1 Kings 9 – God’s Warning to Solomon
A. God appears to Solomon again.
1. (1-5) God confirms the answer to Solomon’s prayer.
And it came to pass, when Solomon had finished building the house of the LORD and the king’s house, and all Solomon’s desire which he wanted to do, that the LORD appeared to Solomon the second time, as He had appeared to him at Gibeon. And the LORD said to him: “I have heard your prayer and your supplication that you have made before Me; I have consecrated this house which you have built to put My name there forever, and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually. Now if you walk before Me as your father David walked, in integrity of heart and in uprightness, to do according to all that I have commanded you, and if you keep My statutes and My judgments, then I will establish the throne of your kingdom over Israel forever, as I promised David your father, saying, ‘You shall not fail to have a man on the throne of Israel.’
a. When Solomon had finished building the house of the LORD and the King’s house: This was some 24 years after Solomon came to the throne. The temple and the palace work at Jerusalem were finished. Now Solomon had to deal with life after completing his greatest accomplishment.
i. “It was the hour when the accomplishment of work means the relaxation of effort. That is always a perilous hour, and the greater the work done the graver the peril. A life which has been full of activity, when that activity ceases, demands some new interest, and will find it, either high or low, noble or ignoble.” (Morgan)
ii. John Trapp on the words, all Solomon’s desire: “The word signifieth such a desire as a young man hath after his mistress, or a bridegroom toward his bride; which showeth that Solomon took too much content in his buildings and furniture, passed over his affections too much unto them, and here began his fall.”
b. The LORD appeared to Solomon the second time: God was good to give Solomon a special appearance at the beginning of his reign (1 Kings 3:5-9). It was even better of God to grant a unique appearance to Solomon the second time.
i. “Brethren, we want renewed appearances, fresh manifestations, new visitations from on high; and I commend to those of you who are getting on in life, that while you thank God for the past, and look back with joy to his visits to you in your early days, you now seek and ask for a second visitation of the Most High.” (Spurgeon)
ii. “We do not need to be converted again; yet we do want that again over our heads the windows of heaven should be opened, that again a Pentecost should be given, and that we should renew our youth like the eagles, to run without weariness, and walk without fainting. The Lord fulfill to everyone of his people to-night his blessing upon Solomon!” (Spurgeon)
c. I have heard your prayer: The great prayer of Solomon in 1 Kings 8 meant nothing unless God heard the prayer. The true measure of our prayer is if God in heaven answers the prayer.
i. “Have you never known what it is to leave off prayer when you are in the middle of it, and say, “I am heard: I am heard”? Have you not felt that you needed not to cry any longer, for you had gained your suit, and must rather begin to praise than continue to pray? When a man goes to a bank with a cheque, and he gets the money, he does not stand loafing about the counter: he goes off about his business. And oftentimes before God, he that is prepared to be a long time in prayer if it should be necessary, feels that he must be brief in petition and long in thanksgiving.” (Spurgeon)
ii. This answer seems to have come many years after the actual dedication of the temple. Yet God also gave Solomon an immediate answer of approval at the time of dedication, when the sacrifices were consumed with fire from heaven (2 Chronicles 7:1-7).
d. I have consecrated this house which you have built: The building was Solomon’s work, done in the power and inspiration of the LORD. The consecration of the building was God’s work. Solomon could build a building, but only God could hallow it.
i. “Man builds; God hallows. This co-operation between man and God pervades all life. Man performs the outward and mechanical; God the inward and spiritual… We must be careful to do our part with reverence and godly fear, remembering that God must work in realms we cannot touch, and to issues we cannot reach, before our poor exertions can avail.” (Meyer)
d. Now if you walk before Me as your father David walked… then I will establish the throne of your kingdom over Israel forever: God’s answer to Solomon’s previous prayer had a great condition. If Solomon walked before God in obedience and faithfulness, he could expect blessing on his reign and the reign of his descendants, and the dynasty of David would endure forever.
i. God did not demand perfect obedience from Solomon. David certainly did not walk perfectly before the LORD, and God told Solomon to walk before Me as your father David walked. This was not out of reach for Solomon.
2. (6-9) God warns Solomon.
