Summary: How do we succeed like Solomon? His key to success was in his unselfishness.
God gives His child anything ...
One fact about the covenant God made with David is that the relationship was to be closer between them than average. God promised David that he would have a son to sit on the throne and that David’s son would be like a son to God. In fact, some of the Psalms seem to have been written for the coronation of kings and in them and the king is referenced as being like a son to God. This is not the same as Jesus’ who was God’s Son in the ultimate sense, it is an adoptive relationship. It is interesting, because we too are offered the chance to be God’s children, when we follow His Son Jesus. We too are adopted into God’s family, just like David and the line of kings that followed him. This line, of course, includes Solomon.
The king went to Gibeon to offer sacrifices, for that was the most important high place, and Solomon offered a thousand burnt offerings on that altar. At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, "Ask for whatever you want me to give you."
Solomon answered, "You have shown great kindness to your servant, my father David, because he was faithful to you and righteous and upright in heart. You have continued this great kindness to him and have given him a son to sit on his throne this very day.
"Now, O LORD my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?"
The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. So God said to him, "Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be. Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for—both riches and honor—so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings. And if you walk in my ways and obey my statutes and commands as David your father did, I will give you a long life." Then Solomon awoke—and he realized it had been a dream.
He returned to Jerusalem, stood before the ark of the Lord’s covenant and sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. Then he gave a feast for all his court. 1 Kings 3:4-15 (NIV)
In Moses’ law, there was no early restriction on where a person could worship or offer sacrifices. The only rule was that the altar had to be made of earth or uncut stones. Since traditionally the people associated God’s presence with mountains, family or community altars were often built on mountains or hills all over the nation. Both Pagans and worshipers of the One True God built their altars there and because of the elevation and the exalted purpose of their function, they were called High Places.
After the Temple was built, a restriction was enacted that allowed only one central altar in the country, the one in Jerusalem, and the High Places became obsolete. But Solomon built the Temple and this dream happened before that time. He was worshiping at one of the country’s most prestigious sanctuaries. We don’t know why this one was so important, just that it was. Jewish tradition says that though the Ark of the Covenant had been brought to Jerusalem, the Tabernacle’s original altar was at Gibeon. We have no reason to doubt this tradition and that altar would have given the location special importance.
The language of this passage suggests that this was a customary activity of Solomon’s. He did not just come here once to offer 1000 sacrifices, he did so repeatedly. These were probably whole burnt offerings, in which nothing was left for anyone to eat. They were burnt completely as an offering to God.
This story is astounding, because God invites Solomon to ask for anything he wants, carte blanche. Solomon is young and idealistic. He has come to the throne, a younger son, after a struggle with his oldest living brother. David has fought the battles that have brought him the stability that is in the land at this time, so his name is appropriate. It means "peace."