To Judge this Great People
Segment of Chapter 6
The Message of the Covenant
Solomon's Wise Ruling
The Judgement of Solomon, Nicolas Poussin (1594-1666)
To Judge this Great People
In addition to the considerations in the previous sections, it is remarkable that Solomon asked for wisdom to help enable him to judge the people. One conspicuous instance of one who was willing to judge matters is Absalom.
2 Samuel 15:4 And Absalom said, Oh that I were made judge in the land, that every man who has any controversy and cause might come to me, and I would do him justice! (Darby)
It is highly notable that Moses found that he was not able to judge the people and therefore set up a system of courts that utilized the Levites to perform this function. Nevertheless, in 1 Kings 3:9 we see that Solomon wishes to act as judge.
1 Kings 3:9 Give Thy servant therefore an understanding heart to judge Thy people, that I may discern between good and evil; for who is able to judge this Thy great people?' (JPS) (Emphasis added)
Under the Torah, it was exclusively the role of the Levites to act as judges, or in important cases, for God Himself. Moses set up this system because he was not able to judge this great people (Exodus 18). In the case of Solomon, seeking knowledge of good and evil for judging the people was seeking to usurp the authority and position of the Most High.
Deuteronomy 17:12 And the man that doeth presumptuously, in not hearkening unto the priest that standeth to minister there before the Lord thy God, or unto the judge, even that man shall die; and thou shalt exterminate the evil from Israel. (JPS) (Emphasis added)
The priests judged most matters and since they had the Urim and Thummim, it would be impossible to improve upon their decisions.
Deuteronomy 1:16 And I charged your judges at that time, saying: 'Hear the causes between your brethren, and judge righteously between a man and his brother, and the stranger that is with him. 17 Ye shall not respect persons in judgment; ye shall hear the small and the great alike; ye shall not be afraid of the face of any man; for the judgment is God's; and the cause that is too hard for you ye shall bring unto me, and I will hear it.' (JPS) (Emphasis added)
Deuteronomy 17:8 If there arise a matter too hard for thee in judgment, between blood and blood, between plea and plea, and between stroke and stroke, even matters of controversy within thy gates; then shalt thou arise, and get thee up unto the place which the Lord thy God shall choose. 9 And thou shall come unto the priests the Levites, and unto the judge that shall be in those days; and thou shalt inquire; and they shall declare unto thee the sentence of judgment. 10 And thou shalt do according to the tenor of the sentence, which they shall declare unto thee from that place which the Lord shall choose; and thou shalt observe to do according to all that they shall teach thee. 11 According to the law which they shall teach thee, and according to the judgment which they shall tell thee, thou shalt do; thou shalt not turn aside from the sentence which they shall declare unto thee, to the right hand, nor to the left. 12 And the man that doeth presumptuously, in not hearkening unto the priest that standeth to minister there before the Lord thy God, or unto the judge, even that man shall die; and thou shalt exterminate the evil from Israel. (JPS) (Emphasis added)
"Who is able to judge this Thy great people?"
Ecclesiastes 5:7 If thou seest the oppression of the poor, and the violent perverting of justice and righteousness in the state, marvel not at the matter; for one higher than the high watcheth, and there are higher than they. (JPS)
Ecclesiastes 3:16 And moreover I saw under the sun, in the place of justice, that wickedness was there; and in the place of righteousness, that wickedness was there. (JPS)
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