1 Kings 5–8 = King Solomon
Bible Background: Solomon was the 2nd son of King David & Bathsheba (David had 9 other sons as well). When David dies, Solomon (not the oldest) is his choice to be king of the United Monarchy (when Israel and Judah were united). Solomon ruled 970-931 BCE and is credited with building the 1st temple in Jerusalem, and with displaying great wisdom. Traditionally he is named as the author of Proverbs, Song of Solomon, and perhaps Ecclesiastes, although these may actually have been written by others. He is a story in contrasts, sometimes honoring God and showing wisdom and humility, and sometimes turning from God, purging his enemies, and ruling harshly. The United Monarchy will split in two shortly after his death, when his son Rehoboam takes over.
Digging Deeper: 1. One of the highlights of Solomon’s reign is building the 1st temple. This is where people would have access to God’s mercy and where they would worship God and offer sacrificial offerings. Solomon’s temple, described in grand terms, was probably beautiful, but not nearly as large or as fancy as it was made to sound. This temple was destroyed in 586 BCE when the Babylonians conquered Jerusalem and took the people into exile.
2. In dedicating the temple, Solomon asks that God will hear all the prayers that people will bring before God when they come to the temple to worship and to sacrifice. He includes prayers for:
+When a person sins against a neighbor.
+When the nation sins and is defeated by an enemy.
+When there is famine, plague, or sickness of any kind.
+When a foreigner hears of God’s great name and comes to pray.
+When the people sin (as all do!) and plead for mercy.
With each of these petitions, Solomon is asking God to “hear in heaven” and to judge rightly, forgive, and remember God’s covenant. At the close of the dedication, Solomon blesses the people and commands them to: “Therefore devote yourselves completely to the Lord our God, walking in his statutes and keeping his commandments, as at this day.”
3. Solomon’s humility before God is displayed in a dream in 1 Kings 3 where God appears, inviting Solomon to ask God for anything that he wants. Solomon’s request greatly pleases God: “Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, able to discern between good and evil; for who can govern this your great people?”