Solomon, whose name means peace or peaceful, was the second child produced by King David and Bathsheba. David's first child through her died seven days after being born as punishment for his adultery (2Samuel 12:14 - 23). Although he had named his son Solomon, God referred to him as Jedidiah which means "beloved of Jehovah" (2Samuel 12:25).
King Solomon, like his father, was anointed ruler over Israel more than once. The first was when David was an old man (1Chronicles 23:1). The second anointing was carried out by Zadok the high priest and Nathan the prophet. It was performed in haste, at Jerusalem's Gihon Spring, to counteract an attempted coup by Solomon's half-brother Adonijah to steal the throne (1Kings 1:5 - 39).
The greatest offer
Shortly after the death of his father, Solomon traveled to Gibeon and offered 1,000 burnt sacrifices to God. While staying in the city the Lord appeared to him in a dream and offered him anything he desired! Instead of asking for a long life, riches or even the death of his enemies, the king humbly requested an understanding heart so that he could properly rule over God's people. The Lord not only granted his request but also promised to make him the wealthiest and most honored monarch of his generation (1Kings 3:4 - 13).
Man of many talents
God's blessing upon Solomon, coupled with his entire reign being peaceful (1Kings 4:24, 1Chronicles 22:9), allowed him to manifest many skills and talents.
And God gave Solomon exceeding great wisdom and understanding, and largeness of heart, even as the sand that is on the seashore (1Kings 4:49, HBFV).
The king was skilled in jurisprudence (1Kings 3:16 - 28) and the administration of government (4:1 - 19, 11:27 - 28). He wisely operated successful commercial enterprises in partnership with other rulers (9:26 - 28, 10:22). Solomon also spoke about zoology and forestry (4:33) as well as poetry and music (4:32). He was a prolific author, writing the books of Ecclesiastes, the Song of Solomon, the majority of the book of Proverbs and even one of the Psalms (Psalm 72).
The king spent seven and one-half years constructing Jerusalem's magnificent temple with the help of skilled labor and supplies from Tyre (1Kings 5, 6:37 - 38). After the completion of God's house, he spent another thirteen years building his opulent royal palace complex (7:1 - 12).
King Solomon fortified the capital city of Jerusalem and strengthened strategic cities such as Hazor, Megiddo, Gezer and others (1Kings 9:15 - 19). He additionally expanded and rebuilt places such as Baalath, Tadmor and other locations both for strategic purposes and as a place for his horses, chariots and cavalry personnel.
Solomon received and maintained his unprecedented wealth from a variety of sources. He entered into a commercial venture with Tyre which brought gold, silver, ivory and exotic animals to him every three years (1Kings 10:22). He receive gifts from such diverse sources as the Queen of Sheba (2Chronicles 9:1, 9) as well as foreign leaders and governors (1Kings 10:24 - 25, 2Chronicles 9:14). Foreign traders and merchants also paid the king. He also laid a heavy tax on the people in order to support his many building projects.
On top of all these riches, he received immense wealth from his father David. Please see our article on the king's many sources of riches for more information!
His great sins
King Solomon, for all his wisdom, in his old age indulged in acquiring women. In spite of God's clear prohibition against multiple wives (Deuteronomy 17:17 - 18), especially those not Israelites (Deuteronomy 7:1 - 4), he possessed 700 wives, 300 concubines. These pagan women worshipped false gods, which the king not only financially supported but also worshipped himself.
Solomon's support and pursuit of false deities was warning against twice by God (1Kings 3:14, 9:4 - 9). This, coupled with his crippling taxation of the people, set the stage for Israel to be split in two after his death (1Kings 11:11, 29 - 32). It seems only at the very end of his life did he realize what a fool he was for pursuing his lusts instead of God (Ecclesiastes 7:26 - 28, 12:13 - 14).
King Solomon ruled for forty years from 970 - 930 B.C. In spite of his huge supply of women, the Bible records only one man, Rehoboam, who could rightfully claim his father's throne after his life ended (1Kings 11:42 - 43).