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Solomon and Christ: A Reflection

In 1st Kings, David’s son Solomon builds a Temple for the Lord. And upon its dedication he prays that the Lord will hear the prayers of his people forgiveness and grant them their petition. Solomon prays –

“…Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built! Yet have regard to the prayer of your servant and to his plea, O Lord my God, listening to the cry and to the prayer that your servant prays before you this day, that your eyes may be open night and day toward this house, the place of which you have said, ‘My name shall be there,’ that you may listen to the prayer that your servant offers toward this place. And listen to the plea of your servant and of your people Israel, when they pray toward this place. And listen in heaven your dwelling place, and when you hear, forgive.


“When your people Israel are defeated before the enemy because they have sinned against you, and if they turn again to you and acknowledge your name and pray and plead with you in this house, then hear in heaven and forgive the sin of your people Israel and bring them again to the land that you gave to their fathers.

“When heaven is shut up and there is no rain because they have sinned against you, if they pray toward this place and acknowledge your name and turn from their sin, when you afflict them, then hear in heaven and forgive the sin of your servants, your people Israel, when you teach them the good way in which they should walk, and grant rain upon your land, which you have given to your people as an inheritance.1

Though he isn’t a priest, Solomon here functions as one. While ruling over God’s people, according to the Lord’s Law, the son of David mediates between God and his elect nation.

Solomon’s prayer that the Lord would hear the cries of his people for the forgiveness of their sins is answered by the Lord in the next chapter, where we read –

As soon as Solomon had finished building the house of the Lord and the king's house and all that Solomon desired to build, the Lord appeared to Solomon a second time, as he had appeared to him at Gibeon.

And the Lord said to him, “I have heard your prayer and your plea, which you have made before me. I have consecrated this house that you have built, by putting my name there forever. My eyes and my heart will be there for all time.

And as for you, if you will walk before me, as David your father walked, with integrity of heart and uprightness, doing according to all that I have commanded you, and keeping my statutes and my rules then I will establish your royal throne over Israel forever, as I promised David your father, saying, ‘You shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.’

But if you turn aside from following me, you or your children, and do not keep my commandments and my statutes that I have set before you, but go and serve other gods and worship them, then I will cut off Israel from the land that I have given them, and the house that I have consecrated for my name I will cast out of my sight, and Israel will become a proverb and a byword among all peoples.

And this house will become a heap of ruins. Everyone passing by it will be astonished and will hiss, and they will say, ‘Why has the Lord done thus to this land and to this house?’

Then they will say, ‘Because they abandoned the Lord their God who brought their fathers out of the land of Egypt and laid hold on other gods and worshiped them and served them. Therefore the Lord has brought all this disaster on them.’”2

The Lord answers the king’s petition, reminding him of his duty to serve the Lord all the days of his life. Sadly, however, Solomon fails in this regard and incurs the fatherly anger of Yahweh. As it is written –

Now King Solomon loved many foreign women, along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women, from the nations concerning which the Lord had said to the people of Israel, “You shall not enter into marriage with them, neither shall they with you, for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods.” Solomon clung to these in love. He had 700 wives, princesses, and 300 concubines. And his wives turned away his heart.

For when Solomon was old his wives turned away his heart after other gods, and his heart was not wholly true to the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites.

So Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and did not wholly follow the Lord, as David his father had done. Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, and for Molech the abomination of the Ammonites, on the mountain east of Jerusalem.

And so he did for all his foreign wives, who made offerings and sacrificed to their gods.

And the Lord was angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods. But he did not keep what the Lord commanded.

Therefore the Lord said to Solomon, “Since this has been your practice and you have not kept my covenant and my statutes that I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom from you and will give it to your servant.

Yet for the sake of David your father I will not do it in your days, but I will tear it out of the hand of your son. However, I will not tear away all the kingdom, but I will give one tribe to your son, for the sake of David my servant and for the sake of Jerusalem that I have chosen.”3

What started out as a promising kingship ended with the king whom the Lord loved (cf. 2nd Sam 12:24) rejecting that love for the love of idolatrous women. The warning is stark. In all of his wisdom, Solomon still made a foolish decision to love foreign women who eventually turned his heart away from the Lord. The man who at one point stood between God and man as king, priest, mediator, finished his days in shame.

