Solomon was the youngest member of the family and even though his family was incredibly wealthy and he had everything he wanted, there was a dark shadow over his life.
He was the child of what began as an adulterous relationship and there would always be a few who would remember the scandal; the affair, the murder, the death of a baby. The whole ugly tale is recorded in 1 Kings 3.
In later years, as Solomon’s father (King David) lay dying, behind the scenes, there was a vicious battle for power. The man everyone thought would be King was quietly manoeuvring himself into position. But once again, God had a different agenda, proving that He usually uses the least qualified, the least experienced, the least likely. God is (and always has been), far more interested in a person’s heart, than in their professional expertise.
And so against all the odds, Solomon became King. He totally knew that on paper he was not up to the job. But he didn’t try to posture or pretend to be more experienced than he actually was. He threw himself on God’s mercy and asked for help. He had no one else to turn to.
One night, God appeared to him in a dream and asked him; ‘If you could have anything, anything at all, what would it be? I am going to give you that one thing.’
What a question. What would you choose?
Solomon, all too aware of his inadequacies, was pretty honest with God.
“I do not know how to carry out my duties. Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?” 1 Kings 3:6 (NIV)
And the story says that because he didn’t ask for personal gain, for money, for influence and instead asked for wisdom, that God made him wise and gave him everything else too.
In years to come, his wise decisions and rulings would become legendary. Like the time two young mothers came to him, fighting over a small child that each woman claimed was hers.
The two women were sex workers and both were mothers of young babies. One night, one of the women rolled over in her sleep and crushed her baby to death. Shrewdly, for reasons unknown, she swopped her dead child with the living child of the other young mum. Both women were now at the court of Solomon claiming the living child was theirs. It was up to Solomon to decide who the child belonged to.
In a contemporary setting, knowing the women’s working life, a court today would probably have put the poor mite into foster care. But thanks to his supernatural wisdom, Solomon knew exactly what to do.
He knew that the love a mother has for her child usually outstrips everything else in her life.
‘Cut the baby in two’, commanded Solomon. ‘Let both women have half…that’s my ruling’.
The first woman said, ‘Yes…that’s what we should do’.
(heaven only knows why anyone would want half a dead child…but hey ho!)
The second woman fell to the floor begging for the child’s life. ‘No…no…please, please let the child live’.
And instantly, Solomon knew who the real mum was. That was obviously his plan all along. It was the kind of super wisdom that only God could give.
Solomon asked for it. God gave it.
I’ve been thinking about this story a lot recently, while facing a situation that needs a lot of wisdom. By nature, I’m a ‘fixer’. I see a problem, I see a solution and I jump in to fix it. But I also need oodles of wisdom when it comes to navigating around people and agendas and circumstances. I’m starting to realise that it’s very easy to rely on human solutions when what I need (what we all need) is Godly wisdom. God’s answers. God’s solutions. God’s way of looking at things.
It would have been easy for Solomon to have taken this child from the squabbling women – that seemed like the most logical solution. But instead, he turned his ear toward what God was saying and ultimately came up with a third way, an ingenious solution that no one else had thought of.
I love the simple idea that Solomon asked God for wisdom and he got it.
On the surface, some human solutions to a problem can seem like the most logical, right and moral way. But ultimately, we all need God’s wisdom in every decision that we make.
God’s wisdom ensures that we end up with the best possible deal – not one half of something that is already dead.