Just before David dies (1015 BC), he appoints his son Solomon (1034-975, 59 years) ruler in his place. Priest Zadok and prophet Nathan affirm David’s choice by anointing Solomon king. David soon dies and, after a brief dynastic struggle, Solomon rules as king (1 Kings 1-2).
One night Solomon has a dream. In it Yahweh asks him what he desires. Given his youth, Solomon requests wisdom enough to rightly govern the people of Yahweh. This response so delights Yahweh that he grants wisdom to Solomon plus the riches and honors he did not seek (ch. 3).
For centuries, Israel was a tribal confederation. Decisions were made by gathered heads of clans. There was no standing army or professional bureaucracy. When the people of Israel initially asked for a human king to replace Yahweh, Yahweh warned them that a human king would initiate these changes and thereby rob them of their freedom (1 Samuel 8). With Solomon, Yahweh’s words come true. Solomon divides Israel into 12 administrative districts, similar to but distinct from traditional tribal territories, and appoints 12 officials, loyal to him, to govern them. Each official is to meet the needs of the king, his household (including the bureaucracy), and his (army) horses for one month each year (4:7, 28). In this manner Jupiter, false god of politics, and his disappointing way of centralizing power displace Yahweh and his difficult but glorious path of freedom.
At the beginning of Solomon’s reign, the people of Yahweh are prosperous and happy. Solomon controls or had advantageous alliances with all the rulers in his region. His wisdom is legendary and ranges from discerning judgments, through the composition of proverbs and songs, to extensive knowledge of animals and plants (ch. 4).
Solomon begins construction of the house or temple for Yahweh in Jerusalem in 1012 and finishes it in 1005. Yahweh chooses to fill the temple with his glory on the day of its dedication to him (chs. 6-8). Following its completion, Solomon begins construction of a palace in 1005 which takes 13 years to complete.
Yahweh speaks to Solomon in a second dream. He tells Solomon that as long as he and his successors remain loyal to him, hearing and obeying his word as his father David had, then both the house of David and the house of Yahweh in Jerusalem will remain secure (ch. 9).
Sadly, Solomon fails to remain loyal to Yahweh. Centuries before Solomon, Yahweh instructed the men of Israel to marry only women of Israel; otherwise, their foreign wives would lead them to worship foreign gods. In ancient days, however, kings commonly strengthened political alliances by having their daughters marry foreign rulers. This was the way of Jupiter with a little help from Venus (false goddess of sex). Solomon set aside Yahweh’s words and followed Jupiter and Venus in this practice. Unfortunately, the devotion of his foreign wives to the six false Olympian gods, Jupiter and Venus included, led even wise Solomon’s heart after those gods as well. Yahweh tells Solomon that, because of Solomon’s disloyalty, he will strip most of the kingdom from his son. After ruling Israel for 40 years (1015-975), Solomon dies.
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