The words of our text, spoken to David, indicate that Solomon was the Lord’s choice to succeed him upon the throne of Israel. Solomon was the second son of David and Bathsheba. He came to the throne at the age of twenty, and reigned over the twelve tribes for forty years. Solomon was the writer of the Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and the Song of Solomon.
Solomon’s reign began with bright prospects – the promises of God, the instruction of his father David and the prophet Nathan, the favor of all the people and abundant treasure for building the temple. Shortly after his reign began, Solomon had a dream from the Lord, in which the Lord asked him what he would like to receive. Solomon asked for an understanding heart to be able to judge the people well. The Lord was pleased with the request, and granted Solomon a wise and understanding heart, as well as riches and honor (1 Kings 3: 5-15). Shortly thereafter Solomon demonstrated his wisdom when two women came to him, both claiming the same child. When Solomon suggested that the child be physically divided between the two, the real mother was revealed (1 Kings 3: 16-28).
Building the Temple
The temple built by Solomon, although not the largest, most lofty and massive structure of ancient times, was probably richer in its ornamentation and costlier than any of the others because of the large amount of gold used in its construction. Building the temple was an enormous task that employed a workforce of tens of thousands, and took seven years to complete.
Solomon then dedicated the temple to God. The ark of the covenant was brought into the Most Holy and a cloud filled the room. Solomon addressed the people, offered a dedicatory prayer and sacrifices were offered. God accepted the temple and manifested that acceptance by causing the shekinah glory to shine upon the Mercy Seat in the Most Holy (1 Kings 8).
During the first part of Solomon’s reign, he cultivated trade with neighboring countries, repaired his cities, etc. His fame had spread throughout the world, and he had become wealthy. The Lord then appeared to Solomon a second time, again in a dream, and indicated that He approved of Solomon’s course up to this time. But He proceeded to set before Solomon a view of the right and wrong paths which lay before him, counselling him to choose the path of wisdom and righteousness as his father David had done. The Lord then stated the outcomes of both paths (1 Kings 9: 1-9).
Sadly, Solomon chose the wrong path during the latter part of his reign. He indulged in self-gratification, resulting in a premature old age. Contrary to the Divine law (Deuteronomy 17: 17), Solomon multiplied wives till he had seven hundred. He built places of worship of false religions to please his wives, which became snares to the Israelites for centuries (1 Kings 11: 4-10). Furthermore, Solomon expanded his own fortune by placing heavy burdens upon the people (1 Kings 12: 4, 11), eventuating in the division of Israel into the ten and two tribes respectively following Solomon’s death (1 Kings 11: 11-13).
We may learn several lessons from Solomon’s fall. First, it is not only important to begin life wisely in harmony with God, but equally necessary to continue it until the end. A second lesson respects the importance of marriage, and the desirableness of a consecrated Christian to find a husband or wife “in the Lord.” A third lesson is that wisdom, wealth, education, influence and great opportunities are sure to become snares and injurious, unless we are continually guided in their use by the wisdom which cometh from above.
Although we can appreciate the wisdom of Solomon, he was merely a type of Christ. Our Lord referred to Himself when He stated, “a greater than Solomon is here” (Matthew 12: 42). This is in perfect harmony with 1 Kings 3: 12. Solomon’s peaceful and prosperous reign, his famed wisdom and his marvelous wealth and glory were typical of the Millennial reign of Christ and His Church.