April 14 Reading: I Kings 4-6 Commentary
“And God gave Solomon wisdom and exceedingly great understanding, and largeness of heart like the sand on the seashore.” (I Kings 4:29)
I Kings 4 – Solomon’s Officials
With all the opposition put away (I Kings 2), Solomon was freed to reign. The first step was to set up his own administration with people that he could trust. A listing of them is giving in I Kings 4 with the most important people being:
1. Azariah, son of Zadok the priest as chief officer over the district officials (v. 2)
2. Elihoreph and Ahijah, brothers who served as scribes (v. 3)
3. Jehoshaphat as recorder (v. 3)
4. Benaiah over the army (v. 4)
5. Zadok and Abiathar as priests (v. 4)
6. Azariah over the officers (v. 5)
7. Zabud, as a priest and the king’s friend (v. 5)
8. Ahishar over the king’s household (v. 6)
9. Adoniram over the labor force (v. 6)
Additionally, Solomon appointed twelve governors over all Israel. They provided food for the king and his household, each taking a month of the year to do so (vv. 7-19).
Solomon [God] Brings Prosperity
When God said he’d blessed Solomon, he meant it. There are several places in I Kings where this is discussed. The first is in I Kings 4:20-34.
As Solomon prospered, so did all Israel. Below is some wording from this section which describes this prosperity:
1. “Judah and Israel were as numerous as the sand by the sea in multitude” (v. 1)(see God’s promise to Abraham – Gen. 15:5, 18).
2. All the nations brought tribute to Solomon (v. 21) and there was “peace on every side all around him” (vv. 24-25).
3. Solomon’s daily provision was: “thirty kors [1 kor equals six and a quarter bushels] of fine flour, sixty kors of meal, ten fatted oxen, twenty oxen from the pastures, and one hundred sheep, besides deer, gazelles, roebucks, and fatted fowl” (vv. 22-23).
4. “Solomon had 40,000 stalls of horses for his chariots and 12,000 horsemen” (v. 26).
Solomon’s Wisdom Exceeds Everyone
“And God gave Solomon wisdom and exceedingly great understanding, and largeness of heart like the sand on the seashore” (v. 29).
This verse describes the depth of Solomon’s wisdom with the same imagery that God used with Abraham to describe the multitude of his descendants – as great as the sand on the seashore. The implication is clear – Solomon’s wisdom was limitless. He knew things that no one else knew.
Some other wise men get mentioned in verses 30-31, but none of them could match Solomon’s wisdom. His understanding even reached into areas such as nature, speaking of trees, “animals, of birds, of creeping things, and of fish” (v. 33). Everyone came to hear his wisdom (v. 34).
In all, he spoke 3,000 proverbs and wrote 1,000 songs (v. 32).
I Kings 5 – Preparations for the Temple
One of David’s allies heard that Solomon reigned in his father’s place. Hiram, the Phoenician king who ruled over Tyre, had helped David before and “had always loved” him (v. 1). So now, Solomon called on him to help with the building of the temple. (vv. 2-6).
It’s here that we conclusively know why God did not allow David to build the temple (see also II Sam. 7:13). Solomon put it this way:
“You know how my father David could not build a house for the name of the Lord his God because of the wars which were fought against him on every side, until the Lord put his foes under the soles of his feet” (v. 3).
Solomon wanted to fulfill the word of the Lord to David that his son would build the temple. David had made some preparations for the build (I Chron. 21:18-22:19; I Chron. 28:9-29:19). Now Solomon asked Hiram to help him “build a house for the name of the Lord my God” (v. 5).
What Solomon really needed from Hiram were cedar and cypress logs from Lebanon (vv. 6, 10). When Hiram read Solomon’s request, he was pleased that David had a wise son to rule (v. 7). So the two made a treaty that ended up being mutually beneficial (vv. 8-12).
The labor force for this project was massive in scale: “…thirty thousand men. And he sent them to Lebanon, ten thousand a month in shifts: they were one month in Lebanon and two months at home…Solomon had seventy thousand who carried burdens, and eighty thousand who quarried stone in the mountains, besides three thousand three hundred from the chiefs of Solomon’s deputies, who supervised the people who labored in the work” (vv. 13-16).
I Kings 6 – Building the Temple
Solomon started the temple build “in the four hundred and eightieth year after the children of Israel had come out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel” (v. 1). I Kings 6 describes all the extravagant details of this build. It was truly a magnificent structure.
One of the more interesting facts is that “no hammer or chisel or any iron tool was heard in the temple while it was being built” (v. 7). How is that you might ask? All the stone for the temple was fashioned at the quarry and shipped to Jerusalem ready to be set in place. For the time period, that’s great architectural and engineering skill to accomplish that feat.
God promised Solomon that as long as he and the nation “walk in My statutes….keep all my commandments and walk in them, then I will perform my word within you which I spoke to your father David. And I will dwell among the children of Israel and will not forsake My people Israel” (6:12-13).
The temple was filled with all kinds of materials. There were great amounts of cedar, cypress and stone. But one of the most astonishing things is what Solomon did in the Most Holy Place, where the ark of the covenant would reside. He overlaid it all with pure gold, about 21 tons according to II Chron. 3:8.
In all, it took Solomon 7 years to complete the temple (v. 38). It was that grand of a task.
Questions to Consider:
Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. It’s a strength to recognize our limitations and then to lean on others for assistance or guidance. As Proverbs 11:14 says, “Where there is no counsel, the people fall; But in the multitude of counselors there is safety.”
Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived. He knew more than anyone and everyone knew it. Yet even he still needed people in official places of authority to help him rule. He couldn’t go it alone and rule well. Are you trying to do everything by yourself? What keeps you from asking for help?
What other points would you want to know about in our I Kings 4-6 commentary? Email us here with questions or comments.