1 Kings 4 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of 1 Kings 4)

Verse 1

[1] So king Solomon was king over all Israel.

All Israel — This is spoken with respect to his successors, who were kings only over a part, and that the smallest part of it.

Verse 2

[2] And these were the princes which he had; Azariah the son of Zadok the priest,

Princes — That is, the chief rulers or officers.

The son — Or the grand-son.

The priest — The second priest, or the priest that attended upon Solomon's person in holy offices and administrations.

Verse 3

[3] Elihoreph and Ahiah, the sons of Shisha, scribes; Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud, the recorder.

Scribes — That is, secretaries of state. He chose two, whereas David had but one: either, because he observed some inconveniences in trusting all those matters in one hand: or, because he had now much more employment than David had, this being a time of great peace and prosperity, and his empire enlarged.

Verse 4

[4] And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was over the host: and Zadok and Abiathar were the priests:

Priests — That is, the high-priests, successively, first Abiathar, and then Zadok.

Verse 5

[5] And Azariah the son of Nathan was over the officers: and Zabud the son of Nathan was principal officer, and the king's friend:

Officers — Over those twelve Officers, named verse 7, etc. who were all to give up their accompts to him.

Nathan — The prophet, who had been so highly instrumental in Solomon's establishment in the throne.

Principal officer — Possibly, president of the king's council.

Friend — His confident, with whom he used to communicate his most secret counsels.

Verse 6

[6] And Ahishar was over the household: and Adoniram the son of Abda was over the tribute.

Abiathar was — Steward of the king's household.

Tribute — The personal tribute, or the levy of men, as appears by comparing this with chap. 5:13,14, it being very fit that there should be some one person to whom the chief conduct of that great business was committed.

Verse 8

[8] And these are their names: The son of Hur, in mount Ephraim:

The son, … — This and others of them are denominated from their fathers, because they were known and famous in their generation.

Verse 10

[10] The son of Hesed, in Aruboth; to him pertained Sochoh, and all the land of Hepher:

Hepher — In Judah.

Verse 19

[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.

Country of Gilead — That is, in the remaining part of that land of Gilead, which was mentioned above.

The only officer — In all Gilead, excepting the parcels mentioned before, in all the territories of Sihon and Og; which because they were of large extent, and yet all committed to this one man, it is here noted concerning him as his privilege above the rest.

Verse 21

[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.

The river — Euphrates: for so far David, having conquered the Syrians, extended his empire, which Solomon also maintained in that extent. And so God's promise concerning the giving the whole land, as far as Euphrates, to the Israelites, was fulfilled. And, if the Israelites had multiplied so much that the land of Canaan would not suffice them, having God's grant of all the land as far as Euphrates, they might have seized upon it whensoever occasion required.

The land of the Philistines — Which is to be understood inclusively; for the Philistines were within Solomon's dominion.

The border of Egypt — Unto the river Sihor, which was the border between Egypt and Canaan.

And served — By tribute, or other ways, as he needed and required.

Verse 22

[22] And Solomon's provision for one day was thirty measures of fine flour, and threescore measures of meal,

Measures — Heb. Cors: each of which contained ten ephahs. So this provision was sufficient for near three thousand persons.

Meal — Of a coarser sort for common use.

Verse 23

[23] Ten fat oxen, and twenty oxen out of the pastures, and an hundred sheep, beside harts, and roebucks, and fallowdeer, and fatted fowl.

Fat — Fatted in stalls.

Out of pastures — Well fleshed, tender and good, though not so fat as the former.

Verse 24

[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.

Tiphsah — Either that Tiphsah, 2 Kings 15:16, which was in the kingdom of Israel within Jordan; or, rather, another place of that name upon Euphrates, even that eminent city which is mentioned by Ptolemy, and Strabo, and Pliny, called Thapsarum. And this best agrees with the following: Azzah, which was the border of Canaan in the south and west, as Tiphsah was in the north and east. And so his dominion is described by both its borders.

All kings — Who owned subjection, and paid tribute to him.

Verse 25

[25] And Judah and Israel dwelt safely, every man under his vine and under his fig tree, from Dan even to Beersheba, all the days of Solomon.

Under his vine — Enjoying the fruit of his own labour with safety and comfort. Under these two trees, which were most used and cultivated by the Israelites, he understands all other fruit-bearing trees, and all other comforts. And they are brought in as fitting or dwelling under these trees, partly for recreation or delight in the shade; and partly, for the comfort or advantage of the fruit; and withal, to note their great security, not only in their strong cities, but even in the country, where the vines and fig-trees grew, which was most open to the incursions of their enemies.

Verse 26

[26] And Solomon had forty thousand stalls of horses for his chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen.

Forty thousand — In 2 Chronicles 9:25, it is but four thousand. But it is not exactly the same Hebrew word which is here and there, though we translate both stalls; and therefore there may well be allowed some difference in the signification, the one signifying properly stables, of which there were four thousand, the other stalls or partitions for each horse, which were forty thousand.

Chariots — Both for his military chariots, which seem to be those fourteen hundred, chap. 10:26, and for divers other uses, as about his great and various buildings, and merchandises, and other occasions, which might require some thousands of other chariots.

Horsemen — Appointed partly for the defence of his people in peace; and partly for attendance upon his person, and for the splendor of his government.

Verse 27

[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.

The officers — Named above.

They lacked — Or rather, they suffered nothing to be lacking to any man that came thither, but plentifully provided all things necessary.

Verse 29

[29] And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and largeness of heart, even as the sand that is on the sea shore.

Largeness of heart — Vastness of understanding, a most comprehensive knowledge of all things both Divine and human.

Verse 30

[30] And Solomon's wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the east country, and all the wisdom of Egypt.

East country — The Chaldeans, Persians, and Arabians, who all lay eastward from Canaan, and were famous in ancient times for their wisdom and learning.

Egypt — The Egyptians, whose fame was then great for their skill in the arts and sciences, which made them despise the Grecians as children in knowledge.

Verse 31

[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.

All men — Either of his nation; or, of his time: or, of all times and nations, whether of the east or any other country excepting only the first and second Adam.

Ethan, … — Israelites of eminent wisdom, probably the same mentioned, Psalms 89:1(title).

Chalcol, … — Of whom see 1 Chronicles 2:6.

Verse 32

[32] And he spake three thousand proverbs: and his songs were a thousand and five.

Proverbs — That is, short, and deep, and useful sentences, whereof a great part are contained in the books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes.

Songs — Whereof the chief and most divine are in the Canticles.

Verse 33

[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 fishes.

Trees — That is, of all plants, of their nature and qualities: all which discourses are lost, without any impeachment of the perfection of the holy scriptures; which were not written to teach men philosophy or physick, but only to make them wise unto salvation.

From the cedar, … — That is, from the greatest to the least.

Verse 34

[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.

All kings — All the neighbouring kings; a restriction grounded upon the following words, where this is limited to such as heard of Solomon's wisdom. Let those who magnify the modern learning above that of the ancients, produce such a treasury of learning, anywhere in these later ages, as that was, which Solomon was master of. Yet this puts an honour upon human learning, that Solomon is praised for it, and recommends it to the great ones of the earth, as well worthy their diligent search. In all this Solomon was a type of Christ, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.