Category: Solomon


  In 1 Kings 3:3, Solomon is described in the following positive terms: “Solomon loved the LORD, walking in the statutes of David his father.” One night, the Lord appeared to Solomon and said, “Ask what I shall give you” (verse 5). In response, Solomon answered, “Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?” (verse 9).

The passage notes, “It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this” (1 Kings 3:10). God delights to give wisdom to those who truly seek it (Proverbs 2:6–8; James 1:5). God responds to Solomon’s request for wisdom by promising three different gifts. The first is the wisdom Solomon had asked for: “I now do according to your word. Behold, I give you a wise and discerning mind, so that none like you has been before you and none like you shall arise after you” (verse 12).

First Kings 4:29-34 records the details of Solomon’s wisdom: “And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding beyond measure, and breadth of mind like the sand on the seashore, so that Solomon’s wisdom surpassed the wisdom of all the people of the east and all the wisdom of Egypt. For he was wiser than all other men, wiser than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, Calcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol, and his fame was in all the surrounding nations. He also spoke 3,000 proverbs, and his songs were 1,005. He spoke of trees, from the cedar that is in Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out of the wall. He spoke also of beasts, and of birds, and of reptiles, and of fish. And people of all nations came to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and from all the kings of the earth, who had heard of his wisdom.”

The second gift God gave Solomon was wealth and fame: “I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that no other king shall compare with you, all your days” (1 Kings 3:13). Solomon would become known as the wealthiest king of his era.

The third gift God gave him was conditional—a long life based on Solomon’s obedience: “And if you will walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days” (1 Kings 3:14). After God made these promises, “Solomon awoke, and behold, it was a dream” (verse 15).

The first two gifts were unconditional. Solomon was known as a man of great wisdom (1 Kings 3:28) and as a king of great wealth and influence. But was Solomon known as an obedient king who experienced a long life? By the grace of God, Solomon reigned for 40 years (1 Kings 11:42), a long period for one king to reign. However, Solomon’s obedience was mixed. He had many wives, including foreigners who influenced him to sacrifice to their gods. His great wealth also contributed to unwise excesses. Solomon began well, as his humble request for wisdom shows, but he later disobeyed God. Solomon was spared more severe punishment for the sake of his father, David (1 Kings 11:11–12).

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  First Kings 11:3 states that Solomon “had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines.” Obviously, God “allowed” Solomon to have these wives, but allowance is not the same as approval. Solomon’s marital decisions were in direct violation of God’s Law, and there were consequences.

Solomon started out well early in his life, listening to the counsel of his father, David, as recorded in 1 Kings 2:2-3, “Be strong, show yourself a man, and observe what the Lord your God requires: Walk in his ways, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and requirements, as written in the Law of Moses, so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go.” Solomon’s early humility is shown in 1 Kings 3:5-9 when he requests wisdom from the Lord. Wisdom is applied knowledge; it helps us make decisions that honor the Lord and agree with the Scriptures. Solomon’s book of Proverbs is filled with practical counsel on how to follow the Lord. Solomon also wrote the Song of Solomon, which presents a beautiful picture of what God intends marriage to be. So, King Solomon knew what was right, even if he didn’t always follow the right path.

Over time, Solomon forgot his own counsel and the wisdom of Scripture. God had given clear instructions for anyone who would be king: no amassing of horses, no multiplying of wives, and no accumulating of silver and gold (Deuteronomy 17:14-20). These commands were designed to prevent the king from trusting in military might, following foreign gods, and relying on wealth instead of on God. Any survey of Solomon’s life will show that he broke all three of these divine prohibitions!

Thus, Solomon’s taking of many wives and concubines was in direct violation of God’s Word. Just as God had predicted, “As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God” (1 Kings 11:4). To please his wives, Solomon even got involved in sacrificing to Milcom (or Molech), a god that required “detestable” acts to be performed (1 Kings 11:7-8).

