I Kings 3–4. Solomon, Son of David.
Key Notes: The high places. History of the tabernacle since entering Canaan. Some details of Solomon's regime. David's preparations. What Solomon wanted. What do I want?
Chapters 3–5 describe Solomon at his best. He was a king without parallel and a type of Christ.
IK.3:1 The historian puts the "Oh, No!" first. A marriage alliance with the Pharaoh of Egypt puts a pagan princess in the City of David. Later she would be moved away from that holy place. IIChron.8:11
IK.3:2–4 Solomon went to the high place at Gibeon to offer sacrifice on the altar.
IK.3:15 Solomon also offered sacrifices before the ark of the covenant in Jerusalem.
It is apparent that the tabernacle furniture is in two different places. The altar, and the other articles of the tabernacle are at Gibeon while the ark of the covenant is in Jerusalem. How did this happen?
The tabernacle rested at Shiloh when Israel occupied Canaan, and it was there when Samuel became prophet. (ISam.1:3). But it was customary to carry the Ark of the Covenant into battle. In a battle with the Philistines it was captured under the judgment of God. (ISam.5:1). However, the Philistines were made very uncomfortable, and had to return the Ark. It is a humorous and provocative study that teaches the impotence of idols. (ISam.5–6). The Tabernacle and the Altar must have been moved from Shiloh as well, because they were at Nob when Saul killed all the priests except Abiathar. (ISam.22:17–23). It was transferred to Gibeon and remained there until Solomon completed the permanent Temple. The Ark was eventually brought to Jerusalem by David and put into a special tent. IISam.6:17
IK.3:3. The fact that the Tabernacle was at a "high place" was a concern. even if Solomon walked in the statutes of David. The term "high place" is used 70–100 times in OT, usually in a negative sense. High Places were sites of Canaanite worship and Israel was commanded to destroy them along with their idols and figured stones. (Num.33:52). The trappings of a pagan High Place included a platform, an altar, an idol, phallic symbols and standing stones, shelters, a tree grove, and sacred prostitutes. Standing stones, sometimes figured, have been found in Palestinian archaeology. Their significance is not clear; they do not appear to be idols. Israel continued to use the high places, however, for the worship of God since worship was not yet centralized. Samuel used a High Place for sacrifice. (ISam.9:11–14). After the Temple was completed during Solomon's reign, however, there was not longer an excuse for the high places.
Hosea described what went on at the high places. Hos.4:12–14
Hezekiah removed them. IIK.18:1–4
Manasseh replaced them. IIK.21:3
Josiah defiled them. IIK.23:13
IK.3:3–14. Solomon loved the LORD and obeyed the law. At Gibeon, God met him in a dream and made him an open offer: ask whatever you want. Solomon answered thoughtfully. God had been faithful to His promise; he was a young and inexperienced son of David; Israel was a huge responsibility. He needed wisdom to discern good and evil, to decide what was right, and to govern well.
God was pleased with Solomon's request, and promised him a wise and discerning mind second to none, and riches and honor as well as long life if he followed God's Law.
IK.3:16–28 Solomon's wisdom was exemplified by the case of two prostitutes with two babies, one dead and the other alive. There were no witnesses to the accidental death of one baby. The case had probably been moved up from local jurisdiction because no one knew how to decide it. It suggests that the legal system was fair and compassionate.
Solomon played on the emotions of the mother of the living child by suggesting that it be cut in half so that each mother could be satisfied. The real mother's heart could not bear the death of her child and would rather forfeit title to the child than to have it die. She received her child back.
All Israel heard about the case and were in awe of Solomon.
IK.4.1–19 Solomon's court included the high priest and two assistants, two secretaries, a recorder, the commander of the army, a confidante, a palace chamberlain,and a foreman of slave labor.
There were also twelve teams in twelve districts to provide food for the king, one month each. The districts are not strictly by tribe and suggest that the tribes were being consolidated into larger geographic units.
