1 Kings 3 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of 1 Kings 3)

Verse 1

[1] And Solomon made affinity with Pharaoh king of Egypt, and took Pharaoh's daughter, and brought her into the city of David, until he had made an end of building his own house, and the house of the LORD, and the wall of Jerusalem round about.

Pharaoh — As being a powerful neighbour, whose daughter doubtless was first instructed in, and proselyted to the Jewish religion. It seems, this was designed by God to be a type of Christ, calling his church to himself, and to the true religion, not only out of the Jews, but even out of the Gentile world.

City of David — Into David's palace there.

The wall — Which though in some sort built by David, yet Solomon is here said to build, either because he made it higher, and stronger, in which sense Nebuchadnezzar is said to have built Babylon, Daniel 4:30, or because he built another wall besides the former, for after this time Jerusalem was encompassed with more walls than one.

Verse 2

[2] Only the people sacrificed in high places, because there was no house built unto the name of the LORD, until those days.

Only — This particle is used here, and verse 3, as an exception to Solomon's integrity and as a blemish to his government, That he himself both permitted and practised this which was expressly forbidden, Leviticus 17:3,4; Deuteronomy 12:13,14.

High places — Which were groves, or other convenient places upon hills, in which the patriarchs used to offer up their sacrifices to God; and from them this custom was derived both to the Gentiles and the Jews: and in them the Gentiles sacrificed to idols, the Hebrews to the true God.

Because, … — Which reason was not sufficient, for there was a tabernacle, to which they were as much confined as to the temple, Exodus 40:34-38, etc.

Verse 3

[3] And Solomon loved the LORD, walking in the statutes of David his father: only he sacrificed and burnt incense in high places.

Yet — Although he miscarried in the matter of high places, yet in the general, his heart was right with God.

Statutes — According to the statutes or commands of God, which are here called the statutes of David; not only because they were diligently practised by David, but also because the observation of them was so earnestly pressed upon Solomon, and fortified with David's authority and command.

Verse 6

[6] And Solomon said, Thou hast shewed unto thy servant David my father great mercy, according as he walked before thee in truth, and in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with thee; and thou hast kept for him this great kindness, that thou hast given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day.

Truth — In the true worship of God, in the profession, belief, practice and defence of the true religion. So truth here contains all duties to God, as righteousness doth his duties to men, and uprightness the right manner of performing both sorts of duties.

With thee — That is, in thy judgment, to whom he often appealed as the witness of his integrity.

Verse 7

[7] And now, O LORD my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in.

Child — So he was in years: not above twenty years old; and withal (which he principally intends) he was raw and unexperienced, as a child, in state affairs.

Go out, … — To govern my people, and manage affairs.

Verse 8

[8] And thy servant is in the midst of thy people which thou hast chosen, a great people, that cannot be numbered nor counted for multitude.

In the midst — Is set over them to rule and guide them. A metaphor from the overseer of divers workmen, who usually is in the midst of them, that he may the better observe how each of them discharges his office.

Chosen — Thy peculiar people, whom thou takest special care of, and therefore wilt expect a more punctual account of my government of them.

Verse 9

[9] Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?

An understanding heart — Whereby I may both clearly discern, and faithfully perform all the parts of my duty: for both these are spoken of in scripture, as the effects of a good understanding; and he that lives in the neglect of his duties, or the practice of wickedness, is called a fool, and one void of understanding.

Discern — Namely in causes and controversies among my people; that I may not through mistake, or prejudice, or passion, give wrong sentences, and call evil good, or good evil. Absalom, that was a fool, wished himself a judge: Solomon, that was a wise man, trembles at the undertaking. The more knowing and considerate men are, the more jealous they are of themselves.

Verse 13

[13] And I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches, and honour: so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee all thy days.

All thy days — Whereby he signifies that these gifts of God were not transient, as they were in Saul, but such as should abide with him whilst he lived.

Verse 14

[14] And if thou wilt walk in my ways, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as thy father David did walk, then I will lengthen thy days.

And if — This caution God gives him, lest his wisdom should make him proud, careless, or presumptuous.

Verse 15

[15] And Solomon awoke; and, behold, it was a dream. And he came to Jerusalem, and stood before the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and offered up burnt offerings, and offered peace offerings, and made a feast to all his servants.

A dream — Not a vain dream, wherewith men are commonly deluded; but a divine dream, assuring him of the thing: which he knew, by a divine impression after he was awakened: and by the vast alteration which he presently found within himself in point of wisdom and knowledge.

The ark — Which was there in the city of David, 2 Samuel 6:17, before which he presented himself in a way of holy adoration.

Burnt offerings — Chiefly for the expiation of his and his peoples sin, through the blood of Christ, manifestly signified in these sacrifices.

Peace offerings — Solemnly to praise God for all his mercies, and especially for giving him quiet possession of the kingdom, and for his glorious appearance to him in the dream, and for the promise therein made to him, and the actual accomplishment of it.

Verse 16

[16] Then came there two women, that were harlots, unto the king, and stood before him.

Harlots — Or, victuallers: for the Hebrew words signifies both. Yet that they are unmarried persons, seems probable, both because there is no mention of any husbands, whose office it was, if there were any such, to contest for their wives; and because they lived a solitary life in one house.

Verse 19

[19] And this woman's child died in the night; because she overlaid it.

Overlaid it — And so smothered it: which she justly conjectures, because there were evidences of that kind of death, but no appearance of any other cause thereof.

Verse 25

[25] And the king said, Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one, and half to the other.

Said — Though with a design far above the reach of the two women, or of the people present, who probably with horror expected the execution of it.

Verse 27

[27] Then the king answered and said, Give her the living child, and in no wise slay it: she is the mother thereof.

She is the mother — As is evident from her natural affection to the child, which she had rather have given away from her, than destroyed.

Verse 28

[28] And all Israel heard of the judgment which the king had judged; and they feared the king: for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him, to do judgment.

Wisdom of God — Divine wisdom with which God had inspired him for the government of his people.