Lucia's Blog: GIANTS OF THE FAITH: SOLOMON ( I KINGS 1-11)
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Isaiah 55:8-9

Isaiah 55:8-9

Friday, October 24, 2014

GIANTS OF THE FAITH: SOLOMON ( I KINGS 1-11)




As we have mentioned before in my study of the two Books of Samuel, the focus was mainly upon the establishment of King David's reign.  We saw David fighting to secure his kingship and maintain it as well.  The Books of Samuel are crucial for understanding the Books of Kings which begin with King David on his deathbed and the questions of who will succeed him as king.

The Bible books of I Kings and II Kings were originally one Book as was also I Samuel and II Samuel.  They cover the period from the reign of Solomon all the way to Israel's exile (captivity) in Babylon, circa 586 BC.

The end of David's reign and the beginning of Solomon’s reign (I Kings 1)



The Book of I Kings opens with David advanced in age. He is near the end of his life.  Since he could not keep warm, his servants sought a virgin to attend him and be his nurse. I Kings 1:1-2.  After searching diligently throughout the land of Israel, they found Abishag, a beautiful Shunammite girl.  David's men brought her to serve him and be his nurse.

Since David was no longer able to function as king, the platform was set for others to rise up and take control of the throne.  His son Adonijah was one of them.  He decided to exalt himself as king.  Adonijah, prepared for himself horses and chariots along with fifty men to run before him.  Joab and Abiathar the priest helped him, but Zadok the priest, Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, Nathan the prophet, Shimei, Rei, and the mighty men who belonged to David, were not in favor of his plot.

Adonijah invited all of the family members and all the men of Judah including all the king's servants. He offered sacrifices with sheep and oxen as if he were the crowned king.  Notice that he did not invite Nathan the prophet, Benaiah, the mighty men, and Solomon his brother. It is then that Nathan attempted to speak with Bathsheba saying, "Have you not heard that Adonijah the son of Haggith has become king, and David our lord does not know it?  So now come, please let me give you counsel and save your life and the life of your son Solomon…  Afterward, Bathsheba said to David, 'My lord, you swore to your maidservant by the Lord your God, saying, 'Surely your son Solomon shall be king after me and he shall sit on my throne.'  Now, behold, Adonijah is king; and now, my lord the king, you do not know it.  He has sacrificed oxen and fatlings and sheep in abundance, and has invited all the sons of the king and Abiathar the priest and Joab the commander of the army, but he has not invited Solomon your servant.  As for you now, my lord the king, the eyes of all Israel are on you, to tell them who shall sit on the throne of my lord the king after him.  Otherwise it will come about, as soon as my lord the king sleeps with his fathers, that I and my son Solomon will be considered offenders.'"  I Kings 1:17-21.  She wanted the king to keep his promise.  David then sprang immediately into action and anointed Solomon as king of Israel.  He renounced his own throne in favor of his son Solomon.  Adonijah was then forced to plead for his life before Solomon, who granted the request on the condition that he must prove himself worthy of life.  I Kings 1:49-53.

Solomon's revenge (I Kings 2)

David on his deathbed left Solomon these parting words, "I am going the way of all the earth.  Be strong, therefore, and show yourself a man.  Keep the charge of the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, His commandments, His ordinances, and His testimonies, according to what is written in the Law of Moses, that you may succeed in all that you do and wherever you turn, so that the Lord may carry out His promise which He spoke concerning me, saying, ‘If your sons are careful of their way, to walk before Me in truth with all their heart and with all their soul, you shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel."'  I Kings 2:1-4.  David wanted his son Solomon to keep the LORD'S Laws which are His commands, His ordinances, His testimonies, His ways, and His statutes, Psalm 19:7-11.  He also asked Solomon to punish Joab, David's military commander.  Remember, Joab was the one who killed both Abner and Absalom against the king's wishes. David also asked Solomon to punish Shimei who cursed David in public.  Afterward David died.  He had reigned for forty years as Israel's greatest king.

