How did Solomon give a fair judgement in the case of the two mothers?

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King Solomon was faced with a most difficult case. It involved two mothers that lived together. They each gave birth to a son around the same time. During the night one of the mother’s sons suffocated and died. So, the mother of the dead son switched her dead son with the living one of the other woman. In the morning, the other woman recognized that the dead son was not her child. When disputing with the other woman failed, she took her case to King Solomon for judgement.

The case

The woman with the dead son narrated her story: “We were alone; there was no one in the house but the two of us. During the night this woman’s son died because she lay on him. So she got up in the middle of the night and took my son from my side while I your servant was asleep. She put him by her breast and put her dead son by my breast. The next morning, I got up to nurse my son—and he was dead! But when I looked at him closely in the morning light, I saw that it wasn’t the son I had borne” (1 Kings 3:18–21).

The verdict

King Solomon did not hesitate but gave his verdict saying: “Bring me a sword. . . Cut the living child in two and give half to one and half to the other” (1 Kings 3:24–25). After he said this, the mother of the living son said, “Please, my lord, give her the living baby! Don’t kill him!”; but the mother of the dead son said, “Neither I nor you shall have him. Cut him in two” (verse 26).

At that point, Solomon was able to identify the true mother and he said: “Give the living baby to the first woman. Do not kill him; she is his mother” (verse 27). The child was returned to its rightful mother, justice was given, and Solomon’s fame for wisdom and judgment was confirmed for all time to come.

The source of Solomon’s wisdom

At the beginning of his reign, King Solomon felt unqualified to lead Israel and become their judge. So, he prayed to the Lord and asked for wisdom to be able to guide God’s nation in the right path (1 Kings 3:5).

Then, God answered him saying: “Because you have asked this thing, and have not asked long life for yourself, nor have asked riches for yourself, nor have asked the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern justice,  behold, I have done according to your words; see, I have given you a wise and understanding heart, so that there has not been anyone like you before you, nor shall any like you arise after you.  And I have also given you what you have not asked: both riches and honor, so that there shall not be anyone like you among the kings all your days.  So if you walk in My ways, to keep My statutes and My commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days” (1 Kings 3:11-14).

Solomon asked for wisdom, and it brought him all the other blessings of life. “Happy is the man who finds wisdom, and the man who gains understanding” (Proverbs 3:13). This is the great law that is the basis of the divine government. Jesus said: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33).

In His service,

BibleAsk Team

This page is also available in: हिन्दी (Hindi)

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