The Elementary Bible Truths Handbook defines wisdom as “the ability to use one’s knowledge and experience to make good judgments.”¹
While this is a good general definition, it does not differentiate between secular wisdom and godly wisdom. The late Pastor Adrian Rogers bridged this gap when he said that, “Godly wisdom is wisdom seeing life from God’s point of view. Secular wisdom (also known as knowledge) comes from looking around; [while godly] wisdom comes from looking up.”²
Days of Our Lives
1 Kings 3:16-28 puts godly wisdom in the forefront. King Solomon is tasked to solve a dispute between two women. If there ever was a story to grab someone’s attention, the story of Solomon and his wisdom is it. It has all the drama, including two bickering prostitutes, a “she said, she said” scenario, no witnesses and two babies—one dead and one alive. If this does not sound like a Days of Our Lives soap opera, it will.
As a child, I had a Bible storybook titled A Small Child’s Bible by Pelagie Doane that I read over and over and over. For hours I would ruminate on the stories and stare at the illustrations of two special Old Testament stories: King Solomon and the Baby and [Jonah] Jonas and the Great Fish. To read my story about Jonah, click here.
Below is the story from my childhood book, which still sits in my bookshelf to this day.
A Paraphrased Story Version of 1 Kings 3:16-28
Solomon sat upon the throne of David, his father. David had died and now Solomon was king. He was a good king and wise.
One day two women came to him. They had a baby with them. One woman said, “We live in the same house. We each had a baby born to us. This woman’s baby died one night, and she came and took my baby. She put her dead baby in my bed.”
The other woman said, “It is my child who is alive and hers who is dead.”
The first woman said, “No. The dead is your son and the living is my son.”
And so, they argued.
The king said to one of his men, “Bring me a sword.”
The sword was brought, and the king said, “Divide this child in half and give half to each of these women.”
One woman said, “Oh, do not kill the baby! Give him to the other woman but let him live!”
The other woman said,” No. Let neither of us have him. Divide him.”
Then King Solomon knew which was the mother of the child.
He said, “Give the child to the woman who does not want the child divided. She loves it and wants it to live.”
When the people heard how wise King Solomon had been, they said, “He knows what is true. He has thoughts of God.”³
Guiding Light: The Search for Wisdom
Solomon was King David’s son from his wife Bathsheba. His upbringing in an extremely wealthy household allowed him to have just about every privilege a child raised by a rich godly king could expect—fine food, a good education, religious training, little conflict, and more.
Solomon’s life was most likely free of conflict until it was time for him to ascend to the throne of Israel. His brother Adonijah tried to force a coup, doing all he could to get the kingship for himself that David already promised to Solomon. Fortunately, he did overthrow Adonijah’s attempt to rule Israel and became king.
Solomon knew he needed God’s wisdom if he were to enlarge the kingdom and construct the temple his father David had already prepared for him to erect.
Solomon loved God, and as a young ruler, he wanted the wisdom to rule this vast kingdom fittingly. Knowing he needed to dedicate himself totally to the Lord, he sought wisdom and guidance, and in a dream at Gibeon, not far from Jerusalem, he offered multiple sacrifices to the Lord. Then, God came to him in a dream and asked Solomon to ask Him for anything he desired.
God said, “Ask what you wish Me to give you.” Then Solomon said, “You have shown great lovingkindness to Your servant David my father, according as he walked before You in truth and righteousness and uprightness of heart toward You; and You have reserved for him this great lovingkindness, that You have given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day. Now, O Lord my God, You have made Your servant king in place of my father David, yet I am but a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. Your servant is in the midst of Your people which You have chosen, a great people who are too many to be numbered or counted. So give Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people to discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?” 1 Kings 3:5b-9
It was at Gibeon Solomon asked for WISDOM. He wanted to administer justice and judgment using true godly discernment. It was normal in those days for the common people to have access to the king, and he took his job seriously. Shortly after his asking for wisdom, Solomon was introduced to these two prostitutes—both seeking to resolve a dispute between them and a living baby.
One Life to Live: Mothers
These two temple prostitutes stood before their ruler and king, waiting for his judgment as to which woman should be allowed to keep the live baby.
Sidebar: I believe most mothers can recognize their own child, especially after three days of caring for and loving them.
But, the disagreement over the baby’s “ownership” continued all the way up to the top court. King Solomon, not being privy to DNA testing, listened to both women’s side of the story. He gathered facts and information. Although Solomon had many responsibilities, as kings do, such as peacemaker, builder, worshiper, administrator, and scholar, this was his opportunity to be a discerner, noted Warren Wiersbe.⁴ Solomon was looking for the real mother. Most Bibles and commentaries refer to the first woman mentioned in the story as the real mother and the second woman mentioned as the untruthful mother.
Both mothers were distressed—one because she knew she might lose her baby, and the other one because she lost her baby; and her maternal instincts were so strong, she was willing to lie and deceive to have any baby.
