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KD: Old Testament Lesson 26

Posted by Karl D. on July 8, 2010

Gospel Doctrine
Lesson: Solomon
Reading: 1 Kings 3, 5-11

1 Introduction

  • How does this narrative end? Note, the ending I am referring to is 2 Kings since the split of Kings into two book appears to be artificial1
  • Is this important? Why? Is this likely to affect the authors perspective?

2 Summary Statement

Read 1 Kings 3:1-3

(1) And Solomon made affinity with Pharaoh king of Egypt, and took Pharaoh’s daughter, and brought her into the city of David, until he had made an end of building his own house, and the house of the LORD, and the wall of Jerusalem round about. (2) Only the people sacrificed in high places, because there was no house built unto the name of the LORD, until those days. (3) And Solomon loved the LORD, walking in the statutes of David his father: only he sacrificed and burnt incense in high places.

  • What do we learn about Solomon in these verses?
  • What do we learn about the author or narrator?

2.1 Narrator Summary Statement

The narrator focuses on three themes/issues in this introductory/summary statement:

  1. Solomon’s marriage to Pharaoh’s daughter
  2. Solomon’s building projects
  3. Solomon’s use of “high places for sacrifice

Some commentators have suggested that on the surface the author/narrator speaks positively about Solomon but that there is a negative undercurrent.2 Do you agree or disagree? Why?

2.2 Marriage

  • Why does the narrator mention Solomon’s marriage to the Egyptian Princes? Is this a negative undercurrent?
  • Is the emphasis on the political aspects important or telling? Are the implications of these revealed in verses like 1 Kings 9:16?
  • Are we able to glean any insights about Solomon or the people of Israel more generally?

2.3 Solomon’s Building Projects

In reality didn’t Solomon build the temple first? Should we make anything of the fact that in these verses the author mentions the building of Solomon’s own house first?

  • Is the author commenting on Solomon’s priorities or is that over-reading the passage?
  • Is this a negative undercurrent?
  • Is it unfair of the author to list Solomon’s house building first or does it makes sense given that Solomon spends twice as much time building his house as he does the temple?3
  • Is their anything missing from the building list? A residence outside the city was eventually built for her (1 Kings 9:24). Does this omission tell us anything about Solomon priorities?

2.4 The High Places

  • What are “high places?”

A hill or elevated platform used for sacrifice; a local place of worship; or, in pejorative usage, any sanctuary other than the Temple in Jerusalem. The term seems originally to have referred to a natural height where sacrifices were offered. The site was often a hill outside an adjacent city.4

  • How does the narrator feel about the fact that Solomon and Israel sacrificed in these “high places?”
  • Do you think the Israelites built these shrines or did someone else build them? If they were originally built by someone else then what was their original purpose?

    There is a good chance they were originally shrines to foreign deity (for example: Canaanite deity).

  • The narrator seems to accept the high places because of the lack of a temple. Is the narrator omitting something important? What did the Israelites have?
  • Are there any points of contact between this situation (use of the high places and Mormon temple work? For example, do you see this as similar to the following situations?
    • Baptisms for the Dead (very early days)
    • Prayer circles conducted outside of the temple (officially ended as a practice in 1978)5.

2.5 David

  • Do you think the phrase “walking in the statutes of David his father” is a positive statement about Solomon or is it negative?
  • Is it a strange phrase? Shouldn’t he be walking in the statutes of the Lord or does mentioning David this way effectively amount to the same thing?
  • Could this be a criticism given the events of chapter 2 where David gives “vindictive, bloodthirsty directives to Solomon for the liquidation of Joab and Shimei–”statutes” that Solomon has indeed obeyed to the letter?”6

3 Solomon’s Encounter with the Lord

3.1 Chiastic Outline

Walsh outlines Solomon’s encounter with the Lord in verses 4-15 as follows: 7

A. Solomon offers sacrifice at Gibeon (3:4)
   B. The Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream (3:5)
      C. Solomon's Prayer (3:5-9)
      C' The Lord's Response (3:10-14)
   B' Solomon wakes; realizes it was a dream (3:15)
A' Solomon offers sacrifice at Jerusalem
  • Does the structure reveal anything about the overall theme here?
  • Does it reveal anything about what Solomon learns from this experience?

3.2 Solomon Sacrifices at a High Place

3.2.1 In the book of Kings

Read 1 Kings 3:4-5

(4) And the king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there; for that was the great high place: a thousand burnt offerings did Solomon offer upon that altar. (5) In Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, Ask what I shall give thee.

It is probably not surprising the Gibeon contains a great high place. It is an important locations for two reasons: location and history. Gibeon (today el-jib) is 8km northwest of Jerusalem.8 It is also the place Joshua stopped the sun in Israel’s battle with the Amorites (Joshua 10:12-13).

  • How does the Lord feel about the fact that Solomon sacrifices in the “High Places?”

3.2.2 In Chronicles

There are some differences between the account in Kings and the account in Chronicles Read 2 Chronicles 1:3-4:

(3) So Solomon, and all the congregation with him, went to the high place that was at Gibeon; for there was the tabernacle of the congregation of God, which Moses the servant of the LORD had made in the wilderness. (4) But the ark of God had David brought up from Kirjathjearim to the place which David had prepared for it: for he had pitched a tent for it at Jerusalem.

  • How does the author of Chronicles change the setup?
  • Which author is right about the setup?

