Two mothers stood before the king.
Both recently had borne offspring,
Though neither could a husband claim;
As harlots, they both lived in shame.
The king asked, “What have you to say?
Why come you to the throne today?”
One woman stood with empty hand,
And begged the king to understand.
“Have mercy,” she began to say,
“And I will tell you all today,
Of how this woman killed her son
And took my child to be her own.”
“We women share a single home—
No one but us; we live alone.
We slept with infants by our side,
To nurse as soon as baby cried.
“But sadness filled our home last night—
An accident, an awful plight.
For this new mother in her sleep
Smothered fast her little peep.
“She woke and saw her child was dead,
Then put his body in my bed,
And took my living son to her
While I asleep did not bestir.”
“She lies!” The other mother cried.
“It was her infant son who died.
She fabricated this whole tale
To keep my son, who’s whole and hale.”
The baby fussed, the woman crooned,
The other mother nearly swooned.
And meanwhile on the throne the king
Sat contemplating this whole thing.
Just recently the Lord had come,
In nighttime vision quietsome,
To give what Solomon desired—
But wisdom was all he required.
The Lord Jehovah was impressed
By his remarkable request.
He granted it in full, and more—
Honored like no king before.
Then suddenly to the guards he called,
“Bring me a sword.” They stood appalled.
“Take the child, cut him in two:
Half for her, and half for you.”
The woman handed him the boy.
With smiling face, a look of joy.
“Your judgment, King, is utmost wise;
Your wisdom I will not despise.”
The empty-handed mother wept,
And on her knees to the throne she crept.
“Please don’t hurt the child,” she said.
“Let him live. My son is dead.”
He raised his hand and stayed the sword.
“You all have heard this mother’s word.
For only a mother would sacrifice
To keep from losing her son twice.
The child is hers; give him to her.”
And after this was no small stir.
The king’s new fame spread far and wide;
This mom content, child by her side.
Based on 1 Kings 3:16-28
This Bible study has been a little different. I don’t usually write the story in verse form, but for some reason I desired to do so for this one. Now that we know the story, what can we learn from it?
A Practical Lesson
There is one very practical lesson here: Don’t ever sleep with your infant child! I must confess I was guilty of this when my babies were little—at least with the first one. Let’s face it, those late-night feedings can be very tiring, and it is so tempting just to put your baby in bed with you to nurse. But I remember like it was yesterday, the night I awoke and heard my oldest son gasping for air. I had fallen asleep while nursing and had rolled over on top of him. Imagine my horror to discover I had nearly killed my baby boy! Lesson learned. No matter how tired I was, I never again put a baby in the bed with me to nurse.
Beyond this practical lesson, there are three spiritual lessons we may glean: one from each mother, and a third from Solomon.
Go to the King
1. Take all your concerns, without delay, to the King. The mother who had been deprived of her child went immediately to the king when she discovered what had happened. She didn’t try to resolve it on her own, nor did she go to her friends. Just like this woman, you and I must also go straight to the King. I’m not talking about going to the authorities, although that sometimes becomes necessary. I cannot tell you when you should or should not seek the help of the local authorities, but right now I’m talking about the King of kings and Lord of lords. He is also our great High Priest, and He lives in heaven to make intercession for us. Far too often we get on the phone or pull up social media whenever we have a problem, when all we need to do—all we ought to do—is run to Jesus.
Hebrews 4:14-16 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
1 Peter 5:7 Casting all your care upon Him; for He cares for you.
Sin Begets Sin
2. Keep short accounts of sin with God. Why? Just look at how quickly sin begot sin in the life of the other mother. When she saw that her child was dead, she switched it out with the living child. She may not have murdered her own baby, but she most certainly was intentional in kidnapping the other child. And in the very act of taking that child, she lied to the other mother about her relationship to the child. This meant she would also have to lie to the neighbors, and to the king. When would the lies stop? What had motivated her to take the living baby in the first place? Pride? An unwillingness to be known as a baby-killer? But when faced with the execution of the child who was not her own, she saw a way out of her predicament. Kill this baby, then she wouldn’t have to live a lie. Granted, she would be guilty of murder by justice, and that motivated by jealousy of the mother who still had a living child. Do you see how her sins compounded, one upon another, upon another? That’s the way it is with sin.
