (that was business that lay out of their way);
and therefore Hiram desired Solomon to take them again, he knew not
what to do with them, and, if he would please to gratify him, let it be
in his own element, by becoming his partner in trade, as we find he
1 Kings 9:27.
Hiram, who was used to the clean streets of Tyre, could by no means
agree with the miry lanes in the land of Cabul, whereas the best lands
have commonly the worst roads through them. See how the providence of
God suits both the accommodation of this earth to the various
dispositions of men and the dispositions of men to the various
accommodations of the earth, and all for the good of mankind in
general. Some take delight in husbandry, and wonder what pleasure
sailors can take on a rough sea; others take as much delight in
navigation, and wonder what pleasure husbandmen can take in a dirty
country, like the land of Cabul. It is so in many other instances, in
which we may observe the wisdom of him whose all souls are and all
|Solomon's Buildings; Solomon's Greatness.
||B. C. 991.|
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, and Hazor, and Megiddo, and
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,
17 And Solomon built Gezer, and Beth-horon the nether,
18 And Baalath, 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, and that which Solomon
desired to build in Jerusalem, and in Lebanon, 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,
upon those did Solomon levy a tribute of bondservice unto this
22 But of the children of Israel did Solomon make no bondmen:
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
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
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.
We have here a further account of Solomon's greatness.
I. His buildings. He raised a great levy both of men and money, because
he projected a great deal of building, which would both employ many
hands and put him to a vast expense,
1 Kings 9:15.
And he was a wise builder, who sat down first, and counted the cost,
and would not begin to build till he found himself able to finish.
Perhaps there was some complaint of the heaviness of the taxes, which
the historian excuses from the greatness of his undertakings. He raised
it, not for war (as other princes), which would spend the blood of his
subjects, but for building, which would require only their labour and
purses. Perhaps David observed Solomon's genius to lie towards
building, and foresaw he would have his head and hands full of it, when
he penned that song of degrees for Solomon, which begins, Except the
Lord build the house, those labour in vain that build it
directing him to acknowledge God in all his ways, and, by prayer and
faith in his providence, to take him along with him in all his designs
of this kind. And Solomon verily began his work at the right end, for
he built God's house first, and finished that before he began his own;
and then God blessed him, and he prospered in all his other buildings.
If we begin with God, he will go on with us. Let the first-fruits be
his, and the after-fruits will the more comfortably be ours,
Solomon built a church first and then he was enabled to build houses,
and cities, and walls. Those consult not their own interest that defer
to the last what they design for pious uses. The further order in
Solomon's buildings is observable. God's house first for religion, then
his own for his own convenience, then a house for his wife, to which
she removed as soon as it was ready for her
(1 Kings 9:24),
then Millo, the town-house or guild-hall, then the wall of Jerusalem,
the royal city, then some cities of note and strength in the country,
which were decayed and unfortified, Hazor, Megiddo, &c. As he rebuilt
these at his own charge, the inhabitants would be not only his
subjects, but his tenants, which would increase the revenues of the
crown for the benefit of his successors. Among the rest, he built
Gezer, which Pharaoh took out of the hands of the Canaanites, and made
a present of to his daughter, Solomon's wife,
1 Kings 9:16.
See how God maketh the earth to help the woman. Solomon was not
himself a warlike prince, but the king of Egypt, who was, took cities
for him to build. Then he built cities for convenience, for store, for
his chariots, and for his horsemen,
1 Kings 9:19.
And, lastly, he built for pleasure in Lebanon, for his hunting
perhaps, or other diversions there. Let piety begin, and profit
proceed, and leave pleasure to the last.
II. His workmen and servants. In doing such great works, he must needs
employ abundance of workmen. The honour of great men is borrowed from
their inferiors, who do that which they have the credit of.
1. Solomon employed those who remained of the conquered and devoted
nations in all the slavish work,
1 Kings 9:20,21.
We may suppose that they renounced their idolatry and submitted to
Solomon's government, so that he could not, in honour, utterly destroy
them, and they were so poor that he could not levy money on them;
therefore he served himself of their labour. Herein he observed God's
Thy bondmen shall be of the heathen), and fulfilled Noah's curse
upon Canaan, A servant of servants shall he be unto his
2. He employed Israelites in the more creditable services
(1 Kings 9:22,23):
Of them he made no bondmen, for they were God's freemen, but he
made them soldiers and courtiers, and gave them offices, as he saw them
qualified, among his chariots and horsemen, appointing some to support
the service of the inferior labourers. Thus he preserved the dignity
and liberty of Israel and honoured their relation to God as a kingdom
III. His piety and devotion
(1 Kings 9:25):
Three times in a year he offered burnt-offerings extraordinary
(namely, at the three yearly feasts, the passover, pentecost, and feast
of tabernacles) in honour of the divine institution, besides what he
offered at other times, both statedly and upon special occasions. With
his sacrifices he burnt incense, not himself (that was king Uzziah's
crime), but the priest for him, at his charge, and for his particular
use. It is said, He offered on the altar which he himself
built. He took care to build it, and then,
1. He himself made use of it. Many will assist the devotions of others
that neglect their own. Solomon did not think his building an altar
would excuse him from sacrificing, but rather engage him the more to
2. He himself had the benefit and comfort of it. Whatever pains we
take, for the support of religion, to the glory of God and the
edification of others, we ourselves are likely to have the advantage of
IV. His merchandise. He built a fleet of trading ships at Ezion-geber
(1 Kings 9:26),
a port on the coast of the Red Sea, the furthest stage of the
Israelites when they wandered in the wilderness,
Probably that wilderness now began to be peopled by the Edomites, which
it was not then. To them this port had belonged, but, David having
subdued the Edomites, it now pertained to the crown of Judah. The fleet
traded to Ophir in the East Indies, supposed to be that which is now
called Ceylon. Gold was the commodity traded for, substantial
wealth. It should seem, Solomon had before been Hiram's partner, or
put a venture into his ships, which made him a rich return of 120
(1 Kings 9:14),
which encouraged him to build a fleet of his own. The success of others
in any employment should quicken our industry; for in all labour
there is profit. Solomon sent his own servants as factors, and
merchants, and super-cargoes, but hired Tyrians for sailors, for they
had knowledge of the sea,
1 Kings 9:27.
Thus one nation needs another, Providence so ordering it that there may
be mutual commerce and assistance; for not only as Christians, but as
men, we are members one of another. The fleet brought home to Solomon
420 talents of gold,
1 Kings 9:28.
Canaan, the holy land, the glory of all lands, had no gold in it, which
teaches us that that part of the wealth of this world which is for
hoarding and trading is not the best part of it, but that which is more
immediately for the present support and comfort of life, our own and
others'; such were the productions of Canaan. Solomon got much by his
merchandise, but, it should seem, David got much more by his conquests.
What were Solomon's 420 talents to David's 100,000 talents of
1 Chronicles 22:14,29:4.
Solomon got much by his merchandise, and yet has directed us to a
better trade, within reach of the poorest, having assured us from his
own experience of both that the merchandise of wisdom is better than
the merchandise of silver and the gain thereof than fine gold,