Profiles of Faith: Solomon - Lesson from a Wise King

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Solomon - Lesson from a Wise King

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“Divide the baby with a sword, and let the matter be settled.” As the king’s shocking words echoed throughout his chambers, those who heard his decision were stunned.

It was a heartrending scene: Two women stood before King Solomon, each claiming to be the mother of the same baby boy. The first mother told of how she and the second woman had each given birth to a son, three days apart. Her son was born first. The second mother accidentally laid on her son while they slept, and he died. Discovering that her son was dead, the second mother switched the babies, placing her dead son beside the first mother—asleep at the time—and taking the first mother’s living son to her bed.

The story of how Solomon became so wise and the lessons from his life deserve our undivided attention. 

When the first mother arose in the morning to nurse her son, she found the boy dead—but on closer examination discovered it was the other mother’s child. She knew her son was in the arms of the second mother. Now, standing anxiously before the king, she hoped that he would somehow perceive she was the one telling the truth so she could be reunited with her baby.

Solomon issued his verdict: “Bring me a sword. Divide the living child in two, and give half to one, and half to the other” (1 Kings 3:24-25 1 Kings 3:24-25 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.
American King James Version×
). The two mothers’ reactions were worlds apart. The first mother pleaded with the king: “O my lord, give her the living child, and by no means kill him!” But the second mother’s words were chilling: “Let him be neither mine nor yours, but divide him” (verse 26).

Their reactions told the king all he needed to know. “Give the first woman the living child,” he ordered, “and by no means kill him; she is his mother” (1 Kings 3:27 1 Kings 3:27Then the king answered and said, Give her the living child, and in no wise slay it: she is the mother thereof.
American King James Version×
).

The source of Solomon’s wisdom

All Israel heard of Solomon’s discernment in this case, a judgment that amply demonstrated his great wisdom. “. . . And they feared the king, for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him to administer justice” (1 Kings 3:28 1 Kings 3:28And 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.
American King James Version×
).

The story of how Solomon became so wise and the lessons from his life deserve our undivided attention.

Shortly after he ascended to the throne, Solomon married the daughter of the ruler of Egypt (1 Kings 3:1 1 Kings 3:1And Solomon made affinity with Pharaoh king of Egypt, and took Pharaoh’s daughter, 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.
American King James Version×
). Although a politically astute move, this was not a wise decision according to God’s standards since He knew full well that foreigners, steeped as they were in their idolatrous ways, could drive a wedge between His chosen nation and Him by causing them to depart from the true religion. This act foreshadowed the greatest singular weakness of the otherwise wise king.

The history of the kings tells the whole story—both good and bad. Remember, much that was said is good. “And Solomon loved the LORD, walking in the statutes of his father David . . .” (1 Kings 3:3 1 Kings 3:3And Solomon loved the LORD, walking in the statutes of David his father: only he sacrificed and burnt incense in high places.
American King James Version×
). God was pleased with the new king’s attitude, and appeared to him in a dream: “Ask! What shall I give you?” (1 Kings 3:5 1 Kings 3:5In Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, Ask what I shall give you.
American King James Version×
).

Solomon’s answer said much about the man: “Now, O LORD my God, You have made Your servant king instead of my father David, but I am a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. And Your servant is in the midst of Your people whom You have chosen, a great people, too numerous to be numbered or counted. Therefore give to Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?” (1 Kings 3:7-9 1 Kings 3:7-9 7 And now, O LORD my God, you have made your servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in. 8 And your servant is in the middle of your people which you have chosen, a great people, that cannot be numbered nor counted for multitude. 9 Give therefore your servant an understanding heart to judge your people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this your so great a people?
American King James Version×
).

