The Childhood of Solomon
June 25th, 1961 @ 7:30 PM
THE CHILDHOOD OF SOLOMON
Dr. W. A. Criswell
6-25-61 7:30 p.m.
The sermon tonight is on the childhood of Solomon. Following these characters and these stories through the Old Testament, we have come to the conclusion of the life of David, and now we begin to follow the life of King Solomon. There is a psalm, number 72, that is dedicated to Solomon. Let us turn to it:
Give the king Thy judgments, O God, and Thy righteousness unto the king’s Son.
He shall judge Thy people with righteousness and Thy poor with judgment.
The mountains shall bring peace to the people, and the little hills, by righteousness.
Now if we have turned to it, 72, Psalm 72, beginning at verse 7, let’s read it together to the end of the psalm, 72, one of the most beautiful in all of the Word of God. As you read it you can easily see that Solomon is a type of the Lord Jesus our Savior. Now together, all of us beginning at verse 7, Psalm 72:
In His days shall the righteous flourish; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth.
He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the River unto the ends of the earth.
They that dwell in the wilderness shall bow before Him; and His enemies shall lick the dust.
The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents: the kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts.
Yea, all kings shall fall down before Him: all nations shall serve Him.
For He shall deliver the needy when he crieth; the poor also, and him that hath no helper.
He shall spare the poor and needy, and shall save the souls of the needy.
He shall redeem their soul from deceit and violence: and precious shall their blood be in His sight.
And He shall live, and to Him shall be given of the gold of Sheba: prayer also shall be made for Him continually; and daily shall He be praised.
There shall be an handful of corn in the earth upon the top of the mountains; the fruit thereof shall shake like Lebanon: and they of the city shall flourish like grass of the earth.
His name shall endure for ever: His name shall be continued as long as the sun: and men shall be blessed in Him: all nations shall call Him blessed.
Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, who only doeth wondrous things.
And blessed be His glorious name for ever: and let the whole earth be filled with His glory. Amen, and Amen.
The prayers of David the son of Jesse are ended.
I repeat: that is one of the most beautiful psalms in the Word of God.
When this boy Solomon was born, we do not know. We do not know because we do not know how old he was when he began to reign. All we know is that he was very young and of tender years [1 Chronicles 29:1]. He was born evidently some time around 1035 BC.
Now he was the eldest, we think, son of David and Bathsheba. And the reason there would be any doubt about it is because of 1 Chronicles 3:5, in naming the children of David, beginning at Amnon, and Chileab or Daniel, and Absalom and Adonijah [1 Chronicles 3:1-2]—and then it finally names these: “And these were born unto David in Jerusalem; Shimea, and Shobab, and Nathan, and Solomon, four, of Bathshua, Bathsheba, the daughter of Ammiel” [1Chronicles 3:5].
Now you would think, reading that, that there were five sons—the eldest of which of course died when the child was born [2 Samuel 11:26-27, 12:13-18]—that there were five children born, five sons born to David and Bathsheba; and from the list here in 1 Chronicles, you would think that he was the youngest: Shimea, Shobab, Nathan, of whom the line of Christ did come [Luke 3:31], and Solomon [1 Chronicles 3:5]. Well, when we read of the birth of the child in 2 Samuel 12, it seems to be almost certain that Solomon was the eldest of the living children of David and Bathsheba, for after the death of the first son, “And David comforted Bathsheba his wife, and she bare a son, and he called his name Solomon; and the Lord loved him” [2 Samuel 12:24]. So the explanation must be something like this: that in 1 Chronicles when the children of Bathsheba and David are named [1 Chronicles 3:5], the name of Solomon is last because of importance, because of emphasis. After naming the children, then Solomon is named last because he was the most gifted and the most glorious of them all. And that’s the way that Josephus takes it. When Josephus writes the story, he also says that Solomon is the eldest son of David and of Bathsheba.
Now his name has a beautiful meaning. David was a man of blood and of war [1 Chronicles 28:3], from his youth, from the time that he was a ruddy-faced lad [1 Samuel 16:12]. He came into that first encounter with Goliath from Philistia [1 Samuel 17:32-50], and he cut off his head with Goliath’s own sword [1 Samuel 17: 51], and from that day, David, even as a youth, was a man of blood, and a man of violence, and a man of war [1 Chronicles 28:3]. And as he grew older in his life, he began to long for the quiet and the peace that God could bring to his kingdom. So when he named his boy who was born to him in Hebron, he called his name Absalom, “the father of peace” [1 Chronicles 3:1-2]. And then when he named this boy born to him in Jerusalem, he called him Solomon [2 Samuel 12:24], which means “the peaceful.” You can see in David’s war-like reign a longing for the quiet and the rest that would be given to the kingdom from God in peace. Now look at what David did with him when the boy was born:
And David comforted Bathsheba his wife, and she bare a son, and he called his name Peaceful: and the Lord loved him. And He sent by the hand of Nathan the prophet; and Nathan called his name Jedidiah, because of the Lord.
