Wednesday, December 20, 2017

A child is born 20: Solomon and the prostitutes’ children

‘ When I rose in the morning to nurse my son, I saw that he was dead; but when I looked at him closely in the morning, clearly it was not the son I had borne.”

Until very recent times it was impossible to be certain who a child’s parents were. DNA testing can now tell us this, but in the past, children mixed up at birth might never be reunited with their true families.

In this story, King Solomon, who was famed for his wisdom, is presented with an apparently impossible dilemma. Two women who are prostitutes share a house. Both have baby sons within days of each other, but according to the woman who speaks first to Solomon, the other woman’s child dies when she lays on him. Allegedly, she swapped her dead child for the living child of the other. But the other woman denies this. There is no way of proving it one way or the other.

Solomon’s judgement is shocking. The child should be cut in two and half given to each woman. Instantly one woman – the story says it is the mother of the living child – insists that the child be given to the other woman. At least he will then live. This is enough to convince Solomon that the woman prepared to give him up to save his life is the one who is his mother. Even if she isn’t (there is the possibility that she is mistaken herself) the child will be better off than he would be with a woman who was happy to see him cut in half just so that she could win the argument!

·         What do you think was going on in the head of the woman who was apparently happy for the child to be cut in two? (v. 26)

·         In this case the squabbling mothers are apparently not related. It is more often the case that, children become the battleground between warring parents who have split up, or become focuses for tensions between parents and grandparents or in-laws.  Have you had any experience of this?

·         Pray for children who feel “torn in two” by squabbling families and are not valued for themselves. 

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