We learn of Solomon’s greatness in 1 Kings 3 and 4 and 2 Chronicles 1.
God asked Solomon what he should give to him. Solomon says, “You have shown great and steadfast love to your servant David my father, because he walked before you faithfulness, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart toward you. And you have kept for him this great and steadfast love and have given him a son to sit on his throne this day. And now, O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of David my father, although I am but a child…Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?”
So, God says, “I give you a wise and discerning mind, so that none like you has been before you and none like you shall arise after you. I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that no other king shall compare with you, all your days.”
We then read evidence of Solomon’s great wisdom when he decides the issue between the two prostitutes of whose baby was still alive. “And all Israel heard the judgment that the king had rendered, and they stood in awe of the king, because they perceived that the wisdom of God was in him to do justice.”
But, while all of this was going on, even though he loved the Lord, Solomon was going to the high places to worship. He was offering 1,000 burnt offerings on the altar. But, this altar was in Gibeon, which was not where David had put the ark of the Lord, which was where God’s presence was. Solomon loved God, but not like David, who desired to dwell under the shadow of the wings of cherubim above the ark in the tabernacle. Solomon knew of his father’s love for God and God’s love for his father as we see above.
Further, we read in these chapters that Solomon took a wife from Egypt (which was just the beginning of his foreign wives), that he acquired lots of horses and chariots from Egypt, and he made silver and gold as common as stone in Jerusalem. But, these are the three specific actions that God said the king of Israel should not do in Deuteronomy 17:14-20 because they would cause the king’s heart to be lifted up and lead the king away from God.
So, Solomon had great wisdom given to him by God (and God was pleased by this), but he lacked a broken heart and a contrite spirit like his father David. But, look at what 1 Corinthians 13:2 says, “And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.”
Solomon lacked love and, therefore, his wisdom amounted to nothing in the end. Just read how his life turned out in Kings and Chronicles as well as Ecclesiastes.
But, in Matthew 12:42 Jesus says, “The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here.”
Indeed, someone greater than Solomon is here – Jesus!
Why? Because not only does Jesus have greater wisdom than Solomon, but Jesus applies that wisdom with love to bring righteousness, mercy, and justice. This astounded and amazed all the people who heard Jesus’ wisdom. Just look at what the gospels say in
- Matthew 7:28-29; 13:54; 19:25; 22:22, 33, 27:14
- Mark 1:22, 27; 6:2; 10:24, 26; 11:18; 12:17; 15:5
- Luke 4:22, 32, 36; 19:47; 20:26; 24:41
- John 5:20; 7:15
Philippians 2:1-10 gives a wonderful explanation of all of this. And, as God blessed Solomon with riches and honor that he did not ask for, Philippines 2:9-10 shows what God did for Jesus, “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”