The reign of King Solomon is traditionally viewed as the Golden Age of Israel’s history. A king known for his great wisdom, Solomon oversaw an era of peace and prosperity, expanded Israel’s boundaries in every direction, and ordered the construction of the Temple.
However, as I read 1 Kings, I often find myself asking, “was Solomon really a good king?” After all, he begins his reign by arranging the assassination of a number of prominent rivals, and as his power grows he seems to increasingly resemble the kings of Israel’s pagan neighbors, at times even the Pharaohs of old.
In their brilliant Survey of the Old Testament, Hill and Walton address this tension in the Solomon narrative.
“The Kings historian rightly attributes the division of Israel’s united monarchy to Solomon’s sin of idolatry (cf. 1 Kings 11:33, perhaps foreshadowed in 3:3). However, the collapse of the empire was merely the regrettable by-product of years of gross mismanagement of the affairs of the state by Solomon.
The policies and programs instituted by Solomon contributing to the eventual split of the kingdom include