“When all Israel heard the king’s decision, the people were in awe of the king, for they saw the wisdom God had given him for rendering justice.” 3:28
If you just read through Ecclesiastes with us, you’ll notice these chapters are the prequel. Solomon receives his gift of wisdom from the Lord and we see how he exercises it in this well-known narrative. Even people who are unfamiliar with the Bible are familiar with this story. Two women come to Solomon and he cleverly reveals who’s the real mother of the baby they’re fighting over with a test of character.
Undoubtedly, Solomon’s wisdom is a gift from God bestowed on him to lead the people well. But wisdom can be learned and there’s definitely something we can take in from this.
Solomon doesn’t get caught up in the story being told, but he tests their heart. He didn’t ask for a detailed timeline or cross-examine eye witnesses. He simply exposed their motives. The true mother wasn’t determined to be right, she was determined to do what was best for her baby.
It’s so easy to get swept away in the plot line of something and miss what’s really going on. I remember one time, someone walked up to me out of nowhere and accused me of something really weird. My initial reaction was to get defensive and protect myself, but I (happened to be well fed and rested and) paused. “Are you doing okay? Is something else wrong?” I eventually drew out what was really going on. But honestly, this was a learned behavior. Jesus teaches us this in the New Testament. Any interaction he had with someone was filled with questions. He never got wrapped up in the logistics or dialogue. I’ve had great people in my life that taught me the value of digging beneath the surface in conversation and relationships. I’ve also been on the receiving end of this and felt loved and known by it.
The key is to have the wisdom to stay intentional in conversation, whether you’re problem solving or just listening. Solomon’s act of wisdom here is attainable!