Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, June 22nd, 2024
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
1 Kings 3

Grant's Commentary on the BibleGrant's Commentary

Verses 1-28



However, early in Solomon's reign he slipped into the snare of making a treaty with the king of Egypt. Israel had before escaped from the bondage of Egypt, a type of the world in its independence of God. Believers are warned not to be friends with the world (James 4:4), for such friendship is actually enmity against God. This friendship of Solomon then went farther still in his being married to a daughter of Pharaoh. Such laxity of conscience did not end there, however, as we shall see in chapter 11:1-8. Once we embark on a wrong course, we shall continue a downward slide unless the grace of God intervenes to lead us to seriously judge ourselves and return to the Lord.

Before the temple was built the people sacrificed at the high places. These were idolatrous shrines which people thought would be sanctified by introducing the worship of God there, but this is a mixture that cannot have God's approval (v.2).

Yet Solomon was a believer. He loved the Lord and sought to walk in the ways of David, except for his worship in high places. He evidently thought, because he wanted to worship the Lord, that he should do it in the most prominent places, so because Gibeon had a great high place, he went there to offer 1000 burnt offerings (v.4), just as people today often think that the most beautiful church is where they ought to worship. In Solomon's case, the Lord bore with this though. He did not approve it, for God did appreciate the desire of Solomon's heart to be a worshiper.

Therefore He could appear to Solomon in a dream to give him the privilege of asking what he desired God to give him (v.5). We may well ask ourselves how we would respond to an opportunity like this. What do we desire more than anything else? This is a matter that should deeply exercise our hearts.

When God asked Solomon what he desired, Solomon was careful and considerate in his request, for he first, commendably, showed his appreciation of God's great mercy to his father David, recognizing the integrity of his father, and appreciating the kindness of God now in making Solomon king. At the same time, he felt as a little child, not knowing how to go out or come in (v.7). It is a good sign that he felt his inadequacy for the task of ruling the great nation Israel, and that he confessed this before the Lord.

He asked then for an understanding heart to administer justice to the people, to discern between good and evil. 2 Chronicles tells us that his request also included "wisdom and knowledge." God was pleased with Solomon's request (v.10), specially since he did not ask for things totally selfish, such as long life, riches or the destruction of his enemies (v.11), but for wisdom to discern justice, thereby expressing a desire to see the people of Israel prosper.

Therefore God gave him a wise and understanding heart which would excel the wisdom of anyone before or after him. Besides this God promised to give him riches and honor greater than all the kings of his day (v.13). Then God added a conditional promise that, if Solomon walked in God's ways, keeping His statutes and commandments, as David had, then God would lengthen his days.

Very likely Solomon thought that wisdom and knowledge would enable him to please God in all he did, but sadly, he failed miserably in keeping God's commandments, for he married 700 wives and had 300 concubines who turned away his heart from the Lord, so that he eventually became an idol worshiper (ch.11:1-8). While his request was good, it was not good enough, for wisdom and knowledge is never enough to keep us walking with God. Solomon did not pray to be preserved from evil in his own life. Had he read Deuteronomy 17:14-20? If so, did he not realize he needed more than an understanding heart, but a submissive heart obedient to the Word of God? Only by this could he have been preserved from the evils into which he fell.

When Solomon awoke from his dream, he stood before the ark of the covenant and offered up burnt offerings and peace offerings, making a feast also for his servants. The proper place for offerings was before the ark rather than in high places. Thus Solomon showed his appreciation to God by giving Him honor and showing kindness to the people. If only Solomon had continued as he began, how much more refreshing would his history have been, and how much more honoring to God!



The books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes are witnesses to the wisdom of Solomon, Proverbs being the best book on psychology in existence, and Ecclesiastes the best on philosophy. In this section we are given an example of Solomon's wisdom in practice. Two women who were prostitutes came to Solomon to have him judge a controversy between them (v.1-16). The complainant stated her case first, claiming that after she had given birth to a child, the other woman had smothered her own child by lying on him at night, then had changed the babies while the first mother was sleeping. When she awoke in the morning, she said, she found the child dead, but in examining him, found this was not her child (vs.17-21).

The accused woman denied the accusation, claiming that the live child was actually hers (v.22). They had brought the babies with them, but there were no witnesses, though we should think that someone else must have seen the child that was born first. However, Solomon did not need other witnesses. He called for a sword (v.24), and commanded that the living child should be cut in half, with each mother having a half. Of course this would not be a satisfactory arrangement, but Solomon knew who he was dealing with. The actual mother of the child strongly protested, saying she would rather have the other woman take her child that to have the child killed. The other woman was agreeable to having the child divided, knowing that neither of them would have the child (v.26). It was not love for the child that moved her; but jealousy toward the other woman. Solomon knew that if she was dishonest enough to steal the child, her motives would be revealed by the test he gave her.

Solomon took advantage of the fact that God has implanted within a mother an instinct of deepest attachment to her own child, which is not likely to be found where there is no direct vital relationship. Thus, there remained not the slightest doubt that the first woman was the mother of the child, and the king gave orders that the child should be given to her (v.27).

A case of this kind was of course reported widely, so that all Israel was made aware of the wisdom of Solomon, and people realized it would but be easy for them to get away with wrong doing by deception. They recognized that it was God's wisdom that was in Solomon (v.28).

Bibliographical Information
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on 1 Kings 3". Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lmg/1-kings-3.html. 1897-1910.
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