Lesson 26: King Solomon: Man of Wisdom, Man of Foolishness

Old Testament: Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual, (2001), 123–27


Purpose

To encourage class members to use their blessings wisely and to enter the temple worthily.

Preparation

  1. 1.

    Prayerfully study the following scriptures:

    1. a.

      1 Kings 3:5–28. Solomon succeeds his father, David, as king, and follows the Lord. The Lord appears to Solomon, who asks to be blessed with an understanding heart (3:5–9). The Lord blesses Solomon with wisdom, riches, and honor (3:10–15). Two women take a child to Solomon, who wisely determines which woman is the mother of the child (3:16–28).

    2. b.

      1 Kings 5–6; 7:1–12. King Solomon directs the construction of a great temple (5–6). He has a palace built for himself (1 Kings 7:1–12).

    3. c.

      1 Kings 8:22–66; 9:1–9. Solomon dedicates the temple and asks the Lord to bless the Israelites with spiritual and temporal prosperity (8:22–53). The people worship for 14 days (8:54–66). The Lord again appears to Solomon, promising to bless the Israelites if they serve him but to curse them if they turn to other gods (9:1–9).

    4. d.

      1 Kings 10–11. Solomon’s fame grows because of his wealth and wisdom (10:1–13, 24–25). He becomes excessively wealthy (10:14–23, 26). He marries many non-Israelite women who persuade him to worship false gods (11:1–10). The Lord stirs up adversaries against Solomon (11:11–25). A prophet foretells that the kingdom of Israel will be divided because of Solomon’s wickedness (11:26–40).

  2. 2.

    Additional reading: 1 Kings 2:1–12; 4:29–34; 7:13–51; 1 Chronicles 29; Doctrine and Covenants 46.

  3. 3.

    If the picture Temple Used Anciently is available, you may want to use it during the lesson (62300; Gospel Art Picture Kit 118).

Suggested Lesson Development

Attention Activity

You may want to use the following activity (or one of your own) to begin the lesson.

Read or have a class member read the following statement by Elder Dallin H. Oaks:

“We generally think of Satan attacking us at our weakest spot. … But weakness is not our only vulnerability. Satan can also attack us where we think we are strong—in the very areas where we are proud of our strengths. He will approach us through the greatest talents and spiritual gifts we possess. If we are not wary, Satan can cause our spiritual downfall by corrupting us through our strengths as well as by exploiting our weaknesses” (“Our Strengths Can Become Our Downfall,” Ensign, Oct. 1994, 12).

  • What are some strengths that could become our downfall?

Explain that this lesson is about King Solomon, a man who received great gifts from God but eventually used those gifts unrighteously. Suggest that class members look for incidents that show the gradual decline of Solomon. Emphasize that we should look for his flaws not to judge him, but to learn from his mistakes.

Scripture Discussion and Application

As you teach the following scripture passages, discuss how they apply to daily life. Encourage class members to share experiences that relate to the scriptural principles.

Just before David died, Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet anointed Solomon as the new king. Solomon, who was a son of David and Bathsheba, received the following counsel from his father: “Be thou strong … , and shew thyself a man; and keep the charge of the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and his testimonies, … that thou mayest prosper in all that thou doest” (1 Kings 2:2–3).

1. The Lord blesses Solomon with wisdom, riches, and honor.

Teach and discuss 1 Kings 3:5–28.

  • Soon after Solomon became king, the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Ask what I shall give thee” (1 Kings 3:5). What did Solomon ask for? (See 1 Kings 3:9.) What does it mean to have an “understanding heart”? (See 1 Kings 3:28; 4:29.) Why did Solomon feel a special need for that blessing? (See 1 Kings 3:7–8.) How would having “the wisdom of God” help us with our responsibilities at home? at work? at school? in the Church? How can we receive this wisdom?