[2 Samuel 12:24-25]
Jedidiah: “beloved of Yah, Jehovah”, “beloved of the Lord.” Now almost certainly this word translated “And he sent by the hand of Nathan the prophet” means this: “and he, David, sent the boy Solomon into the hand of Nathan the prophet” [2 Samuel 12:25]. When the boy was born, a beautiful son, endowed with every gift from heaven, David placed his tutelage and his sponsorship and his instruction in the hands of the great prophet.
Could you imagine therefore the marvelous admonition and inheritance and training that he received from the prophet Nathan? Nathan, being himself of the school of the prophets, Nathan would have taught him all of the store, and the lore, and the history, and the story of Israel. Beginning at the first verse of the first chapter of Genesis, he would have taught that boy all of the things of the revelations of God. Then he would have taught him poetry, and psalmology, and history, and the lore and wisdom of all of the East. And then the boy, being the son of David and having inherited from David some of those wonderful musical gifts and talents, he must have taught the boy and cultivated in him all of those rich inheritances that he received from his wonderful father. So the lad, from the days that he was born, clearly the Lord loved him [2 Samuel 12:24], and Nathan teaching him [2 Samuel 12:25], and bringing him up in all of the wisdom and literature of the ancient Hebrew race, what a wonderful, gifted boy he was! And what a marvelous opportunity lay before him as Nathan guided his life, as he grew in wisdom and in stature and in the favor of God and man, even like the great antitype, the Lord Jesus Himself [Luke 2:52].
Now there is a secret that was kept hidden through all of the days of his youth, his childhood, and you don’t see it until the time comes for him to accede to the throne. It is never mentioned before, and when David did this we do not know. The first time the secret is revealed is in 1 Kings chapter 1, verse 13 and verse 17: “Nathan came unto Bathsheba the mother of Solomon, saying, Go and get thee in unto King David, and say unto him”—and this is the secret that for the first time is revealed—”Didst not thou, my lord, O king, swear unto thine handmaid, saying, Assuredly Solomon thy son shall reign after me, and he shall sit upon my throne? why then doth Adonijah reign?” [1 Kings 1:13]. Then it is repeated: “And she said unto him,” according to the word of the prophet Nathan, “My lord, thou swarest by the Lord thy God unto thine handmaid, saying, Assuredly Solomon thy son shall reign after me, and he shall sit upon my throne” [1 Kings 1:17].
So somewhere, and we don’t know when, but somewhere, sometime after the birth of Solomon and under the tutelage and training of Nathan the prophet [2 Samuel 12:25], somewhere David swore to Bathsheba that that boy should follow him into the kingdom and should rule over the people of the Lord [1 Kings 1:13, 17].
Now, there’s a very plain and simple reason why it should have been kept secret. There were much older brothers than Solomon; Amnon, and Absalom, and Adonijah, and a dozen others whose names have perished from memory. And had that boy been marked out as the heir apparent to the throne, the imperious passions of an Absalom or an Adonijah or an Amnon would have destroyed the boy from the face of the earth.
Even because of the jealousy of the eleven brethren of Joseph, they sought to destroy him, and sold him to the Ishmaelites, who sold him as a slave down in the land of Egypt [Genesis 37:3-4, 11, 23-28, 36]. How much more would the imperious, contumacious, proud sons of David, like cruel Amnon, like vengeful Absalom, like ambitious Adonijah, have destroyed this lad had it been known that David had sworn that he was to follow him in the kingdom? [1 Kings 1:13, 17]. So it was a secret kept in the heart of Bathsheba, known to Nathan, and sworn by David before the Lord God, that this boy, this lad, this child should follow him in the kingdom [1 Kings 1:13, 17]. And the Lord loved him [2 Samuel 12:24].
Now we’re going to follow, for the few minutes that remain, the childhood of Solomon. The boy was born and the boy grew up as a child in a dark and troublous time, for the latter part of David’s reign was affliction, and tears, and castigation, and punishment, and trouble, and sorrow. Beyond anything that you could read, outside of the story of a Macbeth or a King Lear, is the tragedy that overwhelmed, in tears and in blood, the latter reign of the kingdom of David. And he was born in that era, and he grew up in that dark and fearsome hour. In the latter part of David’s reign he was no longer the great soldier and the commander of his men, but more and more David withdrew into the pomp of his palace and into the voluptuous seclusion of his harem. And somehow the great king lost the affection of a great many of his people, and secretly there burned against him a deep and violent indignation. For example, Ahithophel, his secret and wise and marvelous counselor, the friend of his heart, Ahithophel, became his bitter enemy, and finally, in the rebellion of Absalom, his open and avowed enemy [2 Samuel 15:12, 31]. And Solomon grew up in that part of David’s life.
