1 Kings 4
An instance of the wisdom God granted to Solomon we had in the close of
the foregoing chapter. In this we have an account of his wealth and
prosperity, the other branch of the promise there made him. We have
I. The magnificence of his court, his ministers of state
(1 Kings 4:1-6),
and the purveyors of his household
(1 Kings 4:7-19),
and their office,
1 Kings 4:27,28.
II. The provisions for his table,
1 Kings 4:22,23.
III. The extent of his dominion,
1 Kings 4:21-24.
IV. The numbers, case, and peace, of his subjects,
1 Kings 4:20-25.
V. His stables,
1 Kings 4:26.
VI. His great reputation for wisdom and learning,
1 Kings 4:29-34.
Thus great was Solomon, but our Lord Jesus was greater than he
though he took upon him the form of a servant; for divinity, in its
lowest humiliation, infinitely transcends royalty in its highest
||B. C. 1014.|
1 So king Solomon was king over all Israel.
2 And these were the princes which he had; Azariah the son of
Zadok the priest,
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:
5 And Azariah the son of Nathan was over the officers: and
Zabud the son of Nathan was principal officer, and the king's
6 And Ahishar was over the household: and Adoniram the son of
Abda was over the tribute.
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
9 The son of Dekar, in Makaz, and in Shaalbim, and Beth-shemesh,
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 Beth-shean, which is by Zartanah beneath
Jezreel, from Beth-shean to Abel-meholah, even unto the place
that is beyond Jokneam:
13 The son of Geber, in Ramoth-gilead; 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:
16 Baanah the son of Hushai was in Asher and in Aloth:
17 Jehoshaphat the son of Paruah, in Issachar:
18 Shimei the son of Elah, in Benjamin:
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.
Here we have,
I. Solomon upon his throne
(1 Kings 4:1):
So king Solomon was king, that is, he was confirmed and
established king over all Israel, and not, as his successors,
only over two tribes. He was a king, that is, he did the work and duty
of a king, with the wisdom God had given him. Those preserve the name
and honour of their place that mind the business of it and make
conscience of it.
II. The great officers of his court, in the choice of whom, no doubt,
his wisdom much appeared. It is observable,
1. That several of them are the same that were in his father's time.
Zadok and Abiathar were then priests
(2 Samuel 20:25),
so they were now; only then Abiathar had the precedency, now Zadok.
Jehoshaphat was then recorder, or keeper of the great seal, so he was
now. Benaiah, in his father's time, was a principal man in military
affairs, and so he was now. Shisha was his father's scribe, and his
sons were his,
1 Kings 4:3.
Solomon, though a wise man, would not affect to be wiser than his
father in this matter. When sons come to inherit their father's wealth,
honour, and power, it is a piece of respect to their memory,
cæteris paribus--where it can properly be done, to employ those
whom they employed, and trust those whom they trusted. Many pride
themselves in being the reverse of their good parents.
2. The rest were priests' sons. His prime-minister of state was
Azariah the son of Zadok the priest. Two others of the first
rank were the sons of Nathan the prophet,
1 Kings 4:5.
In preferring them he testified the grateful respect he had for their
good father, whom he loved in the name of a prophet.
III. The purveyors for his household, whose business it was to send in
provisions from several parts of the country, for the king's tables and
(1 Kings 4:7)
and for his stables
(1 Kings 4:27,28),
1. His house might always be well furnished at the best hand. Let great
men learn hence good house-keeping, to be generous in spending
according to their ability, but prudent in providing. It is the
character of the virtuous woman that she bringeth her food from
not far-fetched and dear-bought, but the contrary, every thing bought
where it is cheapest.
2. That thus he himself, and those who immediately attended him, might
be eased of a great deal of care, and the more closely apply themselves
to the business of the state, not troubled about much serving,
provision for that being got ready to their hand.
3. That thus all the parts of the kingdom might be equally benefited by
the taking off of the commodities that were the productions of their
country and the circulating of the coin. Industry would hereby be
encouraged, and consequently wealth increased, even in those tribes
that lay most remote from the court. The providence of God extends
itself to all places of his dominions
so should the prudence and care of princes.