Blessings for a new king

God was pleased with Solomon’s response—that he had asked for the ability to govern wisely and so to properly serve His people. Just as we would do well to remember Solomon’s reply to God, we should also remember God’s reply to Solomon:

“Because you have asked this thing, and have not asked long life for yourself, nor have asked riches for yourself, nor have asked the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern justice, behold, I have done according to your words; see, I have given you a wise and understanding heart, so that there has not been anyone like you before you, nor shall any like you arise after you. And I have also given you what you have not asked: both riches and honor, so that there shall not be anyone like you among the kings all your days” (1 Kings 3:11-13 1 Kings 3:11-13 11 And God said to him, Because you have asked this thing, and have not asked for yourself long life; neither have asked riches for yourself, nor have asked the life of your enemies; but have asked for yourself understanding to discern judgment; 12 Behold, I have done according to your words: see, I have given you a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like you before you, neither after you shall any arise like to you. 13 And I have also given you that which you have not asked, both riches, and honor: so that there shall not be any among the kings like to you all your days.
American King James Version×
, emphasis added throughout).

These gifts from God required something: Solomon’s resolute obedience to Him. “So if you walk in My ways, to keep My statutes and My commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen [prolong] your days” (1 Kings 3:14 1 Kings 3:14And if you will walk in my ways, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as your father David did walk, then I will lengthen your days.
American King James Version×
). God’s offer was conditional: Solomon must not turn from His laws.

God kept His part of the covenant. “And God gave Solomon wisdom and exceedingly great understanding, and largeness of heart like the sand on the seashore. Thus Solomon’s wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the men of the East and all the wisdom of Egypt. For he was wiser than all men …; and his fame was in all the surrounding nations … And men of all nations, from all the kings of the earth who had heard of his wisdom, came to hear the wisdom of Solomon” (1 Kings 4:29-34 1 Kings 4:29-34 29 And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and largeness of heart, even as the sand that is on the sea shore. 30 And Solomon’s wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the east country, and all the wisdom of Egypt. 31 For he was wiser than all men; than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, and Chalcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol: and his fame was in all nations round about. 32 And he spoke three thousand proverbs: and his songs were a thousand and five. 33 And he spoke of trees, from the cedar tree that is in Lebanon even to the hyssop that springs out of the wall: he spoke also of beasts, and of fowl, and of creeping things, and of fishes. 34 And there came of all people to hear the wisdom of Solomon, from all kings of the earth, which had heard of his wisdom.
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).

Even the queen of Sheba investigated Solomon’s wisdom. She came to Jerusalem to test him with difficult questions. “So Solomon answered all her questions; there was nothing so difficult for the king that he could not explain it to her” (1 Kings 10:3 1 Kings 10:3And Solomon told her all her questions: there was not any thing hid from the king, which he told her not.
American King James Version×
).

She ended her scrutiny of him with these remarkable words: “It was a true report which I heard in my own land about your words and your wisdom. However I did not believe the words until I came and saw with my own eyes; … Your wisdom and prosperity exceed the fame of which I heard” (1 Kings 3:6-7 1 Kings 3:6-7 6 And Solomon said, You have showed to your servant David my father great mercy, according as he walked before you in truth, and in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with you; and you have kept for him this great kindness, that you have given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day. 7 And now, O LORD my God, you have made your servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in.
American King James Version×
). Other leaders discovered what the queen of Sheba witnessed firsthand: “And all the earth sought the presence of Solomon to hear his wisdom, which God had put in his heart” (1 Kings 3:24 1 Kings 3:24And the king said, Bring me a sword. And they brought a sword before the king.
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).

Solomon’s good acts

For many years, Solomon fulfilled his part of the covenant. He walked in God’s ways, and God blessed him greatly.

During Solomon’s prosperous days of wisdom and wealth, he determined to build the temple for God which his father David had hoped to build earlier. This was an expansive and expensive undertaking. God gave Solomon peace with King Hiram of Lebanon, and Hiram supplied Solomon with a seemingly endless supply of cedar and cypress logs (1 Kings 5:10 1 Kings 5:10So Hiram gave Solomon cedar trees and fir trees according to all his desire.
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).

