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1 Kings 3:16-27
Mother’s Love
Two prostitutes came to the king and stood before him.
The one woman said, “Oh, my lord, this woman and I live in the same house, and I gave birth to a child while she was in the house.
Then on the third day after I gave birth, this woman also gave birth.
And we were alone.
There was no one else with us in the house; only we two were in the house.
And this woman’s son died in the night, because she lay on him.
And she arose at midnight and took my son from beside me, while your servant slept, and laid him at her breast, and laid her dead son at my breast.
When I rose in the morning to nurse my child, behold, he was dead.
But when I looked at him closely in the morning, behold, he was not the child that I had borne.”
But the other woman said, “No, the living child is mine, and the dead child is yours.”
The first said, “No, the dead child is yours, and the living child is mine.”
Thus they spoke before the king.
Then the king said, “The one says, ‘This is my son that is alive, and your son is dead’; and the other says, ‘No; but your son is dead, and my son is the living one.’
” And the king said, “Bring me a sword.”
So a sword was brought before the king.
And the king said, “Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one and half to the other.”
Then the woman whose son was alive said to the king, because her heart yearned for her son, “Oh, my lord, give her the living child, and by no means put him to death.”
But the other said, “He shall be neither mine nor yours; divide him.”
Then the king answered and said, “Give the living child to the first woman, and by no means put him to death; she is his mother.”[1]
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other’s Day is difficult for many people.
Women who long for marriage and children often find the day difficult.
Women who are infertile or who have experienced the loss of new life to miscarriage or stillbirth often privately confess the pain associated with the day.
I am aware of individuals who barely speak to their estranged mother—I am one such individual.
I confess that I face Mother’s Day with ambivalence.
I am glad for the good mothering that I witnessed in the wife God gave me, just as I rejoice in the good mothering I witness among so many of the people of God, but I sometimes privately grieve at the lack of mothering during my own childhood years.
Jenell Paris addresses the issue of difficult Mother’s Day in a timely article in *Christianity Today*.
She writes, “Unlike the unrealistic and sentimental feminine images dished out by Hallmark, the Bible and the church offer real stories of real women’s lives.”[2]
In the article, Mrs. Paris reminds readers of the inaccuracy of the idealised images of modern motherhood.
She reminds us of Ruth, left widowed at a young age.
She speaks of the infertility of Rachel, Hannah and Sarah, and she reminds us that both Eve and Mary lost sons under terrible circumstances.
She suggests that the churches give consideration to emphasising the liturgical year instead of the calendar year, to emphasising religious holy days instead of secular holidays.
Though I would not wish to be merely reactionary, there is considerable merit to this suggestion, I should think.
Nevertheless, observance of Mother’s Day within the church does permit us to focus attention on some of the deficits of contemporary Christian life.
It is an unfortunate truth that the church imbibes from the polluted well of contemporary attitudes.
Consequently, we are constantly challenged to examine our attitudes to ensure that we do not substitute the best ( or the worst) of modern thought for the wisdom of God.
One attitude commonly embraced threatens the church in this day late in the Age of Grace—it is exaltation of individualism and exclusion of a covenantal community.
The church is a community of faith—we are family.
We are a covenant community.
Each time we recite our church covenant we are reminded that we dare not think that we act in isolation from our fellow worshippers.
This attitude of seeking the welfare of others rather than self-promotion runs counter to the prevailing view of modern society.
The world emphasises individual rights, and almost unconsciously we enter the Body of Christ demanding that we receive our rights.
The Word of God emphasises consideration of others and selfless service if we will honour the Lord our God.
The emphasis for the church is that of community in which each member serves the rest and all are submissive to the will of the whole under the Headship of Christ the Lord.
We willingly and joyfully submit to one another out of reverence for Christ [*Ephesians 5:21*].
Nowhere has modern thought been more apparently in conflict with the Christian Faith than over the issue of women’s “rights.”
Modern feminism employs its strident voice to demand “a place at the table” for women, though it is increasingly difficult to sort through legitimate grievances that may be presented because of the hostility voiced toward all things masculine.
Though I haven’t time to address the entire gamut of complaints raised by the voices of religious feminists, I am compelled to speak to those women who are part of this congregation over which I have received appointment as an elder and a messenger of Christ Jesus our Lord.
Contemporary society emphasises that women have “a right to their own bodies.”
Superficially, this sounds wise and just.
Indeed, woman has the identical right of all humanity to security of her person.