  • Why was the Lord pleased with Solomon’s request for an understanding heart? (See 1 Kings 3:11–12. Solomon asked for a gift that would help him serve others rather than a gift with selfish purposes.) What are some spiritual gifts we may seek? (See D&C 46:13–26.) On what conditions does the Lord give gifts of the Spirit? (See 1 Kings 3:14; D&C 46:8–12.) How can we use these gifts to serve others?

  • What additional blessings did the Lord grant Solomon? (See 1 Kings 3:13–14.) How might these blessings be used to serve others?

  • What was the first situation requiring King Solomon’s judgment? (See 1 Kings 3:16–22.) How did Solomon solve the problem? (See 1 Kings 3:23–28.) How did Solomon’s solution show that the Lord had blessed him with wisdom?

2. King Solomon directs the construction of a great temple and has a palace built for himself.

Teach and discuss 1 Kings 5–6; 7:1–12.

  • As commanded by the Lord, Solomon directed that a temple be constructed. (You may want to briefly review 1 Kings 5:1–6, 17–18; 6:15–36 to emphasize the elaborate nature of the temple.) Why do you think Solomon used such fine material to build the temple?

  • How did the builders show reverence for the temple during its construction? (See 1 Kings 6:7.)

  • How did Solomon use his wisdom, riches, and honor to ensure proper construction of the temple? (See 1 Kings 5:1–12. Because of these blessings he was able to obtain building materials and enlist the help of skillful laborers in the construction of the temple.)

  • What promise did the Lord give Solomon regarding the temple? (See 1 Kings 6:11–13.) What similar promise has the Lord given us today? (See D&C 97:15–17.)

  • Solomon also had a house built for himself. How did the size of his house compare to the size of the house of the Lord? (See 1 Kings 6:2–3; 7:2, 6–7.) How does this use of riches show Solomon’s gradual decline?

3. Solomon dedicates the temple.

Teach and discuss 1 Kings 8:22–66; 9:1–9.

  • After seven years of construction, the temple was dedicated. What are some of the things Solomon prayed for in the dedicatory prayer? (See 1 Kings 8:22–53.)

    You may want to list class members’ answers on the chalkboard. Answers may include the following:

    1. a.

      Answers to prayers (1 Kings 8:28–30, 49–52)

    2. b.

      Forgiveness (1 Kings 8:33–39)

    3. c.

      Rain (1 Kings 8:35–36)

    4. d.

      Help during famine and sickness (1 Kings 8:37)

    5. e.

      Help in battle (1 Kings 8:44–45)

  • In his dedicatory prayer Solomon prayed for the Lord to help his people through many difficult problems. How can temple attendance help us when we are weighed down with problems?

    President Ezra Taft Benson said: “In the peace of these lovely temples, sometimes we find solutions to the serious problems of life. Under the influence of the Spirit, sometimes pure knowledge flows to us there. Temples are places of personal revelation. When I have been weighed down by a problem or a difficulty, I have gone to the House of the Lord with a prayer in my heart for answers. These answers have come in clear and unmistakable ways” (“What I Hope You Will Teach Your Children about the Temple,” Ensign, Aug. 1985, 8).

  • Solomon prayed that the temple would help lead unbelievers to the Lord (1 Kings 8:41–43). How might a temple do this? (Invite class members to share examples of how they or others have become interested in the Church because of their interest in temples.)

  • After Solomon offered the dedicatory prayer, he counseled his people, “Let your heart … be perfect with the Lord our God” (1 Kings 8:61). What do you think it means to have a heart that is “perfect with the Lord”? How can temple attendance help us perfect our hearts?

  • What can we do to keep the influence of the temple strong in our lives? (Answers may include: Attend frequently where possible, keep a current recommend, and display pictures of temples in our homes.)

  • What did the people do after the temple was dedicated? (See 1 Kings 8:62–66.) What was the attitude of the people as they returned to their homes after the temple dedication and the 14 days of worship? (See 1 Kings 8:66.) How do you feel when you return home from the temple?

