Devotional on 1 Kings 4:1-6: By Don Strickland
1 Kings 4:1-6: “Now King Solomon was king over all Israel. 2 These were his officials: Azariah the son of Zadok was the priest; 3 Elihoreph and Ahijah, the sons of Shisha were secretaries; Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud was the recorder; 4 and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was over the army; and Zadok and Abiathar were priests; 5 and Azariah the son of Nathan was over the deputies; and Zabud the son of Nathan, a priest, was the king’s friend; 6 and Ahishar was over the household; and Adoniram the son of Abda was over the men subject to forced labor.”
The verses dealing with Solomon’s officials cover the first 18 verses of 1 Kings 4, but let’s just concentrate on the first six verses. Hmmm. Well, the priests do not receive their appointment from the king. They are appointed according to birth, so let’s leave them out of this discussion. Do you notice anything unusual here? [hint: see bold, underlined text]
“What is your name and what is your position in the court?”
“I am Zabud. And my office is “Friend of the King.”
Of course, there was probably no such official office. So he probably would not have been so formal. “I
am the king’s friend” would have been quite startling enough and would have afforded Zabud the respect and deference given to any appointed official. Looking over the offices of the other men listed here, we see that their authority comes from the king (remember, we are not dealing with the priestly office) and their influence and power point downward. In other words, they would have had authority over others.
But not Zabud. There were no “deputy friends” or “under-friends.” He was the king’s friend. His influence pointed upward. He had the king’s ear and his trust. So instead of merely an official connection of a government job, there was an relational attachment. There was likely love, as happens between two close friends or brothers. I can imagine that Solomon’s father, David, told him about the brotherly intimacy that he himself had had with Jonathan and, after Jonathan’s death, with Hushai (2Sm 15.37)–David’s own “Friends of the King.”
I could apply these thoughts to the importance of friendship in all of our lives–even the king of Israel needed a close friend. But I wish to go in another direction instead. . . .
There is another son of David who also occupies a throne–Jesus, the final and everlasting Son of the royal line of David. He, too, is a king–the King of Kings. And He has friends–you and me (John 15.12-15). If Christ died for you, you are the King’s friend! When we speak, He hears (Rm 8.26-27). When we hurt, He is there to offer comfort (Pr 17.17). When we become wayward saints, He faithfully corrects us (Pr 27.6). He has given us His constant companionship, so we will never be alone (Mt 28.20).
So, how is a friend of the King supposed to act? Jesus Himself said, “You are My friends if you do what I command you” (John 15.14). Of course, we know, that from other places in the Bible, Jesus is not asserting that obedience is how one acquires salvation. No, what He is saying is that obedience is the outward evidence of salvation already acquired. Your actions declare whose friend you are. And your actions should continually shout, “I am the King’s friend!”