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Bible Commentaries

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

1 Kings 9

 

 

Verses 1-28

1 Kings 9:2. The Lord appeared to Solomon the second time. This seems to be in answer to the prayer offered up in the temple.

1 Kings 9:13. Cabul, vile, argillaceous, arenaceous. These twenty towns lay nearest to Tyre; and it was difficult for Solomon to give him any other district, because the Hebrews would not be separated from David’s house. Solomon laid a heavy tax on the people to pay Hiram the hundred and twenty talents.

1 Kings 9:15. Millo was a strong castle, or fortress on the highest part of Zion. David having taken the city, built it as a strong place; but Solomon it would seem rebuilt it as the citadel of Jerusalem. Here Joash retreated from the conspiracy, and was slain. 2 Kings 12:20.—Hazor, a city of Naphtali, once a chief city of the Canaanites. Solomon now made it a grand fortress. Joshua 11:10; Joshua 19:32-36.—Megiddo, a city of Ephraim, where the good Josiah received his wound.—Gezer. There were two cities of this name; one in the tribe of Ephraim. Joshua 21:21. But the Gezer which Pharaoh took was a seaport, and inhabited by the exiled Canaanites. It is probable they had provoked the Egyptian monarch by a series of depredations at sea, to fit out this expedition against the city.

1 Kings 9:18. Tadmor, which Jerome renders Palmyra. According to Josephus it was two days journey from Lower Syria, and one from the Euphrates. Lib. 8. c. 2. This was an ancient and well-watered city. The Romans, accounting it the extremity of their empire, made it free. Pliny, book 5. ch. 25. It was the capital of Queen Zenobia, when she held in some sort the empire of the east. The ruins are still very majestic.

1 Kings 9:28. Ophir. אופירה ophirah: o being privative, as in orphan, without father. Orgild, Saxon, unfined; fric, cold; a feminine, that is, Africa, or a country without cold. We may however rest assured that fleets circumnavigated all Africa. The Hebrew mostly gives the original name to every city and country, which is otherwise with common historians. Thebes, for instance, the great and ancient city of Egypt, is everywhere called On or On-ammon in the sacred scriptures. It is called Diospolis by the Greeks, and Hecatompylos by Pliny. The case is similar with regard to Ophir, so often mentioned in the old testament. In Genesis 10:29-30, we find that Ophir and Havilah were sons of Joktan, and that their first land was from Meshi to Sephar, a mount of the east. Solomon’s fleet sailed from Ezion-geber to the East Indies, and principally to the island of Taprobana, now called Ceylon, which was their place of rendezvous, after collecting all the commercial treasures of the east. In this island, and on the adjacent coasts alone, they could find the spices and precious stones mentioned in the tenth chapter.

REFLECTIONS.

We have now traced Solomon from the most hopeful infancy to the highest scale of grandeur, wealth and dominion, that any prince before his time had ever enjoyed. What proof that God, to a reformed and obedient people, is ever faithful to his covenant, and all its promises. But the pinnacle of prosperity is a giddy situation: it was in this that David once forgot himself, and sinned against the Lord. It was in this situation that Solomon erred, even more than his father. What then have not those families to fear who by commerce and speculation have suddenly risen to the enjoyment of villas, carriages, and a luxurious style of living? Let them tremble, lest they and their children, placed by their sins out of the covenant protection of the Lord, should suddenly experience reverses of fortune, and the heavy strokes of his afflicting rod: and if arrested by the heavy hand of death, where would their souls find a refuge?

The Lord who appeared to Solomon, and qualified him for the cares of government, now appeared the second time to save him in the hour of danger from prosperity. This was after twenty years, when he had finished his various palaces, and when he had reigned twenty four years; and consequently, when he was about to enjoy a little repose from the more active labours of life. The Lord reminded him of the family covenant, that there should not fail of David’s line a man on the throne of Israel, for God is ever mindful of his word.

The Lord, as is invariably the case, reminded Solomon that the covenant had conditions, viz. if he would walk as his father David did, with integrity and uprightness of heart, and not turn aside to idolatry: and consequently, on derogation, he would forfeit all its protection. And so in fact it was; all was forfeited to his family by his sin, only the Lord in compassion to David spared him two of the tribes. How solemn, how sanctifying is this thought! Solomon is farther reminded that his family covenant was a branch of Israel’s covenant. “If you shall at all turn from following me—then will I cut off Israel out of the land which I have given them: and this house which I have hallowed for my name, will I cast out of my sight.” This is in substance the same as the Lord’s covenant on Sinai, and before the people entered the land. Deuteronomy 28:29. And as we have seen in Solomon all the blessings of this covenant poured on Israel, so in the last chapter of the Chronicles we shall see all its curses inflicted on an apostate people.

This private token of God’s favour to the king, produced for awhile a good effect on his mind. Three times a year he celebrated the grand festivals to the Lord; and he thought nothing too much to do, or too much to give to the Author of all good. Happy, infinitely happy for him and for his people, had he persevered.

We cannot but remark farther, the dignity with which the scriptures address the greatest of kings. With God there is no respect of persons: he requires of Solomon the same obedience as of a private character. One would have thought, if any abatement could be made in the more rigorous requisitions of the precepts, it should have been in favour of so great a king. Let us then learn wisdom, never to be partakers of other men’s sins. Let us never palliate crimes by calling them the indiscretions of youth, nor excuse the want of religion by saying, he is a man of business. The whole earth is not sufficient to furnish an apology for the neglect of salvation; because it is our first business to seek the Lord while he may be found.

 


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Bibliography Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on 1 Kings 9:4". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jsc/1-kings-9.html. 1835.

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