What on earth are we to do with a Bible chapter like 1 Kings 4? It’s basically a guided tour of King Solomon’s very prosperous kingdom nearly 3,000 years ago – beginning with a long list of his leading officials, and ending with comment on his wisdom. Of interest to ancient historians, maybe – but in what sense is it written to teach us (Romans 15:4)?
There is a skeleton key, which fits all Old Testament locks. What does this passage teach us about God? He’s the hero of the narrative, and He is our God, too.
In this chapter, that looks an unpromising line of enquiry, for God Himself is not mentioned once. But His fingerprints are everywhere. A great clue comes in the verse quoted above: the comment the people of Judah and Israel were as numerous as the sand on the seashore echoes a great promise God had made to Abraham a thousand years earlier: “I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore.” (Genesis 22:17). The writer of 1 Kings is using the same expression to say, “God has kept His promise!”
Our God – called the Lord in the Old Testament – distinguishes Himself by making promises He keeps (this is not a feature of the deities of other world religions). In fact, all God’s ancient promises to Abraham – to bless him, multiply him, give him a land, and through him to bring world blessing – are all being fulfilled in 1 Kings 4. See if you can find them!
If God keeps His promises, what good news for us who are depending on them, in What the gospel of Christ.
Once we see the hand of God at work in His faithfulness, we can see other things about Him here. For instance, He is gracious. The sheer abundance of this chapter is a real surprise after the mess – caused by sin in the highest places – at the end of King David’s reign a few years earlier. God, it seems, does not treat His people as their sins deserve.
Or we could mention God’s astounding provision for His people, which gives the lie to any suggestion He is mean and does not want our flourishing.
The accent of the chapter, of course, is on Solomon, the king under whose reign this abundance came. His wisdom is both exemplified and celebrated. What does that teach us about God? Surely this: when He brings His people abundant blessing, it comes through God’s provision of a King Who knows what He’s doing.
We have such a King! In His kingdom there is every spiritual blessing.