Bible Society of South Africa

Day 37 – King Solomon

Read about King Solomon.

Bible text(s)

David's Last Instructions to Solomon

1When David was about to die, he called his son Solomon and gave him his last instructions: 2“My time to die has come. Be confident and determined, 3and do what the LORD your God orders you to do. Obey all his laws and commands, as written in the Law of Moses, so that wherever you go you may prosper in everything you do. 4If you obey him, the LORD will keep the promise he made when he told me that my descendants would rule Israel as long as they were careful to obey his commands faithfully with all their heart and soul.

5“There is something else. You remember what Joab did to me by killing the two commanders of Israel's armies, Abner son of Ner and Amasa son of Jether. You remember how he murdered them in time of peace in revenge for deaths they had caused in time of war. He killed innocent men and now I bear the responsibility for what he did, and I suffer the consequences. 6You know what to do; you must not let him die a natural death.

7“But show kindness to the sons of Barzillai from Gilead and take care of them, because they were kind to me when I was fleeing from your brother Absalom.

8“There is also Shimei son of Gera, from the town of Bahurim in Benjamin. He cursed me bitterly the day I went to Mahanaim, but when he met me at the River Jordan, I gave him my solemn promise in the name of the LORD that I would not have him killed. 9But you must not let him go unpunished. You know what to do, and you must see to it that he is put to death.”

The Death of David

10David died and was buried in David's City. 11He had been king of Israel for forty years, ruling seven years in Hebron and 33 years in Jerusalem. 12Solomon succeeded his father David as king, and his royal power was firmly established.

The Death of Adonijah

13Then Adonijah, whose mother was Haggith, went to Bathsheba, who was Solomon's mother. “Is this a friendly visit?” she asked.

“It is,” he answered, 14and then he added, “I have something to ask of you.”

“What is it?” she asked.

15He answered, “You know that I should have become king and that everyone in Israel expected it. But it happened differently, and my brother became king, because it was the LORD's will. 16And now I have one request to make; please do not refuse me.”

“What is it?” Bathsheba asked.

17He answered, “Please ask King Solomon — I know he won't refuse you — to let me have Abishag, the woman from Shunem, as my wife.”

18“Very well,” she answered. “I will speak to the king for you.”

19So Bathsheba went to the king to speak to him on behalf of Adonijah. The king stood up to greet his mother and bowed to her. Then he sat on his throne and had another one brought in on which she sat at his right. 20She said, “I have a small favour to ask of you; please do not refuse me.”

“What is it, mother?” he asked. “I will not refuse you.”

21She answered, “Let your brother Adonijah have Abishag as his wife.”

22“Why do you ask me to give Abishag to him?” the king asked. “You might as well ask me to give him the throne too. After all, he is my elder brother, and Abiathar the priest and Joab are on his side!” 23Then Solomon made a solemn promise in the LORD's name, “May God strike me dead if I don't make Adonijah pay with his life for asking this! 24The LORD has firmly established me on the throne of my father David; he has kept his promise and given the kingdom to me and my descendants. I swear by the living LORD that Adonijah will die this very day!”

25So King Solomon gave orders to Benaiah, who went out and killed Adonijah.

Abiathar's Banishment and Joab's Death

26Then King Solomon said to Abiathar the priest, “Go to your country home in Anathoth. You deserve to die, but I will not have you put to death now, for you were in charge of the LORD's Covenant Box while you were with my father David, and you shared in all his troubles.” 27Then Solomon dismissed Abiathar from serving as a priest of the LORD, and so he made what the LORD had said in Shiloh about the priest Eli and his descendants come true.

28Joab heard what had happened. (He had supported Adonijah, but not Absalom.) So he fled to the Tent of the LORD's presence and took hold of the corners of the altar. 29When the news reached King Solomon that Joab had fled to the Tent and was by the altar, Solomon sent a messenger to Joab to ask him why he had fled to the altar. Joab answered that he had fled to the LORD because he was afraid of Solomon. So King Solomon sent Benaiah to kill Joab. 30He went to the Tent of the LORD's presence and said to Joab, “The king orders you to come out.”

“No,” Joab answered. “I will die here.”

Benaiah went back to the king and told him what Joab had said.

31“Do what Joab says,” Solomon answered. “Kill him and bury him. Then neither I nor any other of David's descendants will any longer be held responsible for what Joab did when he killed innocent men. 32The LORD will punish Joab for those murders, which he committed without my father David's knowledge. Joab killed two innocent men who were better men than he: Abner, commander of the army of Israel, and Amasa, commander of the army of Judah. 33The punishment for their murders will fall on Joab and on his descendants for ever. But the LORD will always give success to David's descendants who sit on his throne.”

