Who was King Solomon in the Old Testament?

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By BibleAsk Team


King Solomon

King Solomon is a prominent figure in the Bible, known for his wisdom, wealth, and the construction of the magnificent Temple in Jerusalem. His story is primarily found in the Old Testament, particularly in the books of 1 Kings, 2 Chronicles, and the Song of Solomon.

Early Life and Ascension to the Throne

The Bible presents King Solomon as the third and last king of the United Kingdom of Israel. He reigns for 40 years (970 – 931 BCE) after King Saul and King David (1 kings11:42). He is the second born child of David and his wife Bathsheba, widow of Uriah the Hittite.

His birth is recorded in 2 Samuel 12:24-25: “Then David comforted Bathsheba his wife, and went in to her and lay with her. So she bore a son, and he called his name Solomon. Now the Lord loved him, and He sent word by the hand of Nathan the prophet: so he called his name Jedidiah, because of the Lord.”

Solomon’s ascent to the throne is detailed in 1 Kings 1-2. His older brother, Adonijah, attempted to claim the kingship, but through the intervention of the prophet Nathan and Bathsheba, Solomon was anointed as king by David. 1 Kings 1:39-40 narrates the events: “Then Zadok the priest took a horn of oil from the tabernacle and anointed Solomon. And they blew the horn, and all the people said, ‘Long live King Solomon!’ And all the people went up after him; and the people played the flutes and rejoiced with great joy, so that the earth seemed to split with their sound.”

Wisdom and Judgment

One of the most well-known stories about this king is his divine wisdom. In 1 Kings 3:5-14, the king has a dream in which God appears to him and offers to grant him anything he desires. Instead of asking for wealth or power, the king requests wisdom to govern the people of Israel justly. God is pleased with this request and grants him unparalleled wisdom.

The famous story of the two women who claimed to be the mother of the same baby showcases Solomon’s wisdom. He proposes to divide the baby in half to satisfy both women, but the real mother immediately offers to give up her claim to save the child’s life. Solomon, recognizing her true maternal love, declares her as the rightful mother (1 Kings 3:16-28).

Building the Temple

Solomon is renowned for building the Temple in Jerusalem, a project initiated by his father, David. The construction of the Temple is detailed in 1 Kings 6-7. Solomon’s dedication to this project and his desire for the Temple to be a magnificent dwelling for the Lord are evident in his careful planning and execution. 1 Kings 6:14-15 describes the construction: “So Solomon built the temple and finished it. And he built the inside walls of the temple with cedar boards; from the floor of the temple to the ceiling, he paneled the inside with wood; and he covered the floor of the temple with planks of cypress.”

The completion of the Temple is marked by a grand dedication ceremony, described in 1 Kings 8. Solomon offers a powerful prayer, acknowledging God’s faithfulness and expressing the purpose of the Temple as a place for the people to seek God’s presence.

Alliance and Prosperity

Solomon’s reign is characterized by political alliances and economic prosperity. He forms a crucial alliance with the king of Tyre, Hiram, for materials and skilled labor in the construction of the Temple (1 Kings 5:1-12). Additionally, the king engages in extensive trade, accumulating great wealth and wisdom (1 Kings 10:23-24).

The Queen of Sheba visits this king to witness his wisdom and wealth, bringing him gifts and testing his knowledge. Impressed by what she sees, she acknowledges the greatness of Solomon and the God of Israel (1 Kings 10:1-9).

Apostasy and Repentance

Despite Solomon’s early devotion to God, his later years are marked by a departure from his initial faithfulness. Influenced by his foreign wives, he allows the introduction of idolatry into Israel, building high places for the worship of foreign gods (1 Kings 11:1-8).

God becomes displeased with this king’s actions and sends the prophet Ahijah to deliver a message of judgment. The kingdom will be torn away from his descendants, though not in his lifetime due to God’s faithfulness to David (1 Kings 11:9-13).

But the king repents of his sins towards the end of his life and declares, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all. For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).

Death and Legacy

The king’s death is recorded in 1 Kings 11:41-43: “Now the rest of the acts of Solomon, all that he did, and his wisdom, are they not written in the book of the acts of Solomon? And the period that Solomon reigned in Jerusalem over all Israel was forty years. Then Solomon rested with his fathers and was buried in the City of David his father. And Rehoboam his son reigned in his place.”

His legacy endures through his wisdom literature, including the books of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon. These writings provide valuable insights into righteous living, the pursuit of wisdom, and the beauty of love and relationships.

Conclusion

King Solomon’s life, characterized by wisdom, wealth, and the construction of the Temple, is a significant narrative in the Bible. His story serves as a lesson in the consequences of straying from God’s commandments and the importance of seeking divine wisdom. His legacy lives on not only through the historical accounts in the Bible but also through the timeless wisdom literature attributed to him.

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In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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