Image source: Pixabay: Pompi
When Solomon Began his Reign he was only about 20 years old
Solomon, the second son of David and Bathsheba succeeded his father as king of Israel in about 970 B.C. and gained a great reputation for wisdom. David's reign had been troubled by constant warfare and by his sons' attempts to seize his throne. Absalom nearly succeeded and was put to death; Adonijah tried to become king when David was dying. However, David had chosen Solomon as his successor, and just before he died he still had enough strength left to see to it that Solomon became king.
When Solomon began his reign he was only about 20 years old and felt unfit for the great task of kingship. One day God appeared to him in a dream saying, 'Ask what I shall give thee'. Solomon did not ask for honour and riches, but for 'an understanding heart to judge thy people'. This request pleased God, who promised him not only wisdom but also the honour and riches for which he had not asked.
Solomon's riches and wisdom are still a legend the East. People came from far and wide to see for themselves the beautiful things he had in his palace. One of his most famous visitors was the Queen of Sheba. His wisdom is illustrated by the story of the two women who came to him, each claiming to be the mother of the same child. Solomon gave orders to cut the child in half and give half to each. One woman agreed, but the other begged him to spare the child and give it, if necessary, to her rival. The king decreed that the woman who wanted the child to live was the mother.
Solomon's greatest achievement was the building of the first Temple at Jerusalem. David had conquerered Jerusalem and placed the ark of the covenant there, but because he was a man of war, God did not allow him to build the Temple.
In order to build the Temple and to carry out many other building schemes, Solomon had to conscript workmen, sometimes sending them out of the country to Lebanon to cut down timber and transport it to Jerusalem. This led to revolts, but he ruled with a heavy hand and soon crushed them. Solomon was also criticised for worshipping the strange gods of his foreign wives and for neglecting the true God. When he died his kingdom was far from happy and soon afterwards it was split into two separate parts. The two southern tribes of Judah and Benjamin remained loyal to Solomon's son Rehoboam and became known as the kingdom of Judah; but the ten northern tribes, led by Jeroboam who had been one of Solomon's officers, rebelled against Rehoboam and set up a new kingdom, the kingdom of Israel with Jeroboam as king.