Solomon, as many may know, asked God for great wisdom, and God gave him great wisdom; such that the Bible says: “I have given you a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like you before you, neither after you shall any arise like unto you.”(I Kings 3:12)
The books of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and the Song of Solomon, along with a few of the Psalms are all examples of Solomon’s wisdom and of his knowledge of the Word of God. We also see the building of the temple and of the various works that Solomon wrought as signs of his wisdom
(I Kings 6,7). The scriptures also tell of the queen of Sheba and how that Solomon answered her every question, and how that she testified of the greatness and wisdom of Solomon and of God’s blessing toward him
(I Kings 10).
In fact we have many proofs of Solomon’s Wisdom, but in I Kings 3:16-27 we are given the story of two women. Both were mothers of infant children, both lived in the same house, and both were harlots. One night when they lay down to sleep, the son of one of the mothers died; because it seemed she lay on it in the night and smothered it, and, when she realized her son was dead, she arose in the middle of the night and laid her dead son in the arms of the other mother, and took the live son to her own bed. Of course, when the mother of the live child awoke in the morning to find a dead infant in her bed, she realized that the dead child lying with her was not her own.
It seems the dispute was such that no ordinary magistrate could judge it. There were no witnesses of the event, and apparently there was no one to buttress the claim of either mother. It was one word against another. So the two women were brought before Solomon, the king, and the matter was told to him. His response, as most know, was: “Bring me a sword … divide the living child in two, and give half to the one and half to the other.” Upon hearing this, it seems the mother of the living child immediately cried out: “O, my Lord, give her the living child, and in no wise kill it.” “…for her bowels yearned upon her son.” At which cry the king knew that this was the true mother of the boy and the other was a deceiver, for she said: “let it be neither mine nor thine, but divide it”. At face value, the wisdom goes deep to the heart of humanity, showing its selfishness. It also shows true love, which is in fact a very rare thing among humanity. But the Wisdom of Solomon is set forth here to go far deeper than mere human intellect or emotion.
As stated, Solomon wrote many volumes attributed to his wisdom and understanding, of which we have only a small portion of those writings, but this was the only biblical, historical account given of citizens bringing their disputes before Solomon’s throne. It seems obvious that there were other instances, and probably hundreds of them, for it was common for the king to hear the weightier matters of which the lesser judges could not reconcile. But this is the only narrative given of this type of judgment from Solomon’s lips.
Why would the Holy Spirit wish this story to be preserved among the sacred scriptures?
The reason is that while this story definitely does have a very important moral in the natural sense; still, in the spiritual sense it has an immensely greater meaning.
Both women are harlots. They are both sinners. They have both made their way in life by selling their bodies, their dignity and their self-worth. They both live in the same house. They have both brought forth life. But the life that was brought forth by the one quickly dies, while the other remains viable. The two harlots portrayed are representative of two sinners who come to the knowledge of salvation, i.e. they have both brought forth fruit unto life. But the one does not see the value of this newly found life, and so she is negligent in protecting it; even lying on it in the middle of the night. She rolls over on her own son, and while in some instances an accident is just an accident, I think in this case the matter is given in this way to show just how little she cared for the life she’d been given. Such is proven in her careless attitude of thinking that the son of another woman could simply replace her son, and the murderous spirit within her by readily agreeing to have the living child divided in half. She would have just as soon seen it dead as to not have it for herself. What an indictment!
We have here two factions of what would call itself Christian. We have most of the church, which has been given life and they have let it slip, and their last state is worse than the first. Then you have the true men and women of God, who have been given life(the pearl of great price) and they cherish that life at all costs. The apostate church, which makes up the majority of what goes under the title of Christian, has no life in it; because it holds to a form of doctrine that is not of God, and so the Spirit of God, who is the Spirit of Life, is not in it. And when the apostate church sees that it has no life in it, it will try to steal life away from the true Christian. It does this; because it refuses the sacrifice of Christ in favor of other things, and therefore it has not the Spirit of God; rather, it has the spirit of Satan within its ranks. And in the end, just as “the thief comes not but to steal and to kill and to destroy”, most of the church would rather kill that which is truly of God, than to see others prosper and be saved. Jesus told the Pharisees, “you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for you neither go in yourselves, neither suffer you them that are entering to go in.”(Mat.23:13) And these men were supposed to be the authority on the Bible and of the laws of God; they were supposed to be the spiritual leaders of the people.
