1 Kings 10-11 The queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon

From 1 Kings 10-11

11 crown cross


1 Ki 10.1-13; Solomon; The Queen of Sheba

1 Ki 10.14-29; Solomon; Solomon’s Great Wealth

1 Ki 11.1-8; Solomon; Solomon Turns from the LORD

1 Ki 11.9-43; Solomon; The LORD Raises Adversaries

Passage and Comments

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Solomon has been blessed by the LORD with wisdom, understanding and wealth. The nations all around him hear about him and some want to see for themselves. In today’s passage Solomon is visited by the Queen of Sheba.

10 Now when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the Lord, she came to test him with hard questions. 2 She came to Jerusalem with a very great retinue, with camels bearing spices and very much gold and precious stones. And when she came to Solomon, she told him all that was on her mind. (1 Ki 10.1-2)

‘Some think her country was the Sabean kingdom of Yemen, of which the capital was Saba, in Arabia-Felix; others, that it was in African Ethiopia, that is, Abyssinia, towards the south of the Red Sea. The opinions preponderate in favor of the former. This view harmonizes with the language of our Lord, as Yemen means “South”; and this country, extending to the shores of the Indian ocean, might in ancient times be considered “the uttermost parts of the earth.”’ (Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (1 Ki 10:1). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.)

She heard about his fame ‘concerning the name of the LORD’. His wisdom, understanding and wealth were associated with the LORD. As Solomon has been exalted so has the LORD.

Is the LORD glorified when people see your success?

She wants to press him with hard questions. Most seem to think with enigmas and riddles. Its a test, to see if his fame is well deserved. She tells him all that is on her mind. I suggest she has a wide variety of things to talk and question him about.

She is accompanied with a large number of people and has brought lots of valuable cargo. She aims to compare her wealth with Solomon’s.

3 And Solomon answered all her questions; there was nothing hidden from the king that he could not explain to her. 4 And when the queen of Sheba had seen all the wisdom of Solomon, the house that he had built, 5 the food of his table, the seating of his officials, and the attendance of his servants, their clothing, his cupbearers, and his burnt offerings that he offered at the house of the Lord, there was no more breath in her. 6 And she said to the king, “The report was true that I heard in my own land of your words and of your wisdom, 7 but I did not believe the reports until I came and my own eyes had seen it. And behold, the half was not told me. Your wisdom and prosperity surpass the report that I heard. (1 Ki 10.3-7)

Solomon, equipped by the LORD, is up to the task. He has sufficient wisdom and understanding to answer all her questions and tests. The Queen is overwhelmed by his wisdom, the organisation of his kingdom and his wealth.

God’s kingdom surpasses the kingdoms of this world.

This of course, has implications for the people in the kingdom and under his rule.

8 Happy are your men! Happy are your servants, who continually stand before you and hear your wisdom! 9 Blessed be the Lord your God, who has delighted in you and set you on the throne of Israel! Because the Lord loved Israel forever, he has made you king, that you may execute justice and righteousness.” (1 Ki 10.8-9)

His subjects under his rule are happy because they have a good ruler. They benefit from his wisdom and his decisions. She recognises the LORD is behind all this and in particular echoes the LORD’s promise to David (2 Sam 7) when she says ‘forever’. In turn she blesses the LORD.

The King executes justice and righteousness in his kingdom.

She acknowledges the king’s role is to execute justice and righteousness. What this generally means is that he will punish the evildoers, reward and save the righteous and help the poor and needy.

10 Then she gave the king 120 talents of gold, and a very great quantity of spices and precious stones. Never again came such an abundance of spices as these that the queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon. 11 Moreover, the fleet of Hiram, which brought gold from Ophir, brought from Ophir a very great amount of almug wood and precious stones. 12 And the king made of the almug wood supports for the house of the Lord and for the king’s house, also lyres and harps for the singers. No such almug wood has come or been seen to this day. (1 Ki 10.10-12)

She gives him many gifts in appreciation. She honours him. His wealth expands with imports from other nations. In particular, the author recognises the volumes of spices and almug wood has was given. These Solomon made use of.

13 And King Solomon gave to the queen of Sheba all that she desired, whatever she asked besides what was given her by the bounty of King Solomon. So she turned and went back to her own land with her servants. (1 Ki 10.13)

He returns the favour in Oriental fashion with his own wealth. Blessing her.

Story of Israel

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The Psalmist says it is God who exalts.

6 For not from the east or from the west

and not from the wilderness comes lifting up,

7 but it is God who executes judgment,

putting down one and lifting up another. (Ps 75.6-7)

Solomon was lifted up to the place he was because of God’s work before him and in him. Solomon isn’t the only one in Israel’s history. He did so with Joshua (Jos 3.7), David (2 Sam 5.9-12) and the kings that followed. Some were faithful to him, but others turned their back on him. They did not recognize the LORD. The true king over Israel had raised them up into their position of power and responsibility.

Story of Jesus

When Jesus came. Some questioned who he was. They did not believe and sought a sign.

38 Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.” 39 But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41 The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. 42 The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here. (Mt 12:38–42)

Jesus refers to the Queen of the South. She is the Queen of Sheba who met Solomon. Solomon was recognized to be greater during his time because of the LORD.

But Jesus makes the point, referring to himself, someone greater than Solomon is here. God has raised him up, exalted him to the highest place (Phil 2.6-11).

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