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Deeper Commentary

1Ki 9:1 It happened, when Solomon had finished the building of the house of Yahweh, and the king’s house, and all Solomon’s desire which he was pleased to do-
His building of the temple was "all Solomon's desire which he was pleased to do" (1 Kings 9:1). There is a semantic connection between the Hebrew words for "desire" and "pleased" - the point of which is to emphasize that Solomon's work for God was only an expression of his own zest for self-fulfilment; he served God in ways which only confirmed his own natural inclinations. Appreciating the spirit and blood of Christ, his own weakness, the grace of God, and the subsequent desire to live a life of self sacrifice, of carrying a cross in ways we wouldn't naturally chose- this was all foreign to Solomon. And is it so foreign to us? Solomon's materialism and self-fulfilment are sure warnings to our age.

1Ki 9:2 that Yahweh appeared to Solomon the second time, as He had appeared to him at Gibeon-
Clearly God was aware that Solomon was going wrong, refusing to realize the conditional nature of the promises made to David about his son, and not personally applying the wisdom given to him in the first vision. So God's response to Solomon's arrogant, mistaken prayer of 1 Kings 8 was in fact to appear to him and warn him that he needed to be obedient, or else the promises would not in fact apply to him. The clear implication was that Solomon's statements in his prayer that the promises were fulfilled in him... were wrong.

1Ki 9:3 Yahweh said to him, I have heard your prayer and your supplication, that you have made before Me. I have made this house holy, which you have built, to put My name there forever; and My eyes and My heart shall be there constantly-
It has been argued that the Hebrew olahm, "forever", really means 'a period'. But I am unpersuaded of that argument in every case. Rather I would think that the context in this case requires that we understand God to be saying that He would indeed dwell in the temple "forever", and His particular sensitivity would be found in that place, His eyes and heart. But as He makes clear in :4-7, that was all conditional upon obedience. This highlights the tragedy- that eternity was at stake. So much depends upon human freewill decisions; for that is how much He respects us and our freedom of choice.

1Ki 9:4 As for you, if you will walk before Me, as David your father walked, in integrity of heart, and in uprightness, to do according to all that I have commanded you, and will keep My statutes and My ordinances-
This was a hard act to follow, for David was chosen as being a man after God's own heart. Solomon considered that he was acceptable with God just because of his father, whereas Go wanted him to personally attain his father's spirituality. We note in passing God's high estimation of David, despite David's serious but out of character failings.

God constantly warned Solomon about the conditionality of the promises, before the building started (2 Sam. 7:14), during it (1 Kings 6:11-13) and immediately after completing it (1 Kings 9:2-9). Solomon reinterprets this conditional promise in Prov. 20:7: "A righteous man walks in integrity; blessed are his children after him". Solomon has here his own agenda of self justification in view. The man who 'walked in integrity' is without doubt David (s.w. 1 Kings 9:4; Ps. 26:1,11; 101:2). Solomon assumed that because his father had walked in integrity, then he as his child would automatically be blessed. But he was choosing to misunderstand the conditional nature of the promises to him in 1 Kings 9:4; if he walked himself in integrity "as David your father walked", then he would be the prophetically blessed son of David.  

1Ki 9:5 then I will establish the throne of your kingdom over Israel forever, according as I promised to David your father saying, ‘There shall not fail you a man on the throne of Israel’-
This is the same quotation made in Ps. 132:12. But God is picking up on Solomon's claim in 1 Kings 8:24 that God had already fulfilled this. He is pointing out that this promise was conditional, and Solomon had overlooked that. The promise of "a man" suggests one individual; but Solomon was wrong in assuming this referred to himself.

1Ki 9:6 But if you turn away from following Me, you or your children, and don’t keep My commandments and My statutes which I have set before you, but shall go and serve other gods, and worship them-
This is what Solomon did finally do, and already at this stage he had married Gentile women, whom the law of Moses had warned would lead his heart away from Yahweh to "other gods". But that apparently inevitable process could still be arrested- if Solomon responded in humility to this appeal. We wait with eager ears to hear Solomon's response when the appeal ends in :9. But there is silence; see on :9. 

