1 Kings Chapter 3  PDF  MSWord

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Go to Bible: 1 Kings 3
1Ki 3:1

“made a marriage alliance with Pharaoh.” The Hebrew is more literally, “became a son-in-law to Pharaoh,” but in this context, it means to make an alliance via marriage.

“took Pharaoh’s daughter.” We should note that Solomon did not marry Pharaoh’s daughter because he loved her, this was a commercial and perhaps military alliance with Egypt that was sealed by marriage, which was a common custom at that time.

Thus, even though the Bible says at this time in his life Solomon loved God (1 Kings 3:3), he was demonstrating some behavior characteristics that would eventually lead to his downfall. He compromised on the Word of God for “good reasons,” for example, in this case, it seemed to him that an alliance with Egypt would be good for Israel. But his father David did not compromise that way; he made treaties without compromising the Scripture by marrying pagan women. But Solomon had already married at least one pagan woman and had a child by her. Before Solomon even became king he married Naamah, an Ammonite woman, and had a son (Rehoboam) by her (1 Kings 14:21).

As we follow Solomon’s life through Scripture, we can see he made a number of compromises and bad decisions. For example, he ignored God’s commands about who to marry. Solomon eventually had 300 concubines (a concubine is a “lesser wife,” a wife from a lower class who was likely given to him as a present to gain influence or perhaps a girl of particular beauty who he noticed and took into his harem) and 700 wives of royal birth who were likely given to him to gain influence with him or as part of an alliance just as Pharaoh’s daughter had been. Solomon’s pagan wives eventually turned his heart away from the true God, and he ended up doing evil in the eyes of God (1 Kings 11:4-6).

1Ki 3:2

“at the local shrines.” The Hebrew word “shrines” is bamot, which referred to a place that was leveled and built up and on which were placed various idols and objects of worship. Many of the towns had such shrines (see commentary on Num. 33:52).

1Ki 3:3

“burned incense into smoke.” See commentary on Exodus 29:13.

“at the local shrines.” The Hebrew word “shrines” is bamot, which referred to a place that was leveled and built up and on which were placed various idols and objects of worship. Many of the towns had such shrines (see commentary on Num. 33:52).

1Ki 3:4(top)
1Ki 3:5

“appeared to Solomon.” God personally appeared to Solomon on two different occasions (1 Kings 3:5; 9:2; 11:9). It seems they both were in a dream, but God showed Himself nevertheless; it was not a figment of Solomon’s imagination. But in spite of his personal and intimate experiences with God, Solomon turned away from Him and did evil in His sight. Solomon is one person who shows us that knowledge does not equal commitment. We can know a lot about God without being committed to him.

[For more on God appearing to people, see commentary on Acts 7:55.]

1Ki 3:6(top)
1Ki 3:7

“I am a young lad.” The statement, “I am a young lad,” while being true to a degree considering the culture, is in this context actually more of a hyperbole, an exaggeration, used to express how he felt. Solomon is one of the few kings in the history of Judah and Israel whose age when he began to reign is not given in Scripture (cp. 2 Sam. 2:10; 5:4; 1 Kings 14:21; 22:42; 2 Kings 14:1-2; 21:1, 19; 22:1; 23:31). The date Solomon came to the throne is debated. Some Jewish scholars say around 12 years old, and Josephus says at 14 (Antiquities; Book 8, chap. 7, section 8; but in the same sentence Josephus contradicts Scripture and says Solomon reigned 80 years and died at 94, cp. 1 Kings 11:42), but Solomon’s actual age was likely closer to 20.a

There are a number of reasons to believe that Solomon was about 20 or perhaps even a little older when he took the throne. He had already had at least one son (Rehoboam) by the Ammonite woman Naamah before he became king (1 Kings 14:21). Also, in his first year as king, he showed unusual maturity and decisiveness in the way he handled men who had become his adversaries. He executed his older brother Adonijah and also Joab the captain of David’s army, and he removed Abiathar from being the high priest (1 Kings 2:25, 27, 34). Also, there is no indication that he had any advisors or mentors help him run the kingdom, even from the very start.

Furthermore, Scripture says he reigned 40 years, but if he was only 12 or so when he started reigning as king, then he would have died at 52 or so. However, Scripture says, “when Solomon was old that his wives turned away his heart after other gods” (1 Kings 11:4). However, it seems clear that it took a number of years for Solomon’s heart to turn to other gods and for him to have time to build temples to Moloch, Chemosh, and other gods and establish sacrificial practices for them, which would involve the gathering and participation of at least some pagan priests (1 Kings 11:7-8). To be considered “old” in that culture it would seem Solomon would have had to have been at least 50.

I don’t know how to go out or come in.” The phrase “I don’t know how to go out or come in” is the figure of speech polarmerismos. Polarmerismos occurs when two extremes are used to represent a whole. Here, “go out and come in” represents the two extremes of life, when a person goes out in the morning and comes back in at night. Thus, in this context, the idiom means, “live life.” Solomon could have said, “I am but a young lad, I don’t know how to live life as a king,” or, “I am too inexperienced to be king,” but he used the idiom.

[For more on polarmerismos, see commentary on Joshua 14:11.]

James Hastings, Dictionary of the Bible.
1Ki 3:8(top)
1Ki 3:9

“an understanding heart.” The Hebrew is literally, “a listening heart,” and the word “listening” can have the meanings of listening, understanding, and obeying, and likely all three meanings are in play here.

1Ki 3:10(top)
1Ki 3:11(top)
1Ki 3:12(top)
1Ki 3:13(top)
1Ki 3:14(top)
1Ki 3:15

“banquet.” The Hebrew word is literally, “to drink,” but it was used of a banquet with lots to drink.

1Ki 3:16

“Then.” Here meaning at some later time, not during the banquet. This would have likely been when Solomon was sitting on his throne and judging the people.

1Ki 3:17(top)
1Ki 3:18(top)
1Ki 3:19(top)
1Ki 3:20(top)
1Ki 3:21(top)
1Ki 3:22(top)
1Ki 3:23(top)
1Ki 3:24(top)
1Ki 3:25(top)
1Ki 3:26

“heart.” The Hebrew uses the word for insides, gut, or womb. Her insides were stirred up for her son (cp. Gen. 43:30).

1Ki 3:27

“the first woman.” The text just says “her;” “Give her the living child,” but Solomon could point, but it helps to make the written version more clear, and many English versions do that.

1Ki 3:28

“feared the king.” Here in 1 Kings 3:28, “feared” is the masculine noun yare (#03372 יָרֵא), and in this context, it primarily carries the emphasis of “held in awe,” then “respect.” There would also be a subtle underlying sense of fear, since the King brought the judgment of God to the people.

[For more on the biblical use of “fear,” see commentary on Prov. 1:7.]

“the wisdom of God was in him to carry out justice.” The wisdom of God to judge justly is an attribute associated with the Messiah as well (Isa. 11:2-4; Acts 17:31).


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