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Friday, May 19, 2017

Administered Justice

Solomon is the king of Israel, now.  His father, David, left final instructions and then went home to be with The LORD.  So Solomon, feeling like a child who is ill-equipped for the job, asks The LORD for wisdom.  The LORD gives it to him.

Some time later two prostitutes came to the king to have an argument settled. (1 Kings 3:16 NLT)

Now I’ve heard and read this story many times, so I was surprised to read the opening line.  I looked up the word for “prostitutes” to make sure the translation was correct.  It is.  These women were adulterous, harlots, and/or prostitutes.  Women that their society would have cast aside as evil were seeking an audience with the king.

"Please, my lord," one of them began, "this woman and I live in the same house. I gave birth to a baby while she was with me in the house. Three days later this woman also had a baby. We were alone; there were only two of us in the house. "But her baby died during the night when she rolled over on it. Then she got up in the night and took my son from beside me while I was asleep. She laid her dead child in my arms and took mine to sleep beside her. And in the morning when I tried to nurse my son, he was dead! But when I looked more closely in the morning light, I saw that it wasn't my son at all." Then the other woman interrupted, "It certainly was your son, and the living child is mine." "No," the first woman said, "the living child is mine, and the dead one is yours." And so they argued back and forth before the king. (1 Kings 3:17-22 NLT)

Not only did these women seek an audience with the king, but the king granted it.  The children the had were outside of marriage, probably as a result of their “night job.”  Again, these children would have been unimportant at best and an embarrassment at worse for their society.  Yet, Solomon listened to their case and watched as they broke down into an argument in front of him.

Then the king said, "Let's get the facts straight. Both of you claim the living child is yours, and each says that the dead one belongs to the other. All right, bring me a sword." So a sword was brought to the king. Then he said, "Cut the living child in two, and give half to one woman and half to the other!" (1 Kings 3:23-25 NLT)

I wonder what I would have thought had I been standing there at that moment.  Would I be callous, roll my eyes, and think, “Just get these women out of here, Solomon.  You’re the king of all Israel. You have better things to do with your time.”  Would I think the women are getting the kind of “justice” they deserve for their actions?  Would I think the king was losing his mind?  Cut the child in half?  What is he doing?

Then the woman who was the real mother of the living child, and who loved him very much, cried out, "Oh no, my lord! Give her the child--please do not kill him!" But the other woman said, "All right, he will be neither yours nor mine; divide him between us!" Then the king said, "Do not kill the child, but give him to the woman who wants him to live, for she is his mother!" (1 Kings 3:26-27 NLT)

Have you ever had one of those moments when everything finally makes sense?  All the puzzle pieces just seem to fall in place.  It takes a minute, though, to back up and see the whole picture.  This was one of those moments.  Solomon hadn’t lost his mind.  Solomon just made sure that the right mom was reunited with her child.  Solomon was administering justice.

When all Israel heard the king's decision, the people were in awe of the king, for they saw the wisdom God had given him for rendering justice. (1 Kings 3:28 NLT)

How about you?  Do you treat people with respect, even if our society casts them away as being unimportant or even evil?  Do you take the time to pay attention to their story – where they are coming from, where they are, and where they are going?  If you were in charge, would you exercise God-given wisdom to administer justice?