And among the rebel-lious forces [which We made subservient to him]76
there were some that dived for him [into the sea] and performed other works besides: but it was We who kept watch over them.77
My rendering, in this particular context, of shayatin (lit., "satans") as "rebellious forces" is based on the tropical use of the term shaytan in the sense of anything "rebellious", "inordinately proud" or "insolent" (cf. Lane IV, 1552)-in this case, possibly a reference to subdued and enslaved enemies or, more probably, to "rebellious" forces of nature which Solomon was able to tame and utilize; however, see also next note.
In this as well as in several other passages relating to Solomon, the Qur'an alludes to the many poetic legends which were associated with his name since early antiquity and had become part and parcel of Judaeo-Christian and Arabian lore long before the advent of Islam. Although it is undoubtedly possible to interpret such passages in a "rationalistic" manner, I do not think that this is really necessary. Because they were so deeply ingrained in the imagination of the people to whom the Qur'an addressed itself in the first instance, these legendary accounts of Solomon's wisdom and magic powers had acquired a cultural reality of their own and were, therefore, eminently suited to serve as a medium for the parabolic exposition of certain ethical truths with which this book is concerned: and so, without denying or confirming their mythical character, the Qur'an uses them as a foil for the idea that God is the ultimate source of all human power and glory, and that all achievements of human ingenuity, even though they may sometimes border on the miraculous, are but an expression of His transcendental creativity.