1 Kings
1 Solomon and the Daughter of Pharaoh 2-4 Sacrificing on the High Places 5 The LORD Appears to Solomon 6-9 What Solomon Asks for 10-15 What Solomon Gets 16-27 Solomon’s First Judgment 28 Fear for Solomon
Solomon and the Daughter of Pharaoh

1Then Solomon formed a marriage alliance with Pharaoh king of Egypt, and took Pharaoh’s daughter and brought her to the city of David until he had finished building his own house and the house of the LORD and the wall around Jerusalem.

Solomon marries the daughter of Pharaoh king of Egypt. She is not his only wife (1Kgs 11:11Now King Solomon loved many foreign women along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women,). Some see in her, a woman from the nations, a picture of the church. Others say that she is not a picture of the church, but an unholy woman (2Chr 8:1111Then Solomon brought Pharaoh’s daughter up from the city of David to the house which he had built for her, for he said, “My wife shall not dwell in the house of David king of Israel, because the places are holy where the ark of the LORD has entered.”), so that already at the beginning of Solomon’s reign his weakness for women appears.

Sacrificing on the High Places

2The people were still sacrificing on the high places, because there was no house built for the name of the LORD until those days. 3Now Solomon loved the LORD, walking in the statutes of his father David, except he sacrificed and burned incense on the high places. 4The king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there, for that was the great high place; Solomon offered a thousand burnt offerings on that altar.

Here too we see that the government of Solomon is not perfect. There is no direct talk of idolatry, but the heights do provide the opportunity for it, which is also seized by the people. Also there is the height in Gibeon, the main height. There is the tabernacle and there is the bronze altar of burnt offering (1Chr 16:37-3937So he left Asaph and his relatives there before the ark of the covenant of the LORD to minister before the ark continually, as every day’s work required;38and Obed-edom with his 68 relatives; Obed-edom, also the son of Jeduthun, and Hosah as gatekeepers.39[He left] Zadok the priest and his relatives the priests before the tabernacle of the LORD in the high place which [was] at Gibeon,; 2Chr 1:3-53Then Solomon and all the assembly with him went to the high place which was at Gibeon, for God’s tent of meeting was there, which Moses the servant of the LORD had made in the wilderness.4However, David had brought up the ark of God from Kiriath-jearim to the place he had prepared for it, for he had pitched a tent for it in Jerusalem.5Now the bronze altar, which Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, had made, was there before the tabernacle of the LORD, and Solomon and the assembly sought it out.). Gibeon is located about eight kilometers north of Jerusalem in the area of Benjamin. Solomon goes there. He has not yet entered into the thoughts of his father David, who has searched for the ark.

David made the threshing floor of Ornan the place where the temple is to be built (1Chr 21:28-3028At that time, when David saw that the LORD had answered him on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite, he offered sacrifice there.29For the tabernacle of the LORD, which Moses had made in the wilderness, and the altar of burnt offering [were] in the high place at Gibeon at that time.30But David could not go before it to inquire of God, for he was terrified by the sword of the angel of the LORD.; 22:11Then David said, “This is the house of the LORD God, and this is the altar of burnt offering for Israel.”). The ark is in Jerusalem and there Solomon sacrifices after his dream (verse 1515Then Solomon awoke, and behold, it was a dream. And he came to Jerusalem and stood before the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and offered burnt offerings and made peace offerings, and made a feast for all his servants.). The ark speaks of the Lord Jesus and the place where He is the center. Solomon could have made his sacrifices there earlier, but God tolerates it from him and His people to sacrifice them on the heights. It is not wrong, but it is not the best either.

The LORD Appears to Solomon

5In Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream at night; and God said, “Ask what [you wish] Me to give you.”

The LORD appears to Solomon in a dream. That is not a direct revelation, it is somewhat covered, but still clear. Possibly Solomon made that great sacrifice to ask the LORD a question.

God comes to him in a dream, when he sleeps. His senses are closed to the prickles of his surroundings, so that God’s access to his spirit can be all the more free and immediate. In this way God usually spoke to the prophets (Num 12:6b6He said,
“Hear now My words:
If there is a prophet among you,
I, the LORD, shall make Myself known to him in a vision.
I shall speak with him in a dream.
) and also to others to reveal His will to them (Job 33:14-1514“Indeed God speaks once,
Or twice, [yet] no one notices it.
15“In a dream, a vision of the night,
When sound sleep falls on men,
While they slumber in their beds,
). These Godly dreams undoubtedly differ from the usual dreams of people caused by busy activities (Ecc 5:3a3For the dream comes through much effort and the voice of a fool through many words.).

The LORD takes the initiative and says in the dream to Solomon that he may ask what he wants and that He will give him that. This is a great challenge. If that question were put to us, what would we answer? This question is indeed put to us by the Lord Jesus. He says to us that He gives us when we ask Him (Mt 7:7-87“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.8For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.; Jn 14:1313Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.; 16:2323In that day you will not question Me about anything. Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you.; 1Jn 5:1515And if we know that He hears us [in] whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.). Do we ask Him what we want?

