1 Kings 3:24–25 (ESV)

24 And the king said, “Bring me a sword.” So a sword was brought before the king.

1 Kings 3:24–25 shows Solomon’s action designed to display who was telling the truth and who was lying. At first glance, Solomon’s command appears both cruel and unjust in its cruelty. He threatened the death of the one person innocent of any wrongdoing, which is of course the baby who would be killed in a seemingly barbaric manner.

Yet, Solomon was seeking a solution that would find the answer—not in the conflicting tales of the two women—but in the maternal affection of the child’s true mother. There was a compromise of a kind that was sought in this suggestion. It was the compromise of a willingness to give up one’s own personal rights for the sake of what is morally right.

Had both women remained silent, would Solomon have insisted on the grisly plan? Highly unlikely. It would not have been an exercise of justice, nor would it have discovered which woman was telling the truth and which woman lying.