"An intriguing account of the desires and devotions in Solomon's court!"
Reviewed by Audrey Lawrence
Posted April 23, 2019
Inspirational Inspirational | Historical
King David is nearing the end of his life and yet delays in making
the announcement about who will be he next King of Jerusalem.
Solomon, his youngest son, frets over the delay despite his father's
assurances. Bathsheba, his mother, with a twinkle in her eye, suggests
he gives the arriving Ammonite Ambassador's daughter a short tour of
Once a childhood friend, Naamah has grown into a lovely young woman
and is learning to love Adonai, the God of the Hebrews, having heard
about him from Solomon as well as her mother, a former Israelite slave.
Desiring her, Solomon agrees to the marriage and over time, she
becomes the mother of Rehoboan, his heir.
Meanwhile, Bathsheba arranges for the beautiful and dutiful Abishag, a
Shunammite shepherdess, to marry and give comfort to the old King.
After Solomon is made King, he marries the virgin Abishag after hearing
about Adonijah, his older brother's plot to take the throne. Solomon
wishes his God, his Adonai, would talk to him as he once did with
David. Finally, Adonai does answer his one word prayer.
As Solomon's reputation for wisdom grows and his riches abound, he
marries Siti, Pharaoh's impervious daughter, to keep peaceful relations
with Egypt. Even she cannot keep his attention when Nicaula, an
amazing Queen from the rich lands of Sheba, comes to learn herself
from Solomon. Whatever can Naamah do when so many new and
more beautiful women vie for Solomon's attention?
THE HEART OF A KING: THE LOVES OF
SOLOMON is the latest offering from award-winning author Jill
Eileen Smith who brings to glorious life the story of this famous King,
who according to the Old Testament, had 700 wives and 300
concubines in this amazing account.
Based on her extensive historical research and the stories from her
earlier e-book series, THE LOVES OF SOLOMON, Smith expands and
enhances their stories by weaving in Solomon's perspectives along with
that of four very important wives. This new stand-alone novel vividly
highlights how his wisdom grew along with his lusting for the pleasures
of life and women. I particularly appreciate Smith's talents in fully
developing Biblical and other characters from scant historical sources. I
certainly gained a better understanding of Bathsheda and her role in
Fans of historical or Biblical novels are sure to be pleased with THE HEART OF A KING. For myself, I
am inspired by how seamlessly Smith uses dialogue and characters'
thoughts to seamlessly let in the message of God's love and how all
people could be wholly accepted and embraced by the spirit of the
Hebrew God. Regardless of faith preference, there is lots of insights
and intriguing reading to be gained from THE HEART OF A KING!
King Solomon was wealthy and wise beyond measure. He
could--and did--have anything he wanted, including many
women from many lands. But for all his wisdom, did he or
women in his life ever find what they searched for all of
In this engrossing novel, you'll find yourself whisked away
to ancient Israel, where you'll meet Solomon and four of
women he loved: Naamah the desert princess, Abishag the
shepherdess, Siti the daughter of a pharaoh, and Nicaula
queen of Sheba. As you experience the world of Solomon
through his eyes and the eyes of these women, you'll ask
yourself the ultimate question: Did Solomon's wisdom
ultimately benefit him and those he loved . . . or did it
ExcerptThe Teacher looked at his scroll, light dancing in little
ringlets over the words from the flickering candle at his
side. Flickering like the breath of wind. One circlet
encompassed the word he could not stop writing, could not
pour enough emphasis into, though his stylus had scratched
the repeated word clean through the parchment.
Meaningless. Meaningless. Meaningless.
Like chasing the wind. Everything was meaningless.
A sigh escaped, a weighted thing within his chest. Memories
flooded him, both good times and bad. Yes, everything, he
insisted to his battered heart. No whisper of dawn brought
him joy as in days of old. And though three times he had
heard God’s voice, that too carried no thrill, no fear, no
What had become of the days when he taught his children
that wisdom was priceless and a wife’s value far above
rubies? When had his search for wisdom as something hidden
and precious become less than the gift it was?
