The King and His Kingdom

Tom Groelsema, Speaker

1 Kings 4 | October 1 - Sunday Evening,

Sunday Evening,
October 1
The King and His Kingdom | 1 Kings 4
Tom Groelsema, Speaker

Please turn with me in your Bibles tonight to 1 Kings 4 as we continue to make our way through this section of 1 Kings regarding the life and reign of King Solomon. So 1 Kings chapter 4. We’re going to read the entire chapter, although we’re going to hop over a little bit of this first part. We’ll start at verse 1 and then there’s a series of names that we will move past to verse 20. So we’ll start at verse 1, read the first seven verses or so, and then jump over to verse 20. 1 Kings chapter 4.

Remember as we read that this is God’s Holy Word.

“King Solomon was king over all Israel, and these were his high officials: Azariah the son of Zadok was the priest; Elihoreph and Ahijah the sons of Shisha were secretaries; Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud was recorder; Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was in command of the army; Zadok and Abiathar were priests; Azariah the son of Nathan was over the officers; Zabud the son of Nathan was priest and king’s friend; Ahishar was in charge of the palace; and Adoniram the son of Abda was in charge of the forced labor.”

“Solomon had twelve officers over all Israel, who provided food for the king and his household. Each man had to make provision for one month in the year.”

Then verse 8 you’ll see the names of these 12 officers. Let’s go down to verse 20.

“Judah and Israel were as many as the sand by the sea. They ate and drank and were happy. Solomon ruled over all the kingdoms from the Euphrates to the land of the Philistines and to the border of Egypt. They brought tribute and served Solomon all the days of his life.”

“Solomon’s provision for one day was thirty cors of fine flour and sixty cors of meal, ten fat oxen, and twenty pasture-fed cattle, a hundred sheep, besides deer, gazelles, roebucks, and fattened fowl. For he had dominion over all the region west of the Euphrates from Tiphsah to Gaza, over all the kings west of the Euphrates. And he had peace on all sides around him. And Judah and Israel lived in safety, from Dan even to Beersheba, every man under his vine and under his fig tree, all the days of Solomon. Solomon also had 40,000 stalls of horses for his chariots, and 12,000 horsemen. And those officers supplied provisions for King Solomon, and for all who came to King Solomon’s table, each one in his month. They let nothing be lacking. Barley also and straw for the horses and swift steeds they brought to the place where it was required, each according to his duty.”

“And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding beyond measure, and breadth of mind like the sand on the seashore, so that Solomon’s wisdom surpassed the wisdom of all the people of the east and all the wisdom of Egypt. For he was wiser than all other men, wiser than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, Calcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol, and his fame was in all the surrounding nations. He also spoke 3,000 proverbs, and his songs were 1,005. He spoke of trees, from the cedar that is in Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out of the wall. He spoke also of beasts, and of birds, and of reptiles, and of fish. And people of all nations came to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and from all the kings of the earth, who had heard of his wisdom.”

Let’s join together in prayer and ask for the Lord’s blessing as we study this text together.

God, we do pray for your help now as we open Your Word, as we study it, we pray, Father, that as we look at the life of King Solomon and his reign that, Father, you would give us also a glimpse of the glorious reign of our Lord Jesus. So speak to our hearts tonight. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Well, dear people of God, one way to think about the history of the world is to study the rise and fall of great empires of the world. Some of the most famous empires that have existed would be the Roman Empire in the days of the early Church, or we might think about various Chinese empires, the Qing dynasty or the Yuan dynasty in 1271, the Russian empire that lasted over two centuries with 15% of the earth, covering 15% of the earth.

Or the Mongol empire, the largest contiguous empire in the history of the world, country after country just lined up one after another, from the beginning of that empire to the end of the empire. No breaks in between.

Of course we have to think about the British empire. Just over a century or more ago over 13 million square miles of land with over 20% of the world’s population within the realm of the British empire. Leading, of course, to that old saying, the historic saying, that goes this way, that the sun never sets on the British empire. Right? So large that the sun is always rising at some place or another within the empire of Britain.