However, with conception a woman becomes a mother and that new life demands that the mother become a protector of that life.
Even nature underscores this truth.
Mother bears are noted for their ferocity in protecting their young.
Even the humble hamster will attack the hand that dares attempt touch her young.
The mothering instinct is strong throughout all nature and can only be suppressed by Homo sapiens intent upon promoting their own desires at the expense of natural instinct.
The story we will consider in this service is familiar.
Whenever the story is related, the emphasis is almost invariably upon the wisdom of Solomon.
Of course, this is appropriate as the inclusion of this pericope is clearly intended to demonstrate the wisdom of the king.
This is abundantly evident as we read the concluding statement of the chapter.
And all Israel heard of the judgment that the king had rendered, and they stood in awe of the king, because they perceived that the wisdom of God was in him to do justice [*1 Kings 3:28*].
However, a secondary theme throughout the account is the power of a mother’s love.
If ever a nation or a culture needed godly mothers, it is in this nation and this culture.
Women today are taught from earliest age and by what were once respected institutions reflecting righteous moral and ethical principles that the highest good is whatever makes them “feel good.”
Though it may momentarily make a woman “feel good” to rid herself of the pressure of motherhood, the doyens of death fail to warn of the consequences that attend surrender to the momentary pressure.
Women who have chosen to abort their own babies tend to suffer excruciating psychological pain for decades after.
This says nothing of the increased incidence of cervical cancer, breast cancer and subsequent low birth rate infants in women who choose an abortion over the responsibility of motherhood.
Beyond these immediate concerns to the women involved is the rending of the social fabric as the greatest stabilising factor of any culture, the love of mothers that holds the family together, is ripped apart.
The nation with strong mothers—mothers who love their children—is a blessed nation.
I am compelled by honesty to say that a growing number of mothers, though not having chosen to abort their children, yet treat them as though they were a shackle and a burden.
Career and social position, possessions and pursuit of perpetual youth seem more important than does motherhood.
Consequently, many children are today sacrificed to the gods of personal desire as surely as ancient Ammonites surrendered their children to be burned in the flames to appease Molech.
I am sympathetic to that mother who is compelled to work by reason of social conditions, but I confess I am astonished at that family that considers possessions or position to be of greater worth than their children.
It is my ardent belief that modern churches have failed the challenge of teaching women to resist the pressure of contemporary culture to promote their own desires as of supreme importance.
Christians today have forgotten a necessary lesson from the Word of God.  Paul commanded Titus, to teach what accords with sound doctrine.
In part that teaching of necessity encourages older women to teach what is good, thus training young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure [*cf.
Titus 2:1, 3b, 4*].
We need godly women to serve as mentors for younger women if we will reverse the trend.
Perhaps the “need” for young women to “learn” to love their husbands and children seems strange, but it should be apparent because of conditions that were prophesied to arise during the last days—a time that has at last fully arrived.
During these days as the end of the age rapidly nears, a time consistent with this present day, the focus of all humanity is increasingly upon their own individual interests and the concept of families is consequently denigrated.
This is as prophesied by the Word of the Lord.
Understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty.
For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power [*2 Timothy 3:1-5*].
Justice for an Abused Whore —The story that is related in our text is so touching, so realistic, that any true child of the Living God is compelled to identify with it.
Two prostitutes lived together.
Each had become pregnant as result of plying their trade.
Each bore a son, apparently within a very brief period of time of the other.
One night, when no clients were present in the room, one of the women lay on her baby, smothering her own child.
It is important for our understanding to realise that the emphasis in *verse eighteen* is upon the fact that the two women were alone—there were no clients present during the night.
In other words, there was no possibility that a client could have murdered the child.
Neither are we led to think that the act was deliberate, although we might wonder how the woman could have not known that she was laying on her child or why they child did not cry out.
Whatever the case, the child was killed and we are led to believe the death was accidental.
The mother of the dead child, realising what has happened, exchanged the dead baby for the living child of the other woman during the night.
At first light, the mother whose child had been stolen realised something was wrong.
Studying the face of the dead infant lying beside her, she realises that this is not her child.
One must surmise that she appeals to the maternal instincts of the other woman, pleading for the opportunity to be a mother to her own child.
We can likewise infer that the woman who would dare steal a child even as she refused to mourn her own dead child must have taunted the true mother, telling her that she was a poor excuse of motherhood for having smothered her own child.
Distressed, the true mother had obviously exhausted her appeals to motherly instinct in the other woman, and now she was compelled to appeal to the king.
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