1 Kings

1 Kings - Lesson 4

Chapter 4:1-34

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  • Last week we learned that Solomon, being young in age, understood that he needed wisdom and discernment to lead the Nation of Israel.

    • So in his desire for wisdom, his request to the Lord is that he wanted to have understanding of mind to govern the people and to discern between good and evil.

      • From that request, the Lord was pleased with Solomon’s selfless request and granted to him both vast wisdom and discernment.

      • And if that wasn’t enough, he provided great wealth for Solomon, something that Solomon did not ask for.

    • And what we learned from that was that when you seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, the Lord will always meet your every need.

      • And in this case, the responsibility that Solomon would have to take on in building the Temple for the Lord would require great wealth.

    • Lastly, towards the end of Chapter 3, Solomon’s wisdom was put to the test when he had to judge between 2 women and a child.

      • The issue at hand was whose baby was the living child and whose baby was the dead child.

      • No witnesses were present and there were no video feed or baby monitoring system that could attest to who did what.

      • The only thing that the king could do was to test the hearts of the mothers.

    • Solomon made the wise decision to divide the child in two, knowing that the true mother would speak up and do whatever necessary for her child to live.

      • It was through Solomon’s ruling that the actual mother was given her child and throughout the land the people of Israel feared the King.

    • Tonight, we will witness the continual implementation of wisdom of the King within his administration.

      • And most importantly, we will begin to see the institution of a central government throughout Israel and how Solomon’s obedience to Yahweh establishes peace and security for the people.

    • If I were to outline our time tonight, we will see the following:

      • Solomon’s High Officials (vv.1-6)

      • Solomon’s Twelve Officers (vv.7-19)

      • Peace in the land through the wisdom of the King (vv.20-28)

      • The Wisdom of the King (vv.29-34)

    • If I were to put a tag on tonight’s text it would simply be: Solomon’s Wealth and Wisdom on Display.

      • I invite you to meet me in 1 Kings 4 starting in verses 1-6.

1 Kings 4:1 Now King Solomon was king over all Israel.

1 Kings 4:2 These were his officials: Azariah the son of Zadok was the priest;

1 Kings 4:3 Elihoreph and Ahijah, the sons of Shisha were secretaries; Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud was the recorder;

1 Kings 4:4 and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was over the army; and Zadok and Abiathar were priests;

1 Kings 4:5 and Azariah the son of Nathan was over the deputies; and Zabud the son of Nathan, a priest, was the king’s friend;

1 Kings 4:6 and Ahishar was over the household; and Adoniram the son of Abda was over the men subject to forced labor.

  • At this point in Kings, we see that the granting of wisdom and rule to Solomon has further established his rule as king over Israel.

    • And along with his rule would come the needed assistance of those in whom would loyally serve him within his administration.

      • We saw in our last session that Solomon understood that with this great number of people would require assistance from the Lord.

      • At this point in history there were millions of Jewish people under the reign of King Solomon’s rule.

      • And with that vast number would require the assistance of those who would come alongside Solomon in the care of the people.

    • The reality is, with such great responsibility comes the necessity of trustworthy individuals who are gifted in a particular way to bear the weight of the responsibility.

      • We see this shared responsibility within the structure of the church today.

      • If the responsibility of church was solely on the pastor, that pastor would immediately burn out!

    • However, the Lord has both gifted and provided the body of Christ with multiple people by which leadership is shared under the “little” shepherd of that house.

      • This is why we have elders, deacons, ushers, and the like. There is a sense of shared responsibility within the body of Christ.

      • And in the same way, Solomon has men in whom have not only showed trustworthiness along the way by competence in their work and roles.

      • So we see that it was necessary for Solomon to have previously cleaned house for the sake of preparing an administration that would rule in peace.

    • What’s interesting to note in verse 2 of the naming of these high officials is who the author of Kings names first.

      • I point this put because the order in which we find David’s administration listed is quite different.

      • To see what this is all about let’s go back to 2 Samuel 8:15-18 and see the ordering of David’s administration.

2 Samuel 8:15 So David reigned over all Israel; and David administered justice and righteousness for all his people.

2 Samuel 8:16 Joab the son of Zeruiah was over the army, and Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud was recorder.

2 Samuel 8:17 Zadok the son of Ahitub and Ahimelech the son of Abiathar were priests, and Seraiah was secretary.

2 Samuel 8:18 Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was over the Cherethites and the Pelethites; and David’s sons were chief ministers.

