Scripture explicitly reveals some information about Solomon and music that could be easily overlooked:
Ecclesiastes 2:8 I gathered me also silver and gold, and the peculiar treasure of kings and of the provinces: I gat me men singers and women singers, and the delights of the sons of men, as musical instruments, and that of all sorts.
The Spirit here reveals to us that Solomon acquired for himself male and female singers. Given the context of this information in its own verse (his statements in the first part of the verse that he acquired the most precious metals and the distinctive treasure of kings), we understand that these were not just ordinary singers—they were singers who knew how to sing at excelling levels and did so.
In order to rightly assess the fuller significance of this information, we must learn more from Scripture about how Solomon acquired these singers.
Solomon Acquired Singers through All-Excelling Wisdom
Rightly assessing just how good these singers were requires that we give careful attention to what the broader context within the book teaches us about how Solomon acquired these singers:
Ecclesiastes 1:16 I communed with mine own heart, saying, Lo, I am come to great estate, and have gotten more wisdom than all they that have been before me in Jerusalem: yea, my heart had great experience of wisdom and knowledge. 17 And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly: I perceived that this also is vexation of spirit.
These passages show that Solomon knew that he had excelled in wisdom above everyone that had been before him in Jerusalem (Eccl. 1:16). His knowing that he had that all-surpassing knowledge makes what he then says even more remarkable—he applied his heart to know wisdom (Eccl. 1:17a)!
When, therefore, we read in Eccl. 2:1-8 of all the areas in which Solomon applied his heart to know wisdom—including his acquiring to himself male and female singers (Eccl. 2:8)—we must hold that Solomon got those singers to himself by giving his heart to know wisdom about singers and singing.
We further know that this interpretation is correct because Solomon explicitly said even earlier in the book that he gave his heart to search out and seek by wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven, which, of necessity, therefore, included wisdom concerning singers and their singing:
Ecclesiastes 1:13 And I gave my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven: this sore travail hath God given to the sons of man to be exercised therewith.
Given that God enlarged Solomon’s heart exceedingly and gave him exceedingly much wisdom, understanding, and knowledge (1 Kings 4:29; 2 Chron. 1:12) and given that he applied his heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning everything that is done (Eccl. 1:13), we can be certain that Solomon acquired these singers through the application of all-excelling wisdom, understanding, and knowledge!
Based on this line of biblical reasoning, we learn all the following from the biblical information about Solomon’s acquiring singers for himself:
As the richest king ever (cf. 1 Kings 3:13; cf. 10:23), Solomon had the position, power, and wealth to acquire for himself the finest singers possible. As the wisest person ever in the history of the world (except for Jesus of Nazareth), king Solomon had the unparalleled wisdom, understanding, and knowledge to rightly assess who were the finest singers that he could get for himself.
These two considerations coupled with the explicit statement that by way of necessary application shows us that Solomon sought out and acquired these singers by applying his heart to that matter proves that Solomon had to have and did have all-excelling wisdom not just concerning musical lyrics but also concerning the singing of those lyrics and who the people were who could sing them in the best ways possible.
We must also conclude, therefore, that Solomonic Israelite kinds of singing were the best kinds of singing in the world (cf. God’s revealing that Solomon’s wisdom excelled “all the wisdom of Egypt” (1 Kings 4:30), which necessarily therefore included all Egyptian wisdom about singing and kinds of singing). We thus have biblical basis to hold that through Solomon God gave Israel the best singers, singing, and kinds of singing in all the world.
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