WISDOM’S ACID TEST
Bring to God any areas of life that require his wisdom.
Read 1 Kings 3:16–28
A Wise Ruling
16 Now two prostitutes came to the king and stood before him. 17 One of them said, “Pardon me, my lord. This woman and I live in the same house, and I had a baby while she was there with me. 18 The third day after my child was born, this woman also had a baby. We were alone; there was no one in the house but the two of us.
19 “During the night this woman’s son died because she lay on him. 20 So she got up in the middle of the night and took my son from my side while I your servant was asleep. She put him by her breast and put her dead son by my breast. 21 The next morning, I got up to nurse my son—and he was dead! But when I looked at him closely in the morning light, I saw that it wasn’t the son I had borne.”
22 The other woman said, “No! The living one is my son; the dead one is yours.”
But the first one insisted, “No! The dead one is yours; the living one is mine.” And so they argued before the king.
23 The king said, “This one says, ‘My son is alive and your son is dead,’ while that one says, ‘No! Your son is dead and mine is alive.’”
24 Then the king said, “Bring me a sword.” So they brought a sword for the king. 25 He then gave an order: “Cut the living child in two and give half to one and half to the other.”
26 The woman whose son was alive was deeply moved out of love for her son and said to the king, “Please, my lord, give her the living baby! Don’t kill him!”
But the other said, “Neither I nor you shall have him. Cut him in two!”
27 Then the king gave his ruling: “Give the living baby to the first woman. Do not kill him; she is his mother.”
28 When all Israel heard the verdict the king had given, they held the king in awe, because they saw that he had wisdom from God to administer justice.
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectJesus told us to be as wise as serpents but as innocent as doves (Matt. 10:16). What does that mean in your life?
One person’s word against another’s (22,23). It’s the classic but painful dilemma of relationship breakdown. In this case, it’s made even more tragic by the terrible loss of a child. How does one tell truth from lies? Entire professions have grown up over the generations to attempt precisely this.
Now that Israel’s monarchy is firmly established, the king has the responsibility to adjudicate in difficult situations (like the judges of old). After listening to these two women’s complaints, he is decisive and seemingly brutal: slice the baby in two (24,25)! What makes this response so shrewd? Above all, it shows deep psychological insight. No doubt the women’s reactions were entirely as he predicted (26). The one whose child had already died would perhaps have felt a grim satisfaction if both of them ended up grieving. Isn’t it astonishing what our self-centeredness can justify?
The theme of right judgment is clear throughout: see the recurrence of “discerning,” “distinguish right and wrong” and “wisdom.” Solomon had asked for them (9). God provided. The key thing is that justice was done. And it was seen to be done (28). But the people were in no doubt about the origins of this wisdom.
What a relief to know that the final judgment is in safe hands. What area of your life do you need to release to Christ as the judge?
Pray for others to lean on the Lord’s mercy before it is too late.