King Solomon, son of David, was crowned King of Israel when he was just a young teenager. Solomon was the one through whom the lineage of the Messiah (Promised Seed) would come(1 Chronicles 17:11-14). The name Solomon is believed to be derived from the Hebrew word for peace (shalom). Israel did enjoy peace, security, and prosperity during Solomon’s reign. Scholars believe that Solomon was only 12 years old when he was crowned King. Solomon reigned as King over Israel for 40 years.
After Solomon’s Kingdom was established, the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream and said “Ask what you wish me to give you”. Because Solomon did not request riches for himself or the death of his enemies, but instead asked the Lord for wisdom to govern God’s people Israel, the Lord granted his request.
1 Kings 3:12 Behold, I have given you a wise and discerning heart, so that there has been no one like you before you, nor shall one like you arise after you.
The Lord didn’t stop there. He also promised King Solomon riches and honor.
1 Kings 3:13: I have also given you what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that there will not be any among the kings like you all your days. 14 If you walk in My ways, keeping My statutes and commandments, as your father David walked, then I will prolong your days.”
Solomon’s wisdom and prosperity
King Solomon was considered one of the wisest men that ever lived. Just as God has promised, Solomon’s Kingdom was blessed with great prosperity, peace, and security. The kingdom of Israel achieved its greatest territorial extent in Bible HIS STORY during the reign of King Solomon. It included far more than just the traditional Dan to Beersheba of the lands west of the Jordan River today. Solomon’s kingdom also controlled a vast region east of the river in what is today the Kingdom of Jordan, and deep into the northeast, reaching far beyond the Golan Heights all the way to the Euphrates River. It was most certainly a very different Middle East than today.
There’s a famous story in 1st Kings that tested the wisdom of Solomon. The idiom “The Judgement of Solomon” has its roots in this story. Solomon was presented with an unsolvable dispute between two prostitutes. Both of these prostitutes had become pregnant and both delivered their children about the same time. Each mother told the same story, that they lived together, that they had both given birth to a child, and that one child was dead in the morning and the live child was hers. Each mother accused the other of “stealing” her own live baby and replacing it with the dead baby. The question posed to Solomon: who is telling the truth and who is telling a lie? Who is the true mother of the Live Baby?
Solomon’s solution was legendary. Divide the baby in half. The true mother would prefer to give her baby to the other woman rather than let the child be killed. The liar wouldn’t care at all about the baby.
1 Kings 3: 25 The king said, “Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one and half to the other.” 26 Then the woman whose child was the living one spoke to the king, for she was deeply stirred over her son and said, “Oh, my lord, give her the living child, and by no means kill him.” But the other said, “He shall be neither mine nor yours; divide him!” 27 Then the king said, “Give the first woman the living child, and by no means kill him. She is his mother.” 28 When all Israel heard of the judgment which the king hadhanded down, they feared the king, for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him to administer justice.
The story of Solomon’s verdict, which flushed out the truth in the dispute and revealed who had spoken the truth and who had lied, became so famous that it has been often used metaphorically, to depict a decision, which may risk destroying the subject matter of the dispute itself, rather than allowing either disputing party to share in it.
1 Kings 4:34 Men came from all peoples to hear the wisdom of Solomon, from all the kings of the earth who had heard of his wisdom.
Solomon’s descent into idolatry
Sadly, there is irony in Solomon’s wise verdict. In the final years of Solomon’s Reign as King over Israel, he disobeyed God and doomed his own Kingdom to ultimately be divided and conquered by enemies. Here we have a picture of King Solomon’s “child” (metaphor for Kingdom) that was divided with the sword (war). Because a divided child cannot live and a divided kingdom cannot stand, the “child” then met his demise when both halves of the kingdom disobeyed God and were led off into captivity and exile with the sword (war).