We see this kind of behavior even today. In February 2020, Juliette Parker, former Colorado Springs mayoral candidate, posed as a “friendly” baby photographer in an attempt to steal Elysia Miller’s newborn child. Meeting Miller on a Facebook newborn baby site, they connected. Parker met under the guise of taking free baby pictures to build up her portfolio and administered GHB—the date rape drug—to try to steal Miller’s baby. Fortunately, Miller called 911 after feeling drowsy and the plot was averted.⁵
In the original story, Solomon, using his divine wisdom, called for a sword. His solution was to cut the baby in half and give half to each woman. He was wise and I feel sure his intent was never to follow through on dividing the baby. Solomon was looking to see which woman had the most compassion towards the child to find the real mother.
“And the king said, “Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one and half to the other, the first woman whose child was the living one spoke to the king, for she was deeply stirred over her son and said, ‘Oh, my Lord, give her the living child, and by no means kill him.’ But the other said, ‘He shall be neither mine nor yours; divide him!’” Then the king answered and said, “Give the first woman the living child, and by no means kill him. She is his mother.” When all Israel heard of the judgment which the king had handed down they feared the king; for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him to administer justice.” (1 Kings 3:25-28)
God is a God who works out the most magnificent things and coordinates situations in His timing to be used for the glory of God. In this case, God took two prostitutes: they lived in the same house, allowed them to get pregnant at the same time, and had them deliver their babies three days apart—to be used as a very early catalyst for the people of Israel to see his wisdom. Warren Wiersbe says, “for weeks, this even was the main topic of conversation in all Israel displaying to all that King Solomon was truly a wise king.”
As the World Turns: How to Gain Wisdom
We live in a culture not much different than Solomon did in the 900s BC. Today we encounter obstacles just like the people did back in Solomon’s day. Many times, we need wise people to arbitrate our difficulties and problems.
Right now, we might be like the first woman in this story desperately needing advice, the second woman who lied and deceived, or we might be like Solomon—the one to whom people come for leadership or arbitration.
Know that no matter what situation we find ourselves in, by repenting and choosing to live a life honorable to our Lord and Savior, we can gain God’s wisdom. By following King Solomon’s steps, let us do what He did first and then commit to following whatever He says in His Word.
How to Gain Wisdom
- Applying the Word (Ephesians 2:10)
- Being peaceful and considerate (James 3:17)
- Being humble—not proud (Proverbs 11:2; James 3:13-16)
- Controlling our temper (Proverbs 19:11)
- Fearing the Lord (Job 28:28)
- Gaining Knowledge (Colossians 3:16)
- Holding our tongue (Proverbs 10:19)
- Listening to advice (Proverbs 13:10; Proverbs 15:31)
- Loving the Lord (Psalm 107:43)
- Not boasting (James 4:16)
- Offering good counsel (Psalm 37:30)
- Praying and meditating in His presence (Joshua 1:8)
- Praying for discernment (Proverbs 17:24)
- Reading and becoming knowledgeable in the Word – Both the Old and New Testament (2 Timothy 3:15)
- Reducing distractions in our lives, i.e. idols, such as materialism, education, self-centeredness, social media, jealousy (Exodus 20:3)
- Repent as needed (Acts 3:19)
- Turning away from evil (Proverbs 3:7)
- Winning souls (Proverbs 11:30)
Wherever we are on this pendulum called life, let us remember that we are loved by a holy and just God. He is there to give us direction.
Look to Him for divine strength. Look at people through His eyes.
It can be difficult after we have been lied to, deceived, humiliated, criticized, or disregarded, but God has a purpose for every one of us. Striving to live a life fully dedicated to Him is costly, but wisdom is supreme. Therefore, get wisdom. Ask for wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get [His] wisdom and His understanding.
It is then that we can look at life correctly as we Search for Tomorrow.
For the Lord gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding. Proverbs 2:6
The Lord by wisdom founded the earth, By understanding, He established the heavens. Proverbs 3:19
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. Proverbs 9:10
Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one sinner destroys much good. Ecclesiastes 9:18
All verses are from the New American Standard Version (NASB).
My heavenly Father. We need Your wisdom. We cry out to You for it. As King Solomon prayed, so we pray and ask You to give “Thy servant an understanding heart to judge Thy people to discern between good and evil.” For it is only when You and Your Word is ingrained upon our hearts that we can begin to fully follow You. Give us a deeper walk from now until we reach Your heavenly kingdom. In the Name of Your precious son Jesus. Amen.
Edited by E. Johnson
¹ Elementary Bible Truths Handbook. Greeneville: Bob Jones University Press, 1981.
² Adrianisms: The Collected Wit and Wisdom of Adrian Rogers. Collierville: Innovo Publishing, 2015.
³ Doane, Pelagie. A Small Child’s Bible. New York: Oxford University Press, 1945.
⁴ Wiersbe, Warren. The Bible Exposition Commentary Old Testament: Joshua—Esther. Colorado Springs: David C. Cook, 2008.
⁵ Benzel, Lance. “Former Colorado Springs mayoral candidate allegedly duped local man before baby abduction plot.” The Gazette. Feb 18 2020; Updated Feb 25 2020. Gazette.com.
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