4. The dividing of this trust into so many hands was prudent, that no
man might be continually burdened with the care of it nor grow
exorbitantly rich with the profit of it, but that Solomon might have
those, in every district, who, having a dependence upon the court,
would be serviceable to him and his interest as there was occasion.
These commissioners of the victualling-office, not for the army or navy
(Solomon was engaged in no war), but for the household, are here named,
several of them only by their surnames, as great men commonly call
their servants: Ben-hur, Ben-dekar, &c., though several of them
have also their proper names prefixed. Two of them married Solomon's
(1 Kings 4:11)
(1 Kings 4:15),
and no disparagement to them to marry men of business. Better match
with the officers of their father's court that were Israelites than
with the sons of princes that were strangers to the covenant of
promise. The son of Geber was in Ramoth-Gilead
(1 Kings 4:19),
and Geber himself was in the country of Sihon and Og, which included
that and Mahanaim,
1 Kings 4:14.
He is therefore said to be the only officer in that land,
because the other two, mentioned
1 Kings 4:13,14,
depended on him, and were subordinate to him.
|The Supply of Solomon's Household.
||B. C. 1014.|
20 Judah and Israel were many, as the sand which is by the
sea in multitude, eating and drinking, and making merry.
21 And Solomon reigned over all kingdoms from the river unto
the land of the Philistines, and unto the border of Egypt: they
brought presents, and served Solomon all the days of his life.
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 fallowdeer, and
24 For he had dominion over all the region on this side the
river, from Tiphsah 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, from Dan even to Beer-sheba, all the days
26 And Solomon had forty thousand stalls of horses for his
chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen.
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.
Such a kingdom, and such a court, surely never any prince had, as
Solomon's are here described to be.
I. Such a kingdom. Never did the crown of Israel shine so brightly as
it did when Solomon wore it, never in his father's days, never in the
days of any of his successors; nor was that kingdom ever so glorious a
type of the kingdom of the Messiah as it was then. The account here
given of it is such as fully answers the prophecies which we have
concerning it in
which is a psalm for Solomon, but with reference to Christ.
1. The territories of his kingdom were large and its tributaries many;
so it was foretold that he should have dominion from sea to sea,
Solomon reigned not only over all Israel, who were his subjects by
choice, but over all the neighbouring kingdoms, who were his subjects
by constraint. All the princes from the river Euphrates, north-east to
the border of Egypt south-west, not only added to his honour by doing
him homage and holding their crowns from him, but added to his wealth
by serving him, and bringing him presents,
1 Kings 4:21.
David, by his successful wars, compelled them to this subjection, and
Solomon, by his admirable wisdom, made it easy and reasonable; for it
is fit that the fool should be servant to the wise in heart. If
they gave him presents, he gave them instructions, and still taught
the people knowledge, not only his own people, but those of other
nations: and wisdom is better than gold. He had peace on all
1 Kings 4:24.
None of all the nations that were subject to him offered to shake off
his yoke, or to give him any disturbance, but rather thought themselves
happy in their dependence upon him. Herein his kingdom typified the
Messiah's; for to him it is promised that he shall have the heathen
for his inheritance and that princes shall worship him,
2. The subjects of his kingdom and its inhabitants, were many and
(1.) They were numerous and country was exceedingly populous
(1 Kings 4:20):
Judah and Israel were many, and that good land was sufficient to
maintain them all. They were as the sand of the sea in
multitude. Now was fulfilled the promise made to Abraham concerning
the increase of his seed
as well as that concerning the extent of their dominion,
This was their strength and beauty, the honour of their prince, the
terror of their enemies, and an advancement of the wealth of the
nation. If they grew so numerous that the place was any where too
strait for them, they might remove with advantage into the countries
that were subject to them. God's spiritual Israel are many, at least
they will be so when they come all together,
(2.) They were easy, they dwelt safely, or with confidence and
(1 Kings 4:25),
not jealous of their king or of his officers, not disaffected either to
him or one to another, nor under any apprehension or danger from
enemies foreign or domestic. They were happy and knew it, safe and
willing to think themselves so. They dwelt every man under his vine
and fig-tree. Solomon invaded no man's property, took not to
himself their vineyards and olive-yards, as sometimes was the manner of
(1 Samuel 8:14),
but what they had they could call their own: he protected every man in
the possession and enjoyment of his property. Those that had vines and
fig-trees ate the fruit of them themselves; and so great was the peace
of the country that they might, if they pleased, dwell as safely under
the shadow of them as within the walls of a city. Or, because it was
usual to have vines by the sides of their houses
they are said to dwell under their vines.