With David now gone, Adonijah reappeared requesting to marry Abishag, the girl who served and took care of David keeping him warm at the end of his life.  With this request, Adonijah was ultimately putting the knife to his own throat.  It was an attempt to establish his own claim to the throne.  Solomon saw through Adonijah's scheme and sent his man to execute Adonijah.  Solomon had Shemei to swear an oath that he would stay in Jerusalem.  He was executed when he tried to run away to Achish son of Maacah, king of Gath.  

Solomon honored his father's requests when he executed both Joab and Shimei.  Now Solomon's place on the throne of Israel was secure.


THE REIGN OF SOLOMON (I KINGS 3-11)


Solomon made an alliance with the Pharaoh king of Egypt by marrying his daughter.  He took her as his wife bringing her to the city of David, while he finished building his palace and the house of the LORD.  He also fortified the wall of Jerusalem.   When Solomon married the Pharaoh's daughter, it was his first action within his newly established kingship.  Following his marriage to the Egyptian princess, Solomon began to worship in the high places.  He and his people were worshiping in the high places because there was no house built for the LORD.  Eventually, worship in the high places became a major issue in the Book of Kings.  Solomon's marriage to Pharaoh's daughter along with worship on the high places brought on major disaster.  His foreign wives turned his heart toward idols and their idol temples.  In His wrath, God tore the nation into two and gave only the tribe of Judah to Solomon’s son Rehoboam.  The rest He gave to Solomon’s servant Jeroboam.

Solomon was king of Israel for forty years.  He was well known for the three w's:  wisdom, wealth and wives.  He is believed to be the writer of much of the Bible's "wisdom literature" in the books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes.  His wealth was huge.  His wives numbered 700 and his concubines 300.  He is also known as the builder of the Temple.

The first nine chapters that describe Solomon's reign form a five-part "chiasm."  In a "chiasm" the first section matches the fifth (Solomon's wives), the second section matches the fourth (Solomon's wisdom), and finally the climactic center section tells or speaks of the Temple.  The story was written in this form of style to help the listener remember it better.  This was the main purpose for the "chiasm."

Solomon's wives (I Kings 3:1 and 11)

Sadly, Solomon's reign began and ended on sour notes.  He first began with an Egyptian wife (3:1) and ended up with a thousand wives and concubines, most of them foreign (3:11).  Most of these marriages were made with the purpose of forming alliances with other nations.  Unfortunately, this had a profound impact on Solomon's faith toward His God.  It caused him to stumble.  Each of these wives brought along their own household gods.  Solomon was very accommodating.  He allowed his wives to continue to worship these false gods, providing places for them to worship and make sacrifices.  His many wives and their gods turned his heart away from the only true and living God.  In his last years, he foolishly turned away from his Jehovah God and followed his wives' gods.  As a result of this, the LORD raised up enemies both from within and from without Solomon's kingdom.

Fascinating facts:  Siamun

Solomon most likely married the daughter of Siamun, a Pharaoh of Egypt's twenty-first dynasty.  It is also believed that Siamun captured the city of Gezer using it as a dowry for his daughter when she married Solomon.  How about that!  The marriage's main purpose was for political alliances between Egypt and Israel.

The Wisdom of Solomon (I kings 3:2-28-4 and 10)

In the beginning of his reign, Solomon loved Jehovah God and walked in His Law.  Solomon's main problem was that he allowed burned sacrifices in the high places.  When he had established his throne, he worshiped at the principal high places at Gibeon.  One night while he was offering burned offerings there, the LORD appeared to him in a dream.  In his dream the LORD asked him, "Ask what you wish Me to give you. Then Solomon replied, 'You have shown great lovingkindness to Your servant David my father, according as he walked before You in truth and righteousness and uprightness of heart toward You; and You have reserved for him this great lovingkindness, that You have given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day.  Now, O Lord my God, You have made Your servant king in place of my father David, yet I am but a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in.  Your servant is in the midst of Your people which You have chosen, a great people who are too many to be numbered or counted.  So give Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people to discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?'"  I Kings 3:6-9.

Notice that Solomon did not request wealth or immortality but rather wisdom so that he might judge the people with understanding.  God was pleased at his choice and so He granted Solomon great wisdom that surpassed the wisdom of all others.  Not only did God give Solomon great wisdom but He also granted him great wealth as well.  But in all of these riches that Jehovah God bestowed upon Solomon, He gave Solomon a warning saying, "If you walk in My ways, keeping My statutes and commandments, as your father David walked, then I will prolong your days."  When Solomon awoke from his dream, he offered sacrifices of thanksgiving before the Ark of the LORD making a feast for all of his servants.