3.3 A Changed Solomon

Read 1 Kings 3:6-15:

(6) And Solomon said, Thou hast shewed unto thy servant David my father great mercy, according as he walked before thee in truth, and in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with thee; and thou hast kept for him this great kindness, that thou hast given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day. (7) And now, O LORD my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in. (8) And thy servant is in the midst of thy people which thou hast chosen, a great people, that cannot be numbered nor counted for multitude. (9) Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people? (10) And the speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing. (11) And God said unto him, Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life; neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies; but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment; (12) Behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee. (13) And I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches, and honour: so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee all thy days. (14) And if thou wilt walk in my ways, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as thy father David did walk, then I will lengthen thy days. (15) And Solomon awoke; and, behold, it was a dream. And he came to Jerusalem, and stood before the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and offered up burnt offerings, and offered peace offerings, and made a feast to all his servants.

  • Big picture: What has happened to Solomon? Can you think of a similar event in the Samuel-Kings narrative and does that event affect how one should understand this event?
  • Solomon is given a wise and understanding heart. Devries points out that 9 a literal translation of this is a “a hearing” or “listening heart.” How does that change your understanding of the passage? Do you like the literal rendering?
  • Has Solomon experienced a mighty changes of Heart? Are there any points of contact with the Book of Mormon or the New Testament? King Benjamin’s people?
  • Is Solomon’s change similar to Alma the younger or Paul’s experience?
  • Do you think it is fair or appropriate to Mormonize or Christianize the passage? Are there problems with reading Solomon’s experience this way?
  • Solomon refers to himself as a little child. Is this important?

3.3.1 Ruthless Solomon

This experience is made all the more remarkable by the events of chapters 1-2. Those chapters present a very different Solomon. The constrast here is important and remarkable (which is why Chapters 1 and 2 should be included in the reading). In short, Solomon is ruthless (before the encounter with the Lord). Read 1 Kings 2:36-40:

(36) And the king sent and called for Shimei, and said unto him, Build thee an house in Jerusalem, and dwell there, and go not forth thence any whither. (37) For it shall be, that on the day thou goest out, and passest over the brook Kidron, thou shalt know for certain that thou shalt surely die: thy blood shall be upon thine own head. (38) And Shimei said unto the king, The saying is good: as my lord the king hath said, so will thy servant do. And Shimei dwelt in Jerusalem many days. (39) And it came to pass at the end of three years, that two of the servants of Shimei ran away unto Achish son of Maachah king of Gath. And they told Shimei, saying, Behold, thy servants be in Gath. (40) And Shimei arose, and saddled his ass, and went to Gath to Achish to seek his servants: and Shimei went, and brought his servants from Gath.

  • What does Solomon initially do to Shimei? Why?

    Shimei’s house arrest is probably designed to keep him away from his own power base in Benjamin. You would have to cross the brook Kidron to get there.

  • Solomon has Shimei executed. Why?

    Shimei actually didn’t violate Solomon’s command: Gath probably lays westward. This probably would not have involved crossing Wadi Kindron (it lay east of Jerusalem).

  • Has Solomon really changed or is it just less costly to be understanding and merciful now?

3.3.2 Solomon Before the Ark

Read 1 Kings 3:15:

(15) And Solomon awoke; and, behold, it was a dream. And he came to Jerusalem, and stood before the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and offered up burnt offerings, and offered peace offerings, and made a feast to all his servants.

  • In verse 15, Solomon went and stood before the ark; Is this important? What does it tell us about Solomon?
  • Do we learn anything from Solomon about what we should ask for when we pray? What do our requests to God reveal?

3.4 Negative Notes?

  • What about in these verses (4-15)? It seems overwhelmingly positive but are there any negative notes in these verse with regard to Solomon?
  • I don’t know … Solomon does claim that it is by the Lord’s power or hand that he got the throne but neither the Lord nor the narrator confirm this.10 Is this omission significant?
  • Does it seem like Solomon’s “humility” is a bit over the top (e.g., verse 7)?

4 Solomon and the Prostitutes

1 Kings 3:16-28 contains the very famous pericope involving Solomon and the two prostitutes. Solomon is wisely able to discern who was the actual mother of the child.

  • Why did the author include this story? Surely, there were other stories that were part of the written or oral tradition. Why include this story?
  • How does the story highlight the change is Solomon?
  • A sword. Read 1 Kings 3:24

24 And the king said, Bring me a sword. And they brought a sword before the king. 25 And the king said, Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one, and half to the other.

Why is the use of the sword important to the story? How does it highlight a change in Solomon? Is chapter 2 an important backdrop here?

  • Why does the story mention that the woman are prostitutes? Why be specific?

Footnotes:

1 Devries, Simon J., 2003, Word Biblical Commentary: 1 Kings, Thomas Nelson Publishers, XIX.

2 Walsh, J. T., 1196, Berit Olam: 1 Kings, The Liturgical Press, 70.

3 Walsh, J. T., 1196, Berit Olam: 1 Kings, The Liturgical Press, 70.

4 P. Kyle McCarter, Jr. “High Place”, The Oxford Companion to the Bible. Bruce M. Metzger and Michael D. Coogan, eds. Oxford University Press Inc. 1993.

5 Quinn, BYU Studies, 1978

6 Walsh, J. T., 1196, Berit Olam: 1 Kings, The Liturgical Press, 70.

7 Walsh, J. T., 1196, Berit Olam: 1 Kings, The Liturgical Press, 70.

8 Devries, Simon J., 2003, Word Biblical Commentary: 1 Kings, Thomas Nelson Publishers, XIX.

9 Devries, Simon J., 2003, Word Biblical Commentary: 1 Kings, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 52.

10 Walsh, J. T., 1196, Berit Olam: 1 Kings, The Liturgical Press, 70.

2 Responses to “KD: Old Testament Lesson 26”

  1. kirkcaudle said

    Great notes. Thanks for taking the time to post these every week Karl.

    • Karl D. said

      Thanks Kirk … the nice thing about posting these is it gives me a chance to clean them up since the natural state of my notes is pretty rough.

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