Imagine the picture that Christ paints here concerning the Scribes and Pharisees. These men, in the spiritual sense, were standing outside the gate to heaven and refusing to go in, and in fact when others came desiring access to heaven they stood there ready, and violently so, to push them away. “Let it be neither mine nor thine, but divide it”.
There is an immense amount of meaning in this particular narrative concerning Solomon’s judgment, but I will add one very important statement before I go on. It seems at times that a particular scripture in the Bible has several different meanings, and this happens more often than not. Let it be understood, however, that while the application may be explained in various different ways, the meaning is still the same. In other words, the lesson that the scripture gives can be applied to the entire world corporately, it can be applied collectively to that which calls itself the church —of which it has been said that judgment must first begin at the house of God— and it can be pinpointed down to the individual. It has meaning in the natural world, and it has meaning in the spiritual world, but they both fall out to the same conclusion. God does not change. Men on the other hand not only change, but they can change drastically depending on their heart’s direction. If the direction of the heart is toward God, they exhibit fruits of righteousness, and if their direction is toward sin, they exhibit works of evil. Now God’s laws and His ways are immutable, unchangeable, and perfect, but while God does not change, He does wear two hats. He is the loving, sovereign, merciful creator of the universe and mankind, and He must also be the righteous, faithful and wrathful judge toward sin. For this cause, it is God who is steadfast and unmoving, but His posture does change depending on the hearts of individuals. He judges sin, and He blesses obedience.
I have heard it said that a particular scripture, or the scriptures in general, means different things to different people. That, for lack of a better word, is unscriptural. Just a little thought would bring that to the fore. If I write a book and print one-hundred copies of that book and hand it out to one-hundred people and ask them to read it and come back to me with their opinion of what I meant, I will no doubt get back one-hundred different opinions, but it doesn’t really matter what anyone else’s opinion is … I know what I meant. And others may argue with me until they are blue in the face, but the only meaning of my book that matters is the one that I had in mind when I wrote the thing. And God wrote the Bible. Yes, men penned the words, but “all scripture is given by inspiration of God”(II Tim. 3:16), and God knew what He meant when He wrote the thing. This is why it is important to let God be the instructor when it comes to learning and interpreting the scriptures; because ,in the end, His opinion is the only one that is going to matter.
One more meaning that I wish to portray is that of the two women being types of Israel and the Church. In the gospel of John it is said, “He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name”(John 1:12).
Israel, who was figuratively the mother of Jesus, rejected Him; while the gentile church, which in fact existed before Israel ever came along and is in fact the mother of the Jewish nation, has accepted Him. For it is evident that the church began with the faith of Abraham, in whose loins was the Israelite nation, when as yet they did not even exist. (See Romans, chapter 4)
Israel in Jesus day, or at least the religious leadership of that nation, was so self-righteous and hypocritical that they were in essence looking for a Messiah who would condone their evil direction and praise their holier-than-thou attitudes. The Messiah that came was something different altogether. He taught against the self-righteous religiosity of the Pharisees and Scribes, and publicly made a show of them by condemning their self-exalted arrogance. He told them, in no uncertain terms, that they needed a savior and a sacrifice just as much as the publicans, harlots and drunkerds, and the lowly gentiles whom they believed were beyond saving. The Jews, and I continue to refer to the religious hierarchy of the time, thought they were already holy enough. Why would they need a sacrifice? Why would they need a savior? They thought that their laws and traditions and ceremonies, and even just the fact that they were Jews, guaranteed them a place in heaven, while Jesus boldly informed them, “You are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father you will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. And because I tell you the truth, you believe me not.”(John 8:44-45)
Israel would have rather seen Christ dead than to see themselves or anyone else saved. They openly stated, let Him be crucified.
“Let it be neither mine nor thine, but divide it”.
The gentile church, on the other hand, has seen untold millions down through the centuries accept Jesus as savior, messiah and king, and cling to Him with everything they had; many even choosing death and choosing not to be delivered from death, rather than denouncing Him. And while the church has brought to itself untold blessing, the true men and women of God earnestly look for the restoration of the holy people of Israel, for our bowels yearn upon the Son of Glory, for in the restoration of the sons of Jacob we see the fulfillment of the promises of God and the reconciliation of us all and the destruction of all evil and ungodliness in Christ Jesus our Lord; world without end. Amen.
“O, my Lord, give her the living child, and in no wise kill it.”