2 Samuel 12:24 “Then David comforted his wife, Bathsheba, and went in to her and lay with her, and she bore a son, and he called his name Solomon. And the LORD loved him” [All Scripture will come from the ESV]. Solomon is one of the most fascinating men in the Bible. In his life, he had been ignorant, wise, rich, faithful, and unfaithful. God went from being proud and loving him dearly, to being intensely aggravated with him. In this post I am going to give a brief summary of the life events and personality which make up the character of Solomon.
The Early Years
The beginning of Solomon’s life was a happy time for David, Bathsheba, and for God (2 Samuel 12:24). Solomon was conceived when David was comforting Bathsheba, after the death of the son they had through adultery. David saw Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba, bathing. He was on his roof, and he sent for her and had relations with her. She became pregnant, so David tried a few different things to deceive Uriah into thinking the child was his. When David concluded that Uriah would not sleep with his wife, he had Uriah killed on the front-lines in a war of Israel. David caused blaspheme against God’s name through his sin. He sinned against Bathsheba, against Uriah, against Israel, against God, and against himself. As a result of this sin, he was punished by God declaring that David’s house will always be involved with death and fighting, David’s wives would be taken from him in front of everyone, and David’s son (through the adultery with Bathsheba) would die. His son died on the 7th day of his life. David fasted until his son’s death, because he had hoped that God would show mercy on him. When the boy finally died, David cleaned up, worshiped God, and ate. When questioned about his actions, he responded by saying that his son would not come back to him, but he could go to his son. After these events, David comforted and had relations with Bathsheba. Solomon was hope for David, Bathsheba, and all of Israel. He was loved by God, so everyone knew that something special would come from him.
Reviving the throne
In first Kings chapter one, we read that Adonijah (David’s fourth son) became king, by his own will, while David was on his deathbed. But Bathsheba, Solomon’s mother, along with the prophet Nathan, convinced David to proclaim Solomon king. David had previously swore to Bathsheba, by the Lord, that she would make Solomon king after him, and that he shall sit on his throne. So Solomon finally became king. Adonijah was afraid of king Solomon. Adonijah fled and took refuge at the altar, and received pardon for his conduct from Solomon as long as he makes evident that he is “a worthy man.” Solomon had Joab (the commander of David’s army) put to death as David had requested before he died, because Joab killed Abner when there was supposed to be peace between David and Abner.
Solomon had Eli’s relative, Abiathar (a priest) put away because he had taken the side of Adonijah when he tried to take over the kingdom of Israel. Adonijah asked to marry Abishag, the woman who attended to David on his deathbed. Solomon did not approve, instead he had Adonijah put to death. So you can see that Solomon was extremely busy in the beginning of his kingship (all the above events in this section happen in the first 2 chapters of 1 Kings). At first, Solomon seems to be a noble king who obeyed the things that were demanded and expected of him.
Solomon’s Gift from God
Solomon was a young king, but he was trying to be as his father, and follow the commandments of God. 1 Kings 3:5-9 “At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night, and God said, “Ask what I shall give you.” And Solomon said, “You have shown great and steadfast love to your servant David my father, because he walked before you in faithfulness, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart toward you. And you have kept for him this great and steadfast love and have given him a son to sit on his throne this day. And now, O LORD my God, you have made your servant king in place of David my father, although I am but 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 many to be numbered or counted for multitude. 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?”” Because Solomon asked for the noble gift of wisdom, God not only granted him wisdom beyond comprehension, but also many riches, and great honor. Honor, riches, and wisdom beyond any king. God gave Solomon His word that if he followed the Lord’s will, as David did, then he would have many days on Earth.
Probably one of the most popular recordings of Solomon’s wisdom would have to be the event which happened right after he had this dream from God. Two prostitute women came to Solomon. They both lived in the same house and they both had a child at roughly the same time. One of the women slept on her child and smothered him. While the other women slept, the woman who killed her child replaced her dead child while the other woman slept. The next morning the other woman noticed that the child in her arms was not only dead, but it wasn’t her child at all. The two women argued back and forth between each other about whose child it actually was. Solomon asked for a sword, and said that he will split the child in half so that they both could have the child. The woman who the child was not actually from was okay with the idea and said that nobody can have the child. The other woman, who was the actual mother, begged that the child just be to the woman who was not the mother so that the child’s life would be spared. Solomon, in his divine wisdom, knew that this would happen Therefore, he was able to discern between the two women and see whose child it actually was. The people of Israel that heard of this were in awe of Solomon’s great wisdom through God.