So many great empires in this world, in the history of the world, but I know that you would agree with me tonight to say this, that there has been no empire, and never will be any empire, like the reign of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Charles Spurgeon said this. He said, “We see on the shore of time the wrecks of the Caesars, the relics of the Mongols, and the last remnants of the Ottomans, Charlemagne, Maximilian, Napoleon. How they flit like shadows before us. They were and are not, but Jesus forever is.”

Well, as we study 1 Kings chapter 4 tonight and we take a look at the kingdom of Solomon, his kingdom I think is a picture of this abiding kingdom of our Lord Jesus. Solomon’s kingdom was great, it was wealthy, it was vast, it was prosperous. These were the glory days of Israel. Solomon’s kingdom was the largest and richest of any period in Israel’s history and all of this came because of the blessing of God.

We studied it last week. Solomon offered this prayer to God. When God said, “Solomon, what would you like?” Solomon says, “Lord, give me wisdom.” And the Lord says to Solomon, “Because you have asked for wisdom and you have not asked for riches or long life or the life of your enemies, yes, I’m going to give you a discerning mind, but I’m also going to give you riches and honor and I will lengthen your days.” You see that happening right here in chapter 4.

This blessing upon Solomon is also the fulfillment of God’s covenant promises to Abraham and to his descendants going way back into Genesis. God said to Abraham, “I’m going to make your descendants as numerous as the sand of the seashore. I’m going to make you a numerous people. I’m going to give you a land and I’m going to grant you peace.” All of this happens during the reign of Solomon.

So here we have a picture of Christ, David’s greater son. Charles Spurgeon, one more time. The kingdom of Israel under the sway of Solomon, he says, was a fair type of the reign of our Lord Jesus Christ.

So four things we see out of this chapter about Solomon the king and his kingdom and how they point us to Jesus.

First thing is Solomon’s rule. That’s where the chapter begins. Verse 1 – King Solomon was king over all Israel. There we have it. Solomon reigning over all the people of Israel. But he didn’t do this single-handedly. He didn’t do this on his own. The chapter immediately goes into how Solomon established a government, others to rule with him.

You see, first of all, this group of high officials, verses 2 to 6. We might call this his cabinet. So these are the officials that were closest to him, officials that were responsible for helping him to govern. Some of these officials were part of David’s administration, others were appointed by Solomon, but you see in the list there that there were priests, secretaries, administrators, there’s a military chief of staff in the list, personal advisors, secretary of labor. Solomon’s high officials that he gathered around him to help rule the kingdom.

Then you see a second list. This is verse 8 and following. These are 12 officers that were appointed over all of Israel. Two of them, if you read through the list, they were sons-in-law of Solomon, but each of these officials were responsible for providing food for the king and for his household – so each one made provision for the king for one month of the year. So this official took January, this official took February, and he was responsible for collecting tribute and goods and revenue from the people that helped supply the king and his kingdom.

The question may be asked tonight, “Why do we have these lists of officials?” Don’t you wonder that sometimes when you’re reading your Bible? You come across a genealogy, you come across a list of these kind of government officials and you say, “What am I to make of this long list of names? Why are these officials here?”

Friends, I think this list shows the structure that Solomon established that reflects his wisdom. Here is wisdom applied. He didn’t try to rule by himself, he delegated power to others who could help him rule the kingdom. He needed the help of others to rule wisely and justly.

This kind of reminds me of Jethro’s advice to Moses in Exodus 18. Remember Moses is talking to his father-in-law and he says, “All these people, they just keep coming to me with their problems, one problem after another, one dispute after another that I end up having to decide.” And Jethro says to Moses, “What you are doing is not good. You’re going to wear yourself out. You can’t handle all of these disputes by yourself. You need to find trustworthy men who can decide small matters for themselves.” So they established a government, as it were. Right? All of these officials, these men that come alongside of Moses to help him decide disputes. They were heads of thousands and heads of hundreds and heads of fifties and heads of tens, and Moses says, “You guys take these disputes and you take those disputes, and only the real major disputes will end up coming to me.”

The rule of Solomon here is like that. He gathered around himself a number of officials to help him rule the kingdom. Friends, this not only reminds us of what happened with Moses, but the rule of Solomon also ought to point us to the rule of Christ. Think about it. How does Christ rule His Church? How does He govern His Church?