What Solomon Asks for

6Then Solomon said, “You have shown great lovingkindness to Your servant David my father, according as he walked before You in truth and righteousness and uprightness of heart toward You; and You have reserved for him this great lovingkindness, that You have given him a son to sit on his throne, as [it is] this day. 7Now, O LORD my God, You have made Your servant king in place of my father David, yet I am but a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. 8Your servant is in the midst of Your people which You have chosen, a great people who are too many to be numbered or counted. 9So give Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people to discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?”

Solomon gratefully acknowledges all that God has given David and made him king as the son of David. He acknowledges his dependence and his inability to perform that great task. As to himself he feels helplessly, young and inexperienced – he is less than twenty years old here – while he sees the people as a great crowd to govern. In the first place he does not think of himself, but of the people as God’s people. He says he stands “in the midst of” God’s people. The true leader is not above God’s people, but is part of them (cf. 1Pet 5:2a2shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to [the will of] God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness;).

Solomon asks for wisdom (2Chr 1:1010Give me now wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people, for who can rule this great people of Yours?”), because this is what is needed when there is a question to distinguish between good and evil. Wisdom is not having a good intellect. Wisdom is applying knowledge at the right time and in the right way. Solomon had a wise father who pointed out the importance of wisdom to him (Pro 4:3-93When I was a son to my father,
Tender and the only son in the sight of my mother,
4Then he taught me and said to me,
“Let your heart hold fast my words;
Keep my commandments and live;5Acquire wisdom! Acquire understanding!
Do not forget nor turn away from the words of my mouth.
6“Do not forsake her, and she will guard you;
Love her, and she will watch over you.
7“The beginning of wisdom [is]: Acquire wisdom;
And with all your acquiring, get understanding.
8“Prize her, and she will exalt you;
She will honor you if you embrace her.
9“She will place on your head a garland of grace;
She will present you with a crown of beauty.”
). It is more important to pass this on to our children than to give them a good education (cf. Isa 7:1515He will eat curds and honey at the time He knows [enough] to refuse evil and choose good.).

In Job 28 it also is said what wisdom and understanding is: Fear the LORD on the one hand and turn away from evil on the other (Job 28:2828“And to man He said, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom;
And to depart from evil is understanding.’”
). Wisdom is the part of the perfected (1Cor 2:6a6Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away;), that is the spiritual mature (Heb 5:1414But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.). When a person has learned to avoid evil and to follow the good, he is mature.

What Solomon Gets

10It was pleasing in the sight of the Lord that Solomon had asked this thing. 11God said to him, “Because you have asked this thing and have not asked for yourself long life, nor have asked riches for yourself, nor have you asked for the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself discernment to understand justice, 12behold, I have done according to your words. Behold, I have given you a wise and discerning heart, so that there has been no one like you before you, nor shall one like you arise after you. 13I have also given you what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that there will not be any among the kings like you all your days. 14If you walk in My ways, keeping My statutes and commandments, as your father David walked, then I will prolong your days.” 15Then Solomon awoke, and behold, it was a dream. And he came to Jerusalem and stood before the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and offered burnt offerings and made peace offerings, and made a feast for all his servants.

A prayer like Solomon’s is good in the eyes of the LORD. Solomon did not think of himself in his prayer. He did not ask for things that are pleasing to himself, but for something that is important for the good of the people. He has prayed in accordance with the LORD, with what is really important to Him and these are the interests of His people. Therefore He also gives what Solomon did not ask for, the less important (cf. Mt 6:31-3331Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’32For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.33But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.).

The condition of obedience is set to have a long life (verse 1414If you walk in My ways, keeping My statutes and commandments, as your father David walked, then I will prolong your days.”). Solomon did not comply with that. He counteracted the king’s law by taking many women (Deu 17:17a17He shall not multiply wives for himself, or else his heart will turn away; nor shall he greatly increase silver and gold for himself.) and therefore has died at a relatively young age.

When Solomon is awakened from his dream, he offers offerings to the LORD out of gratitude for the answering of his prayer. The burnt offerings speak of the fact that all honor belongs to God. They speak of the perfect work of the Lord Jesus totally dedicated to God on the cross. Its application to us is that we also completely dedicate our lives to God. The peace offerings show that we know ourselves in fellowship with God’s people to serve God together with them and to glorify Him. He has a special feast for all his servants.