Another thing: David gave himself to the unspeakable practice of polygamy. Before David’s day some of the patriarchs fell somewhat into that tragic mistake, but not like David. David is the first one who opens the floodgates of that awful store of jealousy, and domestic bitterness, and hatred, and envy, and ambition that rules every court that ever had, or does have, a harem.
He had two wives as he was a refugee in the wilderness [1 Samuel 18:27, 25:42]. Then he had five wives in Hebron [2 Samuel 3:2-5]. And he had any number of wives, we do not know how many—”He multiplied,” the Bible says, “multiplied his wives in Jerusalem,” and beside the concubines who were attendant upon every eastern Oriental court [2 Samuel 5:13]. And into the jealousy and into the awful ambition of the separate family groups in that multiplied, polygamous situation created by David, in that this boy Solomon was born, and in it he grew up as a child.
But mostly, mostly those dark and troublous times were made and created by the cruel bitterness, and the ungovernable passion, and the hatred and vengefulness, the bloodthirstiness of David’s sons. Amnon: Solomon was a boy, Solomon was a child when Amnon, in the cunning of his cousin Jonadab, brought about the violence on Absalom’s sister Tamar [2 Samuel 13:1-19].
And then Solomon was a child, he was a boy, when he watched Absalom sullenly bide his time [2 Samuel 14:20-22]. And after two years, when all suspicion was allayed, [Absalom] made a feast, invited his father the king, and because David could not go, pled that then his eldest son be sent to represent the king. And when David acquiesced that Amnon, this eldest son and heir apparent to the throne—when Amnon came in that dark and awful night, Absalom murdered his own brother [2 Samuel 13:23-33].
And the boy Solomon saw David, because he loved that eldest son, refuse to punish him [1 Samuel 3:13]. The indulgence of a father can destroy a man’s life and ruin a boy’s hope! And David, of all fathers, was weak and indulgent with his sons. And when Absalom slew Amnon [2 Samuel 13:23-33], because David refused to do anything about the violent crime that Amnon had wrought upon Absalom’s sister [2 Samuel 13:1-19], why, Absalom fled, and was in the court of his maternal grandfather [2 Samuel 13:37-39].
Absalom’s mother was a king’s daughter, and her father was king of Geshur, which is a kingdom north and east of the Sea of Galilee. And Absalom fled and lived three years there in the court of his maternal grandfather [2 Samuel 13:38]. Then by a ruse of Joab he came back and for two years lived in Jerusalem, never seeing the face of David [2 Samuel 14:1-28]. Then when Absalom forced Joab to effect a reconciliation, why, David took Absalom back into his heart and kissed his son, of whom he was inordinately proud [2 Samuel 14:29-33]. David loved the beauty of Absalom, and the graciousness of the manner of Absalom, and the personality of that boy, beyond anything in the world. And Absalom could do anything with David at the beginning, in the middle, and at the end.
And Absalom began to steal the hearts of the people [2 Samuel 15:1-6]. Never occurred to Absalom to look upon this child, Solomon, as an heir to the throne. He looked upon himself with such pride and such imperious contumaciousness that everybody in the kingdom was as nothing compared to the glory and the beauty of Absalom! I repeat: it never entered his heart that this child would be someday heir of the throne [1 Kings 1:13, 17]. So Absalom stole the hearts of the people [2 Samuel 15:6].
And then this youth, Solomon, lived through the days when David took his wives and his sons and children and fled for his life before Absalom [2 Samuel 15:14-16]. When the Bible says that David took his wives and his children and fled before the face of Absalom, that means that Bathsheba was there, and that means, by the side of Bathsheba, Solomon pressed closed behind [2 Samuel 15:16].
The day that is described with more words by far than any other day in the story of the whole Bible—many, many times more than the description of the day of the cross [Matthew 27:32-50]—the day that is described, the longest of any day in the Bible, is the day that David fled before the soldiers of Absalom [2 Samuel 15:13-19:7]. And it begins with David standing under the olive tree at the foot of Mount Olives, at the Brook Kidron, and watched the soldiers, and watched the people pass by [2 Samuel 15:17-18], and weeping with them as they passed [2 Samuel 15:23].
Can you imagine the indelible impression made upon the mind of that boy as he stood that day by the side of Bathsheba his mother and David his father, and saw the soldiers pass with bowed heads and their tears falling to the ground? And as he watched the people pass by who were loyal to David, with ashes on their head, with their garments rent, and with their tears falling on the ground, the boy learned that day who were his friends and who were the friends of his father. And when Solomon came into the kingdom, those men that he saw that day, who were following with bowed and weeping heads his father David, those were the men that Solomon chose to be his men in building the kingdom. He saw the Cherithites pass by, and the Pelethites pass by, and the Gittites pass by, David’s bodyguard [2 Samuel 15:18]. And it was the Cherethites and the Pelethites and the Gittites who stood by Solomon in the day that he seized the kingdom according to the promise of David and Nathan the prophet [1 Kings 1:13, 17].
