1 Kings 3

Solomon prays for wisdom

1 Solomon made a covenant with Pharaoh, who was the king of Egypt. Solomon married Pharaoh's daughter. He brought her to the City of David. Then Solomon finished the things that he was building:

3:1In this kind of covenant, their countries agreed to be friendly to each other. There should be no wars between them.
3:1The City of David was probably the part of Jerusalem on the east. Solomon's wife lived there in her own house. It was probably near to Solomon's house, 1 Kings 7:8. She lived there 13 years, until Solomon had built his palace, 1 Kings 7:1.

his palace

the temple of the Lord

3:1The temple was the house that Solomon built for the Lord in Jerusalem. He built it where David put the Covenant Box. See 2 Samuel 6:12-18.

the wall round Jerusalem.

2 But the people still sacrificed in high places, because they had not yet built a temple for the Lord's Name.

3:2Deuteronomy 12:13-14 contains an important rule for the Jews. They must sacrifice to God only in one place. But, because they had not built that one place, they did it in many places. They obeyed Exodus 20:24 instead!

3 Solomon showed that he loved the Lord. He obeyed all the rules of his father David except one. He burned sacrifices and he burned incense in country places. 4 The king went to Gibeon to sacrifice. That was the most important country place. Solomon sacrificed there a thousand times on the altar. 5 At Gibeon, Solomon saw the Lord during the night, in a dream. And God said, ‘Ask me for whatever thing that you want me to give to you.’

3:3Some translations of the Bible say, ‘high places’ or ‘hills’, instead of ‘country places’. But they were probably any place out in the country. Solomon built the temple on a hill called Moriah, or Zion, in Jerusalem.
3:4Gibeon was about 10 kilometres north-west of Jerusalem.

6 Solomon answered, ‘You were very kind to your servant, my father David. This was because he always believed in you. He was a good man and he was honest. You have continued to be very kind to him. You have given to him a son to sit on his throne to this day. 7 Now, my Lord and God, you have made me, your servant, king instead of my father. But I am only a little child. I do not know how to do my duties. 8 Your servant is here, among the people that you have chosen. It is a great country. There are too many people to count, or to find out how many that there are. 9 So give to your servant a mind that understands things. So I will be able to rule your people. I will be able to see who is right. And I will be able to see who is wrong. That is how I will be able to rule your great country.’

3:7Verses 5-7. God accepted the meat and bread that Solomon sacrificed in Gibeon. This was because there was no temple in Jerusalem yet. God spoke often to people in dreams. There are examples in Genesis 31:11 and 41:25. Solomon was probably 17 or 18 years old when this happened.
3:8‘Country’ does not mean the same here as it does in verses 2-4.
3:9‘A mind that understands things’. We think that Solomon meant ‘a mind that knows what God wants’. Solomon wanted to know that so that he would always do the right thing.

10 It made the Lord happy that Solomon had asked for this.

11-12 So God said to him, ‘I will give you what you have asked for. I will do it for these reasons:

You have asked for a mind that understands how to rule people fairly.

You have not asked for a long life or to be very rich.

You have not asked for the death of your enemies.

I will give to you a mind that is wise. And I will give to you a mind that understands things. As a result, there never has been, and never will be, anyone like you.

13 I will give you more than this. I will give to you the things that you did not ask for. I will make you rich. People will know that you are great. While you are alive, there will be no better king than you. 14 Also, I will give to you a long life, if you live as I want you to live. Obey my rules and my laws. That is what David your father did.’

3:14‘Live as I want you to live’ is another way to say ‘obey my rules’. Psalm 1 helps us to understand what it means.

15 Then Solomon awoke. And he knew that it was a dream. He returned to Jerusalem and he stood in front of the Covenant Box of the Lord. He sacrificed animals and he burned them. He gave a peace gift to God. Then he gave a very good meal to all his servants.

3:15The Covenant Box was very important. Exodus 25:10-22 tells us how they made it. They put things into it. These things helped them to remember that God was good to them in their journey from Egypt. The covenant included what God and the Jews agreed. They agreed to love and to obey him. He agreed to be their God and to make them safe. Leviticus 3; 7:11-21 tell us about the ‘peace gift’. When they gave it to God, people ate food together. This made them happy. They were ‘at peace’ with each other and with God. When they burnt animals to God, they became ‘at peace’ with God.

Solomon uses his wisdom

16 Then two women came and they stood in front of the king. The women were prostitutes. 17 And one woman said, ‘Oh! My lord! I and this woman live in the same house. And I had a baby while she lived in the house with me. 18 And three days after my child was born, she also had a baby. We were alone in the house. Only the two of us were there. There was no stranger there. 19 But this woman lay on her son in the night and he died. 20 So she got up at midnight and she took my son from my side. I, your servant, was asleep. She put him by her breast and she put her dead son by my breast. 21 When I got up in the morning to feed my son, he was dead! So I looked carefully at him in the morning light. Then I saw that he was not my son. He was not the son that was born to me!’ 22 Then the other woman said, ‘No! It is my son that is alive. Your son is dead!’ But the first woman answered, ‘No! The dead boy is yours. My son is alive!’ And so they argued in front of the king.

23 Then the king said, ‘This woman says, “My son is alive and your son is dead.” But the other woman says, “No! Your son is dead and my son is alive.” ’ 24 So the king said, ‘Bring me a sword.’ So they brought a sword to the king. 25 And the king said, ‘Cut the child that is alive into two pieces. Give half to one woman and half to the other woman.’ 26 Then the woman whose son was alive spoke. She really loved her son. So she said to the king, ‘My lord, please give the baby that is alive to her. Do not kill him.’ But the other woman said, ‘Neither you nor I will have him. Cut him in half!’ 27 Then this was what the king decided. ‘Give the baby that is alive to the first woman. She is its mother. Do not kill it.’ 28 Everybody in Israel heard what the king had decided. And they were really afraid of the king. They knew that he used the wisdom from God to decide fairly.

3:28Verses 16-28. Here is an example of how Solomon used his wisdom. People who were arguing came to him. They knew that he would decide fairly. So perhaps it was the wrong people, like the second woman, who were afraid!