A Wise King for Israel
Summary of Lesson Activities:
Students will RECORD a script, then play it back while acting it out with puppets.
Scripture: Solomon's Wisdom: 1 Kings 3.
- Read the story ahead of time.
- Gather the materials.
- Copies of the script
- Tape Recorder
Opening-Welcome and Lesson Introduction:
Greet the children and introduce yourself.
Open with a prayer.
Ask children if they can figure out one or more of these puzzles by asking you yes/no questions, or come up with your own:
1) A man wants to build a house with all four walls facing south. How can he do it? (Answer: If he builds it at the North Pole, all four walls will face south.)
2) A man came across a cabin in the woods. There were about 50 people inside of it all sitting in seats facing the same direction, all of them had died in the same way. What happened to them? (Answer: the cabin is an airplane “cabin.” The plane crashed.)
3) In the story of the flood, the animals came on the ark two by two. Exactly how many pairs of animals did Moses bring with him on the ark? (Answer: None. It was Noah)
Explain that those problems were tricky. Some things we can figure out because we learned them, for example 12X12=?. Many other problems are things we have to figure out for ourselves. It is this ability to figure things out that explains how really smart someone is.
Today we are going to learn about a problem that came before King Solomon. It was a tricky problem, one that required wisdom to figure out. As we learn the story, see if you can think of another way Solomon could have resolved the problem.
Dig-Main Content and Reflection:
First: Have the actors tape the script onto a tape. Non-actors can provide music and crowd gasps/mumurs.
Then, Play the tape and have children act out the play using puppets. The script is below and titled: “Court BC” (Court TV). In it, which Solomon determines the true mother of a child. Children will discuss wisdom and learning and its importance in Solomon’s reign and in their own lives.
When the play is over, read the story in the Bible to see what 1 Kings 3:16-28 to review the actual story.
- What made this a tricky problem?
- Can you think of another way Solomon could have resolved the problem?
- How is wisdom different from knowledge? (Does a wise person know everything? Or are they a good listener? Don't jump to conclusions? Are fair?)
- Why do you think Solomon asked God for wisdom instead of money or other things?
- If God told you you could have anything you asked for, what would you ask for?
End with a prayer.
King Solomon – small speaking role
Court Reporter – major speaking role
News Anchor – major speaking role, off stage
Bailiff – small speaking role
Mother #1 – small speaking role
Mother #2 – small speaking role
Baby – non-speaking role
Crowd – small speaking roles
Set up like a courtroom or throne room with Solomon seated in the middle and the two women and baby coming before him. The court reporter should be set in the middle of the action with the News Anchor off to the side or off stage.
Costumes and props
Your choice of Biblical costumes or modern dress. Solomon can be dressed as a king, or in a black robe as a more modern judge. Solomon will also need a sword for the dramatic scene where he decides to cut the baby in two. The baby should be wrapped in a blanket. The Court Reporter will need a microphone.
With Younger Children
Have youth or adults read the parts for the Court Reporter and News Anchor which have longer parts.
Scene 1 (Introducing the Claimant and Defendant)
News Anchor: Court BC case #101, Court BC year one of the rule of King Solomon 961 BC. These are the claimants
(mother #1 enters and faces the audience) The claimant. She gave birth to a son four days ago while living in a house with the defendant. Her claim? That the defendant, who gave birth yesterday, rolled over on her own son, killing him, and then switched the babies. She is petitioning King Solomon to have the child which is rightfully hers returned to her. (mother #1 enters courtroom)
(mother #2 enters with baby and faces the audience) The defendant. She is accused of swapping her dead child for the claimant’s live child. She has submitted a counter-claim of defamation of character.
Who will prevail? It will be all decided here at Court BC. Here’s our court reporter ____ (name of reporter).
Court Reporter: Quite a drama before us today. Two mothers, two newborn infants, and no witnesses. Both mothers claim to be the rightful mother of the living child and both accuse the other of accidentally laying on and smothering her own child and then laying claim to the living child. How will the king decide? Let’s go inside and see.
Scene 2 (Courtroom Scene)
Bailiff: Here ye, here ye, all rise for the venerable and wise King of Israel, Solomon.
Solomon: You’ve both been sworn in and I’ve read your complaint.
(to mother #1) You say that this woman (pointing to mother #2) switched her dead baby for your living baby in the middle of the night while you slept.
Mother #1: Yes, your honor. I got up to feed my son. I noticed he was dead. But then, when I looked more closely, I saw it wasn’t my baby at all.
Solomon: Is this the way you remember it?
