As king, Solomon was brought into contact with the other rulers of the ancient world. It was customary that these kingdoms would intermarry in order to secure treaties. In the opening scenes of 1 Kings 3, we see Solomon makes a treaty with Pharaoh, and marries his daughter. Imagine the festivities of this marriage! What a wedding that had to be! (Today’s weddings are completely different, at least in America. We get married, have a little party afterward for a couple hours, and then a small honeymoon. In Solomon’s day, it was not uncommon for the festivities to last for days on end.)
After this marriage, Solomon goes out to make a sacrifice of 1,000 burnt offerings at Gibeon. That’s a lot of animals. While Solomon is at Gibeon making his offerings, the Lord comes for a visit in his dreams. God makes an offer to Solomon, “Ask! What will I give you? (1 Kings 3)” I don’t know about you, but if the Almighty came to me with that offer, I would ask for more worldly possessions (money, house, etc). But Solomon makes a much better choice: “Therefore give to Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours? (1 Kings 3:9).” What’s he asking for? Discernment. Understanding. These two words are summed up in one other word: Wisdom. And this request pleases the Lord, and he surprises Solomon with blessings unasked for: riches, honor, and the only person like himself.
The chapter ends with an example of the wisdom God gave Solomon. Now, I don’t know about you, but this is not a case I would want. This is one example of why Solomon is known as the wisest man that ever lived. One day two women come in to seek an audience with the king. They want him to decide who is the mother of a living child. Both women had a child within three days of each other, then one rolled on top of their child and suffocated it, and that one mother swapped the babies so that she could have a living child again. (I cannot imagine the immense amount of guilt and shame that woman would have felt for accidentally, I’m hoping, rolling over on their child in the middle of the night.) The two women argue before King Solomon about who is the rightful mother.
Finally, Solomon has had enough of the arguments. He has heard everything he needs to know. (By the way, this is also probably the most well-known act of Solomon.) He commands that a sword be brought to him. He decides to split the baby in half, and each woman will receive half a child (YUCK! Double Yuck!). Mothers, what would you do if the child was yours? I’m sure my wife would be in tears, begging not to kill the child. Which, is exactly what the true mother does. “O my lord, give her the living child, and by no means kill him!” said the one woman (1 Kings 3:26). However, the other woman says, “Let him be neither mine nor yours, but divide him.”
I am pretty sure that I would know who the real mother is at this point. And Solomon rightly gives the child back to the rightful mother. He says, “Give the first woman the living child, and by no means kill him; she is his mother.” Wow! The mother’s love is what saves her child. She was willing to let a stranger have her baby, if it meant the child could live. What a willingness to sacrifice! And a testament to God’s glory for the wisdom he imparted to Solomon.
For the next post, we are going to skip the first part of 1 Kings 4. It is a basic description of the officers in the kingdom, please feel free to read it. We will start in verse 20.