1 Kings 1:5-10, 32-40; 3:5-15: Solomon Anointed
Solomon was a son of David, and he was the one who was to be king after David. But there were other sons who wanted to be king. One of these was Absalom, but he was now dead. Another was Adonijah. He gathered chariots and horsemen and won over some of David's leading men. Then he called together those who were his friends, to the rocky hillside across the Kidron valley from Jerusalem, and there they made him king and he gave them a feast. The cliff which was called "the stone of Zoheleth" was near where you see in pictures the present village of Siloam. There is a spring down in the valley below us which was called En-rogel "the fuller's spring," and the spring itself was called Gihon "the fountain head." But Adonijah had not called Solomon to his feast, and there were other people faithful to David whom he had not called: among these were Nathan the prophet and Zadok the priest.
So Nathan spoke with the mother of Solomon and they went to King David and told him what Adonijah had done and reminded him of his promise that Solomon should be king. David was now an old man and feeble. He told them to go at once and make Solomon king.
They took with them faithful people and made Solomon ride on David's own mule, for kings and judges in those days used to ride on mules and asses. So they brought Solomon down to the spring Gihon and there they made him king. Do you remember how Saul and David were made king, how Samuel anointed them with oil? Now Zadok the priest anointed Solomon with oil from a horn which he took from the tabernacle, from the tent which David had pitched in his city for the ark. Then they blew the trumpet and all the people said, "Live King Solomon." Then they came up the hill into the city with music and a great sound of rejoicing. All this was not far from the place where Adonijah and his friends were finishing their feast. They were just across the valley. They heard the trumpet and the noise and were very much afraid. We must read this story in 1 Kings 1:5-10, 32-40.
One beautiful thing happened when Solomon became king. He went to Gibeon to sacrifice to the Lord. Gibeon was a famous old town not far from Jerusalem, which was in those days "the great high place," a favorite place for worship. There the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream and said, "Ask what I shall give thee." What do you think Solomon asked? Not long life, nor riches, nor the life of his enemies, but a wise and understanding heart; for he felt like a little child and knew that he needed the Lord's help to be a wise king. The Lord gave Solomon what he asked, and more than he asked; He gave him wisdom and gave him also riches and honor. But this is told so beautifully that I would rather read it to you. (1 Kings 3:1-15)
David was now old. How old was he at the end of his reign? (2 Sam. 5:4) What son of David was to be king after him? David had been a man of war, but his son would be a peaceful king. His name means "peaceable." We have already learned about the attempt of David's son Absalom to be king, which caused David great sorrow. Now in David's old age another son tried to be king. What was his name?
Let us study a little geography before we read the story. On your map of Jerusalem, find the Kidron valley to the east of the city. Looking down the Kidron from Jerusalem, you see the village of Siloam on the hill across the valley. One of the cliffs near this village was "the stone of Zoheleth," where Adonijah gathered his friends and made his feast. Down in the Kidron valley opposite the northern end of the village of Siloam there is a spring, called now St. Mary's or the Virgin's Well. The spring comes out from the hill on the city side of the valley. We must go down a number of steps to reach the water. There is also a curious tunnel cut through the rock of the hill for some five hundred and eighty-six yards, carrying the water from the spring to the pool of Siloam. From this tunnel there also leads a passage to an underground chamber. The spring is intermittent, running from five times daily to only once, according to the season. This is the only real spring at Jerusalem and is probably the one which is called in our chapter by both names: En-rogel, "the fuller's spring," and Gihon, "the fountain head." What is a fuller's work? (Mal. 3:2; Mark 9:3)
Now I think you can read the story of Adonijah, and Solomon, and if you have time you will like to read from 1 Kings 1:5 through the rest of the chapter. Do you remember Joab, who was one of those who left David to go with Adonijah? He was a nephew of David and had been his chief captain. The Cherethites and Pelethites were the king's trusted guards. Notice how Solomon rode on David's own mule as a sign that he was king. You find reference in Judges 5:10; 10:3, 4; 12:14 to the old custom of kings and judges riding on mules and asses. You remember too how it stirred the people and how ready they were to greet the Lord as king when they saw Him riding on an ass into Jerusalem. (Matt. 21:5; Zech. 9:9) Both the altar of incense and the altar of burnt offering of the tabernacle had horns. (Exod. 27:2; 30:2) They were horn-like projections at the corners. One who fled to the altar hoped to be safe in that sacred place. The horns of the altar also represent the Lord's strength which supports and protects one who truly worships Him.
