1 Kings 9:1 - 10:29


We have been dealing with Solomon’s reign.  It is a story that began on a very positive note.  Solomon asked God for wisdom and he was granted, not only wisdom, but also riches and honor and a magnificent kingdom.  Throughout this section, we will see Solomon’s wise dealings with a number of different groups.







Solomon’s wise dealings with...

The Lord



Pagan inhabitants

Queen of Sheba

With God

With Men


And yet, throughout these dealings, there will be several hints of problems upon the horizon.


·        The Lord will warn Solomon of the consequences of breaking the terms of the covenant.


·        Hiram will express dissatisfaction in his dealings with Solomon and his gift of certain border cities.


·        The Israelites were unable to complete the purging of the Canaanites from the land.  There remained a remnant made up of Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites in the land (9:20).   Although these were subjugated peoples, their continuing presence in the land would be a pagan influence.


In spite of these hints, the overall mood of this section is a positive one with the glories of Solomon and his wisdom still at the forefront.





            Now it came about when Solomon had finished building the house of the Lord, and the king’s house, and all that Solomon desired to do, 2  that the Lord appeared to Solomon a second time, as He had appeared to him at Gibeon. (1 Kings 9:1-2).


This marks the second time that the Lord had appeared to Solomon.  This was not a common occurrence.  God did not do a lot of appearing to people in the Scriptures.  Such appearances were very rare and special.  Solomon had been greatly blessed in the fact that God had appeared to him.


There is a principle here.  It is that great privilege is accompanied by great responsibility.  When you have been greatly blessed by God, it is also true that you have a greater responsibility to act in accordance with that blessing.


Verses 4-9 contain a repetition of the promise originally given to Solomon in 1 Kings 6:12-13.  However this time there is a difference.  This time the promise is accompanied by a warning.




IF you walk before Me as your father David walked,

in integrity of heart and uprightness,

doing according to all I have commanded

keeping my statutes and ordinances

THEN I will establish the throne of your kingdom over Israel forever



IF you or your sons

shall turn away from following Me

shall not keep My commandments & statutes

go and serve other gods and worship them,

THEN I will...

  Cut off Israel

  Israel will be a proverb & a byword

  This house will be ruined

  Everyone will be astonished


There is a principle here.  It is that God WILL always be glorified in His people.  He will either be glorified when they are obedient or else He will be glorified when they are disobedient.


Notice that it was not mere outward obedience that was required.  God is not only interested in outward actions.  He is also interested in what goes on in the inside.  He is interested in “integrity of heart and uprightness.”





            And it came about at the end of twenty years in which Solomon had built the two houses, the house of the Lord and the king’s house 11 (Hiram king of Tyre had supplied Solomon with cedar and cypress timber and gold according to all his desire), then King Solomon gave Hiram twenty cities in the land of Galilee. (1 Kings 9:10-11).


The cities which Solomon gave to Hiram were boarder towns located in Galilee in the western part of the territory of Asher.  In chapter 5, we read how Solomon had arranged a trade agreement with Hiram.


Solomon Exports

Solomon’s Imports

Wheat and oil (5:11)

Cedar wood

120 talents of gold (9:11, 14)

Boarder towns (9:13)


            So Hiram came out from Tyre to see the cities which Solomon had given him, and they did not please Him.

            And he said, “What are these cities which you have given me, my brother?”  So they were called the land of Cabul to this day. (1 Kings 9:12-13).


The word “Cabul” is rather obscure.  Several different interpretations have been suggested.


1.         Josephus suggests that it is Phoenician for “worthless.”  This would fit the idea of verse 12 that the gift of these cities were displeasing to Hiram (literally - “they were not right in his sight”).


2.         Keil connects it to a root that gives it the idea of that which is “pawned or pledged.”  Viewed in this manner, the cities were merely the guarantee on a loan which, when repaid, reverted the ownership of the cities back to Solomon.  2 Chronicles 8:2 does seem to indicate that these towns were eventually returned to Solomon’s ownership.




In this section, we are given an abbreviated list of some of Solomon’s building accomplishments.


1.         The Millo.


This is a transliteration from the Hebrew meaning “the filling in.”  It seems to refer to a series of fortifications within the city - perhaps the building up of the walls which surrounded the Temple and the palace area.


2.         Fortifications.


Three cities are mentioned with regard to their fortifications.  Archaeologists have uncovered some of the fortifications of this period.  They included a system of double walls entered by a series of double gates overseen by twin towers.  The casements of these gates are inset into the city to allow an invader to be virtually surrounded.


