What is important is not how much we have in this world but how we use what we have. King Solomon’s experience reminds us that all the blessings we enjoy are gifts of God and we are to use them to glorify Him, not ourselves.
As we turn to the ninth chapter of 1 Kings and the parallel passage in 2 Chronicles chapters 7–9, Solomon’s construction projects continue, his wealth grows through trade, and news of his great wisdom spreads. But what we are going to see here is that everything he possesses comes from God, and for what he does with it all, he will answer to God, because to whom much is given, much is required. (Luke 12:48)
Here in 1 Kings 9 the magnificent temple has just been dedicated, and we are told in verse 2, “The Lord appeared to Solomon a second time, as he had appeared to him at Gibeon.” In this appearance, the Lord has three messages for Solomon.
First, God assures Solomon that his prayer of dedication has been heard. He says here in verse 3, “I have consecrated this house that you have built, by putting my name there forever.” Over in 2 Chronicles 7:14, we learn of this additional promise to the nation Israel, should they wander away from God:
“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
Second, back here in 1 Kings 9:4-5, the Lord promises Solomon:
“If you will walk before me . . . with integrity of heart and uprightness . . . I will establish your royal throne over Israel forever, as I promised David your father, saying, ‘You shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.’”
If Solomon follows the Lord with his whole heart, the dynasty of David through Solomon will be established.
Third, the Lord presents a warning for Solomon. If he or his children turn away from the Lord, disobey His word, and follow other gods, the nation will be removed from the land and taken into exile, and the temple will “become a heap of ruins” (verse 8). And that’s exactly what eventually will happen.
But what about the promise to David of a permanent nation and a literal throne? Well, keep in mind this will be fulfilled ultimately and finally through David’s greatest Descendant, Jesus Christ. God did not promise an uninterrupted succession of David’s descendants if they abandoned the Lord, but a final successor to the throne—the Messiah, King Jesus.
And now chapter 9 shifts to a summary of Solomon’s achievements, and there are a lot of them, beginning in verse 10. Solomon ends up giving Hiram, the king of Tyre, twenty cities in Galilee as payment for his help in building the temple. Hiram is not happy with these cities, however, and the parallel account over in 2 Chronicles 8:2 implies that Hiram returned these cities and received a better payment.
We are told here in 1 Kings 9:15 that Solomon constructed the “Millo.” This refers to a terraced construction on the eastern slope of the City of David, making it possible to construct more buildings and fortifications. Solomon also rebuilt Hazor, north of the Sea of Galilee; Megiddo, overlooking the Valley of Jezreel; and the city of Gezer, which had been built on a major trade route west of Jerusalem toward the Mediterranean.
Now I must tell you, these are not little construction projects. They are major undertakings that used forced labor from the defeated Canaanite nations. Israelites worked on these projects as well, although they were soldiers and supervisors of the work.
Now verse 25 records:
Three times a year Solomon used to offer up burnt offerings and peace offerings on the altar that he built to the Lord, making offerings with it before the Lord.
In 2 Chronicles 8, additional details are given, noting that Solomon made sure the priests were organized and doing their duties during these annual festivals.
Then finally, here in verse 26, we read, “King Solomon built a fleet of ships at Ezion-geber, which is near Eloth on the shore of the Red Sea.” This was at the northern tip of the Red Sea. The Phoenicians were expert sailors and shipbuilders, and they helped Solomon build his fleet of ships. This is going to be very profitable for Israel.
Now chapter 10 gives us the details of a well-known visit by the queen of Sheba. We read in verse 1:
Now when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the Lord, she came to test him with hard questions.
She wants to know about the meaning of life and the truth about the creator God and a thousand more things.
This queen comes all the way from southwest Arabia (modern-day Yemen) because she has heard of Solomon’s wisdom and she wants to know if all the rumors are true. And they are! Solomon answers all her questions; and as a guest in his magnificent palace, she observes the variety of food and the beautiful clothing of the palace staff and sees the glorious golden temple of God. And we are told here in verse 5, “There was no more breath in her.” I mean, it all simply takes her breath away.
She is overwhelmed and says:
“The report was true that I heard in my own land of your words and of your wisdom, but I did not believe the reports until I came and my own eyes had seen it. And behold, the half was not told me. Your wisdom and prosperity surpass the report that I heard.” (verses 6-7)
And from her observations, she comes to understand something. Notice what she says to Solomon here in verse 9:
“Blessed be the Lord your God, who has delighted in you and set you on the throne of Israel! Because the Lordloved Israel forever, he has made you king.”
In other words, everything that Solomon is and has comes from the hand of God.
And does Solomon ever have a lot! Beginning here in verse 14, we are given a tour of his bank account, with verse 14 telling us the weight of the gold Solomon received every single year was more than twenty-five tons! Today that is over a billion dollars’ worth of gold a year. Solomon took some of this gold and made 500 shields of solid gold, which were used for ceremonial purposes (verse 16). All his dining room utensils were solid gold (verse 21).
Verse 18 says, “The king also made a great ivory throne and overlaid it with the finest gold.” So great was the king’s wealth that verse 21 records, “Silver was not considered as anything in the days of Solomon.” Who cares about silver?
Solomon’s naval fleet also imported horses and exotic animals, like apes and peacocks (verse 22). It seems like Solomon could have anything he wanted.
But again, right here in the middle of these details, we have a reminder in verse 24: “The whole earth sought the presence of Solomon to hear his wisdom, which God had put into his mind.” You might not have Solomon’s brains, and you might not have his bank account, but whatever you do have, it comes from the hand of God. The apostle Paul reminded the Corinthian believers of this truth when he asked, “What do you have that you did not receive?” (1 Corinthians 4:7). PQ, added to end.
The truth, is, Solomon is going to forget this very point. And that is going to make our next journey a rather sad one, as we come to the end of Solomon’s reign.