Before reading of Solomon's dream in which he asked for wisdom and the Lord gave it to him, look at the map and find Gibeon, about six miles northwest of Jerusalem. It stands on a hill which rises from a lovely meadow and was one of the high places where they worshiped before the temple was built and became the one place of worship for all the people. One account (2 Chron. 1:3) says that the tabernacle which had been built at Sinai was now at Gibeon, but the ark we know was in the city of David on Mount Zion. Is there something in this story of the gift of wisdom to Solomon which reminds you of the Lord's words in Matt. 11:25?
1. What two sons of David tried to make themselves king?
2. Who was to be king after David? What does his name mean?
3. What did Solomon ask of the Lord when he became king? What did the Lord, give him?
4. Who are truly wise?
Let someone remind us what David and his victories represent in our spiritual experience, and then show us what is represented by the peaceful reign of Solomon which followed. David represents the Lord's truth as we grasp it with spiritual strength, and David's victories are the victories over evil in the power of this truth. After every conflict in which we are faithful comes a state of peace. But we remember that in the deepest sense David stands for the Lord in His conflicts with evil and His victories. After every victory there came to Him a Divine peace. As you read the chapters of history and the Psalms which describe the outward peace and glory of Solomon, you must remember that they tell also of this inward peace and glory of the Lord. When the Lord said, "Behold! A greater than Solomon is here," He meant that what Solomon represented was fulfilled in Him. (Matt. 12:42; A. 3048)
Let someone study the correspondence of the ass and the horse and show us why kings and judges in the old days rode on mules and asses. All these animals of travel represent the power of understanding to think and reason, to take this and that and to bring them into new and useful relations. So much is true of both horse and ass, but the horse is a nobler animal, more free in action, more sensitive, more attentive to the master's will. The ass is smaller and more self-willed, looking on the ground and picking its own way with much less heed to guidance. The horse represents the power of understanding and thinking of spiritual things; the ass the power of careful discrimination and judgment in natural things. And this was the work of the king or judge, who heard and decided cases among the people. Therefore, the ass rather than the horse was the animal for him to ride. (A. 2781)
Let some member of the class be prepared to show the different character of David and Solomon in Psalms which bear their names. See, for example, among the Psalms of David, Ps. 3, 68, 144; and contrast with these the two Psalms of (or for) Solomon, Ps. 72 and 127.
Saul, David, and Solomon represent three stages in the establishment of the Lord's kingdom in the soul. Saul rules when the Lord's truth is understood and obeyed in a natural, literal way. David rules when it is received more spiritually and intelligently and gives greater strength to conquer in severe temptations. And is there any more perfect state than this? There is the peaceful state when we shall love to do right and shall do it without conflict: this is represented by the reign of Solomon. (A. 3696; E. 365)
Solomon asked for wisdom and it was given him. What is wisdom? People may learn many facts and store them in their memory, but this is not wisdom. They may reason acutely and become intelligent, but this is not wisdom. Wisdom is the highest kind of understanding. It is the perception of heavenly truth which is given by the Lord to an innocent and loving heart. It is withheld from the knowledgeable and prudent, but is revealed to babes. Still the wise perception has need of facts of knowledge and of intellectual power and finds pleasure in them. This is represented by Solomon's marrying an Egyptian princess and receiving horses from Egypt. You remember that Egypt represents a natural state, especially the natural memory with its store of knowledge. (E. 654)
Can you think what meaning Absalom and Adonijah have in this story? They were earlier-born sons of David and represent more natural and external motives attempting to rule. Solomon was born later, after David's trials and repentance, and like Joseph and Benjamin, Jacob's last-born sons, he represents a later, more spiritual development. Still, Adonijah would seem to represent some element of character which is good and useful in its place, for Solomon told him if he showed himself a worthy man he should live, and sent him to his house.
What can it mean spiritually that certain ones who had offended were allowed to live through David's reign but were killed by Solomon, at David's dying command? Do they represent evil or imperfect elements of character which cannot be removed for a time, and not until regeneration is far advanced? Remember what David said about Joab after he had killed Abner. (2 Sam. 3:39) The words are very expressive as applied to things in ourselves which severely try our patience, but which we trust the Lord will some day help us to overcome.