Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Wisdom of Solomon

I was studying 1 Kings, chapter 3 this week and it got me to thinking. The chapter starts with King Solomon’s reign. He has a vision of the Lord in a dream and when asked by God what he wanted, he asked for wisdom to serve the people of God. God granted him his desire.
The first recorded test of his new gift starts in verse 16:
Now two women who were harlots came to the king, and stood before him. 17And one woman said, “O my lord, this woman and I dwell in the same house; and I gave birth while she was in the house. 18Then it happened, the third day after I had given birth, that this woman also gave birth. And we were together; no one was with us in the house, except the two of us in the house. 19And this woman’s son died in the night, because she lay on him. 20So she arose in the middle of the night and took my son from my side, while your maidservant slept, and laid him in her bosom, and laid her dead child in my bosom. 21And when I rose in the morning to nurse my son, there he was, dead. But when I had examined him in the morning, indeed, he was not my son whom I had borne.”
The rest of the story I will abbreviate: the other woman argues that the first woman is lying. Solomon decided to test both women and holds up the living child to be cut in two. The real mom cries out to spare her son. The other woman, bitter for her loss, could care less and told him cut up her son. Solomon’s action exposes the truth of who the real mother is. The story of this judgment travels across Israel.
Now, I’m not as wise as Solomon because something jumps out at me that is the cause of all this mess: they are prostitutes! Although one of the oldest professions in the world, it certainly is not look upon as a reputable one; at least not in the Bible.
Why doesn’t Solomon address this? I can just hear the mumbling going on in the background of the chambers… “If they were married and at home, this would not be an issue...” I know that thought crossed my mind. Shame on me too for being that way!
We do not know what happened to the woman whose son was spared? Did she go back to the profession? My guess is she did not return to the place where she lived with the other woman who tried to kidnap her son.
In addressing the issue in wisdom, all of Israel feared the king and praised God for it. I appreciate seeing this wisdom.
What can I learn from this? Two harlots came to Solomon; women who were selling their bodies for money. The king did not demand they stop their profession; he did not talk down to them because of whom they were. He simply addressed the issue at hand: getting a child back to his rightful mother. He gracefully handled an almost no win situation.
As a husband, a father, a grandfather, and now a boss, I need to have that same grace and wisdom to handle situations in my life. God, hear my prayer!


  1. That is interesting...I'd never really thought about that before (the basic problem that they're prostitutes, and Solomon's wisdom in taking care of the immediate business @ hand rather than calling everyone to account for their history). That does clarify how to go about some kinds of counseling, usually I try to fix everything at once!

  2. That's interesting! I didn't realize they were prostitutes.
    I wonder if they were prostitutes for a temple idol, or if they were more like Tamar (Gen 38) but had lost all living male relatives to marry and have a son with. Sons received an inheritance and cared for their mom in their old age. Otherwise a widow was thrown out on the street to either have a son through prostitution, or to beg for the rest of her life.
    Makes sense why the early church was urged to care for the widow and orphan.