Solomon was fully representative of Israel (1 Kings 11:1,5-7 cp. 33; 8:52; and note the ye... thee confusion of 1 Kings 9:4-7 AV); his prayer was their prayer (2 Chron. 6:21); his worship was theirs (2 Chron. 1:3,5). And his apostacy was also theirs.

1Ki 9:7 then will I cut off Israel out of the land which I have given them; and this house, which I have made holy for my name, will I cast out of my sight; and Israel shall be a proverb and a byword among all peoples-
Solomon had wrongly reasoned in 1 Kings 8 that the grandeur of the temple would attract Gentiles to become proselytes to Yahweh. But God warns him that the very opposite could happen, and the ruined temple would become the biggest possible disadvertisment for Yahweh and His people. Solomon had prayed, and in that prayer taught Israel, that if they sinned even in captivity, then all they had to do was pray towards the temple and they would be forgiven. He saw in that building some kind of atonement for sins. He lost sight of the importance of the blood that made atonement; he replaced the blood of Christ with a work of his own hands.  God’s response to the dedication of the temple here corrects what Solomon has just said. He says that if Israel sin then He will cast the temple too out of His sight; which is rather different to how Solomon instructed the people to gain forgiveness for the sake of the temple if they were in dispersion. He saw the temple as a talisman- the need for real, meaningful change and repentance and spiritual mindedness to enable the dwelling of God went unperceived. He failed to perceive the real possibility of the eternal potential he and Israel could miss. They really could be cast out of God's sight in condemnation. Jonah recognized “I am cast out of Your sight” (Jon. 2:4), the very language of condemnation used at his time (2 Kings 17:20; 21:2; 23:27; Jer. 7:15).

1Ki 9:8 Though this house is so high, yet shall everyone who passes by it be astonished, and shall hiss; and they shall say, ‘Why has Yahweh done thus to this land, and to this house?’-
This is God's commentary upon the implications in Solomon's prayer that the temple and God's presence within it was to be eternal (see on 1 Kings 8:34,48). Solomon had willfully misinterpreted the promises to David to mean that the temple was the fulfilment of the promise that the seed would build an eternal house. That house David had built was not the house in view, and could easily be destroyed and even become a curse rather than a blessing- if Solomon were disobedient.

1Ki 9:9 and they shall answer, ‘Because they forsook Yahweh their God, who brought their fathers out of the land of Egypt, and laid hold of other gods, and worshiped them, and served them. Therefore Yahweh has brought all this evil on them’-
We wait with eager ears to hear Solomon's response when the appeal ends; but there is silence. Solomon had blanked out from his perception any idea that he might fail or was less than perfect. His narrative was that he was the son of David, and the promises about David's son were now fulfilled in him. And he refused to allow anything, not even an appeal from God, disturb that internal narrative.

1Ki 9:10 It happened at the end of twenty years, in which Solomon had built the two houses, the house of Yahweh and the king’s house-
Psalm 127 is prefaced with the information that it is a Psalm for Solomon- perhaps given by some nameless prophet (Gad? Nathan?) to warn him of where he was going. Verse 1 reminds him that God must be the builder of any house, or else the builders labour in vain. There is good reason to think that Solomon utterly failed to appreciate this. The records stress time and again that Solomon  built the temple (1 Kings 6:2,14; 9:10,25; 10:4; 1 Chron.6:10,32; 2 Chron. 8:1,12; 9:3; Acts 7:47); yet the house referred to in the Davidic promises was to be built by God, through David's Messianic Son, the Lord Jesus. Zechariah prophesied at the time of the rebuilding of the physical temple. It is significant, in this context, that Zech. 6:12 reminds Israel that the true temple of God will be built by the Branch, the Lord Jesus.

1Ki 9:11 (now Hiram the king of Tyre had supplied Solomon with cedar trees and fir trees, and with gold, according to all his desire), that then king Solomon gave Hiram twenty cities in the land of Galilee-
As noted on :1, all this building work was Solomon's "desire" or will, not necessarily God's; and he was really doing what he wanted in his fulfilment of his architectural fantasies, as he admits in Ecclesiastes, rather than serving God's will. For God had made it clear to David that a fancy temple with gold and cedar was not at all His will or desire. The gift of Israelite cities to a Gentile was not what a true king of Israel should have done, who valued the promises of Israel's eternal inheritance of the promised land. Solomon had come to see all God's promises as fulfilled in him and his amazing city and temple in Jerusalem. And so he devalued the rest of the promises, especially their future, eternal dimension.

