As always we start with the women. The story seems to be there to show the wisdom that Solomon has gained and his capability to render a judgment in difficult situations. The story doesn’t seem to judge their jobs, their station, their having babies without husbands. It seems to explain why they are living together, without another family member to settle this situation. They remain un-named, a means to an end in the story of Solomon.
It seems a wild and over-the-top story, which means it is probably a parable to explain how great Solomon is and not to actually describe the situation that women were in. Folks will judge them and it’s a terrible situation. I wonder what went through those women’s minds. Did one really exchange her baby who died for a living one? What kind of trauma would lead to such a thing–the horror of the death mixed with the hormone changes from giving birth. Everything about this is sad. And to have Solomon suggest cutting the baby in 2! The tragedy continues.
But to stand in judgment every day and oversee situations like this. A situation that determines who this child is and the future it will have and this will have And will have an impact on the life of both of these women. I don’t know about you but most days I can’t decide what I want to eat for dinner let alone the fate of people I don’t actually know who are standing before me and a child. Sounds like a very big, very intense job. And it was Solomon’s, among other things like defending the nation and probably going to war in the spring. But it definitely included the care of this community of people.
I wonder how many times he sat there in that place at the judgment seat before he realized he was out of his league. How many situations like this one with these two women and the one baby before he was like “I need some help.”
Solomon was David’s 4th son and the 1st surviving son of Bathsheba. It took some work to get him where he was both on Bathsheba’s part and probably his own. To make it this far he had to survive longer than his 3 older brothers who all died tragically as very young men.
Solomon had a lot to live up to with his father’s legacy—both the good and the bad. And Solomon is going to live in both.
Living into the good, God comes to Solomon in a dream and says you can ask for anything you want. And it seems Solomon knew enough to know that he knows nothing. Maybe Solomon’s teachers and tutors always said he was smart, maybe he had the whole of the law memorized, but Solomon wasn’t really able to put that smart into action yet. See a smart person like Solomon would know that the law says when there is a dispute between property between two different people you divide the property and share it equally. A wise person knows you cannot cut a baby. Someone who can discern would know and notice one of them might not be well right now and one of the women is going to be able to be a mother. Solomon asks God For a discerning heart and to understand right and wrong So that he could judge, litigate, negotiate for his people and between his people. He asked for what he needed for the sake of his community. Solomon was consciously aware of all that he didn’t know and that already made him a little wise. It’s hard to teach someone who knows everything already, so I wonder if God was like I can work with that. I can build on that. Because Maybe Solomon already had everything he needed to be it to be wise he just didn’t know it yet.
So I wonder if you’ve ever felt overwhelmed. Maybe in your own life, With parenting or yard work The day to day things that stack up when you can’t get to them. Maybe inexplicably things have just piled up and you realize that advent starts in less than a month and you’re not ready. And you just sit at your desk, not even sure what to do next. But that might just be me. Sometimes it is the very normal and mundane things that have become overwhelming. You let that room get a little messy and now you can almost not get inside it and you have family coming in a few days… You put off something at work and it started small and now it has become a giant pile of things, or maybe it remains small and the anxiety around it remains huge. Maybe the task really is overwhelming and it isn’t because you put anything off: the yard work is a lot, and raising children is hard–sometimes even when they are adults!, the future is coming and bringing change–no matter how we feel about it.
What do you do? I try to make plans to control the situation so I never find myself stressed out in such a way again. I will. But we keep trying.
We say a prayer, put one foot in front of the other, and try again.
But maybe you’re being overwhelmed by other thanks, cosmic things. It’s hard to watch the news and not be overwhelmed by how angry people seem to be. How divided we are on everything, From politics To where we live, to how we raise our children. The news makes it very clear we are living in a time of disagreement and violence, and we disagree on what is at its roots and certainly cannot agree on what the solution is.
And it turns out there are issues and problems and people struggling and people oppressed And the world is crying out and the land is crying out everywhere we turn.
And it is incredibly easy to get overwhelmed and to find ourselves trapped stuck watching the news, sitting at tables unable to move, unable to do anything.
You know enough to know we can’t do it on our own. And we’ve seen enough To understand that all the money in the world doesn’t one make up to make the world a better place. What we have in Solomon is an example: knowing our position, knowing our limitations, and asking for what we need to keep going.
Solomon had a job, a calling, it limited what he did in the world but he knew what he needed to do and prayed for more than what he needed to do it.
When we come to a place where we are overwhelmed, how often do we feel like we have to do everything? It’s our individual responsibility to save folks, end violence and bullying, bring people into civilized conversations, protect the vulnerable, save the planet, end racism, and reconcile relationships with marginalized communities. We all have hopes and dreams but no wonder we are overwhelmed!
We all have a calling. From Christ, it is to love but we have callings as individuals, as families, and as a church family. You have a calling. Frederick Buechner wrote that “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and world’s deep hunger meet.” What brings you joy, what is already in you, already in your heart, in your hands, in your head? And if you don’t yet know how it is your calling, make that your prayer–to see the world’s deep hunger.
Perhaps your prayer when you are overwhelmed is to have a little more understanding of your calling, what you can do. Perhaps your prayer is like Solomon–a little more to do the work.
Here is why having a community that is mutually giving is so amazing: While we can all do a little bit, we don’t have to do everything all by ourselves. Maybe you commit your gifts to teach or health care or caring for our land–someone else is using their gifts to care for children or teach anti-racism or ending gun violence. We support each other through prayers and celebration, by showing up, but we aren’t doing it alone, and it doesn’t have to be our primary thing.
It doesn’t matter how old or how young you are–you are gifted: in your time, talents, gifts, experiences, prayers, stories, your hope for the future or your wisdom from the past, you have a gift. This church family has gifts: extravagant welcome of each person just as they are, our struggling with scripture, our caring missions, and our commitment to staying through disagreements and hard times. These are gifts that we offer the world–as individuals, families, and a church family–we offer to the world full of deep hunger, longing for love and healing and wholeness.
With all things happening in our world and our lives, stop, take a breath. What brings you deep gladness, if you don’t know, ask God to reveal it. Where does that deep gladness meet the worlds deep hunger, if you don’t know, ask God to reveal it? Pray for just a little more to live into that calling. May those be our prayers, for me, for you, for all of us together.