Questions From Readers
Since King Solomon of ancient Israel in his old age turned unfaithful to God, can we conclude that he will not be resurrected?—1 Kings 11:3-9.
While the Bible lists by name some men and women of faith who will no doubt be resurrected, it does not specifically comment on the resurrection prospects of every single individual it names. (Hebrews 11:1-40) In the case of Solomon, however, we can get an idea of God’s judgment by comparing what happened to him at death with what happened to certain faithful ones when they died.
The Scriptures speak of only two possibilities for the dead—the temporary state of nonexistence and the state of eternal death. Those who are judged unworthy of a resurrection are pitched into “Gehenna,” or “the lake of fire.” (Matthew 5:22; Mark 9:47, 48; Revelation 20:14) Among these would be the first human pair, Adam and Eve, the betrayer Judas Iscariot, and certain ones who died when God executed judgment upon them, such as the people in Noah’s day and the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah.* At death, those who will be favored with a resurrection go to the common grave of mankind—Sheol, or Hades. Speaking of their future, the Bible states: “The sea gave up those dead in it, and death and Hades gave up those dead in them, and they were judged individually according to their deeds.”—Revelation 20:13.
The faithful ones referred to in Hebrews chapter 11, then, are in Sheol, or Hades, awaiting the resurrection. Among these are God’s loyal servants Abraham, Moses, and David. Now consider how the Bible speaks of them with regard to their dying. “As for you,” Jehovah told Abraham, “you will go to your forefathers in peace; you will be buried at a good old age.” (Genesis 15:15) Jehovah said to Moses: “Look! You are lying down with your forefathers.” (Deuteronomy 31:16) Concerning Solomon’s father, David, the Bible says: “David lay down with his forefathers and was buried in the City of David.” (1 Kings 2:10) Thus, the expression ‘lying down with one’s forefathers’ is another way of saying that the person went to Sheol.
What happened to Solomon when he died? The Bible answers: “The days that Solomon had reigned in Jerusalem over all Israel were forty years. Then Solomon lay down with his forefathers, and was buried in the City of David his father.” (1 Kings 11:42, 43) Hence, it seems reasonable to conclude that Solomon is in Sheol, or Hades, from which he will be resurrected.
This conclusion implies that the possibility of being resurrected is open to others concerning whom the Scriptures specifically say, ‘they lay down with their forefathers.’ In fact, many of the kings who succeeded Solomon, though unfaithful, are spoken of in this way. This is not inconceivable, since “there is going to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Acts 24:15) Of course, only after “all those in the memorial tombs” are raised will we know for a certainty who has been favored with a resurrection. (John 5:28, 29) So rather than be dogmatic about the resurrection of any particular individual of old, we wait, trusting in Jehovah’s perfect decision.