Immediately after this, Solomon was confronted by two prostitutes who tested his wisdom as judge. It was a difficult case because they both claimed to be the mother of the same baby.  Solomon's famous decree to cut the baby in two in order to give each woman a portion of the disputed child revealed the true mother because she gave up her claim out love for her baby.  Thus a just verdict in an impossible case left the nation in awe of his great wisdom and understanding.


The Temple (I Kings 4-9)

King Solomon chose officials as priest(Zadock, Abiathar) ); as secretaries(Elihoreph and Ahijah ); as recorder(Ehoshaphat); as one that was in charge of deputies over the army; and the son of Nathan was over the deputies (Azariah); as one in charge of all his household (Ahishar ); and one in charge of all forced labor(Adoniram ).  Solomon organized his kingdom officials and twelve governors.  He ruled from the River to the land of Egypt. Men of all nations came to hear his wisdom.

Solomon's kingdom enjoyed prosperity but unfortunately his kingdom began to have problems that subtly emerged within his kingdom.  These problems led to its collapse.

Before we continue with the building of the Temple, let us turn the pages of our Bibles back to Deuteronomy 12, where the LORD promised the people of Israel a dwelling place for His name. The prophecy looked down through time to when they would be settled in the Promised Land and at peace with the nations.  They were to tear down every other kind of worship place in that land.  There would be only one place where they could go and offer sacrifice to their Jehovah God, but God would choose it.

When David became king, his biggest desire was to build a place for the LORD, the LORD'S Temple.  But the LORD told David to leave the job for his son Solomon since he, David, was a man of war.   By the way Solomon's name meant "peace."

With all this being said, Solomon set out to fulfill his father's dream using the plans that his father David gave him.  Solomon hired Hiram of Tyre to help build the Temple.  Solomon sent a message to king Hiram saying, "You know that David my father was unable to build a house for the name of the Lord his God because of the wars which surrounded him, until the Lord put them under the soles of his feet.  But now the Lord my God has given me rest on every side; there is neither adversary nor misfortune.  Behold, I intend to build a house for the name of the Lord my God, as the Lord spoke to David my father, saying, ‘Your son, whom I will set on your throne in your place, he will build the house for My name.’  Now therefore, command that they cut for me cedars from Lebanon, and my servants will be with your servants; and I will give you wages for your servants according to all that you say, for you know that there is no one among us who knows how to cut timber like the Sidonians.'"  I Kings 5:3-6.  In reply king Hiram said, "Blessed be the Lord today, who has given to David a wise son over this great people."  So Hiram sent word to Solomon, saying,  "I have heard the message which you have sent me; I will do what you desire concerning the cedar and cypress timber. My servants will bring them down from Lebanon to the sea; and I will make them into rafts to go by sea to the place where you direct me, and I will have them broken up there, and you shall carry them away. Then you shall accomplish my desire by giving food to my household."  So, Solomon ordered cedar and pine logs from Hiram, the Phoenician king and recruited laborers and artisans to do the work.  The Temple building project created the basis for an alliance between King Solomon and Hiram the king of the Phoenicians.  This simply was setting up trouble to come.


Solomon building of the Temple of the LORD in Jerusalem is perhaps one of most noteworthy acts of his reign.  The following is a fraction of what it took to build the Temple:

  • For the Temple's site, David had already elected the threshing floor of Araunah (Ornan) the Jebusite, I Chronicles 21:18-30 and 22:1.  Remember God had spoken to him there.  This threshing floor was located on Mount Moriah, II Chronicles 3:1.  This was the same mountain in which Abraham had offered Isaac as sacrifice, Genesis 22:1-19.

