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Bible Commentaries

Kingcomments on the Whole Bible

1 Kings 3

Verse 1

Solomon and the Daughter of Pharaoh

Solomon marries the daughter of Pharaoh king of Egypt. She is not his only wife (1Kgs 11:1). Some see in her, a woman from the nations, a picture of the church. Others say that she is not a picture of the church, but an unholy woman (2Chr 8:11), so that already at the beginning of Solomon’s reign his weakness for women appears.

Verses 2-4

Sacrificing on the High Places

Here too we see that the government of Solomon is not perfect. There is no direct talk of idolatry, but the heights do provide the opportunity for it, which is also seized by the people. Also there is the height in Gibeon, the main height. There is the tabernacle and there is the bronze altar of burnt offering (1Chr 16:37-39; 2Chr 1:3-5). Gibeon is located about eight kilometers north of Jerusalem in the area of Benjamin. Solomon goes there. He has not yet entered into the thoughts of his father David, who has searched for the ark.

David made the threshing floor of Ornan the place where the temple is to be built (1Chr 21:28-30; 1Chr 22:1). The ark is in Jerusalem and there Solomon sacrifices after his dream (1Kgs 3:15). The ark speaks of the Lord Jesus and the place where He is the center. Solomon could have made his sacrifices there earlier, but God tolerates it from him and His people to sacrifice them on the heights. It is not wrong, but it is not the best either.

Verse 5

The LORD Appears to Solomon

The LORD appears to Solomon in a dream. That is not a direct revelation, it is somewhat covered, but still clear. Possibly Solomon made that great sacrifice to ask the LORD a question.

God comes to him in a dream, when he sleeps. His senses are closed to the prickles of his surroundings, so that God’s access to his spirit can be all the more free and immediate. In this way God usually spoke to the prophets (Num 12:6b) and also to others to reveal His will to them (Job 33:14-15). These Godly dreams undoubtedly differ from the usual dreams of people caused by busy activities (Ecc 5:3a).

The LORD takes the initiative and says in the dream to Solomon that he may ask what he wants and that He will give him that. This is a great challenge. If that question were put to us, what would we answer? This question is indeed put to us by the Lord Jesus. He says to us that He gives us when we ask Him (Mt 7:7-8; Jn 14:13; Jn 16:23; 1Jn 5:15). Do we ask Him what we want?

Verses 6-9

What Solomon Asks for

Solomon gratefully acknowledges all that God has given David and made him king as the son of David. He acknowledges his dependence and his inability to perform that great task. As to himself he feels helpless, young and inexperienced – he is less than twenty years old here – while he sees the people as a great crowd to govern. In the first place he does not think of himself, but of the people as God’s people. He says he stands “in the midst of” God’s people. The true leader is not above God’s people, but is part of them (cf. 1Pet 5:2a).

Solomon asks for wisdom (2Chr 1:10), because this is what is needed when there is a question to distinguish between good and evil. Wisdom is not having a good intellect. Wisdom is applying knowledge at the right time and in the right way. Solomon had a wise father who pointed out the importance of wisdom to him (Pro 4:3-9). It is more important to pass this on to our children than to give them a good education (cf. Isa 7:15).

In Job 28 it also is said what wisdom and understanding is: Fear the LORD on the one hand and turn away from evil on the other (Job 28:28). Wisdom is the part of the perfected (1Cor 2:6a), that is the spiritual mature (Heb 5:14). When a person has learned to avoid evil and to follow the good, he is mature.

Verses 10-15

What Solomon Gets

A prayer like Solomon’s is good in the eyes of the LORD. Solomon did not think of himself in his prayer. He did not ask for things that are pleasing to himself, but for something that is important for the good of the people. He has prayed in accordance with the LORD, with what is really important to Him and these are the interests of His people. Therefore He also gives what Solomon did not ask for, the less important (cf. Mt 6:31-33).

The condition of obedience is set to have a long life (1Kgs 3:14). Solomon did not comply with that. He counteracted the king’s law by taking many women (Deu 17:17a) and therefore died at a relatively young age.

