In the wake of King David’s death, an ugly family squabble breaks out over who would take his place. Ultimately, Solomon wins out and ascends to the throne, but it is a confusing start. There are foreshadowings of promise mixed in with hints of trouble. In many respects, Solomon would prove, like his father, to be a good king, but he was not the promised Redeemer. From Unfolding Grace:
“In Eden we saw God’s people in God’s place, enjoying His presence and reflecting His rule. By partially reestablishing these blessings under David and Solomon, God creates a picture of the true kingdom He will one day fully restore to our world.”
Wednesday, May 19th
Larger Portion of Scripture - 1 Kings 1-4
Focused Passage for Reflection - 1 Kings 3:1-15
Reflecting on the Text:
Sometimes (most times) it’s just not that simple. We want to assign kings into one of two categories: good or bad. It’s an impossible task with any king, but particularly with Solomon. Under his reign, the nation of Israel experienced a time of unmatched peace and prosperity. The world noticed and came to see. But what was his legacy? It was tainted at best, and the mixed signals were present from the very beginning.
Chapter 3 begins with the mention of Solomon’s marriage alliance with Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. The text doesn’t dwell on this alliance. It almost seems to brush past it. But don’t miss it. The people were commanded not to return to Egypt. They were commanded not to intermarry with the nations around them, lest their hearts go after foreign gods. These were two strikes that would come to dominate Solomon’s reign.
Then in verse 3 another brief hint. There we read that Solomon loved the Lord, only he sacrificed and made offerings at the high places. Sacrifices were to be made at one place…the place of the Lord’s choosing. Throughout the saga of the kings, we see this continued mention of sacrificing in the high places as a sign of disobedient, divided hearts.
But Solomon’s story just isn’t that simple. All of this comes under the heading of “Solomon’s Prayer for Wisdom.” He is most known for his wisdom and this wisdom was granted to him by the Lord in response to prayer. It was a wise request and one that the Lord delighted to grant. In fact, the Lord was so delighted that He threw in riches and honor as a bonus…also what Solomon was most known for. And with his wisdom and riches, Solomon (anointed by the Lord) caused Israel to prosper.
His request was worthy of our imitation, but was his leadership? And then there are his moral failures. In 1 Kings 3:3, “Solomon loved the Lord.” In 1 Kings 11:1, we see the rest of the story: “Now King Solomon loved many foreign women.”
Good king, bad king, or tainted king? It’s hard to answer. We learn much from Solomon. His God-given wisdom guides us in Scripture. His prayer request in 1 Kings 3 displays a heart for the Lord and the Lord’s people. We would do well to learn from his successes…and his failures. The same is true of his father David. But their success and failures also point us beyond them. Role models are helpful, but role models are not saviors. The line of OT kings will continue to point us forward to the promised Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Questions for personal reflection:
How does Solomon’s prayer request for wisdom conform to God’s will? How does it inform your prayer requests?
How do his moral failures inform the way we see him in Scripture and learn from his example?