1 Kings 3-5
The United Kingdom under Solomon, cont’d. 1 Kings 1-11
1 Kings 3 Solomon’s Wisdom
1 Kings 3:1-Solomon forms an alliance with Pharaoh of Egypt and marries his daughter.
Marriage to fellow royalty was a common political strategy in the ancient world, and continues to the modern age. It was not only because royalty wanted to marry other royalty, but also because conflict between nations were avoided for the sake of family ties.
- This was not Solomon's first marriage. 1 Kings 14:21 tells us that his son Rehoboam came to the throne when he was 41 years old, and 1 Kings 11:42 tells us that Solomon reigned 40 years. This means that Rehoboam was born to his mother-a wife of Solomon named Naamah the Amonitess-before he came to the throne and before he married this daughter of Pharaoh.
- Solomon's multiple marriages-and marriages to foreign women-will cause a great disaster in his life. Later in the Book of Nehemiah, Nehemiah was angry and frustrated because the people of Israel married with the pagan nations around them. In rebuking the guilty, Nehemiah remembered Solomon's bad example: So I contended with them and cursed them, struck some of them and pulled out their hair, and made them swear by God, saying, "You shall not give your daughters as wives to their sons, nor take their daughters for your sons or yourselves. Did not Solomon king of Israel sin by these things? Yet among many nations there was no king like him, who was beloved of his God; and God made him king over all Israel. Nevertheless pagan women caused even him to sin. Should we then hear of your doing all this great evil, transgressing against our God by marrying pagan women?" (Nehemiah 13:25-27)
iii. The foreign wives made Solomon more than a bad example-they ruined his spiritual life. 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. And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines; and his wives turned away his heart. For it was so, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned his heart after other gods; and his heart was not loyal to the LORD his God, as was the heart of his father David. (1 Kings 11:1-4)
- 1 Kings 11:4 says this only happened when Solomon was old, but the pattern was set with this first marriage to the Egyptian princess. It perhaps made political sense, but not spiritual sense. "Such arranged marriages were a common confirmation of international treaties, but this one was the beginning of Solomon's spiritual downfall." (Wiseman)
- 2 Samuel 3:3 tells us that David married the daughter of a foreign king: Maacah, the daughter of Talmai, king of Geshur. Marrying a foreign woman was not against the Law of Moses-if she became a convert to the God of Israel. What did not ruin David did ruin Solomon…
- Old legends of Jewish rabbis say that on their wedding night, the Egyptian princess cast a spell on Solomon and put a tapestry over their bed that looked like the night sky with stars and constellations. The spell was intended to make Solomon sleep, and when he did wake he looked up and thought the stars were still out and it was still night so he went back to sleep. He slept on past 10:00 in the morning and all Israel was grieved because Solomon kept the keys to the temple under his pillow and they couldn't have the morning sacrifice until he woke up. Finally his mother Bathsheba roused him from sleep. (Cited in Ginzberg)
David Guzik :: Study Guide for 1 Kings 3,
1 Kings 3:2-Solomon makes a sacrifice to God in Gibeon (a city about 6 miles northwest of Jerusalem).
At this time, altars were allowed in Israel at various high places, as long as those altars were unto the LORD and not corrupted by idolatry (as commanded in Deuteronomy 16:21). When the temple was built, sacrifice was then centralized at the temple.
David Guzik :: Study Guide for 1 Kings 3,
1 Kings 3:3-15-God appears to Solomon in a dream and asks what he wants. Solomon says that he is but “a little child”…speaking of the wisdom necessary to lead the kingdom (he was actually about 20-years-old at the time). Solomon asks for wisdom and God is pleased with his request, so He promises him wisdom...and wealth, honor, and a long life...if he obeys Him.
1 Kings 3:16-28-Two women claim that a baby is theirs and Solomon determines who it really belongs to. The people are impressed by his wisdom.
1 Kings 4 Solomon’s Reign
1 Kings 4:1-6-Azariah was the priest. The use of the term “son” means descendant…he was actually the grandson of Zadok (cf. 1 Chronicles 6:8-9). Zadok was probably elderly and assigned many of his duties to others. Abiathar was a priest…but was still banished (2:26-27). Benaiah (son of Jehoiada) was over the army. Zabud (son of Nathan) was a priest and was Solomon's best friend.
1 Kings 4:7-28-Here is an explanation of how Solomon managed his household. There were 12 deputies, or officers. Each officer was in a rotation and was responsible for providing all of the supplies for the king’s household for one month out of the year.
1 Kings 4:29-34-Solomon had a mental grasp on virtually every subject matter. People were amazed at his wisdom.
1 Kings 5:1-:9:9 Solomon’s Temple
1 Kings 5:1-18-Solomon begins the process to build the Temple. Solomon began building in 967 B.C. and finished 7 years later (6:1,38). It was destroyed in 586 B.C. by the Babylonians. He makes a covenant with Hiram, king of Tyre to provide the cedar lumber from Lebanon.
Prayer: Lord, I’ve asked You to give me wisdom, like You gave Solomon. And yet, despite his wisdom, Solomon still became caught in a web of his own design. By accepting the practice of his day to marry the daughters of other kings to establish political security, then allowing them to continue to worship their foreign gods, and finally by becoming victim to his own physical passions…he ultimately allowed the kingdom to slip away. Lord, he needed more than just wisdom to know what is right. He also needed the determination to do what is right. As I read Solomon’s story…it seems that this was a gradual process…and not something that he intended, or perhaps even realized. Please, Father…don’t let me ever lose my love and dedication to You. Help it to grow…day by day.