SOLOMON’S QUEST FOR WISDOM

Solomon's Choice

1 Kings 2

At the end of chapter 2, we are told this:

The kingdom was now firmly established in Solomon’s hands.  (1 Kings 2:46)

How did this happen?  Though the kingdom was passed on to Solomon from his father, David, it was a series of wise decisions that led to decisive actions against troublesome individuals that demonstrated to every citizen of Israel and to the leaders of surrounding nations that there was a new king in Israel and he was not to be trifled with.

Yes Solomon was wise, but at the same time he did on numerous occasions overstep the limits of the king of Israel’s legitimate position.  He allied himself with the Gentiles and married Pharaoh’s daughter.

Solomon made an alliance with Pharaoh king of Egypt and married his daughter. He brought her to the City of David until he finished building his palace and the temple of the LORD, and the wall around Jerusalem.  (verse 1)

1.  A glimpse of the king’s downfall, verses 2, 3

Solomon’s marriage to Pharaoh’s daughter sealed a political alliance between Egypt and Israel.  Treaties between nations were customarily sealed like this, but this treaty was apparently in Egypt’s favor, since Israel was the stronger of the two nations.  Egypt was clearly in decline by Solomon’s time.

It should be noted that this particular marriage was not against the Mosaic Law; only marriages with Canaanite women were forbidden.  This kind of marriage was permitted only if she renounced her gods and confessed faith in Israel’s God.

Solomon followed the letter of the religious Law, but this marriage was most likely a bad idea; it was the beginning of a pattern of behavior that would lead to his spiritual downfall.   Solomon was raised by women in the women’s court.  Women were the only thing Solomon really understood, so it is reasonable to conclude that his many marriages and relationships with women were the result of his upbringing.  The king was not worldly wise and was not acquainted with the world like his father David was.   Solomon had one thing is his favor, however, though he did not have the spiritual depth his father had, he did recognize that shortcoming.

His many marriages to foreign women were not the only issues that led to Solomon’s undoing.

The people, however, were still sacrificing at the high places, because a temple had not yet been built for the Name of the LORD.  Solomon showed his love for the LORD by walking according to the instructions given him by his father David, except that he offered sacrifices and burned incense on the high places.  (verses 3, 4)

The word “however” tells us that though conditions in Israel at the time were generally very good, there was an ongoing problem that needed to be taken care of, namely, the awful practice of sacrificing at what became known as the “high places.”

These high places were open-air places of worship located on hills or elevated places throughout Israel.  These places were a constant sore point for Israel which the prophets of Jehovah continually condemned.  Why the big deal about these high places?   Scholars tell of two reasons why the Lord hated the high places.  First, the people were intended to worship at the sanctuary.  The high places made their religion far too convenient.  Upon entering the Promised Land, the people were to build a central sanctuary where true worship could take place.  Getting to that central location to worship was part of the Law of Moses.  Second, worship at the high places was originally part of the Canaanite religion.  The high places existed in the land long before Israel came and took possession of it and they were strictly forbidden to use pagan places of worship (Deuteronomy 12).  Unfortunately, syncretism was all too common and posed a genuine threat to Judaism.  The worship of Jehovah should never have been allowed to mix with pagan worship; it was the purpose of God to keep a great distance between His worship and the worship of false gods.

How many high places were there?  We don’t know for sure, but we do know that Samuel had a high place at Ramah (1 Samuel 7, 9) and Solomon had a great high place at Gibeon.   God in His grace had allowed the use of high places as long as the worshiper’s heart was right and his motives pure.  Clearly this was the case with both Samuel and Solomon—both worshiped at their respective high places in loyalty and obedience.   The mentioning of the unbuilt Temple is meant to suggest that as soon as it was built, worship at the high places was to end.

2.  Revelation at Gibeon, verses 4—9

So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?”  (verse 9)

According to a parallel account in 2 Chronicles 1:2—3, the whole leadership of Israel went with Solomon to Gibeon to bring one great offering to God; one thousand burnt offerings were carried to the place of worship.  The purpose of this gathering was to offer thanksgiving to God for establishing Solomon as king and to seek God’s blessing on his tenure.  It was here that the Lord appeared to the king in a dream.