34So Benaiah went to the Tent of the LORD's presence and killed Joab, and he was buried at his home in the open country. 35The king made Benaiah commander of the army in Joab's place and put Zadok the priest in Abiathar's place.

The Death of Shimei

36Then the king sent for Shimei and said to him, “Build a house for yourself here in Jerusalem. Live in it and don't leave the city. 37If you ever leave and go beyond the brook of Kidron, you will certainly die — and you yourself will be to blame.”

38“Very well, Your Majesty,” Shimei answered. “I will do what you say.” So he lived in Jerusalem a long time.

39Three years later, however, two of Shimei's slaves ran away to the king of Gath, Achish son of Maacah. When Shimei heard that they were in Gath, 40he saddled his donkey and went to King Achish in Gath, to find his slaves. He found them and brought them back home. 41When Solomon heard what Shimei had done, 42he sent for him and said, “I made you promise in the LORD's name not to leave Jerusalem. And I warned you that if you ever did, you would certainly die. Did you not agree to it and say that you would obey me? 43Why, then, have you broken your promise and disobeyed my command? 44You know very well all the wrong that you did to my father David. The LORD will punish you for it. 45But he will bless me and he will make David's kingdom secure for ever.”

46Then the king gave orders to Benaiah, who went out and killed Shimei. Solomon was now in complete control.

Solomon Prays for Wisdom

1Solomon made an alliance with the king of Egypt by marrying his daughter. He brought her to live in David's City until he had finished building his palace, the Temple, and the wall round Jerusalem. 2A temple had not yet been built for the LORD, and so the people were still offering sacrifices at many different altars. 3Solomon loved the LORD and followed the instructions of his father David, but he also slaughtered animals and offered them as sacrifices on various altars.

4On one occasion he went to Gibeon to offer sacrifices because that was where the most famous altar was. He had offered hundreds of burnt offerings there in the past. 5That night the LORD appeared to him in a dream and asked him, “What would you like me to give you?”

6Solomon answered, “You always showed great love for my father David, your servant, and he was good, loyal, and honest in his relations with you. And you have continued to show him your great and constant love by giving him a son who today rules in his place. 7O LORD God, you have let me succeed my father as king, even though I am very young and don't know how to rule. 8Here I am among the people you have chosen to be your own, a people who are so many that they cannot be counted. 9So give me the wisdom I need to rule your people with justice and to know the difference between good and evil. Otherwise, how would I ever be able to rule this great people of yours?”

10The LORD was pleased that Solomon had asked for this, 11and so he said to him, “Because you have asked for the wisdom to rule justly, instead of long life for yourself or riches or the death of your enemies, 12I will do what you have asked. I will give you more wisdom and understanding than anyone has ever had before or will ever have again. 13I will also give you what you have not asked for: all your life you will have wealth and honour, more than that of any other king. 14And if you obey me and keep my laws and commands, as your father David did, I will give you a long life.”

15Solomon woke up and realized that God had spoken to him in the dream. Then he went to Jerusalem and stood in front of the LORD's Covenant Box and offered burnt offerings and fellowship offerings to the LORD. After that he gave a feast for all his officials.

Solomon Judges a Difficult Case

16One day two prostitutes came and presented themselves before King Solomon. 17One of them said, “Your Majesty, this woman and I live in the same house, and I gave birth to a baby boy at home while she was there. 18Two days after my child was born she also gave birth to a baby boy. Only the two of us were there in the house — no one else was present. 19Then one night she accidentally rolled over on her baby and smothered it. 20She got up during the night, took my son from my side while I was asleep, and carried him to her bed; then she put the dead child in my bed. 21The next morning, when I woke up and was going to feed my baby, I saw that it was dead. I looked at it more closely and saw that it was not my child.”

22But the other woman said, “No! The living child is mine, and the dead one is yours!”

The first woman answered, “No! The dead child is yours, and the living one is mine!”

And so they argued before the king.

23Then King Solomon said, “Each of you claims that the living child is hers and that the dead child belongs to the other one.” 24He sent for a sword, and when it was brought, 25he said, “Cut the living child in two and give each woman half of it.”

26The real mother, her heart full of love for her son, said to the king, “Please, Your Majesty, don't kill the child! Give it to her!”

But the other woman said, “Don't give it to either of us; go ahead and cut it in two.”

27Then Solomon said, “Don't kill the child! Give it to the first woman — she is its real mother.”

28When the people of Israel heard of Solomon's decision, they were all filled with deep respect for him, because they knew then that God had given him the wisdom to settle disputes fairly.

1 Kings 2:1-3:28GNBOpen in Bible reader

PRAY before you read, asking God to help you understand.
READ the Bible passage for the day – preferably more than once.
REFLECT on the passage. Write your thoughts in a journal.
APPLY what God teaches you from His Word to your life.
PRAY again, asking God to live out His Word.

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