Of Kings and Justice

December 8, 2013




The kings of Israel and Judah were such disappointments.

Take Solomon, for example. He started out well enough early in his reign. Remember the time when as a newly crowned king he prayed to Yahweh for “an understanding mind to govern your people,” a mind “able to discern between good and evil” (1 Kings 3:3-14)? And do you remember the incident soon afterward when two mothers came to King Solomon for a fair and just solution to their quarrel? Each mother had an infant son, but one night one of them rolled over in bed and accidentally suffocated her son, killing him. She then sneaked out of bed and switched babies with the other mother. The next morning the two mother argued about which son belonged to whom. So they asked King Solomon to resolve the dispute. Displaying both intelligence and wisdom, Solomon decided to cut the living infant in two halves with a sword, so each mother could get half. Of course this was a ruse; Solomon had no intention at all of using that sword. He merely wanted to find out who the real mother was. The ruse worked perfectly, demonstrating to Israelites far and wide that King Solomon was a wise man who could smoke out injustice and put oppressors to shame (1 Kings 3:16-28).

So Solomon began well, the picture of a model king. But then it went bad—extremely bad. He started some expensive building projects, a temple and a palace, that required large amounts of slave labor, not to mention large amounts of cash (1 Kings 9:15-22). Think about the cruel irony in this: the Israelites who had escaped enslavement in Egypt now have a king who was turning around and enslaving other people! In no sense could this be justice!

Bible References

  • Psalm 72:1 - 7
  • Isaiah 11:1 - 10