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I Kings 3-4; II Chronicles 1; Psalm 72    Listen Podcast



Solomon kicks off his kingship with a big sacrifice (I Kings 3:1-4; II Chronicles 1:1-6)

I Kings 3
II Chronicles 1
1 Now Solomon made a treaty with Pharaoh king of Egypt, and married Pharaoh’s daughter; then he brought her to the City of David until he had finished building his own house, and the house of the LORD, and the wall all around Jerusalem.
2 Meanwhile the people sacrificed at the high places, because there was no house built for the name of the LORD until those days.
3 And Solomon loved the LORD, walking in the statutes of his father David, except that he sacrificed and burned incense at the high places.
4 ¶ Now the king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there, for that was the great high place: Solomon offered a thousand burnt offerings on that altar.
1 ¶ Now Solomon the son of David was strengthened in his kingdom, and the LORD his God was with him and exalted him exceedingly.
2 ¶ And Solomon spoke to all Israel, to the captains of thousands and of hundreds, to the judges, and to every leader in all Israel, the heads of the fathers’ houses.
3 Then Solomon, and all the assembly with him, went to the high place that was at Gibeon; for the tabernacle of meeting with God was there, which Moses the servant of the LORD had made in the wilderness.
4 But David had brought up the ark of God from Kirjath Jearim to the place David had prepared for it, for he had pitched a tent for it at Jerusalem.
5 Now the bronze altar that Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, had made, he put before the tabernacle of the LORD; Solomon and the assembly sought Him there.
6 And Solomon went up there to the bronze altar before the LORD, which was at the tabernacle of meeting, and offered a thousand burnt offerings on it.

I Kings 3 starts out with the marriage of Solomon to the daughter of the Pharaoh of Egypt. This was a common practice among government leaders during this period as a way to seal a treaty between nations. I mean...are you going to attack your son-in-law? In Solomon's life, he participated in many weddings...not as the best man or a groomsman, but as the groom himself. His 1,000 women became a significant weakness in his life, especially since he had taken wives from the heathen nations forbidden by God in Deuteronomy 7:1-3 (see notes). However, Egypt is not one of those forbidden nations found in the list.

Observe this passage from I Kings 11 (see notes):

1 But King Solomon loved many foreign women, as well as the daughter of Pharaoh: women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians, and Hittites—
2 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.
3 And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines; and his wives turned away his heart.

It would appear that this Egyptian princess was not Solomon's first wife when a comparison is done between I Kings 14:21 (see notes) and I Kings 11:42-43. Since I Kings 14:21 tells us that Rehoboam was 41 years old when he began to reign, that puts him at one-year old when Solomon's forty-year reign began (I Kings 11:42). Rehoboam's birth must have taken place before Solomon's ascension to the throne from a woman who was an Ammonite. Rehoboam became the next King of Judah. Interestingly, the Bible does not record Solomon having ever taken a Jewish woman as a wife, nor do we have a record of any other son except Rehoboam.

One more item of interest regarding marriages to foreigners is worth noting here. After the return of the exiles from captivity beginning in 535 B.C., the returning Jews were very motivated to recapture their former favorable status with God. In the process, we see in Ezra 9-10 (see notes) that they not only enforced the ban on foreign marriages, they agreed to banish those women in their midst who were on the forbidden-marriage list. Funny thing though: They included Egyptians on their no-no list. Why? We aren't told; it appears that they were striving for an ethnic purity which superseded the command of God.

Solomon was a big sacrificer to the Lord. It's not clear whether I Kings 3:3 is a criticism of Solomon's practice of sacrifice or not when it says, "And Solomon loved the LORD, walking in the statutes of his father David, except that he sacrificed and burned incense at the high places." We do know that the "high places" are later clear references to altars for pagan gods, although that does not seem to be necessarily so here. The real question here is whether or not God approved of sacrifices being made at numerous locations, or should they have been restricted to a single location as in the past. You may recall that Israel almost engaged in civil war over a second altar erected by the tribes east of the Jordan River in Joshua 22:10-34 (see notes). At that point in time, Israel was convinced that God would not tolerate sacrificing at multiple altar locations.

