My thoughts (Keith Phillips):
Immediately after the scripture passage that reports King Solomon’s prayer for wisdom to rule the people of Israel, we have this proof that God delivers as promised.
Two prostitutes sharing living quarters had babies at about the same time. One night one of the babies dies. When the women wake up in the morning, the prostitute who is in bed with the dead baby insists that the other prostitute has switched the babies, that the living baby is hers. They appear before King Solomon for him to decide to whom the living baby belongs.
I love it that these prostitutes have immediate access to the king, acting as the Supreme Court of Israel. I have a couple of friends who have recently had to deal with the court system of Marion County (Indiana, USA) because of their bad choices. If nothing else, the court delays, contingencies, and inefficiencies are going to help them make better choices in the future. It seems that negotiating the court system in our county would be sufficient punishment.
King Solomon’s discernment in this case is impeccable. He obviously doesn’t know which woman is the mother, so he uses the ploy of decreeing that the baby be cut in half and each woman gets half of a dead baby. Solomon doesn’t know which woman is the mother, but he does know that the true mother loves her baby so much that she would be willing to lose the baby to the other prostitute, just so long as her baby lives.
Please note that genuine love is not possessive. Genuine love is willing to let go and give up the beloved. This is so counter-intuitive in our culture, which is why so many do not understand Jesus’ proscription in Matthew 10:39, “Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.” If we genuinely love our lives, we will be willing to let them go, giving God control, now and forever.
Also note that Solomon’s judgment is based on the supposition that good will surface when given an opportunity. Although he didn’t know which woman was the mother, Solomon fully expected that by looking for love, for the good and right, he would find the truth. Too regularly we are so suspicious of human nature that we believe it wise to suspect the worst. God’s gift of wisdom to Solomon reveals just the opposite: look for the best in others (and in ourselves) and we’ll probably find it. This is another sign of genuine love.
Thought for the day: Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things (Philippians 4:8).
We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the guidelines on the How to Pray page.