1 Kings 3:7
And now, O LORD my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in.
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3:5-15 Solomon's dream was not a common one. While his bodily powers were locked up in sleep, the powers of his soul were strengthened; he was enabled to receive the Divine vision, and to make a suitable choice. God, in like manner, puts us in the ready way to be happy, by assuring us we shall have what we need, and pray for. Solomon's making such a choice when asleep, and the powers of reason least active, showed it came from the grace of God. Having a humble sense of his own wants and weakness, he pleads, Lord, I am but a little child. The more wise and considerate men are, the better acquainted they are with their own weakness, and the more jealous of themselves. Solomon begs of God to give him wisdom. We must pray for it, Jas 1:5, that it may help us in our particular calling, and the various occasions we have. Those are accepted of God, who prefer spiritual blessings to earthly good. It was a prevailing prayer, and prevailed for more than he asked. God gave him wisdom, such as no other prince was ever blessed with; and also gave him riches and honour. If we make sure of wisdom and grace, these will bring outward prosperity with them, or sweeten the want of it. The way to get spiritual blessings, is to wrestle with God in prayer for them. The way to get earthly blessings, is to refer ourselves to God concerning them. Solomon has wisdom given him, because he did ask it, and wealth, because he did not.See 1 Kings 2:2 note, and on the hyperbole contained in the phrase "little child," compare Genesis 43:8; Exodus 33:11.

How to go out or come in - This expression is proverbial for the active conduct of affairs. (See the marginal reference.)

7. I am but a little child—not in age, for he had reached manhood (1Ki 2:9) and must have been at least twenty years old; but he was raw and inexperienced in matters of government. I am but a little child; so he was in years; not as if he were now but twelve years old, as many gather from this name of child; for that name is given to Ishmael when eighteen years old, Genesis 21:14,15, and to Rehoboam when forty-one years old, 2 Chronicles 13:7, where the word is the same in the Hebrew; and before this time David calls him a wise man, 1 Kings 2:9: but he was now not above twenty years old; and withal, (which he principally intends,) he was raw and unexperienced, as a child, in state affairs, and altogether unfit for so hard a task.

To go out or come in, i.e. to govern my people, and manage affairs, as that phrase signifies, Numbers 27:17 Deu 31:2 Joshua 14:11.

And now, O Lord my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father,.... Removed by death, in whose stead he reigned by the appointment of God, and through his overruling providence, notwithstanding the attempts made to prevent it, and therefore to God he ascribes it:

and I am but a little child; not in age and stature, but in knowledge and understanding; for though his father called him a wise man, and he was judged so by others, and really was one, yet in his own opinion and thought of himself such was his modesty and humility, that he was but a child as to his intellectual powers and capacity for government: some understand this of age; and the Jews commonly say he was but twelve years of age when he was anointed king, which they reckon thus; that he was born at the time that Ammon ravished Tamar, two years after which was Absalom's sheep shearing, when he slew Amnon, on which he fled to Geshur, and was there three years; here are five years; he returned thence and was at Jerusalem two years; lo, seven years; he rebelled and was slain, and after that there was a famine of three years, which make ten; and in the year following David numbered the people, which was nine or ten months in doing; the next year he died, which was the fortieth of his reign, in all twelve years; so reckon Jarchi and Kimchi; and Eupolemus, an Heathen writer (n), is express for it, who says, that David, when he had reigned forty years, delivered up the kingdom to Solomon his son, being then twelve years of age, which he must receive from the tradition of the Jews; the same is said by several of the ancient fathers, as Ignatius (o) and Jerom (p); but this cannot be fact; for, if so, his son Rehoboam must be born to him when he was but eleven years of age; See Gill on 1 Kings 3:5; it is best therefore to interpret this of the sense he had of the weakness of his understanding, and of his incapacity for government, as the next clause explains it:

I know not how to go out or come in; in the administration of government, to execute his office as a king, in allusion to shepherds, as kings are sometimes called, going in and out before their sheep.

(n) Apud Euseb. ut supra. (Praeparat. Evangel. l. 9. c. 30, 31, 32.) (o) Epist. ad Magnesios, p. 141. Ed. Voss. (p) Epist. Rufino & Vitali, fol. 24, 25. tom. 3.

And now, O LORD my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to {f} go out or come in.

(f) That is, to behave himself in executing this charge of ruling.

7. I am but a little child] This is a form of expression meant to indicate want of experience, but cannot be pressed literally. What Solomon’s age may have been we have very imperfect data for judging. The ordinary chronology puts the murder of Uriah about twenty years before David’s death. If this be correct Solomon might be at this time 17 or 18 years old. Bunsen (Bibelwerk) says 22.

to go out or come in] This expression of going out and coming in is frequent in one form or another for the manner of leading one’s life, and engaging in one’s proper duties. So Joshua uses it (1 Kings 14:11) of his fitness for the leadership of Israel. Moses (Deuteronomy 31:2) when he is speaking of his growing age, says he can no more go out and come in.

Verse 7. - And now, O Lord my Cod, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father; and I am but [Heb. and I... ] a little child: [These words are generally understood as indicating Solomon's humility rather than his age. No doubt, there is some exaggeration in the expression, which manifestly is not to be taken au pied de la lettre; at the same time it is questionable whether such words would be used of himself by a young man of twenty, which Solomon is commonly supposed to have been. See on 1 Kings 2:2, and 1 Kings 12:8] I know not how to go out or come in. [The same phrase is found in the Pentateuch, Deuteronomy 28:6; Deuteronomy 31:2. Also in 1 Samuel 18:13; 2 Samuel 3:25; Psalm 121:8. It is the formula for expressing behaviour, conduct, the outward life of man.] 1 Kings 3:7The one thing wanting in the place of sacrifice at Gibeon, viz., the ark of the covenant with the gracious presence of Jehovah, was supplied by the Lord in the case of this sacrifice by a direct revelation in a dream, which Solomon received in the night following the sacrifice. There is a connection between the question which God addressed to Solomon in the dream, "What shall I give thee?" and the object of the sacrifice, viz., to seek the help of God for his reign. Solomon commences his prayer in 1 Kings 3:6 with an acknowledgment of the great favour which the Lord had shown to his father David, and had continued till now by raising his son to his throne (הזּה כּיּום, as it is this day: cf. 1 Samuel 22:8; Deuteronomy 8:18, etc.); and then, in 1 Kings 3:7-9, in the consciousness of his incapacity for the right administration of government over so numerous a people, he asks the Lord for an obedient heart and for wisdom to rule His people. ועתּה introduces the petition, the reasons assigned for which are, (1) his youth and inexperience, and (2) the greatness or multitude of the nation to be governed. I am, says he, קטן נער, i.e., an inexperienced youth (Solomon was only about twenty years old): "I know not to go out and in," i.e., how to behave myself as king, or govern the people (for ובא צאת compare the note on Numbers 27:17). At 1 Kings 3:8 he describes the magnitude of the nation in words which recall to mind the divine promises in Genesis 13:16 and Genesis 32:13, to indicate how gloriously the Lord has fulfilled the promises which He made to the patriarchs.
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