I Kings 3

 

 

            The Beginning of Solomon’s Reign (vs. 1-15)

 

In the preceding chapter we have seen the establishment of Solomon’s rule (v. 46)

by the removal of internal foes, i.e., of disaffected and rebellious subjects. In this

we see him strengthening his position by an external alliance, by a marriage

with an Egyptian princess. This event, however, is related here, not because the

historian had this connection of ideas in his mind, but probably because the

marriage came next in order of time.

 

1  And Solomon made affinity with Pharaoh king of Egypt, and took

Pharaoh's daughter,” -  the Law, only forbade intermarriage with the

nations of Canaan (Exodus 34:16; Deuteronomy 7:3) - Solomon at this period

of his life faithfully observed the law, and is never blamed for this marriage, and

as there is no trace whatever of the introduction of Egyptian rites into Israel, it is

a fair presumption that the Egyptian princess conformed to the religion of her adopted

country - “and brought her into the city of David, until he had made an end of

building his own house, and the house of the LORD, and  the wall of Jerusalem

round about.”  We may reasonably suppose that the alliance must have been to most

Israelites a startling one.  Egypt was to every Israelite a name both of triumph and dread. 

The Pharaohs were their ancestral foes.

 

2  Only the people sacrificed in high places,” -  the door of the Tabernacle was

the one place for sacrifice - for some reason or other the people sacrificed elsewhere. 

After David’s reign there was a period of relaxation - the people began to offer

sacrifices in high places and introduced pagan worship or turning to idolatry.  The

writer of the Kings gives the reason - “because there was no house built

unto the name of the LORD, until those days.”

 

3  And Solomon loved the LORD, walking in the statutes of David

his father:” – thus keeping the first and great commandment (Deuteronomy

6:5) -  only” - A qualifying clause - ONLY - the love, that is to say, was not

without alloy - it is not the pure refined gold - this little flaw that makes second rate

material -  “he sacrificed and burnt incense in high places.”  These words clearly

show that the worship of the high places, although condoned, and indeed accepted,

by God (v. 5) was not strictly lawful and right. It was an ignorance that God winked

at (Acts 17:30).  The historian, remembering what the worship of the high places

became, notices this as an imperfection of Solomon’s early reign, though he does not

say that such worship was sinful.

 

Did Solomon ever have the spiritual capacity  for God or the longing for God that

David had?  In some saints we find narrowness and bigotry, in others fanaticism,

Pharisaism and presumption.  Now all these love the Lord.....ONLY.......?

(To me the modern equivalent is “contemporary worship” - If the eternal God

overlooks our “only” we ought to overlook the “only” of others – CY – 2010)

Love is the fulfilling of the Law - the highest praise recorded of Solomon here is

not that he was wiser than all men, nor yet that he exceeded all the kings of the earth

for riches and wisdom, but that ....“he loved the Lord”.  The best thing that can

be said of a man is that he loves the Lord!

 

4  And the king went to Gibeon” - Solomon was accompanied to Gibeon by

all the congregation,” including the captains, judges, governors, etc. (II Chronicles

1:2-3) - “to sacrifice there;” – This religious service was designed to inaugurate

Solomon’s reign (Ibid. v. 13) – his object was also to supplicate the Divine blessing

on his undertakings -  “for that was the great high place:” - being the place of the

tabernacle and brazen altar. In I Samuel 21:6, we find the tabernacle at Nob, though

without the ark (Ibid. ch. 4:2). After the massacre of the priests it lost the ephod

(Ibid. chps. 22:20; 23:6). It could hardly remain in a spot stained by so much blood;

but how or when it found its way to Gibeon, we do not know. See I Chronicles 16:37,39;

II Chronicles 1:3-6 -  a thousand burnt offerings did Solomon offer upon that altar.”

 

5  In Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said,

Ask what I shall give thee.”  This was the answer to the sacrifices. The night was

probably that which followed the last day on which they were offered (v. 15).

 

Heaven offers Solomon his choice of blessings, now the treasure house of the infinite

God is opened and he is bidden take what he will.  Solomon already had youth, wealth,

prosperity, glory, greatness - We may not have his temporal advantages but we may share

his spiritual blessings.

 

Jesus said, “Ask and it shall be given you” - “ask....seek.... knock” – (Matthew 7:7-8)

 

Asking is an essential part of our religion.  Prayer is the Christian’s vital breath.

 

            * “Everyone that asketh, receiveth  - (Ibid.)

            * “Whosoever that shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” -

                 (Romans 10:13)

            * “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God” – (James 1:5)

 

 

If we do not have wisdom, blessing, pardon, peace, it is all for the want of asking!

