“Then came there two women, that were harlots, unto the king, and stood before him. And the one woman said, O my Lord, I and this woman dwell in one house; and I was delivered of a child with her in the house. And it came to pass the third day after that I was delivered, that this woman was delivered also: and we were together; there was no stranger with us in the house, save we two in the house. And this woman’s child died in the night; because she overlaid it. And she arose at midnight, and took my son from beside me, while thine handmaid slept, and laid it in her bosom, and laid her dead child in my bosom. And when I rose in the morning to give my child suck, behold, it was dead: but when I had considered it in the morning, behold, it was not my son, which I did bear” (1 Kings 3:16-21).
Where was this happening? Not in Egypt. Not in Moab. But in Israel. Two women impregnated. Clearly unmarried. Harlots. By whose hands? Clearly by the men of God—this was happening in Israel. What!
An innocent child got caught in the cross fire that already killed another. Two other unfortunate victims also are caught up in another cross-fire, the cross-fire of masculine lust. It was the lust residing in the heart of God’s men that made the perpetuity of harlotry a reality in Israel. No lust would imply no harlotry and a reduction in children being caught in cross-fires of negligence thus brought forth. That would have been great; but reality spoke otherwise. The hearts of men established a different reality.
And yet Wisdom looked beyond all of this. The Wisdom that’s from above. Why does this Wisdom not get a bullhorn, tell the women to hold on, and then go on to blast the men who impregnated these women? Why doesn’t this Wisdom disparage these women’s harlotry? Don’t they need a rebuke? I mean, if they weren’t harlots, none of this would be happening.
And that’s the point. Wisdom knows when to speak and when to be silent. Wisdom has a close sibling called Charity or Love. They understand the following:
“In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise. The lips of the righteous feed many: but fools die for want of wisdom”
“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver”
“And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).
There is no disparaging of correction here. There are always times for correction. But correction it’s be the postlude to love, not the preface. Love precedes correction. People who are loved have a basis upon which to they can level with correction, whether or not they decide to receive it. And often, for many, unless stubbornly refusing to see it, correction is built into love. (We now get back to the main points.)
So, why did these women have the audacity to come before King Solomon? The Bible doesn’t say; but this was his first recorded test after he asked God for wisdom. And these women came to entreat him whom God have His Wisdom because…
“…the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy” (James 3:17).
The women came entreating before a king to whom God gave wisdom—a “wisdom that is …easy to be entreated”. It’s a poignant illustration. That which is inside of us cannot at once be easily entreated and instantly abrasive. It can’t be both—and here is where I know I have fallen short. And many with me. May God help us all.
So, let’s look at how Wisdom handled the heart cry of a broken mother. Her worldly credential said “harlot”, but Wisdom, yea, God Himself, saw “mother”, daughter for whom my Son will shed his blood. It was the Holy Spirit working in on the heart of Solomon that made him look beyond the mother’s harlotry to see her pain and anguish over her stolen child. The heart of the Father looked down centuries into the future and saw “Rachel weeping for her children” (Matthew 2:18). He saw the sword stretched out towards His own Son sent as Saviour. His heart was touched. As is always is by our circumstances. And here is what He moved Solomon to do—
“Then said the king, The one saith, This is my son that liveth, and thy son is the dead: and the other saith, Nay; but thy son is the dead, and my son is the living. And the king said, Bring me a sword. And they brought a sword before the king. And the king said, Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one, and half to the other” (1 Kings 3:23-25). Test the heart; the true mother will shine forth! (It’s like being a Christian—test the heart by allowing trials; the true character showing whose we really are will emanate from us!).
Below, consider the response of the pretend-mom. She doesn’t mind the real mother losing along with her. There’s a lesson here for us—the hireling doesn’t mind if the sheep is killed! As long as the hireling is spared, the hireling is ok. Self-preservation is the modus operandi of the hireling.
“…But the other said, Let it be neither mine nor thine, but divide it” (1 Kings 3:26b).
The pretend-mom wanted the living child to be cut apart, rather than risk losing the child to the real mom. But as we will see below, the real mom was willing to lose the child to spare the child’s life.
“Then spake the woman whose the living child was unto the king, for her bowels yearned upon her son, and she said, O my lord, give her the living child, and in no wise slay it…” (1 Kings 3:26).
Love and compassion responds to respond. So does humility and true poverty of spirit. “Blessed are that they mourn” like this harlot mother. They “shall be comforted”. Our Savior has promised this in Matthew 5.
But one final poignant note: a harlot-mom with true love, a harlot who responds to the Wisdom of God, and embraces the sacrifice of Christ will see heaven before stoic religious men seeking good name and glory.
“… Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you”