Solomon wrote a lot of the book of Proverbs. A proverb is generalization, or a common fact. These are usually wise sayings, especially when coming from the inspired words of God. 1 Kings 4:32 tells us that he spoke 3,000 proverbs and he wrote 1,005 songs. “Songs of Solomon” have a proverbial feel to them as well. He was the wisest man to live besides Jesus Christ. His proverbs teach us general truths about God, and his divine wisdom. They teach us how to have productive, faithful, and happy lives, by giving us guidelines and foresight as to what decisions would be wise or unwise to make from day to day. Proverbs, of course, have exceptions. Therefore, they not totally set in stone as ultimate truths. But even still, they show us what would or would not happen in certain areas as a general consequence for those actions. Sadly, I’ve heard preachers abuse the proverbs by saying they are absolute truths. This is dangerous, because if you have a parent who trains up their child in the Lord, but the child still departs from the way of the Lord, then you are telling that parent that they are a failure (Proverbs 22:6). A proverb is a wise and common general truth, not an absolute. If you are going to go that far with it, then you are also saying that God is a failure, because we have free will, and a lot of people don’t stay faithful to him. I’m certain none of us dare to say God is a failure.
Solomon also wrote Ecclesiastes. Ecclesiastes is one of the more interesting books of the Bible. The main theme of Ecclesiastes is that “vanity” makes up life’s purpose without God. He uses the phrase “under the Sun” as an idiom meaning “without God.” Solomon shows us, in his divine wisdom, that everything in our life is vain without there being a God. You wake up, you work, you sleep. You‘re born, you live, you die. There isn’t a meaning in life without God. All is vain! This is a truth that almost seems cliché to us because it has been revealed to us for thousands of years now. But to the doubting mind, this truth brings so much edification, even still. Pleasures, science, human philosophy, and materialism, can never bring you true happiness. Only God and his wise and loving providence and bring you to a peace that passes understanding and joy that fills your soul.
David was supposed to build God a temple to live in through the Ark of the Covenant. This Ark represented the presence of the Spirit of God. At the time, the Ark was staying in a tent; a temporary home. David never built the temple. However, he did gather up all of the supplies that would be needed to build it, and Solomon was to carry out the actual construction of God’s new house, and Israel’s new place of worship. Solomon built the temple according to how God instructed, and when it was finished, and the people gathered around it, he gave a prayer. He took no honor or glory in the magnificence of the temple, rather, he gave all glory and praise to God, declaring how he is too great to live on Earth, even in that temple which Solomon constructed for him (1 Kings 8).
Solomon’s Many Wives
According to 1 Kings 11, Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines. These wives were from various cultural, spiritual, and regional backgrounds. Most of which were idol worshipers. The only wife, to my knowledge, that we have a name for was Naamah, the mother of Rehoboam. Rehoboam would take the throne of Israel after Solomon passes away. With at least 1,000 women that Solomon slept with (we assume), there is no telling how many children he had.
Solomon’s punishment/Later Years
Solomon broke almost all of the laws set for kings, in Deuteronomy. Solomon brought in over 666 talents of income a year, he had a massive amount of horses and chariots, and he had 1,000 idolatrous women. Solomon was in charge of the division in the kingdom because of his religious inconsistency and unfaithfulness to God. Rehoboam will later be responsible for leading Judah during the national division. Jeroboam would lead the northern kingdom of Israel. 1Kings 11: 30-34 “Then Ahijah laid hold of the new garment that was on him, and tore it into twelve pieces. And he said to Jeroboam, “Take for yourself ten pieces, for thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘Behold, I am about to tear the kingdom from the hand of Solomon and will give you ten tribes (but he shall have one tribe, for the sake of my servant David and for the sake of Jerusalem, the city that I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel), because they have forsaken me and worshiped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, Chemosh the god of Moab, and Milcom the god of the Ammonites, and they have not walked in my ways, doing what is right in my sight and keeping my statutes and my rules, as David his father did. Nevertheless, I will not take the whole kingdom out of his hand, but I will make him ruler all the days of his life, for the sake of David my servant whom I chose, who kept my commandments and my statutes.” Solomon tried to kill Jeroboam, but he fled until Solomon’s death.
Solomon is a prime example that wisdom doesn’t equal salvation. Solomon Knew God, he spoke with God, and he had the wisdom of God, yet from our knowledge through the Bible, we can’t say that he died in a safe state. No matter how much or how little knowledge we have, faith and obedience is a must in order to be in relationship with God. Solomon did some great and noble things, but wisdom doesn’t save us; only God. – Jesse