    • Now let’s examine the order of Solomon’s administrative officials:

1 Kings 4:2 These were his officials: Azariah the son of Zadok was the priest;

1 Kings 4:3 Elihoreph and Ahijah, the sons of Shisha were secretaries; Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud was the recorder;

1 Kings 4:4 and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was over the army; and Zadok and Abiathar were priests;

1 Kings 4:5 and Azariah the son of Nathan was over the deputies; and Zabud the son of Nathan, a priest, was the king’s friend;

1 Kings 4:6 and Ahishar was over the household; and Adoniram the son of Abda was over the men subject to forced labor

    • There seems to be, perhaps, a prioritization within Solomon’s reign of spiritual matters being established as top priority.

      • And this seems to be the case because as we will see throughout Chapter 4, Israel will not only be dwelling securely in the land but will be at peace.

    • So, we see that Solomon has established Zadok’s son, Azariah, as the priest and within this context “priest” here is dealing with the high priest over Israel.

      • Along with his high priest we find that Solomon has established two secretaries or scribes.

      • Everything regarding record keeping, decrees from the king, etc., would all be done by these individuals.

    • With the scribes would be the record keeper of the information.

      • This would require Jehoshaphat to be quite diligent in his organizational and managerial skillset.

      • Things would need to be rightly filed for when things needed to be recalled to the king’s memory.

    • We then see, in verse 4, that Benaiah, son of Jehoida, is over the army, a position he acquired after the killing of Joab by order of the king.

      • One strange detail we find in verse 4 is the mentioning of Abiathar as a priest. This isn’t a typo.

    • It was in Chapter 3 that we witnessed Solomon strip away Abiathar’s title and role as priest.

      • But although he was fired Abiathar still retained the honor and title of priest.

      • From there we see that Azariah and Nathan are given the responsibility of being over the governors over the twelve regions throughout Israel.

    • This particular task would require these men to know the ins and outs of activities of these particular jurisdictions and their provisions, governmentally speaking.

      • So, what we are seeing thus far is that Israel is functioning as a central government by which Solomon’s rule and reign is being established.

      • There is function and order within this government where people have roles and responsibilities for the purposes of the flourishing of the Kingdom.

    • Lastly, we see that Ahishar was over the care of Solomon’s household and Adoniram was over the forced labors for Israel.

      • Again, all of these things Solomon could not do on his own and it required delegation of roles and responsibilities according to the giftings of these men.

      • And this should remind us of what Paul wrote in Romans 12:4-8:

Romans 12:4 For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function,

Romans 12:5 so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

Romans 12:6 Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith;

Romans 12:7 if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching;

Romans 12:8 or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

    • Your service to the Lord in whatever capacity or gift you have matters.

      • Oftentimes, people assume that the Pastor is the main means of Church growth, etc. However, that is far from the truth.

    • Everyone is gifted to serve one another for the overall flourishing of the body.

      • So, this shows us that what we have been graced to do that we are to do it well as unto the Lord.

      • Let’s check out verses 7-19.

1 Kings 4:7 Solomon had twelve deputies over all Israel, who provided for the king and his household; each man had to provide for a month in the year.

1 Kings 4:8 These are their names: Ben-hur, in the hill country of Ephraim;

1 Kings 4:9 Ben-deker in Makaz and Shaalbim and Beth-shemesh and Elonbeth-hanan;

1 Kings 4:10 Ben-hesed, in Arubboth (Socoh was his and all the land of Hepher);

1 Kings 4:11 Ben-abinadab, in all the height of Dor (Taphath the daughter of Solomon was his wife);

1 Kings 4:12 Baana the son of Ahilud, in Taanach and Megiddo, and all Beth-shean which is beside Zarethan below Jezreel, from Beth-shean to Abel-meholah as far as the other side of Jokmeam;

1 Kings 4:13 Ben-geber, in Ramoth-gilead (the towns of Jair, the son of Manasseh, which are in Gilead were his: the region of Argob, which is in Bashan, sixty great cities with walls and bronze bars were his);

1 Kings 4:14 Ahinadab the son of Iddo, in Mahanaim;

1 Kings 4:15Ahimaaz, in Naphtali (he also married Basemath the daughter of Solomon);

1 Kings 4:16 Baana the son of Hushai, in Asher and Bealoth;

1 Kings 4:17 Jehoshaphat the son of Paruah, in Issachar;

1 Kings 4:18 Shimei the son of Ela, in Benjamin;

1 Kings 4:19 Geber the son of Uri, in the land of Gilead, the country of Sihon king of the Amorites and of Og king of Bashan; and he was the only deputy who was in the land.

