And Solomon made affinity with Pharaoh king of Egypt, and took Pharaoh’s daughter, and brought her into the city of David, until he had made an end of building his own house, and the house of the Lord, and the wall of Jerusalem round about. Only the people sacrificed in high places, because there was no house built unto the name of the Lord, until those days. And Solomon loved the Lord, walking in the statutes of David his father: only he sacrificed and burnt incense in high places. ( I Kings 3:1-3)
The Holy Spirit begins the account of Solomon’s reign by matter of factly noting Solomon’s marriage to the daughter of Pharaoh. This is an ominous beginning, for God had warned Israel in advance, not to marry foreign women lest they turn their hearts away from God himself. In this case , Solomon did what was customary for worldly Kings to do, He married the daughter of another King to ratify a treaty.
But He violated the Word of God.
For thou shalt worship no other god: for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God: Lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they go a whoring after their gods, and do sacrifice unto their gods, and one call thee, and thou eat of his sacrifice; And thou take of their daughters unto thy sons, and their daughters go a whoring after their gods, and make thy sons go a whoring after their gods. (Exodus 34:14-16)
The point is also made that at this time there was no central place of worship, as if to underscore Solomon’s great task, to construct the house of God. We are also assured that Solomon loved the LORD.
Solomon begins his reign in worship. This section (4-15) is bracketed between two distinct scenes and places of worship; Gibeah and Jerusalem. Gibeah is where whoever was left of the tabernacle of Moses remained, after it had been stripped of the Ark of the Covenant by Hopni and Phineas in the days of Samuel.
Solomon offered a thousand burnt offerings there, to commence his reign.
That night He had the dream, in which the LORD offered to give him freely whatever he wanted . Solomon acknowledged that He was “in over his head” pertaining to the ability to rule and reign and that he requested Wisdom, literally a “listening heart” and for understanding.
And now, O Lord my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in. And thy servant is in the midst of thy people which thou hast chosen, a great people, that cannot be numbered nor counted for multitude. Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people? And the speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing. ( I Kings 3:8-10)
The LORD fully granted the request, and gave even more because the request pleased Him. Not only would he be given Wisdom, Solomon would also be granted wealth and honor. Solomon would also have long life on the condition that He walk in God’s ways.
Solomon then went to Jerusalem, the place where God would “put His name forever”, and the future site of the Holy Temple of the LORD. He offered there , “…burnt offerings, and offered peace offerings, and made a feast to all his servants.” .
Immediately we are brought into the court of Solomon where the newly granted gift of Wisdom would be demonstrated;
Then came there two women, that were harlots, unto the king, and stood before him. And the one woman said, O my lord, I and this woman dwell in one house; and I was delivered of a child with her in the house. And it came to pass the third day after that I was delivered, that this woman was delivered also: and we were together; there was no stranger with us in the house, save we two in the house. And this woman’s child died in the night; because she overlaid it. And she arose at midnight, and took my son from beside me, while thine handmaid slept, and laid it in her bosom, and laid her dead child in my bosom. ( I Kings 3: 16-20)
What a dilemma! Two Harlots, two children, one living and one dead. How do we determine which one is the real mother? Notice that neither woman is named, nor is either child. Nor is the Judge, he is only referred to as “the King”.
One mother is careless with her own baby, she ends up smothering it in her sleep. How does a mother smother a baby, even in sleep? Was she in a drunken stupor? Did she take a narcotic? Where is the mothering instinct which wold even transcend tiredness? There were no blood tests or DNA tests in those days to determine maternity.
Solomon calls for a Sword, and offers to cut the baby in half, in a ridiculous kind of compromise. Who would agree to that? What a travesty to think anyone would see that as an acceptable deal!
But one woman thinks it alright, she actually agrees and says “…let it be thine and mine, let neither of us have a child…”. What kind of mind thinks that way?
The real mother was willing to sacrifice her right to the baby as long as the bay was allowed to live. The choice became obvious…Give the child to the true mother.
When Solomon teaches us about the subject of Wisdom in the Proverbs, it is interesting to note that he uses the metaphor of two women. We must choose between one of two ladies, One being virtuous and tending towards life, and the other who has an outward attraction but whose ways are death.
Say unto wisdom, Thou art my sister; and call understanding thy kinswoman . That they may keep thee from the strange woman, from the stranger which flattereth with her words. ( Proverbs 7:4-5)
Wisdom is like a woman because she enhances life and will make you fruitful. Sh is beautiful and sets her table, but it takes discernment to recognize her. Life is in her and with her. But she must be pursued, and wooed, one must value and prize her, she can be elusive and must be sought. She has a message, “Forsake the foolish and live…”.
But there is a counterfeit Wisdom, rather easily gained. She talks a good talk but she is but folly. She chooses the way of immediate gratification, and thus always smothers the baby. Her ways are death, and those seduced by her die. She has a message also, “Stolen waters are sweet and bread eaten in secret is pleasant….”.
To deliver thee from the strange woman, even from the stranger which flattereth with her words; Which forsaketh the guide of her youth, and forgetteth the covenant of her God. For her house inclineth unto death, and her paths unto the dead. None that go unto her return again, neither take they hold of the paths of life. (Proverbs 2:16-19)
How does one tell one harlot from another? (For we are all harlots, some of us are redeemed harlots and the others are not). The foolish harlot is all about a “zero sum game”, she wants equality of outcome for she is envious, she would rather cut the baby in half, than just accept the consequences of her own folly.
Solomon knew that the true mother would cry out for the life of the child, regardless of her own personal situation. She is for life, the child must live! Israel became astonished at the Wisdom God had given her King!