Dividing the Child
Robert Wurtz II
And the king said, The one says, “This is my son, who lives, and your son is the dead one’; and the other says, ‘No! But your son is the dead one, and my son is the living one.'” Then the king said, “Bring me a sword.” So they brought a sword before the king. And the king said, “Divide the living child in two, and give half to one, and half to the other. Then the woman whose son was living spoke to the king, for she yearned with compassion for her son; and she said, “O my lord, give her the living child, and by no means kill him!” But the other said, “Let him be neither mine nor yours, but divide him” (1 Kings 3:23–26 NKJV).
Our passage is a familiar story of two harlots who each had a baby, but one accidentally laid on her child and smothered it. So she took the living baby and replaced it with the baby that passed. When the other mother awoke and found the lifeless baby, she knew what the guilty mother had done. Eventually, the matter went to the wise King Solomon, who discerned the truth through God’s imparted wisdom.
The situation is instructive on many levels; however, the aspect I wish to focus on in this entry is the willingness of a person to destroy something that doesn’t belong to them or one in which they had no real investment. Both women had a reputation for sinful living and a child out of wedlock. Both women may have been reckless in handling their babies, as one baby died and the other was stolen. It could be that they were just hard sleepers. I don’t point these things out to condemn the women; I’m only suggesting that the women, to this point, are quite similar.
Astorgos (the Absence of Familial Love)
Solomon revealed the difference between the women by wisely discerning which woman was moving in familial love for the living child. This is a vital truth. Understand that one woman carried the surviving baby for nine months, and the other did not, which showed in their attitudes toward the child. How could a real mother elect to cut her own child in half? She held the child close and nurtured and protected it as God generally instilled such affection in females. The other did not and agreed to cut it into two pieces. Simply put, the one loved with familial love, and the other didn’t. It’s stunning and instructive to observe how division, destruction, and murder somehow become optional without love.
Consider also the story of David and Bathsheeba. Nathan came to him and told a story of a rich man killing a poor man’s little ewe lamb for food when he had scores of livestock to pull from. David’s estimate of the rich man was that he had no pity and deserved to die. Why? Because David knew what it was to invest love and affection in something and then have some reckless animal (or person) try to take its life. His pastoral (shepherd’s) instinct was similar to a motherly instinct.
A person devoid of love and compassion is not qualified to pastor people. Jesus spoke of a hireling shepherd who ran away when the wolf came to destroy the sheep. Imagine a careless heartless shepherd who had no love for his flock.
Mothers and Pastors
Paul followed a similar line when he wrote to the Thessalonians:
“But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so, we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts. For neither at any time did we use flattering words, as you know, nor a cloak for covetousness—God is witness. Nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, when we might have made demands as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children. So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us” (1 Thessalonians 2:4–8 NKJV).
In 1988, a 30-year-old Armenian woman was buried alive in an earthquake along with her 3-year-old child. Health officials reported that the mother kept the child alive during the eight days the two were entombed. She repeatedly punctured her fingers and allowed the child to suck her blood. It was its only source of nourishment. She looked past all the reasons she shouldn’t resort to such a thing. Why? Because she was focused solely on saving the child’s life. It was a far cry from the harlot’s attitude who agreed to cut the child in two.
A Pastor’s Heart
We need pastors and Christians who have Paul’s attitude in modern times. Can we afford the outlook of the careless prostitute? Obviously not. May God give us people who will step in and join the labors of other ministers to save souls. Sadly, far too many today use flattering words, a cloak of covetousness, and seek the glory of men. They don’t lead, feed, and protect as Jacob did when he engaged his brother Esau and “lead the flock on softly” (Genesis 33:14). The reckless and loveless pastor will drive the sheep and destroy them, furthering their ambition, agenda, and cause.
I pray that the Lord will give us a generation of pastors and leaders who can testify along with Paul, “But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children. So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us.”
Many thanks, Robert. A good and needful word in these callous days. My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you,
(Galatians 4:19 NKJV)