King Solomon eventually becomes known for, among other things, the huge amount of women that he ends up marrying. Here we have one of many examples of that. “And Solomon became allied by marriage to Pharaoh king of Egypt, and took Pharaoh’s daughter, and brought her into the city of David, until he had completed building his own house, and the house of the Lord, and the wall of Jerusalem around that (Kings I 3:1).” No one seems concerned with this ancient intermarriage, and Solomon is described as being someone who loves God. Although Solomon is a good king and regularly sacrifices to God, there’s no Temple yet, so he has to go to Gibeon in order to do it.
Solomon is so righteous that God comes to him in a dream and asks Solomon what he would like from Him. “Give Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and bad; for who is able to judge this Your great people (Kings I 3:9)?” Solomon’s request is noble and speaks highly of his character. His request isn’t for his own personal gain, but rather so that he can better serve God by serving the people. God is also impressed by the selflessness of this request, particularly when Solomon really could have asked for anything, so He grants the wish, and more. “And I have also given you that which you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that there shall not be any among the kings like you all your days (Kings I 3:13).”
All of this took place in a dream, so when Solomon wakes up he sacrifices to God. “Then came two women, harlots, to the king, and stood before him (Kings I 3:16).” Solomon’s new wisdom is going to be tested right away, in what will become the most famous example of it. I think it’s safe to say we all know the story. The women share a house and each have a baby. One dies, and is accused of switching the babies. Solomon the wise, fair king, knows just what to do. He decides to cut the baby in half in order to provoke the women into telling the truth. It works, and the people see his wisdom.
Out of all of the stories that I’ve heard for years and am now reading in the original, this one is actually totally true to form. Everything about it was familiar and as anticipated. My only question is if it would have worked today, or if a liar would have continued to lie, believing their own truth past the point of no return?