  • As we approach verses 7-19, some will look at it and struggle to see the significance of what seems to be “just” a list of names.

    • However, we know that every word in scripture is inspired by the Holy Spirit and is therefore necessary for understanding the storyline of the bible.

      • And what we are starting to see is this unfolding governmental structure being established throughout Israel over the land God promised Abraham.

    • We are beginning to see a move from more of cliquish “tribal” focus to more of a centralized government with cooperation and delegation from all 12 tribes.

      • In other words, where there was tribal independence among the people, there would now be centralized support under one leader.

      • And along with that came the taxation and needed representation by which those districts would be supported and at the same time support the King.

    • We are told in verse 7 that the twelve governors over these districts (tribes) were to, once a month in rotation, provide for the king and his household.

      • If you were to think about it in the sense of taxes in the United States, our tax dollars, whether state or federal, go to support the needs of the Nation.

      • The role of government is to both provide safety and security for the people.

    • We won’t go through the trouble of delving into the background of each governor, but it is important to note that Solomon makes two of his sons-in-law governors.

      • Those two men are Ben-Abinadab and Ahimaaz and with this move it must mean that Solomon held these men in high regards on two ends.

      • 1) Their ability to marry his daughters and 2) To govern over a particular region in the Nation.

    • So, we see that this vast amount of land that Israel owns, which was much larger than in David’s reign, requires loyal and responsible governors.

      • The unfolding of this government structure, when understood through the timeline of scripture, is a fascinating development.

    • It was the Hebrew people that in centuries past were under captivity of the Egyptian pharaoh.

      • They were enslaved, overworked, and mistreated.

    • They are then set free by the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob.

      • That same God brings them through dry land because he parted the Red Sea.

    • He then brings them through the wilderness through a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.

      • He then makes them His own people and gives them the Law by which they are to live by.

      • He then leads them to the land in which He has for them and gives them the strategy by which to eliminate their enemies.

    • And from there, over time, provides them with mercy and favor to establish themselves within the land.

      • And all of this is done because of the mighty name of Yahweh and His power and plan for Israel.

    • So, this section is more than a list of names. We are witnessing the hand of God on His chosen people in whom He is turning into a mighty nation.

      • And through it all, God remains faithful to His covenant promises demonstrating His faithfulness to His word.

      • Let’s keep moving. Check out verses 20-28:

1 Kings 4:20 Judah and Israel were as numerous as the sand that is on the seashore in abundance; they were eating and drinking and rejoicing.

1 Kings 4:21 Now Solomon ruled over all the kingdoms from the River to the land of the Philistines and to the border of Egypt; they brought tribute and served Solomon all the days of his life.

1 Kings 4:22 Solomon’s provision for one day was thirty kors of fine flour and sixty kors of meal,

1 Kings 4:23 ten fat oxen, twenty pasture-fed oxen, a hundred sheep besides deer, gazelles, roebucks, and fattened fowl.

1 Kings 4:24 For he had dominion over everything west of the River, from Tiphsah even to Gaza, over all the kings west of the River; and he had peace on all sides around about him.

1 Kings 4:25 So Judah and Israel lived in safety, every man under his vine and his fig tree, from Dan even to Beersheba, all the days of Solomon.

1 Kings 4:26 Solomon had 40,000 stalls of horses for his chariots, and 12,000 horsemen.

1 Kings 4:27 Those deputies provided for King Solomon and all who came to King Solomon’s table, each in his month; they left nothing lacking.

1 Kings 4:28 They also brought barley and straw for the horses and swift steeds to the place where it should be, each according to his charge.

  • We find in verses 20-28 that Solomon’s Kingdom was well secured, strong, and numerous in population.

    • Notice the language the writer of the Kings uses for the size: he mentions they are numerous as the sand that is on the seashore.

      • This language is very similarly connected to that of the Abrahamic Covenant.

      • Check out the Lord’s recommitment of promise to Abraham in Genesis 22:17-18.

Genesis 22:17 indeed I will greatly bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your seed shall possess the gate of their enemies.

Genesis 22:18 “In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.”

    • Not only is the Abrahamic covenant language used here but we also see Deuteronomistic language regarding the Law and the promises therein.

      • We will see this later in verses 24-25.

    • Clearly, in Solomon’s reign there was great joy and means of rejoicing because the text states “they were eating and drinking and rejoicing”.

      • This type of feasting was not based on a false sense of success like that of Adonijah and his banquet where they ate and drank.

