King Solomon carefully studied the two women standing before him. His lingering silence thickened the air, already charged with emotion.
During the night, two mothers and two infants who had been sharing the same room experienced the unthinkable; one baby was accidentally smothered. Now both moms, with deep anguish and tears, stood before the king, loudly insisting that the living child is her baby.
Solomon must decide, but without the benefit of DNA evidence, CSI reports or collaborating witness testimony. Only the two mothers possess firsthand knowledge of what really happened during the night. One of them obviously was lying.
Solomon prayed silently, "Give me wisdom, Lord."
The answer was there in precisely the moment he asked the question; almost imperceptibly it filled his heart and his mind. His words were deliberate and his tone even as he spoke.
"Bring me a sword," he said. "Cut the living child in two, and give half to one and half to the other."
Suddenly, one of the women screamed a deafening wail.
Crying, she said, "No! I can't bear the thought of my child cut into two pieces. Give her the baby." Falling to her knees she pleaded to the king, "Whatever you do, don't kill him."
While the other woman sneered at her, "If I can't have him, you can't have him. Cut away!"
Solomon immediately recognized which woman was the real mother. Only a mother's genuine love would surrender her baby to another woman rather than see any harm done to the child.
Surely Solomon must have smiled when he said to the first woman, "You are his mother and the babyis yours. Take him and go in peace."
There is timely and eternal value in this story for every pastor, any parent or even the president. You can read this compelling story of wise leadership in the Bible. It is found in 1 Kings 3:16-28.
For the real mother, the most important thing in this story was the child. The story is about the baby -- not the woman's ability to prove she was the child's biological mother, nor her power to win ultimate possession of the infant. The real mother was not driven by power, control, jealousy or even fear.
This mother was moved by love. Love that was willing to let go for the sake of life, rather than clutching control, ending in death.
Then there is the other mother's reaction. I'm speaking of people who -- in their anger and indignation -- have been willing to follow through with the sword of division, while saying, "If I can't have it and control it, I will cut it in two." This action, of course, kills, and life disappears every single time.
The kind of cutting, dividing and splitting I am referring to can happen in a nation or a city. And it can most certainly grasp a business, a family or a church.
What will you do with the baby?
-- The Rev. Micah Smith is president and founder of Global Gateway Network (www.globalgatewaynetwork.org) with offices in Richland. Questions and comments should be directed to editor Lucy Luginbill in care of the Tri-City Herald newsroom, 333 W. Canal Drive, Kennewick, WA 99336. Or email firstname.lastname@example.org.