Solomon's Wisdom
1 Kings 3:9

It is a popular belief that, in response to Solomon's request (recorded at 1 Kings 3:9), God somehow "zapped" him with wisdom. This violates the Biblical principle of spiritual growth and violates the actual facts of Solomon's request and God's answer.

1. Principle: God gives wisdom to those who seek it.

A. Prov. 2:1-7, God gives wisdom based on the growth process.

B. Prov. 8:12-17, Those who diligently seek for wisdom, find it.

C. James 1:5-8, God gives wisdom to those who ask.

D. Mat. 7:7-11, God will give "good things" to those who ask.

E. But no one has ever received "wisdom" apart from learning God's word.

God gives wisdom since He is the provider and teacher through the Holy Spirit, but the terminology, "God gives," does not mean that He simply "places" knowledge and wisdom into a person's soul.

2. Principle: Wisdom comes through learning God's word.

A. Prov. 1:1-5, The purpose of the book of Proverbs is to provide access to God's moral and spiritual truths, but those truths must be learned through the process of diligent study.

B. Prov. 1:20, 33, Wisdom's call indicates the requirement for diligent study in order to benefit.

C. This acquisition of wisdom through diligent pursuit is described as something that God gives to those who seek it. Prov. 2:6

3. Solomon had been taught God's word from childhood.

A. Prov. 4:1-9. The fact that Solomon was taught much truth by both David and Bathsheba, does not in itself, mean that he had learned it. However, other factors indicate that he had in fact learned it and learned it well.

B. 1 Kings 2:1-4. The normal understanding is that David's exhortation indicates the fact that Solomon already knew these truths.

1. statutes, commandments, ordinances, testimonies.
2. So that you may ACT WISELY: hiphil imperfect of sAkal.

The primary meaning of the verb is to be wise or act wisely.
Furthermore, the context as it flows into verse 4 requires the meaning of act wisely, rather than the less-used "have success." Of course, the difference is resolved if we recognize that the "success" that is in view refers to having wisdom in one's soul in order to handle life according to divine viewpoint. True success is based on knowledge and application of wisdom.
CF. Josh. 1:7-8. A diligent pursuit and application of the word of

God produces general success (Inner prosperity: tsAlāach) and constitutes "acting wisely," (sAkal).

3. So that Yahweh can carry out His promise to David, "if your sons are careful of their way, to walk before me in truth with all their heart and with all their soul."

4. This has to do with his personal USE of the wisdom he knows; that he has learned through the normal growth process. This does not refer to something God "zaps" to him.
If he is consistent in applying God's viewpoint to life, then he will be a functional believer, bringing glory to God. And God will bless him with longevity in life and on the throne.

4. Accordingly, Solomon possessed the wisdom that comes from that teaching (1 Kings 2:6-9). David recognizes the success Solomon has had in his spiritual growth and calls upon him to be consistent in using it.

A. Verse 6, "act according to your wisdom." (chokmAh, noun)
B. Verse 9, "you are a wise man." (chAkAm, adjective)
C. The emphasis with the word group (chAkam, verb), is the possession of wisdom which then naturally affects one's character and activity.

5. Solomon's wisdom is expressed in worship even though it is flawed (1 Kings 3:3).

A. Now Solomon loved Yahweh, walking in the statutes of David."
This indicates, as David had acknowledged, that Solomon had indeed, learned God's word.

B. His worship was flawed because he went to the high places instead of to Jerusalem in front of the Ark of the Covenant. He is still sacrificing to Yahweh, but is using the idolatrous altars of Baal worship which were supposed to have been destroyed (Num 33:52; Deut. 33:29). Later, Solomon totally embraced the idolatrous religions of his various wives and built other high places at which to worship (1 Kings 11:1-8).

C. Upon one occasion, Solomon went to Gibeon, "the great high place," which had been set apart by David as a place for memorial sacrifices (1 Chron. 13:13-14; 16:37-43) after the ark had been removed from there and taken to Jerusalem.

D. Solomon himself did not offer the sacrifices but probably went through the priests whom David had assigned to Gibeon, since his own personal sacrificing would carry serious consequences (1Sam. 13:8-14).

6. Solomon's attitude is to seek for wisdom, so he asks God to fulfill his desire according to the promises he had learned throughout his life.

A. His asking is the attitude mentioned at Pr.2:1-7
B. The focus of his desire is to possess moral judgment and precision so that he can administer justice to his people (v.9).

C. Verse 9: give . . a HEARING heart (sensitivity, objectivity), qal active participle of shAma, which means to hear.

D. In order to judge your people, to discern between benefit (tobh) and harm (ra). This is primarily a moral issue, but certainly embraces application in the spiritual arena as well.

E. God puts it differently at verse 11. "but you have asked for yourself, discernment* (biyn) in order to HEAR (shAma) justice (mishpAt).

*The NASB has the footnote at this verse wrong. They suggest that an alternate reading for "discernment," is "hearing." But the Hebrew word is biyn and does not mean hearing. They probably got it mixed up because of the word, shAma (to hear), which occurs next and is translated as, "to understand."

F. And at verse 12 as, "a wise (chAkAm) and discerning (biyn) heart.
But the context indicates that the "wisdom" is that which apples in a moral context of meting out justice.

7. God fulfills the promise of Proverbs 8:17, "and those who diligently seek me (wisdom) will find me." 1 Kings 3:12

A. But it is based on Solomon's own diligence in the pursuit and application of the divine viewpoint he already knows.

B. At Ec. 1:16, Solomon mentions the acquisition of his wisdom from the standpoint of his human endeavors, but it still indicates that the wisdom came or was provided based on study diligence.

8. The phrase, "no one like you . . .before or after," is an idiom that concerns that particular person's own lifetime. It is used of Hezekiah at 2 Kings 18:5 and of Josiah at 2 Kings 23:25.

9. The first expression of this specific wisdom is to resolve a moral dilemma between two women (1 Kings 3:16-28). The people saw "that the wisdom of God was in him to do justice."

10. Summary statements of the wisdom that God gave to Solomon.

A. 1 Kings 4:29-34. Notice the worldwide impact of Solomon based on the consistency of his wisdom at this time. Consistency in moral testimony impacts the people around us.

B. 1 Kings 5:12. The peace between Hiram and Solomon is a moral issue.

C. 1 Kings 10:1-9. The Queen of Sheba heard all of his wisdom, both spiritual and moral. Jesus makes it clear that she responded to the spiritual wisdom that she heard from Solomon (Luke 11:31).

D. 1 Kings 10:23-24. Again, a worldwide impact from Solomon's wisdom.

11. In the first 10 chapters of 1 Kings, there is no mention of Solomon's polygamy. The marriage to Pharoah's daughter, recorded at 1 Kings 3:1, is probably his first marriage. After Solomon becomes polygamous, first mentioned in chapter 11, there are no more references to his wisdom.

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