God allowed Solomon to make the choice to disobey, but Solomon’s choice brought inevitable consequences. “So the Lord said to Solomon, ‘Since this is your attitude and you have not kept my covenant and my decrees, which I commanded you, I will most certainly tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your subordinates’” (1 Kings 11:11). God showed mercy to Solomon for David’s sake (verse 12), but Solomon’s kingdom was eventually divided. Another chastisement upon Solomon was war with the Edomites and Aramians (verses 14-25).

Solomon was not a puppet king. God did not force him to do what was right. Rather, God laid out His will, blessed Solomon with wisdom, and expected the king to obey. In his later years, Solomon chose to disobey, and he was held accountable for his decisions.

It is instructive that, toward the end of Solomon’s life, God used him to write one more book, which we find in the Bible. The book of Ecclesiastes gives us “the rest of the story.” Solomon throughout the book tells us everything he tried in order to find fulfillment apart from God in this world, or “under the sun.” This is his own testimony: “I amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces. I acquired . . . a harem as well–the delights of the heart of man” (Ecclesiastes 2:8). But his harem did not bring happiness. Instead, “Everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun” (verse 11). At the conclusion of Ecclesiastes, we find wise counsel: “Here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole [duty] of man” (12:13).”

It is never God’s will that anyone sin, but He does allow us to make our own choices. The story of Solomon is a powerful lesson for us that it does not pay to disobey. It is not enough to start well; we must seek God’s grace to finish well, too. Life without God is a dead-end street. Solomon thought that having 1,000 wives and concubines would provide happiness, but whatever pleasure he derived was not worth the price he paid. As a wiser Solomon said, “God will bring every deed into judgment” (Ecclesiastes 12:14).

Proverbs offers men much wisdom related to avoiding the trap of sexually immoral relationships with women. However, Solomon’s greatest personal weakest was with women. He is recorded as having 700 wives and 300 concubines (1 Kings 11:3). Unfortunately, “as Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods” (1 Kings 11:4). Solomon knew what was right. Why didn’t he follow his own advice concerning women?

Many explanations have been offered, though the Bible does not specifically give the answer. It should be mentioned that Solomon’s father, David, also struggled in this area, though not to the extent that Solomon did. David took many wives and concubines (2 Samuel 5:13), but, even then, he lusted after Bathsheba and committed adultery with her. Like father, like son, they say, and Solomon it seems inherited his father’s sin and amplified it in his own life.

One reason often noted for Solomon failing to follow his own advice is that Solomon learned his lessons from experience. If the Proverbs were compiled in the later part of Solomon’s life, it would make sense that he recorded wise sayings to help others avoid problems he dealt with in his own life. If so, the proverbs of Solomon are deeply personal, since they were born out of the author’s personal struggles with foolishness.

Another possible reason Solomon did not follow his own advice regarding women is that there’s a difference between having knowledge and applying knowledge. Solomon knew it was wrong to obtain many wives—in fact, it was against the Mosaic Law (Deuteronomy 17:17)—but he did it regardless of his knowledge. Solomon likely later regretted his choices, as can be seen in the way he speaks of avoiding sexual immorality in Proverbs.

A third possible answer to this issue is that not all of the book of Proverbs was written by Solomon. The book indicates that some of the proverbs were written by other wise men (Proverbs 22:17—24:34), Agur son of Jakeh (Proverbs 30:1–33) and King Lemuel (Proverbs 31).

A fourth possible reason that Solomon did not follow his own advice concerning women can be found in the second part of 1 Kings 11:4: “His heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been.” The historian notes that it was when Solomon was older that he strayed from God’s ways. God then gave a judgment concerning Solomon and his kingdom (1 Kings 11:9–13). Since Solomon had experienced judgment in his own life in this area, he determined to help others to avoid similar judgment in their lives.

In the end, we have some possible reasons why Solomon may have neglected his own advice, but we are not told for certain in Scripture. Solomon was extremely wise, but he was a man with temptations like any other person. He obeyed God in many areas, yet he often failed in his relationships with women. Instead of questioning the reasons why Solomon failed to follow his own advice, we would do better to learn from his mistakes and his wisdom recorded in Proverbs to avoid these problems in our own lives.