James 1:14-15 Every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust has conceived, it brings forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, brings forth death.
We will never be sinlessly perfect until we get to heaven, but if we continually seek forgiveness for our sins instead of making excuses and trying to hide them, then our hearts will remain tender toward God. Sometimes we are not even aware of the sin in our own hearts. (It’s easier to see sin in other people.) For that reason, David prayed in
Psalm 19:12 “Who can understand his errors? Cleanse Thou me from secret faults.”
Secret faults are sins not known to the person committing the sin or to others. But even those sins are known to God. David wanted to be so sensitive to sin that absolutely nothing could get in the way of his fellowship with the Lord.
Psalm 19:13 Keep back Thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.
Presumptuous sins are those motivated by pride, and they can all too quickly dominate the life once they get a toe-hold. David wanted a proper distrust of himself. For if he relied upon himself to serve God, to do right, to do anything worthwhile, then he would fail. The only way to succeed is to forsake self and rely wholly on the Lord. Then and only then will you be free from the guilt of sin.
Psalm 19:14 Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in Thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my Redeemer.
David wanted both his words and his thoughts to be acceptable to God. He relied on God as his Lord (Master), his strength (power), and his Redeemer (Savior). May you and I do the same.
3. Make the getting of wisdom your highest priority. This we learn from Solomon, and it is first illustrated in his interaction with these two women. Shortly before the women appeared in his courtroom, God had given Solomon a blank check, so to speak. He was a brand new king, and he could have anything he wanted. What did he ask for? Wisdom. Wow! How many of us would have exercised such discretion? God honored him for his choice by making him the wisest man who ever lived PLUS giving him wealth and fame exceeding that of any man who had come before him. Did Solomon ever come to regret his choice? No way! Over and over he admonishes us to do the same. Following are two examples of his words of wisdom.
Proverbs 4:7 Wisdom is the principal thing, therefore get wisdom; and with all your getting, get understanding.
Proverbs 16:16 How much better is it to get wisdom than gold! and to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver!
The apostle James, in the New Testament, tells us the same thing. Anyone who asks for wisdom will receive it. God never chides, but graciously provides wisdom to those who ask for it.
James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men liberally, and reproaches not; and it shall be given him.
In conclusion, our lessons from the courtroom are these: seek wisdom first and foremost, avoid sin at all costs, take your problems immediately to the One who can solve them, and don’t sleep with your baby. Babies still die this way. You don’t want to live with that grief and guilt, so just don’t do it. Take it from a mother who very nearly lost her child. All too soon those first sacrifices of motherhood will be forgotten as your child grows and moves into new stages of life. You will get caught up on sleep eventually. You may be thinking, “It won’t happen to me.” But I’ll wager that every woman who buried her infant child after a smothering thought the same thing. Don’t take that chance with your child’s life.
“Lost Twice” Copyright © 2018 Angela Umphers Rueger – All Rights Reserved
Next week: Rahab
Photo courtesy of estall of Pixabay
4 thoughts on “Two Mothers, One Baby”
Angela, I love how you put this passage into a poetic story. Just beautiful! And your lessons are spot on. I have to remember to bring my needs and concerns directly to my Father. Too often, I’ve been guilty of talking with my friends before talking with the Lord.
I so enjoyed this post!
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Thank you, Jeanne. I was preaching to the choir, for I do it too. 🙂
I loved the way you told that story in verse form. I find I cannot read the lines across a full page, because of my health, I enjoy reading poetry, it’s great short lines. Thanks.
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You’re welcome. I’ll definitely do it again, although unfortunately I can’t do it every time. 🙂
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