The Heart of a King

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 15 Aug 2019

Member Reviews

Reading through the book of Ecclesiastes has always made me wonder about King Solomon. How could this king, to whom God Himself spoke and grant the gift of wisdom, write a book that reads so very much like the futility in our society today?  Jill Eileen Smith has written an intriguing book about the life of King Solomon.  Following the Biblical account very closely, she brings his story to life as we follow him through the politically turbulent years of his reign; his many marriages; and his search for true peace of heart and mind.

I love the way that Jill Smith makes me feel that I’m an observer in the palace watching all these events take place.  We not only see this story from Solomon’s point of view, but a large part of the story is from the viewpoints of four women in his life:  Naamath, his first wife; Abishag, who took care of King David in his last years, Siti, his Egyptian wife; and the Queen of Sheba.  Following their storylines helped me to better understand how all of Solomon’s marriages influenced the political situation of the nation of Israel.  As we read through this book, the author never lets us forget that Solomon, in spite of all his wisdom, chose to ignore God’s clear commands about how a king of Israel should live in regards to marriage and material gain,  I was by turns very aggravated at Solomon or felt great pity for him.  I have to admit that I’ve wondered how a man who had that many wives would find peace, and there’s a slight glimmer of humor as Solomon has to deal with all their requests.
This is a balanced story about Solomon, showing both his mistakes but also his desire to stay true to God.

Two things you need to know about this book:
First: There are details and characters in the story that aren’t in the Bible.  Jill Smith’s done a great job of explaining this in her “Note to the Reader” at the end of the book.  Don’t miss reading this. She explains her heart for this story and the spiritual emphasis that was her guideline for writing it.

Second:  In telling the story of Solomon’s relationships with his wives, there is mention of his desire and love for them. The author does a great job of never stepping over a line or being inappropriate in any way.   I appreciated the author not using these scenes to sensationalize the book.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions are my own.
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The Heart of a King, (The Loves of King Solomon 1-4), Jill Eileen Smith

Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews

Genre: Christian

Well, confession time. I didn't notice the Christian genre category. I'm not one for reading books in that genre usually but adore historical ones, especially ones set so far back in time. Its fascinating to see how much – and how little – people have changed. Although its termed Christian, its more from the Biblical connection I think, the author isn't throwing God and Faith as the answer to all life's issues, but of course being a key biblical figure the story of Solomon and his wives can't be told without elements of Christianity and Faith. For me, the balance worked perfectly and I enjoyed the story. 

Like most folk I mainly thing of Solomon in connection with wisdom, its one of those facts of life, the two are synonymous. I knew little of him as a character and I enjoyed seeing that he was fallible, even though he wanted to be devout. 
The taking of so many wives, the way he struggles with first his desire for another woman, and then the need to not upset neighbouring kings by offending them if he refused to take their gift of a daughter for a wife, set against the fact that God specifically prohibits it. It proves he's genuine to me, we all struggle to find reasons, justifications of we want to do something we know inside is wrong. 
It made him feel very real, even though I didn't like what he was doing. Its that marrying of wive from current perspective, one at a time, preferably just one in life, against the times back then when the more wives a king had the more power he was said to have. He wanted to be a good king, wanted peace but also wanted to stay true to God so he creates justification for his actions, even though he knows its wrong. I didn't like that aspect of him, how he would just put aside how Namaah, and later his other wives, felt just because he was attracted so someone new. Later in the book it isn't even chance that draws his eye, he specifically sets out to find women he's attracted to. I lost respect for him over that. 

I hadn't realised he has so many women either, over 700 wives and 300 consorts!!That's a lots of excuses....I really felt for Namaah, she knew from the outset he probably would have more wives because of tradition, and yet having converted to his faith she knows God says only one wife. Looking at it from the point of now he seems to me to have been wise in everything but his personal life. Would things have been so bad if he stuck to God's tenets? Surely God would have given him assistance for peace. 
I wasn't sure how he could justify Egypt and the horses to himslef, he doesn't stop at that first visit and gifts of them, but goes on to buy many more horses, yet he's so devoted to God who has specified against this very definitely. 

As usual there's the harshness of God back then, who punishes Solomon's father and mother for their adultery by letting their first child die. Hard on them but what about the poor baby, he'd done nothing? I find that kind of “mercy” hard to take, but the Old Testament is full of such stories. When he kills all the first born sons in Egypt, for example. That doesn't feel like a Godly thing to do, all those sons from babies to adults, who had done nothing, killed, just like that. I guess that's still what affects my beliefs now, how can a merciful god allow such terrible atrocities to happen every day? And that's why I avoid christian books. In this instance I'm glad I missed the genre, because its a story I really enjoyed. 

Stars: four, I really enjoyed the story but there was such a lot to pack in that sometimes the necessary gaps in time felt like I'd missed too much. 

Arc via Netgalley and publishers
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