“Then the king said, “Let’s get the facts straight. Both of you claim the living child is yours, and each says that the dead one belongs to the other. All right, bring me a sword.” So a sword was brought to the king. Then he said, “Cut the living child in two, and give half to one woman and half to the other!” – 1 Kings 3:23-2.
The wisest man in history ordered a baby to be cut in half.
This story is one of the best-known in the whole Bible. Having been promised wisdom, Solomon now had the opportunity to use that wisdom. The situation was that two prostitute mothers came to Solomon to settle a very serious dispute. Something very bad had happened and these mothers came to the highest court in the land. They stood before the king as the only ones who knew what really happened. They had been alone and no one else was able to confirm the testimony of either mother, as the normal legal process required: “You must not convict anyone of a crime on the testimony of only one witness. The facts of the case must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.” (Deuteronomy 19:15). Israel’s kings had to sometimes settle particularly hard cases, and this was one. This was no ordinary situation.
One of the mothers carelessly or tragically smothered her child in the middle of the night and both mothers claimed the living child as their own. Without other witnesses or evidence, Solomon had to rely on his discernment. King Solomon knew he needed to carefully assess the situation and examine the evidence carefully if he was to find the true mother. He knew the only way to do so was to utilize one of the most powerful forces on earth. A mother’s maternal instinct.
Calling for a sword, he ordered the child cut into two, with each woman getting an equal share. Is King Solomon really wanting to cut the child in half? Of course not, he is looking for a response and the response will guide him to the proof he needs to make a just judgment. Solomon knew that to a mother, nothing matters more than her child. He knew that the best way to find the child’s true mother was to see which woman would protect him at all costs.
The mother of this child loved her son enough to sacrifice not only her happiness but also her life to save her son. So she begged Solomon to give the baby to the other woman in order to spare his life. In startling contrast, the other woman was willing to have the child killed. Solomon was able to judge rightly and to give back to the true mother her child. Because of Solomon’s wisdom and the true mother’s love and sacrifice for her child, the true mother’s identity was revealed. Solomon used both his God-given power and wisdom to not only save a child’s life but ensure he was raised by a loving, caring mother – one who would not sacrifice him for anything, even her own opportunity to raise him.
Mother’s Day is a special day for us to remember and honor our mothers. We should honor our mothers not just one day a year, but every day of the year. May we celebrate our mothers today and every day as God’s gift to us.
- What was your initial reaction when you heard Solomon say bring me a sword?
- What can we learn about mothers and wisdom from the Biblical story?