The singular recorded act of wisdom by Solomon is well known to all. The decision to “divide the child” cut literally to the “heart” of the matter, revealing a mother’s heart in contrast to a covetous woman’s callousness. We may be surprised that God would record this minor incident in the history of Solomon when at the zenith of his power and usefulness. In this story, however, are lessons for all of us.
For each one of us, two major lessons stand out. The first is to never despise the wisdom and experience of a former generation. Solomon’s decision to divide the child as a means of revealing whose heart was true, while it may seem novel, was actually a strategy his father David employed with Mephibosheth and Ziba (2Sam 19:29). He was wise enough to learn from a previous generation and incorporated that into his wisdom. He avoided the trap of chronological snobbery!
We can learn as well that we can never rest on natural ability in the service of God. Solomon was a wise man (1Kings 2:6, 9) prior to the appearing in Gibeon (1Kings 3). Yet despite being endowed with wisdom, Solomon realized that he needed more wisdom. He recognized that his “strength” could also become his weakness. To depend on natural ability in the choices of life would lead him astray.
Servants also have a vital lesson to learn from the record of the harlots and the one living child. Solomon had just been granted unique and unparalleled wisdom from the Lord. No doubt we would expect to see this wisdom displayed in the international arena, or in a deft policy making decision, or in a strategy while at war. But to our surprise, it is displayed in what may seem to many to be a very insignificant decision: one illegitimate child and two prostitutes. What can be learned from this? Perhaps we can learn that when God gifts, there is no service too menial or minor. I should be faithful and committed to whatever service the Lord places into my hands to do for Him. Nothing is insignificant if it is from Him and for Him.
But Solomon was a leader and it is to leaders that the lesson speaks the most forcibly. Decisions as difficult as determining the true mother of the child will face those in leadership. Where can wisdom be found? While experience in the secular realm may teach something about management techniques and problem resolution, when the complexity and consequences of decisions relating to the assembly are compared, it is obvious that divine wisdom is needed. This can only be found in the school of God. More than a knowledge of Scripture is needed; the wisdom to apply the Scriptures in a balanced and spiritual manner is essential. Solomon received his wisdom as a one-time deposit into his mind. No microchips are implanted, however, into the minds of leaders. It is by time spent in the presence of God that wisdom will be developed. With the single desire of pleasing God (“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” Proverbs 9:10), and a consciousness of our need, leaders can attain to the wisdom that comes from above (James 3:17).