Solomon (1 Kings 3)

Solomon (the second son of David and Bathsheba) lived in David's city. He built a palace, the Temple, and a city wall. He made an alliance with the Pharaoh (the King of Egypt) by marrying his daughter. Although Solomon was loyal to God, he also offered sacrifices on many different altars - most notably at Gibeon, where the most famous altar was. While he was there, he had a dream in which God asked him what he wanted; Solomon asked God for the gift of wisdom so that he might be able to tell the difference between right and wrong, and be a fair ruler of his people. Thanks to this honourable request, God also granted Solomon great wealth and a long life. Solomon returned to Jerusalem and made a sacrifice to God in front of the Ark of the Covenant; then he threw a feast.

One day, two prostitutes came to the king. Both lived in the same house and had given birth within three days of each other. However, when one of the children died in the night, the first woman alleged that this had happened when the other woman had rolled over and smothered it; then she had swapped the two babies around. However, the other woman refused to admit this, saying that hers was the living baby. To settle the argument, Solomon asked for a sword and said that he would cut the living baby in half - then each mother could have a share of the child. [He knew that the true mother would not allow harm to come to her child, whereas the other woman would not be concerned.] The dishonest prostitute thought that this represented a good solution, but true mother spoke up when she saw the sword and begged Solomon to give the child to the other woman rather than murder it. By this, Solomon recognised the identity of the true mother and returned the baby to her. The people of Israel respected Solomon all the more as a result of this.


Themes

 

  • Successful king - Solomon was a good politician (marrying the King of Egypt's daughter in order to make an alliance with the country), he was religious, he was ambitious, but he was also humble enough to ask for the gift of wisdom (he was young - perhaps in his twenties).
  • Reward - because Solomon asked for something selfless (wisdom to make him a fair ruler of his people) he was rewarded with wealth and a long life, too.
  • Honesty - one mother was honest, the other dishonest. Solomon was able to verify which was which.
  • Solomon never intended to kill the baby - he knew that simply threatening to do so would reveal the identity of the true mother.
  • Popularity - his fair judgement made the young Solomon even more popular.

Contemporary Issues

  • What is true wisdom?
  • Role of the monarch today.
  • Leadership.

 

Revision


In which city did Solomon live?




What was Solomon building?

 



Where did Solomon go in order to offer sacrifices, and how is this place described?

 


Why was Solomon's request to God so honourable?

 

 

In what ways might Solomon's method of solving the argument between the prostitutes be considered as being wise?


What do you understand by the word "wisdom" in today's world?  Note one or two examples of famous people who you believe are/were wise, and explain why this is.





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