When Solomon is awakened from his dream, he offers offerings to the LORD out of gratitude for the answering of his prayer. The burnt offerings speak of the fact that all honor belongs to God. They speak of the perfect work of the Lord Jesus totally dedicated to God on the cross. Its application to us is that we also completely dedicate our lives to God. The peace offerings show that we know ourselves in fellowship with God’s people to serve God together with them and to glorify Him. He has a special feast for all his servants.

Verses 16-27

Solomon’s First Judgment

Solomon’s wisdom is expressed in a special way in the judgment he pronounces in a dispute between two harlots who both claim the right to a living baby. He is also wise in other respects, such as in government and building, but the first wisdom is that in judgment. We also see this with the Lord Jesus, when He reigns as the true Solomon. First, then, the judgment seat is erected, from where He judges the world.

What does it mean to say that we are talking about two harlots? What does the change of babies say? Nor is there any mention of fathers. Everything takes place in the night: the death of the baby, the exchange out of jealousy by one person, the appearance of life, the sleep of the other by which the exchange could take place.

How can justice be done here properly? This is only possible if the truth is known. This happens in the light and through the Word, for in it and through it everything becomes public. It is not about carrying out the judgment, but about making public what is in the heart and acting in accordance with it.

What does this judgment show us about the women? A human judge can only judge about what he sees and hears. He contemplates all testimonies. However, there are no testimonies to be given here, because there are no witnesses. Then it comes to the heart. But no one knows that. Only God knows the hearts of men (Jer 17:9-10) and he to whom God gives wisdom for this purpose.

We see this with Solomon. Solomon reveals through his wisdom the heart of man. Here the truth can only come to the surface by revealing the state of the heart. Solomon knows the heart of man. That is not by psychology, but by God’s wisdom. We see how Solomon through his judgment expresses the inner of the true mother (1Kgs 3:26).

The testimony about David is even more beautiful. We see this in the book of Psalms where we notice that he knows the heart of God and the Lord Jesus. The wisdom of Solomon is limited to the heart of man.

The real mother starts talking about a case where no witnesses were present. The question is: how can it be determined who the real mother is? Is Solomon able to do so? He has insight in human nature, in this case in the natural feelings of a mother. Nowadays, DNA testing can (often) lead to a definite answer. The more science, the less wisdom is needed, the less dependency on God to make a matter public. Learning does not necessarily make wiser.

The real mother discovers in the morning, in the light, what happened in the night. In the light, reality is seen. The false mother confesses the right to the living child, but lies against the truth. She is attracted by life, claims it for herself, but is strange to it and has no right to it. The problem is that both women claim to speak the truth, while there are no witnesses who can agree with either of them. This means that only someone who can look deeper than the confession can bring the truth to light.

Solomon summarizes the problem, a problem that can only be solved by wisdom. Only wisdom brings the truth to light. Only Divine wisdom is able to test the authenticity of the confession and to reveal the true state of the heart. We can say that we love Christ, that we have life from God, but this will have to be evident from our reactions to the Word of God when it comes to us, for the sword that Solomon gets brought is a picture of that (Eph 6:17b; Heb 4:12).

What Solomon proposes as a solution to the insoluble is unprecedented in the judiciary. His solution brings about a spontaneous expression of maternal feelings. We see here that the sword is applied to the situation. As said, the sword is a picture of the Word of God. If there are problems in our lives or in the church, they can only be solved if they are seen in the light of God’s Word. God’s Word brings the truth to light. That also happens here.

The application of the sword expresses true love in its selflessness. True love wants to save life, even if it loses it herself. The false love gives away life if it is not for herself and also takes away life from others, does not grant it to others. Solomon assigns life to her who respect it, who loves it.

Verse 28

Fear for Solomon

There is awe and respect for the king, but also fear. If you are dealing with such a king, he knows you completely, through and through. We have to deal with a Lord under Whose dominion we stand and Who judges between brother and brother and sister and sister because He knows the hearts. That awareness will be a comfort if there are false accusations, but it is a threat if we are not sincere. He knows the intentions of our hearts.

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Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op 1 Kings 3". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.