Scripture reading – 1 Kings 3

Solomon’s Marriage to Pharaoh’s Daughter (1 Kings 3:1)

Our chronological reading of the Scripture brings us to 1 Kings 3. Following his father’s death, Solomon moved swiftly to secure his throne and position himself as the reigning king of Israel (1 Kings 2). Following the pattern of the kings of other nations, Solomon took a daughter of Pharaoh as his wife, and, by marriage, broached peace with Egypt (1 Kings 3:1a). He also began a campaign of construction projects that included his palace, the Temple, and fortifying walls of Jerusalem (1 Kings 3:1b).

Solomon’s Spiritual Piety (1 Kings 3:2-4)

Without the Temple, there was no central place of worship and sacrifices in Israel (1 Kings 3:2). So, we read, like the people, Solomon offered sacrifices in “high places because there was no house [Temple] built unto the name of the Lord, until those days” (1 Kings 3:3). Nevertheless, “Solomon loved the Lord, walking in the statutes [laws, precepts] of David his father: only he [Solomon] sacrificed and burnt incense in high places” apart from David’s Tabernacle and the Ark of the Covenant which were located in Jerusalem (1 Kings 3:4). Among the places Solomon offered sacrifices was Gibeon, where the ancient tabernacle and altar from the wilderness years was located (3:4).

Solomon’s Prayer for Wisdom (1 Kings 3:5-15)

 At Gibeon, “the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, Ask what I shall give thee” (1 Kings 3:5). Of all Solomon might have requested (i.e., riches, possessions, and power), the young king asked the LORD to grant him wisdom and discernment beyond his youth and experience (1 Kings 3:6-9). The young king confessed his inadequacy and need for discernment. He understood he would face an extraordinary challenge to rule God’s chosen people. Solomon wrote, “Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?” (1 Kings 3:9)

Solomon’s request “pleased the Lord” (1 Kings 3:10), and He granted him not only wisdom but also all that he had not requested, “both riches, and honour: so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee all thy days” (1 Kings 3:13).

The Lord also offered Solomon that which he had not requested: A long life (1 Kings 3:14). However, the promise of a lengthy life came with a condition: “If thou wilt walk in my ways, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as thy father David did walk, then I will lengthen thy days” (1 Kings 3:14). Though wiser than any king or leader before or after him, Solomon would fail to obey the law and commandments that had characterized his father’s life. Tragically, at his death, Israel would be divided (1 Kings 11:1-11).

Awaking from his dream, Solomon left Gibeon and returned to Jerusalem, where he “stood before the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and offered up burnt offerings, and offered peace offerings, and made a feast to all his servants” (1 Kings 3:15).

Solomon’s Wisdom Tested (1 Kings 3:16-28)

The first public test of Solomon’s extraordinary wisdom was a case brought by two disreputable women whose trade was harlotry (1 Kings 3:16). The women came before the king, representing themselves and their plight. They lived within the same house and were mothers of newborn children (1 Kings 3:17). One mother had, in her sleep, inadvertently smothered her child, and it died (1 Kings 3:19). Waking from her sleep, she realized her child was dead and determined to take the other mother’s child as her own (1 Kings 3:20). She placed her lifeless child in the bosom of the other woman. Her deception went undiscovered until the next morning’s light (1 Kings 3:21).

Despite the heartbroken claim of the mother whose child was taken, the guilty woman protested her innocence. She claimed the child in her arms was her own (1 Kings 3:22). Understanding there was no witness (1 Kings 3:18), the decision of who was the mother of the living child fell to Solomon (1 Kings 3:23-28).

After he gained understanding of the case before him (1 Kings 3:23), the king determined to test the sincerity of the women. Solomon then demanded that a sword be brought to him and said, “Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one, and half to the other” (1 Kings 3:24-25). The woman who was not the mother of the living child did not protest the king’s command; however, the actual mother objected and was willing to forfeit her lawful claim as the mother (1 Kings 3:26).

Thus, Solomon revealed his wisdom and discernment before the people, and they “feared [and revered] the king: for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him, to do judgment” (1 Kings 3:28).

Closing thoughts –

Why did the people fear and revere Solomon? They recognized in him the divine gift of discernment was “the wisdom of God” (1 Kings 3:28). Though young, the people realized the king had the gift of spiritual discernment and could discern honesty and dishonesty, sincerity and lies.

Lesson – Spiritual wisdom and discernment are given to those who know, understand, and walk in the light of God’s Truth. Such men and women are beloved by the saints and feared by sinners. Consider two verses that should inspire all believers to be devoted students of God’s Word.

Ecclesiastes 7:19 – “Wisdom strengtheneth the wise more than ten mighty men which are in the city.”

Ecclesiastes 9:18a – “Wisdom is better than weapons of war.”

 

Questions to ponder –

1) Though Solomon loved the LORD, what was the one area in which he displeased Him? (1 Kings 3:3)

2) What did God offer Solomon in a dream? (1 Kings 3:5)

3) What did Solomon confess about himself? (1 Kings 3:7)

4) What did Solomon request for himself? (1 Kings 3:9)

5) What was Solomon’s unique distinction in all human history? (1 Kings 3:12)

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

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