Solomon prayed: “Here’s what I want: Give me a God-listening heart so I can lead your people well, discerning the difference between good and evil. For who on their own is capable of leading your glorious people?”
The very next thing, two prostitutes showed up before the king. The one woman said, “My master, this woman and I live in the same house. While we were living together, I had a baby. Three days after I gave birth, this woman also had a baby. We were alone—there wasn’t anyone else in the house except for the two of us. The infant son of this woman died one night when she rolled over on him in her sleep. She got up in the middle of the night and took my son—I was sound asleep, mind you! —and put him at her breast and put her dead son at my breast. When I got up in the morning to nurse my son, here was this dead baby! But when I looked at him in the morning light, I saw immediately that he wasn’t my baby.”
“Not so!” said the other woman. “The living one’s mine; the dead one’s yours.”
The first woman countered, “No! Your son’s the dead one; mine’s the living one.”
They went back and forth this way in front of the king.
The king said, “What are we to do? This woman says, ‘The living son is mine and the dead one is yours,’ and this woman says, ‘No, the dead one’s yours and the living one’s mine.’”
After a moment the king said, “Bring me a sword.” They brought the sword to the king.
Then he said, “Cut the living baby in two—give half to one and half to the other.”
The real mother of the living baby was overcome with emotion for her son and said, “Oh no, master! Give her the whole baby alive; don’t kill him!”
But the other one said, “If I can’t have him, you can’t have him—cut away!”
The king gave his decision: “Give the living baby to the first woman. Nobody is going to kill this baby. She is the real mother.”
The word got around—everyone in Israel heard of the king’s judgment. They were all in awe of the king, realizing that it was God’s wisdom that enabled him to judge truly. (from 1 Kings 3 MSG)
Wisdom. The world is burning, and I am praying for wisdom.
Solomon was a leader, empowered to rule with whatever hand he felt was necessary. Rulers had come before him – some were benevolent, and some were simply insane. Leading was an honor that came with great price, and he knew clearly what the consequences would be. There would always be an opposing side, there would always be incomparable risk, there would always be the scrutiny of the world around him. He confessed that he was neither equipped nor qualified, and when asked what he felt the most important attribute of leadership was, he humbly chose wisdom.
He didn’t choose power. He didn’t choose influence. He didn’t choose strength.
He chose wisdom – the ability to hear the truth and then act upon it rightly, justly, with great mercy and humility.
The first opportunity to display that wisdom was with a child.
Two women – prostitutes, to be specific – came to him to argue the fate of a child. Both women sold their bodies for profit. We don’t know if their decision was made out of desire to be desired, or out of desperation to put food on the table. We don’t know the heritage of the women – if their occupation was passed down from their mothers and grandmothers, or if they chose to walk a new road. We don’t know if they loved their profession or felt entrapped by it. We just know they were prostitutes.
We know there was one child, an infant, whose future was at stake. There was another infant in the story – the one who had died, either by terrible accident or horrific negligence or heart-wrenching choice.
One child. Two women with questionable reputations. And the demand for a decision.
Solomon listened to the story of the two women, his eyes focused on the child who had become a pawn in a “who is right and what is wrong” war of words. It doesn’t take a strong imagination to picture what the scene must have been – the shouting, the finger-wagging, the screams of a little one terrified as he was being torn from the secure arms of his rightful belonging.
And then Solomon breathed deeply, and said, “I have a thought here, since both of you seem so focused on your rights. I’ll just cut the baby in half – that way you both win.”
And with that, the truth was revealed.
The woman who demanded her way agreed to destroy the life of the child in order to prove herself right. The woman who was the true mother said, “Whatever you do – the priority is my child. Even if it means I never see him again, his life is what is most important.”
We don’t know what happened once the child was placed back in the arms of the true mother. I’d like to think that she decided to make some bold changes in her life to help ensure the safety of his. I’d love to think that caring individuals wrapped their arms around her to strengthen that little family. And I’d love to think that the other woman was also impacted by the story – that her life was redeemed through the redemptive threads she witnessed.
But no matter what the future held, this one thing remains true: the life of the child was the priority when it came to wisdom.
Right now, I’m praying for wisdom.
I’m praying that the lives of children will be the priority – above power, above politics, above reputation.
I’m praying for children to no longer be the pawns in a war of words.
I’m praying for children to no longer be used as weapons.
I’m praying that we are given the heart of true mothers.
I’m praying that we are given the heart of true leaders.
For the children being removed from families desperate to find safety, liberty, and hope – I pray for reunification.
For the children being detained because they are being trafficked – I pray for true rescue, restoration, and justice.
For the children who are victims of abuse or neglect – I pray for safety, sanctuary, and healing.
For the former children making life-altering decisions about the future of children – I pray for discernment, wisdom, mercy, and humility.
And for those of us who long to do something, I pray for unity and great love. I pray we are given voices to speak and the right words to say. And I pray that we do what we can to keep families together – and to become family.
One of the ways to keep families together is to strengthen those families – and their communities – by providing wraparound care for their physical, emotional, educational, and spiritual needs. Orphan Outreach partners with national ministries in eight countries around the world – including Guatemala and Honduras. My husband and I sponsor a boy who wants to stay in school rather than work at a local dump because he believes he can help lift his family out of poverty if he has a good education. And we also sponsor a young woman who was sexually ravaged by her father – a woman who has been rescued, and now wants to change the lives of those around her through education, advocacy and policy change in her country.
Both of our sponsor kids want to remain in their country – so they can affect change by being wise leaders.
Advocate, write your government leaders, stand for the rights of all children, open your home to kids who need love.