(3.) They were cheerful in the use of their plenty, eating and
drinking, and making merry,
1 Kings 4:20.
Solomon did not only keep a good table himself, but enabled all his
subjects, according to their rank, to do so too, and taught them that
God gave them their abundance that they might use it soberly and
pleasantly, not that they might hoard it up. There is nothing
better than for a man to eat the labour of his hands
and that with a merry heart,
His father, in the Psalms, had led his people into the comforts of
communion with God, and now he led them into the comfortable use of the
good things of this life. This pleasant posture of Israel's affairs
extended, in place, from Dan to Beer-sheba--no part of the country was
exposed nor upon any account uneasy; and it continued a long time,
all the days of Solomon, without any material interruption. Go
where you would, you might see all the marks of plenty, peace, and
satisfaction. The spiritual peace, and joy, and holy security, of all
the faithful subjects of the Lord Jesus were typified by this. 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.
II. Such a court Solomon kept as can scarcely be paralleled. We may
guess at the vast number of his attendants, and the great resort there
was to him, by the provision that was made daily for his table. Of
bread there were so many measures of flour and meal as, it is computed,
would richly serve 3000 men (Carellus computes above 4800 men), and the
provision of flesh
(1 Kings 4:23)
was rather more in proportion. What vast quantities were here of beef,
mutton, and venison, and the choicest of all fatted things, as
some read that which we translate fatted fowl! Ahasuerus, once
in his reign, made a great feast, to show the riches of his
But it was much more the honour of Solomon that he kept a constant
table and a very noble one, not of dainties or deceitful meats (he
himself witnessed against them,
but substantial food, for the entertainment of those who came to hear
his wisdom. Thus Christ fed those whom he taught, 5000 at a time, more
than ever Solomon's table would entertain at once: and all believers
have in him a continual feast. Herein he far outdoes Solomon, that he
feeds all his subjects, not with the bread that perishes, but with
that which endures to eternal life. It added much both to the
strength and glory of Solomon's kingdom that he had such abundance of
horses, 40,000 for chariots and 12,000 for his troops, 1000 horse,
perhaps, in every tribe, for the preserving of the public peace,
1 Kings 4:26.
God had commanded that their king should not multiply horses
nor, according to the account here given, considering the extent and
wealth of Solomon's kingdom, did he multiply horses in proportion to
his neighbours; for we find even the Philistines bringing into the
field 30,000 chariots
(1 Samuel 13:5)
and the Syrians at least 40,000 horse,
2 Samuel 10:18.
The same officers that provided for his house provided also for his
1 Kings 4:27,28.
Every one knew his place, and work, and time; and so this great court
was kept without confusion. Solomon, that had vast incomes, lived at a
vast expense, and perhaps wrote that with application to himself,
When goods increase those are increased that eat them; and what good
is there to the owners thereof, saving the beholding of them with their
eyes, unless withal they have the satisfaction of doing good with
|Solomon's Distinguished Reputation.
||B. C. 1014.|
29 And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding
much, and largeness of heart, even as the sand that is on the
30 And Solomon's wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children
of the east country, and all the wisdom of Egypt.
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.
32 And he spake three thousand proverbs: and his songs were a
thousand and five.
33 And he spake of trees, 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
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.
Solomon's wisdom was more his glory than his wealth, and here we have a
general account of it.
I. The fountain of his wisdom: God gave it him,
1 Kings 4:29.
He owns it himself.
