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Matthew Henry's Commentary – Verses 1–4
Verses 1–4

We are here told concerning Solomon,

I. Something that was unquestionably good, for which he is to be praised and in which he is to be imitated. 1. He loved the Lord, 1 Kgs. 3:3. Particular notice was taken of God’s love to him, 2 Sam. 12:24. He had his name from it: Jedidiah—beloved of the Lord. And here we find he returned that love, as John, the beloved disciple, was most full of love. Solomon was a wise man, a rich man; yet the brightest encomium of him is that which is the character of all the saints, even the poorest, He loved the Lord, so the Chaldee; all that love God love his worship, love to hear from him and speak to him, and so to have communion with him. 2. He walked in the statutes of David his father, that is, in the statutes that David gave him, 1 Kgs. 2:2, 3; 1 Chron. 28:9, 10 (his dying father’s charge was sacred, and as a law to him), or in God’s statutes, which David his father walked in before him; he kept close to God’s ordinances, carefully observed them and diligently attended them. Those that trulylove God will make conscience of walking in his statutes. 3. He was very free and generous in what he did for the honour of God. When he offered sacrifice he offered like a king, in some proportion to his great wealth, a thousand burnt-offerings, 1 Kgs. 3:4. Where God sows plentifully he expects to reap accordingly; and those that truly love God and his worship will not grudge the expenses of their religion. We may be tempted to say, To what purpose is this waste? Might not these cattle have been given to the poor? But we must never think that wasted which is laid out in the service of God. It seems strange how so many beasts should be burnt upon one altar in one feast, though it continued seven days; but the fire on the altar is supposed to be more quick and devouring than common fire, for it represented that fierce and mighty wrath of God which fell upon the sacrifices, that the offerers might escape. Our God is a consuming fire. Bishop Patrick quotes it as a tradition of the Jews that the smoke of the sacrifices ascended directly in a straight pillar, and was not scattered, otherwise it would have choked those that attended, when so many sacrifices were offered as were here.

II. Here is something concerning which it may be doubted whether it was good or no. 1. His marrying Pharaoh’s daughter, 1 Kgs. 3:1. We will suppose she was proselyted, otherwise the marriage would not have been lawful; yet, if so, surely it was not advisable. He that loved the Lord should, for his sake, have fixed his love upon one of the Lord’s people. Unequal matches of the sons of God with the daughters of men have often been of pernicious consequence; yet some think that he did this with the advice of his friends, that she was a sincere convert (for the gods of the Egyptians are not reckoned among the strange gods which his strange wives drew him in to the worship of, 1 Kgs. 11:5, 6), and that the book of Song 1:1 and the Ps. 45:1-17 were penned on this occasion, by which these nuptials were made typical of the mystical espousals of the church to Christ, especially the Gentile church. 2. His worshipping in the high places, and thereby tempting the people to do so too, 1 Kgs. 3:2, 3. Abraham built his altars on mountains (Gen. 12:8; 22:2), and worshipped in a grove, Gen. 21:33. Thence the custom was derived, and was proper, till the divine law confined them to one place, Deut. 12:5, 6. David kept to the ark, and did not care for the high places, but Solomon, though in other things he walked in the statutes of his father, in this came short of him. He showed thereby a great zeal for sacrificing, but to obey would have been better. This was an irregularity. Though there was as yet no house built, there was a tent pitched, to the name of the Lord, and the ark ought to have been the centre of their unity. It was so by divine institution; from it the high places separated; yet while they worshipped God only, and in other things according to the rule, he graciously overlooked their weakness, and accepted their services; and it is owned that Solomon loved the Lord, though he burnt incense in the high places, and let not men be more severe than God is.