But if you or your sons at all turn from following Me, and do not keep My commandments and My statutes which I have set before you, but go and serve other gods and worship them, then I will cut off Israel from the land which I have given them; and this house which I have consecrated for My name I will cast out of My sight. Israel will be a proverb and a byword among all peoples. And as for this house, which is exalted, everyone who passes by it will be astonished and will hiss, and say, ‘Why has the LORD done thus to this land and to this house?’ Then they will answer, ‘Because they forsook the LORD their God, who brought their fathers out of the land of Egypt, and have embraced other gods, and worshiped them and served them; therefore the LORD has brought all this calamity on them.’”
a. But if you or your sons at all turn from following Me… then I will cut off Israel from the land: The positive promise of 1 Kings 9:1-5 was followed by a negative promise. If Solomon or his descendants were to turn from following the LORD, God promised to correct a disobedient Israel.
b. And this house which I have consecrated for My name I will cast out of My sight: God answered Solomon’s prayer in 1 Kings 8, but it was not an unqualified promise to bless the temple in any circumstance. God blessed the temple and filled it with the glory of His presence, but he would cast it out of His sight if the kings of Israel forsook the LORD.
i. With such a glorious temple, Israel would be tempted to forsake the God of the temple and make an idol of the temple of God. Here the LORD made them know that He could never bless this error.
c. Israel will become a proverb… everyone who passes by it will be astonished and will hiss: Under the Old Covenant, God promised to use Israel to exalt Himself among the nations one way or another. If Israel obeyed, He would bless them so much that others had to recognize the hand of God upon Israel. If Israel disobeyed, He would chastise them so severely that the nations would be astonished at the hard work of God among His disobedient people, and they would know that the LORD has brought all this calamity on them.
i. The Living Bible has a vivid wording of 1 Kings 9:7: “Israel will become a joke to the nations and an example and proverb of sudden disaster.”
B. The ways and means of Solomon’s great building projects.
1. (10-14) Lumber and gold from King Hiram of Tyre.
Now it happened at the end of twenty years, when Solomon had built the two houses, the house of the LORD and the king’s house (Hiram the king of Tyre had supplied Solomon with cedar and cypress and gold, as much as he desired), that King Solomon then gave Hiram twenty cities in the land of Galilee. Then Hiram went from Tyre to see the cities which Solomon had given him, but they did not please him. So he said, “What kind of cities are these which you have given me, my brother?” And he called them the land of Cabul, as they are to this day. Then Hiram sent the king one hundred and twenty talents of gold.
a. Hiram the king of Tyre had supplied Solomon with cedar and cypress and gold: Tyre – the prominent city in the land just north of Israel (modern Lebanon) – was noted for its fine wood.
b. King Solomon then gave Hiram twenty cities in the land of Galilee: This was not good. Hiram was indeed a friend to both David and Solomon, but the land of Israel was given to Israel by divine decree. Trading Israel’s land for a glorious temple and palace was not a good deal.
i. However, the transaction may be described here to show that Solomon was a shrewd dealer and got the better of Hiram in these arrangements. It seems that Solomon gave Hiram some fairly insignificant settlements and received a large amount of gold in return.
ii. “To pay for the gold Solomon mortgaged twenty ‘settlements’ (rather than towns, for irim is used of any group of habitations from a hamlet to a metropolis).” (Wiseman)
iii. “It is clear that Hiram considered the cities to be worthless, and taunted Solomon for giving him ‘good-for-nothing’ towns. Hiram nicknamed the cities Kabul, which literally means ‘good-for-nothing.’ Even though he was displeased with the trade, Hiram went ahead with it in good humor and sent Solomon 120 talents of gold” (Dilday). A talent is calculated to be about 70 pounds of gold. Dilday estimated the value of this gold at more than $50 million (something close to $161 million at 2015 prices).
c. But they did not please him: We don’t know exactly why Hiram was displeased with these cities. Perhaps he was displeased with his compromise, knowing that Solomon did something his father David never would.
2. (15-24) Slave labor from remnant Canaanite peoples.
