|Vol. 12 No. 10 October 2010||
Solomon, the second son of David and Bathsheba (2 Samuel 12), was the wisest man to live upon the earth (1 Kings 3:12). After Solomon was ordained as the third king of Israel, God appeared to Solomon in a dream, saying, “What shall I give you?” Solomon requested of God, “…an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?” (1 Kings 3:4-9). God was pleased with Solomon’s request and readily granted it and more (1 Kings 3:12-14). However, the duration of some of the promises God made to Solomon were contingent upon remaining faithful to God.
Solomon soon put into practice the wisdom God bestowed upon him when two women came needing a judge to decide the mother of an infant. Two women, living in the same house, each gave birth to a son three days apart. While they slept, one child died in the night. The mother of the dead son switched her dead infant with the living son of the other woman. Upon examining the two infants in the morning light, the mother of the living son knew without a doubt the babies had been switched while she slept. The two women came to Solomon to decide the fate of the living child. The King instructed that the living child be cut in two giving each mother half a child. One mother cried out, “O my lord, give her the living child, and by no means kill him!” while the other woman exclaimed, “Let him be neither mine nor yours, but divide him.” Wise King Solomon immediately knew to whom the living baby belonged and ordered the child be given to the one who wanted no harm to come to the child. He knew a mother’s love would protect the child at all cost. (1 Kings 3:16-28)
King David desired to build a house for God. However, the Lord refused to allow David to build such a place since he had shed much blood – being a man of war. God instructed David that his son Solomon would build the Temple – a permanent place to worship Jehovah. King David prepared the plans and some of the building materials, and four years after King Solomon began to reign, he started the construction of the house of worship (1 Kings 6:1; 5:5; 2 Chronicles 22:6-16). Finally, seven years later, the workers completed the Temple, and God’s permanent place of worship was ready for the people (1 Kings 6:38).
King Solomon also built himself a house, taking thirteen years to finish. His palace was a little more than three times larger than the house built for God, and it took almost twice as long for the completion of it compared to the Temple (1 Kings 7:1-2; 6:2). Perhaps, this is an indication of God beginning to lose His proper place in Solomon’s heart.
The wisdom of King Solomon soon became famous throughout the known world. On one occasion, the Queen of Sheba travelled approximately 1,000 miles to test his wisdom (1 Kings 10:1). She brought a great caravan of camels bearing gifts of spices, gold and precious stones (1 Kings 10:2). Solomon answered all her questions, showed her the Temple, palace and his great wealth. At the end of her visit, the Queen of Sheba stated, “It was a true report which I heard in my own land about your words and your wisdom. However I did not believe the words until I came and saw with my own eyes; and indeed the half was not told me. Your wisdom and prosperity exceed the fame of which I heard” (1 Kings 10:6-7). Many others also came to visit Solomon to hear his wisdom, each bringing gifts of “…silver and gold, garments, armor, spices, horses, and mules, at a set rate year by year” (1 Kings 10:25).
Then began Solomon’s downward trend toward foolishness. “But King Solomon loved many foreign women, as well as the daughter of Pharaoh: women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians, and Hittites – from the nations of whom the LORD had said to the children of Israel, ‘You shall not intermarry with them, nor they with you. Surely they will turn away your hearts after their gods.’ Solomon clung to these in love” (1 Kings 11:1-2). The King amassed seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines while serving as the leader of God’s chosen people, the Israelite nation – most if not all from the foreign nations of which the Israelites had been forbidden to marry (Exodus 34:16-17). Just as God predicted, as Solomon grew older, his heart turned from the One True God to the false gods of his wives. He built places of false worship to the false gods of his wives and burned incense therein (1 Kings 11:4-8). Wise King Solomon failed to follow and serve God as his father King David had.
On two occasions, God promised Solomon IF he remained faithful, God would bless him, and a descendant of David’s would continually rule the Israelites. Even with great wisdom, King Solomon failed to keep the agreement with God. He allowed his wives to turn his heart from God. The Lord kept His end of the agreement and set in motion His plan for the Israelite nation. Because of God’s promise to King David, God agreed to let Solomon remain as king for the remainder of his life. Upon Solomon’s death, the united nation of Israel divided into two nations with Solomon’s son Rehoboam serving as king of two tribes (Judah and Benjamin), known as Judah, and Jeroboam served as king of the ten northern tribes, called Israel (1 Kings 11:9-13; 26-40; 12:1-24). Solomon reigned for forty years, and he was buried in the city of Jerusalem.
Solomon began his reign as king as a humble, obedient servant of God. Eventually, his heart turned from serving God wholeheartedly to worshipping idols with his many wives. Solomon had the greatest wisdom of any mortal to walk upon the earth, yet he allowed his wives to pull his allegiance away from the one true God. Fausset’s Bible Dictionary makes the following summary of King Solomon’s life:
Solomon probably repented in the end; for Chronicles make no mention of his fall. Again ECCLESIASTES (which see) is probably the result of his melancholy, but penitent, retrospect of the past; “all is vanity and vexation of spirit”: it is not vanity, but wisdom as well as our whole duty, to “fear God and keep His commandments.” God having made him His Jedidiah (beloved of Jehovah) “visited his transgression with the rod, nevertheless His lovingkindness He did not utterly take from him” (Ps 89:30-36). As the Song of Solomon represents his first love to Jehovah in youth, so Proverbs his matured experience in middle age, Ecclesiastes the sad retrospect of old age. “Solomon in all his glory” was not arrayed as one of the “lilies of the field”: a reproof of our pride (Matt 6:29).
Let us not reach the end of our lives as wise King Solomon ended his. Study the Scriptures (2 Timothy 2:15) and make course corrections to comply with God’s will so that at the Judgment Day, we will hear “…enter thou into the joy of thy Lord” (Matthew 25:21, 23).