King Solomon gave the queen of Sheba all she desired--whatever she asked--besides what he had given her out of his royal bounty. Then she left and returned to her own country, along with her servants.
I. SOLOMON, IN HIS WISDOM, A TYPE OF THE "GREATER" CHRIST. The distinctive personal characteristic of Solomon was his "wisdom." The fame of it is regarded by some as marking the uprising of a new and hitherto unknown power in Israel. Whence came this new phenomenon? We trace it to a Divine source. "The Lord gave unto David this wise son" (1 Kings 5:7). "God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much" (1 Kings 4:29). No doubt the extended intercourse with surrounding nations that he established was the beginning of a new life to Israel, bringing in a flood of new ideas and interests. This supplied materials for his wisdom but did not create it. It was not learnt from Egypt, or the "children of the East." It was a Divine gift, that came in response to his own prayer (1 Kings 3:9).
1. One broad feature that strikes us in Solomon's wisdom is its remarkable versatility, the variety of its phases, the way in which its light played freely on all sorts of subjects. It dealt with the objects and processes of nature. It was a kind of natural science. He has been called "the founder of Hebrew science," the "first of the world's great naturalists." "He spake of trees, from the cedar tree," etc. (1 Kings 4:33). One would like to know what the range and quality of his science really was; but the Bible, existing as it does for far other than scientific purposes, does not satisfy our curiosity in this respect. It dealt with moral facts and problems - a true practical philosophy of life; its proper ends and aims, its governing principles, the meaning of its experiences, its besetting dangers and possible rewards. It dealt with the administration of national affairs. This is seen in his assertion of the principle of eternal righteousness as the law by which the ruler of men must himself be ruled. His wisdom lay in the gift of "an understanding heart to judge the people and discern between good and evil," and the people "feared the king, for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him to do judgment" (1 Kings 4:29). We are thus reminded of the unity of nature and of human life. Truth is one, whether in thought, feeling, or conduct, in things private or public, secular or spiritual. Wisdom is the power that discerns and utilizes the innermost truth of all things, finds out and practically applies whatever is essentially Divine.
2. Solomon's wisdom assumed various forms of expression: the Proverbial form, as in the "Book of Proverbs;" the Poetic form, as in his "Songs" and "Psalms;" the Socratic form, by question and answer, riddles - "dark sayings" - and the interpretation thereof. It is in this latter form that his wisdom here appears. Tradition says that Hiram engaged with him in this "cross questioning," and was worsted in the encounter; so here the queen of Sheba came "to prove him with hard questions," and "communing with him of all that was in her heart she found that he could tell her all her questions," etc. By all this we are led to think of "One greater than Solomon."
(1) "Greater," inasmuch as He leads men to wisdom of a higher order. Solomon is the most secular of the inspired writers of the Old Testament. Divine things are approached by him, as it were, on the lower, earthly side. A prudential tone is given to the counsels of religion, and vice is set forth not so much as wickedness but as "folly." Think of the marked difference between the utterances of Solomon's wisdom and the sublime spiritual elevation of David's psalms. And when we come to Christ's teaching, what immeasurably loftier heights and deeper depths of Divine truth are here! Redemption, holiness, immortality, are His themes - the deeper "mysteries of the kingdom of heaven; .... in him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Colossians 2:8).
(2) "Greater," inasmuch as the Divine fount of wisdom must needs be infinitely superior to any mere human channel through which it flows. Solomon was after all but a learner, not a master. His were but guesses at truth. Christ's were the authoritative utterances of the incarnate "Word." Solomon spoke according to the limited measure of the spirit of truth in him. Christ spoke out of His own infinite fulness. "God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto Him" (John 3:34). Whence, indeed, did Solomon's wisdom come but from Him, the true fontal "Light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world"? The words that the wise in every age have spoken were but dim, dawning rays of the light that broke in a glorious day upon the world when He, the Sun of Righteousness, arose.
II. THE QUEEN OF SHEBA, IN HER SEARCH AFTER WISDOM, AS AN EXAMPLE FOR OURSELVES. All the motives that actuated herin this long pilgrimage from the far off corner of Arabia we know not. Mere curiosity, commercial interest, personal vanity may have had something to do with it. But the words of the narrative suggest that it was mainly an honest thirst for knowledge, and specially for clearer light on highest matters of human interest. Learn
(1) The nobility of a simple, earnest, restless search after truth.
