1 - 6 Solomon Offers at Gibeon
1 Now Solomon the son of David established himself securely over his kingdom, and the LORD his God [was] with him and exalted him greatly. 2 Solomon spoke to all Israel, to the commanders of thousands and of hundreds and to the judges and to every leader in all Israel, the heads of the fathers’ [households]. 3 Then Solomon and all the assembly with him went to the high place which was at Gibeon, for God’s tent of meeting was there, which Moses the servant of the LORD had made in the wilderness. 4 However, David had brought up the ark of God from Kiriath-jearim to the place he had prepared for it, for he had pitched a tent for it in Jerusalem. 5 Now the bronze altar, which Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, had made, was there before the tabernacle of the LORD, and Solomon and the assembly sought it out. 6 Solomon went up there before the LORD to the bronze altar which [was] at the tent of meeting, and offered a thousand burnt offerings on it.
In this chapter the beginning of Solomon’s reign – he reigned from 970-930 BC – is described. He is about nineteen years old. It is a new beginning, but at the same time a continuation of the David reign. We see this in the first words “Solomon the son of David”. The blessing of the LORD for David is continued under his son Solomon. The LORD fulfills His promises which He has made to David by “exalting” Solomon “greatly” (verse 1).
There is no mention of a struggle in the acquisition of his kingship, which we find in the first book of Kings. We can suppose that struggle in the words “established himself securely”. The words that follow, however, make it clear that the establishing of his position is not due to the exercise of his power and authority, but that he owes it to the fact that God is “with him and exalted him greatly” (verse 1). God’s presence will also be our strength. Solomon is here a picture of Christ in His glory.
Solomon is at the beginning of a new era. For David the ark is the central place. For Solomon it is the altar at Gibeon, located in the area of the tribe of Benjamin, where the “tent of meeting” is. As long as there is no new altar and no temple, people comes together there. It is an interim solution. Solomon uses his authority to order all of Israel, through all those who have a responsible position among the people, to seek and honor God. It is also important for us to lead and encourage those entrusted to us and on whom we can exert influence in the search for the things of the Lord.
Solomon and all the assembly with him go to Gibeon to worship the LORD and ask Him for wisdom in a pitiful tent left over from the tabernacle. He offers a large number of animals on the bronze altar. Despite the imperfect situation, which the separation between the ark and the altar anyway is, the LORD connects His presence to that place. For there is talk of “the tabernacle of the LORD” and that Solomon offers there “before the LORD”.
He will have inherited the thousand animals which he brings as a burnt offering from his father who had a great herd (1Chr 27:29,31). He does not keep what he has received for himself, but offers it to the LORD. He acknowledges that he has received everything from him, as his father David has acknowledged (1Chr 29:14).
7 - 13 Solomon Asks Wisdom and Knowledge
7 In that night God appeared to Solomon and said to him, “Ask what I shall give you.” 8 Solomon said to God, “You have dealt with my father David with great lovingkindness, and have made me king in his place. 9 Now, O LORD God, Your promise to my father David is fulfilled, for You have made me king over a people as numerous as the dust of the earth. 10 Give me now wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people, for who can rule this great people of Yours?” 11 God said to Solomon, “Because you had this in mind, and did not ask for riches, wealth or honor, or the life of those who hate you, nor have you even asked for long life, but you have asked for yourself wisdom and knowledge that you may rule My people over whom I have made you king, 12 wisdom and knowledge have been granted to you. And I will give you riches and wealth and honor, such as none of the kings who were before you has possessed nor those who will come after you.” 13 So Solomon went from the high place which was at Gibeon, from the tent of meeting, to Jerusalem, and he reigned over Israel.
Solomon receives an apparition of the LORD. The LORD says to him that he may ask what he wants. That is an inviting question, with no restrictions. This question also comes to us when the Lord Jesus says: “Ask, and it will be given to you; … For everyone who asks receives” (Mt 7:7-8). What do we answer to the Lord’s question?