David had brought the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem and pitched a tent for it there. However, the Tabernacle built by Moses was still erected also. Solomon, after assuming his role as King of Israel, heads to Gibeon to make sacrifices there on the brazen altar - a thousand of them. That's where God appears to Solomon in a dream. For additional information regarding the two tabernacles and the Ark of the Covenant, click here.

You want what? Wisdom? (I Kings 3:5-15; II Chronicles 1:7-17)

I Kings 3
II Chronicles 1
5 At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, “Ask! What shall I give you?”
6 ¶ And Solomon said: “You have shown great mercy to Your servant David my father, because he walked before You in truth, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with You; You have continued this great kindness for him, and You have given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day.
7 Now, O LORD my God, You have made Your servant king instead of my father David, but I am a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in.
8 And Your servant is in the midst of Your people whom You have chosen, a great people, too numerous to be numbered or counted.
9 Therefore give to Your servant 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?”
10 ¶ The speech pleased the LORD, that Solomon had asked this thing.
11 Then God said to him: “Because you have asked this thing, and have not asked long life for yourself, nor have asked riches for yourself, nor have asked the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern justice,
12 behold, I have done according to your words; see, I have given you a wise and understanding heart, so that there has not been anyone like you before you, nor shall any like you arise after you.
13 And I have also given you what you have not asked: both riches and honor, so that there shall not be anyone like you among the kings all your days.
14 So if you walk in My ways, to keep My statutes and My commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days.”
15 ¶ Then Solomon awoke; and indeed it had been a dream. And he came to Jerusalem and stood before the ark of the covenant of the LORD, offered up burnt offerings, offered peace offerings, and made a feast for all his servants.
7 ¶ On that night God appeared to Solomon, and said to him, “Ask! What shall I give you?”
8 ¶ And Solomon said to God: “You have shown great mercy to David my father, and have made me king in his place.
9 Now, O LORD God, let Your promise to David my father be established, for You have made me king over a people like the dust of the earth in multitude.
10 Now give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people; for who can judge this great people of Yours?”
11 ¶ Then God said to Solomon: “Because this was in your heart, and you have not asked riches or wealth or honor or the life of your enemies, nor have you asked long life—but have asked wisdom and knowledge for yourself, that you may judge My people over whom I have made you king—
12 wisdom and knowledge are granted to you; and I will give you riches and wealth and honor, such as none of the kings have had who were before you, nor shall any after you have the like.”
13 ¶ So Solomon came to Jerusalem from the high place that was at Gibeon, from before the tabernacle of meeting, and reigned over Israel.
14 And Solomon gathered chariots and horsemen; he had one thousand four hundred chariots and twelve thousand horsemen, whom he stationed in the chariot cities and with the king in Jerusalem.
15 Also the king made silver and gold as common in Jerusalem as stones, and he made cedars as abundant as the sycamores which are in the lowland.
16 And Solomon had horses imported from Egypt and Keveh; the king’s merchants bought them in Keveh at the current price.
17 They also acquired and imported from Egypt a chariot for six hundred shekels of silver, and a horse for one hundred and fifty; thus, through their agents, they exported them to all the kings of the Hittites and the kings of Syria.

While dreaming, Solomon received a wild-card answer to any prayer from God - just ask away. So...what did Solomon ask God for? More gold or silver? A bigger kingdom? A bigger army? No! He asked God to give him lots and lots of wisdom. That's right...wisdom. God was pleased that Solomon did not pray that God would line his pockets (so to speak), "but have asked for yourself understanding to discern justice." He got the riches too.

