When Solomon ascended the throne, he brought a thousand offerings to God. One night after this God appeared to him in a dream and said, "Ask what you wish, and I shall give thee."
"Lord," replied Solomon, "thou hast made me King, and I am but a little child. Now give me wisdom and understanding, that I may govern this people."
Solomon’s reply was pleasing to the Lord. And the Lord said: "Because you have not asked of Me long life, nor riches, nor victory over enemies, but have asked wisdom, in order to rule the people, I will give you wisdom so that there was none like you before, neither will be. And because you did not ask for it, I will give you riches and glory. And if you will keep My commandments, I will also give you life" (I Kings 3:5-9; II Chron. 1:7).
Solomon showed his wisdom above all in passing judgments. Soon after his accession, two women appeared before him for judgment. They lived in one house and each had a child. One night one of them crushed her child and laid it beside the other woman and took that woman’s living child for herself. In the morning the women began to argue. "The living one is my son, and the dead one is thy son," each said. Thus they disputed before the King. Having heard them, Solomon decreed, "Fetch a sword."
A sword was brought to the King. Solomon said, "Divide the live child in two and give half of it to one, and half of it to the other."
At these words one of the women cried, "I pray thee, my Lord, give her the child, and in no wise slay it."
But the other said, "Let it be neither mine nor hers; divide it."
Then Solomon said, "Give the child to her that said, ‘Give it to her, by no means slay it’; she is its mother."
The people heard about this and began to fear the King because everyone saw what wisdom God had given him.
Solomon expressed his wisdom both in ruling the people and in all other matters that concerned the king. His glory spread beyond the borders of the Israelite land to other neighboring peoples.
Fulfilling the wish of his father David, Solomon set about building the Temple of God in Jerusalem. A site for it was chosen on Mt. Moriah, which had been indicated to David and on which Abraham had brought Isaac to sacrifice. About 185,000 workers constructed the Temple in seven and a half years. It was built according to the model of Moses’ tabernacle, and divided into the Holy of Holies, sanctuary and courtyard, but it was more spacious and more magnificent. The walls of the Temple were made of stone, on the outside they were covered with white marble and on the inside with gold. All the appurtenances of the Temple for religious services were made of gold.
When the Temple was ready, Solomon summoned all the elders and many of the people for its consecration. To the sound of trumpets and the singing of spiritual songs the Ark of the Covenant was brought in. The glory of the Lord, in the form of a cloud, filled the Temple so much that the priests could not continue the service. Then Solomon went up to his royal place, fell on his knees, and with uplifted hands prayed to God that in this place He would accept the prayers not only of the Israelites, but also of Gentiles. When he finished this prayer, fire came down from Heaven and consumed the sacrifices which had been prepared in the Temple.
Solomon’s reign was peaceful and happy. People came from faraway lands to Jerusalem to see the King and hear his wisdom. The Queen of Sheba heard of Solomon’s glory and came to put him to the test with riddles. After being convinced of his wisdom, she said "Blessed be thy God, Who has taken pleasure in thee, to set thee upon the throne of Israel" (I Kings 10:9).
Before the end of his life, Solomon began to sin before God. He had many wives; there were pagans among them. For them, he built pagan temples and himself went there.
Then the Lord took away His blessing from Solomon, and riots and rebellions began against him among the Hebrew people. Solomon understood that this was God’s punishment for his sins and began to repent. But his repentance was not so full from his heart as David’s had been. Therefore, although the Lord forgave him and preserved his kingdom during his life, still He announced through a prophet that after the death of Solomon the Israelite kingdom would be split in two, and Solomon’s son would inherit the smaller part.
Note: See I Kings, chaps. 3-11; I Chron., chaps. 22, 28, 29; II Chron., chaps. 1-9.
(from: The Law of God by Fr. Seraphim Slobodskoy)