King Solomon, son of King David and Bathsheba, is renowned in the Old Testament for his wisdom. He is also known for his riches, which were given Solomon by God, along with the wisdom. The Biblical passage that tells the story of why God gifted Solomon with wisdom and wealth immediately precedes the passage that provides the classic example of the wisdom of Solomon — his judgment about the true mother of a disputed infant.
God Makes Solomon Wise
When Solomon became king of the United kingdom of Judah and Israel he asked God to help him rule his people well and wisely. God was pleased with his this since instead of asking for longevity or wealth, Solomon made a selfless request. God agreed to do as Solomon asked, but also granted him the two things most people would want — longevity and riches.
I Kings 3
3:8 And thy servant is in the midst of thy people which thou hast chosen, a great people, that cannot be numbered nor counted for multitude.
3:9 Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?
3:10 And the speech pleased the LORD, that Solomon had asked this thing.
3:11 And God said unto him, Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life; neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies; but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment;
3:12 Behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee.
3:13 And I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches, and honour: so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee all thy days.
3:14 And if thou wilt walk in my ways, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as thy father David did walk, then I will lengthen thy days.
3:15 And Solomon awoke; and, behold, it was a dream. And he came to Jerusalem, and stood before the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and offered up burnt offerings, and offered peace offerings, and made a feast to all his servants.
Then two women called upon Solomon, asking him to determine which of the two of them should be awarded a disputed infant. Both mothers claimed to have given birth to the baby. Since they couldn’t decide, Solomon came up with what sounded like a logical idea. He suggested the baby be cut and split between the two women. When one of the women immediately understood that the beloved child would be killed, she no longer cared whether she got to raise him. All she wanted was that he be safe. The other potential mother didn’t care: she wanted her piece. Solomon decided the real mother — or at least the one who should be the real mother — was the one who would rather give up her child than see it be destroyed.