Old Testament: 1 Kings 3:3-4:34
1 Kings 3: 3 – 15 A Wise Guy, Eh?
Wouldn’t you love for this to happen? Solomon had a dream and Yahweh asked him to name whatever he wanted! What would you ask for? Solomon asked for wisdom.
J.Vernon McGee says that the wisdom Solomon asked for was political wisdom, not necessarily spiritual wisdom. Verse 3 does say that Solomon “loved the Lord.” But then it goes on to say that “he sacrificed and burned incense on the high places.” Worshipping on the high places instead of in one central location, as later in Jerusalem, was prohibited in Deuteronomy (cf. 12: 2). Many kings were responsible for following this pagan custom (1 Kings 22:43; 2 Kings 12:3; 14:4; 15:4, 35) and it resulted in their downfall. Worship in high places may not have been the sin it would be, but does seem to be a portent of things to come.
Solomon started well but did not end well. His downfall seems to be linked to his practice of marrying many foreign wives as he could for political purposes. He started by marrying the Pharoah’s daughter. Remember the incident before the Israelites were about to enter the land? The people had come too close to the Midianites resulting in a mass slaughter in Num. 25: 9 (cf. see Peor People Get The Point). Deuteronomy 7: 1-5 clearly prohibits intermarriage with pagans in surrounding countries. In the book of Ezra (10) all who had heathen wives agreed to divorce them! We do not have to do this today though the taking of an unsaved husband or wife is prohibited (cf. 2 Cor. 6:14). Solomon obviously had no compunction regarding the spiritual state of his wives since he had 700 wives and 300 concubines! Most were the result of liaisons with foreign powers for political purposes. Here are the sad words, “He had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines, and his wives turned his heart away. For when Solomon was old, his wives turned his heart away after other gods; and his heart was not wholly devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been” (1 Kings 11:3-4).
The sad truth is that an unspiritual companion can have a strong negative impact on a person and move them away from the Lord. As a pastor, I have seen it time and time again. Take your relationships seriously!
That Solomon knew better. He wrote The Song of Solomon which extols the primacy of love between one husband and one wife.
The reason Solomon wanted wisdom was that he realized that he did not have the experience that his father had had in ruling the nation. He may have been only twenty when he became king though he had the benefit of his father’s older advisors. Since Solomon was wise enough to ask for wisdom, Yahweh also granted him riches, honor, and a long life (v. 13).
1 Kings 3: 16 – 28 A Split Decision
Solomon’s wisdom was exemplified by his decision in the case of two prostitutes brought to him to decide. They had both had babies about the same time and lived in the same house. One of the woman’s sons died when she rolled over on top of it! Then while the other woman was sleeping she stole and swapped out the babies and kept the living one for herself. They each claimed the living baby.
Solomon said he had the perfect solution: he would just take a sword and slice the living baby in two and they could each have half. One of the women cried in panic, “No! That’s OK. She can have the baby!” The second woman said, “OK. That seems like a good solution. Cut him up.” Solomon then knew whose the baby was and gave him to the first woman. The entire country was amazed at his wisdom!
1 Kings 4: 1 – 19 The Official Officials
Solomon ruled over the entire nation of Israel, north and south. If you want to know the names of his officials they are listed here.
1 Kings 4: 20 – 19 Professor Solomon
The reign of Solomon was a time of great peace. In many ways it is like the coming one thousand year kingdom of Christ. People were just having a good ole time “rejoicing” and “eating and drinking” (v. 20).
Yahweh had warned that if Israel chose a king that he would raise taxes and collect too many horses (cf. Dt. 17: 6, also 1Sam. 8: 10-18). Solomon did raise taxes (v. 21, “they brought tribute and served Solomon all the days of his life”). One of the first things the people wanted under Solomon’s successor was lower taxes! (1Ki. 12: 3-4).
Solomon knew of 3,000 proverbs. He collected them, even from foreign cultures. Only a few hundred are inscripturated in the book of Proverbs. He wrote over a thousand songs. We only have one: The Song of Solomon.
McGee says of Solomon’s intellectual pursuits, “Solomon was an dendrologist — ‘he spake of trees, from the cedar tree that is in Lebanon even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall.’ The hyssop is a humble little plant that grows on rocks. Solomon was also a zoologist — ‘he spake also of beasts’ — and an ornithologist since he spoke of birds. He was an entomologist: he spoke of creeping things, or insects. He was an ichthyologist: he spoke of fishes. He spoke of these things because he was an authority in these particular realms. this, apparently, is the beginning of the sciences.”
Solomon had not endured all the hardship that his father had and therefore did not have the character that David had. But the book of Ecclesiastes shows that he was a deep thinker and an extraordinary person.
New Testament: Acts 6: 1- 15
Acts 6: 1- 15 The Magnificent Seven
There were so many people joining the church at this time that it strained the apostles to do all the work. The twelve apostles decided that there should be seven men chosen to take care of the food for everyone. They were chosen and the apostles prayed and put their hands on them.
The church’s numbers were exploding and even some priests were coming to faith in the Lord.
Stephen, who was one of the seven, was “full of grace and power” and was also “performing great wonders and signs” (v. 8). Some Jews resented him though and tried to take him on in debates. He demolished them. Then they accused him of blaspheming Moses and were really creating havoc with the people and religious leaders. He was brought to the council against his will. False witnesses lied about his view of Judaism, saying Jesus would tear down the Temple and change the Mosaic law. But when they looked over at Stephen, his face lit up and looked like the “face of an angel” (v. 15).