An understanding heart

“In Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, Ask what I shall give thee” (1 Kings 3:5). Solomon’s prayer for wisdom resulted in God making him the wisest man to ever live (1 Kings 3:12). Solomon’s request was for an understanding heart that would enable him to “discern between good and bad (1 Kings 3:9). The word translated understanding, shâma‘ (shaw – mah´) means to hear intelligently and also to give undivided attention (8085). The word shama appears frequently in the Psalms in reference to God hearing the prayers of David. God gave Solomon a supernatural ability that made it possible for Solomon to achieve mental excellence without studying a single subject or experiencing anything himself.

An example of Solomon’s wise decision-making is recorded in 1 Kings 3:16-27. In this particular case, two women are claiming to be the mother of the same child. After hearing their story, Solomon orders the child to be divided into two and half given to each of the women. His shocking decree prompts the real mother to give up her half so that the child can live (1 Kings 3:25-26). What is clear from this example is that Solomon is an expert in human behavior. Solomon understood that a mother’s love for her child should prompt her to sacrifice her own well being for that of her child. Most likely, Solomon knew from the beginning which of the two women was the real mother based on her facial expressions and demeanor, but he chose to let the real mother decide the outcome. It was the real mother’s unselfishness that allowed her to keep her child. If she had agreed to divide the child, rather than give him up, both of the women would have left empty handed.

Solomon was endowed with special abilities given to him by God, not for his own benefit, but for the benefit of the people he ruled over. As the king of Israel, Solomon had the power to decide people’s fate. If he made good decisions, the people would thrive and prosper. If he made bad decisions, the people would become corrupt and dishonesty would ruin relationships. In the case of the two women claiming to be the mother of the same child, one of the women was lying. Because her lie was discovered, she was no longer able to take advantage of the women she lived with. As they both went back home, the real mother and her child reunited, the woman that lied probably wondered to herself, How did Solomon figure it out? I thought for sure I could convince him that I was the real mother.

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