Further, Solomon sent “seventy thousand [men to Lebanon] who carried burdens, and eighty thousand who quarried stone in the mountains, besides three thousand three hundred from the chiefs of Solomon’s deputies, who supervised the people who labored in the work . . . So Solomon’s builders, Hiram’s builders, and the Gebalites quarried them; and they prepared timber and stones to build the temple” (1 Kings 5:15-18 1 Kings 5:15-18 15 And Solomon had three score and ten thousand that bore burdens, and fourscore thousand hewers in the mountains; 16 Beside the chief of Solomon’s officers which were over the work, three thousand and three hundred, which ruled over the people that worked in the work. 17 And the king commanded, and they brought great stones, costly stones, and hewed stones, to lay the foundation of the house. 18 And Solomon’s builders and Hiram’s builders did hew them, and the stone squarers: so they prepared timber and stones to build the house.
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).

The furnishings for the temple were exquisite and very costly (1 Kings 7:1-51 1 Kings 7:1-51 1 But Solomon was building his own house thirteen years, and he finished all his house. 2 He built also the house of the forest of Lebanon; the length thereof was an hundred cubits, and the breadth thereof fifty cubits, and the height thereof thirty cubits, on four rows of cedar pillars, with cedar beams on the pillars. 3 And it was covered with cedar above on the beams, that lay on forty five pillars, fifteen in a row. 4 And there were windows in three rows, and light was against light in three ranks. 5 And all the doors and posts were square, with the windows: and light was against light in three ranks. 6 And he made a porch of pillars; the length thereof was fifty cubits, and the breadth thereof thirty cubits: and the porch was before them: and the other pillars and the thick beam were before them. 7 Then he made a porch for the throne where he might judge, even the porch of judgment: and it was covered with cedar from one side of the floor to the other. 8 And his house where he dwelled had another court within the porch, which was of the like work. Solomon made also an house for Pharaoh’s daughter, whom he had taken to wife, like to this porch. 9 All these were of costly stones, according to the measures of hewed stones, sawed with saws, within and without, even from the foundation to the coping, and so on the outside toward the great court. 10 And the foundation was of costly stones, even great stones, stones of ten cubits, and stones of eight cubits. 11 And above were costly stones, after the measures of hewed stones, and cedars. 12 And the great court round about was with three rows of hewed stones, and a row of cedar beams, both for the inner court of the house of the LORD, and for the porch of the house. 13 And king Solomon sent and fetched Hiram out of Tyre. 14 He was a widow’s son of the tribe of Naphtali, and his father was a man of Tyre, a worker in brass: and he was filled with wisdom, and understanding, and cunning to work all works in brass. And he came to king Solomon, and worked all his work. 15 For he cast two pillars of brass, of eighteen cubits high apiece: and a line of twelve cubits did compass either of them about. 16 And he made two capitals of molten brass, to set on the tops of the pillars: the height of the one capital was five cubits, and the height of the other capital was five cubits: 17 And nets of checker work, and wreaths of chain work, for the capitals which were on the top of the pillars; seven for the one capital, and seven for the other capital. 18 And he made the pillars, and two rows round about on the one network, to cover the capitals that were on the top, with pomegranates: and so did he for the other capital. 19 And the capitals that were on the top of the pillars were of lily work in the porch, four cubits. 20 And the capitals on the two pillars had pomegranates also above, over against the belly which was by the network: and the pomegranates were two hundred in rows round about on the other capital. 21 And he set up the pillars in the porch of the temple: and he set up the right pillar, and called the name thereof Jachin: and he set up the left pillar, and called the name thereof Boaz. 22 And on the top of the pillars was lily work: so was the work of the pillars finished. 23 And he made a molten sea, ten cubits from the one brim to the other: it was round all about, and his height was five cubits: and a line of thirty cubits did compass it round about. 24 And under the brim of it round about there were knops compassing it, ten in a cubit, compassing the sea round about: the knops were cast in two rows, when it was cast. 25 It stood on twelve oxen, three looking toward the north, and three looking toward the west, and three looking toward the south, and three looking toward the east: and the sea was set above on them, and all their hinder parts were inward. 26 And it was an hand breadth thick, and the brim thereof was worked like the brim of a cup, with flowers of lilies: it contained two thousand baths. 