Jehovah gives King Solomon a heart of wisdom; during Solomon’s reign, the Israelites enjoy unsurpassed peace and prosperity
WHAT would life be like if an entire nation and its ruler followed Jehovah as their Sovereign and obeyed His laws? The answer was demonstrated during the 40-year-reign of King Solomon.
Before David died, he appointed his son Solomon as his successor. In a dream, God invited Solomon to make a request. Solomon asked for wisdom and knowledge to judge the people fairly and wisely. Jehovah was pleased and gave Solomon a wise and understanding heart. Jehovah also promised him riches, glory, and long life if he remained obedient.
Solomon became famous for his wise judgments. In one case, two women argued over a baby boy, each claiming to be the mother. Solomon ordered that the baby be cut in two and that half be given to each woman. The first woman agreed, but the real mother at once pleaded that the child be given to the other woman. Solomon now saw clearly that the compassionate woman was the mother and gave the boy to her. Soon all Israel heard about this judicial decision, and the people recognized that the wisdom of God was within Solomon.
One of Solomon’s grandest achievements was the construction of Jehovah’s temple—a magnificent structure in Jerusalem that would serve as a center of worship in Israel. At the temple’s inauguration, Solomon prayed: “Look! The heavens, yes, the heaven of the heavens, themselves cannot contain you; how much less, then, this house that I have built!”—1 Kings 8:27.
Solomon’s reputation spread to other lands, even as far as Sheba, in Arabia. The queen of Sheba traveled to see Solomon’s glory and riches and to test the depth of his wisdom. The queen was so impressed with Solomon’s wisdom and the prosperity of Israel that she praised Jehovah for putting such a wise king on the throne. Indeed, with Jehovah’s blessing, Solomon’s rule was the most prosperous and peaceful in the history of ancient Israel.
Sadly, Solomon failed to continue acting in harmony with Jehovah’s wisdom. Ignoring God’s command, he married hundreds of women, including many who worshipped foreign gods. Gradually his wives inclined his heart away from Jehovah to the worship of idols. Jehovah told Solomon that part of the kingdom would be ripped away from him. Only a portion would remain with his family, God said, for the sake of Solomon’s father, David. Despite Solomon’s defection, Jehovah remained loyal to his Kingdom covenant with David.