Our sermon series is called Rise and Fall and we are in the “rise” portion of looking at Solomon’s life. In 1 Kings 3 the Lord came to Solomon and told him that he could ask for anything. Solomon asked for an understanding mind so that he could rule God’s people properly. The Lord was so pleased with this request that he not only granted Solomon the greatest wisdom ever, but he also granted Solomon wealth and power of the kingdom. As we approach chapter 4 we might imagine that this is a lot of details about the kingdom that do not have much meaning to us. In fact, one commentator wrote, “The purpose of including all these details about Solomon’s wisdom, largesse, polity, and administration is not transparent” (Konkel, NIV Application Commentary). However, 1 Kings 4 says a lot about Solomon and the nature of his kingdom. As we look at these pictures, we are going to see Jesus and his kingdom foreshadowed. Through this, we will have much to say about what this means for our lives today.
A Blessed Kingdom (4:1-20)
The first thing we see about Solomon’s kingdom and reign is that it is a blessed kingdom. The first 19 verses described the established kingdom with its officials and administrators. The point of listing all these names is to show that the kingdom is completely established without any external threat. David was unable to set up anything like this because he was always on the run, under threat, or under attack. But this is not true for Solomon. The Lord has established the kingdom just as he had promised to David in 2 Samuel 7:12. The thrust of this blessed kingdom is proclaimed in verse 20.
The people of Judah and Israel were as numerous as the sand on the seashore; they ate, they drank and they were happy. (1 Kings 4:20 NIV)
There are two fulfillments that are being depicted in this verse. First, the promises to Abraham are being fulfilled. Remember that the Lord promised Abraham that his descendants would be as numerous as the sand on the seashore (Genesis 22:17; cf. Genesis 15:5,18). This is not a mere statement about how many people are under Solomon’s rule. This is saying that God is blessing this kingdom and fulfilling the promises that he made to Abraham.
Second, notice the peace and joy that the people have in this kingdom. They have rest. They are not worried. They are able to eat, drink, rejoice, be happy, and be content. This is the ideal fulfillment of God’s promises. One of the purposes of the kingdom is to give rest to his people. In this kingdom the needs of the people are met in great abundance.
A Rich Kingdom (4:21-28)
The second thing we see about Solomon’s kingdom and reign is that it is a rich kingdom. The descriptions that are given in verses 21-28 are stunning. Solomon has subjugated all the peoples and nations around him so that these countries are bringing tribute to Solomon. Not only this, listen to the daily provisions given to Solomon each day in verses 22-23. A cor is about a donkey load. So imagine in one day Solomon’s house received 30 donkey loads of flour, 60 donkey loads of meal, 10 fat oxen, 20 pasture fed cattle, 100 sheep, along with other animals. This is a rich kingdom. Yet again, the point is to show what the people of the kingdom are enjoying. Look at verses 24-25. There is peace on every side. The people have nothing to worry about. The people lived in safety without any threat. Every person lived under their own vine and fig tree. Now this probably sounds really strange but it is a metaphor. It is a metaphor for living in ideal conditions in the kingdom. It is important to see this here because the prophets will love to use this phrase to describe the kingdom when Christ comes. In short, nothing was lacking (4:27).
A Wise Kingdom (4:29-34)
Finally, we see Solomon’s kingdom and reign is a wise kingdom. Verse 29 tells us that Solomon’s wisdom was measureless, like the sand on the seashore, surpassing even the wisdom of the east and of Egypt. His wisdom is for the kingdom and for the people, as it is described in terms that fit the promise to Abraham. Solomon’s wisdom is a blessing to the people and a blessing to the world. It is still a blessing even today. He spoke 3000 proverbs and 1005 songs, some of which we still possess in our scriptures. Listen to verse 34. People of all nations came to hear the wisdom of Solomon. All the kings of the earth heard of Solomon’s wisdom. Everyone wanted to belong to this kingdom. Everyone wanted to be a part of Solomon’s rule and have access to all the blessings of his reign.
Do we see the picture of how staggering this kingdom is that God gave to Solomon? It is a kingdom that is full of wisdom, riches, peace, joy, happiness, and rest. Can you imagine what it must have been like to live in that kingdom? Can you imagine being an average citizen in the kingdom during the reign of Solomon? It must have been glorious. Imagine not worrying about your government. All of the rulers rule in righteousness. Imagine not worrying about food or the economy. Imagine not worrying about money. Imagine not worrying about what other nations are doing or planning to do against you. Imagine a government and administration whose sole purpose is to act wisely for the good of the people.