1Ki 9:12 Hiram came out from Tyre to see the cities which Solomon had given him; and they didn’t please him-
Solomon's sacrifice of principle, as explained on :11, didn't achieve his intended aim of getting Hiram even more onside with him. Sacrifice of principle and the true hope of Israel never works out. These cities were inhabited by Canaanites whom Israel hadn't subdued at the time of this 'gift' (2 Sam. 24:7; 2 Chron. 8:2), and so Solomon was giving to Hiram a bunch of problems. These cities were not really under Solomon's authority anyway, he had not subdued the Canaanites there, so passing them to Hiram was giving him a noose around his neck rather than a true present.

1Ki 9:13 He said, What cities are these which you have given me, my brother? He called them the land of Cabul to this day-
"Cabul" can mean 'pawned', and the idea may be that although in some sense they did belong to Solomon, effectively they didn't because they were inhabited by Canaanites. Hence Hiram returned them to Solomon (2 Chron. 8:2), with all the damage in relationship that goes with returning a rejected gift. 2 Chron. 8:2 says that after this Solomon colonized the cities and sent Israelites to live there. But as will be noted on 1 Kings 9:21, this was not particularly in obedience to the Divine commands to subjugate the Canaanites, but rather than Solomon was desperate for huge amounts of slave labour with which to fulfil his building projects.

1Ki 9:14 Hiram sent to the king one hundred and twenty talents of gold-
The sense is that he "had sent" this money to Solomon. It seems Solomon became so obsessed with his building projects that he borrowed this money to finance them, and then tried to pay off the debt by giving Hiram the worthless cities of Cabul which were not at all any recompense. We see therefore that all was not quite as opulent and prosperous in Solomon's kingdom as may appear. See on :21.

1Ki 9:15 This is the reason of the levy which king Solomon raised, to build the house of Yahweh, and his own house, and Millo, and the wall of Jerusalem, and Hazor, and Megiddo, and Gezer-
Solomon figuratively chastised the people with whips in the form of the excessive tax he raised in order to build store cities (1 Kings 9:15,19), in which to store all his accumulation. Surely this is behind the Lord's parable of the rich fool, devoid of wisdom in practice, who built ever bigger barns because of his lack of understanding about the future Kingdom. The Hebrew for "store cities" (2 Chron. 8:6) is also translated "to heap up", strengthening the connection with the rich fool (Lk. 12:15-28). That parable stresses the self-centeredness of the fool- just circle all the occurrences of the word "I". A similar over-use of personal pronouns in Ecc. 2:4-8 makes the same point. Ecc. 2:26 records how Solomon reflected that the sinner "heaped up" treasures- using the same word as for his "store cities". He saw his error, but wasn't bothered to do anything about it. 

1Ki 9:16 Pharaoh king of Egypt had gone up, and taken Gezer, and burnt it with fire, and slain the Canaanites who lived in the city, and given it for a present to his daughter, Solomon’s wife-
The LXX interprets this as a marriage gift, and the Hebrew for "present" implies this. We know from Jud. 1:15 that it was not unknown for the father of the bride to give a dowry payment to the groom. Gezer was a Philistine city, and it has been suggested that they had sailed to the coast of Egypt and were acting as pirates, also pillaging the Egyptian coastline. Hence Pharaoh's attack upon them.

1Ki 9:17 Solomon built Gezer, and Beth Horon the lower-
Gezer had been a Philistine or Canaanite city (:16), and as with the colonization of the wilderness outpost of Tamar (:18)and the Canaanite held cities in Galilee (2 Chron. 8:2; 1 Kings 9:13), this building of cities in these areas would only have made sense if Israelites were then sent to live there. This would therefore have resulted in a huge forced deportation of Israelites away from their homes and tribal areas to populate remote areas surrounded by recently vanquished Canaanites. This would not have been popular.

