1 Kings 3:16-28
"16 Then two prostitutes came to the king and stood before him. 17 The one woman said, “Oh, my lord, this woman and I live in the same house, and I gave birth to a child while she was in the house. 18 Then on the third day after I gave birth, this woman also gave birth. And we were alone. There was no one else with us in the house; only we two were in the house. 19 And this woman's son died in the night, because she lay on him. 20 And she arose at midnight and took my son from beside me, while your servant slept, and laid him at her breast, and laid her dead son at my breast. 21 When I rose in the morning to nurse my child, behold, he was dead. But when I looked at him closely in the morning, behold, he was not the child that I had borne.” 22 But the other woman said, “No, the living child is mine, and the dead child is yours.” The first said, “No, the dead child is yours, and the living child is mine.” Thus they spoke before the king.
23 Then the king said, “The one says, ‘This is my son that is alive, and your son is dead’; and the other says, ‘No; but your son is dead, and my son is the living one.’” 24 And the king said, “Bring me a sword.” So a sword was brought before the king. 25 And the king said, “Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one and half to the other.” 26 Then the woman whose son was alive said to the king, because her heart yearned for her son, “Oh, my lord, give her the living child, and by no means put him to death.” But the other said, “He shall be neither mine nor yours; divide him.” 27 Then the king answered and said, “Give the living child to the first woman, and by no means put him to death; she is his mother.” 28 And all Israel heard of the judgment that the king had rendered, and they stood in awe of the king, because they perceived that the wisdom of God was in him to do justice."
An instance is now given of the wisdom with which Solomon was endued by God. It is a simple enough story, but one which amply demonstrates the need for practical discernment. For there was no kind of evidence that could be adduced in support of either woman's contention. On what basis then, was a judgment to be made between them? It is here that Solomon's wise penetration is seen. With unerring insight he saw that by appealing to natural instinct and affection he would discover who the real mother was. And his apparently absurd decree, to cut the child in two, did precisely this, and the problem was immediately solved. It is interesting to realise that what he did was in effect to lay the onus of the solution on the two women themselves. He made them solve the problem, and the very words the real mother spoke (26) became the judgment of Solomon in her favour. He simply repeated her own words, as he declared her to be the mother of the child. In this we may well see the shadow of a wisdom greater than Solomon's, for this is how Christ so often dealt with His detractors when they sought to trap Him with difficult and seemingly impossible questions, as witness the story of the tribute money (Mark 12:13-17), or the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10) where Jesus makes the lawyer who asked 'Who is my neighbour' answer the question himself at the end (Luke 10:36). Nor should we be surprised at this, for Solomon had received the Spirit of Him in Whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, even Christ, and it was natural for him to speak in His accents.