Solomon failed God, his father David, and the people of Israel. Regarding Israel, we should ask:

Who would mediate between them and God?

Who would present their petitions to God, and God’s answer to them?

Christ Accomplished What Solomon Could Not

God was faithful to his promises to David. The Lord provided the king with an heir to the throne, a man of peace and wisdom who would rule over the elect of God in righteousness and truth. However, Solomon failed to keep the covenant which God made with him, as the Lord declares –

“Since this has been your practice and you have not kept my covenant and my statutes that I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom from you and will give it to your servant.”

His short-lived just and righteous ruling over Israel did not escape the destructive effects of sin. Yet his life points us forward to the one and only King of kings and Mediator between God and man, namely the Lord Jesus Christ.

Whereas Solomon was born as a covenant breaker, the Lord Jesus’ head was not Adam but God.4 Whereas Solomon, therefore, could not have possibly fulfilled the covenant of works (as it had been broken by Adam), Christ perfectly fulfilled its every jot and tittle.5 Unlike Solomon, who was conceived by an adulteress, this Greater Son of David6 was conceived by the Spirit of God in the womb of a virgin.7 Most importantly, whereas Solomon failed to love the Lord God with all of his heart and soul and mind and strength, Christ openly attests to his own sinlessness.8 Unlike Solomon, whose prayer for the forgiveness of Israel’s sins is recorded at the completion of the Temple he built the Lord, Christ’s prayer for Israel, the church of God, is made near the end of his ministry on earth as he contemplates his church being built in his physical absence. As it is written, Christ declares

Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him.

And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.”9

Christ, the Son of David greater than Solomon,10 sinlessly fulfilled the totality of the Law, obeying its every precept and suffering its every punishment, died, rose from the dead, and now mediates between ourselves and the Father. And if Solomon’s prayer was heard, how much more can we trust that the prayer of Christ before the Father on behalf of the elect will be heard as well?

As we are told in John 11:41-42 –

... Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me.

I knew that you always hear me...”11

This is why we are told –

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.12

And again –

…if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.13

Unlike national Israel, whose peace was dependent upon the uncertain obedience of Solomon to the Law of God, Israel, God’s church, has peace with God through the perfect and finished work of Christ.

In Christ, all of what Solomon ought to have done has been accomplished. In Christ, all of what God’s people longed for Solomon to bring about – the righteous rule of God, peace with God and man, a present and future kingdom in which righteousness dwells – has been infallibly promised to us, sealed with the blood of the Lamb of God. Our future is fixed, stable, certain, incapable of being destroyed. And we, the offspring of the Son of David,14 receive by grace the promised blessings of a new and better covenant. As the Scripture declares –

when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.

For if the sprinkling of defiled persons with the blood of goats and bulls and with the ashes of a heifer sanctifies for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.

Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance…15

Let these words bring comfort to your heart, Christians. Christ has fulfilled all things for us, and given us all things freely, by grace alone. And if God heard the prayers of a sinful son of David, granting him his petition to have Israel’s sins forgiven, how much more will the Father hear the prayers of the true Son of David, Christ Jesus who died to take away our sins and now sits at the Father’s right hand interceding for us?

1 1st Kings 8:27-36. (emphasis added)
2 1st Kings 9:1-9.
3 1st Kings 11:1-13.
4 cf. 1st Cor 11:3.
5 cf. Matt 5:17.
6 cf. Matt 1:1, 9:27, 15:22, 20:30-31, 21:9, 21:15, 22:42; Luke 1:32; Rom 1:1-3; 2nd Tim 2:8; Rev 22:16.
7 cf. Matt 1:20.
8 cf. John 8:46.
9 John 17:1b-4.
10 cf. Luke 11:31.
11 Emphasis added.
12 1st John 1:9.
13 1st John 2:1.
14 cf. Isa 53:10.
15 Heb 9:11-15a.