|SERMONS, ESSAYS AND OPINIONS|
Solomon was David's second son by Bathsheba (the first after their marriage). He was probably born about 1035 BC (1 Chronicles 22:5, 29:1) and he succeeded his father on the throne in early adulthood. He was known for his wisdom. The first half of his reign was by far the brighter and more prosperous; the latter half was clouded by the idolatry (worship of other gods) into which he fell, mainly because of the influence of his many foreign non-Jewish wives (1 Kings 11:1-8 and 1 Kings 1414:21,31).
Background to Solomon
Achievements and Problems of His Reign
Solomon was an extremely successful king in many ways. But ultimately the Old Testament shows that he brought disaster on his people by leading them away from God, resulting in the break-up of Israel into 2 kingdoms.
The first half of Solomon's reign was characterized by obedience to God with peace and prosperity. He created internal political stability in Israel, elimitating his opponents. He also created alliances and close relationships with neighbouring countries especially by marriages (for example he married the Egyptian Pharaoh's daughter) and trade agreements (for example with Tyre). He improved the miliary defenses of his nation, and avoided fighting battles. He developed and maintained a large chariot force and fortified cities in south and north (see 1 Kings 4). Under his reign industry and trade flourished (see 1 Kings 7.
Possibly Solomon's most significant achievement was the building of the Temple in Jerusalem (see 1 Kings 8). He organized the construction of the Temple, which was built over 7 years. The Temple acted as a focal point for corporate worship of God and the offering of sacrifices for forgiveness of sins.
The Old Testament especially praises Solomon for his wisdom (see 1 Kings 3), noting that his wisdom was from God and exceeded that of other men. The Book of Proverbs, which contains thousands of Proverbs is partly composed of the Proverbs of Solomon.
The second half of Solomon's reign was characterized by disobedience to God with the onset of rouble and strife in ancient Israel. Solomon's extravagent personal lifestyle and his building projects and armed forces put a heavy burden on the common people. The people were taxed heavily and forced labour was used (see 1 Kings 5). Solomon also gave away some of the land of Israel to foreign rulers in exchange for goods and labour. Solomon also created artificial divisions in the country, dividing it into different administrative regions ignoring tribal boundaries.
The Old Testament especially criticises Solomon for his religious mistakes, in particular, his personal disobedience to the first of the Ten Commandments - that is, to not worship other gods. Solomon, under the influence of his many foreign wives, built altars and worshipped a number of foreign gods (see 1 Kings 11).
After Solomon's death, Israel broke into 2 separate kingdoms. 1 Kings shows that this occurred primarily because of Solomon's disobedience to God by worshipping other gods. It also shows that his economic decisison (the people were unhappy because of high tax rates) and increasing social division between the northern tribes and the southern tribes played a role.
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