In all of Scripture, save the Lord Jesus Christ, no other person is the embodiment of wisdom quite like Solomon. His reign brought unprecedented wealth into the land of Israel while his people increased in number (1 Kings 4:20). He stands as author to some of the richest literature of the Old Testament including Psalm 72 and 127, and the books of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon. His reputation was international as the surrounding kingdoms came to be led by this sage son of David.
Solomon was David’s son not a mere biology, rather, in Solomon, we find the immediate heir to the promises of God given to David in 2 Samuel 7. Remember that David initially sought to build God a permanent house, but God in turn promised to build for David and everlasting dynasty through his sons. Through the work of Solomon, God’s promise of 2 Samuel 7:13 was coming to pass. There God said, “He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.” (ESV)
From the moment of his birth, God loved Solomon (2 Samuel 12:24). As David prepared to die, he charged his court to publicly set Solomon apart for the throne. Solomon rode the king’s donkey, sat upon the king’s throne, and was even hailed by the people. In this line we find a godly succession plan, from a king honored to relinquish his throne to another.
Solomon became king, but he knew that what he needed most he did not have. In an act of mercy, God revealed himself to Solomon and said, “Ask what I shall give you.” (1 King. 3:5 ESV) Solomon could have asked for anything. But he admitted his limitations and weakness, and his need for understanding and discernment for the sake of God’s people (1 Kings 3:7-9). What God’s people needed most was God Himself. And so he had one goal in mind, “I intend to build a house for the name of the LORD my God” (1 Kings 5:5 ESV). This plan was accomplished only by the wisdom granted to him by God Himself (1 Kings 5:12)
All the details surrounding the design and implementation of Solomon’s Temple to the Lord are contained in 1 Kings 6-8. The final element brought into the Temple was the Ark of the Covenant, the mobile throne of God. His blessing upon Solomon’s work was made evident in His Glory-Cloud, the visible embodiment of His Holy Presence (1 Kings 8:10-11). God’s presence was so intense that we read, “the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD.” (1 Kings 8:11 ESV)
What was the result of God’s presence in the midst of His people? Prayer and Doxology. Solomon recounted the faithfulness of God, prayed to Him with thanksgiving and blessed the people (1 Kings 8). In many ways, this sequence is meant to hearken the reader back to Mount Sinai at that original ratification of the Mosaic Covenant. But just like the wonder of Sinai, the beauty was not in the act of men, but in the mercy and stooping-down of God towards man. The Lord confirmed His acceptance of the Temple and Solomon’s prayers when he said, “I have consecrated this house that you have built, by putting my name there forever. My eyes and my heart will be there for all time.” (1 Kings 9:3 ESV) God was promising to be in the midst of His people forever. In faint echoes of Eden, God was restoring this broken relationship of man and God through the work of Solomon.
But as the story goes, Solomon gave himself over to sin. And the old proverb proved true: As a king goes, so goes the nation. Things trailed from bad to worse and inevitably the warnings of 1 Kings 9:6-9 would come to fruition. For all of his wisdom, Solomon was still a flawed, sinful, self-focused man.
The beginning of the end is hinted at in 1 Kings 11 in Solomon’s love for foreign woman who worshiped foreign gods. This ironic abandonment of exclusive Temple worship led to the shame of Solomon, the imprisonment and torture of his descendants, and the near-death of His people. We are reminded by this story that having every material good is not sufficient. Even the wisest of the wise will fail because sin can twist even our greatest characteristics.
What we, and Solomon need most is the presence of God through the mediator, Jesus Christ. A holy presence that not only descends into our hearts by faith but transforms the landscape entirely. So that we are filled with the Glory-Cloud, the Holy Spirit Himself, who comes and transforms our ordinary hearts from tombs to living Temples in service to the King.