When David died, his son, Solomon, took the throne. In both Kings and Chronicles, the account of Solomon’s reign is dominated by him building the Temple. God had told David that he would not build the temple, but that his son would. Solomon’s letter to the King of Tyre states “this was because of the warfare all around him until the LORD put his enemies under his feet.” (1 Kings 5:3). The end of 1 Chronicles gives a more detailed explanation:
7 “My son,” David said to Solomon, “It was in my heart to build a house for the name of the LORD my God, 8 but the word of the LORD came to me: ‘You have shed much blood and waged great wars. You are not to build a house for My name because you have shed so much blood on the ground before Me. 9 But a son will be born to you; he will be a man of rest. I will give him rest from all his surrounding enemies, for his name will be Solomon, and I will give peace and quiet to Israel during his reign. 10 He is the one who will build a house for My name. He will be My son, and I will be his father. I will establish the throne of his kingdom over Israel forever.’ (1 Chr 22:7-10)
We have already seen the close connection between the land and the wars which Israel fought. The land was a gift from God to his people, and in response his people were to worship him in the land. The building of the Temple was a clear sign that God was no longer wandering, but was settling in the land. Once this happened, Israel truly possessed the land and God’s promises to the Patriarchs would be fulfilled. There would be no more war, because the conquest was completed. God would dwell in the land, and Israel would dwell with him as his people, in perfect peace. This is the ideal that David was looking forward to, and the beginning of Solomon’s reign seems to be moving towards its fulfilment. The descriptions of Solomon’s wisdom, his wealth, and his respect in the international community show that God was blessing Israel through peace and trade.
At the dedication of the Temple (1 Kings 8), Solomon prays to God. This text has featured in many documentary hypotheses that claim that the theology of this prayer reflects a much later period of history, so it must have been inserted by a later redactor. One feature of the prayer that is so notable is Solomon’s complete trust in God as the controller – not just of the land of Israel – but of the whole world; a move from henotheism to full-blown monotheism. After Solomon’s prayer, God replies:
6 If you or your sons turn away from following Me and do not keep My commands– My statutes that I have set before you– and if you go and serve other gods and worship them, 7 I will cut off Israel from the land I gave them, and I will reject the temple I have sanctified for My name. Israel will become an object of scorn and ridicule among all the peoples. (1 Kings 9:6-7)
Of course, God made it constantly clear that his promises to Israel were contingent on them staying faithful, and it is not long before Solomon disobeys him in spectacular ways. Beginning with his marriage to foreign women, he ends up worshipping the Canaanite gods, and sacrificing his children to Molech (1 Kings 11).
11 Then the LORD said to Solomon, “Since you have done this and did not keep My covenant and My statutes, which I commanded you, I will tear the kingdom away from you and give it to your servant. 12 However, I will not do it during your lifetime because of your father David; I will tear it out of your son’s hand. 13 Yet, I will not tear the entire kingdom away from him. I will give one tribe to your son because of my servant David and because of Jerusalem that I chose.”
14 So the LORD raised up Hadad the Edomite as an enemy against Solomon. (1 Kings 11:11-14)
The peace given to Solomon was broken because of his sin, and it is not long until Jereboam rebels against Solomon, and begins the civil war that would finally split Israel into two nations. This, too, shows God’s hand, as he directs the actions of both Rehoboam and Jereboam (1 Kings 12:15, 22-24; 14:5-11).