Solomon’s First Judgment

16Then two women who were harlots came to the king and stood before him. 17The one woman said, “Oh, my lord, this woman and I live in the same house; and I gave birth to a child while she [was] in the house. 18It happened on the third day after I gave birth, that this woman also gave birth to a child, and we were together. There was no stranger with us in the house, only the two of us in the house. 19This woman’s son died in the night, because she lay on it. 20So she arose in the middle of the night and took my son from beside me while your maidservant slept, and laid him in her bosom, and laid her dead son in my bosom. 21When I rose in the morning to nurse my son, behold, he was dead; but when I looked at him carefully in the morning, behold, he was not my son, whom I had borne.” 22Then the other woman said, “No! For the living one is my son, and the dead one is your son.” But the first woman said, “No! For the dead one is your son, and the living one is my son.” Thus they spoke before the king. 23Then the king said, “The one says, ‘This is my son who is living, and your son is the dead one’; and the other says, ‘No! For your son is the dead one, and my son is the living one.’” 24The king said, “Get me a sword.” So they brought a sword before the king. 25The king said, “Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one and half to the other.” 26Then the woman whose child [was] the living one spoke to the king, for she was deeply stirred over her son and said, “Oh, my lord, give her the living child, and by no means kill him.” But the other said, “He shall be neither mine nor yours; divide [him]!” 27Then the king said, “Give the first woman the living child, and by no means kill him. She is his mother.”

Solomon’s wisdom is expressed in a special way in the judgment he pronounces in a dispute between two harlots who both claim the right to a living baby. He is also wise in other respects, such as in government and building, but the first wisdom is that in judgment. We also see this with the Lord Jesus, when He reigns as the true Solomon. First, then, the judgment seat is erected, from where He judges the world.

What does it mean to say that we are talking about two harlots? What does the change of babies say? Nor is there any mention of fathers. Everything takes place in the night: the death of the baby, the exchange out of jealousy by one person, the appearance of life, the sleep of the other by which the exchange could take place.

How can justice be done here properly? This is only possible if the truth is known. This happens in the light and through the Word, for in it and through it everything becomes public. It is not about carrying out the judgment, but about making public what is in the heart and acting in accordance with it.

What does this judgment show us about the women? A human judge can only judge about what he sees and hears. He contemplates all testimonies. However, there are no testimonies to be given here, because there are no witnesses. Then it comes to the heart. But no one knows that. Only God knows the hearts of men (Jer 17:9-109“The heart is more deceitful than all else
And is desperately sick;
Who can understand it?
10“I, the LORD, search the heart,
I test the mind,
Even to give to each man according to his ways,
According to the results of his deeds.
) and he to whom God gives wisdom for this purpose.

We see this with Solomon. Solomon reveals through his wisdom the heart of man. Here the truth can only come to the surface by revealing the state of the heart. Solomon knows the heart of man. That is not by psychology, but by God’s wisdom. We see how Solomon through his judgment expresses the inner of the true mother (verse 2626Then the woman whose child [was] the living one spoke to the king, for she was deeply stirred over her son and said, “Oh, my lord, give her the living child, and by no means kill him.” But the other said, “He shall be neither mine nor yours; divide [him]!”).

The testimony about David is even more beautiful. We see this in the book of Psalms where we notice that he knows the heart of God and the Lord Jesus. The wisdom of Solomon is limited to the heart of man.

The real mother starts talking about a case where no witnesses were present. The question is: how can be determined who the real mother is? Is Solomon able to do so? He has insight in human nature, in this case in the natural feelings of a mother. Nowadays, DNA testing can (often) lead to a definite answer. The more science, the less wisdom is needed, the less dependency on God to make a matter public. Learning does not necessarily make wiser.

The real mother discovers in the morning, in the light, what happened in the night. In the light, reality is seen. The false mother confesses the right to the living child, but lies against the truth. She is attracted by life, claims it for herself, but is strange to it and has no right to it. The problem is that both women claim to speak the truth, while there are no witnesses who can agree with either of them. This means that only someone who can look deeper than the confession can bring the truth to light.

Solomon summarizes the problem, a problem that can only be solved by wisdom. Only wisdom brings the truth to light. Only Divine wisdom is able to test the authenticity of the confession and to reveal the true state of the heart. We can say that we love Christ, that we have life from God, but this will have to be evident from our reactions to the Word of God when it comes to us, for of that is the sword that Solomon lets bring a picture (Eph 6:17b17And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.; Heb 4:1212For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.).

What Solomon proposes as a solution to the insoluble is unprecedented in the judiciary. His solution brings about a spontaneous expression of maternal feelings. We see here that the sword is applied to the situation. As said, the sword is a picture of the Word of God. If there are problems in our lives or in the church, they can only be solved if they are seen in the light of God’s Word. God’s Word brings the truth to light. That also happens here.

The application of the sword expresses true love in its selflessness. True love wants to save life, even if it loses it herself. The false love gives away life if it is not for herself and also takes away life from others, does not grant it to others. Solomon assigns life to her who respect it, who loves it.

Fear for Solomon

28When all Israel heard of the judgment which the king had handed down, they feared the king, for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him to administer justice.

There is awe and respect for the king, but also fear. If you are dealing with such a king, he knows you completely, through and through. We have to deal with a Lord under Whose dominion we stand and Who judges between brother and brother and sister and sister because He knows the hearts. That awareness will be a comfort if there are false accusations, but it is a threat if we are not sincere. He knows the intentions of our hearts.

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