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Bible Commentaries
1 Kings 3

Kretzmann's Popular Commentary of the BibleKretzmann's Commentary

Verses 1-15

Solomon at Gibeon

v. 1. And Solomon made affinity, he entered into a family alliance through marriage, with Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and took Pharaoh's daughter, making her his wife chiefly for political reasons, for the two kingdoms mere now equally powerful, and brought her into the city of David, until he had made an end of building his own house, for he was desirous of erecting his own palace, and the house of the Lord, the Temple, and the wall of Jerusalem round about, David having fortified only the upper city.

v. 2. Only the people sacrificed in high places, against the spirit of the Law, Deuteronomy 12:2-5, because there was no house built unto the name of the Lord until those days, and the custom of going to Gibeon, to the Tabernacle, having fallen into disuse since the days of Samuel.

v. 3. And Solomon loved the Lord, walking in the statutes of David, his father, in all the precepts of the covenant; only he sacrificed and burned incense in high places, that having become the custom and now being evidently acceptable to Jehovah.

v. 4. And the king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there, in a great inauguration festival; for that was the great high place, the most important height in the country and still the official sanctuary. A thousand burnt offerings did Solomon offer upon that altar, namely, through the priests. Cf 2 Chronicles 1:2.

v. 5. In Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night, revealing himself in a vision; and God said, Ask what I shall give thee, for the prayer connected with the great sacrifice had pleaded for divine assistance in the work of his government.

v. 6. And Solomon said, Thou hast showed unto Thy servant David, my father, great mercy, he owed everything that he had to the bounty of Jehovah, according as he walked before Thee in truth and in righteousness and in uprightness of heart with thee; and Thou hast kept for him this great kindness, that Thou hast given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day. All this came in consequence of the great Messianic promise in which it was included.

v. 7. And now, O Lord, my God, Thou hast made Thy servant king instead of David, my father; and I am but a little child, he felt that his youth and inexperience mere unfitted for the great and arduous tasks laid on him; I know not how to go out or come in, how to conduct his entire manner of life as sovereign.

v. 8. And Thy servant is in the midst of thy people which Thou hast chosen, a great people, that cannot be numbered nor counted for multitude, he felt the responsibility and the obligation of governing the chosen people of Jehovah very keenly.

v. 9. Give therefore Thy servant an understanding heart, one ready to hear and understand every case presented to it properly, to judge Thy people, that I may discern between good and bad; for who is able to judge, by a mere natural ability and shrewdness, this thy so great a people?

v. 10. And the speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing.

v. 11. And God said unto him, Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life, the boon desired by the majority of men, neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies, military glory, all these being blessings which the world craves, but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment, to dispense justice in the proper manner,

v. 12. behold, I have done according to thy words, heard his prayer. Lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart, both in the possession of great knowledge and in being able to penetrate into difficult cases, so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any a rise like unto thee, equal to him in wisdom.

v. 13. And I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches and honor, military prestige, so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee all thy days, he would be more renowned than all the sovereigns of his time.

v. 14. And if thou wilt walk in my ways, this last promise being given with a condition, to keep My statutes and My commandments, as thy father David did walk, then I will lengthen thy days. This last promise was not fulfilled, because Solomon did not keep the condition.

v. 15. And Solomon awoke; and, behold, it was a dream, there could be no question of its being divinely sent. And he came to Jerusalem, and stood before the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord, the visible token of God's merciful presence, and offered up, by the priests, burnt offerings, and offered peace-offerings, to indicate the close fellowship that obtained between him and the covenant God, and made a feast to all his servants, a sacrificial meal in connection with the thank-offerings. To those who seek first of all the kingdom of God and His righteousness all other things are added by virtue of His free grace.

Verses 16-28

Solomon's wise Decision

v. 16. Then came there two women that were harlots unto the king, and stood before him, seeking a decision in a difficult case. The story is told to show that God had actually endued Solomon with unusual wisdom.

v. 17. And the one woman said, O my lord, I and this woman dwell in one house; and I was delivered of a child with her in the house.

v. 18. And it came to pass the third day after that I was delivered that this woman was delivered also, the two babies thus being approximately of the same age; and we were together; there was no stranger with us in the house save we two in the house, no other person to testify on either side.

v. 19. And this woman's child died in the night, because she overlaid it, unwittingly pressed it to death in her sleep.

v. 20. And she arose at midnight, and took my son from beside me, while thine handmaid slept, and laid it in her bosom, and laid her dead child in my bosom. The second woman undoubtedly feared that the reproach of having killed her own son would disgrace her.

v. 21. And when I arose in the morning to give my child suck, behold, it was dead. This was at the time of the morning when it was not yet light enough to distinguish clearly. But when I had considered it in the morning, in broad daylight, behold, it was not my son which I did bear. She was certain of her identification.

v. 22. And the other woman said, Nay; but the living is my son, and the dead is thy son; she persisted in claiming the baby as her own. And this, the accuser, said, No; but the dead is thy son, and the living is my son. Thus they spake before the king, quarreling over the possession of the baby.

v. 23. Then said the king, weighing the facts as presented to him, The one saith, This is my son that liveth, and thy son is the dead, and the other saith, Nay; but thy son is the dead, and my son is the living. It seemed to be one woman's unsupported word against another's.

v. 24. And the king said, Bring me a sword. And they brought a sword before the king. This was done with deliberation, in order to study the effect of every word upon the women.

v. 25. And the king said, knowing that the real mother would be revealed now, Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one and half to the other.

v. 26. Then spake the woman whose the living child was to the king, for her bowels, her motherly heart, yearned upon her son, glowing with a mother's love for her child, and she said, O my lord, give her the living child, and in no wise slay it. She preferred to have the other woman have the child rather than see it be killed. But the other, perfectly willing to see the baby put to death, for which she felt no attachment, said, Let it be neither mine nor thine, but divide it. She showed not only an absolute lack of motherly love, but also envy and dislike for her accuser.

v. 27. Then the king answered and said, Give her, the first woman, the living child, and in no wise slay it: she is the mother thereof. Her attitude in preferring to have her rival have the child alive to having it divided proved that she was the mother.

v. 28. And all Israel heard of the judgment which the king had judged, the decision which he had rendered in this difficult case; and they feared the king, they were filled with respect and awe of his wisdom in judging; for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him to do judgment. The wisdom of Solomon is but a weak type of the eternal Wisdom, which became man in the person of Jesus Christ, in whom dwells the fullness of the Godhead bodily and who judges His people in righteousness.

Bibliographical Information
Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on 1 Kings 3". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kpc/1-kings-3.html. 1921-23.
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