Troublesome Topic: The Birth and Naming of Solomon

II Sam 12:24 makes it sound like, right after the death of the son conceived by David’s adultery, he “comforted” Bathsheba and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son whom they called Solomon. Well, that is not the whole story because this verse is a synthesis (the short version) of what happened.

 After the first son died as punishment for David’s adultery, David had four sons with Bathsheba. They are listed in II Sam 5:14, I Chron 3:5 and I Chron 14:4 as being Shammua, (also called Shimea) Shobab, Nathan, and Solomon. I Chron 3:5 specifically indicates that “the mother of these was Bathsheba, the daughter of Ammiel.” Notice that Solomon was not the oldest living son of Bathsheba; he was the last. So Solomon was not even close to being the oldest son of David, in fact he was probably one of David’s youngest sons because Bathsheba became one of David’s wives much later than the rest. This means it was unlikely that he would be chosen to be David’s successor under normal circumstances. But just like David was the youngest son, so Solomon was the youngest (or close to it) and he was still chosen to be king.

Through the course of his life Solomon was given several names. That was because each name points to a different character quality or aspect of his reputation.

David called him Solomon (II Sam 12:24), which means “peaceful, wholesome, compete”.

God called him Jedidiah (II Sam 12:25), which means “loved by YHVH”.

Him mom called him Lemuel (Prov 31:1), which means “belonging to God”.

The people called him Qoheleth (Ecc 1:1 & 1:12), which means “The convener and leader of the assembly”.

This is debated, but others may have called him Agur (Prov 30:1), which means “the gatherer” (in this case one who gathers information and knowledge)

Then there is Son of Jakeh (Prov 30:1); Jakeh means “to supplant, to overreach, one who follows closely.” I believe this is a reference to David and thus we can assume it means “the one who followed closely after God.”

Some think that Agur and even Lemuel refer to other people; I think that Lemuel definitely refers to Solomon and possibly Agur as well.

It is my assumption that Bathsheba did not forgive David right away. David took steps to actually woo and win Bathsheba’s affection. He could have demanded it but that would not have produced the kind of relationship he desired. In the end it appears that David’s efforts paid off and Bathsheba became his favorite wife.

When God spoke to David and made a covenant with him, it appears that Solomon was not born yet. In the first account of that covenant it seems to speak only of the eternal successor to the throne, but in a later account David relates that God specifically said that a peaceful one (a Solomon) would sit on his throne. Did that mean one who had the exact name Solomon, or one who was a peace-loving person? In the Hebrew mind there was no difference, a name was a reputation built on qualities, your reputation was your name. So there was no guarantee that this son with the name Solomon, would inherit the throne, it all depended on how he lived. Despite their names, other sons of David did not care to learn how to follow God in things like being peaceable. All of them made a mockery of their names by living the opposite. That made their name nothing more than an identifier, and not the reputation it was intended to be. 

Bathsheba was very purposeful in how she raised Solomon. Some of what we see in the proverbs about women came to him from his mother. David was little help in raising the boys because he was always busy or gone to war. But Solomon did listen to his father render judgements as the highest judge in the judicial system of Israel. David disliked this role and was uncomfortable with it. But Solomon was drawn to this aspect of things from an early age. He wondered what was in people’s heads and why they did things the that they did. What motivated people? He also wondered if there would be a way to communicate truth that was better than the long explanations the king and his advisors usually gave.

As Solomon grew up he heard the story several times of how David, a king, had wooed his mother to gain her affection. That was unheard of for a king to do that in those days, but it made Solomon want that same kind of relationship with his wife.

The next lesson is: Solomon Was Not Like His Brothers