1 Kings 3 Commentary

Solomon’s wisdom (3:1-28)

David’s power had come through war and conquest; Solomon’s came through clever commercial and political agreements with neighbouring countries. Solomon gave impressive public display of his loyalty to God, but he ignored God’s warnings when he saw advantages to be gained through foreign alliances. His marriage to the daughter of Pharaoh guaranteed peace for Israel in a region where Egypt was the chief power, but it probably required Solomon to pay respect to Egypt’s gods (3:1-3; cf. 11:1-8; Exod 34:12- 16).

Although David had placed the ark of the covenant (GNB: covenant box) in a special tent in Jerusalem, the tabernacle (GNB: tent of the Lord’s presence) and the remainder of its articles were still at Gibeon (1 Chron 15:1-3; 16:1,39; 21:29). Soon after being crowned king in Jerusalem, Solomon went to Gibeon for a lavish religious ceremony, as a public exhibition of his devotion to God (4; 2 Chron 1:2-6). While there, he had a dream in which God offered to give him whatever he chose. By asking for wisdom to judge between the morally right and the morally wrong, he showed his concern for the just government of God’s people (5-9). God gave him all that he asked for and more (10-15).

Back in Jerusalem Solomon soon had to put this wisdom to use, when he was called upon to decide which of two prostitutes was the mother of a disputed baby (16-22). Solomon knew that both women were of low moral standard, but he did not allow such knowledge to affect his sense of justice. Many of the people of Israel might have been ungodly, but Solomon still had to understand their affairs and act with fairness when settling disputes among them (23-28).

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