Mother #2: No, your honor.
Solomon: What’s your story?
Mother #2: I woke up to her screaming that her baby was dead. My baby was with me all the while.
Solomon: (to mother #2) And you say you didn’t switch babies?
Mother #2: Never, your honor.
Solomon: (to mother #1) Are you sure it wasn’t your son who died? Babies look a lot alike and they were almost the same age.
Mother #1: A mother knows her own baby, your honor.
Mother #2: Yes, a mother does, and I know THIS baby is MINE!
Mother #1: He’s mine!
Mother #2: MINE!
Mother #1: You stole him!
Mother #2: You are making up a crazy LIE!
Solomon: (to both) SILENCE! Okay, I think I have all the information I need right here to make my decision. I’ll be back in a moment with my judgment.
Court Reporter: We’ll be right back after the break.
Scene 3 (Court Reporter – polls the crowd outside)
Court Reporter: What do you think Solomon’s decision will be.
Crowd 1: Pick the mother that most looks like the baby.
News Anchor: All babies kind of look alike to me. What if the baby doesn’t look like one of the mothers at all? We don’t know the father because the women were prostitutes.
Court Reporter: That’s a good point. What do you think?
Crowd 2: See if there was a doctor or a midwife at the birth.
Court Reporter: I believe the complaint says that they were the only two people in the house. No one else has ever seen the children.
Crowd 3: I think they should take some blood samples for DNA evidence.
News Anchor: ____, what exactly is DNA?
Court Reporter: I’m not sure, but I believe it is a future technology which won’t be available for 2,963 years.
News Anchor Hmm, that could pose a problem.
Crowd 4: Give them a lie detector test.
News Anchor: Is that another future technology?
Court Reporter: Yes, I believe so. I seriously doubt that King Solomon will wait that long to come to a decision.
News Anchor: Yes, the baby would be almost 3,000 years old by that time.
Court Reporter: Wait, the king is reentering the courtroom. Let’s go in and here the results.
(NOTE: Teachers may choose to stop the drama here and discuss what has happened so far and get children’s input as to how Solomon might settle this dispute.)
Scene 4 (Courtroom Decision)
Bailiff: Here ye, here ye, all rise for the venerable and wise King of Israel, Solomon.
Solomon: (Enters and sits) I have come to my decision. Bailiff, bring the child to me.
Bailiff: (brings baby to Solomon)
Solomon: since I can’t determine by the testimony which woman is the child’s real mother, and since there are no witnesses, I have no choice but to divide the child up equally. Bailiff, hand me my sword.
Bailiff: (brings the sword)
Solomon: I will cut the child in two!
Baby: WAH! WAH”
Mother #1: (screams and throws herself down at the king’s feet) No, your majesty NO! Let her have him. I withdraw my suit. Let her have him. Don’t kill the child! Anything but that!
Mother #2: That sounds like a good idea.
Solomon: Enough. (hands the child to Mother #1) I will give YOU the child. You must be the real mother. You cared more about the child than about getting your own way.
(to both mothers) You may go now.
Mother #1: Thank you your honor. (She hugs baby, then she and baby exit courtroom).
Mother #2: Exits grumbling.
Scene 5 (Outside Courtroom Interviews)
Court Reporter: (to Mother #1) Ma’am do you have any words to say about the king’s decision?
Mother #1: I’m just SO HAPPY. The king is very wise. I was so scared when he talked about cutting my little one in two. But now I know he only did it so he could find out the truth.
Court Reporter: We’re all happy for you. I believe you have some papers to sign. (mother #1 and baby exit)
(to mother #2) Ma’am do you have any words to say?
Mother #2: No comment. (pushes him out of her way.)
Court Reporter: There you have it, another wise decision by King Solomon.
News Anchor: Thank you, ___. (to audience) And thank YOU for watching. Tune in tomorrow for another exciting episode of Court BC. Bye now.
- Do you think King Solomon was really going to slice the child in two?
- Why do you think he said this?
- If you had been King Solomon would you have thought of this solution?
- Why do you think the second mother switched babies? Do you think she should have been punished? Why?
- Can you think of a modern situation where we might need a judge with Solomon’s wisdom?
- How might Solomon's FAITH IN GOD, affected his decision?
- Did it make him more caring? More fair? What if he had been selfish?
How can the Bible make a person "wise"? (It is the collected wisdom of people who have learned from their own mistakes and that of many people. It is the inspired Word of God about how to act in certain situations, how to be fair and do justice.)
A lesson written by Lisa Martin from: Trinity UCC
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