In this chapter we are told, I. What cities Solomon built (v.
1-6). II. What workmen Solomon employed (v. 7-10). III. What care he took
about a proper settlement for his wife (v. 11). IV. What a good method he put
the temple-service into (v. 12-16). V. What trading he had with foreign
countries (v. 17, 18).
This we had 1 Ki. 9:10-24, and therefore shall only observe
I. Though Solomon was a man of great learning and knowledge, yet
he spent his days, not in contemplation, but in action, not in his study, but in
his country, in building cities and fortifying them, in a time of peace
preparing for a time of war, which is as much a man's business as it is in
summer to provide food for winter.
II. As he was a man of business himself, and did not consult his
own ease, so he employed a great many hands, kept abundance of people to work.
It is the interest of a state by all means possible to promote and encourage
industry, and to keep its subjects from idleness. A great many strangers there
were in Israel, many that remained of the Canaanites; and they were welcome to
live there, but not to live and do nothing. The men of Laish, who had no
business, were an easy prey to the invaders, Jdg. 18:7.
III. When Solomon had begun with building the house of God, and
made good work and quick work of that, he prospered in all his undertakings, so
that he built all that he desired to build, v. 6. Those who have a genius
for building find that one project draws on another, and the latter must amend
and improve the former. Now observe, 1. How the divine providence gratified even
Solomon's humour, and gave him success, not only in all that he needed to
build and that it was for his advantage to build, but in all that he had a mind
to build. So indulgent a Father God is sometimes to the innocent desires of his
children that serve him. Thus he pleased Jacob with that promise, Joseph
shall put his hand on thy eyes. 2. Solomon knew how to set bounds to his
desires. He was not one of those that enlarge them endlessly, and can never be
satisfied, but knew when to draw in; for he finished all he desired, and then he
desired no more. He did not sit down and fret that he had not more cities to
build, as Alexander did that he had not more worlds to conquer, Hab. 2:5.
IV. That one reason why Solomon built a palace on purpose for
the queen, and removed her and her court to it, was because he thought it by no
means proper that she should dwell in the house of David (v. 11),
considering that that had been a place of great piety, and perhaps her house was
a place of great vanity. She was proselyted, it is likely, to the Jewish
religion; but it is a question whether all her servants were. Perhaps they had
among them the idols of Egypt, and a great deal of profaneness and debauchery.
Now, though Solomon had not zeal and courage enough to suppress and punish what
was amiss there, yet he so far consulted the honour of his father's memory
that he would not suffer that place to be thus profaned where the ark of God had
been and where holy David had prayed many a good prayer and sung many a sweet
psalm. Not that all the places where the ark had been were so holy as never to
be put to a common use; for then the houses of Abinadab and Obed-edom must have
been so. But the place where it had been so long, and had been so publicly
attended on, was so venerable that it was not fit to be the place of so much
gaiety, not to say iniquity, as was to be found, I fear, in the court that
Pharaoh's daughter kept. Note, Between things sacred and things common the
ancient landmarks ought to be kept up. It was an outer-court of the temple that
was the court of the women.
Here is, I. Solomon's devotion. The building of the temple was
in order to the service of the temple. Whatever cost he was at in rearing the
structure, if he had neglected the worship that was to be performed there, it
would all have been to no purpose. Assisting the devotion of others will not
atone for our own neglects. When Solomon had built the temple, 1. He kept up the
holy sacrifices there, according to the law of Moses, v. 12, 13. In vain had the
altar been built, and in vain had fire come down from heaven, if sacrifices had
not been constantly brought as the food of the altar and the fuel of that fire.
There were daily sacrifices, a certain rate every day, as duly as the day
came, weekly sacrifices on the sabbath, double to what was offered on other
days, monthly sacrifices on the new moons, and yearly sacrifices at the
three solemn feasts. Those are spiritual sacrifices that are now required of us,
which we are to bring daily and weekly; and it is good to be in a settled method
of devotion. 2. He kept up the holy songs there, according to the law of
David, who is here called the man of God, as Moses was, because he
was both instructed and authorised of God to make these establishments; and
Solomon took care to see them observed as the duty of every day required,
v. 14. Solomon, though a wise and great man and the builder of the temple, did
not attempt to amend, alter, or add to what the man of God had, in God's name,
commanded, but closely adhered to that, and used his authority to have that duly
observed; and then none departed from the commandment of the king concerning
any matter, v. 15. He observed God's laws, and then all obeyed his orders.
When the service of the temple was put into this good order, then it is said, The
house of the Lord was perfected, v. 16. The work was the main matter, not
the place; the temple was unfinished till all this was done.
II. Solomon's merchandise. He did himself in person visit the
sea-port towns of Eloth and Ezion-geber; for those that deal much in the world
will find it their interest, as far as they can, to inspect their affairs
themselves and to see with their own eyes, v. 17. Canaan was a rich country, and
yet must send to Ophir for gold; the Israelites were a wise and understanding
people, and yet must be beholden to the king of Tyre for men that had
knowledge of the seas, v. 18. Yet Canaan was God's peculiar land, and
Israel God's peculiar people. This teaches us that grace, and not gold, is the
best riches, and acquaintance with God and his law, not with arts and sciences,
the best knowledge.