I Kin. 3:1-4:31; II Chron. 1:1-17
In order to form alliances with other kingdoms, marriage between kings and daughters of other kings was a common event. One of Solomon’s first acts as king was to form the first of his many such alliances by marrying the daughter of Pharaoh, king of Egypt.
“High places” were elevated open-air sanctuaries patterned after Canaanite worship places that were forbidden by Hebrew law. However, those places were sometimes used by the Israelites prior to the construction of the temple.
While at one of those high places at Gibeon, God appeared to Solomon in a dream and asked the new king what He could give him. In a deep sense of humility, Solomon asked for, “An understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil.” Since he did not ask for long life, riches or the life of his enemies, that request pleased the Lord. He gave not only wisdom, but also promised him riches and honor. If he would walk in God’s ways and keep His commandments as David had walked, He would lengthen his days.
Solomon was called to use his newfound wisdom to settle a dispute between two mothers who claimed the same newly born baby. He determined the true mother when she objected to dividing the child into two pieces to share with the two women. Rather than see her little one killed, she said, “O my lord, give her the living child, and by no means kill him.” That judgment established great respect for Solomon among all of Israel.
When David had become king forty years earlier, the Israelite kingdom was divided. Judah accepted him as their king, but the remaining tribes anointed Saul’s son, Ishbosheth to succeed their father as their king. After seven years, he was overthrown and David became king of all the reunited Israel. Through David’s strong leadership, the kingdom remained united and Solomon was able to become king of all Israel.
After appointing his many leadership positions, Solomon presided over God’s people during a peaceful era.
It is difficult to imagine the great wisdom and wealth that he possessed. He had forty thousand stalls of horses for his chariots. There were twelve thousand horsemen. He appointed twelve governors to provide for his household and guests. Each governor was responsible for one month’s service during the year.
Solomon’s God-given wisdom excelled the wisdom of all men. He was the author of many great literary works. “And men of all nations…came to hear the wisdom of Solomon.”