27 And he made ten bases of brass; four cubits was the length of one base, and four cubits the breadth thereof, and three cubits the height of it. 28 And the work of the bases was on this manner: they had borders, and the borders were between the ledges: 29 And on the borders that were between the ledges were lions, oxen, and cherubim: and on the ledges there was a base above: and beneath the lions and oxen were certain additions made of thin work. 30 And every base had four brazen wheels, and plates of brass: and the four corners thereof had supports: under the laver were supports molten, at the side of every addition. 31 And the mouth of it within the capital and above was a cubit: but the mouth thereof was round after the work of the base, a cubit and an half: and also on the mouth of it were engravings with their borders, foursquare, not round. 32 And under the borders were four wheels; and the axletrees of the wheels were joined to the base: and the height of a wheel was a cubit and half a cubit. 33 And the work of the wheels was like the work of a chariot wheel: their axletrees, and their naves, and their felloes, and their spokes, were all molten. 34 And there were four supports to the four corners of one base: and the supports were of the very base itself. 35 And in the top of the base was there a round compass of half a cubit high: and on the top of the base the ledges thereof and the borders thereof were of the same. 36 For on the plates of the ledges thereof, and on the borders thereof, he graved cherubim, lions, and palm trees, according to the proportion of every one, and additions round about. 37 After this manner he made the ten bases: all of them had one casting, one measure, and one size. 38 Then made he ten lavers of brass: one laver contained forty baths: and every laver was four cubits: and on every one of the ten bases one laver. 39 And he put five bases on the right side of the house, and five on the left side of the house: and he set the sea on the right side of the house eastward over against the south. 40 And Hiram made the lavers, and the shovels, and the basins. So Hiram made an end of doing all the work that he made king Solomon for the house of the LORD: 41 The two pillars, and the two bowls of the capitals that were on the top of the two pillars; and the two networks, to cover the two bowls of the capitals which were on the top of the pillars; 42 And four hundred pomegranates for the two networks, even two rows of pomegranates for one network, to cover the two bowls of the capitals that were on the pillars; 43 And the ten bases, and ten lavers on the bases; 44 And one sea, and twelve oxen under the sea; 45 And the pots, and the shovels, and the basins: and all these vessels, which Hiram made to king Solomon for the house of the LORD, were of bright brass. 46 In the plain of Jordan did the king cast them, in the clay ground between Succoth and Zarthan. 47 And Solomon left all the vessels unweighed, because they were exceeding many: neither was the weight of the brass found out. 48 And Solomon made all the vessels that pertained to the house of the LORD: the altar of gold, and the table of gold, whereupon the show bread was, 49 And the candlesticks of pure gold, five on the right side, and five on the left, before the oracle, with the flowers, and the lamps, and the tongs of gold, 50 And the bowls, and the snuffers, and the basins, and the spoons, and the censers of pure gold; and the hinges of gold, both for the doors of the inner house, the most holy place, and for the doors of the house, to wit, of the temple. 51 So was ended all the work that king Solomon made for the house of the LORD. And Solomon brought in the things which David his father had dedicated; even the silver, and the gold, and the vessels, did he put among the treasures of the house of the LORD.
American King James Version×
). Solomon had the priests bring up the ark of God, and “the glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD” (1 Kings 8:1-11 1 Kings 8:1-11 1 Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel, and all the heads of the tribes, the chief of the fathers of the children of Israel, to king Solomon in Jerusalem, that they might bring up the ark of the covenant of the LORD out of the city of David, which is Zion. 2 And all the men of Israel assembled themselves to king Solomon at the feast in the month Ethanim, which is the seventh month. 3 And all the elders of Israel came, and the priests took up the ark. 4 And they brought up the ark of the LORD, and the tabernacle of the congregation, and all the holy vessels that were in the tabernacle, even those did the priests and the Levites bring up. 5 And king Solomon, and all the congregation of Israel, that were assembled to him, were with him before the ark, sacrificing sheep and oxen, that could not be told nor numbered for multitude. 6 And the priests brought in the ark of the covenant of the LORD to his place, into the oracle of the house, to the most holy place, even under the wings of the cherubim. 7 For the cherubim spread forth their two wings over the place of the ark, and the cherubim covered the ark and the staves thereof above. 8 And they drew out the staves, that the ends of the staves were seen out in the holy place before the oracle, and they were not seen without: and there they are to this day. 9 There was nothing in the ark save the two tables of stone, which Moses put there at Horeb, when the LORD made a covenant with the children of Israel, when they came out of the land of Egypt. 10 And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the LORD, 11 So that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of the LORD.