These extensive fortifications also resulted in the gates of a city becoming a traditional meeting place and even a location for conducting business.  Remember that Boaz conducted his business with his relative and in the presence of witnesses at the gate of the city.


3.         The Cities.



It lay on the road which connected the cities of Beth Horon to the coast.  As such, it had served as a border city between Israel and the Philistines.

It had first been conquered by Pharaoh Thutmose 3rd and more recently had been burned by a later Pharaoh.


The major city in the north.  It had originally been destroyed by Joshua and later rebuilt.


This ancient city guarded the main road from the Plain of Sharon on the coast to the Valley of Jezreel which intersected the Carmel Range.

Beth Horon

These were two cities which controlled the access to the highlands of Judea from the coastal plain through the Valley of Aijalon


4.         Pharaoh’s Daughter & Worship in the Temple.


Verses 24 and 25 contain what seem to be two totally unrelated ideas - the moving of Pharaoh’s daughter into the city of Jerusalem and the Solomon’s worship within the Temple.


Verse 24

Verse 25

As soon as Pharaoh’s daughter came up from the city of David to her house which Solomon had built for her, he built the Millo.

Now three times a year Solomon offered burnt offerings and peace offerings on the altar which he built to the Lord, burning incense with them on the altar which was before the Lord.  So he finished the house.

Hint of what was WRONG with Solomon’s reign.

What was RIGHT with Solomon’s reign.


The placing of these two fact side by side is not coincidence.  It is a hint of what is soon to take place within Solomon’s reign.  It is a hint of problems on the horizon.


There is no explicit statement that Solomon’s relations with Pharaoh or with his daughter were wrong.  And yet, there is a hint here that similar problems will lead to future problems.  The contrast is between what is RIGHT within Solomon’s reign versus what will be WRONG with Solomon’s reign.


This is not the first time that we have seen these two ideas in juxtaposition.  Richard Pratt suggests that this is the organizing principle of this section of the book of Kings.


Pharaoh’s Daughter (3:1)

Sacrificing at High Places (3:2)



First Appearance of the Lord to Solomon (3:4-15)



Solomon’s Wisdom at Work (3 - 4)


Solomon’s Building Projects (5 - 8)


Second Appearance of the Lord to Solomon (9:1-9)


Pharaoh’s Daughter (9:24)

Sacrificing at the Temple (9:25)



In the second appearance, the Lord warns Solomon what will be the consequences if he or his descendants do not follow the Lord.


5.         Solomon’s Fleet.


            King Solomon also built a fleet of ships in Ezion-geber which is near Eloth on the shore of the Red Sea, in the land of Edom.

            And Hiram sent his servants with the fleet, sailors who knew the sea, along with the servants of Solomon.

Ezion-geber is literally, “backbone of the man.”  The modern name Aqaba mans “back.”

            And they went to Ophir, and took four hundred and twenty talents of gold from there, and brought it to King Solomon. (1 Kings 9:26-28).


New land acquisitions in the south made it possible for Solomon to build a port city on the northern shores of the Gulf of Aqaba.  The phrase translated “Red Sea” is literally the “Sea of Reeds.”


This was an entirely new venture for Israel.  The Hebrews had been a race of land-farers.  Canaan possessed no natural harbors and ship-building was completely unknown to the Israelites.  Their new venture was made possible with their partnership of the Phoenicians who were noted for their trading ships which plied the Mediterranean.


The resulting voyages took ships southward to Ophir.  The location of Ophir is debated.  Josephus identified it as a place in India.  Others have suggested it to be in southern Arabia or Ethiopia.





1.         The Coming of the Queen of Sheba.


            Now when the queen of Sheba heard about the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the Lord, she came to test him with difficult questions. (1 Kings 10:1).


Sheba was located in southwest Arabia, present-day Yemen.  Of all of the areas of Arabia, it is the best-watered and most fertile.  The Arabian Desert served as a barrier to keep out hostile forces while its central position between two continents made it a center for trade and commerce between Africa, India and the Mediterranean countries.


            This country evidently found itself under the rule of a queen.  While this was rare in the ancient world, it was not unknown.  A few hundred years earlier, Hatshepsut had ruled as regent over Egypt.


