Verses 20-28 (1 Kings 4:20-28)

Such a kingdom, and such a court, surely never any prince had, as Solomon?s are here described to be.

I. Such a kingdom. Never did the crown of Israel shine so brightly as it did when Solomon wore it, never in his father?s days, never in the days of any of his successors; nor was that kingdom ever so glorious a type of the kingdom of the Messiah as it was then. The account here given of it is such as fully answers the prophecies which we have concerning it in Ps. 72:1-20, which is a psalm for Solomon, but with reference to Christ. 1. The territories of his kingdom were large and its tributaries many; so it was foretold that he should have dominion from sea to sea, Ps. 72:8-11. Solomon reigned not only over all Israel, who were his subjects by choice, but over all the neighbouring kingdoms, who were his subjects by constraint. All the princes from the river Euphrates, north-east to the border of Egypt south-west, not only added to his honour by doing him homage and holding their crowns from him, but added to his wealth by serving him, and bringing him presents, 1 Kgs. 4:21. David, by his successful wars, compelled them to this subjection, and Solomon, by his admirable wisdom, made it easy and reasonable; for it is fit that the fool should be servant to the wise in heart. If they gave him presents, he gave them instructions, and still taught the people knowledge, not only his own people, but those of other nations: and wisdom is better than gold. He had peace on all sides, 1 Kgs. 4:24. None of all the nations that were subject to him offered to shake off his yoke, or to give him any disturbance, but rather thought themselves happy in their dependence upon him. Herein his kingdom typified the Messiah?s; for to him it is promised that he shall have the heathen for his inheritance and that princes shall worship him, Isa. 49:6, 7; 53:12. 2. The subjects of his kingdom and its inhabitants, were many and cheerful. (1.) They were numerous and country was exceedingly populous (1 Kgs. 4:20): Judah and Israel were many, and that good land was sufficient to maintain them all. They were as the sand of the sea in multitude. Now was fulfilled the promise made to Abraham concerning the increase of his seed (Gen. 22:17), as well as that concerning the extent of their dominion, Gen. 15:18. This was their strength and beauty, the honour of their prince, the terror of their enemies, and an advancement of the wealth of the nation. If they grew so numerous that the place was any where too strait for them, they might remove with advantage into the countries that were subject to them. God?s spiritual Israel are many, at least they will be so when they come all together, Rev. 7:9. (2.) They were easy, they dwelt safely, or with confidence and assurance (1 Kgs. 4:25), not jealous of their king or of his officers, not disaffected either to him or one to another, nor under any apprehension or danger from enemies foreign or domestic. They were happy and knew it, safe and willing to think themselves so. They dwelt every man under his vine and fig-tree. Solomon invaded no man?s property, took not to himself their vineyards and olive-yards, as sometimes was the manner of the king (1 Sam. 8:14), but what they had they could call their own: he protected every man in the possession and enjoyment of his property. Those that had vines and fig-trees ate the fruit of them themselves; and so great was the peace of the country that they might, if they pleased, dwell as safely under the shadow of them as within the walls of a city. Or, because it was usual to have vines by the sides of their houses (Ps. 128:3), they are said to dwell under their vines. (3.) They were cheerful in the use of their plenty, eating and drinking, and making merry, 1 Kgs. 4:20. Solomon did not only keep a good table himself, but enabled all his subjects, according to their rank, to do so too, and taught them that God gave them their abundance that they might use it soberly and pleasantly, not that they might hoard it up. There is nothing better than for a man to eat the labour of his hands (Eccl. 2:24), and that with a merry heart, Eccl. 9:7. His father, in the Psalms, had led his people into the comforts of communion with God, and now he led them into the comfortable use of the good things of this life. This pleasant posture of Israel?s affairs extended, in place, from Dan to Beer-sheba?no part of the country was exposed nor upon any account uneasy; and it continued a long time, all the days of Solomon, without any material interruption. Go where you would, you might see all the marks of plenty, peace, and satisfaction. The spiritual peace, and joy, and holy security, of all the faithful subjects of the Lord Jesus were typified by this. The kingdom of God is not, as Solomon?s was, meat and drink, but, what is infinitely better, righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.

II. Such a court Solomon kept as can scarcely be paralleled. We may guess at the vast number of his attendants, and the great resort there was to him, by the provision that was made daily for his table. Of bread there were so many measures of flour and meal as, it is computed, would richly serve 3000 men (Carellus computes above 4800 men), and the provision of flesh (1 Kgs. 4:23) was rather more in proportion. What vast quantities were here of beef, mutton, and venison, and the choicest of all fatted things, as some read that which we translate fatted fowl! Ahasuerus, once in his reign, made a great feast, to show the riches of his kingdom, Est. 1:3, 4. But it was much more the honour of Solomon that he kept a constant table and a very noble one, not of dainties or deceitful meats (he himself witnessed against them, Prov. 23:3), but substantial food, for the entertainment of those who came to hear his wisdom. Thus Christ fed those whom he taught, 5000 at a time, more than ever Solomon?s table would entertain at once: and all believers have in him a continual feast. Herein he far outdoes Solomon, that he feeds all his subjects, not with the bread that perishes, but with that which endures to eternal life. It added much both to the strength and glory of Solomon?s kingdom that he had such abundance of horses, 40,000 for chariots and 12,000 for his troops, 1000 horse, perhaps, in every tribe, for the preserving of the public peace, 1 Kgs. 4:26. God had commanded that their king should not multiply horses (Deut. 17:16), nor, according to the account here given, considering the extent and wealth of Solomon?s kingdom, did he multiply horses in proportion to his neighbours; for we find even the Philistines bringing into the field 30,000 chariots (1 Sam. 13:5) and the Syrians at least 40,000 horse, 2 Sam. 10:18. The same officers that provided for his house provided also for his stable, 1 Kgs. 4:27, 28. Every one knew his place, and work, and time; and so this great court was kept without confusion. Solomon, that had vast incomes, lived at a vast expense, and perhaps wrote that with application to himself, Eccl. 5:11. When goods increase those are increased that eat them; and what good is there to the owners thereof, saving the beholding of them with their eyes, unless withal they have the satisfaction of doing good with them?

- Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary