WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday July 15, 2012
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WISDOM AND JUSTICE
(Wise leaders lead by GOD’s standard of justice)
(1 Kings 3)
The books of First and Second Kings covers a period of about 350 years, when the Davidic line of kings ruled over Israel. The book of first kings begins with the death of the GODly king, David, and the beginning of the reign of his son Solomon. It ends with the death of the evil king Ahab, and the beginning of the reign of his son Ahaziah.
In 1 Kings 3:3-15, with all old business out of the way, and the loose ends left by his father David now secure, a young Solomon begins to settle into his new position as king over Israel. He now turns his attention back to the ALMIGHTY GOD of Israel by sacrificing a mind boggling, one thousand burnt offerings to the LORD, on an altar away from the door of the tabernacle, at Gibeon, the most important of the “forbidden” High Places (see Leviticus 17:3-9).
That same night, the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream and told him that, whatever he asked, HE would grant it to him. Solomon then asked GOD for an understanding mind so that he could govern GOD’s people, and clearly understand, the difference between right and wrong. It was a remarkably small request from a young man, who had just been informed by GOD that he could have anything in the world that he asked for. GOD tells the young king that since he had only asked for wisdom, when he could have asked for long life, riches for himself, or, death to his enemies, that, HE would grant him more wisdom than any man has ever had, or ever will have. GOD also throws in, as a bonus, more riches and honor than any king in the world.
Solomon dedicated an unprecedented amount of sacrificial burnt offerings to the LORD, and GOD looked past his sacrificing error, discerned Solomon’s heart, and then, responded in overwhelming kindness to him with HIS blessings. Here GOD responded with three unconditional promises, and with one promise, that was of a conditional nature. Solomon was granted wisdom, riches, and honor, unconditionally. And GOD also granted him long life, but only under the condition that he remained as obedient to HIM, as his father David was.
We too are given unconditional blessings and promises, but we are also given those blessings and promises that remain conditional, and are based on our continued obedience to GOD. When our priorities are right, we can expect an increased amount of blessings from GOD, and, like Solomon, we should all pray for a discerning heart. It should be the priority and desire of every Christian that we be able to make the choices in life that are pleasing to GOD, and fair and beneficial, not just to ourselves, but also to our fellowman. Such desires of the heart can help keep us within GOD’s will, love, and wonderful abounding grace.
In verses 16-28 of this chapter we see Solomon putting his GOD-given wisdom to good use in the story of the two prostitutes who came to him to settle a dispute between them. In those days it was customary that a day be set aside every so often so that ordinary people could appear before the king seeking his judgment and advice in civil matters. It was also a practice that his father David had adhered to.
The two women in this account probably lived together in a brothel, where they both became pregnant around the same time. Abortions and contraception weren’t in common practice in those days, and so one could imagine that there were probably a high number of children that were born out of this sinful occupation. Also, like one of the prostitutes seen here, who had no problem with Solomon killing the child in dispute, there were probably many in this profession who did not necessarily endear themselves to the children that they bore. However, many still held to the Jewish belief that, in the birth of every child, there are three parents; the father, the mother, and the HOLY SPIRIT of GOD. They steadfastly believed that no child could be born without the approval of the SPIRIT, and so they respected the miracle of childbirth, period. And so the love and joy for the birth of the baby belonging to the other prostitute in this story is very apparent.
Here in this account, one woman had accidentally rolled on her baby boy and killed him while they were both asleep. Upon discovering his lifeless body she took it and laid it next to other woman while she slept, and took her son, who was sleeping beside her, and placed him in her own bed, with her, until morning.
When the morning came, however, the other woman noticed that the child in her bed was not hers, but rather, was the, now dead, son of her roommate. Since there were no independent witnesses to the birth of the babies, or, to the death of the one, this case could not be tried in court, in the traditional way.
When this dilemma was brought to Solomon, he knew that he could not depend on their verbal testimonies, and so he, very wisely, moved pass the words of their lips, and instead, devised a way to discern the two women’ hearts. He suggested that they divide the baby in half, and give one half to each woman. Sadly, the envious woman, who had been lying all along, didn’t have a problem with killing the baby, because she knew the boy wasn’t really hers anyway. Besides, she had shown no remorse even in her own son’s death, and so one couldn’t expect her to care about someone else’s child.
However, the true mother, fearing her son’s demise, hurriedly suggested that Solomon not kill the child, and she pleaded with him to give the child to the dishonest woman instead. Here Solomon was able to expose the hearts of both women, and as a result, he was able to wisely return the child to its true mother.
Word of Solomon’s wisdom spread quickly throughout the land, and scripture tells us that the queen of Sheba was so impressed by his wisdom that she came to see for herself, and she brought with her, a gift for King Solomon that included a staggering fortune of 9000 pounds of gold among other gifts, and King Solomon responded to her in kind (2 Chronicles 9:1-12). And so I guess, employing GOD’s wisdom in one’s leadership really does pay off quite handsomely.
A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander
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