In 1 Kings 3:16–28 we find an account of King Solomon hearing a case involving two prostitutes. The two women had both recently given birth to sons, and they lived together in the same home. During the night, one of the infants was smothered and died. The woman whose son had died switched her dead baby with the baby of the other woman as she slept. The other woman, seeking justice, took the matter before the king. She stated her case: “We were alone; there was no one in the house but the two of us. During the night this woman’s son died because she lay on him. So she got up in the middle of the night and took my son from my side while I your servant was asleep. She put him by her breast and put her dead son by my breast. The next morning, I got up to nurse my son—and he was dead! But when I looked at him closely in the morning light, I saw that it wasn’t the son I had borne” (verses 18–21).

Solomon could not tell from their words which woman was telling the truth. Instead, he issued a shocking command: “Bring me a sword. . . . Cut the living child in two and give half to one and half to the other” (1 Kings 3:24–25). After he said this, the woman whose son was still alive said, “Please, my lord, give her the living baby! Don’t kill him!”; however, the other woman, whose son had died, answered, “Neither I nor you shall have him. Cut him in two!” (verse 26). Based on their responses, Solomon knew the identity of the true mother: “Give the living baby to the first woman. Do not kill him; she is his mother” (verse 27).

Why would Solomon give such an outrageous command? Did he really intend to cut a baby in half with a sword? The text is clear that Solomon’s intention was to discover the truth. He did so by watching the responses of the two women and relying on the maternal instincts of the true mother.

The chapter’s final verse notes the effect that Solomon’s unorthodox methods had on the kingdom: “When all Israel heard the verdict the king had given, they held the king in awe, because they saw that he had wisdom from God to administer justice” (1 Kings 3:28). Solomon’s wisdom had been given by God when Solomon requested it (verse 5). The account of Solomon’s handling of the case of the two prostitutes showed that he had indeed been granted wisdom from God. In the following chapters, many more examples are given of the wisdom of King Solomon.

The Wisdom of Solomon, also called the Book of Wisdom, is one of the books of the Apocrypha. The others in the group are 1 Esdras, 2 Esdras, Tobit, Judith, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch, the Letter of Jeremiah, Prayer of Manasseh, and 1 and 2 Maccabees. The books of the Apocrypha are accepted primarily by the Roman Catholic Church and are included in Catholic Bibles. The Apocrypha / Deuterocanonical books teach many things that are not true and are not historically accurate. The Roman Catholic Church officially added the Apocrypha / Deuterocanonicals to their Bible at the Council of Trent in the mid 1500’s A.D., primarily in response to the Protestant Reformation. None of the apocryphal books are included in the canon of Scripture.

The Wisdom of Solomon was believed by some to have been written by King Solomon, although his name appears nowhere in the text. However, the early church rejected the authorship of Solomon because an ancient manuscript fragment known as the Muratorian fragment refers to the Wisdom of Solomon as having been written by “the friends of Solomon in his honour.” It is widely accepted today, even by the Catholic Church, that Solomon did not write the book, which dates back to the 1st or 2nd century BC, many centuries after the death of Solomon.

While Solomon wrote much on the subject of wisdom in Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, he never elevated it to the status of part of the Godhead, a philosophy found in The Wisdom of Solomon. The book refers to Wisdom in terms the Bible reserves only for the Messiah, saying “she [wisdom] is a reflection of eternal light, a spotless mirror of the working of God, and an image of his goodness” (Wisdom 7:26). The book of Hebrews reserves such accolades only for the Son of God, who “is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being” (Hebrews 1:3). Even more egregious, Wisdom 9:18 says that salvation is an act of wisdom, whereas Scripture is clear that salvation is by faith, a gift of God to those whom He calls, justifies and sanctifies (Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 8:30). In fact, if man were to depend upon his “wisdom” for salvation, we would be lost forever with no hope because the unredeemed are dead in trepasses and sin (Ephesians 2:1-4) and their minds are darkened (Ephesians 4:18; 1 Corinthians 2:14) and their heart deceitful and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9).

