1 Kings 4:20-28
The transcript of our midweek Study on 15th April 2020.
v20. “Judah and Israel were many, as the sand which is by the sea in multitude, eating and drinking, and making merry”.
Now, in Solomon’s reign, is fulfilled the promise made to Abraham a thousand years previously, that his descendants would multiply and be given the land of Canaan for their own possession, a land in which they would prosper under the gracious hand of the Lord.
“I will multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies” (Genesis 22:17).
So the Lord foretold centuries earlier to Abraham that Israel would bring down her enemies and would then enjoy a blessed and peaceful occupation of the land flowing with milk and honey. Those words to Abraham were fulfilled in the reigns of David and Solomon, David being the great warrior of Israel, and then Solomon reigning as a prince of peace, benefiting from the fruits of the victories that his father had won.
v20. “Judah and Israel were … eating and drinking, and making merry”.
The people were experiencing the Lord’s richest blessing, for God, in His providence, had brought upon the nation a remarkable prosperity. There was no danger from enemies, the economy was thriving, and harvests were overflowing, and this all went hand-in-hand with the people’s honouring of the one true God of all the earth. Now this peace and prosperity is a prophetic picture of the blessings of the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ. Those who belong to this kingdom possess real security and well-being. Here there is safety from Satan and from the kingdom of this world. Here there is abundant provision of the spiritual food which sustains men unto everlasting life. Here there are riches beyond measure, the spiritual riches, of which earthly riches are but a faint shadow.
“The kingdom of God is … righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost” (Romans 14:17).
Citizens of the kingdom of God, God’s true Israel, are justified, declared righteous, by God’s grace, which act of God makes them full of peace and joy, as the Holy Spirit within them witnesses to their spirits that they are indeed the children of God.
v20. “Judah and Israel were … eating and drinking, and making merry”.
This, then, refers to the unspeakable joy of those who are fed and sustained by the Lord Jesus Christ.
“Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him” (John 6:53-56).
These words of course refer not to any physical act of eating bread and wine in the communion service, but to faith in Christ as the Passover lamb, who bore our sins in his flesh, and who shed His blood, paying the penalty for our sins. All without Christ are spiritually hungry and dying, but those who come to Him for the spiritual meat which endureth unto everlasting life will be made into citizens of His kingdom, with the privilege of feasting continually at the King’s table.
v21. “And Solomon reigned over all kingdoms from the river unto the land of the Philistines, and unto the border of Egypt”.
Israel’s borders now extend as far as God had promised to Abraham in Genesis 15 that they would extend.
“The LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates” (Genesis 15:18).
The river of Egypt is the River Sihor, which formed the boundary between Egypt and Canaan. So Solomon’s kingdom extended from Egypt in the south-west to the Euphrates in the north east, embracing the lands of the Philistines, along with Syria, Damascus, Moab and Ammon.
v21. “… they brought presents, and served Solomon all the days of his life”.
“They brought presents” means that these subject territories paid annual tribute money to Israel. So Solomon’s power even extended over Gentile peoples, and this is a prophetic foretaste of the universal dominion of the coming descendant of Solomon, the Lord Jesus Christ. Whilst the Lord has a heavenly throne, and not an earthly one, all the rulers and peoples of the world will one day have to submit to Him, and are already subject to Him, even though they do not realise it.
“God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11).
The Lord Jesus Christ has authority over Satan all the evil angels, He commands to do His bidding all the good angels, and all earthly kings and governors only hold office at His decree, coming and going as He determines. Just as all the surrounding nations had no choice but to acknowledge Solomon’s greatness, so all men today will one day be made to see the supremacy of Christ.
“For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet” (1 Corinthians 15:25).
Many at present are under Christ’s authority, but refuse to acknowledge it. They will be made to do so, however, when He returns to this earth, as the Judge of all flesh.
v22. “And Solomon’s provision for one day was thirty measures of fine flour, and threescore measures of meal, v23. Ten fat oxen, and twenty oxen out of the pastures, and an hundred sheep, beside harts, and roebucks, and fallowdeer, and fatted fowl”.
Here we learn of the physical provision required to sustain the daily running of Solomon’s court. It has been computed that these thirty and threescore measures of fine meal and ordinary meal added together would be sufficient to bake each day 28,000 lbs of bread. Similarly the 30 oxen and 100 sheep would produce per day some 21,000 lbs of fresh meat. Such figures indicate a wealthy, thriving court and administration. All the regions listed in v8-19 provided in their monthly turns the necessary commodities. In this way the royal administration furnished a great impetus to the various regional economies, adding to the general prosperity of the nation. All this is again a prophetic picture of the far greater spiritual kingdom to come, that to be established by Solomon’s descendant, the Lord Jesus Christ. In the New Testament God calls men into His kingdom using the language of a great feast, indeed, a wedding feast for the King’s Son, for all who believe in the Son become the Bride of Christ, entering into union with Him.
