1 Kings 3:28 When all Israel heard the verdict the king had given, they held the king in awe, because they saw that he had wisdom from God to administer justice.
This is one of the most famous stories of Solomon, familiar to every child in Sunday School. Reading it just now, it hit me how generations of Sunday School teachers have glossed over the little matter of prostitution, not explaining why two women were living in a house with nobody else. Reliable contraception was not developed until many centuries later. That said, this incident did demonstrate remarkable wisdom. Just yesterday I heard a Law professor describe a recent Supreme Court decision as “Solomonic.” This story has certainly made its way into our culture! The point of it being recorded was to show the source of the people’s respect for Solomon. A major source of his success was the cooperation he got from the nation as a whole; he couldn’t have done it by himself. This particular incident showed the “little guy” that he cared about them. In fact, it seems rather surprising that an incident of this sort would have come before the king in the first place. Whatever the reason for it, it showed not only intelligence but compassion, and that won the people over. What did Solomon’s son Rehoboam in was his failure to connect with the people. Even in an absolute monarchy, the king rules with the consent of the people. Even in a democracy, those in authority must realize this and act accordingly, if there is to be any long-term success.
I think being in authority/responsibility is the thing I like least about being a pastor. Put another way, I’d rather that loving my neighbor as myself (Mark 12:31, etc.) didn’t involve telling people what to do! With authority comes responsibility, always, which is why it is much easier not to have much authority. I would not want to be President! Regardless, I have to fulfill the position in which God placed me. Frankly, I have kicked and complained about it far more than I like to think about. Such kicking and complaining benefits no one, least of all myself. I am to deal with people with compassion, but not allow feeling sorry for them to blind me to what they really need, which can run the risk of making them not like me. Solomon at first glance seemed heartless, saying to cut the living baby in two, but that was a feint to expose the true mother. My decisions aren’t life-and-death, but my words can have lasting effect on people’s lives. I am to remember always that my wisdom and intelligence are nowhere near up to the task, and so seek God at every turn.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for the wisdom You have given me, but keep me from presuming on it, relying on what You have given rather than on You. Today and each day I deal with people who look to me as an authority in one way or another. May I show them Christ in every word and action, so that they may be drawn to You for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!