Solomon's marriage. (1-4) His vision, His prayer for wisdom. (5-15) The judgment of Solomon. (16-28)
Verses 1-4 He that loved the Lord, should, for his sake, have fixed his love upon one of the Lord's people. Solomon was a wise man, a rich man, a great man; yet the brightest praise of him, is that which is the character of all the saints, even the poorest, "He loved the Lord." Where God sows plentifully, he expects to reap accordingly; and those that truly love God and his worship, will not grudge the expenses of their religion. We must never think that wasted which is laid out in the service of God.
Verses 5-15 Solomon's dream was not a common one. While his bodily powers were locked up in sleep, the powers of his soul were strengthened; he was enabled to receive the Divine vision, and to make a suitable choice. God, in like manner, puts us in the ready way to be happy, by assuring us we shall have what we need, and pray for. Solomon's making such a choice when asleep, and the powers of reason least active, showed it came from the grace of God. Having a humble sense of his own wants and weakness, he pleads, Lord, I am but a little child. The more wise and considerate men are, the better acquainted they are with their own weakness, and the more jealous of themselves. Solomon begs of God to give him wisdom. We must pray for it, ( James 1:5 ) , that it may help us in our particular calling, and the various occasions we have. Those are accepted of God, who prefer spiritual blessings to earthly good. It was a prevailing prayer, and prevailed for more than he asked. God gave him wisdom, such as no other prince was ever blessed with; and also gave him riches and honour. If we make sure of wisdom and grace, these will bring outward prosperity with them, or sweeten the want of it. The way to get spiritual blessings, is to wrestle with God in prayer for them. The way to get earthly blessings, is to refer ourselves to God concerning them. Solomon has wisdom given him, because he did ask it, and wealth, because he did not.
Verses 16-28 An instance of Solomon's wisdom is given. Notice the difficulty of the case. To find out the true mother, he could not try which the child loved best, and therefore tried which loved the child best: the mother's sincerity will be tried, when the child is in danger. Let parents show their love to their children, especially by taking care of their souls, and snatching them as brands out of the burning. By this and other instances of the wisdom with which God endued him, Solomon had great reputation among his people. This was better to him than weapons of war; for this he was both feared and loved.
1 Kings 3:1 . SOLOMON MARRIES PHARAOH'S DAUGHTER.
1. Solomon made affinity with Pharaoh--This was a royal title, equivalent to "sultan," and the personal name of this monarch is said to have been Vaphres. The formation, on equal terms, of this matrimonial alliance with the royal family of Egypt, shows the high consideration to which the Hebrew kingdom had now arisen. Rosellini has given, from the Egyptian monuments, what is supposed to be a portrait of this princess. She was received in the land of her adoption with great eclat; for the Song of Solomon and the forty-fifth Psalm are supposed to have been composed in honor of this occasion, although they may both have a higher typical reference to the introduction of the Gentiles into the church.
and brought her into the city of David--that is, Jerusalem. She was not admissible into the stronghold of Zion, the building where the ark was ( Deuteronomy 23:7 Deuteronomy 23:8 ). She seems to have been lodged at first in his mother's apartments ( Solomon 3:4 , 8:2 ), as a suitable residence was not yet provided for her in the new palace ( 1 Kings 7:8 , 9:24 , 2 Chronicles 8:11 ).
building . . . the wall of Jerusalem round about--Although David had begun ( Psalms 51:18 ), it was, according to JOSEPHUS, reserved for Solomon to extend and complete the fortifications of the city. It has been questioned whether this marriage was in conformity with the law (see Exodus 34:16 , Deuteronomy 7:3 , Ezra 10:1-10 , Nehemiah 13:26 ). But it is nowhere censured in Scripture, as are the connections Solomon formed with other foreigners ( 1 Kings 11:1-3 ); whence it may be inferred that he had stipulated for her abandonment of idolatry, and conforming to the Jewish religion ( Psalms 45:10 Psalms 45:11 ).
1 Kings 3:2-5 . HIGH PLACES BEING IN USE HIS SACRIFICES AT GIBEON.
3. And Solomon loved the Lord--This declaration, illustrated by what follows, affords undoubted evidence of the young king's piety; nor is the word "only," which prefaces the statement, to be understood as introducing a qualifying circumstance that reflected any degree of censure upon him. The intention of the sacred historian is to describe the generally prevailing mode of worship before the temple was built. The
high places were altars erected on natural or artificial eminences, probably from the idea that men were brought nearer to the Deity. They had been used by the patriarchs, and had become so universal among the heathen that they were almost identified with idolatry. They were prohibited in the law ( Leviticus 17:3 Leviticus 17:4 , Deuteronomy 12:13 Deuteronomy 12:14 , Jeremiah 7:31 , Ezekiel 6:3 Ezekiel 6:4 , Hosea 10:8 ). But, so long as the tabernacle was migratory and the means for the national worship were merely provisional, the worship on those high places was tolerated. Hence, as accounting for their continuance, it is expressly stated ( 1 Kings 3:2 ) that God had not yet chosen a permanent and exclusive place for his worship.
4. the king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there--The old tabernacle and the brazen altar which Moses had made in the wilderness were there ( 1 Chronicles 16:39 , 21:29 , 2 Chronicles 1:3-6 ). The royal progress was of public importance. It was a season of national devotion. The king was accompanied by his principal nobility ( 2 Chronicles 1:2 ); and, as the occasion was most probably one of the great annual festivals which lasted seven days, the rank of the offerer and the succession of daily oblations may help in part to account for the immense magnitude of the sacrifices.
5. In Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream--It was probably at the close of this season, when his mind had been elevated into a high state of religious fervor by the protracted services. Solomon felt an intense desire, and he had offered an earnest petition, for the gift of wisdom. In sleep his thoughts ran upon the subject of his prayer, and he dreamed that God appeared to him and gave him the option of every thing in the world--that he asked wisdom, and that God granted his request ( 1 Kings 3:9-12 ). His dream was but an imaginary repetition of his former desire, but God's grant of it was real.
1 Kings 3:6-15 . HE CHOOSES WISDOM.
6. Solomon said--that is, had dreamed that he said.
7. I am but a little child--not in age, for he had reached manhood ( 1 Kings 2:9 ) and must have been at least twenty years old; but he was raw and inexperienced in matters of government.
10. the speech pleased the Lord--It was Solomon's waking prayers that God heard and requited, but the acceptance was signified in this vision.
15. behold, it was a dream--The vivid impression, the indelible recollection he had of this dream, together with the new and increased energy communicated to his mind, and the flow of worldly prosperity that rushed upon him, gave him assurance that it came by divine inspiration and originated in the grace of God. The wisdom, however, that was asked and obtained was not so much of the heart as of the head--it was wisdom not for himself personally, but for his office, such as would qualify him for the administration of justice, the government of a kingdom, and for the attainment of general scientific knowledge.
1 Kings 3:16-28 . HIS JUDGMENT BETWEEN TWO HARLOTS.
16. Then came there two women--Eastern monarchs, who generally administer justice in person, at least in all cases of difficulty, often appeal to the principles of human nature when they are at a loss otherwise to find a clue to the truth or see clearly their way through a mass of conflicting testimony. The modern history of the East abounds with anecdotes of judicial cases, in which the decision given was the result of an experiment similar to this of Solomon upon the natural feelings of the contending parties.