Wisdom had been a great gift then. A gift given directly
from the mouth of Almighty God. And he had used it well.
Until he hadn’t. Until he doubted and tested and questioned
and thought too highly of the gift. Until he let the gift
displace the giver.
A fool says in his heart there is no God.
He’d never said that. But oh, how he had acted the part.
Sometimes foolishness is overconfidence in one’s own
wisdom. And pride had changed everything.
Jerusalem, 975 BC
Solomon looked up from studying the temple model in the
room his father had set aside for the miniature palatial
structure. Footsteps stopped outside the room, and his
ever-present guard opened the door. His mother breezed past
the guard without a word and came to his side.
“The ambassador of Ammon has arrived,” she said, placing a
jeweled hand on his arm. “Shobi has brought his daughter
“Naamah?” How long it had been since they had spoken.
“Undoubtedly she is no longer a girl of ten.”
“I believe it has been five years since they came to our
aid in Mahanaim.” Bathsheba touched his bearded chin. “Do
you wish to speak with her or shall I keep her occupied? I
did once promise her a tour of the city, but I sense she
did not come just to see me.”
Solomon caught the slight smile and twinkle in his mother’s
eyes. “Are you suggesting something, Ima?” He had been of
marriageable age for over a year, but only one thing had
occupied his thoughts since that day when his half brother
had sent them running for their lives. His own coronation.
“Only that Naamah was an interesting girl, and you seemed
to enjoy corresponding with her for a time.” She searched
his face. “I know she is a foreign princess, but Shobi has
been a friend and ally of your father for years . . . and
you are ready to seek a wife.” She tilted her head, and he
couldn’t escape the knowing look in her eyes.
“I am more ready to have my father name me co-regent. You
do understand that we are in danger, as is any wife I would
take, until my right to rule is secure.” His jaw tensed
with the reminder. His mother knew the truth only too well.
She patted his arm. “I am trying, my son. But though your
father promised me, he is young enough to live many more
years and isn’t ready to think about his heir.”
“His older sons don’t seem to mind thinking about it.” He
scowled and rubbed his chin, hating the way the uncertainty
made him feel. “Would my father combine a coronation with a
wedding? I would feel more at ease to even consider
marriage if I knew you and my brothers were safe from
Adonijah and my other half brothers.”
Bathsheba’s brows knit and she nodded. “I understand, my
son. And I will continue to speak to your father as the
opportunity allows. I’m not suggesting you marry Shobi’s
daughter, though of course it is something to consider. I’m
simply asking if you would like to speak with her. I think
that much can be arranged.” She smiled again, and this time
he returned the gesture.
“I would enjoy speaking with her, Ima.” Images of the
curious young girl of years past flitted through his mind’s
eye. Was the woman Naamah beautiful, as the girl had hinted
she would be?
“Good,” Bathsheba said, interrupting his thoughts. “I will
invite her to tour with me and then you can meet me in the
anteroom and take over. I will beg off my meeting with her
until the evening meal.”
“You would leave me alone with her?” He raised a brow.
“You will have the guards.”
“Yes. Of course. Always the guards.” He rubbed his beard.
“It is a fact of life for a prince . . . and a king.” She
touched his cheek. “You will never escape them, my son, so
as always, we make the best of where God has placed us in
“If only God would prompt my father to name me co-regent .
. .” He let the sentence dangle at his mother’s look.
She backed slightly away from him. “I will bring Naamah
soon. Be ready.”
He nodded as she slipped from the room, knowing that his
true wishes were yet again delayed. Something he should be
used to by now, but he chafed at the thought just the same.
