Verses 1–19

Here we have,

I. Solomon upon his throne (1 Kgs. 4:1): So king Solomon was king, that is, he was confirmed and established king over all Israel, and not, as his successors, only over two tribes. He was a king, that is, he did the work and duty of a king, with the wisdom God had given him. Those preserve the name and honour of their place that mind the business of it and make conscience of it.

II. The great officers of his court, in the choice of whom, no doubt, his wisdom much appeared. It is observable, 1. That several of them are the same that were in his father’s time. Zadok and Abiathar were then priests (2 Sam. 20:25), so they were now; only then Abiathar had the precedency, now Zadok. Jehoshaphat was then recorder, or keeper of the great seal, so he was now. Benaiah, in his father’s time, was a principal man in military affairs, and so he was now. Shisha was his father’s scribe, and his sons were his, 1 Kgs. 4:3. Solomon, though a wise man, would not affect to be wiser than his father in this matter. When sons come to inherit their father’s wealth, honour, and power, it is a piece of respect to their memory, caeteris paribus—where it can properly be done, to employ those whom they employed, and trust those whom they trusted. Many pride themselves in being the reverse of their good parents. 2. The rest were priests’ sons. His prime-minister of state was Azariah the son of Zadok the priest. Two others of the first rank were the sons of Nathan the prophet, 1 Kgs. 4:5. In preferring them he testified the grateful respect he had for their good father, whom he loved in the name of a prophet.

III. The purveyors for his household, whose business it was to send in provisions from several parts of the country, for the king’s tables and cellars (1 Kgs. 4:7) and for his stables (1 Kgs. 4:27, 28), that thus, 1. His house might always be well furnished at the best hand. Let great men learn hence good house-keeping, to be generous in spending according to their ability, but prudent in providing. It is the character of the virtuous woman that she bringeth her food from afar (Prov. 31:14), not far-fetched and dear-bought, but the contrary, every thing bought where it is cheapest. 2. That thus he himself, and those who immediately attended him, might be eased of a great deal of care, and the more closely apply themselves to the business of the state, not troubled about much serving, provision for that being got ready to their hand. 3. That thus all the parts of the kingdom might be equally benefited by the taking off of the commodities that were the productions of their country and the circulating of the coin. Industry would hereby be encouraged, and consequently wealth increased, even in those tribes that lay most remote from the court. The providence of God extends itself to all places of his dominions (Ps. 103:22); so should the prudence and care of princes. 4. The dividing of this trust into so many hands was prudent, that no man might be continually burdened with the care of it nor grow exorbitantly rich with the profit of it, but that Solomon might have those, in every district, who, having a dependence upon the court, would be serviceable to him and his interest as there was occasion. These commissioners of the victualling-office, not for the army or navy (Solomon was engaged in no war), but for the household, are here named, several of them only by their surnames, as great men commonly call their servants: Ben-hur, Ben-dekar, etc., though several of them have also their proper names prefixed. Two of them married Solomon’s daughters, Ben-Abinadab (1 Kgs. 4:11) and Ahimaaz (1 Kgs. 4:15), and no disparagement to them to marry men of business. Better match with the officers of their father’s court that were Israelites than with the sons of princes that were strangers to the covenant of promise. The son of Geber was in Ramoth-Gilead (1 Kgs. 4:19), and Geber himself was in the country of Sihon and Og, which included that and Mahanaim, 1 Kgs. 4:14. He is therefore said to be the only officer in that land, because the other two, mentioned 1 Kgs. 4:13, 14, depended on him, and were subordinate to him.