It should be pointed out that today God does not speak to anybody in a dream.  God speaks to His people in His Word today.  It is true that Joel wrote this of the time in which we live:

And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.  (Joel 2:28)

This is not referring to what happened to Solomon.  Solomon did not have the completed Word of God, His revelation to His people.  Hebrews 1:2 is an important verse to remember whenever anybody claims to have had some sort of revelation from God apart from the Bible:

In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.  (Hebrews 1:1, 2)

God’s appearance to Solomon was certainly an auspicious way to begin his kingship; not only that, it indicated that God was pleased with the sacrifice, location notwithstanding.  God had been blessed by Solomon’s offering, and now He desired to bless Solomon.  Apparently nothing was off limits in terms of what Solomon could ask for.  This seems astounding to us, yet we have exactly the same opportunity:

You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.  (John 14:14)

The king responded to the Lord’s gracious offer in humility and continued thanksgiving, asking only for wisdom.  The phrase “little child” is just a figure of speech indicating that indeed Solomon was young, but also inexperienced.  This young king was facing responsibilities never faced by any world leader.  Israel was a chosen nation.  David had built it to the zenith of its political and military power.  It was a privilege for Solomon to be made king, but the greater the privilege, the greater the responsibility.  He was charged with continuing what David had started.  That would be no small feat!  And he would wisdom and discernment way beyond his years.  Fortunately he realized his need, and of all things Solomon could have asked for, those were the things he wanted.

Notice, though, Solomon was specific in his request.  It was not speculative wisdom he needed or wanted; it was an understanding and discerning heart so that he may be able to govern Israel justly.  Though he did not know it, Solomon was aspiring to the kind of ruler Christ will ultimately be, as described in Isaiah 11:2—5.  Nothing could have pleased the Lord more than this!  Solomon, seeing the needs of his people and realizing the qualities necessary to meet them is a type of the Messiah, the final Son of David.

3.  A happy God, verses 10—15

As we read God’s response to Solomon’s request for wisdom, we can’t help but be reminded of Matthew 6:33—

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Solomon had discovered what countless others have discovered since his time.  That is, God not only answered his prayer, but graciously added to it.  The young king side stepped what most others would have asked for:  prosperity, long life, happiness, and so on.  God gave Solomon the wisdom he asked for and more; all that he did not ask for was also given him.   Solomon’s wisdom not only enabled him to rule Israel well but also caused him to known around the known world as being the wisest man who ever lived.

What a lesson on praying the kind of prayer that pleases God.  Perhaps the reason why some of our prayers go unanswered is because we are asking God for the wrong things.  We Christians have the privilege of having each and every prayer we pray answered because we have what Solomon never had:  the living Word of God to guide us in our prayers and the ever present Holy Spirit who is able to not only inspire us to pray according to God’s will but also to pray through us.

4.  A practical test, verses 16—28

It wasn’t long before Solomon’s newly acquired wisdom and discernment was put to the test in a heart-wrenching way.  Surely there were many such incidents in the king’s life, but this one is given to how in practical situations as well as in matters of the State, Solomon acted wisely and how as a result his reputation as a wise ruler grew.

Here was a case where there were no eye witnesses; it was one woman’s word against the others.  Solomon demonstrated an almost superhuman insight into human nature, and once again showed how much he understood women.

But this situation also demonstrated the kind of justice so needed for God’s people.  This is the kind of justice God demanded from His people and the kind of justice championed by the prophets.  Sadly it was also the kind of justice decried by most of the prophets during the long and checkered history of Israel and Judah.

Solomon’s verdict and the way he reached it spread throughout the kingdom and became common knowledge among all the people.  The king was held in awe; here was clear evidence that God’s man was on the throne of Israel!

Conclusion

Solomon loved God.  Of this there can be no doubt.  It was given him to accomplish all for the glory of God.  Solomon walked according to the admonitions of his father, David.  However, Solomon, for all he had going for him, approached God without rising above the level of his people.   The high places remained in place long after Solomon’s death.  He never rid Israel of these blights.  Very often, the luster of great blessing hides that which God disapproves of but that which ultimately proves disastrous.   Many of us enjoy the blessings of God alongside the sin in our lives.  God’s blessings in no way suggest He approves of our continuing in sin.  The high places and foreign gods which Solomon tolerated led to his downfall and the splitting up of the kingdom.

(c)  2010 WitzEnd

We learn that most valuable of life lessons:  it doesn’t matter how we start the race, but rather how we finish it.

1 Response to “SOLOMON’S QUEST FOR WISDOM”


  1. 1 JOSEPH BART PLANGE May 7, 2015 at 9:56 pm

    lessons to learn


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