1 Kings 3


‘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. 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 instructions given him by his father David, except that he offered sacrifices and burned incense on the high places.’ 1 Kings 3:1-3

Solomon Asks For Wisdom

No one knows who this Pharaoh is but Solomon makes an alliance with him which was the custom of the day, where two countries sealed their relationship through marriage. By doing this, the king of one country would marry the other’s daughters which were permissible under those circumstances, as long as those other countries gave up their gods, Deuteronomy 21:10-14. Israel wasn’t allowed to marry any Canaanites, Exodus 34:11-16 / Deuteronomy 7:1-5.

In this case, Pharaoh and Egypt as a whole would be better off because Israel at this time was the stronger nation, but both countries could easily come to an agreement about trade deals, 1 Kings 10:26-29.

The high places were common places where the Canaanites sacrificed offerings to their gods. These high places shouldn’t have been in existence because God had commanded Israel to destroy them all many years before this because He knew that Israel would be tempted to get involved in idol worship, Deuteronomy 12:1-4.

The people had the excuse that the temple wasn’t finished being built yet, but worshipping God at these high places was sinful, Leviticus 17:9. We must remember that God never commanded a temple to build in the first place, it was David’s idea, not God’s, 2 Samuel 7:1-17.

‘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. 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.’ 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. ‘Now, 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?’ 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 wealth and honour—so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings. And if you walk in obedience to me and keep my decrees and commands as David your father did, I will give you a long life.’ Then Solomon awoke—and he 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.’ 1 Kings 3:4-15

Although the ark of the covenant was in a tent in Jerusalem, Solomon goes to Gibeon because the tabernacle was located at Gibeon during the days of David’s reign and the first part of the reign of Solomon. When he arrives he offers burnt offerings, 2 Chronicles 1:2-13.

God often appeared to men in dreams, but that didn’t always mean that God approved that person, we see this Pharaoh, Genesis 41:1-8, and Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel 2:1-9.

Notice Solomon says to God after having his dream that he is ‘only a little child’, Solomon could be referring to his inexperience in judging the people, and he could be referring to his young age as king he is young. Although we don’t exactly how old he was when he became king, the Septuagint gives it at age twelve, 1 Kings 2:12, but we simply don’t know.

When God tells Solomon to ask for anything, we see in Solomon’s answer to God, that he truly appreciated everything God had done for him. Solomon understands that his greatest need if he is going to have this huge responsibility to lead God’s people, is his wisdom, he knows he needs understanding so that he can lead God’s people with justice.

Solomon didn’t request anything for himself such as long life or riches, he simply asks for wisdom to rule the people and because of this, God heard his prayer and God was pleased with him. God was so pleased with his request, He gives Solomon more than just wisdom, He gives him wealth and honour.

A Wise Ruling

‘Now two prostitutes came to the king and stood before him. One of them said, ‘Pardon me, my lord. This woman and I live in the same house, and 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. ‘During the night this woman’s son died 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. 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 an order: ‘Cut the living child in two and give half to one and half to the other.’ The woman whose son was alive was deeply moved out of love 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!’ 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.’ 1 Kings 3:16-28

The people had direct access to the king at this point in time and notice that the two women who came to Solomon were prostitutes. Because Solomon allows two prostitutes to come to him, shows us just how kind and generous Solomon was as a king.

One of the women says, ‘the dead one is your son, and the living one is my son’. When we think about this, this appears to be an impossible issue to solve, because there were no witnesses, this is basically one prostitute’s word over another.

Notice how Solomon uses his wisdom to solve this issue, he asks for a sword. If we didn’t know how this issue ended, we would think that what Solomon was about to do was foolish and even dangerous, but because we know how this issue ends, we can see the wisdom in his actions.

Solomon knew how to solve this issue because he knew what the true mother of the child would react if she thought the child was about to be killed, she ‘was deeply moved out of love for her son.’

She proved she was the real child’s mother by her love for her son. She would rather have the child live without her than die with her, she put the child’s welfare above her own.

Without any hesitation Solomon now knows who the real mother is, he knew that the offer to cut the child in two would reveal the true mother, and he rewarded the mother’s love accordingly. This whole event manifested the wisdom God had given Solomon.

And because of Solomon’s wisdom and dealing with these two women and the child, he became famous throughout the surrounding nations and beyond.

Everyone heard about what he did and as a result, the people were in awe because they knew that Solomon not only had the wisdom to lead God’s people but also the courage to do what was right.

Go To 1 Kings 4


"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding."