Study Guide

Solomon in 1 Chronicles

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Solomon is the son of King David and easily his most famous offspring. Even though this boy was at least sixth in line for the throne, he somehow became king of all Israel. We learn about him mostly second-hand in this book. 2 Chronicles is where we really get to know him.

God's Chosen One

Solomon is endorsed and appointed by his father. But why? Was he the best man for the job? Shouldn't his older sons have had dibs? Nope. David does it because he gets a message from God himself. Nathan shares this prophecy with him:

When your days are fulfilled to go to be with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring after you, one of your own sons, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for me, and I will establish his throne forever. I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me. I will not take my steadfast love from him, as I took it from him who was before you, but I will confirm him in my house and in my kingdom forever, and his throne shall be established forever. (17:11-14)

God doesn't name the son, but David immediately believes the Almighty must be referring to Solomon. Later, David keeps talking up the kid as the chosen one:

  • "A son shall be born to you; he shall be a man of peace. I will give him peace from all his enemies on every side; for his name shall be Solomon." (22:9)
  • "Of all my sons, for the Lord has given me many, he has chosen my son Solomon to sit upon the throne." (28:5)
  • "Take heed now, [Solomon,] for the Lord has chosen you." (28:10)
  • "My son Solomon, whom alone God has chosen." (29:1)

Since David believes that Solomon's reign is divinely ordained (and he was never in the habit of arguing with God) he's happy to oblige. When David was getting ready to die, he "made his son Solomon king over Israel" (23:1).

Politics As Usual

You might not be surprised to learn that Solomon's succession doesn't go as smoothly in other Bible books as it does in 1 Chronicles. According to the end of 2 Samuel, when David was dying, Solomon's older brother, Adonijah, named himself King of Israel. (In his defense, he was the oldest son and next in line for the throne.) Solomon's mother Bathsheba and Nathan immediately step in and get the dying David to declare that Solomon's the true king. Adonijah eventually renounces his claim on the throne as long as his brother promises not to kill him. And then Solomon kills him anyway. 

The Chronicler leaves all this out. No rival kings and no murdered brothers. The author simply says that "Solomon sat on the throne of the Lord […] all the sons of King David, pledged their allegiance to King Solomon" (29:23-24) Well, that's one way of putting it.

The Not-Ready-for-Primetime King

Even though David is happy to put Solomon in charge, he also does a whole lot of handholding for his son in 1 Chronicles. At times, he doesn't really seem too confident in the future king's abilities:

  • "My son Solomon is young and inexperienced." (22:5)
  • "Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve him with single mind and willing heart […] If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will abandon you forever." (28:9)
  • "Be strong and of good courage, and act. Do not be afraid or dismayed; for the Lord God, my God, is with you." (28:20) 
  • "My son Solomon […] is young and inexperienced." (29:1)

It's obvious that the Chronicler thinks that David is someone to be admired and loved, while Solomon might be questionable. By having the older king mentor and endorse the younger one so whole-heartedly, he's really trying to link their reigns together. Solomon's like the sequel that you just have to see (and pledge your eternally loyalty to). If you liked David, then you're really going to love his son.

The House that Solomon Built

The biggest bit of micromanaging that David does for Solomon is getting everything together for the building of the Temple:

David said, "My son Solomon is young and inexperienced, and the house that is to be built for the Lord must be exceedingly magnificent, famous and glorified throughout all lands; I will therefore make preparation for it." So David provided materials in great quantity before his death. (22:5)

Later, David actually hands Solomon all his plans in writing for the Temple (28:11). Everything is mapped out right to who's going to guard the eastern gate. He also has stockpiles of gold, silver, bronze, and iron (22:14) for his son to work with. This Temple-building thing is going to be foolproof.

But even the Chronicler can't deny that Solomon is actually the one who oversees the whole process. In 1 Kings, he's the one that gets together all these plans and workers to get the Temple up and running. In other books, the Temple is Solomon's baby. He oversees the project, so he gets the glory.

Various legends portray Solomon as a wise king, so we're pretty sure he was up to the task of designing a sanctuary on his own. Today, the building (which was destroyed in 587 BCE) is usually referred to as Solomon's Temple. We wonder how much he paid for the naming rights.

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