The Old Testament Lesson for this Sunday is written in the First Book of Kings. The text is 1 Kings 3:4-15 and tells the very familiar story of a younger King Solomon and his request for wisdom from the LORD God. There are a few things that should be mentioned before we explore the grammar of these verses. First, this account takes place before the building of the Jerusalem Temple (3:2; and chapter 6). This is important because it means it is not a violation of Levitical Law for Solomon to offer up sacrifices at the great high place in Gibeon—apparently one of Solomon’s favorite sacrificial locations. Second, it is important to note that the reason the Hebrews offered up sacrifices on the high places (or under large trees) was directly connected to their cosmology of the world—Heaven was up and Sheol was down with the earth between them. Thus, by going up to the high places to offer up sacrifices they were ascending closer to the presence of God and His holiness. This understanding is supported by the presence of the LORD on Mount Sinai and the Glory Cloud which encircled the top of the mountain. Moses would ascend the mountain to commune with God and receive His instructions, etc. This is also seen in the language of “going up” to the Promised Land, “going up” to Jerusalem, and “going up” to the Temple. The higher one ascended the closer to the Holy One of Israel you were. Therefore, the Temple was built by Solomon on the highest of the hills of Jerusalem—Mount Moriah/Mount Zion. This is also illustrated in the floor plan of the Temple. It was built on levels with steps going up to each section. The higher you went, the close to the Holiness—the highest place being the Holy of Holies. We also see the language of “going up to worship” in the Old Testament and the chanting of the Psalms of Ascent as they went up to the Temple.

Also, on a practical level and perhaps a preachable point, we should note how the receiving and/or possessing of a gift, even one from God, is far different than putting it to use. Solomon uses his new gift of wisdom immediately, but as he grows older he appears to use this gift less and less!

The receiving and/or possessing of a gift, even one from God, is far different than putting it to use.

3:4 הַבָּמָה הַגְּדוֹלָה (hab-ba-Mah hag-ge-do-Lah) “The great high place” This must have been a very significant sacrificial site since Solomon offered a “thousand” sacrifices on this altar on more than one occasion.

3:5 בַּחֲלוֹם הַלָּילָה (ba-cha-Lom hal-La-ye-lah) “In the dream, the night one” “In the night dream” “In the dream by night” In this dream the LORD speaks to Solomon which is not a common occurrence. Usually, the LORD speaks when He appears in visions or theophanies. Generally, dreams require interpretation but not in this case.

אֶתֶּן (et-ten) root: נתן (naw-than) Qal: “to give”

3:6 וּבְיִשְׁרַת (u-ve-yish-Rat) from: יִשְׁרָה (yish-raw) “uprightness”

וַתִּתֶּן־לוֹ (vat-tit-ten) root: נתן (naw-than) Qal: “to give” “And you gave to him”

יֹשֵׁב (yo-Shev) Qal, infinitive: “to sit”

3:7 נַעַר קָטֹן (Na-ar ka-Ton) “a little child” Not an infant or baby—a little child. This is Solomon referencing his perceived lack of understanding and wisdom as opposed to his actual age. Thus, “I do not know how to go out or come in.”

3:8 יִמָּנֶה (yim-ma-Neh) root: מנה (maw-naw) Niphal: “to be counted; to have oneself be counted” Too numerous to be numbered or counted is a reference to the covenantal promise and points to the faithfulness of the LORD God who has kept His parts of the Covenant.

3:9 לֵב שֹׁמֵעַ לִשְׁפֹּט (lev sho-Me-a lish-Pot) “a heart of understanding to judge”

הַכָּבֵד (hak-ka-Ved) “heavy; difficult; massive; abundant”

3:11 יַעַן (ya-An) “since; on account of; because”

עֹשֶׁר (O-sher) “wealth” See also verse 13.

3:14 וְהַאַרַכְתִּי (ve-ha-a-rach) root: ארך (aw-rak) Hiphil: “to make long; to cause to prolong”

3:15 וַיִּקַץ (vai-yi-Katz) root: יקץ (yaw-kats) Qal: “to awake”

שְׁלָמִים (she-la-Mim) “peace offerings”

מִשְׁתֶּה (mish-Teh) “feast; banquet with wine”

Following Solomon’s dream and the LORD bestowing upon him wisdom, Solomon immediately gives demonstration of his new gift in the next chapter. However, as before mentioned, Solomon does not seem to use this gift as often later in his life. This will, of course, cause him a great deal of problems.

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Additional Resources:

Concordia Theology-Various helps from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, MO to assist you in preaching 1 Kings 3:4-15.

Text Week-Text Week-A treasury of resources from various traditions to help you preach 1 Kings 3:4-15.