The queen of Sheba had heard word of Solomon’s wisdom and determined to travel to Canaan to learn of that wisdom for herself.  There is an interesting parallel between her actions and those of the magi.


Queen of Sheba


Ruled over Sheba to the south of Israel

Held positions of authority in Parthia to the east

Came bearing gifts of gold, spices and precious stones

Came bearing gifts of gold, frankincense & myrrh

Came to see the wisdom of Solomon

Came to see the Messiah


In both cases we see Gentiles traveling from a great distance to learn of the Lord’s anointed one.  It was because of this that Jesus commended her and contrasted her faith to the unbelief of the Pharisees who had the Wisdom of God in their very midst and did not accept Him (Matthew 12:42; Luke 11:31).


2.         The Testimony of the Queen of Sheba.


6                       Then she said to the king, “It was a true report which I heard in my own land about your words and your wisdom.

7                       “Nevertheless I did not believe the reports, until I came and my eyes had seen it.  And behold, the half was not told me.  You exceed in wisdom and prosperity the report which I heard.

8                       “How blessed are you men, how blessed are these your servants who stand before you continually and hear your wisdom.

9                       “Blessed be the Lord your God who delighted in you to set you on the throne of Israel; because the Lord loved Israel forever, therefore He made you king, to do justice and righteousness.” (1 Kings 10:6-9).


This foreign queen bore testimony to the grace and the love of God in sending a king who would “do justice and righteousness.”  Solomon is seen as a type of Christ - the King of Israel who has been sent to earth, not only to do justice and righteousness in His own person, but to lead all men in the way of justice and righteousness.  It is through faith in Him that a man is declared to be just and right before God.


Jesus spoke of this encounter between Solomon and the Queen of Sheba and He made an application from it.  The application is to ask whether you will see what she came to see.  She came to see a man of great wisdom and of great wealth.  But that is not all.  She also came to see what God had done.


Have you seen it?  Have you seen what God has done in the coming of the One who was greater than Solomon?  If you have not seen Him and if you have not given your life to Him, there is coming a day when the Queen of Sheba will rise up and condemn you because you have had the opportunity to see what she saw and even more.





1.         The Value of Gold & Silver.


            And all King Solomon’s drinking vessels were of gold, and all the vessels of the house of the forest of Lebanon were of pure gold.  None was of silver; it was not considered valuable in the days of Solomon. (1 Kings 10:21).


The great prosperity brought with it a corresponding drop in the value of silver.  Silver was considered a standard currency and, while the point of this statement is to manifest the prosperity of Solomon’s reign, this would lead to a corresponding devaluation of silver shekels as well as a growing inflation.


2.         The Ships of Tarshish.


            For the king had at sea the ships of Tarshish with the ships of Hiram; once every three years the ships of Tarshish came bringing gold and silver, ivory and apes and peacocks. (1 Kings 10:22).


Tarshish is the old name for Spain.  Ships from the western Mediterranean would bring the riches of Africa to Solomon’s court.


3.         Solomon’s Chariot Corps.


            Now Solomon gathered chariots and horsemen; and he had 1,400 chariots and 12,000 horsemen, and he stationed them in the chariot cities and with the king in Jerusalem. (1 Kings 10:26).


Chariots were to the ancient warfare what armor is to modern military.  They provided a mobile shock force which was able to freely maneuver over a battlefield.


However, there was a problem in Solomon’s gathering of chariots.  Deuteronomy 17:16 had expressly forbidden that a king “multiply horses for himself.”  The passage goes on to make three prohibitions:



Prohibition Against Multiplying...




Wives for himself

Silver and Gold for himself


Why would horses be forbidden?  There are two reasons given in the passage.


a.         Israel might begin to trust in their chariot corps rather than trusting in the Lord.


b.         Having begun to collect horses, Israel might find themselves going back to Egypt where horses were a commodity which could be purchased.


There is a lesson here.  It is the lesson of the prosperity test.  It can be difficult to trust the Lord in times of prosperity because you can begin to trust in your prosperity rather than trusting in the Lord.


Are you in a time of prosperity?  This doesn’t mean that you don’t have to work for a living.  There was a lot of work going on in Solomon’s kingdom.  Prosperity is not an absence of work.  Prosperity is the fruitfulness of work.


The American church at the beginning of the 21st century is going through a continuing period of great prosperity.  And in this prosperity there is a test.  The test is whether we shall be more enamored with the blessings of the Blesser.


About the Author

Return to Stevenson Bible Study Page