Naamah’s camel turned at the bend in the road and carried
her through the guarded gate to King David’s palace. The
sights, the beauty of the place, caused such a hitch in her
breath it blocked even the sounds of her father ordering
the camels to kneel. Sparkling-white stone pillars held the
roof above a grand porch, and gleaming, golden lion’s-head
sculptures were mounted on either side of the great wide
She blinked, trying to clear her thoughts and focus on what
the guard was saying to her father, but she could not shake
her dazed feeling. What splendor! The palace in Rabbah was
nothing in comparison. The realization hit hard. She was no
match for King David’s son. She could not expect an
alliance to be made on her behalf. She was the daughter of
a reluctant ambassador and subject of this king, nothing
The sobering thought would not abate as she followed the
guard to the anteroom several steps behind her father. When
at last the guard left them to wait their turn to see the
king, she sought her father’s ear.
“I did not think the king quite so wealthy.” She kept her
voice low. “They had so little in Mahanaim, and even the
stories you told . . .” Words failed her, and she gave him
an imploring look. “I should not have come.”
He gave her arm a reassuring pat. “Of course you should
have come,” he said in his soft, comforting tone. “King
David came from humble means, my child. All of this
wealth”—he waved a hand over the room rich with tapestries
and colorful mosaic tiles in shades of blue and gold and
gleaming white—“means little to this king. He is still a
humble man, my daughter. You need not fear.” His smile
helped but a little to overcome her anxious thoughts.
“I will try, Abba.” She held her tongue as another guard
approached to usher them into the audience chamber.
A golden throne stood at the end of a long room, and tables
and additional seats were placed beneath arched porticos on
either side of the hall. Scribes and courtiers stood or sat
in these areas, their gazes fixed, watching them. Heat
crept up Naamah’s neck, and she thanked the God of Solomon
for the veil that hid her sudden embarrassment.
They stopped at a line of green and blue tiles before the
raised dais and bowed low, but not before she dared a
glance in the king’s direction. Another chair was to his
right, and Solomon’s mother sat upon it. She drew in a
sharp breath. Bathsheba was more beautiful than she
recalled. The woman smiled at her, and Naamah quickly
lowered her gaze. Did this kind woman remember her?
But it was Solomon whose form she longed to set eyes upon,
yet she had seen no sign of him. Where could he be? Her
heart beat faster as thoughts tumbled inside her head. Abba
was wrong. She should not have come.
“Shobi, my friend. It is so good to see you again.” King
David’s voice was strong, and when she glanced up at him,
she noted the genuine affection in his eyes. “Is this your
little daughter?” The king’s brow lifted and he offered an
approving smile. “Though she is a child no longer.”
Her father inclined his head in Naamah’s direction. “Yes,
my lord. This is my Naamah. She was anxious to see
Jerusalem, and now that she is a woman grown, I thought the
time was right.”
King David glanced at his wife. “You remember Naamah, my
Bathsheba’s smile warmed her as it had the day they met in
Mahanaim. “Yes, of course, my lord.” She smiled at the
king, then took Naamah’s measure. “She has grown into a
lovely woman.” She turned her gaze to Naamah’s father. “You
must be quite proud of her.”
“Quite proud,” her father said, going on to assure them
both that Naamah had exceeded his greatest plans for her,
that she was well versed in all matters worthy of a
princess of Ammon. The praise caused the heat to crawl up
her neck and she hid her eyes from their perusal, studying
at her feet instead, suffering the unpleasant feeling that
she was on display.
“Naamah.” Bathsheba spoke, jarring her attention from the
Naamah looked her way once more. “Yes, my queen?” Was she a
queen? She suddenly realized that the guard had not
instructed them on what to say or how to address the king
or this obviously favored wife.
“While your father and the king discuss their business
dealings, I would like to show you around the palace. Would
you like that?”
She nodded. “Yes, my queen.” Though she wished it was
Solomon who had asked the question. Would they meet him in
the halls? Should she ask after him?
“Very good,” Bathsheba said, rising from her gilded chair.
“Come with me.” She descended the steps and walked toward a
side door Naamah had not noticed before.
