When we began our study of 1 Chronicles, I noted the two books titled “Chronicles” were in fact, just that: chronicles of Israel’s history as a people, and nation, and most likely written during the post-exilic era (meaning the years following Israel’s Babylonian exile), Together, the Chronicles give us vital information. 1 Chronicles, in particular, gave us a parallel account of some events recorded in 1 Samuel and 2 Samuel. The history record found in 2 Chronicles parallels events that are detailed in 1 Kings 3 and 1 Kings 4.
For the sake of interpretation, I suggest that 1 Kings and 2 Kings are a record of historical events written from man’s viewpoint. By contrast, 1 Chronicles and 2 Chronicles, in my opinion, are written from God’s perspective.
1 Chronicles concluded with King David exhorting Israel to accept Solomon as king, and support him in the greatest undertaking of his life, building a Temple for the LORD in Jerusalem (1 Chronicles 29:1-25). With modest fanfare, David “died in a good old age, full of days, riches, and honour: and Solomon his son reigned in his stead” (1 Chronicles 29:28).
2 Chronicles 1 opened with Solomon sitting on his father’s throne “and the LORD God was with him, and magnified him exceedingly” (1:1). Solomon began his reign, summoning “all Israel,” including the captains of his military, and governors, to gather at “Gibeon; for there was the tabernacle of the congregation of God, which Moses the servant of the Lord had made in the wilderness” (1:3). David had removed the Ark of God to a tabernacle he had prepared in Jerusalem, but the ancient Mosaic tabernacle, and the altar had remained in Gibeon (1:5-6), and there Solomon “offered a thousand burnt offerings upon it” (1:6).
What an incredible opportunity from the LORD! “Solomon, name your heart’s desire, and I will perform it!”
Consider God’s proposition for a moment. Were God to grant you an opportunity to ask for something, for anything, and it would be granted, what would you request? Would you ask for riches? Possessions? Power? Popularity? Fame? Your answer to that question reveals a lot about who you are. Solomon’s answer would no doubt put us all to shame!
The young king did not request those things that carnal, worldly-minded men pursue. His request revealed a heart of sincere humility: “Give me now wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people: for who can judge this thy people, that is so great?” (2 Chronicles 1:10)
God’s Response to Solomon’s Request (1:11-12)
God knew Solomon’s heart and motives, and not just his request (1:11). The LORD commended Solomon and promised to reward him with not only wisdom and knowledge, but also “riches, and wealth, and honour, such as none of the kings have had that have been before thee, neither shall there any after thee have the like” (1:12).
God was true to His promise to bless Solomon (1:13-17). When the king returned to Jerusalem, he began gathering 1400 chariots, and 12,000 horsemen for his military (1:14). In fact, the wealth of Israel became so vast, that silver and gold were as plentiful as stones, and cedar trees as common as sycamore trees (cedar being the preferred wood for construction, 1:15).
Evidencing the wisdom of which God promised to bless him, Solomon’s kingdom became powerful, and Israel controlled the trade routes out of Egypt. He began trading in chariots and horses that were sent to kings of other nations (1:16-17).
1 Kings 4 – Solomon’s Administration
Solomon’s officers’ names are given (1 Kings 4:1-6), beginning with Azariah, the high priest (4:2). The names of others who assisted Solomon are recorded including scribes who handled his correspondence with other nations (4:3), and a court clerk who kept a record of the affairs of state (4:3). There was Solomon’s military captain (4:4), priests who were his advisors (4:4b), a principal officer, and head of the officers (4:5). The steward of his household was named (4:6a), and the man charged with overseeing those who paid tribute (indentured servants to the king, 4:6b).
Twelve officers, each representing a district of Israel, were charged with providing household provisions to support the king’s court (4:7-19). There were also taxes levied on the people, and nations that paid tribute to Israel. The taxes went to support Solomon’s massive construction projects that included his palace, the Temple, and the city walls (4:20-28). Because Israel and the people were enjoying unprecedented prosperity, there was plenty of revenue for the government (4:26-28); however, as we will see later, the burden of taxation did inevitably become an oppression of the people. Following Solomon’s death, the people would demand the taxes be lessened (1 Kings 12:1-4).
The International Fame of Solomon’s Wisdom (4:29-34)
God kept his promise, and He “gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and largeness of heart, even as the sand that is on the sea shore” (4:29). Solomon’s fame increased, and the people of the east marveled that his wisdom and knowledge exceeded the men of the east orient (4:30-31). Three thousand proverbs were attributed to Solomon (many are recorded in the Book of Proverbs), and 1,005 songs (4:32). His knowledge of botany and biology excelled all men, and people and rulers from all the known world came to Jerusalem seeking an audience with the king (4:33-34; note, Matthew 12:42; Luke 11:31).
Closing thoughts – Solomon requested wisdom, and understanding, and God gave Him all that a man could desire. In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus admonished His followers, “take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?” (Matthew 6:31).
The LORD then promised, “33But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33).
What about you? Upon what have you set your desires and affections?
Copyright © 2021 – Travis D. Smith