Friday, July 13, 2012

Wisdom and Justice

We have been studying leaders appointed by God who enact the just and righteous laws as they rule over His people. Two weeks ago we studied the leader Samuel (1 Sam 7:3-11, 15-17), a prophet, Levitical priest, and judge. Last week we studied King David as he profiled the life of a Godly leadership, maintaining a just society, and God’s covenant to him and his descendants (2 Sam 23:1-7; 1 Chron 18:14). Just before his death, King David delivered a final charge to Solomon, urging him to be obedient to the Lord (1 Kings 2:1-4). ‘So David slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David.’ 1 Kings 2:10 And Solomon was established on the throne. Today we will study the wisdom and justice of King Solomon as he was used as a vessel for God in judging His people. I Kings 3:16-28; 2 Chronicles 9:8

King Solomon started his term as King trusting in political alliances. This was against God. He married the daughter of the Egyptian Pharaoh, starting his harem of foreign women. Only the people sacrificed in the high places. There was no official house of worship since Shiloh was destroyed. Although Solomon started his term trusting in things forbidden, he still loved the Lord and walked in the statutes of King David his father. After the tabernacle was built in Gibeon, King Solomon would sacrifice a thousand burnt offerings to God there. It was approximately six miles away from the royal palace at Jerusalem. 1 Kings 3:1-4 God knew King Solomon’s heart. ‘In Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, Ask what I shall give thee.’ 1 Kings 3:5 In response Solomon did not request wealth, health, women, etc. His request indicated his deep love for God and Israel. He was concerned that he was able to do the job he was appointed/anointed to do well and in the best interests of God’s people. ‘…And now, O LORD my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in. Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?’ 1 Kings 3:7,9 God was pleased with King Solomon’s request. '….Behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee. And I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches, and honour: so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee all thy days.’ 1 Kings 3:12-13 Today’s lesson is one of the recorded Scriptures which gives an example of the great wisdom of King Solomon.

‘Then came there two women, that were harlots, unto the king, and stood before him.’ 1 Kings 3:16 King Solomon was to hear all appellate matters. It is most likely this matter had gone to a lower court and was undecided or appealed by one of the parties. The two women were representing themselves (pro se). They were granted permission to speak to the King to resolve this serious matter. Their profession was known to be harlots, prostitutes, scandalous. But King Solomon does not condemn nor judge their profession. In fact, their profession is irrelevant and is not mentioned in the judgment. They are citizens and deserve a day in court.

‘And the one woman said, O my lord, I and this woman dwell in one house; and I was delivered of a child with her in the house. And it came to pass the third day after that I was delivered, that this woman was delivered also: and we were together; there was no stranger with us in the house, save we two in the house.’ 1 Kings 3:17-18 The first woman began to speak the facts as she believed to King Solomon. As she stated, she had her son first and three days later the other party had her son. They were living in the house together. No one was present to witness the birth of the sons or anything else during those first few days. The only persons in the home were the two parties and the two babies.

‘And this woman's child died in the night; because she overlaid it. And she arose at midnight, and took my son from beside me, while thine handmaid slept, and laid it in her bosom, and laid her dead child in my bosom. And when I rose in the morning to give my child suck, behold, it was dead: but when I had considered it in the morning, behold, it was not my son, which I did bear.’ 1 Kings 3:19-21 And the first woman who delivered continued to speak and state that it was her belief that the other party accidently suffocated her child during the night by laying on him. At some time during the night, the other party switched babies and laid the dead child next to the breast of the first woman. She did not discover the baby was dead and he was not hers until morning when it was time to breast feed.

‘And the other woman said, Nay; but the living is my son, and the dead is thy son. And this said, No; but the dead is thy son, and the living is my son. Thus they spake before the king. Then said the king, The one saith, This is my son that liveth, and thy son is the dead: and the other saith, Nay; but thy son is the dead, and my son is the living.’ 1 Kings 3:22-23 Until then the other party was quiet. She now interrupts and stakes her claim in the living child and states the dead child belongs to the first woman. In opposition, the first woman argues the dead son belongs to the other woman and the living son is hers. Such argument is presented to the King for a decision. Neither one had either concrete or circumstantial evidence. It is not like today’s society, a simple DNA test would have resolved the matter. There were no birth certificates or any other identifying birthmarks noted. Ancient Hebrew law required that at least two witnesses confirm the truth of any legal matter. ‘But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ Matt 18:16 King Solomon has a dilemma in deciding to whom to give a loving child. Prostitutes do not receive love from men who pay for usage of their bodies. But they can flood love on a child and receive it likewise from that child.

‘And the king said, Bring me a sword. And they brought a sword before the king. And the king said, Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one, and half to the other.’ 1 Kings 3:24-25 King Solomon ordered a sword to be brought to him. He did not touch it. He ordered his servants to divide the living child in two. This was wisdom. He knew the real mother would have compassion and would not be able to bare the knowledge and vision of seeing her child, less than a month old, held up in court by the servants and split in half with her receiving a part of her child who had just died and the other woman receiving the other part. It appeared to be a gamble, but King Solomon had God on his side in the issuance of this justice.

‘Then spake the woman whose the living child was unto the king, for her bowels yearned upon her son, and she said, O my lord, give her the living child, and in no wise slay it. But the other said, Let it be neither mine nor thine, but divide it.’ 1 Kings 3:26 True to King Solomon’s wisdom, the first woman spoke out. She requested that the King not slay the living child, but give him to the other woman. The first woman would rather have the child live than die. The other woman, however, wanted to go along with King Solomon’s proposal to divide the child in order that he might die and belong to neither one of them. She was so filled with grief in the loss of her child that she had become ruthless and uncaring as to the feelings another may have for their child.

‘Then the king answered and said, Give her the living child, and in no wise slay it: she is the mother thereof. And all Israel heard of the judgment which the king had judged; and they feared the king: for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him, to do judgment.’ 1 Kings 3:27-28 When King Solomon heard the compassionate response of the first woman, he knew her to be the mother. If he did not believe it completely from her response, he certainly believed it when the second woman agreed to divided the baby as he had proposed for the sole purpose of killing the baby. King Solomon was able to discover the actual mother without witnesses or DNA, etc. All of Israel heard of this court case and the ruling. Because he had the God-given gift of wisdom, the nation of Israel feared (honored) him for his righteous judgments unto God.

‘Blessed be the LORD thy God, which delighted in thee to set thee on his throne, to be king for the LORD thy God: because thy God loved Israel, to establish them for ever, therefore made he thee king over them, to do judgment and justice.’ 2 Chron 9:8 News of King Solomon’s wisdom got around. Queen of Sheba had to pay him a visit to see if his wisdom was all she had heard. She could barely believe that his wisdom was much more than expected. She stated his wisdom caused his servants to be exceedingly happy and to be before him just to hear his wisdom. The King was blessed because God was happy (delighted) to put him on the throne. She stated God loved Israel to be established forever. King Solomon was in place to make just and righteous decisions in judgment over His people.

God said there shall be no other who can compare to the level of wisdom given to Solomon. However, it is possible to pray for wisdom as to what we should do in different situations. Do you seek the guidance of the Lord in prayer? God does answer our prayers.

Written by Deborah C Davis

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