Troublesome Topic: The Early Years of Solomon’s Reign

Today many people assume that Solomon was an evil man from the beginning, but the Bible paints a different picture. After Solomon became king, he proved that he loved God and he was doing his best to live according to God’s laws. I Kings 3:3 is key to understanding the character of Solomon.

1 Kings 3:3


SOLOMON loved YHVH (read Adonai), walking in the statutes of his father DAVID, except that he killed sacrificial animals and offered incense at the high places.”


THE PEACEFUL MAN was faithful and obedient to THE ETERNAL AND PERSONAL GOD; he lived according to all the religious principles his father, THE ONE WHO WAS LOVED, had passed down to him, with one exception, he offered animal sacrifices and incense offerings to God in places he did not have God’s permission to offer them.

Even before God gave him wisdom and promised him wealth, He would offer 1000 offerings at a time at the large high place in Gibeon. Worshipping the God of Israel on the high places, as described in I Kings 3:2-3 above, was something God tolerated; He allowed this even though it was not His true desire. Such an act could open the door to the worship of false gods which also took place on the high places. It was an unwise thing to do, but God could see their hearts, and if they were trying to worship Him rather than some other god, He let it pass. This is one way among several in which the text hints at Solomon’s small compromises; later we see where those compromises took him.

We could add that he also played a game by which he would make treaties with foreign kings, receive that king’s daughter as a wife and, I believe, insist she become a convert to Judaism before he actually married her. That game proved to be a bad idea, but it seems like Solomon was not doing it with bad intentions. We should also mention that he accumulate large amounts of money, horses and chariots, and a large harem; these were things that Deuteronomy 17:16-17 said a king of Israel should not do. Everything has a price; for Solomon, the expansion of his kingdom came at the price of slowly getting further and further from God’s design.

But overall, Solomon is presented in Scripture as being a good king and a good example to the people for most of his kingship.

Based on Solomon’s good character at the beginning of his reign it seems safe to assume that one of the first things Solomon did after being named a coregent with his father, was to copy the entire law with his own hand so he would have his own copy. This was a command specific to newly anointed kings expressed in Deuteronomy 17:18-20.

Zabud, son of Nathan, is listed as a priest and a personal adviser to Solomon (I Kings 4:5). This man served as Solomon’s guide, counselor and spiritually strong friend. This is yet another sign that Solomon wanted to do the right thing; he wanted to follow God’s way.

He began to act as the supreme judge of the land the way all kings did. He gave a number of good speeches, all of which were written down by a scribe. Some of them made their way into what we now call the book of Proverbs. I believe that early on, his wisdom was usually shared in full discourses; the concise proverbs came later.

Right away Solomon began to expand the size and power of his kingdom using treaties instead of warfare. This seemed like a good idea but there was an inherent danger. Both David and Solomon sought rapid expansion of their kingdom, but God had said earlier that He would only give them as much land as they could live on and keep under control. God said that he would not give this land to them all at once because it would be too big for them to control. Thus God did not want them subduing and having to control large numbers of people. Neither did he want them to drive out the people from large tracks of land and then letting it grow wild because there were not enough of them to live on that land. An expansion of territory that kept pace with their growing population seems to be what God had in mind. Both father and son were guilty of running ahead of God, even though their methodology was different.

From the beginning of Solomon’s reign he faced opposition and attacks from Hadad and Rezon, two men who had grudges against David. Hadad was an Edomite who went to Egypt as a youth after Joab killed all his family members and all others in Edom. It appears he was the king’s son. Rezon, son of Eliada, had fled from his master Hadadezer, king of Zobah – we don’t know why. Rezon started his band of raiders with intent of causing trouble for David after David destroyed the city of Zobah. Rezon settled in Damascus and took control of it, becoming the ruler of Aram. But Solomon was always able to outwit or out-muscle them with his military. So for most of his reign these two men were nothing more than a nuisance. (You can read about Hadad and Rezon in I Kings 11:14-25 but we will return to them at the end of Solomon’s life.)

The next lesson is: Solomon Married Pharaoh’s Daughter