(Ezekiel 23) also gives us some additional insight into the deeper spiritual meaning (sod) of this dispute that was brought before King Solomon to test his God-given wisdom. The two prostitutes who claimed the child belonged to them metaphorically were Oholah and Oholibah, Judah and Samaria. After King Solomon dies, we will see the Kingdom of Israel (the 12 Tribes of Israel) divided into two halves of a kingdom. The southern portion of Israel, known in the Bible as “Judah” included both the tribe of Judah and the tribe of Benjamin. The Northern half of Israel, known as Samaria, consisted of the remaining 10 tribes of Israel. Both of these halves were considered “prostitutes” by God because both of them slid head long into IDOLATRY which is Spiritual adultery.
Ezekiel 23 The word of the Lord came to me again, saying, 2 “Son of man, there were two women, the daughters of one mother; 3 and they played the harlot in Egypt. They played the harlot in their youth; there their breasts were pressed and there their virgin bosom was handled. 4 Their names were Oholah the elder and Oholibah her sister. And they became Mine, and they bore sons and daughters. And as for their names, Samaria is Oholah and Jerusalem is Oholibah.
The nation of Israel’s descent into idolatry and subsequent division and exile began in earnest with King Solomon, who sadly, had been given more wisdom on earth than any other man (besides Jesus). Solomon literally wrote the entire book of Proverbs and the book of Ecclesiastes. In the Bible, these are considered books of wisdom. But even with all of this wisdom, Solomon squandered God’s gift of wisdom by marrying over 700 wives and 300 concubines in order to increase and secure his kingdom.
Solomon’s strategy of forging alliances with the neighboring countries by marrying their “nobility” did bring peace and prosperity to Israel during his reign, but the consequences far outweighed the benefits. The Lord Blessed Solomon with Wisdom, riches, peace and prosperity, but Solomon’s ultimate foolishness cost the Kingdom of Israel…..everything.
1 Kings 11:4 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. 5 For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians and after Milcom the detestable idol of the Ammonites. 6 Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and did not follow the Lord fully, as David his father had done. 7 Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the detestable idol of Moab, on the mountain which is east of Jerusalem, and for Molech the detestable idol of the sons of Ammon. 8 Thus also he did for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and sacrificed to their gods.
The ‘foreign gods’ that Solomon and his wives sacrificed to, were nothing more than demons masquerading as angels of light. Solomon’s sin would cost Israel dearly. YHWH decided to tear the Kingdom in half and give them over to their enemies, but not during Solomon’s reign because of the promises made to King David, a man after God’s own heart. Instead, YHWH would divide Israel in half after Solomon died, tearing it out of the hands of Solomon’s son.
1 Kings 11: 11 So the Lord said to Solomon, “Because you have done this, and you have not kept My covenant and My statutes, which I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom from you, and will give it to your servant. 12 Nevertheless I will not do it in your days for the sake of your father David, but I will tear it out of the hand of your son.13 However, I will not tear away all the kingdom, but I will give one tribe to your son for the sake of My servant David and for the sake of Jerusalem which I have chosen.”
At the end of Solomon’s life, he wrote Ecclesiastes, which is sometimes known as “Solomon’s Confessions”. In this book, Solomon details all the vain, worldly pursuits that he sought after all of his life… pleasure, wealth, power, wisdom, knowledge, strength, labor, and how these things ultimately added up to absolutely nothing. Solomon recognizes that humanity’s true purpose in life, our true joy, and the only thing we have left when it’s all said and done, is our relationship with our Creator YHWH Elohim. He encouraged young people to NOT fall into the same traps, pitfalls, and vain pursuits that he fell into during his lifetime.
Ecclesiastes 12: 1: Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near when you will say, “I have no delight in them”; 2 before the sun and the light, the moon and the stars are darkened, and clouds return after the rain; 3 in the day that the watchmen of the house tremble, and mighty men stoop, the grinding ones stand idle because they are few, and those who look through windows grow dim; 4 and the doors on the street are shut as the sound of the grinding mill is low, and one will arise at the sound of the bird, and all the daughters of song will sing softly.
Remember Him before the silver cord is broken and the golden bowl is crushed, the pitcher by the well is shattered and the wheel at the cistern is crushed; 7 then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it. 8 “Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher, “all is vanity!”
Ecclesiastes 12: 13 The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. 14 For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.“Fear God” means to Reverence /fear to go against Him. Recognize God as LORD.