If, like Solomon, we choose the best gifts, the other and inferior blessings are thrown in

with them.  Jesus said, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness

and all these things will be added unto you.”  (Matthew 6:33)  (Reader:  do you

and I think that Satan is a greater giver than God???? – Satan’s offer is:  “the devil

taketh Him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth Him all the

kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto Him, All

these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.” –

[Matthew 4:8-10] – May your answer and mine be the same as Jesus’ -{v.10}  -

 CY – 2010)

 

Every man must ask himself which of the two ways before him it were better to take —

the way of pleasure, or the way of virtue. Such a crisis, involving such a choice,

happens in every life. Solomon must now make his choice, and it really lies

between pleasure and duty, between temporal and eternal blessings. (“While

we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not

seen:  for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which

are not seen are eternal”  (II Corinthians 4:18).  He may choose glory, wealth,

renown — in a word, earthly pleasure and prosperity — or he may choose character,

wisdom, goodness; in other words, heavenly and abiding treasure. We know which

he chose. So each one of us has to choose in turn between the showy and the solid,

between the higher and the lower, between God and Mammon.

 

            “Once to every man and nation, comes the moment to decide

            In the strife of Truth with Falsehood, for the good or evil side.

 

            Then it is the brave man chooses, while the coward stands aside,

            Doubting in his abject spirit, till his Lord is crucified.”

 

 

Solomon’s choice of the higher showed he was fit to be entrusted with the lower. 

Jesus said, “If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon,

who will commit to your trust the true riches?”  (Luke 16:11)

 

God is not only able to give but “to do exceeding abundantly above all that we

ask or think”  (Ephesians 3:20).   God is more ready to hear than we to pray!

He loves to give, it is His nature to give!  Strangely, many are like Ahaz in Isaiah 7:10-12

whenthe Lord spake again unto Ahaz saying Ask thee a sign of the Lord thy God....

but Ahaz said, I will not ask”

 

That sign the Lord volunteered anyway and it was the sign of a virgin conceiving

and would bear a son called Immanuel, which means “God with us”.  (Ibid. v. 14)

 

(I have known something was up with Ahaz because on Feb. 5, 1984 I read a sermon

of Spurgeon’s once called “That King Ahaz” – see II Chronicles 28 – Spurgeon

Sermon – That King Ahaz – this web site – see vs. 20-25, especially, v. 23 - Also a

sermon on Manasseh on Feb. 23, 1992,  - see II Chronicles 33 – Spurgeon Sermon –

Mannassehthis web site - see vs.1-20   esp. vs. 2-4,6-7,9-10 and his repentance.

I recommend both -CY – 2010)

 

Shall we imitate Solomon or Ahaz?  Although one could argue that Solomon’s wisdom

did him no great service after all?

 

6  And Solomon said, Thou hast shewed unto thy servant David my father

great mercy, according as he walked before thee in truth, and in righteousness,

and in uprightness of heart with thee; and thou hast kept for him this great

kindness, that thou hast given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day.”

David regarded this as a singular mercy. (ch. 1:48)

 

7   “And now, O LORD my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of

David my father: and I am but a little child:” - These words are generally

understood as indicating Solomon’s humility rather than his age - “I know not how

to go out or come in.”  The same phrase is found in the Pentateuch, Deuteronomy 28:6;

31:2. Also in I Samuel 18:13; II Samuel 3:25; Psalm 121:8. It is the formula for

expressing behavior, and the outward life of man.

 

Solomon admits his inexperience, he didn’t have the solutions but asked of God wisdom

to carry out his responsibilities.  What if today political leaders would admit they

don’t know the answers and look to God to guide them - it would be startling and

rock the world.  (I saw during the week of March 2-9, 2003, an interview with Franklin

Graham about the current President then, George W. Bush,  depending on God.  Also

Newsweek and Time magazines have made references to this – CY  - 2003)

 

8  And thy servant is in the midst of thy people which thou hast chosen, a

great people, that cannot be numbered nor counted for multitude.” – The

promise of Genesis 13:16; 15:5; live in the thoughts and language of the Jews, and

were doubtless the original of this expression. See also Numbers 23:10.

 

9  Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy

people,” – The Hebrew king, like most ancient monarchs, was supreme judge

as well as governor.  The Jews desired a king that he might judge them (I Samuel 8:5).

Their rulers so far had been purely “Judges  When they desired one who should,

lead their armies, they still put his judicial functions in the first place (Ibid. v. 20).

And what were the duties of a king in this respect, Absalom’s words (II Samuel 15:4)

show. In vers. 16-28 we see Solomon sitting as Chief Justice -  that I may

discern between good and bad” -  (i.e., right and wrong, true and false; cf.

Hebrews 5:14):  - “for who is able to judge this thy so great [Heb. heavy, i.e.,

numerous; compare graves greges] a people?” The number of the Israelites at this

period is referred to in ch. 4:20.]