We find the answer to that in the Westminster Larger Catechism that Zach led us through. How does Christ execute the office of king? He calls a people to Himself and He gives them officers and laws and censures by which He visibly governs them.

The kingly rule of Christ over His Church and over His kingdom comes through elders and deacons. The officers of the Church, they’re not an invention of the Reformation, they’re not some discovery by the early Church. It may seem sometimes that Church government is simply a matter of common grace wisdom. You know, systematic theology, New Testament studies, Old Testament studies, all of that we understand comes from the Bible, but when it comes to Church government, it comes to polity, it comes to ecclesiology, the study of the Church.

Where do we get that stuff from? Of course the answer is the Bible. Do you ever think about that? Our polity is actually biblical. We draw it from the Scriptures. It is through the offices of the Church that Christ rules us and we’re reminded of that through this kingdom of Solomon, through his rule.

Secondly, we see Solomon’s realm. We see his rule and see his realm. We read here that his realm was marked by peace and prosperity, both within and outside the kingdom.

First of all, within the kingdom. Verse 20 tells us that Judah and Israel were as many as the sand of the sea. Don’t you love this line? “They ate and drank and they were happy.” They loved being under his reign. Things were good in the kingdom. But of course you see a fulfillment as we mentioned before of God’s promise to Abraham to make his descendants as numerous as the stars of the heaven and the sand in the seashore. Here Judah and Israel are, as many as the sand of the sea, prosperous, growing, expanding. All this fulfillment of God’s promise to His people. They ate, they drank, they were happy, because as our text tells us, they had peace.

Verse 25 says from Dan to Beersheba, so Dan is in the far north of Israel, Beersheba in the far south, from Dan to Beersheba, from top to bottom, verse 25, very man lived in safety under his vine and under his fig tree.

This is a picture of security, economic prosperity, that times were good for the people of Israel. You could say that there were thriving families, good and safe neighborhoods, thriving and wonderful jobs. Life was good under King Solomon and under his reign. That’s all happening within the kingdom.

Then you also see the same kind of thing happening outside the kingdom. The kingdom was large. The text tells us that it stretched from the Euphrates all the way to the border of Egypt, so all the way to what we might think about as Babylon all the way to Egypt. That’s how large the kingdom was under Solomon.

The lands that he governed over brought tribute to Solomon all the days of his life. He had dominion over the kings of all these lands. His realm stretched, as it were, to the four corners of the earth, a great, great kingdom.

Then verse 24 tells us, “And he had peace on all sides around him.”

When you think about David’s kingdom, it was a kingdom of warfare. David’s always fighting, always battling, trying to knock off the Philistines, trying to secure the peace of Jerusalem. There always seems to be somebody within the city walls that David is trying to defeat, to make the kingdom secure.

That is not true of Solomon’s reign. Solomon’s reign was characterized and marked by peace. If you look sometime at 1 Kings 1 through 11, which records the life of Solomon or go to 1 Chronicles 19 through 2 Chronicles 9 and look at it there, there is no record of war at all. There was peace. Peace on all sides around Solomon.

Friends, what a glorious glimpse this is of the reign and the realm of Christ Jesus. When Christ reigns He brings peace. Doesn’t He? He brings us peace with God, first and foremost. He brings peace for us with others as we live under His reign and under His rule. The relationships that we have can be marked by peace.

Of course, sometimes coming under the reign of Christ brings division. We heard about that last Sunday, the sermon on martyrdom, that there is trouble sometimes for God’s people when they follow Him, suffering and conflict. But that conflict and trouble often, so often, is the pushback of the forces of Satan and his hosts, because he loves to create division. Doesn’t he? He loves to create conflict.

But Jesus brings peace. In fact, as you remember, Paul says Jesus Himself is our peace. He brings it to us and He is our peace.

Friends, do not forget that King Jesus is on a March to establish this kingdom of peace.