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). On the day of dedication, Solomon offered 22,000 bulls and 120,000 sheep as peace offerings to God (1 Kings 8:63 1 Kings 8:63And Solomon offered a sacrifice of peace offerings, which he offered to the LORD, two and twenty thousand oxen, and an hundred and twenty thousand sheep. So the king and all the children of Israel dedicated the house of the LORD.
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). God then reiterated the Davidic covenant before King Solomon (1 Kings 9:1-28 1 Kings 9:1-28 1 And it came to pass, when Solomon had finished the building of the house of the LORD, and the king’s house, and all Solomon’s desire which he was pleased to do, 2 That the LORD appeared to Solomon the second time, as he had appeared to him at Gibeon. 3 And the LORD said to him, I have heard your prayer and your supplication, that you have made before me: I have hallowed this house, which you have built, to put my name there for ever; and my eyes and my heart shall be there perpetually. 4 And if you will walk before me, as David your father walked, in integrity of heart, and in uprightness, to do according to all that I have commanded you, and will keep my statutes and my judgments: 5 Then I will establish the throne of your kingdom on Israel for ever, as I promised to David your father, saying, There shall not fail you a man on the throne of Israel. 6 But if you shall at all turn from following me, you or your children, and will not keep my commandments and my statutes which I have set before you, but go and serve other gods, and worship them: 7 Then will I cut off Israel out of the land which I have given them; and this house, which I have hallowed for my name, will I cast out of my sight; and Israel shall be a proverb and a byword among all people: 8 And at this house, which is high, every one that passes by it shall be astonished, and shall hiss; and they shall say, Why has the LORD done thus to this land, and to this house? 9 And they shall answer, Because they forsook the LORD their God, who brought forth their fathers out of the land of Egypt, and have taken hold on other gods, and have worshipped them, and served them: therefore has the LORD brought on them all this evil. 10 And it came to pass at the end of twenty years, when Solomon had built the two houses, the house of the LORD, and the king’s house, 11 (Now Hiram the king of Tyre had furnished Solomon with cedar trees and fir trees, and with gold, according to all his desire,) that then king Solomon gave Hiram twenty cities in the land of Galilee. 12 And Hiram came out from Tyre to see the cities which Solomon had given him; and they pleased him not. 13 And he said, What cities are these which you have given me, my brother? And he called them the land of Cabul to this day. 14 And Hiram sent to the king six score talents of gold. 15 And this is the reason of the levy which king Solomon raised; for to build the house of the LORD, and his own house, and Millo, and the wall of Jerusalem, and Hazor, and Megiddo, and Gezer. 16 For Pharaoh king of Egypt had gone up, and taken Gezer, and burnt it with fire, and slain the Canaanites that dwelled in the city, and given it for a present to his daughter, Solomon’s wife. 17 And Solomon built Gezer, and Bethhoron the nether, 18 And Baalath, and Tadmor in the wilderness, in the land, 19 And all the cities of store that Solomon had, and cities for his chariots, and cities for his horsemen, and that which Solomon desired to build in Jerusalem, and in Lebanon, and in all the land of his dominion. 20 And all the people that were left of the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites, which were not of the children of Israel, 21 Their children that were left after them in the land, whom the children of Israel also were not able utterly to destroy, on those did Solomon levy a tribute of slavery to this day. 22 But of the children of Israel did Solomon make no slaves: but they were men of war, and his servants, and his princes, and his captains, and rulers of his chariots, and his horsemen. 23 These were the chief of the officers that were over Solomon’s work, five hundred and fifty, which bore rule over the people that worked in the work. 24 But Pharaoh’s daughter came up out of the city of David to her house which Solomon had built for her: then did he build Millo. 25 And three times in a year did Solomon offer burnt offerings and peace offerings on the altar which he built to the LORD, and he burnt incense on the altar that was before the LORD. So he finished the house. 26 And king Solomon made a navy of ships in Eziongeber, which is beside Eloth, on the shore of the Red sea, in the land of Edom. 27 And Hiram sent in the navy his servants, shipmen that had knowledge of the sea, with the servants of Solomon. 28 And they came to Ophir, and fetched from there gold, four hundred and twenty talents, and brought it to king Solomon.
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). It was a reminder for Solomon to remain loyal and faithful to God and His laws.