The Lord giveth wisdom. He gives the powers of reason
preserves and improves them. The ordinary advances of them are owing to
his providence, the sanctification of them to his grace, and this
extraordinary pitch at which they arrived in Solomon to a special grant
of his favour to him in answer to prayer.
II. The fulness of it: He had wisdom and understanding, exceeding
much, great knowledge of distant countries and the histories of
former times, a quickness of thought, strength of memory, and clearness
of judgment, such as never any man had. It is called largeness of
heart; for the heart is often put for the intellectual powers. He
had a vast compass of knowledge, could take things entire, and had an
admirable faculty of laying things together. Some, by his largeness
of heart, understand his courage and boldness, and that great
assurance with which he delivered his dictates and determinations. Or
it may be meant of his disposition to do good with his knowledge. He
was very free and communicative, had the gift of utterance as well as
wisdom, was as free of his learning as he was of his meat, and grudged
neither to any that were about him. Note, 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; and this is from the hand of God,
He shall enlarge the heart,
The greatness of Solomon's wisdom is illustrated by comparison. Chaldea
and Egypt were nations famous for learning; thence the Greeks borrowed
theirs; but the greatest scholars of these nations came short of
1 Kings 4:30.
If nature excels art, much more does grace. The knowledge which God
gives by special favour goes beyond that which man gets by his own
labour. Some wise men there were in Solomon's time, who were in great
repute, particularly Heman, and others who were Levites, and employed
by David in the temple-music,
1 Chronicles 15:19.
Heman was his seer in the word of God,
1 Chronicles 25:5.
Chalcol and Darda were own brothers, and they also were noted for
learning and wisdom. But Solomon excelled them all
(1 Kings 4:30),
he out-did them and confounded them; his counsel was much more
III. The fame of it. It was talked of in all nations round
about. His great wealth and glory made his wisdom much more
illustrious, and have him those opportunities of showing it which those
cannot have that live in poverty and obscurity. The jewel of wisdom may
receive great advantage by the setting of it.
IV. The fruits of it; by these the tree is known: he did not bury his
talent, but showed his wisdom,
1. In his compositions. Those in divinity, written by divine
inspiration, are not mentioned here, for they are extant, and will
remain to the world's end monuments of his wisdom, and are, as other
parts of scripture, of use to make us wise unto salvation. But,
besides these, it appears by what he spoke, or dictated to be written
(1.) That he was a moralist, and a man of great prudence, for he spoke
3000 proverbs, wise sayings, apophthegms, of admirable use for
the conduct of human life. The world is much governed by proverbs, and
was never better furnished with useful ones than by Solomon. Whether
those proverbs of Solomon that we have were any part of the 3000 is
(2.) That he was a poet and a man of great wit: His songs were
1005, of which one only is extant, because that only was divinely
inspired, which is therefore called his Song of songs. His wise
instructions were communicated by proverbs, that they might be familiar
to those whom he designed to teach and ready on all occasions, and by
songs, that they might be pleasant and move the affections.
(3.) That he was a natural philosopher, and a man of great learning and
insight into the mysteries of nature. From his own and others'
observations and experience, he wrote both of plants and animals
(1 Kings 4:33),
descriptions of their natures and qualities, and (some think) of the
medicinal use of them.
2. In his conversation. There came persons from all parts, who were
more inquisitive after knowledge than their neighbours, to hear the
wisdom of Solomon,
1 Kings 4:34.
Kings that had heard of it sent their ambassadors to hear it and to
bring them instructions from it. Solomon's court was the staple of
learning, and the rendezvous of philosophers, that is, the lovers of
wisdom, who all came to light their candle at his lamp and to borrow
from him. Let those who magnify the modern learning above that of the
ancients produce such a treasure of knowledge any where in these latter
ages as that was which Solomon was master of; yet this puts an honour
upon human learning, that Solomon was praised for it, and recommends it
to the great men of the earth, as well worthy their diligent search.
Lastly, Solomon was, herein, a type of Christ, in whom are
hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, and hidden for
use; for he is made of God to us wisdom.