In our study of 1 Kings chapter three, we look at Solomon's transformation from being a foolish child to a being a wise man.
Solomon made an alliance with Pharaoh king of Egypt and married his daughter. He brought her to the City of David until he finished building his palace and the temple of the Lord, and the wall around Jerusalem.
In chapter 2, we saw how Solomon had become the king of Israel and we must remember that he was only 12 or 13 years old at the time. He dealt with the enemies of David and the kingdom was firmly established. Now, we see that he went to the king of Egypt and became an ally by taking his daughter in marriage. This was a common practice of the times but, in this, we see youthful foolishness. He had been raised in a godly home as David was considered to be a great man of God and yet he married a daughter of the king from the place where his ancestors had been slaves. She moved to Jerusalem and he built her a palace. This is a pattern that we see throughout the Bible as a result of man's sin. In the beginning, God created a woman and brought her to the man (see Genesis two) but, since the fall, man has went in search of a woman to be his wife. Many times this causes some serious problems and it did in the life of Solomon.
The people, however, were still sacrificing at the high places, because a temple had not yet been built for the Name of the Lord. Solomon showed his love for the Lord by walking according to the statutes of his father David, except that he offered sacrifices and burned incense on the high places. The king went to Gibeon to offer sacrifices, for that was the most important high place, and Solomon offered a thousand burnt offerings on that altar.
We see that Solomon received knowledge of the ways of God through his father (David) and followed them for the most part. Even though they had the tabernacle of God, the people were going to high places to offer sacrifices. Instead of leading, the young foolish king did the same. He went to the most important place and offered a huge number of sacrifices.
At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, 'Ask for whatever you want me to give you.'
This verse is amazing as, even while Solomon was in sin at the high place, God showed up in a dream. We may want to ask why God would do so and then even tell Solomon to ask for whatever he wanted. Although it is tough for us to comprehend, God knows everything about our lives even before we are born. He knew what Solomon was going to ask for and He also knew that Solomon loved the Lord. There are many places of worship that make people feel like they have to get their act together before they attend and come to Christ. The simple fact of the matter is that we cannot "get our act together" without Christ and so He meets us where we are just as He did with Solomon.
Solomon answered, 'You have shown great kindness to your servant, my father David, because he was faithful to you and righteous and upright in heart. You have continued this great kindness to him and have given him a son to sit on his throne this very day.'
Solomon begins to answer the Lord by remembering the kindness that He had shown to his father. This speaks to the fact that David had left a heritage of faith in God to his family. That is our duty as parents and is probably what is lacking most in the world today. This is even true for Christians, today, as many leave their children a legacy of religion which is not the same as a legacy of faith in Jesus Christ.
'Now, O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?'
Solomon continues to answer the Lord by acknowledging the fact that, on his own, he is inadequate for the job of being king. We see this reaction as a pattern that occurs over and over throughout the Bible. The people that God uses in mighty ways are usually the lowly ones who can see that they are nothing without Him. With this in mind, he asks for "a discerning heart" which is commonly called wisdom. Solomon had received knowledge from David but could only receive wisdom through a personal relationship with God. The same is true for us today as we can go to all kinds of schools for higher education but we must remember that knowledge is not the same as wisdom.
The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. So God said to him, 'Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be. Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for - both riches and honor - so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings.'
Because Solomon was the humble servant, God elevated him to be the wisest man that ever has been or ever will be. That is hard for us to believe as we have become so educated with doctorates, masters, bachelors, and all kinds of learning certificates but none of these degrees comes close to the wisdom that God granted to Solomon. He also was given the riches and fame that he did not ask for and we are reminded that God always elevates the humble and brings down the proud. It is interesting to note that, unlike the wisdom, God did not say that there would never be a richer or more famous person than him.
'And if you walk in my ways and obey my statutes and commands as David your father did, I will give you a long life.' Then Solomon awoke - and realized it had been a dream. He returned to Jerusalem, stood before the ark of the Lord's covenant and sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. Then he gave a feast for all his court.
In addition to the gifts, God offered him a long life but this was not a gift as it required Solomon to act in a proper manner. Solomon awoke and realized that he had been visited by God in his dream. We see the impact that this had on him as he went back to Jerusalem and worshiped where he was supposed to.
Now two prostitutes came to the king and stood before him. One of them said, 'My lord, this woman and I live in the same house. I had a baby while she was there with me. The third day after my child was born, this woman also had a baby. We were alone; there was no one in the house but the two of us.'
Now, we see two women come to the king to settle a dispute between them. They were women who had children without being married to one man (harlots).
'During the night this woman's son dies because she lay on him. So she got up in the middle of the night and took my son from my side while I your servant was asleep. She put him by her breast and put her dead son by my breast. The next morning, I got up to nurse my son - and he was dead! But when I looked at him closely in the morning light, I saw that it wasn't the son I had borne.' The other woman said, 'No! The living one is my son; the dead one is yours.' But the first one insisted, 'No! The dead one is yours; the living one is mine.' And so they argued before the king.
Each woman claimed the living child as her own. We must remember that this was before the age of paternity tests and DNA analysis. It can be very difficult to look at a baby and say that it belongs to a certain person.
The king said, 'This one says, "My son is alive and your son is dead," while that one says, "No! Your son is dead and mine is alive." 'Then the king said, 'Bring me a sword.' So they brought a sword for the king. He then gave the order: 'Cut the living child in two and give half to one and half to the other.' The woman whose son was alive was filled with compassion for her son and said to the king, 'Please, my lord, give her the living baby! Don't kill him!' But the other said, 'Neither I nor you shall have him. Cut him in two!'
Using the wisdom that God had granted him, Solomon proposed cutting the child in half to divide it among the two women. The one lady begged him to give it to the other while the other lady was happy knowing that, if she couldn't have him, then, the other lady couldn't either. They had no idea that the king was just testing them but they knew that he had the authority to do what he said.
Then the king gave his ruling: Give the living baby to the first woman. Do not kill him; she is his mother.' When all Israel heard the verdict the king had given, they held the king in awe, because they saw that he had wisdom from God to administer justice.
God had given the king the wisdom to know that a loving mother would do whatever she had to do in order to save the child. When word of the ruling got out, everyone was amazed and knew that it was from God. This is a big contrast to our judicial systems today where people are qualified to judge based on some college degree and not whether they have wisdom from God.