Meet King Solomon: The Wisest Man Who Ever Lived

Learn How Israel's Third King Teaches Us a Message for Today

King Solomon
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King Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived and also one of the most foolish. God gifted him with unsurpassed wisdom, which Solomon squandered by disobeying God's commandments.

Solomon was the second son of King David and Bathsheba. His name means "peaceable." His alternative name was Jedidiah, meaning "beloved of the Lord." Even as a baby, Solomon was loved by God.

A conspiracy by Solomon's half-brother Adonijah tried to rob Solomon of the throne.

To take the kingship, Solomon had to kill Adonijah and Joab, David's general.

Once Solomon's kingship was firmly established, God appeared to Solomon in a dream and promised him anything he asked. Solomon chose understanding and discernment, asking God to help him govern his people well and wisely. God was so pleased with the request that he granted it, along with great riches, honor, and longevity:

So God said to him, “Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be. Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for—both wealth and honor—so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings. And if you walk in obedience to me and keep my decrees and commands as David your father did, I will give you a long life.” Then Solomon awoke—and he realized it had been a dream. (1 Kings 3:11-15, NIV)

Solomon's downfall began when he married the daughter of the Egyptian Pharaoh to seal a political alliance. He could not control his lust. Among Solomon's 700 wives and 300 concubines were many foreigners, which angered God. The inevitable happened: They lured King Solomon away from Yahweh into worship of false gods and idols.

Over his 40-year reign, Solomon did many great things, but he succumbed to the temptations of lesser men. The peace a united Israel enjoyed, the massive building projects he headed, and the successful commerce he developed became meaningless when Solomon stopped pursuing God.

King Solomon's Accomplishments

Solomon set up an organized state in Israel, with many officials to assist him. The country was divided into 12 major districts, with each district providing for the king’s court during one month each year. The system was fair and just, distributing the tax burden evenly over the entire country.

Solomon built the first temple on Mount Moriah in Jerusalem, a seven-year task that became one of the wonders of the ancient world. He also built a majestic palace, gardens, roads, and government buildings. He accumulated thousands of horses and chariots. After securing peace with his neighbors, he built up trade and became the wealthiest king of his time.

The Queen of Sheba heard of Solomon’s fame and visited him to test his wisdom with hard questions. After seeing with her own eyes all that Solomon had built in Jerusalem, and hearing his wisdom, the queen blessed the God of Israel, saying:

“The report was true that I heard in my own land of your words and of your wisdom, but I did not believe the reports until I came and my own eyes had seen it. And behold, the half was not told me. Your wisdom and prosperity surpass the report that I heard." (1 Kings 10:6-7, ESV)

Solomon, a prolific writer, poet, and scientist, is credited with writing much of the book of Proverbs, the Song of Solomon, the book of Ecclesiastes, and two psalms. First Kings 4:32 tells us he wrote 3,000 proverbs and 1,005 songs.

King Solomon's Strengths

King Solomon greatest strength was his unsurpassed wisdom, granted to him by God. In one biblical episode, two women came to him with a dispute. Both lived in the same house and had recently delivered newborns, but one of the infants had died. The mother of the dead baby tried to take the living child from the other mother. Because no other witnesses lived in the house, the women were left to dispute who the living child belonged to and who was the true mother. Both claimed to have given birth to the baby.

They asked Solomon to determine which of the two of them should keep the newborn.

With astonishing wisdom, Solomon suggested that the boy be cut in half with a sword and split between the two women. Deeply moved by love for her son, the first woman whose baby was alive said to the king, "Please, my lord, give her the living baby! Don’t kill him!"

But the other woman said, "Neither I nor you shall have him. Cut him in two!" Solomon ruled that the first woman was the real mother because she preferred giving up her child to seeing him harmed.

King Solomon skills in architecture and management turned Israel into the showplace of the Middle East. As a diplomat, he made treaties and alliances that brought peace to his kingdom.

King Solomon's Weaknesses

To satisfy his curious mind, Solomon turned to worldly pleasures instead of the pursuit of God. He collected all sorts of treasures and surrounded himself with luxury. In the case of non-Jewish wives and concubines, he let lust rule his heart instead of obedience to God. He also taxed his subjects heavily, conscripted them into his army and into slave-like labor for his building projects.

Life Lessons

King Solomon's sins speak loudly to us in our current day materialistic culture. When we worship possessions and fame over God, we are headed for a fall. When Christians marry an unbeliever, they can also expect trouble. God ought to be our first love, and we should let nothing come before him.

Hometown

Solomon hails from Jerusalem.

References to King Solomon in the Bible

2 Samuel 12:24 - 1 Kings 11:43; 1 Chronicles 28, 29; 2 Chronicles 1-10; Nehemiah 13:26; Psalm 72; Matthew 6:29, 12:42.

Occupation

King of Israel.

Family Tree

Father - King David
Mother - Bathsheba
Brothers - Absalom, Adonijah
Sister - Tamar
Son - Rehoboam

Key Verses

1 Kings 3:7-9
"Now, Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?" (NIV)

Nehemiah 13:26
Was it not because of marriages like these that Solomon king of Israel sinned? Among the many nations there was no king like him. He was loved by his God, and God made him king over all Israel, but even he was led into sin by foreign women. (NIV)