Through the Old Testament in a Year

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1 Kings 3 – Solomon's wisdom

Solomon does well to ask for wisdom. We do well to seek wisdom from Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

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Solomon began his reign with the violent destruction of those who might threaten his power from within his kingdom. He then sought to ensure the security of his kingdom from foreign invasion through an alliance with the king of Egypt whose daughter he took as a wife. Solomon is behaving like a king of the nations.

Verse three of this chapter provides a strangely mixed verdict on this man: "Solomon showed his love for the Lord by walking according to the instructions given him by his father David, except that he offered sacrifices and burned incense on the high places." It is easy for us to be critical of him – "How could he truly love the Lord and walk according to God's instructions while taking foreign wives who worshipped other gods and sacrificing at sites which all too often had been devoted to the worship of Baal?" – but we need to examine our own hearts and to ask if we had been given a position of power like that of Solomon, how might we have behaved?

Even though Solomon was worshipping at the high places, his worship seems to have been directed to the Lord. At Gibeon, where Solomon had offered extravagant sacrifices to the Lord, the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Ask for whatever you want me to give you." Be honest with yourself, what would you have asked for? What shaped Solomon's life was not so much his love for the Lord as the Lord's love for him – Jedidiah.

Solomon is aware that he has been given responsibilities and tasks that exceed his own ability. He has been made king over the people of God and feels as ill equipped as a child. He has been entrusted with the work of building a temple fit for the Creator of heaven and earth. How will he manage to do these tasks well? He knows he is not able to do them in his own strength. So Solomon asks the Lord for wisdom – for God's presence and help in all he has to do.

The Lord was pleased with Solomon's request and grants him the wisdom he needed. But God also promised him riches and honour surpassing any other contemporary king. The wisdom and splendour of Solomon will become proverbial.

The incident with the two prostitutes shows the nature of the wisdom granted Solomon – wisdom to make good practical decisions; "All Israel ... held the king in awe, because they saw that he had wisdom from God to administer justice" (v. 28). Much of Solomon's wisdom will be recorded in the Book of Proverbs.

Solomon had wisdom to rule and to advise others, but seemed to have lacked the wisdom to govern his own life well. He allowed the world around him and its pattern of kingship to shape his own behaviour. He also left a bad legacy to his children.

We have a superior king. King Jesus is one whose wisdom surpasses that of Solomon (Luke 11:31); in him "are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Colossians 2:3). He was filled with the Spirit of God beyond all measure. He not only loved God his Father but was perfectly obedient to all that the Father had given him to do. He saved us from our sins and made us his own. He "has become for us wisdom from God – that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption" (1 Corinthians 1:30). We are to be filled with his Spirit; given wisdom by and from him that will shape our lives to be like his beautiful life. This is the wonderful legacy which Jesus has for all his children.

Lord Jesus, you have the wisdom that makes fools of the wise of this world. By your Spirit, transform us by the renewing of our minds that we may think as you think, love as you love and do what you would have us do. May the world be in awe of you and be drawn to bow the knee to you and own you as their Lord and King. May our lives, filled with your Spirit and wisdom be used to attract others to you.


Peter Misselbrook