Solomon was David's second son by Bathsheba. He succeeded his father to the throne while still in his teens, a situation spurred on mainly by Nathan and Bathsheba, in consequence of the rebellion of Adonijah.
During Solomon's forty year reign Israel blossomed. Trade was carried on overland with Tyre, Egypt and Arabia, and by sea with Spain, India and the coasts of Africa. Solomon accumulated vast wealth from many nations. He built a temple in Jerusalem as a permanent home for the Ark of the Covenant, completing a task that David had begun. After this, Solomon erect many other important buildings, including the royal palace of Ophel, which was opulent beyond belief.
Solomon's reign was not only a period of great material prosperity, but was equally remarkable for its intellectual activity. Solomon was famed for his wisdom, a gift that he requested when God asked him what he would like to have.
"Now, O LORD my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?"
(1 Kings 3:7-9)
His fame spread far and wide, and several men and women came to hear him. One was the Queen of Sheba, who returned to her native land after a lavish exchange of gifts.
Solomon's wisdom appeared to have died in later years, though, when he turned away from God, largely as a result of his heathen intermarriages that included a marriage with the daughter of Pharoah. He first tolerated, then imitated their heathenish ways, and as is usual when this happens, he brought on divine displeasure. God raished up men who opposed Solomon and led groups of rebellion against him. One such man was Jerobam, who was an overseer of the workers.
After he died, his ineffectual son Rehoboam antagonized the Israelitites. With the exception of the tribe of Judah, they all rallied behind Jeroboam, and Israel split into two.