Solomon’s wealth was greatly increased (1 Kings 10:1-29 1 Kings 10:1-29 1 And when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the LORD, she came to prove him with hard questions. 2 And she came to Jerusalem with a very great train, with camels that bore spices, and very much gold, and precious stones: and when she was come to Solomon, she communed with him of all that was in her heart. 3 And Solomon told her all her questions: there was not any thing hid from the king, which he told her not. 4 And when the queen of Sheba had seen all Solomon’s wisdom, and the house that he had built, 5 And the meat of his table, and the sitting of his servants, and the attendance of his ministers, and their apparel, and his cupbearers, and his ascent by which he went up to the house of the LORD; there was no more spirit in her. 6 And she said to the king, It was a true report that I heard in my own land of your acts and of your wisdom. 7 However, I believed not the words, until I came, and my eyes had seen it: and, behold, the half was not told me: your wisdom and prosperity exceeds the fame which I heard. 8 Happy are your men, happy are these your servants, which stand continually before you, and that hear your wisdom. 9 Blessed be the LORD your God, which delighted in you, to set you on the throne of Israel: because the LORD loved Israel for ever, therefore made he you king, to do judgment and justice. 10 And she gave the king an hundred and twenty talents of gold, and of spices very great store, and precious stones: there came no more such abundance of spices as these which the queen of Sheba gave to king Solomon. 11 And the navy also of Hiram, that brought gold from Ophir, brought in from Ophir great plenty of almug trees, and precious stones. 12 And the king made of the almug trees pillars for the house of the LORD, and for the king’s house, harps also and psalteries for singers: there came no such almug trees, nor were seen to this day. 13 And king Solomon gave to the queen of Sheba all her desire, whatever she asked, beside that which Solomon gave her of his royal bounty. So she turned and went to her own country, she and her servants. 14 Now the weight of gold that came to Solomon in one year was six hundred three score and six talents of gold, 15 Beside that he had of the merchants, and of the traffic of the spice merchants, and of all the kings of Arabia, and of the governors of the country. 16 And king Solomon made two hundred targets of beaten gold: six hundred shekels of gold went to one target. 17 And he made three hundred shields of beaten gold; three pound of gold went to one shield: and the king put them in the house of the forest of Lebanon. 18 Moreover the king made a great throne of ivory, and overlaid it with the best gold. 19 The throne had six steps, and the top of the throne was round behind: and there were stays on either side on the place of the seat, and two lions stood beside the stays. 20 And twelve lions stood there on the one side and on the other on the six steps: there was not the like made in any kingdom. 21 And all king Solomon’s drinking vessels were of gold, and all the vessels of the house of the forest of Lebanon were of pure gold; none were of silver: it was nothing accounted of in the days of Solomon. 22 For the king had at sea a navy of Tharshish with the navy of Hiram: once in three years came the navy of Tharshish, bringing gold, and silver, ivory, and apes, and peacocks. 23 So king Solomon exceeded all the kings of the earth for riches and for wisdom. 24 And all the earth sought to Solomon, to hear his wisdom, which God had put in his heart. 25 And they brought every man his present, vessels of silver, and vessels of gold, and garments, and armor, and spices, horses, and mules, a rate year by year. 26 And Solomon gathered together chariots and horsemen: and he had a thousand and four hundred chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen, whom he bestowed in the cities for chariots, and with the king at Jerusalem. 27 And the king made silver to be in Jerusalem as stones, and cedars made he to be as the sycomore trees that are in the vale, for abundance. 28 And Solomon had horses brought out of Egypt, and linen yarn: the king’s merchants received the linen yarn at a price. 29 And a chariot came up and went out of Egypt for six hundred shekels of silver, and an horse for an hundred and fifty: and so for all the kings of the Hittites, and for the kings of Syria, did they bring them out by their means.
American King James Version×
). As some Bible resources point out, the 666 talents of gold Solomon received each year (1 Kings 10:14 1 Kings 10:14Now the weight of gold that came to Solomon in one year was six hundred three score and six talents of gold,
American King James Version×
) was worth well over $700 million by today’s standards. “Solomon gathered chariots and horsemen; he had one thousand four hundred chariots and twelve thousand horsemen, whom he stationed in the chariot cities and with the king at Jerusalem. The king made silver as common in Jerusalem as stones” (1 Kings 10:26-27 1 Kings 10:26-27 26 And Solomon gathered together chariots and horsemen: and he had a thousand and four hundred chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen, whom he bestowed in the cities for chariots, and with the king at Jerusalem. 27 And the king made silver to be in Jerusalem as stones, and cedars made he to be as the sycomore trees that are in the vale, for abundance.
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).

