Snap judgments

Snap judgments

The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him. – Proverbs 18:17

1 Kings 3:16-28

 16 Two women came to the king to have an argument settled.
 17 “Please, my lord,” one of them began, “this woman and I live in the same house. I gave birth to a baby while she was with me in the house.
 18 Three days later this woman also had a baby. We were alone; there were only two of us in the house.
 19 “But her baby died during the night when she rolled over on it.
 20 Then she got up in the night and took my son from beside me while I was asleep. She laid her dead child in my arms and took mine to sleep beside her.

 21 And in the morning when I tried to nurse my son, he was dead! But when I looked more closely in the morning light, I saw that it wasn’t my son at all.”
 22 Then the other woman interrupted, “It certainly was your son, and the living child is mine.” “No,” the first woman said, “the living child is mine, and the dead one is yours.” And so they argued back and forth before the king.

 23 Then the king said, “Let’s get the facts straight. Both of you claim the living child is yours, and each says that the dead one belongs to the other.

 24 All right, bring me a sword.” So a sword was brought to the king.
 25 Then he said, “Cut the living child in two, and give half to one woman and half to the other!”

 26 Then the woman who was the real mother of the living child, and who loved him very much, cried out, “Oh no, my lord! Give her the child– please do not kill him!” But the other woman said, “All right, he will be neither yours nor mine; divide him between us!”

 27 Then the king said, “Do not kill the child, but give him to the woman who wants him to live, for she is his mother!”
 28 When all Israel heard the king’s decision, the people were in awe of the king, for they saw the wisdom God had given him for rendering justice.

Solomon was frequently asked to judge between people with difficult problems. His solutions demonstrated great wisdom. He made sure he got all the facts correctly. And then went beyond the “facts” to the motives and hearts of those involved.

Have you ever experienced buyers regret? Suppose you are trying to buy new car. You go to only one dealership of one brand and listen to the salesperson discuss all the wonderful features of this particular brand. Without ever considering another brand, you make a snap decision. Later you learn about the superior features of a similar car made by different car manufacturer. Buyers regret sets in and you despondently mumble, “It seemed right to me at the time.”

Making good choices involves investigating different points of view. “Free inquiry” often necessitates exploring and evaluating contrasting thoughts and ideas. It is wise to always counterbalance information provided and “cross-examine” it.

Proverbs 18:17 The first to state his case seems right, until his opponent begins to cross-examine him.

It is wise to hear both sides. Then reflect and ruminate a bit upon what has been said before you decide. Don’t believe the first thing you hear about a matter, because it may be wrong (Wiersbe).

Proverbs 18:13 He who gives an answer before he hears, it is folly and shame to him.


It is wise to be cautious, and not easily swayed by the first side of the argument presented. The wise examine information carefully, probing it diligently.

Father as I review my life, I regret the many poor decisions that I have made. Teach me to be wise and listen to many counselors.


If two observations are good, three or more are even better. Too often the common events of everyday life are analogous to a battleground. There are often casualties and losses that are difficult to bear. We are left hurt, discouraged, bemoaning our losses, and licking our wounds.

We need to think more strategically, making wise battle plans for daily life. The wisdom of Solomon shows us the way. Perhaps the greatest lesson that Solomon offers is be teachable. “Sensible people give weight to the opinions of the wise – that is, they take ‘counsel’ before taking action, and accept ‘rebuke’ after a mistaken action” (Waltke).

Of course, for many children of the King, they always seem to think they are right about most things. Therefore they do not seek counsel or instruction from others and find themselves inflexible and not willing to listen to correction. No one is safe from self-deception. For Solomon, such recalcitrance is foolishness.

Proverbs 12:15 The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel.

Proverbs 16:2 People may be pure in their own eyes, but the LORD examines their motives.

In modern colloquial English, the value of counsel before coming to a conclusion in deciding is, “Two heads are better than one.”

“The wise person is not completely self-reliant. He recognizes his own imperfection and looks to others to supplement his own personal deficiencies. ‘Wage war’ means to seek to overcome any obstacle one may face in life. Wise strategy is always more important than mere strength” (Constable).

All children of the King can overcome obstacles by understanding and applying the principles of the Word of God. But this takes effort, discipline, and determination. Knowing the meaning of the Scriptures takes a lifetime. It is not a short dash, but rather a marathon.

Proverbs 11:14 Without wise leadership, a nation falls; there is safety in having many advisers.

Proverbs 20:18 Prepare plans by consultation, and make war by wise guidance.

Proverbs 24:6 For by wise guidance you will wage war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory.

Among the best counselors in history are the writers of the sacred Scriptures, and those who made it their life’s work to understand their wisdom and pass it on to others.

2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.

Psalms 19:7 The instructions of the LORD are perfect, reviving the soul. The decrees of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple.


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