The LORD said to Solomon,  "Concerning this house which you are building, if you will walk in My statutes and execute My ordinances and keep all My commandments by walking in them, then I will carry out My word with you which I spoke to David your father.  I will dwell among the sons of Israel, and will not forsake My people Israel.”  I Kings 6:12-13.  Is not this interesting that God reminded Solomon of the covenantal nature of their relationship?  It was extremely important for Solomon to remember this.  One thing that caught my attention was that the Second Book of Kings ends with the fall of this same Temple that Solomon built.
  • The Temple was about ninety feet long, thirty feet wide and forty five feet high.  It had three stories (levels) with a full-width porch.  This was actually a small place for worship.  Inside of the Temple, it was overlaid with gold, including the floors of both the inner and outer rooms.  The walls and doors were covered with carvings of "cherubim, palm trees and open flowers."


Solomon's Palace (I Kings 7:1-12)

It took thirteen years to build Solomon's palace.  That was almost twice as long as it took to build the Temple.  The two building projects worry us.  They give us a clue as to the direction that Solomon's heart was heading.  There were many differences between Solomon's palace and the Temple of the LORD. Another interesting fact about Solomon's palace is that it was much larger than the Temple and far more costly, which seems to indicate that Solomon was less devoted to God than he was to himself.  Does this sound familiar?  Are we not many times more devoted to our wants and desires than to our Jehovah God?

The palace had five buildings:  The Palace of the Forest of Lebanon, the Hall of Pillars, the Hall of Justice, Solomon's palace and finally a separate palace for the Pharaoh's daughter, Solomon' first and most important wife.  The palace and the Temple had similar courtyards.

After building the Temple of the LORD and building Solomon's palace complex, Solomon furnished the Temple. Now Hiram made pillars, the sea and utensils for the temple of bronze. Solomon made the furniture of gold. I Kings 7:13-51.

The Ark of the Covenant was brought into the Temple (I Kings 8)

This chapter starts with Solomon gathering all the people of Israel to bring up the Ark of the LORD from the City of David to him.  After they had all assembled and the priests have taken up the Ark and brought it into the Temple, they offered sacrifice and praises there to the LORD.  While they are doing that, a cloud of God's presence filled the Temple.  Solomon said, "The Lord has said that He would dwell in the thick cloud.  'I have surely built You a lofty house, A place for Your dwelling forever.'" 

Then he faced the people praising God for keeping His promises to David allowing the Temple to be built.  Solomon said, "Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who spoke with His mouth to my father David and has fulfilled it with His hand, saying, ‘Since the day that I brought My people Israel from Egypt, I did not choose a city out of all the tribes of Israel in which to build a house that My name might be there, but I chose David to be over My people Israel.'  Now it was in the heart of my father David to build a house for the name of the Lord, the God of Israel.  But the Lord said to my father David, ‘Because it was in your heart to build a house for My name, you did well that it was in your heart.  Nevertheless you shall not build the house, but your son who will be born to you, he will build the house for My name.’  Now the Lord has fulfilled His word which He spoke; for I have risen in place of my father David and sit on the throne of Israel, as the Lord promised, and have built the house for the name of the Lord, the God of Israel.  There I have set a place for the ark, in which is the covenant of the Lord, which He made with our fathers when He brought them from the land of Egypt.'"  


Then Solomon stood before the people spreading his arms wide and dedicated the Ark and the people to the LORD and said, "O Lord, the God of Israel, there is no God like You in heaven above or on earth beneath, keeping covenant and showing lovingkindness to Your servants who walk before You with all their heart, who have kept with Your servant, my father David, that which You have promised him; indeed, You have spoken with Your mouth and have fulfilled it with Your hand as it is this day.  Now therefore, O Lord, the God of Israel, keep with Your servant David my father that which You have promised him, saying, ‘You shall not lack a man to sit on the throne of Israel, if only your sons take heed to their way to walk before Me as you have walked.’  Now therefore, O God of Israel, let Your word, I pray, be confirmed which You have spoken to Your servant, my father David.... '"  I Kings 8:23-53.

Notice that Solomon's prayer is profound and prophetic.  There are seven sections regarding Solomon's prayer to His Jehovah God.  They became like windows of prophecy of what would happen to Israel a few years after his death.  Consider each section of Solomon's prayer.  Each section contains a pattern with a variation of the following components:

  1. A sin or sins have been committed.
  2. The LORD sends punishment/judgment.
  3. The sin is confessed by the people.
  4. The people cry out to the LORD in His Temple.
  5. The LORD  hears from heaven.
  6. The LORD  forgives them.
  7. The LORD restores them.

