(Draft in progress - Recent update 9/19/09)
While sixty chapters are given in the Sacred Record to the life of David, only twenty chapters are given to Solomon. The life of Solomon may be briefly summarized as follows:
(1) Early simplicity
Our earliest glimpses of Solomon are most pleasing. Coming to the throne at an early age, perhaps about twenty, one of his first public acts was to call an assembly of Israel at Gibeon which, as the location of the Tabernacle, was the center of Israel's worship. Here he offered with all Israel one thousand burnt offerings. That same night God appeared to him and bade him, for his father David's sake, to ask what he would. With beautiful spirit Solomon made reply, "Give me wisdom and knowledge that I may come in and go out before this people: for who can judge this thy people that is so great?" Because Solomon requested wisdom rather than riches or honor or long life or the life of his enemies, God was pleased and declared that he should have all of these besides the wisdom he craved.
(2) Mature greatness
Solomon ruled wisely the vast domain which he had inherited from his father David, and as the years passes, grew into a man of strength and a statesman of ability. He completed and perfected the governmental policies inaugurated by David; he carried on extensive building operations both in Jerusalem and throughout the realm; he formed trade relations with Egypt, Tyre, and other nations which brought him wealth from the remote parts of the earth.
(3) Sinful indulgence
Along with increasing wealth and power there came to Solomon and to all Israel a spirit of ease and indulgence which could but prophesy evil for the holy nation. After the manner of Oriental despots, Solomon made alliance with foreign courts and in order to cement the bonds of friendship he married daughters of these foreign rulers, among them the daughter of Pharaoh, thus establishing an extensive harem. These women brought in their foreign gods and idolatries and thus turned the heart of Solomon from the worship of Jehovah. The usual forms of sacrifice and worship were indeed kept up, but the spirit had gone out of the forms, and Solomon and all Israel with him were swept by currents of sin and worldly indulgence.
(4) Sad decline
Wearied with the follies and idolatries of the king and the nation, Jehovah appeared again with the words, "Forasmuch as this is done of thee and thou hast not kept my covenant and my statutes which I have commanded thee, I will surely rend the kingdom from thee and give it to thy servant." Clouds began to gather; signs of decline began to appear. The increasing weakness of these declining days is manifest in the fact that Rezon, king of the Syrians, was able for many years to wage war against Solomon, and that Israel's ancient enemy, Edom, under the dreaded Hadad, also raised a standard of revolt which Solomon seemed unable to put down.
The division of the kingdom following Solomon's death occurred at some time in the year beginning in Nisan (in the spring) of 931 BCE, as argued by Edwin Thiele Mysterious Numbers p. 78.
His fourth year would have begun in Tishri (in the fall) of 968/967 BCE. Solomon's fourth year, in which Temple construction allegedly began, is calculated by modern scholars from the Tyrian king list of Menander (Menander of Ephesus (ca. early 2nd century BC) was the historian whose lost work on the history of Tyre was used by Josephus) as the year 968 BCE without the use of biblical texts. [J. Liver, "The Chronology of Tyre at the Beginning of the First Millennium B.C.," Israel Exploration Journal 3 (1953) 113-120.; Frank Moore Cross, "An Interpretation of the Nora Stone," Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 208 (1972) 17, n. 11.;William H. Barnes, Studies in the Chronology of the Divided Monarch of Israel (Atlanta, GA: Scholars Press, 1991) 29-55.]
Rough Study Notes:
Solomon, Israel’s fabulous king (1 Ki. 1-11; 2 Chron. 1-9).
His triumph over his enemies (1 Ki. 1:1-2:46).
Over Adonijah. While David is on his deathbed, his oldest living son, Adonijah, attempts to steal the throne from his half-brother, Solomon. He is supported by Joab and Abiathar (1:7). Solomon, however, is supported by Nathan, the Prophet; Bath-sheba, his mother; Zadok, the high priest; and Benaiah, one of David’s mighty men of old (1:8-11). Bath-sheba visits her dying husband, and arranges for Solomon to be anointed by Zadok (1:39). Adonijah is placed on probation, but later executed when he makes a power play for the throne by attempting to marry Abishag, who had been David’s last concubine (1:3; 2:17, 25).
Over Abiathar (2:26, 27). Because of his faithfulness to David, Abiathar is allowed to live but is banished from the priesthood.
Over Joab (2:28-34). This bloody general is finally executed, not only for his part in Adonijah’s rebellion, but for many past crimes which included the murders of Abner and Amasa.
Over Shimei (2:36-46). Shimei, like Adonijah, is for a while placed on parole, but he breaks this trust and suffers the death penalty for it. At the execution of Shimei, David’s dying request has been fulfilled by Solomon, for he had asked that justice be done to both Joab and Shimei (2:5, 8).
His talent from God (3:4-28).
Solomon is visited by the Lord in a dream while in Gideon to make sacrifice. God tells him he may have anything he desires and the new king asks for wisdom (3:6-9).
When he returns to Jerusalem, he is immediately confronted with a situation which tests his newly acquired wisdom. Two harlot mothers approach him concerning two babies, one dead and the other living. Both mothers claim the living one as theirs. Solomon suggests he divide the living child with a sword and give half to each woman. The real mother, of course, is horrified at this, and thus her true identity is revealed (3:16-28).
His total and tranquil reign over all Israel (1 Ki. 4:1-34). Solomon’s reign at this time is a beautiful foreshadowing of Christ’s perfect millennial reign. Thus we see:
Solomon had twelve cabinet members to aid in his reign (1 Ki. 4:7). Jesus will confer this upon his twelve disciples (Mt. 19:28).