1Ki 9:18 and Baalath, and Tamar in the wilderness, in the land-
See on :17. Baalath was in Dan near Gezer (Josh. 19:44), and was built and then populated by Israelites for defensive reasons. Tadmor (AV) is now an oasis in the Syrian desert, on the caravan route from Damascus to the Euphrates. There was no point in building it as a city unless it was to be inhabited by Israelites. But this would have been unpopular, as it meant uprooting Israelites out of their homes and tribal areas and sending them to live in remote outpost. This would have meant Solomon again despised the tribal allotments, which to God were significant. He did the same in his arrangement of the tax administration of the nation, as explained on 1 Kings 4.   

1Ki 9:19 and all the storage cities that Solomon had, and the cities for his chariots, and the cities for his horsemen-
The building of store cities by slave labour is exactly what Pharaoh did to the Israelites (Ex. 1:11). The impression is given that he followed Egypt in this way, as well as marrying Pharaoh's daughter and incorporating Egyptian stylism into the temple building, as noted on 1 Kings 8. His love of horses and chariots likewise reflects his love of Egypt, despite it being forbidden for Israel's king in Deuteronomy.

Solomon's lack of sensitivity to God's word led him to be tragically insensitive to people; in short, he showed no love. The way Solomon raised a "levy" or tribute from Israel, whereby the men of Israel had to serve him one month out of three and 'bear burdens', with 3,300 taskmasters over them (1 Kings 5:13-15), who 'bore rule' over (Heb. 'trampled down') the people (1 Kings 5:16)... is all reminiscent of Samuel's warning about the kind of King which Israel would have. And the language also recalls their bondage in Egypt; note that the levy was also in order to build treasure cities for Solomon, just as Pharaoh did. The Hebrew word for "levy" in 1 Kings 5:13 strictly means 'a burden causing to faint', and is rendered "taskmaster" in the record of Israel's suffering in Egypt (Ex. 1:11). One even wonders if Solomon's father-in-law- who also happened to be a Pharaoh of Egypt- influenced him (consciously or unconsciously) to act like the Exodus Pharaoh.

And that which Solomon desired to build for his pleasure in Jerusalem, and in Lebanon, and in all the land of his dominion-
Solomon loved building (Ecc. 2:4-6)- he built cities and buildings because it was “the desire of Solomon which he desired” (1 Kings 9:19 AVmg.), i.e. one of his dominant desires. So when we read that it was the desire of Solomon to build the temple (1 Kings 9:1,11), he was merely serving God in a way that naturally appealed to him anyway. And when he had finished that desire when the temple was completed (9:1), he was in the same position as when in Ecclesiastes he describes how he indulged every desire up to the very end, and then was left with the emptiness of vanity.

The fortification of Lebanon was because of the threat from Rezin in Damascus (1 Kings 11:24).

1Ki 9:20 As for all the people who were left of the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, who were not of the children of Israel-
Of the seven nations earlier listed as inhabiting Canaan, only these five had apparently survived. Two had been absorbed into the Israelite population or destroyed. They were clearly distinct from the "children of Israel". Instead of trying to absorb them into Israel or destroy them, Solomon was so desperate for workers that he capitalized on that situation and demanded they provide him with slaves for his building works, as opposed to the Israelite labour which was classified as 'servants' (:22).

1Ki 9:21 their children who were left after them in the land, whom the children of Israel were not able utterly to destroy, of them Solomon raised a levy of bondservants to this day-
This suggests that Solomon made the same mistake as Israel in earlier days- he was a satisficer, he himself married into those tribes, and he wasn’t obedient to the clear covenant of the land which was binding upon him. Solomon's motivation for now bringing the Canaanites into servitude was not spiritual. Rather, as with his borrowing of money from Hiram (see on :14), his obsession with his building plans was such that he needed huge amounts of money and resources to carry them through. And so he colonized the Canaanite areas and made them send him slaves to work on his quarrying and building projects; and this was why, as noted on :13 and 2 Chron. 8:2, he was keen to colonize the area of 'Cabul', in order to also provide more dogs body workers for his architectural obsessions.

1Ki 9:22 But of the children of Israel Solomon made no bondservants; but they were the men of war, and his servants, and his princes, and his captains, and rulers of his chariots and of his horsemen-
This sounds very much like the fulfilment of Samuel's warning as to how a human king would abuse the Israelites. He made the Canaanites slaves (:21), but he made the Israelites his servants, to the point of whipping them with whips, as they later complained after his death. The difference between being his slaves and his servants was therefore not that significant.

