1 Kings 4:32
And he spoke three thousand proverbs: and his songs were a thousand and five.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(32) Proverbs.—The word “proverb” (mashal), from a root signifying “comparison,” has the various meanings of (a) parable or allegory, (b) proverb in the modern sense, (c) riddle or enigmatical poem, (d) figurative and antithetical poetry, like the “parable” of Balaam. The Book of Proverbs belongs mainly, but not exclusively, to the second class. Its main part consists of two series of “Proverbs of Solomon” (Proverbs 10-24, 25-29), composed or collected by him; falling, however, far short of the number given in this verse. The earlier portion (see especially 1Kings 1:20-33; 1Kings 1:2; 1Kings 1:8) partakes more of the character of the first and fourth classes; and in Ecclesiastes 12:3-6, and perhaps Proverbs 30:15-16; Proverbs 30:24-31, we have specimens of the third. If the “three thousand” of the text be intended to be taken literally, it is obvious that only a small part of Solomon’s proverbs has been preserved. His declension into idolatry might induce care in selection. by such prophetic compilers as “the men of Hezekiah” (Proverbs 25).

His songs.—We have still ascribed to Solomon the “Song of Songs” and two Psalms (72 and 127); but nothing else is, even by tradition, preserved to us. This passage is singularly interesting as showing that the Old Testament Canon is not a collection of chance fragments of a scanty literature, but that out of a literature, which at this time, at any rate, was large and copious, deliberate selections by prophetic authority were made. (The “men of Hezekiah,” named in Proverbs 25:1, are by Jewish tradition Isaiah and his companions.) In the case of Solomon some special caution would be natural, and much of his poetry may have been purely secular. The “Psalter of Solomon” (including eighteen psalms) is a Greek apocryphal book, of the time of the Maccabees or later.

1 Kings 4:32-33. He spake three thousand proverbs — That is, short, deep, and useful sentences, whereof a great part are contained in the books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. Songs — Whereof the most divine and chief are in the Canticles. And he spake of trees — That is, of all plants, of their nature and qualities. From the cedar-tree unto the hyssop — From the greatest to the least. That springeth out of the wall — Dr. Waterland renders the original here, Hyssop that runneth out to the wall: the wall of Jerusalem may be meant, which was encompassed with mountains that produced abundance of hyssop. He spake also of beasts and of fowl, &c. — This shows the vastness of his knowledge, which comprehended the history of animals as well as of plants, whose nature and qualities he also understood. All these discourses of Solomon are lost, without any impeachment of the perfection of the Holy Scriptures; which were not written to teach men philosophy or physic, but only to make them wise unto salvation.4:29-34 Solomon's wisdom was more his glory than his wealth. He had what is here called largeness of heart, for the heart is often put for the powers of the mind. He had the gift of utterance, as well as wisdom. 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. What treasures of wisdom and knowledge are lost! But every sort of knowledge that is needful for salvation is to be found in the holy Scriptures. There came persons from all parts, who were more eager after knowledge than their neighbours, to hear the wisdom of Solomon. Solomon was herein a type of Christ, in whom are hid all treasures of wisdom and knowledge; and hid for us, for he is made of God to us, wisdom. Christ's fame shall spread through all the earth, and men of all nations shall come to him, learn of him, and take upon them his easy yoke, and find rest for their souls.Proverbs - In the collection which forms the "Book of Proverbs," only a small portion has been preserved, less certainly than one thousand out of the three. Ecclesiastes, if it is Solomon's, would add between one hundred and two hundred more proverbs. But the great bulk of Solomon's proverbs has perished.

Songs - Of these, Canticles is probably one (marginal reference): Psalm 72; Psalm 127:1-5 may also be of the number. Probably the bulk of Solomon's songs were of a secular character, and consequently were not introduced into the canon of Scripture.

32. he spake three thousand proverbs—embodying his moral sentiments and sage observations on human life and character.

songs … a thousand and five—Psalm 72, 127, 132, and the Song of Songs are his.

