I Kings 3:5-9
(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)
The above print depicts a divine encounter that happened to newly-enthoned King Solomon, recorded in I Kings 3:5 through 9:
At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream ...; and God said, “Ask! What shall I give you?”... And Solomon said...“...O LORD my God, You have made your servant king instead of my father David, but I am a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. And Your servant is in the midst of Your people whom You have chosen, a great people, too numerous to be numbered or counted. Therefore give Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?” A more noble request could not have been made by a ruler over God’s people! And in the early part of his 40 year reign, Solomon showed forth that God-given wisdom! The first recorded display of his wisdom came quickly, recorded in I Kings 3:16-27, just after the king’s nighttime visitation. Here is the gist of the incident:
- Two harlots who lived in the same house came before Solomon bearing one infant boy, the surviving child of two boys born just three days apart. One claimed the other had killed her baby at night by rolling over on it in her sleep. The other said the first was the one who did this, and then switched her dead son with the first woman’s live infant.
- Solomon heard their testimonies, then called for a sword. “Divide the living child in two, and give half to one, and half to the other.” (verse 25).
- The two women both gave urgent responses (verse 26):
✡ The true mother cried out, “O my lord, give her the living child, and by no means kill him!” ✡ “But the other said, ‘let him be neither mine nor yours, but divide him.”
- The king’s decision came immediately (verse 27): “Give the first woman the living child, and by no means kill him; she is his mother.”
Verse 28 shows the result of such wisdom: “And all Israel heard…and they feared the king, for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him to administer justice.”
If only Solomon had held a straight course to his plea, “…that I may discern between good and evil.” But he didn’t!
In the last Gem, I directed us back to Deuteronomy 17:14 through 17. Here I will start with verse 16 for the sake of space, and add verses 18 and 19. For I said that there are four prescriptions God gave Israel for choosing their future king. There are actually six that apply to Solomon, and the last two in verses 18 and 19 are the most important!
“...he shall not multiply horses for himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, for the Lord has said to you,‘You shall not return that way again.’ Neither shall he mul- tiply wives for himself, lest his heart turn away; nor shall he greatly multiply silver and gold for himself. And it shall be when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write for himself a copy of this law in a book....And it shall be with him , and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God and be careful to observe all the words of this law and these statutes....”
So we will start with Deuteronomy 17:18 – “And it shall be when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write for himself a copy of this law in a book….” The king was to himself write a copy of at least the book of Deuteronomy, and possibly the whole Pentateuch!
- This exercise was meant to ingrain the word of God into the mind and heart of the king!
- There is no record that Solomon ever followed this directive (nor did any other king of the united or split kingdoms of Israel).
Writing out Scripture is a great way to get it inside of you where God wants to do His work!
Deuteronomy 17:19 – “And it shall be with him , and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God and be careful to observe all the words of this law and these statutes….”
- Did Solomon read Scripture “…all the days of his life…”?
- Again, there is no record that he daily read the Word of God!
Colossians 3:16 plainly tells us, “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly….” But to have this happen, You must dwell richly in the Word! You should read it, study it, meditate on it, even memorize pertinent Scriptures daily!
So how else did King Solomon fall short of his plea to God, “…that I may discern between good and evil…” ?
Deuteronomy 17:16 – “…he shall not multiply horses for himself….”
- …because we are told in Psalm 20:7, “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; but we will remember the name of the LORD our God.” I count a dozen or more Scriptures in Psalms and Proverbs that steer the LORD’s people away from trusting anything or anyone except God to keep our country on the right track! But since we are highlighting dependence upon horses, check out also Psalm 33:17, Psalm 147:10, and Proverbs 21:31.
- But Solomon “…multiplied horses [and chariots] for himself…” !
✡ I Kings 10:26 – “And Solomon gathered chariots and horsemen; he had one thousand four hundred chariots and twelve thousand horsemen whom he stationed in the chariot cities and with the king in Jerusalem.” No, it does not mention horses here. But you have to have horses for twelve thousand horsemen! ✡ And II Chronicles 9:25 confirms it – “Solomon had four thousand stalls for horses and chariots....”
Deuteronomy 17:16 – “…he shall not…cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, for the Lord has said to you, ‘You shall not return that way again.’ ”
- Isaiah 31:1 is pretty much a parallel verse to Deuteronomy 17:16:
Woe to those who who go down to Egypt for help, and rely on horses, who trust in chariots because they are many, and in horsemen because they are very strong, but do not seek the Holy One of Israel, not seek the LORD.”
- How did Solomon compare to this prohibition?
✡ I Kings 10:28, 29 – “And Solomon had horses im- ported from Egypt....Now a chariot...cost six hundred shekels of silver, and a horse one hun- dred and fifty....” ✡ I Kings 10:29 – Not only did he buy horses and chariots from Egypt to build up His own Israel- ite army, but “...through their agents, they exported them to all the kings of the Hittites and the kings of Syria.”
Let’s pause here, for there is yet much to say concerning the last two prohibitions God laid out for the future Israelite kings to heed. We will finish this study of King Solomon and Discerning Between Good and Evil in our next Gem.