Where better to begin a study of proverbial wisdom than with the man who seemingly had it all? Here’s the text (from 1 Kings iii, 16-28):
Then came there two women… unto the king… And the one woman said, O my lord, I and this woman dwell in one house; and I was delivered of a child with her in the house. And it came to pass the third day after that I was delivered, that this woman was delivered also… And this woman’s child died in the night; because she overlaid it. And she arose at midnight, and took my son from beside me …and laid it in her bosom, and laid her dead child in my bosom. And when I rose in the morning to give my child suck, behold, it was dead: but when I had considered it in the morning, behold, it was not my son, which I did bear.
And the other woman said, Nay; but the living is my son, and the dead is thy son. And this said, No; but the dead is thy son, and, the living is my son…
Then said the king, …Bring me a sword… Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one, and half to the other.
Then spake the woman whose the living child was, O my lord, give her the living child, and in no wise slay it. But the other said, Let it be neither mine nor thine, but divide it.
Then the king … said, Give her the living child, … she is the mother thereof.
And all Israel heard of the judgment which the king had judged; and they feared the king: for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him, to do judgment.”
You can’t help feeling that Solomon would have cut an unforgettable figure as a social worker. Had the women between whom he judged expressed their love of their child in any way but as His Majesty’s view of mother-love dictated, the child would have been chopped in two. But of course that is precisely what proves Solomon’s wisdom – the fact that he was right. However, if that is the case, I can only hope that he was not so much wise as infallible.