OT Encounters: 1 Kings 3:4-15 – The Gift of Wisdom

By Jeff Pulse

The Old Testament text for this Sunday, January 7, 2018, is from the first book of Kings. The text is I Kings 3:4-15, which brings us the familiar story of young King Solomon and his request for wisdom from the LORD God. There are a few things of note which should be mentioned before we begin with the grammar of these verses. First, this account takes place before the building of the Jerusalem Temple (vs. 2; see also chapter 6), so it is not a violation of the Law for Solomon to offer sacrifices at the great high place in Gibeon. Second, it is important to note that the reason the Hebrews offered sacrifices on the high places (or under large trees) was directly connected to their cosmology of the world—heaven was up, Sheol was down, and the earth was between them. So, by going up to the high places they were coming closer to God. This idea is supported by the presence of the LORD on Mt. Sinai and the Glory Cloud that encircled the top of the mountain. This is also seen in the language of “going up” to the Promised Land, “going up” to Jerusalem, “going up” to the Temple, etc. The higher one went, the closer to the Holy One they were. Thus, the Temple was also built on levels with steps going up to each holier level. And remember, when Solomon does build the Temple, it is on Mt. Moriah/Zion, which is the highest of the hills of Jerusalem (consider also the Psalms of Ascent which were sang as they went to worship).

Also, we might point out that receiving/possessing a gift, even one from God, is far different than actually putting the gift to use. As Solomon ages it appears he uses his gift of wisdom less and less!

3:4 habamah hagdolah—“the great high place” That Solomon offered a “thousand” sacrifice.

This altar on more than one occasion tells of the significance of this site.

3:5 bachalom—“in a dream” In this dream the LORD speaks to Solomon which He does NOT do in the dreams of Genesis—generally, dreams are in need of interpretation, not so in this case.

       eten—root: nathan  “to give”

3:6 wuvyishrath—from yishrah “uprightness”

      watiten—root: nathan “to give”

      yoshev—“to sit” infinitive

3:7 naar qaton—“a little child” Not an infant or a baby—a little child. This is more Solomon referencing his perceived lack of understanding and wisdom as opposed to his actual age. Thus, “I do not know how to go out or come in”

3:8 yimaneh—root: manah—niphal “to be counted; numbered; to have oneself be counted”

Too numerous to be numbered or counted is a reference to the covenantal promise and points to the faithfulness of the LORD who has kept His parts of the covenant.

3:9 lev shomea lishpot—“a heart of understanding to judge”

      hacaved—“heavy; difficult; massive; abundant”

3:11 yanan—“since; because; on account of”

         osher—“wealth” See also vs. 13

3:14 wehaarakti—root: arak—hiphil: “to make long; to cause to prolong”

3:15 wayaqats—root: yaqats “to awake”

         shelamin—“peace offerings”

         mishteh—“feast; banquet with wine”

Following this account, the chapter immediately gives demonstration to this newly gifted wisdom of Solomon.