Additionally Solomon took 13 years to build his own palace (1 Kings 7:1 1 Kings 7:1But Solomon was building his own house thirteen years, and he finished all his house.
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). It was a time of unprecedented wealth and unparalleled prosperity for the kingdom of Israel. True to His word, God had blessed Solomon with great abundance because he had honored Him.

But the king eventually showed a weakness that caused him to turn from the great God who blessed him. His wealth became so great, his fame so widespread, that he lost his focus. He became more and more attached to his physical surroundings, more dependent on his wealth, and more attentive to his many wives than he was to God.

Solomon’s heart turned away

King Solomon loved many foreign women, taking them as his wives. He had 700 wives and 300 concubines, “and his wives turned away his heart” (1 Kings 11:3 1 Kings 11:3And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart.
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). Sadly, Solomon knew better. God had warned Israel not to intermarry with foreigners, for “surely they will turn away your hearts after their gods” (1 Kings 11:2 1 Kings 11:2Of the nations concerning which the LORD said to the children of Israel, You shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in to you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon joined to these in love.
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). Solomon’s weakness for women would be his downfall. God is no respecter of persons—even kings (Acts 10:34 Acts 10:34Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:
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).

Earlier Solomon had disregarded God’s instruction when he had married the Egyptian Pharaoh’s daughter. His small problems were to grow into very large problems that would lead to his downfall.

“For it was so, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned his heart after other gods; and his heart was not loyal to the LORD his God, as was the heart of his father David. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD, and did not fully follow the LORD, as did his father David. Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, on the hill that is east of Jerusalem, and for Molech the abomination of the people of Ammon. And he did likewise for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and sacrificed to their gods” (1 Kings 11:4-8 1 Kings 11:4-8 4 For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father. 5 For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. 6 And Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD, and went not fully after the LORD, as did David his father. 7 Then did Solomon build an high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon. 8 And likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed to their gods.
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).

God became angry with Solomon for disobeying His commands and “because his heart had turned from the LORD God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice, and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods; but he did not keep what the LORD had commanded” (1 Kings 11:9-10 1 Kings 11:9-10 9 And the LORD was angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned from the LORD God of Israel, which had appeared to him twice, 10 And had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods: but he kept not that which the LORD commanded.
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).

