Grace Extending

Solomon and Mothers

Sobering Wisdom About the Human Heart

The story in 1 Kings 3:16-28 of Solomon and the two mothers (in fact, "two prostitutes") has always bothered me. The reaction of the second mother in verse 26, her willingness to put the child to death and accept half his corpse, just seemed unbelievable. But the longer I live, the more I've come to appreciate how things like guilt and grief and bitterness and envy can truly disfigure our souls. Her response reveals she was driven, not by wanting what her companion still possessed (i.e., a living child), but by wanting her companion to suffer as she was suffering. If she could not have her child, then neither should her friend. This is the toxic irrationality of sin and suffering. I see now how disturbingly accurate this depiction is in terms of the ugliness of our hearts; especially the profoundly afflicted heart. Maybe Solomon (with God-gifted wisdom) sensed this when the second woman first spoke (v. 22), and thus, suggested his gruesome solution (v. 25) in order to confirm his suspicion. Though the story is thousands of years old, it should sober and sensitize us to the still-present, soul-distorting temptations active in the midst of suffering. And when we recognize ourselves in this woman, the disturbing depiction of 1 Kings 3 should drive us to Jesus, the only One who can truly heal the guilty, grieving, and bitter hearts of sinners; for wonderfully, "something greater than Solomon is here." (Luke 11:3)

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