By Brittany Rust, Crosswalk.com
King Solomon: the wisest man to ever live, builder of the temple, beautiful poet and national leader--he was a man who seemed to have it all. Yet, at the end of his life, he penned these words in Ecclesiastes 2:11:
“When I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.”
Solomon was a complex man. He had his victories and defeats, just like us. We may have heard stories about this great king, but there are a few things left to uncover.
Here are 9 Interesting Things You Might Not Know about King Solomon:
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1. Solomon was the last son of David – not the natural first choice for succession to the King
It’s quite common for the eldest son to inherit the throne, both in biblical times and today, which is why for a long time, another of David’s sons, Absalom, was thought to become his successor.
Absalom was the one who killed his half-brother, Amnon, the eldest son of David, because Amnon raped their sister. With the death of Amnon, Absalom became the eldest son and actually attempted to overthrow David at one point. He was unsuccessful.
Solomon, the son of David’s favorite wife, Bathsheba, was chosen as the next king of Israel and was likely a teenager when he assumed the throne.
2. Solomon almost didn't become king
When David was on his deathbed, one of his son’s, Adonijah, anointed himself king with the aid of a few priests. It was obviously underhanded – Adonijah invited royal officials, his brothers (except for Solomon), and priests to the event. He did not, however, invite David, Solomon, or Nathan the prophet.
When news traveled to David, he gave instructions to Nathan on how to go about anointing Solomon as the one true king. It was done right and with David’s blessing, establishing Solomon as king, instead of Adonijah.
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3. King Solomon was the last leader of a united Israel
The nation of Israel split after the death of Solomon. Rehoboam, son of Solomon, was to assume the throne, however; in his first decision as king, he rejected the people’s cry.
Instead of lightening the load placed on the people by his father, he increased it:
"The king answered the people harshly. Rejecting the advice given him by the elders, he followed the advice of the young men and said, “My father made your yoke heavy; I will make it even heavier. My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions” (1 Kings 12:13-14).
At this, all tribes but the tribe of Judah split. Rehoboam ruled over Judah and Jeroboam was made king over Israel. The nation never saw unity again.
4. He was the wisest person to have lived in his lifetime, and was also very wealthy and powerful
In 2 Chronicles 1, God appeared to Solomon and asked him what he wanted more than anything. While most would have asked for power or wealth, Solomon asked for wisdom. The new king wanted, more than anything, the insight to lead the nation well. It was certainly admirable.
Because Solomon did not ask for things of this world, God blessed him beyond wisdom. He also granted wealth and power to the new king, wealth that no king before or after has ever amassed. These blessings made him one of the most powerful people in the world during his lifetime.
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5. Though Solomon built the temple to the Most High God, he also built temples in Israel to false gods
Solomon married many foreign wives, women who worshipped false gods. It was through these relationships that Solomon’s heart was turned away from worshipping the one true God. He built temples to the idols so that he and his wives, along with others, could worship them.
Thankfully, we read in Ecclesiastes that Solomon eventually turned back to serve only God and rejected the false idols, however; damage had already been done. It was because of this sin, in fact, that God split the Kingdom after Solomon’s death.
Unfortunately, Solomon’s sin not only affected him, but affected the nation of Israel and all who lived in it.
6. Solomon had a healthy, monogamous marriage, but by the end of his life, he had hundreds of wives and concubines.
In the book, Song of Solomon, a love story is told. It’s the story of Solomon and his first wife, whom many believe was a young woman caring for David in his final days. The book shares their courtship, marriage, and even conflict. It’s really a beautiful look into their love and a guide we can use today in our own pursuit of love and healthy marriages.
Sadly, it didn’t last, because as we know, Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines. What was once sacred became defiled and lost. In Ecclesiastes, Solomon encourages man to love his wife – not wives, but wife. No doubt, he felt the damage and loss caused by his decision.
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7. As king, Solomon became quite good at developing relationships with other countries, which established a lucrative commerce for the nation of Israel
Solomon established trade and commerce for the nation, becoming a major player in maritime traffic. His ability to develop strong relationships with other countries and negotiate trade greatly benefited Israel, both as an exporter and importer of goods. It, no doubt, helped to put Israel on the map to an even greater degree.
One strong relationship he had was with the Queen of Sheba. After meeting with King Solomon and hearing his wisdom, experiencing the grandeur of his palace grounds, and seeing "the burnt offerings he made at the temple of the LORD," the Queen of Sheba was "overwhelmed" (1 Kings 10:5). She praised God and gave Solomon "120 talents of gold, large quantities of spices, and precious stones" (1 Kings 10:10).
"King Solomon gave the queen of Sheba all she desired and asked for, besides what he had given her out of his royal bounty. Then she left and returned with her retinue to her own country" (1 Kings 10:13).
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8. Solomon authored three books of the Bible
Solomon had wisdom and insight; he was a poet who could weave beautiful words together. Furthermore, when Solomon was connected to God and really pursuing Him, God developed incredible works through him that can be found in the Bible.
King Solomon is the author of Song of Solomon, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes. These are books of wisdom packed full of incredible Biblical truth we can apply to our lives today!
"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction" (Proverbs 1:7).
9. God redeemed King Solomon
These things about Solomon aren’t all lovely, but Solomon was human just like all of us, and everyone makes mistakes. Thankfully, we serve a redeeming God whose grace and love are unmatched! We read in Biblical accounts that Solomon turned back to God by the end of his life.
King Solomon had it all and failed in so many ways, but he found restoration in the arms of God. He then shared his own journey and tried to encourage others to avoid those same traps in the books that he penned. Take to heart the wisdom shared by this powerful and troubled king.
Read more about the Judgment of King Solomon in the Bible.
Brittany Rust has a passion is to give encouragement to the world-weary believer through her writing, speaking, and podcasting. She is the author of Untouchable: Unraveling the Myth That You're Too Faithful to Fall, founder of For the Mama Heart, and hosts the Epic Fails podcast. Brittany, her husband Ryan, and their son Roman make their home in the Rocky Mountains, pursuing outdoor adventures, great food, and memorable stories together. Learn more at www.brittanyrust.com.
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