Naamah glanced at her father. At his quick nod, she knew
she should not linger. She bowed low before King David once
more, then stood and walked with graceful steps toward the
door the queen had entered.
As she stepped into a smaller but more private antechamber,
she stopped short. Bathsheba stood talking with someone
that at first she did not recognize. By his resplendent
robes she knew him to be royalty, but when he turned to
look her way, she found it difficult to breathe. There was
no mistaking the resemblance to his mother and father. And
though she had not seen him in five years, she would never
forget the intensity in those dark eyes or the twinkle that
accompanied his approving smile.
He glanced at his mother, then strode to Naamah’s side.
“Naamah?” He bowed at the waist, and she did the same,
unsure at that moment what to do with her hands. She
clasped them together to still her sudden nervousness.
“Solomon?” She smiled, though he could not see it behind
“What a pleasure to see you again,” he said. “Father told
me he expected your father to arrive today. I am glad you
chose to accompany him this time. I had hoped you would
come one day, and here you are.”
His smile seemed to hold genuine kindness, though his words
were probably said to be polite, because what else could he
say to a young woman who begs her father to travel with his
She realized how shameless it must look for her to be here
at all. What other ambassador would bring his daughter on
such a trip? But she ignored the uneasiness that thought
evoked. She was here now, and the man of her many dreams
stood before her.
“Thank you, my lord,” she said, glancing from him to her
sandaled feet. “I am glad to be here.”
He didn’t respond immediately, causing her to look up. He
exchanged a look with his mother, but she could not make
sense of his guarded expression or their silent
communication. When he returned his attention to her, he
smiled. “My mother has allowed me the privilege of
escorting you on a tour of the palace. That is, if you
would like to join me?”
She studied him a moment, aware of the slight strain in the
pull of his mouth and the fine lines hidden beneath the
heavy dark bangs across his brow.
“I would enjoy that very much.” She glanced at his mother.
“I hope you will join us, my lady?”
Bathsheba stepped closer and shook her head. “I will look
forward to meeting with you before the evening meal. If you
don’t mind, I have a few things I need to attend to first.”
Naamah forced herself to remain calm and dignified as she
had been taught, though she was suddenly unsure of herself.
Five years had changed Solomon, but she could not tell if
he was simply wary or worried. When he offered his arm, she
gladly took it.
“Though my father has not yet declared it, I am his
intended heir,” he said, leaning close to her ear as he led
her through the antechamber. “Unfortunately, his hesitance
to say so publicly puts me and my mother at risk.” He
indicated the guard that followed at a discreet distance.
“Thus the guards.”
“It seems to me,” she said, feeling that sense of
understanding they had shared so briefly as children return
to her now, “that you were in the same predicament when we
met five years ago.”
He leaned away to better look at her and chuckled. “So it
The hall led to a private door, which he opened without
pause. “What is like vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the
eyes?” he asked as they stepped into the grandeur of the
She squinted as she had that day when she was ten and he
had first posed the riddle. “A sluggard,” she said,
He laughed with her. “You remembered.”
“It was not something I would easily forget.”
He smiled and settled her on a bench beneath a large
terebinth tree, then sat beside her. He fingered the veil
at her temple, gently brushing his hand against her cheek.
She flushed hot, tingling even beneath the veil. “Five
years ago, we did not have this between us. I enjoyed the
ability to look on your face, to easily read your
She lowered her gaze, her senses heightened and attuned to
his nearness. “I don’t suppose I have to wear it the whole
visit,” she said, though she knew her maid, Inaya, would
scold her for days to come if she removed it now.
He seemed to think on that as he used to do when they were
young. At last he shook his head. “No. Keep it on.” He
smiled in that lazy way that must make every woman in
Jerusalem love him. “You are temptation enough with it.”
She did her best not to fidget with the belt at her waist.
“How was your trip from Ammon? I am sorry I have yet to
visit your town.”
