The king made silver as common in Jerusalem as stones, and cedar as abundant as sycamore in the foothills.
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 had at sea a navy of Tharshish.
I. THE ADVANTAGES OF A STATE OF PROSPERITY. Christians are sometimes disposed to look with suspicion on wealth and greatness. Lord Bacon said that prosperity was the blessing of the Old Testament, and adversity the blessing of the New Testament. But this aphorism may very easily be misunderstood. Prosperity is the blessing of the New Testament as much as it is of the Old. In its proper nature, in its legitimate influence, in its Divine design, prosperity must be regarded as a blessing. One of Emerson's ancestors was in the habit of praying that none of his posterity might be rich. It is easy to imagine a man offering a prayer like that for his posterity, although it would be rather a shabby thing to do, but you will hardly find a sane man offering such a prayer for himself. Terrestrial prosperity is still one of God's benedictions.
1. Prosperity is a blessing, as it widens the range of our physical enjoyments.
2. Prosperity is a blessing, as it gives freer play to man's intellectual powers, and renders possible a fuller intellectual life. Elihu Burritt laments that the English peasant is a blind painter, creating on the hillside glorious pictures in green and gold, but strangely insensible to the splendour he creates. Ruskin complains that few people ever look at the sky. Emerson writes ruefully that whilst he was strolling on the beach in raptures with the azure and spiritual seat the tanned fishermen had nothing to say to one another except, "How's fish?" And most of our intellectual masters lash us for our neglect of the sights and sounds of a glorious creation.
3. Prosperity is a blessing, as it gives opportunity for the expression of highest character. Prosperity properly used, truly sanctified, brings character to its very highest and brightest manifestations. Humility is never more lovely than when it is clothed in scarlet; moderation is never more impressive than when it sits at banquets; simplicity is never more delightful than when it dwells amid magnificence; purity is never more divine than when its white robes are seen in palaces; gentleness and kindness are never more touching than when displayed by the great and powerful.
4. Prosperity is a blessing, as it enables us to act out more frilly our noblest aspirations. It is quite true that many who promise large things when their ship of gold comes in, nevertheless on the arrival of that gallant bark forthwith put the whole cargo into bonded stores, but noble souls rejoice exceedingly to find their power increased to glorify God in the service of humanity.
II. THE PERILS OF A STATE OF PROSPERITY. It has its perils to a nation. The ships of Solomon brought ruin; so did the ships of Carthage, of Greece, of Rome; so did the rich argosies of Spain. The other day in Whitby they showed me the ruins of the grand old Abbey. On the south aspect the wall is much more dilapidated than on the north, showing, it would seem, that the light of the sun had been more destructive than all the wild storms of the North Sea. So the sun of prosperity has often proved more fatal to empire than the bitterest tempests of danger and want and conflict. There is plenty of morbid matter everywhere, and the sun of prosperity soon develops it disastrousy enough. Prosperity has its perils to the individual. It is said that birds of paradise are often captured through their becoming intoxicated with the spice forests on which they alight, and we have all seen fine men and women, with the light of heaven in their eye and the beauty of holiness in their life, fall miserable victims to prosperity. Some rich men degenerate fearfully, so do some popular' men. On the American prairies travellers are sometimes brought to a standstill through the wheels of their chariots becoming locked by the flowers which grow there so profusely; and many a noble pilgrim to heaven has been hindered, brought to a fatal halt, by the golden and purple flowers of fortune which Heaven, in its goodness, had made to spring in his path. The lower good may destroy the higher good; as a man becomes richer in gold he may become poorer in faith, in virtue, in charity, in hope. Christianity gives us a social ideal of prime interest and efficacy. The curse of the old civilisations was selfishness. "I made me great works; I builded me houses; I planted me vineyards," etc. (Ecclesiastes 2:4-9). The I's stand up like a regiment of Grenadiers. Here was the curse of the old nations, in the flush of their power and prosperity. Here is the curse of much of the prosperity of to-day. Selfishness is the rock on which rich argosies suffer shipwreck, the rock on which the grandeur of nations and the happiness of men go to pieces. Christ changes the I into we, the my into our. Christianity brings us the larger measure of moral power.
(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
TopicsAbundance, Cedar, Cedars, Common, Foothills, Jerusalem, Low, Lowland, Lowlands, Maketh, Plentiful, Shephe'lah, Silver, Stone, Stones, Sycamore, Sycamore-fig, Sycamores, Sycamore-trees, Sycomore-trees, Trees, Vale
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 10:27
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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