    • This celebration was based upon the fact that the Lord has done great and mighty things for His people.

      • And here it is that Solomon, being Yahweh’s King, is the instrument by which this means of peace and joy would be expressed.

    • The writer continues documenting the vast land control in which the Lord has granted Israel through means of the Abrahamic Covenant.

      • Understand that this does not mean the Abrahamic Covenant has been fulfilled, but you see its outworking of the promise taking place.

      • Furthermore, with the prosperity of the nation, and the peace from among the surrounding nations due to Israel’s prominence, there was no need for the people to fear.

    • Verse 24 and 25 mention that all around Israel was “shalom” (peace) and that they dwelled safely. (1 Chronicles 22:9 – peace and quiet in Solomon’s days).

      • The expression used in verse 25 “every man under his vine and his fig tree” speaks to the reality of peace and prosperity.

    • The fig tree and the vine both symbolize the nation of Israel and pictured the Promised Land’s agricultural prosperity. (Tom Constable)

      • The fact that the writer uses this language speaks to an even greater day.

      • I say this because as we know, it’s after Solomon’s reign that the Kingdom is divided, and the people will eventually be exiled for 70 years.

    • But when we get to Micah 4:2-4 we notice that there is this similar expression of the nation sitting under “his vine” and under his fig tree.

      • Check out the text:

Micah 4:2 Many nations will come and say, “Come and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord And to the house of the God of Jacob, That He may teach us about His ways And that we may walk in His paths.” For from Zion will go forth the law, Even the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.

Micah 4:3 And He will judge between many peoples And render decisions for mighty, distant nations. Then they will hammer their swords into plowshares And their spears into pruning hooks; Nation will not lift up sword against nation, And never again will they train for war.

Micah 4:4 Each of them will sit under his vine And under his fig tree, With no one to make them afraid, For the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken.

    • Micah is speaking of the “latter days”, in which the future King, the Promised Messiah would rule in Jerusalem and reign and all the nations of the earth would be under His Divine care.

      • God in His grace gives Israel and the readers of the text just a small glimpse of what it will truly look like when Jesus comes back.

      • Except under Jesus’ administration there will be true security and safety.

    • If we were to look at the current state of Israel, they are not dwelling safely in their land.

      • Hostility is growing and anti-semitism is on the rise.

      • Yet God promises a day when all of that will end and that there will be a time in which men will not learn of war because of the extent of peace.

    • This type of peace in the land is mentioned in Zechariah 3:10. Check out the text:

Zechariah 3:10 ‘In that day,’ declares the Lord of hosts, ‘every one of you will invite his neighbor to sit under his vine and under his fig tree.’ ”

    • The phrase “In that day” refers to this future eschatological moment regarding the Second Coming of Christ.

      • And it will be in that day that the Lord will purge the world of His enemies and cleanse Israel of her sin as He ushers in the Kingdom.

      • There will be true peace in every sense! What a glorious day we await!

    • But until that moment arrives, we see scripture grant us a brief picture of what that day, yet future, will look like.

      • Provision for the King and the Kingdom will be made,

      • Both believing Jews and Gentiles will dwell securely in Jerusalem with the Lord, and the Kingdom will experience 1,000 years of peace.

      • And as Solomon’s household did not lack anything, so will those in the Kingdom lack for nothing.

    • All of this is made possible because of the Lord’s hand being upon Solomon and through the wisdom and discernment in which the Lord has granted him.

      • But most importantly, God’s word is being accomplished as He said it would!

      • Let’s read our last 6 verses, verses 29-34.

1 Kings 4:29 Now God gave Solomon wisdom and very great discernment and breadth of mind, like the sand that is on the seashore.

1 Kings 4:30 Solomon’s wisdom surpassed the wisdom of all the sons of the east and all the wisdom of Egypt.

1 Kings 4:31 For he was wiser than all men, than Ethan the Ezrahite, Heman, Calcol and Darda, the sons of Mahol; and his fame was known in all the surrounding nations.

1 Kings 4:32 He also spoke 3,000 proverbs, and his songs were 1,005.

1 Kings 4:33 He spoke of trees, from the cedar that is in Lebanon even to the hyssop that grows on the wall; he spoke also of animals and birds and creeping things and fish.

1 Kings 4:34 Men came from all peoples to hear the wisdom of Solomon, from all the kings of the earth who had heard of his wisdom.

  • It’s without question that Solomon was endowed with great wisdom and discernment from God.

