In our study of 1 Kings chapter four, we will look at the kingdom that was passed on to Solomon from his father. In chapter 3, we saw that David had taught his son about the things of God and that is the first part of the legacy that was left to Solomon.
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So King Solomon ruled over all Israel. And these were his chief officials: Azariah son of Zadok - the priest; Elihoreph and Ahijah, sons of Shisha-secretaries; Jehoshaphat son of Ahilud - recorder; Benaiah son of Jehoiada - commander in chief; Zadok and Abiathar - priests; Azariah son of Nathan - in charge of the district officers; Zabud son of Nathan - a priest and personal adviser to the king; Ahishar - in charge of the palace; Adoniram son of Abda - in charge of forced labor.
We see the second part of the legacy that was left to Solomon in the fact that he ruled over "all Israel". His father had fought many battles to unify the nation and defeat its enemies but he passed on to his son a kingdom at peace. In this list of royal officials, we also see that other men left a legacy of loyalty and obedience to their sons. For instance, two of Nathan's sons were royal officials including one who was a personal adviser to the king. We are reminded that it was Nathan that had been obedient to God and went to David to inform him of the plot to replace him by his son Adonijah.
Solomon also had twelve district governors over all Israel, who supplied provisions for the king and the royal household. Each one had to provide supplies for one month in the year. These are their names: Beh-Hur - in the hill country of Ephraim; Ben-Deker - in Makaz, Shaalbim, Beth Shemesh and Elon Bethhanan; Ben-Hesed - in Arubboth (Socoh and all the land of Hepher were his); Ben-Abinadab - in Naphoth Dor (he was married to Taphath daughter of Solomon); Baana son of Ahilud - in Taanach and Megiddo, and in all of Beth Shan next to Zarethan below Jezreel, from Beth Shan to Abel Meholah across to Jokmeam; Ben-Geber - in Ramoth Gilead (the settlements of Jair son of Manasseh in Gilead were his, as well as the district of Argob in Bashan and its sixty large walled cities with bronze gate bars); Ahunadab son of Iddo - in Mahanaim; Ahimaaz - in Nephtali (he had married Basemath daughter of Solomon); Baana son of Hushai - in Asher and in Aloth; Jehoshaphat son of Paruah - in Issachar; Shimei son of Ela - in Benjamin; Geber son of Uri - in Gilead (the country of Sihon king of the Amorites and the country of Og king of Bashan). He was the only governor over the district.
Here, we have a list of the governors that Solomon put in charge of the twelve districts of the kingdom. We are reminded that, throughout the Bible, the number twelve is associated with divine authority and this kingdom was established by God and was to be ran according to His authority. We also see that each of these men were left a legacy by their fathers and so had ended up in these positions of authority. This is a reminder to all who have children that the life we live can have lasting rewards or consequences for our children.
The people of Judah and Israel were as numerous as the sand on the seashore; they ate, they drank and they were happy. And Solomon ruled over all the kingdoms from the River to the land of the Philistines, as far as the border of Egypt. These countries brought tribute and were Solomon's subjects all his life.
This was a time of prosperity as the kingdom was at the height of its glory. There was plenty in the land and other nations paid tribute to Israel. The reference to the people being numerous as the sand refers to the fact that, as far as the writer was concerned, the promise that God had made to Abraham about the number of his descendants had been fulfilled (see Genesis 22).
Solomon's daily provisions were thirty cors of fine flour and sixty cors of meal, ten head of stall-fed cattle, twenty of pasture-fed cattle and a hundred sheep and goats, as well as deer, gazelles, roebucks and choice fowl. For he ruled over all the kingdoms west of the River, from Tiphsah to Gaza, and had peace on all sides. During Solomon's lifetime Judah and Israel, from Dan to Beersheba, lived in safety, each man under his own vine and fig tree. Solomon had four thousand stalls for chariot horses, and twelve thousand horses. The district officers, each in his own month, supplied provisions for King Solomon and all who came to the king's table. That saw to it that nothing was lacking. They also brought to the proper place their quotas of barley and straw for the chariot horses and the other horses.
We see the depth of this prosperity in that it went down to all of the people as "each man under his own vine and fig tree". That is a long way from where we are today as more and more people are depending on charities or government handouts. We might ask ourselves why this is so and the answer is simple. We have been handed down a legacy that is quite different than that given to Solomon and many, today, are passing on a legacy of dependence to their children.
God gave Solomon wisdom and very great insight, and a breadth of understanding as measureless as the sand on the seashore. Solomon's wisdom was greater than the wisdom of all the men of the East, and greater than all the wisdom of Egypt. He was wiser than any other man, including Ethan the Ezrahite - wiser than Heman, Calcol and Darda, the sons of Mahol. And his fame spread to all the surrounding nations.
Here we see a picture of "being the light of Christ" as everyone knew that Solomon's wisdom was from God. His fame spread to the nations around Israel and brought glory to God. It should be the same for us as Christians in that our lives should be so bright that people can clearly see that we are His disciples. Then, the things that He does through us will give God the glory.
He spoke three thousand proverbs and his songs numbered a thousand and five. He described plant life, from the cedar of Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out of walls. He also taught about animals and birds, reptiles and fish. Men of all nations came to listen to Solomon's wisdom, sent by all the kings of the world, who had heard of his wisdom.
As his fame spread, Solomon continued to share his wisdom with the rest of the world. That is a reminder to us that, no matter what our gifts are, they are to be used for the kingdom.