The Kingdom of Jesus
I want us to listen to something Jesus said while he was teaching those who refused to believe in him unless a sign was given to them. Listen to what Jesus said in Matthew 12:42.
The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here. (Matthew 12:42 ESV)
Something greater than Solomon is here. We cannot appreciate these words until we have looked at the glory of Solomon’s kingdom. Something greater than Solomon is here. How could anything be greater than Solomon and the kingdom he ruled over for the good of the people? Yet this is exactly what Jesus said. Take everything we know about Solomon and the king God established through him and understand that Jesus and his kingdom is exponentially greater. Think about what is said about Solomon in 4:30-31. He was wiser than anyone else. But Jesus says he is greater than Solomon.
What is the point? First, as glorious as it is to imagine what it would be like to belong to Solomon’s kingdom with all its wisdom and glory, the kingdom Jesus established is far greater. Friends, we belong to a greater kingdom under a greater king. We have a king who is the very wisdom of God. We have a king who rules over all the earth. We have a king whose riches are so vast because he owns it all and created it all. We have a king who has come to bring us peace, rest, and hope. We have a king that allows us to be prosperous under our own vine and fig tree. I asked us to imagine not worrying about our government, our rulers, our food, our economy, our money, and what other nations are doing or planning. You do not have to imagine. That is the very kingdom you belong to. If you belong to the kingdom of Christ, then we have nothing to fear. We do not worry about our country, our rulers, our economy, or what other nations are doing. Jesus is king today. Jesus is reigning and we belong to him. So we have nothing to worry about as we enjoy the kingdom of God today.
Second, in 1 Kings 4 we see peoples and kings all flocking to the wisdom of Solomon. We see people desiring to belong to Solomon’s kingdom because of its wisdom, power, and riches. People wanted to belong to the kingdom because of the great king who ruled over them and blessed them. Friends, that is what we are to see in Jesus. Jesus condemns the scribes and Pharisees in Matthew 12:38-42 because they were unwilling to listen to Jesus. Consider Matthew 12:42 again. The queen of the south came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon. In 1 Kings 4;34 we see people from all the nations came to hear the wisdom of Solomon. Think about the contrast. Jesus is greater than Solomon and he came to the people. They did not have to travel from the ends of the earth. He came right to them and they did not receive him. They are asking for signs and would not believe even though Jesus was infinitely greater than Solomon. What about us? Are we flocking to Jesus? We do not have to go to the ends of the earth to find Jesus, to listen to his wisdom, and belong to his kingdom. He came to us. His wisdom in is our hands. These scriptures are the wisdom of God to us. We do not have to go anywhere. Just pick it up. Yet we pick up so many other things but the beauty of God’s wisdom to us.
Do we see the glory of our king and want to belong to his kingdom? If we do, then we will seek him and seek his kingdom above anything else. If we are not seeking the Lord and seeking his kingdom first, then we do not value his kingdom. We value our kingdom that we have created. We have made ourselves in charge and think we have rule over our lives. We do not value what Jesus is offering to us. I want us to think about how crazy this decision is. If you were offered to belong to Solomon’s kingdom, with all of its wealth, power, peace, joy, and happiness but had to do what Solomon said as your ruler, would you do it? I think we all would! Get me out of having to listen to wicked rulers and terrible governments. Give me a ruler in righteousness who will give us what we long for! That is what Jesus is offering to us in his kingdom. We need to value the kingdom he has brought to us. Solomon’s kingdom was one that everyone wanted to belong to. How much more should everyone want to belong to the kingdom of Christ? Would the queen of the south rise up and condemn us for our unwillingness to seek Jesus’ kingdom?
So let’s end with the glorious words of the apostle Paul regarding this idea for us today.
Therefore, do not let your good be slandered, for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. Whoever serves Christ in this way is acceptable to God and receives human approval. So then, let us pursue what promotes peace and what builds up one another. (Romans 14:16–19 CSB)
Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:28–29 ESV)
But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. (Philippians 3:20–21 ESV)
You see that in all of these scriptures that we are to have a different focus for life because we belong to a different kingdom and we are looking forward to the fullness of this glorious kingdom to come when our king returns.