Solomon had obsessive tendencies. We know that he became addicted to finding pleasure in women, and Ecc. 2 shows him racing down the road of obsession with architecture, alcohol, food, gold etc. The historical narratives so often mention his gold and silver (e.g. 2 Chron. 9:13-21,24,27). This repetition reflects Solomon's obsession. The same fact explains the record's repetition of Solomon's enthusiasm for horses (1 Kings 10:25-29; 4:26,28; 9:19,22; 2 Chron. 1:14,16,17; 8:6,9; 9:24,25,28). Yet amassing of gold, silver and horses was explicitly forbidden for the King of Israel (Dt. 17:17). There is a powerful point to be made here: we can deceive ourselves that God is blessing us, when actually we are breaching explicit commands. Would Solomon had understood the concept of self-examination. 

1Ki 9:23 These were the chief officers who were over Solomon’s work, five hundred and fifty, who bore rule over the people who laboured in the work-
The number of these overseers varies from 3,300 when the temple was being built (1 Kings 5:16) to 550 in 1 Kings 9:23 and then 250 in the Chronicles record. I suggested on 1 Kings 9:14,21 that all was not well in Solomon's apparently opulent kingdom. His building obsessions had led him to borrow money from Hiram to find it, and to excessively tax both Israel and the Canaanites amongst them to provide workers. And so the decreasing numbers of overseers may reflect his declining human resources, despite making every effort to try to pressgang more labourers he got fewer and fewer on the jobs in practice.

1Ki 9:24 But Pharaoh’s daughter came up out of the city of David to her house which Solomon had built for her: then he built Millo-
If this is the woman of the Song of Solomon, then we can deduce they had a stormy relationship. It apparently ends at the end of Song 8 (see notes there), and yet with the hints of resumption. So perhaps it was not a blessed marriage, and Solomon ended up building her a separate house to live in outside his immediate citadel.

1Ki 9:25 Solomon offered burnt offerings and peace offerings on the altar which he built to Yahweh three times a year, burning incense with them, on the altar that was before Yahweh. So he finished the house-
"Three times a year" surely refers to the three main feasts, Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles. No longer were the "high places" like Gibeon used, but worship was centralized in Jerusalem. This was indeed as the law of Moses intended, but Solomon appears to have used this as part of his policy of centralization of power in Jerusalem which we discussed on 1 Kings 4. We note that Solomon seems to have officiated as a priest as David did. David had done this kind of thing, but from careful reflection upon the spirit of the law, whose letter he says in Ps. 119 he studied constantly. And David came to this sense through careful reflection upon God's grace to him, and through the experience of Uzzah's death as a result of taking 'living the spirit of the law' too far. But Solomon does it from a wrong assumption that he is the Messianic king-priest.

1Ki 9:26 King Solomon made a navy of ships in Ezion Geber, which is beside Eloth, on the shore of the Red Sea, in the land of Edom-
The navy appears to have either been owned by Hiram or at least included his ships (2 Chron. 8:18). It is spoken of as Solomon's in the same way as he is spoken of as being the personal builder of the temple, when clearly his subordinates did the actual work. See on :27.

1Ki 9:27 Hiram sent in the navy his servants, sailors who had knowledge of the sea, with the servants of Solomon-
Transporting ships overland was relatively common; there are several accounts of Alexander the Great doing so. Perhaps Hiram had transported his ships there overland through Israel, and Solomon decided to have them build ships for him at their port of departure, so that his traders could accompany the men of Tyre. The ships were perhaps "sent" in the form of wooden structures which were then assembled at the port.

1Ki 9:28 They came to Ophir, and fetched from there gold, four hundred and twenty talents, and brought it to king Solomon
Chronicles says 450, but perhaps the 30 talents difference were paid to Hiram for his transport services, as the navy of :27 appears to have either been owned by Hiram or at least included his ships (2 Chron. 8:18). "Ophir" may have been a generic name for areas to the east, including southern Arabia (famed for gold in Ps. 72:15; Ez. 27:22) and India; Ophir was in Arabia according to Gen. 10:29. Sheba was nearby and was famed for gold, so it was through this trading that the Queen of Sheba heard of the wisdom of Solomon. The next verse (1 Kings 10:1) goes on to speak of her, connecting her with this gold trade with Ophir.