Solomon ruled "over all kingdoms" in the Holy Land area (1 Ki. 4:21), while Christ will rule over all kingdoms everywhere (see Rev. 11:15).
Solomon’s subjects served him as we will serve Christ (1 Ki. 4:21; Rev. 22:3).
Solomon brought in local peace (1 Ki. 4:24), as Christ will usher in universal peace (Isa. 2:2-4).
Judah and Israel dwelt safely, "every man under his vine" (1 Ki. 4:25). So will it be during Christ’s reign (Jer. 23:6; Micah 4:4; Zech. 3:10).
His Temple of worship (1 Ki. 5-8; 2 Chron. 2-7).
It was begun in May during Solomon’s fourth year and completed in November of his eleventh year, thus making a total of seven years (1 Ki. 6:38).
It was exactly twice the size of Moses’ tabernacle, ninety feet long, thirty feet wide, and forty-five feet high. (Compare with Ex. 26:16, 18.)
It was built by the partial slave labor project instituted by Solomon, which consisted of 100,000 Israelites, 80,000 stone cutters, and 3,600 foremen.
The floors and walls were made of stone covered with cedar and overlaid with gold (1 Ki. 6:16, 21, 22).
It was built without the sound of hammer, axe, or any other tool (1 Ki. 6:7).
It had ten lampstands and ten tables of shewbread (1 Ki. 7:49), as opposed to one each in Moses’ tabernacle.
Solomon paid King Hiram of Tyre nearly a million bushels of wheat and some 840 gallons of pure olive oil for the timber alone from the forest of Lebanon to construct the Temple shell (5:8-11).
There were two golden cherubim in the Holy of Holies (1 Ki. 8:7).
The dedication. Solomon briefly reviews the historical circumstances which led up to this glad day (1 Ki. 8:12-21; 2 Chron. 6:1-11).
The supplication (1 Ki. 8:22-53; 2 Chron. 6:12-42). Solomon prays that the influence of this beautiful Temple will extend itself in a threefold manner:
Over the individual (1 Ki. 8:31, 32).
That sinners will be judged.
That the righteous will be justified.
Over the nation.
That its sins might be forgiven (vs. 33-35).
That its land might be healed (vs. 36, 37).
That Israel might be preserved in captivity (vs. 44-50).
Over the heathen (vs. 41-43).
The benediction (1 Ki. 8:54-61).
The manifestation (2 Chron. 7:1-3).
"Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the Lord filled the house."
The presentation (1 Ki. 8:62-66; 2 Chron. 7:4-10). This offering, consisting of 120 thousand sheep and twenty-two thousand oxen, was the largest in the Bible, and perhaps of all time.
His treasury of riches.
He had 700 wives and 300 concubines (1 Ki. 11:3).
He had fantastic quantities of gold.
from Hiram he acquired three and a half million (9:14)
from his navy, 420 talents of gold (9:27, 28)
from the Queen of Sheba, three and a half million (10:10)
from yearly taxes and revenue, upwards of 20 million (10:14)
He owned 40,000 horses (4:26).
He owned 1400 chariots, each costing $400 apiece (10:26).
He commanded 12,000 cavalrymen (10:26).
He owned an extensive fleet of ships (1 Ki. 9:26-28; 10:22; 2 Chron. 8:17, 18).
He built a huge ivory throne and overlaid it with pure gold. It had six steps and a rounded back with arm rests. It was surrounded by twelve lions, two resting on each step (10:18-20).
He constructed an iron-smelting industry at Ezion-Geber (1 Ki. 9:17).
His testimony throughout the land (1 Ki. 4:29-34; 10:1-13).
The ruler of Arabia came to see for herself the riches of Solomon and also to test his universally famed wisdom. She entered Jerusalem a skeptic, but left with this testimony:
"I believed not the words, until I came and mine eyes had seen it: and behold, the half was not told me: thy wisdom and prosperity exceedeth the fame which I heard" (1 Ki. 10:7).
Some nine centuries later the Savior would refer to this historic visit. (See Mt. 12:42.)
Solomon’s wisdom was testified to universally in matters of:
jurisprudence (1 Ki. 3:28)
administration (1 Ki. 4:29; 5:12)
poetry (1 Ki. 4:32) (Solomon’s writings are discussed at the end of this stage.)
natural science (1 Ki. 4:33)
architecture and engineering (1 Ki. 5:1-7; 9:15-22)
commercial enterprise (1 Ki. 9:26-10:29)
philosophy (Eccles. 2:3)
horticulture (Eccles. 2:5)
His transgressions against God:
The warnings to Solomon against transgressing.
first warning (1 Chron. 22:13)
last warning (1 Ki. 2:3)
first warning (1 Ki. 3:14)
second warning (9:6, 7)
last warning (11:11)
The nature of Solomon’s transgressions. Some four and one-half centuries before Solomon, God had written the following qualifications concerning all future kings of Israel:
"When thou art come unto the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, and shalt possess it, and shalt dwell therein, and shalt say, I will set a king over me, like as all the nations that are about me; thou shalt in any wise set him king over thee, thou mayest not set a stranger over thee, which is not thy brother. But he shall not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt, to the end that he should multiply horses: forasmuch as the Lord hath said unto you, Ye shall henceforth return no more that way. Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away: neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold" (Deut. 7:14-17).
But Solomon disobeyed in all three areas.
He had much gold and silver (1 Ki. 10:14-27).
He owned thousands of horses (4:26).
He gathered hundreds of wives and concubines (11:3).
The results of Solomon’s transgressions:
That he would, for the first time in his reign, be plagued with troublemakers and minor revolts (11:14-25).
That after his death, God would take the kingdom from Solomon’s son and give a large portion of it to another (11:9-13, 26-40).