1 Kings 4:20-25
Judah and Israel were many, as the sand which is by the sea in multitude, eating and drinking, and making merry.…
This chapter presents a general view of the prosperity of Solomon's reign, much of which was owing to the extraordinary, glory of the reign of David. Such a rule as David's sowed seeds of blessing m the land which it was Solomon's privilege to reap. David united the kingdoms of Judah and Israel, and Solomon came into quiet possession of the completed commonwealth. David laid the foundation, Solomon developed the fabric and adorned it. Each succeeding generation inherits the good stored up for it by those that went before. Happy they who are the descendants of a noble ancestry. If it is true that "the sins of the fathers are visited on the children," etc., equally true is it that "the good men do lives after them." We all reap the fruits of the care and toll and suffering of our fathers. "Other men labour and we enter into their labours." The text suggests -
I. THE GRANDEUR OF A MULTITUDINOUS PEOPLE. "Judah and Israel were many, etc. What is the secret of the feeling of solemnity akin to awe with which we gaze upon a vast concourse of human beings? It is the fulness of life - not mere physical force, but thinking, emotional life, with all its latent capacities that impresses us. But think of a great nation - what a world of busy, many-sided life is here! What complex relations; what slumbering energies; what rich resources; what mines of undeveloped thought; what tides of feeling; what boundless possibilities of good or evil, of glory or of shame! Consider the mutual action and reaction of the individual and corporate life in such a nation; the conditions of its well being; the tremendous responsibility of those who are set to guide its forces, to guard its interests, to control its destinies. We can understand the trembling of spirit Moses felt when he looked on the thronging host of Israel in the wilderness. "Wherefore layest thou the burden of all this people upon me?" etc. (Numbers 11:11). So with Solomon - "Who is able to judge this thy so great a people?" (1 Kings 3:9). Rulers who show that they are alive to the dread significance of their position claim our deepest sympathy. Well may we pray for them (1 Timothy 2:2) that they may be inspired by the right spirit, prompted by purest motives, never allowed to fall into the sin
"Of making their high place the lawless perch
Of winged ambitions."
II. THE FAR REACHING INFLUENCE OF A WISE AND RIGHTEOUS RULE. "And Solomon reigned over all kingdoms," etc. (ver. 21). These were tributary kingdoms. It was not the division of one great empire into many provinces, but the recognition by outlying principalities of the superior sovereignty of the Hebrew monarch. What was the cause of this widespread influence? Won by force of arms in David's reign, it was retained, probably, by force of good government and beneficent policy. Israel presented an example of a well-ordered state - entered, under Solomon, On a remarkable career as a commercial people - Solomon himself a royal merchant. Note his sagacity in "making affinity" with the king of Egypt (1 Kings 3:1), and in his treaty with Hiram, king of Tyre (ch. 5.) This was the secret of Solomon's influence. As far as we can judge, it was not so much the result of overmastering force, but of a policy by which the bonds of mutual confidence and helpfulness were strengthened. We are reminded that this is the real stability of any nation - the spirit of justice, integrity, beneficence that inspires it, coupled with the disposition to form friendly and helpful relations. The influence that arises from the display of military strength not worthy to be compared with this. "Righteousness exalteth a nation" (Proverbs 14:84). "The throne is established by righteousness" (Proverbs 16:12). Every nation is strong and influential just in proportion as its internal order and external relations are conformed to the law of righteousness.
III. THE PEACE THAT IS THE RESULT OF RIGHTEOUSNESS. "He had peace on all sides round about him" (ver. 24). This was the fulfilment of a prophecy that attended his very birth. David, the "man of war," yearned for a time of peace, and the yearning expressed itself in the names he gave his sons - Absalom, "the father of peace;" Shelomoh, Solomon, "the peaceful one." The peacefulness of Solomon's reign was the natural outcome of his own personal characteristics, and of the policy he adopted. "When a man's ways please the Lord, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him" (Proverbs 16:7). False maxim of international life, "If you want peace prepare for war" - multiply the means and provocations of strife! Maintain an attitude of distrust, defiance, menace! Men have strange confidence in the pacifying effect of desolating force. They "make a solitude and call it peace," forgetting that tranquillity thus gained does but cover with a deceptive veil the latent seeds of hostility and revenge. How much better the Scripture idea, "The work of righteousness shall be peace," etc. (Isaiah 32:17); "The fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace" (James 3:18).
IV. THE SECURITY THAT SPRINGS FROM PEACE (ver. 25). "And Judah and Israel dwelt safely," etc. - this became almost a proverbial expression (2 Kings 18:81; Micah 4:4; Zechariah 3:10). Suggests the quiet enjoyment of the good of life, the fruit of honest labour, under the protection of impartial law. This is the result of peace. Often urged that war is an education in some of the nobler elements of national character; safeguard against luxury and indolent self indulgence, etc. But may not these good results be bought at too terrible a price? Are there no other fields for the healthy development of a nation's energies? - no foes of ignorance, and vice, and social wrong, to say nothing of forms of beneficent world wide enterprise, that call them forth in manly exercise? It is the reign of peace that fosters the industries that enrich the life of a people, and the beneficent activities that beautify it. 'Tis this that "makes the country flourish and the city smile." The happy condition of things here described is said to have lasted through "all the days of Solomon;" chiefly true of the earlier part of his reign. Sins and disasters involved the latter part in gloom. So far, however, we have in it a prophecy of the reign of David's "greater Son." Psalm 72. has its partial fulfilment in the days of Solomon; but the grandeur of its prophetic meaning is realized only in the surpassing glory of His kingdom who is the true "Prince of righteousness and peace." - W.
Parallel VersesKJV: Judah and Israel were many, as the sand which is by the sea in multitude, eating and drinking, and making merry.