5.41 1 Kings -- First Epiphany
Though the Ark of the Covenant had been brought to Jerusalem, the altar and Tent of Meeting were for awhile at Gibeon (2 Chron 1:3-6). Solomon went there to offer sacrifices. God appeared to Solomon here in a dream:
God said, "Ask for whatever you want me to give you" (1 Kings 3:5).
This is interesting because God did not identify Himself or mention the sacred history of His relationships with David, Moses or the patriarchs. He just showed up and gave Solomon a blank check. It is similar to when a modern young person reaches the age of adulthood or graduates from college, and his parents offer him a gift to mark the occasion. Yet the gift hid a test. The answer Solomon gave would reveal the nature of the man.
Solomon -- that is, his inner nature, his unconscious, since he was carrying on this conversation while asleep -- identified himself with his father’s heritage, admitted that he was “only a little child,” and asked for “an understanding mind” (RSV), “a discerning heart” (NIV), to govern the Lord’s people. This answer was pleasing to God, who gave him this ability, and added to it “riches and honor” and long life (1 Kings 3:13-14).
This encounter was equivalent to the “coming upon” of the Holy Spirit that both Saul and David experienced following their anointing by Samuel:
As Saul turned to leave Samuel, God changed Saul's heart…. When they arrived at Gibeah, a procession of prophets met him; the Spirit of God came upon him in power, and he joined in their prophesying (1 Sam 9:9-10).
So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came upon David in power (1 Sam 16:13).
Solomon’s wisdom was a supernatural endowment in much the same way that Samson’s strength was. There is no reason to believe he was naturally smarter than his contemporaries. Instead, God equipped him for the task that he faced. Yet, as with Saul and Samson, the intervention of God was no guarantee of long-term success. God’s blessing of long life to Solomon was explicitly conditional:
"if you walk in my ways and obey my statutes…" (1 Kings 3:14).
The famous incident of two mothers (“prostitutes”) claiming the same child followed immediately. David conquered Goliath soon after his spiritual baptism, and this victory was a sign of the Lord’s calling and anointing. In the same way, Solomon’s resolution of the dispute proved to all men that the gift of God that was upon him -- here was a man who was capable of ruling the nation:
"When all Israel heard the verdict the king had given, they held the king in awe, because they saw that he had wisdom from God to administer justice" (1 Kings 3:28).