While Solomon kept closely to God and to his duty there was no adversary nor evil occurrent (1 Kgs. 5:4), nothing to create him any disturbance or uneasiness in the least; but here we have an account of two adversaries that appeared against him, inconsiderable, and that could not have done any thing worth taking notice of if Solomon had not first made God his enemy. What hurt could Hadad or Rezon have done to so great and powerful a king as Solomon was if he had not, by sin, made himself mean and weak? And then those little people menace and insult him. If God be on our side, we need not fear the greatest adversary; but, if he be against us, he can made us fear the least, and the very grasshopper shall be a burden. Observe,
I. Both these adversaries God stirred up, 1 Kgs. 11:14, 23. Though they themselves were moved by principles of ambition or revenge, God made use of them to serve his design of correcting Solomon. The principal judgment threatened was deferred, namely, the rending of the kingdom from him, but he himself was made to fee the smart of the rod, for his greater humiliation. Note, Whoever are, in any way, adversaries to us, we must take notice of the hand of God stirring them up to be so, as he bade Shimei curse David; we must look through the instruments of our trouble to the author of it and hear the Lord’s controversy in it.
II. Both these adversaries had the origin of their enmity to Solomon and Israel laid in David’s time, and in his conquests of their respective countries, 1 Kgs. 11:15, 24. Solomon had the benefit and advantage of his father’s successes both in the enlargement of his dominion and the increase of his treasure, and would never have known any thing but the benefit of them if he had kept closely to God; but now he finds evils to balance the advantages, and that David had made himself enemies, who were thorns in his sides. Those that are too free in giving provocation ought to consider that perhaps it may be remembered in time to come and returned with interest to theirs after them; having so few friends in this world, it is our wisdom not to make ourselves more enemies than we needs must.
1. Hadad, an Edomite, was an adversary to Solomon. We are not told what he did against him, nor which way he gave him disturbance, only, in general, that he was an adversary to him: but we are told, (1.) What induced him to bear Solomon a grudge. David had conquered Edom, 2 Sam. 8:14. Joab put all the males to the sword, 1 Kgs. 11:15, 16. A terrible execution he made, avenging on Edom their old enmity to Israel, yet perhaps with too great a severity. From this general slaughter, while Joab was burying the slain (for he left not any alive of their own people to bury them, and buried they must be, or they would be an annoyance to the country, Ezek. 39:12), Hadad, a branch of the royal family, then a little child, was taken and preserved by some of the king’s servants, and conveyed to Egypt, 1 Kgs. 11:17. They halted by the way, in Midian first, and then in Paran, where they furnished themselves with men, not to fight for them or force their passage, but to attend them, that their young master might go into Egypt with an equipage agreeable to his quality. There he was kindly sheltered and entertained by Pharaoh, as a distressed prince, as well provided for, and so recommended himself that, in process of time, he married the queen’s sister (1 Kgs. 11:19), and by her had a child, which the queen herself conceived such a kindness for that she brought him up in Pharaoh’s house, among the king’s children. (2.) What enabled him to do Solomon a mischief. Upon the death of David and Joab, he returned to his own country, in which, it should seem, he settled and remained quiet while Solomon continued wise and watchful for the public good, but from which he had opportunity of making inroads upon Israel when Solomon, having sinned away his wisdom as Samson did his strength (and in the same way), grew careless of public affairs, was off his guard himself, and had forfeited the divine protection. What vexation Hadad gave to Solomon we are not here told, but only how loth Pharaoh was to part with him and how earnestly he solicited his stay (1 Kgs. 11:22): What hast thou lacked with me? “Nothing,” says Hadad; “but let me go to my own country, my native air, my native soil.” Peter Martyr has a pious reflection upon this: “Heaven is our home, and we ought to keep up a holy affection to that, and desire towards it, even when the world, the place of our banishment, smiles most upon us.” Does it ask, What have you lacked, that you are so willing to be gone? We may answer, “Nothing that the world can do for us; but still let us go thither, where our hope, and honour, and treasure are.”
2. Rezon, a Syrian, was another adversary to Solomon. When David conquered the Syrians 46ac , he headed the remains, lived at large by spoil and rapine, till Solomon grew careless, and then he got possession of Damascus, reigned there (1 Kgs. 11:24) and over the country about (1 Kgs. 11:25), and he created troubles to Israel, probably in conjunction with Hadad, all the days of Solomon (namely, after his apostasy), or he was an enemy to Israel during all Solomon’s reign, and upon all occasions vented his then impotent malice against them, but till Solomon’s revolt, when his defence had departed from him, he could not do them any mischief. It is said of him that he abhorred Israel. Other princes loved and admired Israel and Solomon, and courted their friendship, but here was one that abhorred them. The greatest and best of princes and people, however much they may in general be respected, will yet perhaps be hated and abhorred by some.