David had another son, Adonijah, who tried to make himself king as Absalom did, but David heard of it, and had Solomon proclaimed king before his own death, lest trouble should arise after. When Adonijah heard the shouts of the people, and the sound of the trumpets he was afraid, and expected Solomon would kill him, but Solomon said if he would only show himself a good man no harm should come to him.
The last things that David did were to call his princes and chief men together and tell them that the Lord had promised many years before, that Solomon should build the house of the Lord during his reign; and also that his children's children should rule over Israel, and he begged them to keep the Lord's commandments, that they might keep the good land that had been given them.
He also charged Solomon before them all to serve God with all his heart, but if he failed to do so he would be cast off forever.
David gave Solomon all the plans and patterns for the house of the Lord, as the Lord had given them to him; also the gold and silver stored up for time of building. He also told the people, when he had called them together, what he had stored for the work of the temple, and asked them who were willing to give also. Then the people brought gifts, as they did when the Tabernacle was built, and gave them to the Lord. David led them in a great thanksgiving service, and they offered three thousand sacrifices.
Solomon was again anointed king in the presence of all Israel, and took the throne of David; and David died, honored and loved by his people, and he was buried in his own city.
When Solomon went to Gibeon to sacrifice the Lord came to him in a dream and said,
"Ask what I shall give thee."
Solomon was wiser than all the sons of David, and yet he did not feel himself to be so. He said,
"I am but a little child; I know not how to go out or come in, and thy servant is in the midst of a great people that cannot be numbered. Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad, for who is able to judge this thy so great a people."
And the Lord said,
"Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life, neither riches, nor the life of thine enemies, lo, I have given thee a wise and understanding heart, and I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked -- both riches and honor; and if thou wilt walk in my ways as thy father David did, then I will lengthen thy days."
The Lord was true to his word. Solomon had wisdom, beyond all the old and the learned men of his kingdom, and many came to him for counsel who were not of Israel, for he was famous among the nations. Some of these nations wished to be ruled by him, and brought him many precious things as gifts; they had been conquered by David, and now they wished to be ruled by Solomon. He had thousands of servants and he knew how to direct their work. Away up in the mountains of Lebanon they worked with the servants of Hiram, King of Tyre, getting the cedar timbers ready for the temple, while Hiram's artisans in gold, and silver, and brass, and fine linen came to Jerusalem to work on the temple, and Solomon sent Hiram wheat, and olive oil, and wine. So wise were the workers in stone and wood that when the temple was built there was no sound of a hammer or any tool heard on Mount Moriah. Each stone was ready to fit into its place, and each piece of wood to fit another.
The house was not like any that we have ever seen. It was not large, but it was very precious. The cedar boards that lined the walls were carved in flower patterns, and covered with gold. The floor also was covered with gold. He divided the temple in two parts, as the Tabernacle had been, with a rich curtain of blue and purple and crimson. The innermost room was called the most holy place, and was for the Ark, and its walls were beautiful with cherubim, and palm trees, and flowers, overlaid with gold, as was the floor also. Within this most holy place stood two cherubim fifteen feet high. They were of olive wood covered with gold, and they stood with wings spread forth so that they touched each other, and also touched the wall on either side, and their wings overshadowed the mercy seat where the Ark of the Lord was to rest. All the carvings upon wood were covered with gold, and precious stones were set among them for light and beauty.
Solomon's workmen made two great pillars of brass to stand before the house, and a great brass altar for the burnt offerings. They also made ten basins of brass that were set upon wheels, and one very great one called the "sea" which stood on twelve brass oxen.
They also made many things for the use of the temple -- candlesticks, and spoons, and censers all of pure gold, and there was also a golden altar and a golden table.
Solomon was seven years building the house of the Lord, and when it was finished, and its outer courts made ready, he called all the elders and chief men of Israel together to carry the Ark of God to its place. So the Ark, borne by the priests, and holding the tables of the law, was carried into the most holy place, and set under the wings of the cherubim. After the priests came out a cloud filled the house of the Lord so that the priests could not go in. It was the glory of the presence of the Lord.
Then Solomon stood before all the people and gave thanks to God and asked him to take the temple for his own house to dwell in, and kneeling down, he prayed that wherever the children of Israel might be, at home, or captives in a strange land, that the Lord would hear them when they prayed toward his house, and that all prayer offered in it might be heard and answered
Then fire from heaven fell upon the great altar, and the sacrifice was consumed, and all over the great pavement of the court the people bowed and worshipped the Lord, saying, "For He is good, and His mercy endureth forever."
There were offerings and feasting for fourteen days, and then the people went to their homes to think of the wonderful things they had seen. And there were sacrifices offered morning and evening each day, on the Sabbath, and at the three great feasts of the year -- the feast of the passover, the feast of the harvest, and the feast of tabernacles.
Solomon also built a wonderful house for himself, and another called the "house of the forest of Lebanon," where he kept his armor. The roof was upheld by cedars of Lebanon, standing like mighty pillars beneath it. So famous did his work and his wisdom become that a queen from a distant land called Sheba came to visit him. She came with a caravan of servants and camels bringing costly presents of spices, and gold, and precious stones. She asked him many things that she had longed to know, and he answered all her questions, and told her strange and wonderful things, so that after she had seen all his palace, and his servants, and the service of his table, and the beautiful ascent by which he went up to the temple, she said that the half had never been told her in her own country. They exchanged costly presents, and she went back to her own land.
[Illustration: The Queen of Sheba before Solomon]
Solomon had many ships upon the sea that brought riches from every land He learned much of the world in this way, and as he grew older and from his throne of gold and ivory judged his people, he dropped many wise sayings that were written in a book by the scribes and are now called the "Proverbs of Solomon."
But in Solomon's latter days his wives, who were daughters of heathen kings, turned his heart from the Lord. When his father sinned he repented at once, and his heart never turned to idols, but with all his wisdom, Solomon was weak of will, and built temples for his wives to worship idols in.
The Lord had made a promise to David that his sons should inherit the throne, and He kept the promise, but he allowed the kingdom to be divided. The two tribes who lived near to Jerusalem -- Judah and Benjamin -- were left to Solomon's son Rehoboam, but the ten tribes chose a man named Jeroboam to be their king. The men of Rehoboam, led by their king, went out to fight with the ten tribes, but the Lord would not let them. He spoke to them through a prophet and they went home.
So now there were two kings in Israel, and Rehoboam's kingdom was called the kingdom of Judah, and that of Jeroboam was called the kingdom of Israel; but after the kingdom was divided no kings ever reigned who could be compared with David and Solomon.