(2) The grateful respect which a teachable spirit will feel towards one who can unveil the truth to it.
(3) The joyous satisfaction of soul that springs from the discovery of the highest truth. How much does such an example as this in the realms of heathen darkness rebuke the spiritual dulness and indifference of those who with the Light of Life shining gloriously upon them in the person of Christ refuse to welcome it, and walk in it! "Many shall come from the east and the west," etc. (Matthew 8:11, 12). - W.
The king made of the almug-trees pillars for the house of the Lord.
I. THE FIRST CHARACTERISTIC OF THE TRUE CHRISTIAN IS STRENGTH. "Pillars for the house of the Lord, and for the king's house." The almug-tree was close in grain, firm in fibre, only such wood being fit for pillars. The people of God must first be strong in spirit. Our Lord Himself was distinguished by sublime faith and bravery, and His apostles and disciples shared His supreme power and confidence, bearing triumphantly immense strain and suffering, as a pillar its tremendous burden. Another point to be noted is this: in the various catalogues of the virtues which occur in the New Testament the virile virtues are as amply recognised as in the most austere ethical systems of Greece and Rome. And this strength of conviction, sternness of principle, and constancy of purpose, this force of character and conduct, formed the basis of the beauty and sweetness which distinguished the primitive Christians.
1. Without strength there is no beauty of life. Without depth and thoroughness character does not attain to sweetness. We say, "Beauty is skin deep"; but really this is a consolation of philosophy in which the consolation is much in excess of the philosophy, for beauty springs from the roots and foundations of things. The loveliness of the earth is maintained by forces which operate below the surface; the bloom of the human face is secured by the health of organs concealed in the depths of the body; and the loveliness and sweetness of character spring from the soul — spring from the soul when pure and strong. Without firmness and vigour character does not attain beauty and sweetness. Reality, solidity, and energy underlie all satisfying winsomeness of manner and conduct. Hidden within the leaves of the tree are stout boughs, beneath the blooming skin hide well-knit bones, the greensward rests on granite, and the basis of flowers is not rarely iron and flint. So genuine charm of character is impossible without strong conscientiousness, serious views, unbending principle, firm, pure, uncompromising purity of mind and heart. There is no short and easy way to grace of life; its secret is the strength and integrity of the soul. Seeking to make life sweet, first make your heart sound, for out of radical, organic purity blossoms real courtesy, gentleness, and the manifold graces of life. "Whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely." The pure comes before the lovely. Do not patch, powder, and paint the face, get health at the centre; do not coax your dress, get a better figure; do not revise your etiquette, be transformed in the spirit of your mind. Depth, strength, vitality, freedom, harmony, love, joyfulness are the roots of beautiful Christian character. "Out of the heart are the issues of life," and in the love of God, the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, do we find the secret of satisfying and abiding sweetness.
2. As there is no real grace of life without strength, so there is no efficient service without it. "He made pillars for the house of the Lord." Men efficient for high holy service in God's Church must possess positive qualities, elements of strength and stability, independence of thought, uprightness of character, steadfastness of faith, and power of patience and sacrifice. Fussy men in all the denominations seem to be pillars, but in fact are poor creatures of little moment. The secret of efficiency is reality. Lath-painted iron is soon detected; without sincerity, strength, and self-forgetfulness service is shallow and sterile. "And he made pillars for the king's house." If we are to render real and permanent service to the State, we shall need the strong, fine qualities of the Christian character. We cannot make a pillar of bamboo: there must be something in it, something of heart of oak, solidity of marble, texture of iron and bronze. "He who would become a pillar in Church or State must first be a pillar in deed and truth." Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out."