Proverbs, i.e. short, and deep, and useful sentences, whereof a great and the best part are contained in the Books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. Of his songs the chief and most divine are in the Canticles. And he spake three thousand proverbs,.... Wise sayings, short and pithy sentences, instructive in morality and civil life; these were not written as the book of Proverbs, but spoken only, and were taken from his lips, and spread by those that heard them for the use of others, but in process of time were lost; whereas the above book, being written under divine inspiration, is preserved: and

his songs were a thousand and five; some things that were useful to improve the minds and morals of men he delivered in verse, to make them more pleasant and agreeable, that they might be the more easily received and retained in memory; but of all his songs, the most: excellent is the book of Canticles, called "the Song of Songs", being divine and spiritual, and dictated by the inspiration of the Spirit of God: he was both a moral philosopher and poet, as well as a botanist and naturalist, and well-skilled in medicine, as the following words suggest, 1 Kings 4:33.

And he spake three thousand {m} proverbs: and his songs were a thousand and five.

(m) Which for the most part are thought to have perished in the captivity of Babylon.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
32. three thousand proverbs] Of which some are contained in the book of Proverbs to which his name is given, but these are not all his, nor would all that are attributed to him there approach the number in the text. The proverb (משׁל) of the Hebrews was, as we see from those preserved, more of the character of a parable, or wise comparison, than what we commonly call by that name.

his songs] No doubt some of these were preserved, though not included in the Canon of Scripture, and their character is perhaps impressed upon the Song, which is called of Solomon, that has come down to us. The LXX. makes the number of the songs to be 5000; Josephus agrees with the Hebrew text. We need not suppose that these songs were of a sacred character. Psalms 72, 127 are (if we be consistent in translating the preposition) ascribed to Solomon in their titles, but the titles are of small authority, and in the latter case the LXX. omits the ascription to Solomon. Ewald thinks the second Psalm may be one of Solomon’s composition. Dean Perowne, thinking it probable that Solomon made a collection of his father’s poetry for the service of the Temple, attributes the first Psalm to him. The sententious and somewhat proverbial character of the language gives support to this opinion.Verse 32. - And he spake three thousand proverbs: and his songs were a thousand and five. [Of the former, less than one-third are preserved in the Book of Proverbs (see Proverbs 1:1; Proverbs 25:1); the rest are lost to us. The Book of Ecclesiastes, even if the composition of Solomon, can hardly be described as proverbs. Of his songs all have perished, except the Song of Solomon, and possibly Psalm 72, 127. (see the titles), and, according to some, 128. This verse is not to be regarded "as a parenthesis according to the intention of the editor," but gives a further proof of the peace and prosperity which the kingdom and people enjoyed under Solomon. Solomon had a strong force of war chariots and cavalry, that he might be able to suppress every attempt on the part of the tributary kings of Syria and Philistia to revolt and disturb the peace. "Solomon had 4000 racks of horses for his chariots, and 12,000 riding horses," which were kept partly in Jerusalem and partly in cities specially built for the purpose (1 Kings 9:19; 1 Kings 10:26; 2 Chronicles 1:14; 2 Chronicles 9:25). ארבּעים (40) is an old copyist's error for ארבּעה (4), which we find in the parallel passage 2 Chronicles 9:25, and as we may also infer from 1 Kings 10:26 and 2 Chronicles 1:14, since according to these passages Solomon had 1400 רכב or war chariots. For 4000 horses are a very suitable number for 1400 chariots, though not 40,000, since two draught horses were required for every war chariot, and one horse may have been kept as a reserve. ארוה does not mean a team (Ges.), but a rack or box in a stable, from ארה, carpere. According to Vegetius, i. 56, in Bochart (Hieroz. i. p. 112, ed. Ros.), even in ancient times every horse had it own crib in the stable just as it has now. Bttcher (n. ex. Krit. Aehrenl. ii. p. 27) is wrong in supposing that there were several horses, say at least ten, to one rack. מרכּב is used collectively for "chariots."
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