Useful Bible Studies > 1 Kings Commentary > chapter 3

Solomon has to make a difficult judgment

1 Kings 3:21-23

Early in the morning, the mother of the living child woke to feed her baby at her breast. With great shock, she saw that the baby in her arms was dead.

Of course, she cried desperately. Perhaps in her sleep she had even heard loud cries, but she was unable to wake. Now, she was bitterly sad as she prepared the baby’s body to bury it.

Probably she washed the body. Of course, as she did that, she examined the body closely. That was when she had her second shock. The dead baby was not her baby. The other woman, whom she had considered her friend, had stolen her baby.

The mother appealed desperately to the leaders in her town. In each town, older men whom everyone respected would sit at the town gate to act as the judges there (Proverbs 31:23). They listened to her, and then they listened to the other woman. That woman insisted that she had done nothing wrong. She was looking after her own baby, she said. It seemed impossible to say which woman was speaking the truth. For that reason, the town judges sent the matter to Solomon. As king, he was the chief judge in Israel. He alone had the authority to make a final judgment about this matter.

So, the two women repeated their argument in front of the king. Clearly, only one of them could be speaking the truth. Solomon’s task was to decide which woman was the mother of the living baby.

Next part: Solomon requests a sword, in order to test the women (1 Kings 3:24-26)


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