II. THE COMPLEMENTARY CHARACTERISTIC OF TRUE CHRISTIAN CHARACTER IS SWEETNESS, "Harps also and psalteries for singers." Fragrance and music proceeded from the wood that furnished the pillars: so Christian character suggests harmoniousness, smoothness, sweetness. Mr. St. John, the naturalist, relates that when exploring the recesses of the Highlands he frequently came into contact with men living in the rude Highland way, and at first he thought them morose. unobservant, stupid; but as he continued to live amongst them the truth appeared: they appreciated their majestic hills and lakes more keenly than their visitor did, in their soul was the love of beauty, and in their lips the law of kindness; they were really thinkers, poets, saints. Many Christians who ruffle the polite and provoke the reproach of aestheticism are really the gentlest and loveliest of men and women. Forbidding to the hasty glance and superficial judgment of dilettantism, it is the exterior only that is uncut and unpolished, which is, after all, infinitely better than social refinement hiding moral rottenness. Harriet Martineau, writing about the disappointing revelation of the true Walter Scott in Lockhart's Life, ends with this just reflection: "If great men fall below our expectation, let it be remembered that there is another point of view from which the matter should be looked at — that we gain thus a new sense of the glory and beauty of virtue and incorruptibleness in the humble matter of everyday life." Dexterous exhibitors introduce into the flower-shew blooms which put to shame their modest neighbours, but when the prizes are adjudged these pretentious flowers are rejected when it is discovered that their leaves and petals are artificial and doctored; so the great Day will doom many a manufactured article, and confer the final reward upon flowers of the field whose whole charm was truth and sweetness. We, therefore, magnify conscience at every turn, and think to show how much we have of it by ignoring the obligations of grace, and blurring the beauty of holiness whenever it tends to reveal itself. A perverse conception of the Puritan deforms our sanctuaries, impoverishes our worship, and blights our character. In the house study to express the sweetness of Christian character. One of the finest aspects of modern times is the art that is finding its way into lowly homes, and giving the touch of grace to every humblest, household, necessary thing. "The aim of art is to express the sublime in the trivial," said J. F. Millet; and if in the home we reveal our sublime faith and righteousness in doing gracefully many little things, the home will be far happier than it sometimes is. In the business sphere is much need of sweetness. Nowhere is gentleness more effective than in the stern world of toil and trade. Silk is said to be stronger than steel, and the graciousness of a strong man renders him as nearly omnipotent as a mortal may come. The lyre ought to figure in business as well as the firm, hard columns; and fine behaviour and persuasive speech in those who rule. without a moment's surrender of right and authority, are more influential than any outburst of vulgar wrath. Instead of a cudgel try a psaltery. In our entire intercourse with general society we need to cultivate this grace of spirit and life. A sceptical writer in a current magazine argues that the old evidences for Christianity are utterly discredited, and that the one consideration which now gives sanction and effectiveness to its claim is " the beauty of the character of Jesus Christ." We do not for a moment agree with this contention; but it is undeniable that no evidence for Christianity is so commanding as that drawn from the incomparable, transcending loveliness of our Lord.
(W. L. Watkinson.)
PeopleArabians, Aram, Hiram, Hittites, Ophir, Solomon, Tarshish, Tharshish
PlacesEgypt, House of the Forest of Lebanon, Jerusalem, Kue, Ophir, Sheba, Shephelah, Syria, Tarshish
TopicsAddition, Apart, Beside, Besides, Bounty, Desire, Desired, Freely, Heart, Impulse, Memorial, Queen, Request, Requested, Retinue, Returned, Royal, Servants, Sheba, Solomon, Turneth, Whatever, Whatsoever
Outline1. The queen of Sheba admires the wisdom of Solomon
14. Solomon's gold
16. His targets
18. The throne of ivory
21. His vessels
24. His presents
26. his chariots and horse
28. his tribute
Dictionary of Bible Themes1 Kings 10:13
5120 Solomon, character
LibraryComing to the King.
"And King Solomon gave unto the Queen of Sheba all her desire, whatsoever she asked, beside that which Solomon gave her of his royal bounty."--1 Kings x. 13. The beautiful history recorded in the chapter from which the above words are quoted is deeply instructive to those who have learned to recognise CHRIST in the Scriptures. The reference to this narrative by our LORD Himself was surely designed to draw our attention to it, and gives it an added interest. The blessings, too, received by the Queen …
J. Hudson Taylor—A Ribband of Blue
A Royal Seeker after Wisdom
Of the Weight of Government; and that all Manner of Adversity is to be Despised, and Prosperity Feared.
Meditations of the Blessed State of the Regenerate Man after Death.
There is a Blessedness in Reversion
The Fact of the Redeemer's Return was Typified in the Lives of Joseph and Solomon.
"Let any Man Come. "
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