Solomon was the second son of King David and Bathsheba. His first name was Jedida meaning beloved one of Yahweh. He later changed his name to Solomon meaning peaceful.
FACTORS THAT LED TO SOLOMON`S RISE TO POWER
David became very old and failed to rule effectively. He even became unpopular among the Israelites. This indirectly paved way for Solomon`s rise to power.
After the death of Abraham, Adonijah the eldest surviving son of David declared himself as King of Israel. He organized a feast without David`s knowledge where he invited David`s sons except Solomon. He proclaimed himself King of Israel. The fact that Adonijah never invited Solomon implied that he recognized him as having some claims to the throne. This event motivated Bathsheba to remind the King of his oath and even informed him of Adonijah`s ascension feast.
Nathan reminded the King and the King responded respectively.
David`s hand; he called in of their supporters of Zadock the priest, Benanoah court officials and Solomon. He gave them instructions for Solomon`s immediate anointing at Gihon. Solomon went to Gihon significantly riding riding on the king`s mule. A large crowd assembled at a short notice. This indicated that Solomon was a popular candidate.
The elimination of Adonijah who had requested to marry Abishag.When Adonijah was eliminated. It gave Solomon a peaceful rise to power because Adonijah was a great obstacle.
The father`s advice; he instructed Solomon to be confident and determined. He was reminded to destroy all opposing bases for example Joab, Adonijah,Shemei, who would have been a great threat to his rise to power. Solomon was also reminded to walk in the ways of God, keep his commandments and he also tried to make him understand that god`s promise of an everlasting dynasty was conditional i.e. would largely depend on the faithfulness of his descendants.
ACHIEVEMENTS OF KING SOLOMON
Solomon was a very important King who had Israel to great prosperity. Even Jesus reformed to Solomon`s wealth in Matthew 6:29. All these were possible because of the instructions of his father and the wisdom from the Lord although he sinned towards the end of his reign.
His empire was well located in that he controlled the chief trading roots northwards from the Arabain peninsular. Much of his wealth in gold probably stemmed from that fact. Arabain merchants had to pay for access to the cutters further north. Some were forced to trade directly with him.
Solomon strengthened diplomatic relations with neighboring states for example Egypt, Tyre, Edom etc. He signed treaties with them which elevated Israel`s economic status. Solomon signed an agreement with King Hiram of Tyre and he was able to get building materials. King hiram provided him with cedar, pine and with all the gold he wanted for his work. In return, Solomon supplied Hiram`s court with grain and olive oil.
He developed a sea port of Eziom Geber where copper refines were. These later became an important commercial center. 1 King 9:26-28. King Hiram sent some experienced sea men from his flee to serve with Solomon`s men. They brought back to Solomon more than 14000 kilograms of gold.
Because of his wealth and wisdom, Solomon attracted foreigners and among them was the queen of Sheba; she brought camels loaded with species, jewels and large amounts of gold. Hiram`s fleet of brought gold from Ophir also brought a large amount of Juniper wood and Jewels. Solomon used the wood to build railings in the temple i.e. palace and also to make musical instruments for the musical 1 Kings 10:1-13.
He improved tax collection; the governors were efficient in tax collection. He got taxes from the merchants and Israelites districts 1 Kings 10:14, 15.
Solomon contributed towards religious development by composing some songs. He composed 3000 proverbs and more than 1000 songs 1 Kings 4:32.
Solomon also constructed the temple for the Lord. This drew people closer to the God, was a source of unity established Jerusalem as a religious Centre.
In relation to the above, he transferred the covenant ark form Zion David`s city to the temple. 1 Kings 8:1-ff. They assembled in front of the box, sacrificed large number of sheep and cattle. The priests carried the box in to the temple and placed it in the most holy place. This established Jerusalem as a religious Centre.
Solomon gained reputation of wisdom of a rare kind especially in settling disputes (1 Kings 3:16 ff). Solomon requested for wisdom and God commended Solomon`s sense of setting priorities. He was able to Judge a case between 2 prostitutes. He proposed a simple solution that the child was to be sliced into two pieces so that both women would share it. The lady`s reaction helped Solomon to identify the real mother of the living child and the Baby`s life was saved.
Solomon changed the administration structure by dividing the country into 12 administrative units. He appointed 12 officers and the geographical units for which they were responsible didn’t correspond to the old tribal confederacy. This was to facilitate tax collection and food supply (each of the 12 governors was responsible for supplying the court for one month and to centralize power by replacing the old tribal leaders with governors who were under close supervision of the royal appointees.
He introduced the art of modernity. He made 200 large shields each was laid with almost 7 kilograms of gold. He also made 300 smaller shields and over laid each one of them with almost 2kgs of gold. He also had a large throne part of it was covered with Ivory and the rest of it covered with finest gold.
Solomon strengthened the Army. He created a powerful force which promoted peace in the Kingdom. He built up a force of 14000 chariots and 12000 Calvary horses. Some of them he kept in Jerusalem while the rest were stationed in various cities (1 King 10:25).
FAILURES OF SOLOMON
Solomon turned away from God. He married foreign women who later influenced him to worship other gods. He worshipped a statue the goddess of Sidon and Molech the disgusting god of Anmon (1 Kings 11-1-33).
He built up high places where his foreign wives would worship foreign gods. This diluted his devotion to Yahweh. On the Mountain East of Jerusalem he built a place to worship chemosh the disgusting god of Moab and Molech the disgusting god of Moab.
Solomon sold some part of Israelite`s land to Hiram of Tyre as payment for building materials because his dues could no longer be raised by taxation. Solomon had no right to sell God`s land because it belonged to God, he was just a care taker and the land was just a gift to the Israelites to be inherited from one generation to another. 1 Kings 9:11 ff.
Solomon also promoted forced labour when constructing the temple, the palace and the city wall. He partly used the descendants of people of Canaan whom the Israelites had spared. He also recruited labourers from all Israel totaling to 30,000 men. These men were absent from their families and firms for a long period each year. 150,000 people were employed at home for quarrying, cutting and transporting stones. Theo whole project took 7 years.
Solomon also favored the Southern part and mistreated people from the North. The 12 administrative units’ did not include Judah. Judah had an officer of its own and in this case Judah and Israel are referred to as separate entities as it had no role in the taxation system and the people were exempted from forced labour hence the burden fell entirely on Israel.
Solomon was also polygamous. He married Hittite women, women from Ammon, Edom, Gidon. He also married 700 princesses and also had 300 concubines 1 Kings 11:1-ff.
Solomon was very extravagant. He spent too much to sustain his wives. Most supplies came from the people.
He lived in luxury while the people lived in absolute poverty. He needed as daily supplies 5000 liters of fine flour and 10,000 liters of meal 1 Kings 4:22
Solomon was also very extravagant when dedicating the temple (1 Kings 8-62-66). He sacrificed 22,000 head of cattle, 120,000 sheep as fellowship offering. They celebrated the festival of shelters for 7 days (verse 65).