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As Wise As...Part 1

King Solomon shows his wisdom

by Laurence Chilcott

Suitable for Key Stage 3


To show that knowledge is not the same as wisdom. 

Preparation and materials


  1. If using the images of people famous for their achievements, show them now.

    Ask the students, ‘How many of these people can you name? Do you know what they are famous for?’

  2. Many people are known for their great intelligence and ability. They may have achieved great things and so, often, their names are remembered long after they have died.

  3. Even though people may achieve greatness, they may not always show wisdom in the way they live their lives. They may trust people who want to take advantage of them; they may waste their money or make poor business decisions. Very clever people can sometimes not act wisely and, sadly, wisdom is something that cannot be taught.

  4. Around 3,000 years ago, Solomon was the king of Israel. Before he became king, Solomon prayed for good judgement so that he would rule his people wisely and be able to tell right from wrong and truth from lies. God was pleased that he did not ask for great wealth and power, or death for his enemies, so God gave him wisdom as well as riches, honour and a long life.

  5. Solomon’s wisdom was put to the test very early in his reign. Two women were brought before him, both of whom claimed to be the mother of a certain baby boy. They both lived in the same house and had given birth to a baby boy at around the same time. One of the women claimed that one night the other woman had accidentally rolled over and smothered her baby.

    ‘This woman,’ she pleaded, finding her baby was dead, crept into my room while I slept and exchanged her dead child for my own.’

    No I did not,’ cried the other woman. ‘It was she who took my darling child because her baby had died. I would never do such an evil thing.’

    Despite further questioning, neither woman was prepared to change her story – both claimed to be the mother of the baby.

    Clearly this was a difficult case for Solomon.

    Looking at the baby, he could see no real resemblance to either woman – and there was no such thing as a DNA test in those days, so he had to think creatively. 

    ‘There is only one answer to this problem,’ declared Solomon. ‘Guard!’ he called. ‘Cut the baby in two and give them half each.’

    Horrified by this thought, one of the women threw herself at Solomon’s feet and cried, ‘No! Please, do not hurt the child! Let her have him.’

    ‘Guard,’ said Solomon softly, ‘Give the child to this woman. She clearly loves him too much to allow him to come to any harm.’

    Solomon would never have really allowed the baby to be cut in half, but he knew that the real mother would never let such a thing happen. He was wise enough to realize how the real mother would react to such an order. 

    In school, your teachers try to teach you lots of things, but the one thing they cannot teach you is wisdom. Wisdom has nothing to do with knowledge or being clever at schoolwork; wisdom has to do with good judgement, clear thinking and knowing what to do in difficult situations.

Time for reflection

Solomon is reputed to have written over 3,000 of the proverbs or wise sayings recorded in the Bible. Some may be especially appropriate to consider, such as:

Always remember what you have learned. Your education is your life – guard it well.
(Proverbs 4.13, GNB).

Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts. Never say anything that isn’t true. Have nothing to do with lies and misleading words.
(Proverbs 4.23–24, GNB)

Plan carefully what you do, and whatever you do will turn out right.
(Proverbs 4.26, GNB)

Proverbs used to be considered essential to every child’s education and had to be learned by heart. Many more modern and well-known proverbs impart wise advice that could be discussed or explained. 

Father God, 
We ask that we may grow in wisdom, as Solomon did.
Help us to know right from wrong and true from false.
We pray that you will light our way, so that we will make wise choices and do the best we can.

Publication date: November 2014   (Vol.16 No.11)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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