IK.4:20–28 Israel was at peace, secure, prosperous and happy. The territory was huge, running from the Euphrates River to the Egyptian border, from Dan to Beersheba, leaving the Sidonians of Lebanon alone. This was the territory God had promised to Abram. Gen.15:18
The king's daily ration was enormous:
10 dressed beef = 700lb. x 10 = 7,000 lb.
20 cows = 700lb. x 20 = 14,000 lb.
100 sheep = 50lb. x 100 = 5,000 lb.
Total meat supply was about 26,000 lb.
90 cors of wheat;1 cor = 8 bu.; 1 bu. = 32 qt.; 250 qt. x 90 = 23,000 qt. flour.
One loaf of bread (American) takes 1/2 qt. flour. We estimate 45,000 loaves of bread.
Such rations would feed 25,000 people per day. There were 12,000 horsemen, for instance. IK.4:26
IK.4:29–34. Solomon was a genius beyond all others, surpassing the wisdom of Egypt. He knew biology and could discourse on plants, birds, reptiles, fish and other animals. His reputation carried all over the known world.
Solomon did not create this empire in all its glory. His father David had paved the way with his own government.
•David had an honor guard of thirty heroes. IISam.23:8–38
•David's cabinet consisted of the army commander, a recorder, two priests, a secretary, and body guards. IISam.8:15–18
•He assembled 38,000 Levites to assist the priests. IChron.23:1–32
•The priests were assigned by lot to serve in the sacrifices. IChron.24
•The sons of Asaph, Heman and Jeduthun, were musicians who prophesied with lyres, harps and cymbals. (IChron..25:.1,3,6,7). There were 288 trained singers. David made some of the musical instruments himself. IChron.23:5
•The sons of Korah were gatekeepers, men of ability to be guards of the sanctuary and the storehouse. (IChron.26:6,8). The storehouse was filled with wealth dedicated to the Lord from Israel's wars. IChron.26:26–28
•Officers and judges and supervisors of Trans-Jordan were assigned. IChron.26:29–32
•There was an army that rotated each month, with commanders of thousands and hundreds. IChron.27:1–15
•The twelve tribes had chief officers. IChron.27:16–24
•Lastly, the king had an extensive farming operation--vineyards, olive and sycamore groves, wine cellars, pastured herds, camels, donkeys, and flocks of sheep. IChron.27:25–31
All of this was in place before Solomon. He inherited an empire at peace, with a government, an army, an economic system, a spiritual tradition and a legal code.
The picture of Solomon at the pinnacle of Israel's best forty years is a picture of Christ ruling the world in the Golden Age to Come, the "Millennium." Many of the passages describing the future Golden Age are in Isaiah.
•He has two names. Jedidiah, "beloved of God", and Solomon "peaceable".
•He is the LORD's anointed. IK.1:39; Matt.16:16
•He is The Son of David. Matt.21:9
•He inherits the Kingdom from his father. Heb.1:2
•He loves and communes with God. He keeps the Law. Heb.10:7–10
•He is given riches and honor and blessing. Rev.5:12
•He administers "justice with righteousness". Isa.9:7
•His kingdom was peaceful and prosperous. Isa.9:7
•All the nations are subject to him. IK.4:21; Psa.2:8,9
•He knows everything. Jn.2:25
•He is so attractive that everyone is drawn to him. Mk.3:20
"It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established as the highest of the mountains...and all the nations shall flow it, and many peoples shall come and say 'Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; that He may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths." (Isa 2:2–3)
In many ways, America has been like a millennial kingdom. "America the Beautiful", "God shed His grace on thee, and crowned thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea.". No one has ever seen the like of it, or likely will again. We have had the best of everything material, political and spiritual. We are the last best hope of the world. May God save us.
Like Solomon, we are also confronted with the personal question: "Ask what I shall give you." We have many wants and wishes, for food, clothing, shelter, money, recreation, friends and love, peace of mind and hope for the future.
But what one thing is most important?
What is the crucial issue in my life?
What do I value more than anything else?
If I asked God for one thing, what would it be?
What do I really want?