The wisdom of Solomon in splitting the baby...

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(David) Reading through 1 and 2 Samuel recently it struck me that Solomon's decision to cut the baby in two to resolve the dispute between the two prostitutes wasn't an act of immediately divine inspiration, but rather the product of wisdom gained at his father's knee--and perhaps from his father's mistake.

David faced an essentially similar dispute after his flight from Absalom. Ziba brought David food for his flight from Jersualem. When David asked why his master, Mephibosheth, son of Jonathan, had not come with him, Ziba answered that Mephibosheth had thought Absalom's rebellion portended the restoration of the kingdom to the line of Saul and was eager to become king himself. David responded by giving Ziba his master's entire inheritance.

After Absalom's rebellion was put down, Mephibosheth came to David unshaven and in sackcloth. When David asked him where he had been during his flight, Mephibosheth responded that Ziba had betrayed him, leaving him behind and declaring him disloyal before David when he had sought nothing but David's good during the rebellion.

David responded to the apparently insoluble dilemma by saying, in essence, "Who knows," and dividing Mephibosheth's inheritance between the two men. Now, the interesting thing is that at this point, Mephibosheth responds, "Let him have the entire inheritance, I'm happy merely to have you back and the rebellion ended."

It seems clear to me that Solomon saw Mephibosheth's response as proof of his innocence. And so when the two prostitutes quarrel over whose son is the living child, he does what his father lacked the wisdom to do: he declares a division of the disputed child and then judges the truthfulness of the women by their response. David left the inheritance divided between Mephibosheth and Ziba. Solomon judged more accurately.