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. I Kings 3:28
God promised Solomon wisdom, riches and honor, and He quickly provided the first: wisdom. Two women approached Solomon. They had babies at the same time, and on the third day, one of the babies died. The full story is in 1 Kings 3:16-28:
Now two prostitutes came to the king and stood before him. 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. 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.
“During the night this woman’s son died because she lay on him. 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. 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.”
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.
Two women came before Solomon. Interesting that they were prostitutes. They were arguing over whose baby died, and who would have the living baby. As a mother of four, I know that after three days, you know your baby. Even if this little bundle looks like an alien when they first hand him to you, after three days you know that child. He is yours. You know his smell, his cries, even some of his mannerisms. He is brand new, but unquestionably yours, and a part of your soul.
The first woman knew her baby had died. She stole the other baby, because while a mother may know her newborn from his noises alone, another man or woman may not be able to tell the difference between two Hebrew newborns. It was one woman’s word against another. And as prostitutes, there likely wasn’t an invested father who could identify his child. So how would you rule on who got custody on the living newborn?
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.’” Then the king said, “Bring me a sword.” So they brought a sword for the king. He then gave an order: “Cut the living child in two and give half to one and half to the other.” 1 Kings 3:23-25
Solomon knew that the true mother could not let her child be cut in two. She’d rather another woman raise him than let any harm come to him. I think of Moses’ mother. She put her son in the Nile in a basket rather than let the soldiers have him. She gave her son to Pharoah’s daughter to be raised in order to save his life. The true mother will give up everything for the safety of her child.
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!”
Then the king gave his ruling: “Give the living baby to the first woman. Do not kill him; she is his mother.” 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. 1 Kings 3:26-28
Solomon had a wise response to two sparring prostitutes. He was wise because God gave him wisdom. Here’s what’s amazing. We too have access to wisdom from God. James 1:5 says:
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.
Solomon was wise because he asked God for wisdom. Let us also ask God for wisdom, because our great God promises that He will give it to us!