Solomon prays for wisdom and knowledge (Pro 2:6). That is the measure by which to build. Both can be found in Christ (Col 2:3). The standard for church building is Christ. There are many forms of church building that arise from our ideas about how it seems best to us, but the only standard for the church and the coming together of the church is Christ.
There must, so to speak, first be reflection at Gibeon, in order to see what the standard is to come together as a church, to be a ‘temple’. Solomon here is not only a picture of Christ, but also a picture of the Spirit of Christ in the believer. This Spirit characterizes Paul when he prays for the Ephesians for the “a spirit of wisdom … in the knowledge of Him” (Eph 1:17).
The answer from Solomon’s mouth is beautiful. He gives the people of Israel a special value, not because they are his people, but because they are God’s people. That he sees the people not as his people, but as God’s people, is of great importance, also in our days. The church is not the possession of people, but of God. Whoever is aware of this will treat the other members of that people with great care, while acknowledging that each member belongs to the Lord and has his own unique task.
God praises Solomon for his request. Kings of the nations ask their gods for everything Solomon does not ask for. Solomon gets it because he only has God’s interests in mind in his prayer. We can learn a lot from the content of this prayer. Solomon does not start by asking anything, but he first reminds God of what He has done in the past and what He does the present.
Whatever task we get to do, we can always be confident that God’s support is there for us as it was for those who served Him before us. We may appeal to the “great lovingkindness” that has been proven to them, as Solomon does in relation to his father David, whose task he now gets (verse 8). Then Solomon appeals to all the promises given by God. There is no better plea in prayer than to refer to God’s promises (verse 9).
The best way to achieve what we wish is to ask for wisdom and knowledge for our task (verse 10). Just like Moses (Exo 3:11), David (1Sam 18:18) and Jeremiah (Jer 1:6), also Solomon recognizes his incompetence for this great task and asks for “wisdom and knowledge”. “Wisdom” refers to the right assessment at the right time in distinguishing between good and evil. ‘Knowledge’ (or ‘understanding’) relates to the knowledge and understanding of the circumstances to make the right choice for the way to go.
Solomon speaks about his ‘going out and coming in’ for the people. This may involve going out to the gate to speak justice there and going in to the LORD to seek advice from Him on the trials. In a broader sense, ‘going out and coming in’ refers to Solomon’s entire life’s walk in order to devote himself as king to his people.
God gives him what he has asked for, because he has asked for it. He gives him what he did not ask for, because he did not ask for it (verses 11-12). God explains in detail why Solomon gets what he has asked for and why he gets what he has not asked for. God gives according to the riches of His grace what is in His heart. It is an illustration of Paul’s word that God “is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think” (Eph 3:20; cf. Mt 6:33).
After his meeting and conversation with God, Solomon can start reigning (verse 13). This is the correct order: first the tabernacle and the altar and then the throne.
14 - 17 Possessions of Solomon
14 Solomon amassed chariots and horsemen. He had 1,400 chariots and 12,000 horsemen, and he stationed them in the chariot cities and with the king at Jerusalem. 15 The king made silver and gold as plentiful in Jerusalem as stones, and he made cedars as plentiful as sycamores in the lowland. 16 Solomon’s horses were imported from Egypt and from Kue; the king’s traders procured them from Kue for a price. 17 They imported chariots from Egypt for 600 [shekels] of silver apiece and horses for 150 apiece, and by the same means they exported them to all the kings of the Hittites and the kings of Aram.
Now that he has gained wisdom, he does not bury his talent, but goes to work with it. He gathers all that is needed for his reign, a reign in glory.
He buys 1,400 chariots and ensures 12,000 horsemen. This army is partly stationed in chariot cities, i.e. in strategic locations in the country. Another part he keeps under his direct control in Jerusalem.
The riches and treasures of silver and gold he collects do not mean his fall, as in the first book of Kings, but increase his power and glory. They are symbols of the riches of the church of God with which it is built, such as “gold, silver and precious stones” (1Cor 3:12a) of which Paul speaks as the precious metals built on the foundation.