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THE STORY OF SOLOMON
God of our fathers, known of old
Lord of our far-flung battle line
Dominion over palm and pine
. And because he was wise and good, his reign was a happy one both for himself and for his people.
But first there were many enemies and conspirators who must be sent away for the safety of the kingdom; but after that, when all was quiet, then Solomon hoped to reign in peace.
Solomon went first to Gibeon to sacrifice at the taberi nacle there, which was the same tabernacle that Moses
had made. And when he had come into Gibeon, he offered a thousand burnt offerings; for Solomon had great wealth, and he longed to use it to the glory of the God of Israel.
And at night, when Solomon slept, there came to him a 20 vision. And in the vision God spoke and said, “Ask what
I shall give to thee”; for God knew that Solomon was good and true at heart.
Now Solomon was a young man; and he knew what wealth and power could do for him among his people. 25 But he cared little for these; and when he heard the voice,
he said, "O, Lord, I am young and I know so little of those things I should know to guide my people aright. Give me, therefore, above all, wisdom and knowledge; a
wise and understanding heart, that I may know how to 30 rule over my people in a way that shall be right in thy sight.”
And God was pleased with Solomon's choice, so wise and unselfish. “Behold I have given thee," God said in answer, “wisdom and understanding. But I will give thee more.
I will give thee what thou hast not asked for: 5 riches and possessions and honor. And if thou dost obey me and serve me, I will bless thee all the days of thy life.”
Then Solomon arose, and went to Jerusalem, and offered sacrifices there. And while he was there two women came
to him with a little babe. They were angry, both of them, 10 and they cried to Solomon.
“O my Lord,” said one, “I and this woman live in one house. We had each a little son. This woman's child died; and when she saw it was dead she came and brought
it to me, and laid it in my arms while I was sleeping. And 15 my own child she took away from me.”
“It is not true!” the other woman cried. “This living child is mine. Judge thou between us."
Solomon was for a moment puzzled. How should he know which woman spoke the truth?
So he took the child and laid it before him. “Bring me a sword,” he said to his servant. And when the servant had brought the sword, he said, “Now cut this child in halves; and give one half to one woman and the other half to the other.”
But as he spoke one woman fell upon her knees, and cried, “O do not kill it! Let the other woman have it if need be! But spare its innocent life!”
And the other woman stood by, a sneer upon her face.
Now Solomon had no intention of slaying the child. 30 He only meant to test the women; for well he knew the child's own mother would cry out to save it.
And when the woman fell upon her knees, Solomon commanded the servant to lay down the sword, and to give
the child into her keeping; and she was, indeed, its 35 mother.
And so, day by day, the wisdom of Solomon grew. He knew all that could be known of birds and fishes and animals; of trees and flowers; of the earth and the sea and the heavens.
He wrote many wise books as well; and the histories of the nations — he knew them all.
But Solomon had not forgotten David's wish to build a temple to God; and so, even at the beginning of his reign, did he lay the foundations for it.
Now, the temple that Solomon built was very beautiful. It was made of cedar, from the cedars of Lebanon, most wonderfully carved and overlaid with gold. Within the temple was the Holy Place, like the Holy of Holies in the
Tabernacle, and in this the Ark was to be placed. The 10 Holy Place was divided from the other parts of the building
by doors of gold, richly carved, and before it hung a heavy veil, of red and purple.
Inside the Holy Place, Solomon put beautiful golden cherubim, like the cherubim in the tabernacle. An altar, 20 too, of brass he made, and a great basin, or sea, with the
figures of twelve oxen around the basin; also there were ten tables and ten lavers and ten golden candlesticks outside the Holy Place; and all these were of pure gold.
Seven years was this beautiful temple in building; and 25 then Solomon called all the people of Israel together to dedicate it to God.
The priests brought the Ark and all the holy vessels; and the Ark they placed in the midst of the Holy Place,
beneath the wings of the cherubim. In the Ark lay the 30 tables of stone which God had given to Moses so long be
fore; and when the priests came out from the Holy Place, where they had reverently placed the Ark, behold a cloud of glory filled the temple, for the Lord was there. Then all
the people stood with bowed heads, while their good king 35 blessed them and prayed that in the times to come, when
trouble should fall upon the people, that always they might find the temple a place of safety and peace.
Then the people offered sacrifices, and Solomon closed the joyous day with a great feast; and when the sun went 5 down he sent the people away, their hearts filled with the promise God had given them, that, so long as they should love and serve the true God, his blessing should be upon them, and that their temple should ever be a place of safety to them all.
So the years went on. Solomon was a wise, good king, and his people prosperous and happy.
Many marvelous things happened, and great proofs were given the people from time to time of God's watchful care over them. Great success was theirs on
very hand, 15 and great was the increase of the land. And still, with all
these happy conditions, Solomon, after many years, began to forget the God of Israel and to turn towards the things of his kingdom; for his wealth had become enormous and his power was known to all nations.
He had built for himself a most beautiful home, and cities as well. Every year his ships sailed away across the waters, returning with gold and silver and ivory. People in these distant lands used to wonder much when they heard of
Solomon's wealth and wisdom. His plates were of solid gold, 25 and his throne was of ivory overlaid with gold. He had fourteen hundred chariots and twelve hundred horsemen.
One day, a beautiful queen, the Queen of Sheba, came many, many miles, to see this great king. She brought
with her many servants and camels, and much gold and 30 silver and precious spices, for presents to the king; for she had heard of him and longed to be taught by him.
So Solomon welcomed her gladly to his home, and told her of the God of Israel, from whom all his wealth and wisdom
had come. For many a day this queen and king talked 35 together; and when the time came for the queen to go
back to her people, she said to Solomon, "When I was in my own land I heard much of thy wisdom and thy possessions. It was not very much I heard, and still I could not believe the half. But now that I have come and have seen 5 for myself, I find thy wisdom and thy possessions far greater
than I had been told. O happy are the servants that stand by thy side and hear thy wisdom! Happy are the people who have thee for their king and for their teacher, to teach them the knowledge of God."
Then the queen blessed and praised the God of Israel, and went away with her servants to her own people.
And yet Solomon could forget God, and grow to love his wealth and his power more than the God who had given
them all to him. And it is true that he did; and for a 15 long time he worshiped idols even as the foolish heathen
did. But when he turned from God, then he turned from happiness, too. He had now no true peace, no comfort, no joy.
He would walk up and down his beautiful gardens; he 25 would gather his rich fruit; he would smell of the rare,
sweet flowers. Then he would walk through his beautiful houses and even visit the cities he had built. He would call his servants about him and listen to their music;
he would watch the dancers; but of all these he would 30 weary. And when at last he became an old man, and had
tired even of his books and writing, then he would wander up and down the halls of his great palace and moan, “Vanity, vanity; all is vanity.”
Then troubles and dissensions began to rise among the 30 people. And one day when Jeroboam, Solomon's high ser
vant, came before Abijah the priest, the priest seized upon his garment and rent it in twelve pieces; and ten of the pieces he gave to Jeroboam saying, “So shall God rend this
kingdom; and ten of the twelve tribes shall he make thee 35 king over.”