1 Kings 3

Solomon asks for wisdom

1 Solomon made an agreement with Pharaoh, who was the king of Egypt. Solomon married Pharaoh's daughter. He brought her to live in the City of David. She lived there until Solomon could finish building his own house, the Lord's temple, and the wall around Jerusalem.

3:1In this kind of agreement, their countries agreed to be friends of each other. There should be no wars between them.
3:1Solomon's wife lived in her own house in the City of David. She lived there for 13 years, until Solomon built his palace. See 1 Kings 7:1.

2 Because there was not yet a temple where people could give honour to the Lord, they offered sacrifices at altars in other places.

3 Solomon loved the Lord and he obeyed the rules of his father David. But he offered sacrifices and he burned incense at altars in country places. 4 The king went to Gibeon to offer sacrifices there. That was the place where the most important altar was. Solomon offered burnt offerings a thousand times on the altar there. 5 One night in Gibeon, the Lord showed himself to Solomon in a dream. God said, ‘Ask me to give you whatever you want.’

3:3‘country places’ or ‘high places’. These were places where there was an altar for people to worship their gods. Sometimes they were on a hill.
3:4Gibeon was about 10 kilometres north-west of Jerusalem.

6 Solomon answered, ‘You always showed your faithful love to your servant, my father David. He served you faithfully as a good, honest man. You have continued to show your faithful love to him even now. You have given him a son to rule as king on his throne. 7 Lord my God, I am only a young man. I have not learned how to rule well. But you have now made me become king, as my father David was king. 8 I am here as your servant to lead the people that you have chosen for yourself. It is a great nation and it has too many people to count. 9 So please give me a wise mind that understands things well. Then I will be able to rule your people properly. I will know the difference between right things and wrong things. I will only be able to rule this great nation of your people if you do that for me.’

3:7There was not yet a temple in Jerusalem with an altar to offer sacrifices to God. When they built the temple, it was the only right place for people to make sacrifices to God.

10 The Lord God was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. 11-12 So God said to him, ‘You have not asked me to give you a long life, or to make you very rich. You have not asked me to punish your enemies with death. Instead you have asked for a wise mind so that you can rule well. Because of that, I will give you what you have asked for. Yes, I now give to you a wise mind that understands things well. You will be wiser than anyone who has already lived and wiser than anyone who will live after you.

13 I will give you even more than this. I will make you rich and famous, even though you did not ask for that. As long as you live, there will be no other king who is greater than you. 14 And if you serve me faithfully, I will also give you a long life. But you must obey my rules and my commands, as your father David did.’

15 Then Solomon woke up. He realized that it was a dream. He returned to Jerusalem and he stood in front of the Lord's Covenant Box. He offered burnt offerings and peace offerings to God there. Then he gave a feast for all his officers.

Solomon shows that he is wise

16 Two women who were prostitutes came to meet with the king. They stood in front of him to tell him their problem.

17 One woman said, ‘My lord I live in the same house with this woman. I gave birth to a baby while she lived there with me. 18 Three days later, she also gave birth to a baby. We were alone in the house. Only the two of us were there, no one else. 19 But in the night, this woman lay on her son and he died. 20 So she got up during the night and she took my son from my side. I was still asleep. She put my son beside her. She put her dead son beside me. 21 When I got up in the morning to feed my son, I saw that he was dead! So I looked carefully at him in the morning light. Then I realized that he was not my son. He was not the son that I had given birth to!’

22 Then the other woman said, ‘No, that is not true! It is my son who is alive. Your son is dead!’

But the first woman answered, ‘No! The dead baby is your son. My son is alive!’

They continued to argue like that in front of the king.

23 Then the king said, ‘One of you says, “My son is alive and your son is dead.” But the other one says, “No! Your son is dead and my son is alive.” ’

24 So the king said, ‘Bring a sword to me!’ So they brought a sword to the king. 25 Then the king commanded, ‘Cut the child who is alive into two pieces. Give one piece to one woman and the other piece to the other woman.’

26 Then the mother of the child who was alive spoke to the king. She loved her son very much. So she said to the king, ‘My lord, please do not kill the baby! Instead, give him to the other woman.’

But the other woman said, ‘Neither of us should have him. Cut him in two pieces!’

27 So King Solomon said, ‘Do not kill the child! Give him to the first woman. She is his mother.’ 28 Everybody in Israel heard about what the king had decided. So they respected the king's authority. They realized that God had given him wisdom to judge fairly.