Note (II Chronicles 1:10) the specific kind of wisdom Solomon received from God - wisdom to "judge this great people." It certainly wasn't wisdom in choosing a new bride - or should I say "brides." It was wisdom to judge the people of Israel fairly; that's the attribute for which he became famous. As a matter of fact, when Ezra wrote Chronicles for the returning exiles, he did not mention the promise to Solomon of I Kings 3:14, "So if you walk in My ways, to keep My statutes and My commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days." Why? Well, it was probably because, at that point in time, Ezra knew that Solomon had not fulfilled his end of that conditional covenant. We see that clearly in I Kings 11:10 (see notes); he did not "keep what the LORD had commanded." In fact, Solomon's days were not lengthened, and his insatiable appetite for heathen women resulted in the destruction of his united kingdom.

II Chronicles 1:14-17 emphasizes the extreme wealth of Solomon's reign in Israel. There's no doubt that Solomon knew how to go first class. We see this in less detail at the end of I Kings 4. It is worth noting, however, that Solomon's lifestyle had been addressed several hundred years earlier in Deuteronomy 17:14-17 (see notes):

14 “When you come to the land which the LORD your God is giving you, and possess it and dwell in it, and say, ‘I will set a king over me like all the nations that are around me,’
15 you shall surely set a king over you whom the LORD your God chooses; one from among your brethren you shall set as king over you; you may not set a foreigner over you, who is not your brother.
16 But he shall not multiply horses for himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, for the LORD has said to you, “You shall not return that way again.’
17 Neither shall he multiply wives for himself, lest his heart turn away; nor shall he greatly multiply silver and gold for himself.

Solomon's lifestyle, without question, violated the principles found in this passage of the Law of Moses.

Solomon test drives his wisdom (I Kings 3:16-28)

16 ¶ Now two women who were harlots came to the king, and stood before him.
17 And one woman said, “O my lord, this woman and I dwell in the same house; and I gave birth while she was in the house.
18 Then it happened, the third day after I had given birth, that this woman also gave birth. And we were together; no one was with us in the house, except the two of us in the house.
19 And this woman’s son died in the night, because she lay on him.
20 So she arose in the middle of the night and took my son from my side, while your maidservant slept, and laid him in her bosom, and laid her dead child in my bosom.
21 And when I rose in the morning to nurse my son, there he was, dead. But when I had examined him in the morning, indeed, he was not my son whom I had borne.”
22 ¶ Then the other woman said, “No! But the living one is my son, and the dead one is your son.” ¶ And the first woman said, “No! But the dead one is your son, and the living one is my son.” ¶ Thus they spoke before the king.
23 ¶ And the king said, “The one says, “This is my son, who lives, and your son is the dead one’; and the other says, ‘No! But your son is the dead one, and my son is the living one.’|”
24 Then the king said, “Bring me a sword.” So they brought a sword before the king.
25 And the king said, “Divide the living child in two, and give half to one, and half to the other.”
26 ¶ Then the woman whose son was living spoke to the king, for she yearned with compassion for her son; and she said, “O my lord, give her the living child, and by no means kill him!” ¶ But the other said, “Let him be neither mine nor yours, but divide him.”
27 ¶ So the king answered and said, “Give the first woman the living child, and by no means kill him; she is his mother.”
28 ¶ And all Israel heard of the judgment which the king had rendered; and they feared the king, for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him to administer justice.

This story is probably placed here to demonstrate the kind of wisdom to judge that God had given to Solomon. Two prostitutes who lived together came to Solomon with a dispute; one had taken the living baby of the other and substituted it with her dead baby. Solomon's solution to the dispute (dividing the living baby) horrified the true mama, but satisfied the phony mama. Notice verse 28, "And all Israel heard of the judgment which the king had rendered; and they feared the king, for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him to administer justice." People marveled at how wise in administering justice Solomon was.

Again, let it be emphasized, Solomon's gift of wisdom from God was for the purpose of judging his people.