The apocryphal books are accepted by the Roman Catholic Church because many of them teach RCC doctrines which are not in agreement with the Bible, including praying for the dead, petitioning Mary to intercede with the Father, worshiping angels, and alms-giving as atonement for sins. Some of what the Apocrypha / Deuterocanonicals say is true and correct. However, due to the historical and theological errors, the books must be viewed as fallible historical and religious documents, not as the inspired, authoritative Word of God.

Solomon is the third and last king of the united kingdom of Israel,  following King Saul and King David. He was the son of David and Bathsheba, the  former wife of Uriah the Hittite whom David had killed to hide his adultery with  Bathsheba while her husband was on the battle front. Solomon wrote the Song of  Solomon, the book of Ecclesiastes, and much of the book of Proverbs. His  authorship of Ecclesiastes is contested by some, but Solomon is the only “son of  David” to be “king over Israel” (not just Judah) “in Jerusalem” (Ecclesiastes 1:1, 12),  and many of the descriptions of the author fit Solomon perfectly. Solomon  reigned for 40 years (1 Kings  11:42).

What are the highlights of Solomon’s life? When he ascended  to the throne, he sought after God and God gave him opportunity to ask for  whatever he wanted. Solomon humbly acknowledged his inability to rule well and  unselfishly asked God for the wisdom he would need to rule God’s people justly.  God gave him wisdom and wealth besides (1 Kings 3:410:27). In  fact, his riches and wisdom surpassed all of the kings of the earth (1 Kings 10:23). God also  gave him peace on all sides during most of his reign (1 Kings 4:20-25). The  favorite illustration of that wisdom is his judging a dispute over the identity  of the true mother of an infant child (1 Kings  3:16-28). Solomon was not only wise in his rule but had great general wisdom  as well. His wisdom was renowned in his day, and the Queen of Sheba traveled  1,200 miles to verify the rumors of his wisdom and grandeur (1 Kings 10).  Solomon wrote many proverbs and songs (1 Kings  4:32) and completed many building projects (1 Kings  7:1-12, 9:15-23). Solomon also built a fleet of ships and  acquired tons of gold from Ophir with Hiram, king of Tyre, as a partner (1 Kings  9:26-28; 10:11, 22). Solomon had 700 wives  and 300 concubines, many of them foreigners who led him into public idolatry in  his old age, greatly angering God (1 Kings  11:1-13).

There are many lessons we can learn from the life of  Solomon. First, when we seek God with all of our heart, He will be found (1 Kings 3:3-7). Second,  those who honor God will be honored by Him (1 Kings  3:11-13; 1 Samuel  2:30). Third, God will equip us to accomplish the tasks He calls us to if we  will rely on Him (1 Kings 3; Romans  12:3-8; 2 Peter  1:3). Fourth, the spiritual life is a marathon, not a sprint. A good start  is not always enough to finish well (1 Kings 3, 11). Fifth, we can sincerely ask  God to incline our hearts toward Him (1 Kings  8:57-58), but we will wander off the path of righteousness if we choose to  violate His revealed word. Contrary to God’s written word concerning kings,  Solomon multiplied to himself gold, horses, and wives (700 wives and 300  concubines) (Deuteronomy 17:14-17). He also married non-Jewish wives  (Deuteronomy  7:3, 4; Exodus 34:16). Sixth, those  closest to us will affect our spiritual lives (Exodus  34:16; 1 Kings  11:1-8; Daniel 1, 3; 1  Corinthians 15:33), and we must therefore be very careful of the company we  keep. Seventh, life lived apart from God will be meaningless, regardless of  education, fulfilled goals, the greatest of pleasures, and the greatest  abundance of wealth (Ecclesiastes 1:2).