The Church is growing. Do you know that? The kingdom of God is expanding. Lifeway Research said in the middle of 2022, so last year, there were 2.56 billion people who were identified as Christians, and by 2050 that number is expected to top 3.3 billion. Kind of scratch our heads at that, don’t we, and say, really? Is the kingdom growing? Is the Church getting stronger? Are there more and more people coming to Christ? Christianity doesn’t seem to be doing so well in the United States. Take a look at Europe, what’s happened in Europe.

Well, people of God, the place where the Church is growing is not so much here, it is not in the West and in the north, it is growing fastest in Africa and Asia. In 1900 more than twice as many Christians lived in Europe than the rest of the world combined. Today there are more Christians in Africa than any other continent on the planet. By 2050 there’s expected to be 1.3 billion Christians in Africa, expected to be 608 million believers in Latin America, 560 million in Asia, 500 million in Europe, 275 million in North America.

Christianity is not only growing in numbers, but Christianity is also spreading out and reaching more and more countries so that by 2050 it’s projected that a majority of Christians will live in a non-majority Christian nation. More Christians living in non-majority Christian nations than in what we would consider majority Christian nations.

Just this past summer in June, World magazine ran an article about the unexpected growth of Christianity. It was particularly about the unexpected rise of Muslim conversions in North Africa and the Middle East. The Gospel is reaching more people. The article said more people have access to the internet both to hear the Gospel but also to be exposed to the history of Islam and the life of Mohammed. The result of all this is that local churches are filling with new believers and there is greater and greater need all the time for the support of local churches who are advancing the Gospel.

Of course we understand that there is much more to be done. David Plath says there are 3.2 billion people who are unreached with the Gospel right now. But we see this expansive reign of Solomon that reminds of us the wonderful expansive kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is reigning. He is the King of Kings, He is the Lord of Lords, He is the King of all the world and we see His Gospel spreading.

Third. We see Solomon’s riches, the bounty of his kingdom. Amazing numbers here. Verse 2, Solomon’s provision for one day. Every day the bakers in Solomon’s kitchen used 180 bushels of flour and 360 bushels of meal, to bake bread and pastries, every single day. Every day 10 fat oxen were put on the table for meals, 20 pasture-fed cattle, 100 sheep, and these other exotic animals, deer and gazelles and roebucks. Every single day was a feast fit for the king in Solomon’s kingdom.

It was needed. One estimate says that were probably around 4 to 5 thousand people that were part of his royal court and staff. That’s a lot of mouths to feed.

So these officials, these 12 officials in all these different regions of the empire, every single month bring it in, bring in the revenue, bring in the food, bring in the supplies to feed Solomon and his hosts.

Then you have his stables. Verse 26, 40 thousand stalls of horses for his chariots, 12 thousand horsemen, barley and straw provided by officials throughout the country. From stable to table, the goods and supplies are overflowing in Solomon’s kingdom.

But that’s nothing like what we receive when we come under the reign of Christ Jesus, is it? The riches that we enjoy at the hand of our King.

Paul reminds us of those in the book of Ephesians – blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms.

Are you rich or not, if you’re in Christ? Amen, right? We are rich. We have election, adoption, redemption, forgiveness, and all of this according to the riches of His grace that He has lavished on us in Christ.

Think about the inauguration of Jesus’ ministry. As He stood up to read from the Isaiah scroll and He said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me because He has anointed Me to proclaim good news to the poor. There’s good news, there’s riches for the poor in Christ. He has sent Me to proclaim liberty to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

That text reminded me of Psalm 72 that we read tonight, when the reign of the king is pictured like rain falling on the mown grass. What’s going to happen to the grass? It’s going to grow. Right? There’s riches, there’s abundance, prosperity.

We’ll sing it in a moment. Blessings abound where ‘ere He reigns. The prisoner leaps to lose his chains, the weary find eternal rest, and all the sons of want are blessed.

You don’t want when you have Christ. His riches are poured out upon you.

James Montgomery Boice said wherever righteousness is pursued, there prosperous times will almost inevitably follow. Families will become stable, parents will care for, educate, and promote the well-being of their children. Unproductive members of society will be reclaimed and assisted in becoming productive. Virtue will permeate the workplace.

