Solomon has now settled into his own and has been blessed by the Lord with many gifts.
I Kings 4
In verse 1, the author (Jeremiah?) restates that now Solomon was king over all of Israel.
Verse 2 begins one of the lists of who's who in his kingdom.
- v. 2 Zadok's grandson was the priest.
- v. 4a Benaiah was over the army.
- v. 4b Zadok and Abiathar are still priests, but Zadok is old and Abiathar is exiled to his home.
- Beginning in verse 7, Solomon had 12 deputies over all of Israel. Each provided for the king and his household one month per year. Then each is listed.
- SIDEBAR: The NIV Chronological Bible sidebars explains that these 12 deputies were the governors over 12 administrative districts Solomon set up to collect taxes.
- Judah was exempt from taxes, causing bad feelings among the other districts.
- It is also interesting to note these weren't tribal districts, but geographic- breaking with previous divisions.
- And then the biblical text sounds like each of these governors had to take their turns seeing to the provision of Solomon's household one month per year.
In verse 20, the tone returns to the narrative and reiterates that Judah and Israel were as numerous as the sands on the seashore (God's promise); and "...they were eating, and drinking, and rejoicing." Judah and Israel are being referred to separately because the author knows they is going to be a split- even though it will not happen in Solomon's lifetime.
Following verse 20 is a long description of the size and shape of Solomon's kingdom. Who he ruled over, receiving tributes; the provision for Solomon for one day; his dominion; the safety of citizens under his reign, and his horses, chariots, and horsemen. He also notes that the deputies provided well for Solomon, his guests, and his animals.
- The horses and chariots were in disobedience to God.
- As many as 4,000-5,000 were cared for as Solomon's guests in his court.
In verse 29 the author returns to the topic of Solomon's wisdom. Emphasizing God gift of wisdom, discernment, and "breadth of mind like the sands on the seashore." The author notes that Solomon's wisdom surpasses those in the east and then list some specific people who must have been known for being wise.
He is credited with 3,000 proverbs and 1,005 songs. One commentator points out that he is eventually known for his proverbs, but few songs are remembered in the scriptures. Sort of implying that he may have been wise; but his heart for worship didn't seem to shine as brightly.
In verse 33 the author notes that Solomon has (seemingly) much scientific knowledge as well as conventional wisdom as he knew about trees, animals, birds, and insects.
The chapter ends by explaining that kings from all people who heard of his wisdom came to hear him speak.
II Chronicles 1
The telling of the story has Solomon already established securely over his kingdom before he collected all of his key leaders down to household heads and brought them all to the "high place" at Gibeon. The author (Ezra?) does make a note in verse 4 that David had taken the Ark to Jerusalem. To me this is a hint that Solomon wasn't supposed to be worshiping at the high places, even if it was in the name of Moses and not a pagan God. (The tabernacle was still in Gibeon; the Ark in Jerusalem)
Solomon offers his 1000 burnt offerings at the historical altar. That night God asks what Solomon wants. Solomon's request for wisdom and God's reply are similar (but seem abbreviated) as in I Kings.
Starting in verse 14, the author goes into depth about Solomon's disobedience regarding the horses and chariots.
Not only is he amassing large numbers (thereby robbing God of the sole credit for victories; or even bothering to ask for help); but also, he is buying the FROM EGYPT!!! And selling them to other kingdoms. Israel was never supposed to look back and find help from Egypt. Relying on Egypt had been what had gotten Jacob and his descendants into slaves.
So not only is he breaking the rules; he is combining the broken rules and resulting in the exact outcomes God warned them about. For being wise, it's crazy that Solomon couldn't see it.
Like David, Solomon surrounded himself with many capable officers.
Wiersbe also explains the 12 districts and explains they were, probably also used to provide workers for the forced labor projects. Again, they were supposed to lessen the tribal tensions; but leaving Judah untouched had the opposite affect. He points out that several of the districts' leaders were nepotism positions. He points to these powerful leaders are part of the corrupt bureaucracy as in Ecclesiastes 5:8-12.
God's plan and His promises to the ancient patriarchs was being fulfilled; but at a glance, it looked like Solomon must be receiving the blessing for something he did or thought or was...but that's backwards. Everything he was and had was a blessing from God. But there was disobedience in the mix.