Monday, August 22, 2011
The story of Solomon's court case is very well known, even by unbelievers. I would like to look at it again though and perhaps draw out applications of it to our own lives and ministries.
1Ki 3:16-28 Then two prostitutes came to the king and stood before him. 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. 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. And this woman's son died in the night, because she lay on him. 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. 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." 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. 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.'" And the king said, "Bring me a sword." So a sword was brought before the king. And the king said, "Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one and half to the other." 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." 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." 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.
This story is interesting for several reasons. It shows many things about human nature in general but also shows us something of the true heart of a mother, which is actually a reflection of the heart of God.
Initially there is the dispute over whose child is the living one. Both women desire the living child. One desired it because it was hers by natural birth, the other also desired the child probably to assuage the grief caused by the loss of her own and to remove the reproach of having lost her child from her by placing on someone else. In the same way if we are Christians, especially Christians with a ministry, we desire to see blessing and fruit for our labours. This is natural and not wrong, those who sow should do so in hope, but often God requires a certain attitude before He will give the blessing.
When the case came before Solomon, he used his God-given wisdom to show which claim was just. In his command to divide the child he was bringing out the strongest motive of each heart. The false mother wanted the child alive as long as it would be hers, but if it could not be hers she would have her half and see it destroyed. The true mother would have the child live, she wanted it to be hers, but it would be better to have it live, even if it never owned her as its mother, but instead considered itself another's. It was this attitude that showed Solomon who the true mother was and gained her the child.
Many times Christians pray for revival, for multiplication, and for the extension of God's kingdom. This is good, but often the motive is not as much God's glory, but that we might ourselves be vindicated and blessed. The difference in the two women was not what they desired, but why they desired it. The false mother desired the child for her selfish motives. The true mother desired the child for a mixture of motives, but when push came to shove the only thing that mattered was the life of the child, even if she lost it, so long as it lived. This is the attitude that God blesses, a desire to see Him move even if He uses others and not us, even if on this side of eternity our prayer and efforts remain unnoticed. This is the heart of a mother, to put the child first. It is also something deep in God's heart, the God who gives breath to all, even those who do not acknowledge Him and even fight against Him. He sends His rain on the good and the evil, for their benefit, not for His own.
It is this attitude that was in the heart of David when he fled from Absolom, and refused to let the ark go with him, because he placed his fate in God's hands, but regardless of what happened to him, he would not have the people deprived of God's presence (2 Sam. 15:24-26). This is also an attitude seen in those whom God has used in past revivals, one notable example, by no means unique, is Count Zinzendorf, who was determined to benefit the Church of Christ as a whole and not his own enclave. He often sent converts of the Moravians into other local churches. If anything his fault was in trying so hard to encourage other groups that his own did not grow as much, and yet the God alone knows all the good that was accomplished through the Moravians, specifically because of their willingness to grow God's kingdom and not their own segment of it. May God grant us the same heart!