    • And without fail, the Lord demonstrated faithfulness to His every word concerning Solomon’s request for wisdom and discernment.

      • Apparently, Solomon’s wisdom was so great that his knowledge and wisdom surpassed some of the great kings, nations, and sages of that time.

    • And people became so impressed by his wisdom that they would travel from far distances came just to hear of the wisdom of Solomon.

      • As we had seen from Chapter 3, the king used his God-given discernment and wisdom to provide the right mother with her living child.

    • This verdict sparked great fear among the people because of the King’s ruling on the matter.

      • If I were to plainly express the wisdom of Solomon, imagine the wisest person in the world and exceed that!

      • This was the wisdom in which Solomon was able to operate in. It was superior than all the others.

    • We find that a way of preserving some of the wisdom that God had given Solomon can be found in the wisdom section of scripture.

      • The proverbs in which Solomon spoke are found in the Book of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. (Both in which he wrote)

      • And one of the 1,005 songs he penned can be found in Songs of Solomon.

    • Apparently, it’s in verse 33 that Solomon could be considered the far most expert and authority in matters of plants and animals.

      • Clearly, Bill Nye the science guy has nothing on the wisdom and knowledge of Solomon.

      • You put the top intellectuals of today against Solomon and there would be no need to debate.

  • God’s grace towards Solomon was undeniable and his hand upon him was evidently seen.

    • If there were any doubt of who was Israel’s God, it became clear through the wise and discerning actions of Yahweh’s King, that the only Living God was Yahweh Himself.

      • And a principle that we come across here is how the Lord uses those in whom are His.

    • That when the elect of the Lord responds properly to the things of God, the Lord in return responds accordingly.

      • However, the inverse of this statement holds true as well, that when the elect of God operates outside of God’s purposes, discipline will ensue.

    • And what we will come to find later throughout 1 Kings is that although Solomon was endowed with great wisdom, he did not always make wise choices.

      • And herein lies the sticky yet complex reality of God’s Sovereignty and man’s choice in decisions.

  • We are often quick to acknowledge the Sovereignty of God which is a core biblical doctrine by which we hold to as believers.

    • But when discussions of choice come into play, we scream from our theological hilltops that, “God knew we would because He is sovereign”– and this is true!

      • However, when we play that game, time and again, our actions in life seem to be more “programmed” than “lived out” under the sovereign hand of God.

    • In other words, the Sovereignty of God is not separated from the choice of man.

      • Rather, we are to understand God’s sovereignty as His demonstrated power and authority over all things.

      • And our decisions within the established framework of the Lord’s authority and power are assessed accordingly.

    • For example, Solomon, although given wisdom and discernment of all things, still married foreign women for himself.

      • All the while, we can assume that Solomon knew that him marrying foreign women was against the Law – however he made that choice.

      • Therefore, the consequence of Solomon’s decision, did not change God’s Plan or Will, it simply exposed Solomon’s heart and proved a point.

    • That point being that man, apart from truly loving the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength, cannot fully obey the Lord.

      • And the reality is, this is what God desires for His people – that their hearts and desires be ever-fixed upon the Lord’s purposes and will.

    • This is why understanding that Jesus is the greater Solomon is so key!

      • Because where Solomon, although full of wisdom and discernment, failed in obedience and faithfulness, the Lord Jesus responded perfectly.

    • This is the point of the blessings and the curses in Deuteronomy. We can’t expect blessing where we do not obey!

      • The same principle applies within the church today, if we are not in right fellowship with the Lord, how do we expect to become more like Christ.

    • The beautiful reality of what Christ accomplished on the cross and His resurrection is that the striving to obey the Law to the “t” was accomplished in Him.

      • We couldn’t keep the Law! Solomon, as wise as he was, didn’t keep the Law perfectly. David as much as he loved the Lord, still fell short.

    • There had to be a human-agent by which could accomplish the law perfectly, without fail, and obeyed the Lord God to a “T”.

      • And the only one that could do that was that human-agent also being the God-man, Jesus Christ.

    • So now that we are in Christ, the need to strive has ceased.

      • We now simply respond in obedience out of our love for God and what He has done through Christ.

      • It is because of God’s faithfulness to His word that you and I can love the Lord well and serve Him with our whole hearts.

      • And that even when we fall short of His glory, His grace meets us, picks us up, and moves us forward.

  • This great demonstration of wisdom and discernment is what drew the people and other nations to Israel to see the King.

    • And in a similar way, it is grace and truth through the illuminating power of the Spirit that will draw men and women, far from God to God.

      • Let’s Pray.