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Sunday, June 16th, 2024
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
1 Kings 10

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

Verses 1-29

1 Kings 10:1 . Sheba, from Saba, the eldest son of Cush. Genesis 10:7. The country extending itself from the Gulf of Persia to the Red sea. The claims of the Abyssinians to the queen of this country, seem grounded merely on the pride of unfounded tradition.

1 Kings 10:14 . Six hundred threescore and six talents of gold. The weight of one talent is estimated by Suidas at sixty pounds, or three thousand shekels of gold.

A pound, a hundred drachms A drachm, six obeli An obulus, six brass coins A brass coin, seven mites.

1 Kings 10:22 . The king had at sea a navy of Tharshish. As the critics are all embarrassed concerning Ophir in the preseding chapter, so they are equally undecided here concerning Tharshish. The prophet Jonah went down to Joppa, and found a ship going to Tharshish: Jonah 1:3. Javan, Genesis 10:4, had a son called Tharshish, who no doubt, like other fathers, called his lands after his own name; as we find inhabitants of that name. 2Ma 4:30 . Tharshish was probably the old name of Tyre, or of Cyprus, and so the seas adjacent were called by the same name, for we repeatedly read of the ships of Tarshish, or ships of the Mediterranean sea. For this reason Tremellius translates the word ocean. Samuel Bochart relieves, I think, the difficulty. Phal. 1 Kings 3:7. He affirms that Betica was the ancient name of Spain, or of part of that country; that the river Guadalquiver was called Tartessus. Chan. 1 Kings 1:7. Tradition adds, that the sea at the pillars of Hercules [Gibraltar] had formerly broken the banks which separated Great Africa from the land of Tarshish. The Chaldaic reads, ships of Africa.

1 Kings 10:29 . The kings of Syria. This indicates that the empire of Babylon was then of small account, and very limited in territory.


When in the year 1530, Ignatius Loyola quitted the profession of arms, and vowed to devote his whole life to the conversion of mahometans and idolaters in every part of the earth, he said he was ashamed to see the merchants brave tempests, despise dangers, and make long voyages for gain, while the christian world did nothing to propagate the faith of Christ. But here is an illustrious woman, who in regard to her being a heathen and less enlightened, excelled him in pious zeal and laudable exertions. She came to Solomon to inquire concerning the name of the Lord, and to prove him with hard questions: for his fame by sea and by land, was gone to the ends of the earth. In this view she affords the christian world a most animating example. Our JEHOVAH Jesus, greater than Solomon, is building the city and temple of his church. The mystery of his glorious person, the greatness of his love to man, the riches of his grace, the glory of his kingdom, and the terrors of his arm are subjects of admiration to heaven and earth. To sinners, all other knowledge is but vanity, and all other treasures are but dung in comparison of the excellent knowledge of Christ Jesus the Lord.

She came to prove Solomon with hard questions, such no doubt as we find in the Proverbs; and with a divine wisdom he told her all the truth concerning every query. And has not every sinner many very hard questions to put to the Lord of glory? May not each say, Lord what must I do to be saved? Can my iniquities be all forgiven? Can my conscience ever be made calm, serene and placid, with a peace which passeth all understanding? Can the wicked be justified at thy bar? Can my nature ever be made clean, filled with love, and always inclined to good? Can my passions be weaned from phantoms, and fixed on things above? Is it possible for me to say with the psalmist, Whom have I in heaven but thee, and there is none upon earth I desire besides thee? Answer, oh glorious Source of wisdom and love, and tell me all the desire of my heart.

When this queen had seen all his domestic, all his religious, and all his political arrangements, her understanding and heart were quite overpowered with the grandeur and multiplicity of the objects. But with Christ and his kingdom, the glory is much more admirable. Prophets have made it the cheering theme of prophecy; angels, contemplating his redemption, have sung glory to God in the highest; and the holy apostles, enraptured with his love, have blessed the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by his resurrection from the dead. Yea, all heaven is transported with devotion at the wonders of his name. This princess, on hearing of Solomon’s wisdom and achievements, spared no presents, made every sacrifice, and risked every danger of crossing the weary deserts, that she might see his works, hear his wisdom, and worship in his glorious temple. Well therefore has our Saviour said, that she shall condemn the supineness of the religious world. Well therefore did he cite her example to confound the age in which he lived; an age which wondered and perished.

When this foreign princess, so great a credit to her country, had seen all his works, and heard his wisdom, she not only fainted beneath the weight of his glory, but acknowledging her partial unbelief, exclaimed, “the half of this was not told me.” So believer, follow on, tracing the wisdom and works of thy heavenly King; follow on in the school of instruction, and by and bye the curtain will drop. By and bye you shall find yourself in the presence of the King eternal, immortal, and invisible. By and bye you shall find yourself in the midst of the city and temple of God, and exclaim with all the adoring throng, not the half, nor even the thousandth part of his fame and glory was ever revealed. Eye hath not seen, ear hath not heard, neither hath entered the heart of man the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.

When Solomon and this queen had exchanged their munificent presents, for royal personages do not bargain like merchants, the king gave her over and above whatever she was pleased to ask. And now, if this be the etiquette of kings, what shalt thou do, poor trembling soul, who hast no pearls but thy tears, no incense but thy sighs, and no treasures but thy sins? Well, be of good cheer; the oblations with which God is best pleased are a broken spirit and a contrite heart. His first and great request is, My son, give me thy heart. In return for this he says, Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. And again, he that overcometh shall inherit all things. Lord, thou art greater than Solomon; may I ever come to thee. Yea, may “all the ends of the earth remember and turn to the Lord, and all the kindreds of the nations worship before him.”

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on 1 Kings 10". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/1-kings-10.html. 1835.
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