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I Kings 3:16-28

In the first half of I Kings Chapter 3, Solomon asked for wisdom for leading his people and God granted him that, plus riches and honor. The Lord also offered Solomon a long life if Solomon could walk in the Lord's ways.

Split the baby!

Starting in verse 16 is the famous story of Solomon applying his wisdom to the kingdom by settling the dispute between two women claiming a baby. I had forgotten the details.

  • Two harlots share a house and have babies a few days apart.
  • According to the first women, the second women to give birth loses her baby by laying on it.
  • She then claims the second women traded the dead baby for the living one.
  • The first women recognized that the dead baby was not hers.
  • There were no witnesses or strangers in the house.
  • Then the two women argued in front of the king as to whom was the mother of the living and dead babies.

At this point Solomon calls for a sword and explains that he will divide the baby and give each women half. The real mother, the first women, cries out to give the baby to the second women and pleads with him not to kill the baby. The second women says, if I can't have him than neither of us can. Divide it!

So, of course, Solomon hands the living baby, in tact, over to the real mother who would rather see it live than to win a petty fight.

In verse 28 we learn that the story of this judgement spread throughout Israel:

...they feared the king; for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him to administer justice.

I Kings 3: 28b

How odd.

They feared the king when he administered justice.

This does not reflect well on Israel that they feared a king who could discover the truth and makes things right in his court. It tells me that justice had largely been decided by bribes or class or some other arbitrary and unjust means.

It also stood out to me that both women were harlots. And Solomon still took the time and effort to see justice done.

The NIV version, for verse 28b, uses the word "awe" instead of "fear", so it's still surprising, but less of an indictment and more just sad that it caused that much of a stir.

So What?

Our gifts are meant to be used by God.

If we use our gifts, by Him and through Him and for Him, it brings honor to His name and His reputation is known.

That's how this works. He gives us what we need to draw people to Him- not for our own selfish gain.


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