Solomon made a marriage alliance* with Pharaoh of Egypt. He married Pharaoh's daughter and brought her to live in the City of David until he finished building his palace, the Lord's Temple, and the walls surrounding Jerusalem. In those days, however, the people still sacrificed on the high places because a Temple to honor the Lord hadn't yet been built.
Solomon showed he loved the Lord by following the instructions of his father David, except that he sacrificed and burned offerings on the high places. The king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there, for it was the leading high place. Solomon presented one thousand burnt offerings on the altar there.
The Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream at Gibeon. God said to him, “Ask what you want me to give you.”
Solomon replied, “You showed your servant David, my father, great trustworthy love because he lived his life before you with faithfulness, doing what was right and committed to principle. You have continued to show this great trustworthy love by giving him a son to sit on his throne to this day.
Now, Lord God, you have made me king in place of my father David. But I am like an inexperienced young boy who doesn't know what to do. I, your servant, am here in among your chosen people, a great people that are so many they cannot be counted. So please give me a mind that's receptive so I can rule your people well, understanding the difference between right and wrong, for who can rule this difficult people of yours?”
10 The Lord considered that what Solomon asked for was good. 11 So God told him, “Because you asked for this, and you didn't ask for a long life, or wealth, or the death of your enemies, but instead you asked for understanding to know what is right, 12 I am giving you what you asked for. I am giving you a mind that is wise, with an understanding of what is right, more than anyone else before you or after you. 13 I am also giving you what you did not ask for, wealth and status—so much so that no king will compare to you for the whole of your life. 14 And if you follow my ways by keeping my laws and my commands, as your father David did, I will give you a long life.”
15 Then Solomon woke up and realized he'd had a dream. He went back to Jerusalem, and stood in front of the Ark of the Lord's Agreement and he presented burnt offerings and friendship offerings, and he held a feast for all his officials.
16 Later two prostitutes came to the king and stood before him for judgment.§ 17 One of the women spoke up, saying, “If it please Your Majesty: I share a house with this woman. I had a baby while she was living in the house. 18 Three days after the birth of my baby, this woman also had a baby. We were together; there was no one else in the house, just the two of us. 19 During the night this woman's son died because she rolled over on him. 20 She got up in the middle of the night and took my son from beside me while I was sleeping. She lay him close beside her to cuddle him, and she lay her dead son close beside me. 21 When I got up in the morning to nurse my son I saw that he was dead. When I looked closely at him in the light I realized it wasn't my son.”
22 The other woman argued, “No! My son is the one that's alive. Your son is the one that's dead.” The first woman objected, “No! Your son is the one that's dead. My son is the one that's alive.” They went on quarrelling in front of the king.
23 The king intervened, saying, “So this woman saysMy son is the one that's alive. Your son is the one that's dead,’ while the other woman says, ‘No! Your son is the one that's dead. My son is the one that's alive.’ ”
24 Bring me a sword,” the king ordered. So they brought him a sword. 25 Cut the child that's alive in two, and give half to one woman and half to another,” he commanded.
26 But the woman whose son was alive had so much love for him as a mother that she cried out to the king, “Please, Your Majesty, give her the boy! Don't kill him!” But the other woman said, “He won't be mine or yourscut him in two!”
27 The king gave his verdict. “Give the child that's alive to the first woman,” he ordered. “On no account kill him, for she is his real mother.”
28 When everyone in Israel heard about the verdict the king had delivered, they had great respect for the king, because they recognized the wisdom God had given him to judge rightly.
* 3:1 “Marriage alliance”: the word here literally means “make oneself a daughter's husband.” 3:7 “What to do”: literally, “going out or coming in.” 3:9 Rule not so much in terms of imposing control but in governing wisely. § 3:16 “For judgment”: implied by the fact they came before him.