Notice that in Israel's past, the LORD followed this pattern as in the Book of Judges.  Today our God continues to follow the same pattern in our lives through His Son when one obeys the Gospel, repenting of past sins.  Then the LORD grants pardon or forgiveness of sins restoring us back to Him. As Christians, when we stumble, if we confess our sins before His mighty throne, He cleanses us by His blood, I John 1:9.

After Solomon had prayed, he blessed the people saying, "Blessed be the Lord, who has given rest to His people Israel, according to all that He promised; not one word has failed of all His good promise, which He promised through Moses His servant.  May the Lord our God be with us, as He was with our fathers; may He not leave us or forsake us, that He may incline our hearts to Himself, to walk in all His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His ordinances, which He commanded our fathers.  And may these words of mine, with which I have made supplication before the Lord, be near to the Lord our God day and night, that He may maintain the cause of His servant and the cause of His people Israel, as each day requires, so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God; there is no one else.  Let your heart therefore be wholly devoted to the Lord our God, to walk in His statutes and to keep His commandments, as at this day."    Afterward the king and all his people offered sacrifice before the LORD.

God's Blessings and Warnings toward His people:  I Kings 9

After Solomon had finished building the Temple and his palace, the LORD came and spoke to him reminding him of his supplication and prayer.  He warned him to be faithful, walking before Him, as his father David did, in integrity and uprightness, doing His will.  Solomon was to walk according to what God commanded him to do, as his father did.  He promised Solomon He would secure his throne as long as he was walking in righteousness keeping all of His Law.  The LORD said,  "But if you or your sons indeed turn away from following Me, and do not keep My commandments and My statutes which I have set before you, and go and serve other gods and worship them, then I will cut off Israel from the land which I have given them, and the house which I have consecrated for My name, I will cast out of My sight. So Israel will become a proverb and a byword among all peoples. And this house will become a heap of ruins; everyone who passes by will be astonished and hiss and say, ‘Why has the Lord done thus to this land and to this house?’  And they will say, ‘Because they forsook the Lord their God, who brought their fathers out of the land of Egypt, and adopted other gods and worshiped them and served them, therefore the Lord has brought all this adversity on them.'"

The Queen of Sheba (I Kings 10)


When this Queen heard of the fame of Solomon, she came to test him with difficult questions.  She came to Jerusalem and spoke to him all that was in her heart and Solomon answered all her questions with all his wisdom and understanding.  When the Queen perceived all his wisdom and understanding; when she saw all that he had built and all that surrounded him with his servants and material possessions, there was no doubt in her heart about the things that she had heard of him.  She said to Solomon, "It was a true report which I heard in my own land about your words and your wisdom.  Nevertheless I did not believe the reports, until I came and my eyes had seen it. And behold, the half was not told me. You exceed in wisdom and prosperity the report which I heard.  How blessed are your men, how blessed are these your servants who stand before you continually and hear your wisdom.  Blessed be the Lord your God who delighted in you to set you on the throne of Israel; because the Lord loved Israel forever, therefore He made you king, to do justice and righteousness."  She gave him gold, spices and precious stones.  She had never been so generous with anyone else.  Likewise Solomon gave the Queen all that she had requested.  She then went to her home along with her servants.  Solomon excelled all the kings of the earth in riches and in wisdom.  There is no doubt he was the center of attention in all the earth because of all his wisdom that our God had put in his heart.  Do you know that we can be as rich as Solomon in wisdom and understanding and all the riches that our God bestows upon us if we willingly and diligently seek after Him?  All Christians are blessed this way in Christ.  What a wonderful God we serve!

"And He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father-- to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen. "  Rev. 1:6
"You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth."   Rev. 5:10
"But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God's OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light."  I Peter 2:9

Conclusion:  We have been considering the rise and fall of King Solomon.  His reign brought the Golden Age of the kingdom to its pinnacle and then sowed the seeds of its fall.

In our next study, we will begin studying the chaos that began when the kingdom divided.  This era will introduce the great Age of the Prophets


Luci