“It was longer than I expected. At times I can still feel
the camel beneath me.”
He laughed, revealing straight white teeth. She caught the
hint of mint on his breath. “I prefer the horse to the
camel. They are such proud, powerful creatures.”
“They are prettier than a camel, I daresay. And not as
ornery.” She clasped her hands to force her nerves to
still. Being so close to him after all these years brought
on a headier feeling than she had imagined. “Horses would
not make the trip as easily, though,” she said. “Some of
the terrain we traveled was better suited to a camel, and
the ride was slightly less bumpy than a horse could be.”
“You are right, of course. But a horse is far better in
battle. Any nation that would be great needs a strong
military might. That means a great number of horses and
“You have put much thought into your future reign,” she
said, hoping he could hear the admiration in her voice.
He shrugged. “I am observant. And I have been sitting on my
father’s court most of my life. I would simply choose what
is wise for the kingdom.”
“You will make a fine king someday.” In that moment, she
realized that as king, he would not want to be saddled with
a foreign wife. Would he?
Before she could pursue the thought, he changed the subject
to other topics, to riddles and worship and the political
intrigue he could not escape.
“May I ask you something?” she said when their conversation
lapsed momentarily into silence. He seemed far away in that
moment, and she yearned to know why.
He leaned into the bench, his gaze curious. “Ask whatever
you like, Princess.”
Her face flushed at the look in his eyes, but she
determined not to allow herself to be flustered by
disobedient emotions. “Why did you stop our correspondence?
Not a single word came from you once I turned thirteen.”
She looked at her hands, suddenly embarrassed at her
boldness. “Did I somehow offend you, my lord?”
Silence followed her question, and she feared that if she
had not offended him before, she certainly had done so now.
But a moment later he touched her arm. She looked up,
meeting his gaze.
“It was not proper to continue to write to a princess of
marriageable age. Not without declaring some kind of
intentions.” His voice showed little emotion, but as she
held his gaze, it was he who finally looked away.
“I understand,” she said at last, feeling the loss of
something she had savored for too long. He did not want
her. He had not spent the past five years pining for her as
she had for him. Suddenly she felt utterly foolish for
coming to this place.
“Naamah,” Solomon said, coaxing her chin up with the
slightest pressure of his fingers.
She lifted her head, too aware of the moisture filling her
eyes. What a fool she was!
“I’m glad you came,” he said, his smile relaxed, as though
trying to put her again at ease. “I have thought often of
you in the past few years, but I have been caught up in
finishing my father’s plans for the temple model, the
temple he wants me to build one day. And there is the
constant worry that though he acts as if I am his heir, he
will not name me so. The tension of waiting and the threat
that is always there from my older brothers has been
She touched his hand, losing herself in the vulnerability
of his smile. “I’m sorry. I must sound like a petulant
child. It is only that I missed hearing from you. There
were so many questions I wanted to ask you—about Adonai.”
He leaned back and studied her. “You have come to believe
in Him.” It was not a question. Could he read her faith in
She nodded. “Molech no longer holds me captive. But I have
often longed to hear more of Adonai from your lips.”
He squeezed her hand and smiled. “I would have enjoyed such
a conversation,” he assured her.
Their words grew less awkward after that. The sun moved
past the halfway point, and still they talked as though
time had never separated them. Her stomach grumbled, and
they both heard it. He laughed and she joined him.
“I think we have missed the midday meal,” he said,
standing. He offered his hand. “But I know where we can
find some almonds and dates to still the hunger until the
banquet this evening.”
She allowed him to help her rise, grateful to move her
limbs after sitting for so long. “And I suppose we should
take that tour of the palace you promised me,” she said,
casting him a coy look. She glanced quickly at the guard,
who stood watch near the door to the gardens.
Solomon laughed, and the musical ring to it melted her
heart. She was in love with this man, as she had been since
her youth. She just prayed that she would be able to
convince her father that Solomon was in love with her in
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