  • What was the Lord’s message when he visited Solomon after the dedication of the temple? (See 1 Kings 9:3–9. See also 1 Kings 6:11–13. Note that the Lord made a similar statement during the construction of the temple.) Why do you think Solomon needed to be reminded of his covenants? How does the Lord remind us of our covenants?

4. Solomon becomes excessively wealthy and marries many non-Israelite women who persuade him to worship idols.

Teach and discuss 1 Kings 10–11.

  • How did Solomon’s riches and honor increase after the temple was built? (See 1 Kings 10:1–15, 24–25.) How did Solomon misuse these blessings? (See 1 Kings 10:16–23, 26–29. Point out that he used them to build up his own kingdom rather than God’s kingdom.) How should wisdom, riches, and honor be used? (See Jacob 2:18–19.)

  • How did Solomon’s choice of wives show that he had turned away from God? (See 1 Kings 11:1–2. He married out of the covenant.) What did Solomon’s non-Israelite wives influence him to do? (See 1 Kings 11:3–8. Note that in the Joseph Smith Translation, verse 4 says that Solomon’s heart “became as the heart of David his father” and verse 6 says that “Solomon did evil in the sight of the Lord, as David his father.”)

  • What did the Lord do when Solomon broke his covenants and turned away? (See 1 Kings 11:9–14, 23–25, 33–36.)

  • How do you think the blessings of wisdom, riches, and honor contributed to Solomon’s downfall? How have you seen these strengths contribute to the downfall of people today? How can we ensure that our strengths do not become a downfall for us? (See 1 Kings 8:61; D&C 88:67.)

    Elder Dallin H. Oaks said:

    “How … do we prevent our strengths from becoming our downfall? The quality we must cultivate is humility. Humility is the great protector. Humility is the antidote against pride. Humility is the catalyst for all learning, especially spiritual things. Through the prophet Moroni, the Lord gave us this great insight into the role of humility: ‘I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them’ (Ether 12:27).

    “We might also say that if men and women humble themselves before God, he will help them prevent their strengths from becoming weaknesses that the adversary can exploit to destroy them. …

    “… If we are humble and teachable, hearkening to the commandments of God, the counsel of his leaders, and the promptings of his Spirit, we can be guided in how to use our spiritual gifts, our accomplishments, and all of our other strengths for righteousness. And we can be guided in how to avoid Satan’s efforts to use our strengths to cause our downfall.

    “In all of this, we should remember and rely on the Lord’s direction and promise: ‘Be thou humble; and the Lord thy God shall lead thee by the hand, and give thee answer to thy prayers’ (D&C 112:10)” (“Our Strengths Can Become Our Downfall,” Ensign, Oct. 1994, 19).

Conclusion

Express your gratitude for the spiritual and material blessings the Lord has given you and for the temple. Encourage class members to humble themselves before the Lord so they can use their blessings wisely and enter the temple worthily.

Additional Teaching Ideas

The following material supplements the suggested lesson outline. You may want to use one or more of these ideas as part of the lesson.

1. “That his heart be not lifted up above his brethren” (Deuteronomy 17:20)

  • Have a class member read aloud Deuteronomy 17:14–20. How would application of this scripture have changed Solomon’s life and the lives of the people in his kingdom?

2. Dedicatory prayers for temples

If any class members have attended a temple dedication, ask one or two of them to tell about their experience. You may want to ask a class member to prepare to share two or three insights from the dedicatory prayer of a latter-day temple. (Doctrine and Covenants 109 contains the prayer offered at the dedication of the Kirtland Temple. Dedicatory prayers of newly dedicated temples are sometimes printed in the Ensign.)

  • How should dedicatory prayers influence our personal lives?

    President Joseph Fielding Smith said, “When we dedicate a house to the Lord, what we really do is dedicate ourselves to the Lord’s service, with a covenant that we shall use the house in the way He intends that it shall be used” (Church News, 22 Jan. 1972, 3).