1 Kings 3

1 Solomon made an alliance with Pharaoh king of Egypt, and took Pharaoh’s daughter, and brought her into David’s city, until he had finished building his own house, the LORD’s house, and the wall around Jerusalem. 2 However the people sacrificed in the high places, because there was not yet a house built for the LORD’s name. 3 Solomon loved the LORD, walking in the statutes of David his father; except that he sacrificed and burnt incense in the high places. 4 The king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there; for that was the great high place. Solomon offered a thousand burnt offerings on that altar. 5 In Gibeon, the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, “Ask for what I should give you.” 6 Solomon said, “You have shown to your servant David my father great loving kindness, because he walked before you in truth, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with you. You have kept for him this great loving kindness, that you have given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is today. 7 Now, LORD my God, you have made your servant king instead of David my father. I am just a little child. I don’t know how to go out or come in. 8 Your servant is amongst your people which you have chosen, a great people, that can’t be numbered or counted for multitude. 9 Give your servant therefore an understanding heart to judge your people, that I may discern between good and evil; for who is able to judge this great people of yours?” 10 This request pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing. 11 God said to him, “Because you have asked this thing, and have not asked for yourself long life, nor have you asked for riches for yourself, nor have you asked for the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern justice; 12 behold, I have done according to your word. Behold, I have given you a wise and understanding heart; so that there has been no one like you before you, and after you none will arise like you. 13 I have also given you that which you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that there will not be any amongst the kings like you for all your days. 14 If you will walk in my ways, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days.” 15 Solomon awoke; and behold, it was a dream. Then he came to Jerusalem, and stood before the ark of the LORD’s covenant, and offered up burnt offerings, offered peace offerings, and made a feast for all his servants. 16 Then two women who were prostitutes came to the king, and stood before him. 17 The one woman said, “Oh, my lord, I and this woman dwell in one house. I delivered a child with her in the house. 18 The third day after I delivered, this woman delivered also. We were together. There was no stranger with us in the house, just us two in the house. 19 This woman’s child died in the night, because she lay on it. 20 She arose at midnight, and took my son from beside me, while your servant slept, and laid it in her bosom, and laid her dead child in my bosom. 21 When I rose in the morning to nurse my child, behold, it was dead; but when I had looked at it in the morning, behold, it was not my son, whom I bore.” 22 The other woman said, “No; but the living one is my son, and the dead one is your son.” The first one said, “No; but the dead one is your son, and the living one is my son.” Thus they spoke before the king. 23 Then the king said, “One says, ‘This is my son who lives, and your son is the dead;’ and the other says, ‘No; but your son is the dead one, and my son is the living one.’” 24 The king said, “Get me a sword.” So they brought a sword before the king. 25 The king said, “Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one, and half to the other.” 26 Then the woman whose the living child was spoke to the king, for her heart yearned over her son, and she said, “Oh, my lord, give her the living child, and in no way kill him!” But the other said, “He shall be neither mine nor yours. Divide him.” 27 Then the king answered, “Give her the living child, and definitely do not kill him. She is his mother.” 28 All Israel heard of the judgement which the king had judged; and they feared the king; for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him, to do justice.

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Questions about today’s reading? See if Matthew Henry can help.
Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, 1706

Verses 1–4

He that loved the Lord, should, for his sake, have fixed his love upon one of the Lord’s people. Solomon was a wise man, a rich man, a great man; yet the brightest praise of him, is that which is the character of all the saints, even the poorest, “He loved the Lord.” Where God sows plentifully, he expects to reap accordingly; and those that truly love God and his worship, will not grudge the expenses of their religion. We must never think that wasted which is laid out in the service of God.

Verses 5–15

Solomon’s dream was not a common one. While his bodily powers were locked up in sleep, the powers of his soul were strengthened; he was enabled to receive the Divine vision, and to make a suitable choice. God, in like manner, puts us in the ready way to be happy, by assuring us we shall have what we need, and pray for. Solomon’s making such a choice when asleep, and the powers of reason least active, showed it came from the grace of God. Having a humble sense of his own wants and weakness, he pleads, Lord, I am but a little child. The more wise and considerate men are, the better acquainted they are with their own weakness, and the more jealous of themselves. Solomon begs of God to give him wisdom. We must pray for it, Jas 1:5, that it may help us in our particular calling, and the various occasions we have. Those are accepted of God, who prefer spiritual blessings to earthly good. It was a prevailing prayer, and prevailed for more than he asked. God gave him wisdom, such as no other prince was ever blessed with; and also gave him riches and honour. If we make sure of wisdom and grace, these will bring outward prosperity with them, or sweeten the want of it. The way to get spiritual blessings, is to wrestle with God in prayer for them. The way to get earthly blessings, is to refer ourselves to God concerning them. Solomon has wisdom given him, because he did ask it, and wealth, because he did not.

Verses 16–28

An instance of Solomon’s wisdom is given. Notice the difficulty of the case. To find out the true mother, he could not try which the child loved best, and therefore tried which loved the child best: the mother’s sincerity will be tried, when the child is in danger. Let parents show their love to their children, especially by taking care of their souls, and snatching them as brands out of the burning. By this and other instances of the wisdom with which God endued him, Solomon had great reputation among his people. This was better to him than weapons of war; for this he was both feared and loved.

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