And this is the reason for the labor force which King Solomon raised: to build the house of the LORD, his own house, the Millo, the wall of Jerusalem, Hazor, Megiddo, and Gezer. (Pharaoh king of Egypt had gone up and taken Gezer and burned it with fire, had killed the Canaanites who dwelt in the city, and had given it as a dowry to his daughter, Solomon’s wife.) And Solomon built Gezer, Lower Beth Horon, Baalath, and Tadmor in the wilderness, in the land of Judah, all the storage cities that Solomon had, cities for his chariots and cities for his cavalry, and whatever Solomon desired to build in Jerusalem, in Lebanon, and in all the land of his dominion. All the people who were left of the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites, who were not of the children of Israel—that is, their descendants who were left in the land after them, whom the children of Israel had not been able to destroy completely; from these Solomon raised forced labor, as it is to this day. But of the children of Israel Solomon made no forced laborers, because they were men of war and his servants: his officers, his captains, commanders of his chariots, and his cavalry. Others were chiefs of the officials who were over Solomon’s work: five hundred and fifty, who ruled over the people who did the work. But Pharaoh’s daughter came up from the City of David to her house which Solomon had built for her. Then he built the Millo.
a. This is the reason for the labor force which King Solomon raised: Solomon raised this massive labor force to complete massive building projects. Archaeology is a witness to the ambitious and successful building projects of Solomon.
b. He built the Millo: The Hebrew term millo is probably a name for a prominent fortress near the temple and the palace. However, it is possible that it describes architectural terracing and buttressing along the northeastern slope of the east hill of Jerusalem, the city of David.
c. Hazor, Megiddo, and Gezer: These were three prominently fortified cities in the days of Solomon. “Recent work has demonstrated that these three cities had certain characteristics in common with regard particularly to their fortifications attributable to the Solomonic era… Most distinctive are the gate complexes, which are identical in plan and virtually of the same dimensions in all three cities.” (Patterson and Austel)
i. “Hazor was strategically placed in the north (c. three miles north of the Sea of Galilee), being situated at the juncture of the two major highways approaching from the north. It became Israel’s chief bulwark against northern invaders until it was destroyed in the eighth century by Tiglath-pileser III.” (Patterson and Austel)
ii. “Megiddo was the great fortress that controlled on the major passes from the Plain of Sharon on the coast into the Valley of Jezreel through the Carmel range. It figures in prophecy as the staging area for the last great battle (Armageddon) in which Christ will defeat the forces of the Antichrist.” (Patterson and Austel)
iii. “Gezer, on the road from Joppa to Jerusalem, had been a powerful Canaanite city. Though it was included in the tribal territory of Ephraim, it was not occupied by the Israelites until the time of Solomon. Then it was given to Solomon as a wedding gift by Pharaoh to his daughter.” (Patterson and Austel)
d. All the people who were left of the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites… from these Solomon raised forced labor, as it is to this day: This was another apparent compromise by Solomon. God strictly commanded that the remnants of these tribes be driven out of the land, not used as slave laborers in Israel. Solomon didn’t make Israelites forced laborers, but used them to oversee the remnants of the Canaanite tribes.
3. (25-28) Financing from naval expeditions that brought back gold.
Now three times a year Solomon offered burnt offerings and peace offerings on the altar which he had built for the LORD, and he burned incense with them on the altar that was before the LORD. So he finished the temple. King Solomon also built a fleet of ships at Ezion Geber, which is near Elath on the shore of the Red Sea, in the land of Edom. Then Hiram sent his servants with the fleet, seamen who knew the sea, to work with the servants of Solomon. And they went to Ophir, and acquired four hundred and twenty talents of gold from there, and brought it to King Solomon.
a. Three times a year Solomon offered burnt offerings and peace offerings on the altar which he had built for the LORD, and he burned incense: It is possible that this was another transgression by Solomon. It may be that he took upon himself the exclusive duties of a priest, offering burnt offerings and incense. However, as is the case in some other passages, this may refer to Solomon initiating such sacrifice and ceremony properly through a priest.
b. They went to Ophir, and acquired four hundred and twenty talents of gold from there: It is hard to say with certainty where the land of Ophir was. Some suggest it was in southern Arabia or the eastern coast of Africa. This shows the great enterprise and industriousness of Solomon’s administration.
i. “No man knows certainly, to this day, where this Ophir was situated. There were two places of this name; one somewhere in India, beyond the Ganges, and another in Arabia, near the country of the Sabaeans, mentioned by Job 22:24.” (Clarke)
©2018 David Guzik – No distribution beyond personal use without permission