Solomon had his own government style (I Kings 4)

1 So King Solomon was king over all Israel.
2 And these were his officials: Azariah the son of Zadok, the priest;
3 Elihoreph and Ahijah, the sons of Shisha, scribes; Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud, the recorder;
4 Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, over the army; Zadok and Abiathar, the priests;
5 Azariah the son of Nathan, over the officers; Zabud the son of Nathan, a priest and the king’s friend;
6 Ahishar, over the household; and Adoniram the son of Abda, over the labor force.
7 ¶ And Solomon had twelve governors over all Israel, who provided food for the king and his household; each one made provision for one month of the year.
8 These are their names: Ben-hur, in the mountains of Ephraim;
9 Ben-deker, in Makaz, Shaalbim, Beth Shemesh, and Elon Beth Hanan;
10 Ben-Hesed, in Arubboth; to him belonged Sochoh and all the land of Hepher;
11 Ben-Abinadab, in all the regions of Dor; he had Taphath the daughter of Solomon as wife;
12 Baana the son of Ahilud, in Taanach, Megiddo, and all Beth Shean, which is beside Zaretan below Jezreel, from Beth Shean to Abel Meholah, as far as the other side of Jokneam;
13 Ben-Geber, in Ramoth Gilead; to him belonged the towns of Jair the son of Manasseh, in Gilead; to him also belonged the region of Argob in Bashan—sixty large cities with walls and bronze gate-bars;
14 Ahinadab the son of Iddo, in Mahanaim;
15 Ahimaaz, in Naphtali; he also took Basemath the daughter of Solomon as wife;
16 Baanah the son of Hushai, in Asher and Aloth;
17 Jehoshaphat the son of Paruah, in Issachar;
18 Shimei the son of Elah, in Benjamin;
19 Geber the son of Uri, in the land of Gilead, in the country of Sihon king of the Amorites, and of Og king of Bashan. He was the only governor who was in the land.
20 ¶ Judah and Israel were as numerous as the sand by the sea in multitude, eating and drinking and rejoicing.
21 So Solomon reigned over all kingdoms from the River to the land of the Philistines, as far as the border of Egypt. They brought tribute and served Solomon all the days of his life.
22 ¶ Now Solomon’s provision for one day was thirty kors of fine flour, sixty kors of meal,
23 ten fatted oxen, twenty oxen from the pastures, and one hundred sheep, besides deer, gazelles, roebucks, and fatted fowl.
24 ¶ For he had dominion over all the region on this side of the River from Tiphsah even to Gaza, namely over all the kings on this side of the River; and he had peace on every side all around him.
25 And Judah and Israel dwelt safely, each man under his vine and his fig tree, from Dan as far as Beersheba, all the days of Solomon.
26 ¶ Solomon had forty thousand stalls of horses for his chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen.
27 And these governors, each man in his month, provided food for King Solomon and for all who came to King Solomon’s table. There was no lack in their supply.
28 They also brought barley and straw to the proper place, for the horses and steeds, each man according to his charge.
29 ¶ And God gave Solomon wisdom and exceedingly great understanding, and largeness of heart like the sand on the seashore.
30 Thus Solomon’s wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the men of the East and all the wisdom of Egypt.
31 For he was wiser than all men—than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, Chalcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol; and his fame was in all the surrounding nations.
32 He spoke three thousand proverbs, and his songs were one thousand and five.
33 Also he spoke of trees, from the cedar tree of Lebanon even to the hyssop that springs out of the wall; he spoke also of animals, of birds, of creeping things, and of fish.
34 And men of all nations, from all the kings of the earth who had heard of his wisdom, came to hear the wisdom of Solomon.

You will notice that both Zadok and Abiathar are listed here as priests. That was true at the very beginning of Solomon's reign, but Abiathar was relieved from his duties in I Kings 2:27 (see notes), leaving only Zadok as the high priest after that time.