 

10  And the speech pleased the LORD, that Solomon had asked this thing.”

Though given in a dream, wisdom would have been Solomon’s choice at any time!

 

11  And God said unto him, Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast

not asked for thyself long life; neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor

hast asked the life of thine enemies; but hast asked for thyself  understanding

to discern judgment;” - 12  “Behold, I have done according to thy words: lo,

I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none

like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee.

13  And I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked, both

riches, and honor: so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee

all thy days.  14  And if thou wilt walk in my ways, to keep my statutes and my

commandments, as thy father David did walk,” - This is the Divine confirmation

of David’s words to his son (ch. 2:3-4) and of the son’s  description of his father’s piety

(v. 6 – this chapter) -  then I will lengthen thy days.” -  Solomon’s days were not

of an unusual length, as he can hardly have been more than sixty (if so much), at the time

of his decease. But he had not fulfilled the condition (ch.11:9-12). 

 

IF, LIKE SOLOMON, WE CEASE TO COVET THE BEST GIFTS, AND CARE

ONLY FOR THE LOWER, WE SHALL CERTAINLY LOSE THE FORMER, AND

MAY POSSIBLY LOSE BOTH. So that Solomon’s prayer may teach us this last

lesson, that “men ought always to pray, and not to faint” (Luke 18:1). Yes, it

seems, as we think of the beginning and then of the end of this puissant prince —

The last words of David’s were prophetic in I Chronicles 28:9 - “If thou seek Him,

He will be found of thee; but if thou forsake Him, He will cast thee off forever” 

and Solomon’s fall solemnly echoes and emphasizes the words  which follow in v. 10 –

“Take heed now” - “Now is the day” is the only Scripture formula!  O that

Solomon had laid them to heart!

 

 15  And Solomon awoke; and, behold, it was a dream.”  A dream in which a

Divine revelation was made to him -  And he came to Jerusalem, and stood before

the ark of the covenant of the LORD,” -  the other sanctuary of that period

(II Samuel 6:17; I Chronicles 16:37-40) - “and offered up burnt offerings, and

offered peace offerings,” - in testimony of his thankfulness for the signal favor

recently vouchsafed to him -“and made a feast to all his servants.”

 

 

                        An Example of Solomon’s Wisdom (vs. 16-28)

 

In this section we see how remarkably the gracious promise of Gibeon (v. 12) was

fulfilled. The “understanding to discern judgment” has been richly bestowed.

 

16  Then came there two women, that were harlots, unto the king, and

stood before him.  17 And the one woman said, O my lord, I and this woman

dwell in one house; and I was delivered of a child with her in the house.

18  And it came to pass the third day after that I was delivered, that

this woman was delivered also: and we were together; there was no

stranger with us in the house, save we two in the house.  19 And this woman's

child died in the night; because she overlaid it.  20  And she arose at midnight,

and took my son from beside me, while thine handmaid slept, and laid it in her

bosom, and laid her dead child in my bosom.  21  And when I rose in the morning

to give my child suck, behold, it was dead: but when I had considered it in the

morning, behold, it was not my son, which I did bear.  22 And the other woman

said, Nay; but the living is my son, and the dead is thy son. And this said, No;

but the dead is thy son, and the living is my son.”  Having taken the child in the

first instance on the spur of the moment, in order to avoid the reproach of having killed

her offspring by her clumsiness and neglect, the woman whose child was dead,

found it difficult to draw back from her false position — which indeed she could not

do without owning herself both child stealer and liar — and so she put on a bold face

and maintained the imposture even before the monarch himself. That she did not really

care for the child is evident from v. 26.  “Thus they spake before the king.”

 

23  Then said the king, The one saith, This is my son that liveth, and thy son

is the dead: and the other saith, Nay; but thy son is the dead, and my son is the

living.  24  And the king said, Bring me a sword. And they brought a sword

before the king.  25  And the king said, Divide the living child in two, and give

half to the one, and half to the other.  26  Then spake the woman whose the

living child was unto the king, for her bowels yearned upon her son, and she said,

O my lord, give her the living child, and in no wise slay it. But the other said,

Let it be neither mine nor thine, but divide it.” When the pretender, who has

clamored for the child, is at last offered it by its mother, she refuses the gift and

heartlessly urges that it shall be cut in two. We can only account for her strange conduct

on the supposition that. she caught eagerly at any way of escape from the dilemma in

which she had placed herself, and thought, no doubt, that to accept his decision would

be to flatter and please the king.

 

27  Then the king answered and said, Give her the living child, and in

no wise slay it: she is the mother thereof.  28  And all Israel heard of the

judgment which the king had judged; and they feared the king: for they saw

that the wisdom of God was in him, to do judgment.”  Both these women were

harlots“whoremongers and adulterers God will judge” (Hebrews 13:4)

 

 

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