|Source: Children's Bible Lessons|
Solomon’s Reign - Solomon came into prominence towards the end of David’s life when Adonijah, his half-brother and David’s eldest surviving son, makes a bid for the throne. Solomon’s mother Bathsheba tells David of the plot and David commands Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet to anoint Solomon as King. Adonijah is summoned to Solomon after taking refuge in the sanctuary and is sent home unpunished. Later, however, Adonijah’s execution is ordered after Solomon considers him a threat along with that of his army commander Joab.
Solomon’s Wisdom - Early in Solomon’s reign God appears to him in a dream and offers to give him anything he asks for. Solomon, being aware of his inadequacy to rule Israel, asks the Lord for a wise and discerning heart, showing his concern for the people he has been given the responsibility to rule. Because of his humble heart God not only answers his prayer for wisdom, but promises him wealth and honour also, (1 Kings 3:1-14).
The words Jesus spoke in Matthew 6:29, ‘Even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these,’ when He referred to the natural features of the lilies of the field indicate how Solomon’s name came to be a symbol of wealth and glory. His wisdom is demonstrated when he has to judge in the case of two prostitutes who claim to be the mother of the same child; through Solomon’s wisdom the correct identity of the mother is established and the problem is resolved. (1 Kings 3:16-28)
However, the counter argument to Solomon’s wisdom and his ability to rule as a good king is highlighted by Bright in his book, A History of Israel, when he says; that Solomon exhibited in other areas of his life a blindness and even a stupidity that hastened the demise of his empire toward disintegration. One example of this is found in 1 Kings 9 where God appears to Solomon in a dream giving him a stern warning that the temple will become a heap of ruins if he or his descendants turn aside from God. Solomon immediately follows this by giving 20 cities away to Hiram king of Tyre, which involved giving away part of the land of Israel and its inhabitants.
Solomon’s Organisational Skills - Hughes in his book, Cover to Cover, points to 1 Kings 4:1-34 and comments on Solomon’s sound organisational abilities being demonstrated, when he appoints a cabinet to help him govern, and selects other officials giving them the responsibility to govern 12 districts and to administer and collect taxes from them. This may intimate Solomon’s concern to make sure everyone was treated equally and fairly. However, Anderson argues, that the actual facts in Solomon’s administration shows his lack of the common touch that would have in fact turned his dream into a reality. He also suggests that Solomon was ambitious and selfish by nature, and that his lavish court in Jerusalem was nothing more than a hall of mirrors reflecting the glory and reputation of the great King of Israel. This was in contradiction to the law given in Deuteronomy 17:14-20, which specifies that a king of Israel shall not rule autonomously but shall be guided by the book of the law given to the Levites by God.
This article has considered the reign of King Solomon, his wisdom and his organisational skills. Next week in Part 2, I will discuss his riches and power, and conclude with whether King Solomon was a good King or a bad King. In the meantime why not take a look at the life and reign of King Solomon by reading 1 Kings chapters 1 to 11, and along with parts 1 and 2 of this article decide for yourself if indeed you feel Solomon was a good or bad king.
Author: Kevin Hunt
May God bless and enrich your life
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