Remember when David conducted a census, and it was considered a great sin, but we (I) didn’t really know why it was a sin? This chapter may give us a little insight to that. Look at verse 8: it says that Solomon is in the midst of God’s chosen people, “a nation so great and numerous they cannot be counted!” Remember when God promised Abraham that his descendants will be like the stars – so many they couldn’t be counted? That made me think that maybe the census was an attempt to challenge God’s statement. Maybe David was saying, “Oh, yes, they can be counted, and I will be the one who counts them!” That was kind of a minor point in this chapter, but there are other “minor points” as well – like the opening paragraph that says Solomon made an alliance with the Egyptian pharaoh, married one of his daughters and brought her to live in Jerusalem, or the City of David. We usually breeze right on past that point and head straight for the big message of this chapter, which is Solomon asking God for wisdom. This story is generally one for which Solomon is remembered, and we shouldn’t just skip by it for the sake of “minor points.” I didn’t, but I sure did notice some of the smaller illustrations in today’s text. The story of the two prostitutes certainly says a lot. For one, Israel had prostitutes! Shocking. (Insert sarcasm here.) As I’ve said in past chapters, Israel was not a group of perfect people, as we sometimes envision them. They had thieves and murderers … and prostitutes. Now, in order to have prostitutes, you have to have people using them as prostitutes, and as we can see by the women’s situation of having babies … as single women … that at least one man in Israel took full advantage of their availability as prostitutes. Solomon seemingly overlooked their positions and instead focused on their predicament, so I’m going to also assume that prostitution was pretty “normal.” I know none of these things are the main point of this chapter, but in a strange way, they give me comfort. Growing up, I was under the impression that the Israelites were a perfect people since they are God’s chosen people, but this chapter, among others, shows us that they certainly were not. The wisdom for which Solomon asked was not meant to judge others for who they were but rather for how their hearts felt. We can glean a lot from his judgment and also from how the two women responded without feeling like total failures for the choices we’ve made in our own lives.
Writing prompt: perfection
Write about the Israelites’ imperfections and God’s love for them in respect to that.