And then he saw Benaiah, the captain of the bodyguard. He saw great, fearless Benaiah pass by, and made Benaiah the captain and chief of his host [2 Samuel 20:23]. And then he saw the gibborim—that’s the Hebrew for the heroes, the six hundred—he saw the six hundred mighty men of David pass by [2 Samuel 15:18], and they were the men who stood by Solomon.
And he saw Ittai the Gittite pass by [2 Samuel 15:19], and he saw David’s faithful men pass by, and he looked upon Joab, and he saw as a child the awful, awful hold that Joab had upon his father. And when the boy came to understand, Joab had in his pocket that letter that David had written to the captain of his army Joab, saying, “And bring Uriah to the gate of the city, and then withdraw from him, and let the sword of Rabbah Ammon cut him to the ground” [2 Samuel 11:14-15]. And Joab kept that letter and the dark secret of how the king had murdered Uriah his soldier, faithful and true [2 Samuel 11:14-24]. And the rest of David’s life he was a pawn in the hand of Joab. Solomon the boy saw that, and in the day when he came to the throne, and in keeping with the last word of his father [1 Kings 2:5-6], he destroyed that fearless soldier, but that unscrupulous and bloodthirsty man, Joab [1 Kings 2:28-34]. Solomon saw it as a youth.
Now we must close, except one other thing in the youth time of Solomon. Then next Sunday night we’re going to begin with his ascension to the throne. Just one other thing that happened especially in the youth time of the boy: he was a child, he was a youth, a teenager, he was a teenager when David—for some reason that violated the word and presence and promise of God—when David numbered Israel [2 Samuel 24:2], and when David had to choose between seven years famine, or three months fleeing before his enemies, or three days of terrible pestilence [2 Samuel 24:11-13]. And [seventy] thousand were wasted, died, of Israel, from Dan to Beersheba [2 Samuel 24:15], as in the choice of David he fell in the hands of God [2 Samuel 24:14], and the pestilence wasted the people.
And then on the third day, like an army, the destroying angel came to Jerusalem, and the boy Solomon was there in the king’s court when David saw, standing over Jerusalem, the angel with the glittering sword drawn in his hand to destroy the people. And he saw his father fall on his face and cry before Jehovah God, “O God, stay Thy hand, and let that sword be against me and my house; but these sheep, what have they done? Spare, Lord, spare Thy people” [2 Samuel 24:16-17]. And the word of the Lord came from Gad the prophet to David, saying, “Get thee up, get thee up, and there on Mount Moriah,” just beyond the king’s palace, “there on Mount Moriah, where Abraham offered up Isaac [Genesis 22:1-12], there buy the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite king, and build an altar [2 Samuel 24:18]. And in the sacrifice and supplication and prayers of the people, God will stay the avenging hand” [2 Samuel 24:21].
Solomon saw that as a boy, and in the days of his manhood when he ascended the throne [1 Kings 2:12], it was in that place, and it was on that spot, and it was in that exact way according to the word of the prophet that Solomon built the temple of God [1 Kings 5:5; 1 Chronicles 21:22, 22:1]. And there where he saw his father David erect the altar before the avenging angel [2 Samuel 24:19-25], there did Solomon build the great altar of the burnt sacrifice, and there supplication by day and night was made to God in behalf of the people [2 Chronicles 7:15-16]. Oh, what a story! and what an unfolding, as God prepares a nation and a family for the coming of the Savior of the world [Hebrews 9:26]. The glory that was Solomon’s, and behold, a greater than Solomon is here [Matthew 12:42]: the Lord Jesus our King and Savior [John 3:16; Titus 2:13].
Would you take Him tonight for your own, as we sing our invitation hymn? There is a stairway at the back, at the front of the balcony on either side. While we make the appeal, come, come. There is room and to spare. From that topmost balcony, come, come. On the lower floor, into the aisle, down to the front: “Here I stand, pastor, and here I am. I give you my hand; I give my heart to God. I take Jesus tonight as my Savior” [Romans 10:9-10]. Or “Here’s my family, pastor. All of us are coming tonight.” Would you make it now, while we stand and while we sing?
THE CHILDHOOD OF SOLOMON
Dr. W. A. Criswell
I. Date of birth uncertain
II. David’s yearning for peace
III. Tutored by Nathan the prophet
IV. Secret of 1 Kings 1:13, 17 – Adonijah absconds the throne
V. Youth of Solomon was in a dark and troublesome time