Solomon's leadership style seemed to differ from that of his Dad, King David. He had distributed the responsibility out into 12 districts with apparently a looser hold by the monarchy over these districts. These 12 districts took a month each in providing for the needs of the monarch. Solomon's kingdom extended from Egypt all the way north up to the Euphrates River (referred to as "the River" in verse 24). It was short of Dad's kingdom on the western border, probably because of Solomon's treaty with the Pharaoh of Egypt. Remember in Genesis 15:18 when God promised Abraham, "To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates." The fulfillment of this promise seems to have taken place during David's reign and is the reality during Solomon's reign as specified here. That, of course, discounts the bit of land between where ever the border of Egypt was designated then to the Nile River...per the treaty with Pharaoh.

If you're interested, look at the following two links for more details on the fulfillment of this promise that God had made to Abraham regarding the Land of Israel:

Just one more point about this chapter. We see some detail here regarding Solomon's accumulation of things. That, coupled with his one thousand wives/concubines makes him a big-time violator of Deuteronomy 17:14-17 (see notes). Let it be noted once again, Solomon's wisdom from God was specifically to "judge my people," emphasized again in verses 29-34. Quite frankly, over his 40 years as king, Solomon nearly destroyed what his father, David, had built...but he was a very wise judge of the people.

David has big hopes for his kingdom (Psalm 72)

A Psalm of Solomon.
1 ¶ Give the king Your judgments, O God,
And Your righteousness to the king’s Son.
2 He will judge Your people with righteousness,
And Your poor with justice.
3 The mountains will bring peace to the people,
And the little hills, by righteousness.
4 He will bring justice to the poor of the people;
He will save the children of the needy,
And will break in pieces the oppressor.
5 They shall fear You
As long as the sun and moon endure,
Throughout all generations.
6 He shall come down like rain upon the grass before mowing,
Like showers that water the earth.
7 In His days the righteous shall flourish,
And abundance of peace,
Until the moon is no more.
8 He shall have dominion also from sea to sea,
And from the River to the ends of the earth.
9 Those who dwell in the wilderness will bow before Him,
And His enemies will lick the dust.
10 The kings of Tarshish and of the isles
Will bring presents;
The kings of Sheba and Seba
Will offer gifts.
11 Yes, all kings shall fall down before Him;
All nations shall serve Him.
12 For He will deliver the needy when he cries,
The poor also, and him who has no helper.
13 He will spare the poor and needy,
And will save the souls of the needy.
14 He will redeem their life from oppression and violence;
And precious shall be their blood in His sight.
15 And He shall live;
And the gold of Sheba will be given to Him;
Prayer also will be made for Him continually,
And daily He shall be praised.
16 There will be an abundance of grain in the earth,
On the top of the mountains;
Its fruit shall wave like Lebanon;
And those of the city shall flourish like grass of the earth.
17 His name shall endure forever;
His name shall continue as long as the sun.
And men shall be blessed in Him;
All nations shall call Him blessed.
18 Blessed be the LORD God, the God of Israel,
Who only does wondrous things!
19 And blessed be His glorious name forever!
And let the whole earth be filled with His glory.
Amen and Amen.
20 The prayers of David the son of Jesse are ended.

The superscript indicates that David is writing this with regard to Solomon, though some have taken the superscript to mean that Solomon wrote this Psalm. Actually, the superscript contains two words in Hebrew: the preposition "el" followed by "Solomon." In the Old Testament, "el" has been variously translated as follows: to, at, in, in reference to, of and by. As you can see, based upon strict translation of the Hebrew text, the author of this Psalm may be David or may be Solomon. However, note verse 20, the conclusion, "The prayers of David the son of Jesse are ended." Hmmm...seems as though David's the author to me...indisputably!

The scope of this writing would indicate that David is looking way beyond his immediate heir, both in time and real estate. That being the case, many have felt comfortable viewing these verses as also applying to the fulfillment of the Davidic Kingdom through Christ, the Messiah. Realistically, when you analyze the world conditions outlined in this Psalm, you must agree that this scenario has not historically been realized at any point in time. Therefore, a fulfillment of this passage certainly must look to the future.