Solomon’s wisdom was more his glory than his wealth, and here we have a general account of it.
I. The fountain of his wisdom: God gave it him, 1 Kgs. 4:29. He owns it himself. Prov. 2:6; The Lord giveth wisdom. He gives the powers of reason (Job 38:36), preserves and improves them. The ordinary advances of them are owing to his providence, the sanctification of them to his grace, and this extraordinary pitch at which they arrived in Solomon to a special grant of his favour to him in answer to prayer.
II. The fulness of it: He had wisdom and understanding, exceeding much, great knowledge of distant countries and the histories of former times, a quickness of thought, strength of memory, and clearness of judgment, such as never any man had. It is called largeness of heart; for the heart is often put for the intellectual powers. He had a vast compass of knowledge, could take things entire, and had an admirable faculty of laying things together. Some, by his largeness of heart, understand his courage and boldness, and that great assurance with which he delivered his dictates and determinations. Or it may be meant of his disposition to do good with his knowledge. He was very free and communicative, had the gift of utterance as well as wisdom, was as free of his learning as he was of his meat, and grudged neither to any that were about him. Note, It is very desirable that those who have large gifts of any kind should have large hearts to use them for the good of others; and this is from the hand of God, Eccl. 2:24. He shall enlarge the heart, Ps. 119:32. The greatness of Solomon’s wisdom is illustrated by comparison. Chaldea and Egypt were nations famous for learning; thence the Greeks borrowed theirs; but the greatest scholars of these nations came short of Solomon, 1 Kgs. 4:30. If nature excels art, much more does grace. The knowledge which God gives by special favour goes beyond that which man gets by his own labour. Some wise men there were in Solomon’s time, who were in great repute, particularly Heman, and others who were Levites, and employed by David in the temple-music, 1 Chron. 15:19. Heman was his seer in the word of God, 1 Chron. 25:5. Chalcol and Darda were own brothers, and they also were noted for learning and wisdom. But Solomon excelled them all (1 Kgs. 4:30), he out-did them and confounded them; his counsel was much more valuable.
III. The fame of it. It was talked of in all nations round about. His great wealth and glory made his wisdom much more illustrious, and have him those opportunities of showing it which those cannot have that live in poverty and obscurity. The jewel of wisdom may receive great advantage by the setting of it.
IV. The fruits of it; by these the tree is known: he did not bury his talent, but showed his wisdom,
1. In his compositions. Those in divinity, written by divine inspiration, are not mentioned here, for they are extant, and will remain to the world’s end monuments of his wisdom, and are, as other parts of scripture, of use to make us wise unto salvation. But, besides these, it appears by what he spoke, or dictated to be written from him, (1.) That he was a moralist, and a man of great prudence, for he spoke 3000 proverbs, wise sayings, apophthegms, of admirable use for the conduct of human life. The world is much governed by proverbs, and was never better furnished with useful ones than by Solomon. Whether those proverbs of Solomon that we have were any part of the 3000 is uncertain. (2.) That he was a poet and a man of great wit: His songs were 1005, of which one only is extant, because that only was divinely inspired, which is therefore called his So of songs. His wise instructions were communicated by proverbs, that they might be familiar to those whom he designed to teach and ready on all occasions, and by songs, that they might be pleasant and move the affections. (3.) That he was a natural philosopher, and a man of great learning and insight into the mysteries of nature. From his own and others’ observations and experience, he wrote both of plants and animals (1 Kgs. 4:33), descriptions of their natures and qualities, and (some think) of the medicinal use of them.
2. In his conversation. There came persons from all parts, who were more inquisitive after knowledge than their neighbours, to hear the wisdom of Solomon, 1 Kgs. 4:34. Kings that had heard of it sent their ambassadors to hear it and to bring them instructions from it. Solomon’s court was the staple of learning, and the rendezvous of philosophers, that is, the lovers of wisdom, who all came to light their candle at his lamp and to borrow from him. Let those who magnify the modern learning above that of the ancients produce such a treasure of knowledge any where in these latter ages as that was which Solomon was master of; yet this puts an honour upon human learning, that Solomon was praised for it, and recommends it to the great men of the earth, as well worthy their diligent search. But,
Lastly, Solomon was, herein, a type of Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, and hidden for use; for he is made of God to us wisdom.