“The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come. Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready” (Matthew 22:2-4).
This is the call of the Gospel, to feast at Christ’s table, and to receive all that one needs for the good of one’s soul, the forgiveness of sins, the fellowship of the saints, the power of the Spirit to make us holy and to keep us safe till we enter into eternal life.
“Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst” (John 6:35).
Physical life cannot be sustained without bread, and all men are devoid of spiritual life, until they come to the bread of life, the Lord Jesus Christ. In Christ there is an abundant supply. all may be fed who come, no matter how great their former sin and rebellion. All things are ready for sinners to come and be fed. The sacrifice has been made, the Passover Lamb has been killed, and unbelievers are now called to come to the King’s table to eat His flesh and drink His blood, that is, to trust in Him for mercy and be saved from their sins.
v24. “For he had dominion over all the region on this side the river, from Tiphsah even to Azzah, over all the kings on this side the river”.
Tiphsah was a city on the Euphrates, on the northeastern boundary of Solomon’s kingdom, Azzah was Gaza, on the south-western border, near to the Mediterranean. Solomon’s authority extended between these two points, as he exercised dominion over the kings of Syria and of the Philistines, who had been subjugated by David.
“Then David put garrisons in Syria of Damascus: and the Syrians became servants to David, and brought gifts. And the LORD preserved David whithersoever he went” (2 Samuel 8:6).
Solomon and his people are now prospering under the same blessing of the Lord. Once more, then, we are reminded of the great extent of his kingdom, and how this in itself a prophecy of the universal extent of Christ’s kingdom.
(The Father said to the Son), “Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel” (Psalm 2:8-9).
The risen ascended Christ exercises a supreme kingship over all the earth from His heavenly throne.
v24. “… and he had peace on all sides round about him. v25. And Judah and Israel dwelt safely, every man under his vine and under his fig tree, from Dan even to Beersheba, all the days of Solomon”.
Throughout the length and breadth of the land the Israelites enjoyed secure possession of their property, and unhindered use of the abundant produce of their lands. They did not have to live in closely guarded cities surrounded by high walls. Social stability and economic prosperity are blessings which God gives to a nation which is honouring Him. The well-being of Israel in Solomon’s day speaks to us also of the spiritual well-being of all who are in Christ’s kingdom through repentance and faith. Solomon’s earthly kingdom anticipates the better spiritual kingdom of Him who is the true Solomon. The word ‘peace’ in Scripture means a prosperous and secure condition, not simply materially, but rather the state of being in communion with God, having one’s sins forgiven, no longer being at enmity with One’s maker, and benefiting from the very presence of God by His Spirit in one’s own heart. Just as the very word ‘Solomon’ means ‘peaceful’, so one of the titles of the infinitely greater Solomon, the Lord Jesus Christ, is “the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). Under Christ’s kingship we are at peace, secure from the world, the flesh and the devil, and none can pluck us out of His hand.
v26. “And Solomon had forty thousand stalls of horses for his chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen”.
Solomon had 1400 chariots, and so these 40,000 horses, kept in special stalls, would have driven them, with replacement teams available for each chariot and replacement individual horses for each of the 12,000 cavalrymen. This represents great military strength, preventing any potential enemies from attacking. This is again a sign of God’s blessing on a nation which is honouring Him.
v27. “And those officers provided victual for king Solomon, and for all that came unto king Solomon’s table, every man in his month: they lacked nothing”.
The 12 regional officers referred to in v7 ensured that the royal administration had all the commodities and resources it needed.
v28. “Barley also and straw for the horses and dromedaries brought they unto the place where the officers were, every man according to his charge”.
‘Dromedaries’ may also be translated ‘swift steeds,’ referring probably to a superior breed of horse. The cavalry horses and chariot horses were all provided with their necessary fodder with the utmost efficiency. There were no flaws in the administration, and, as v27 tells us, all Solomon’s officials who ate at his table lacked nothing.
Likewise all today who feast at the table of Christ the King also lack nothing, for his grace is sufficient, to cover all sin and to produce the fruits of all holiness. So the only place of true security and prosperity in this fallen world is the spiritual kingdom of the true Solomon, the Lord Jesus Christ. That is the message of the glories of Solomon’s earthly kingdom.
Men without Christ are starving and insecure, but the Prince of Peace calls upon them to come and feast at his table and to eat the bread which feeds the soul unto everlasting life. The only way to be safe and secure from sin and Satan and this anti-Christian world is to come into the kingdom of God. This is to belong to God’s true Israel, through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. What Solomon’s earthly kingdom foreshadows has now come in in all is fullness, the kingdom of heaven under the lordship of Christ. During His earthly ministry our Lord called upon men to repent and come to Him, and He did so by declaring,
“Behold, a greater than Solomon is here” (Luke 11:31).