It is true, isn’t it? Blessings abound where ‘ere He reigns. Where Jesus is king, blessings are abundant, one after another after another after another. Greater than the table and stables of King Solomon’s kingdom.

Finally, this chapter tells us about Solomon’s renown. All of this coming from his wisdom. It tells us the source of his wisdom, that it was God.

Verse 29 – God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding beyond measure and breadth of mind like the sand of the seashore.

His wisdom could not be measured. It was superior to all those who were around him. Like the sand of the seashore, you can’t count the sand. This is what Solomon’s wisdom was like. You couldn’t quantify it. It was so great. He was wiser, the text says, than the wisest men who lived in his day, superior to the wisest men of Babylon and Egypt, these great centers of learning in the ancient world. Solomon was wiser than any of the wise men that they could put up.

He was wiser than Ethan the Ezrahite. Who’s that? He’s the author of Psalm 89, great psalm of wisdom. Solomon was wiser.

He was wiser than Heman, author of Psalm 88.

Then you look at the scope of his wisdom. Three thousand proverbs. Of course, we find many of them in our Bibles, but not all of them. There are many more Proverbs that Solomon spoke that we don’t have record of. 1005 songs.

Nathan, how many songs have you written? That wasn’t fair.

1005 songs. Psalm 72. Psalm 127. Love songs, song of Solomon.

He was wise in botany. He lectured on the greatest trees, such as the cedars of Lebanon down to the smallest bushes that grow in the garden, the hyssop plant.

He was studied in zoology and biology and beasts and birds and reptiles and fish. Every classification of creature that we can name.

The breadth of his wisdom is incredible. What an example here for us of educating for wisdom. We might find a really intelligent person who is an expert in one or two subjects, but here was Solomon, wise beyond measure, just across one subject after another after another after another after another, so much so that the text ends this way. It says that people from all over the world, even all the kings of the earth, they came seeking Solomon, “tell us more, tell us more, we want to know where your wisdom is found.”

The wisdom of Solomon, you understand, cannot compare of course with the wise rule or the wisdom of the Lord Jesus. To Him we need to go if we want to be wise. In Him, Paul said, are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. As a child He grew in wisdom and stature. At 12 years old in the Temple He baffled the teachers with His understanding and His answers. He taught parables, drawn from agriculture and creation. So often He left the religious leaders speechless with His words.

Then of course what seemed to be the most foolish thing of all, His death on the cross, Paul reminds us, is wiser than the wisdom of men. In other words, if you want to be wise, you’ve got to come and live under the reign and the rule of King Jesus.

What are we to take away tonight from this comparison of this vast and wonderful glorious kingdom of Solomon, to the even greater kingdom of our Lord Jesus, His rule, His reign, His riches, and His renown?

Here’s a few things.

First of all, submit to His rule. He is the King. Jesus is the King of Kings, He is the Lord of Lords. Will you bow the knee to Christ Jesus? If you haven’t done that ever yet, today would be a wonderful day to do that, to bow your knee to Christ, to submit to Him, to trust Him, to honor Him, to live for Him. Submit to His rule. Serve His realm by doing kingdom work. Yes, the kingdom of Jesus is expanding, but you remember, Jesus taught us to pray “Thy kingdom come” and what we’re praying in that prayer is, “Lord, increase Your kingdom, grow Your kingdom, build Your Church.” So much more to be done. Pray for it, serve it.

Enjoy His riches. Thank God for how rich He has made you in Christ Jesus. Trust His wisdom, follow His Word.

Finally, spread His renown so that the knowledge of the glory of the Lord will fill the earth as the waters cover the sea, and Jesus Christ would be acclaimed as King by all.

Let’s pray together. Jesus, we thank You for Your reign and for Your rule. We thank You, Lord, for a realm that You oversee, that You govern, a kingdom that is expanding, and will until that day when You become all in all. We thank You that You have made us rich in Christ. We are far richer than anyone who lived under this kingdom of Solomon, even though his table was full, with stables full of horses. Jesus, we want to live to Your renown, just as those many came to seek the wisdom of Solomon, our prayer, Lord, is that people would seek, the wisdom that comes in Christ. To this end, Lord, we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.