God declared that He would surely tear the kingdom away from Solomon and give it to one of his servants (1 Kings 11:11 1 Kings 11:11Why the LORD said to Solomon, For as much as this is done of you, and you have not kept my covenant and my statutes, which I have commanded you, I will surely rend the kingdom from you, and will give it to your servant.
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). Solomon’s sins would lead to his kingdom being divided into the two separate kingdoms of Israel and Judah (1 Kings 11:26-40 1 Kings 11:26-40 26 And Jeroboam the son of Nebat, an Ephrathite of Zereda, Solomon’s servant, whose mother’s name was Zeruah, a widow woman, even he lifted up his hand against the king. 27 And this was the cause that he lifted up his hand against the king: Solomon built Millo, and repaired the breaches of the city of David his father. 28 And the man Jeroboam was a mighty man of valor: and Solomon seeing the young man that he was industrious, he made him ruler over all the charge of the house of Joseph. 29 And it came to pass at that time when Jeroboam went out of Jerusalem, that the prophet Ahijah the Shilonite found him in the way; and he had clad himself with a new garment; and they two were alone in the field: 30 And Ahijah caught the new garment that was on him, and rent it in twelve pieces: 31 And he said to Jeroboam, Take you ten pieces: for thus said the LORD, the God of Israel, Behold, I will rend the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon, and will give ten tribes to you: 32 (But he shall have one tribe for my servant David’s sake, and for Jerusalem’s sake, the city which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel:) 33 Because that they have forsaken me, and have worshipped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, Chemosh the god of the Moabites, and Milcom the god of the children of Ammon, and have not walked in my ways, to do that which is right in my eyes, and to keep my statutes and my judgments, as did David his father. 34 However, I will not take the whole kingdom out of his hand: but I will make him prince all the days of his life for David my servant’s sake, whom I chose, because he kept my commandments and my statutes: 35 But I will take the kingdom out of his son’s hand, and will give it to you, even ten tribes. 36 And to his son will I give one tribe, that David my servant may have a light always before me in Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen me to put my name there. 37 And I will take you, and you shall reign according to all that your soul desires, and shall be king over Israel. 38 And it shall be, if you will listen to all that I command you, and will walk in my ways, and do that is right in my sight, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as David my servant did; that I will be with you, and build you a sure house, as I built for David, and will give Israel to you. 39 And I will for this afflict the seed of David, but not for ever. 40 Solomon sought therefore to kill Jeroboam. And Jeroboam arose, and fled into Egypt, to Shishak king of Egypt, and was in Egypt until the death of Solomon.
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).

A ruler’s downfall

God’s Word is honest with its heroes. Solomon left quite a legacy for a man who—in his old age—departed from God. But God didn’t blot out his writings or example, both good and bad. The man who had so much lacked one crucial ingredient: the will and character to do what he knew was right. As Jesus Christ said, “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41 Matthew 26:41Watch and pray, that you enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
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God warned that when human beings are blessed, they should not forget who provides such blessings (Deuteronomy 8:11-20 Deuteronomy 8:11-20 11 Beware that you forget not the LORD your God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command you this day: 12 Lest when you have eaten and are full, and have built goodly houses, and dwelled therein; 13 And when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and your gold is multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied; 14 Then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the LORD your God, which brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage; 15 Who led you through that great and terrible wilderness, wherein were fiery serpents, and scorpions, and drought, where there was no water; who brought you forth water out of the rock of flint; 16 Who fed you in the wilderness with manna, which your fathers knew not, that he might humble you, and that he might prove you, to do you good at your latter end; 17 And you say in your heart, My power and the might of my hand has gotten me this wealth. 18 But you shall remember the LORD your God: for it is he that gives you power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he swore to your fathers, as it is this day. 19 And it shall be, if you do at all forget the LORD your God, and walk after other gods, and serve them, and worship them, I testify against you this day that you shall surely perish. 20 As the nations which the LORD destroys before your face, so shall you perish; because you would not be obedient to the voice of the LORD your God.
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). Solomon did. He forgot God’s laws, especially those that dealt with marriage. His many wives turned his heart away from God. Both Solomon and his nation eventually suffered for his backsliding attitude.

However, we may take some solace from the fact that the last book of the Jewish version of the Old Testament, 2 Chronicles, does not repeat the account of Solomon’s serious mistakes toward the end of his life. The two books of Chronicles were written after Samuel and Kings, and they were used by the chronicler both as inspired sources and historical references.

In the nine chapters of 2 Chronicles that cover Solomon’s 40—year rule, hardly a negative word is written about him. The chronicler highlighted the positive aspects of both David’s (1 Chronicles) and Solomon’s governmental administrations as prototypes of the biblical ideal. Nothing was ever done with regard to the writing of the Bible without good reason. We also do well to remember that God is the ultimate Judge of Solomon, not we human beings.