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Bible Commentaries

Kingcomments on the Whole Bible

1 Kings 10

Verses 1-3

Visit of the Queen of Sheba

The purpose of this chapter is to emphasize the incredible wealth of Solomon. He possesses everything in quantities that exceed our comprehension. The queen of Sheba, a really rich woman, is overwhelmed by it. She is set by the Lord Jesus as an example to the scribes and Pharisees. The Lord tells them that this queen came from far away – most likely from Yemen, 1950 km south of Jerusalem – to hear the wisdom of Solomon, while they would not listen to Him Who is more than Solomon (Matthew 12:42).

The coming of the queen of Sheba to Solomon is an example of the nations coming to Solomon and the God of Solomon (1 Kings 4:34; 1 Kings 8:41-John :). She doesn’t just come to pay a courtesy visit or to see a rich and wise king, but to see a king who has a great God. She is not only curious about Solomon, but wants to know more about the LORD. She has heard the call concerning Solomon “concerning the name of the LORD”. She may have heard this call through the shipmen of Solomon’s fleet, which will also have visited her country.

In this history we have a clear proof that we see here a picture of the kingdom of peace (Psalms 72:8; Psalms 72:10; Isaiah 60:5-Joshua :). For us there is also an application. We are under the authority of Him of Whom Solomon is a picture. The queen of Sheba introduces someone who wants to learn the mysteries of God and to hear the solution from the mouth of the true Solomon. These mysteries concern, in pictures, Christ and His church. In Christ are “hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:2-Leviticus :). We may come to Him with all our questions, including questions about our practice.

She comes up with questions that occupied her in her heart, the big questions of life and no intellectual questions. Solomon answers all her questions. We don’t always get the answer we want, nor always in the form we immediately understand. Yet we never leave Him without an answer, even though we sometimes have to wait for what we have asked. The heart that is in His presence will experience that He is completely trustworthy.

Verses 4-5

What the Queen Sees

The Queen of Sheba sees seven things. The question is whether we also have seen this, but in the spiritual application, or at least want to see it.
1. She doesn’t hear the wisdom of Solomon so much, but perceives it in everything he has made. This can be seen by us in creation and in the church. Christ is the “wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:30).
2. She sees the house he has built. She walks on to his throne room and also to his house. She sees what many Israelites have never seen. Solomon likes to show it to her. In this way the Lord Jesus also likes to show us what He has built: the church.
3. She sees the food of his table. Solomon will have offered her a meal. Have we seen what the Lord Jesus gives us to eat: His flesh and His blood (John 6:51-Hebrews :)? As members of the church, the food He has for us is necessary to maintain and enjoy fellowship with Him and the Father.
4. She sees the dignity and happiness of those who surround Solomon. There are servants who are sitting, possibly his Council of Ministers. They sit with the king at his table and take part in the meal. The high place of the believer is in Christ in the heavenly places, a place he has been given by the good pleasure of the Father. This must be seen in the believer.
5. She sees servants standing: the attendance of his waiters. They are ready to serve Solomon and his people. In addition to a high place in the heavenly places the believer also has a task for the Lord to perform. This task requires appropriate behavior, which is reflected in the attire. That attire is Christ (Ephesians 1:6; Romans 13:14). He should be seen in our service.
6. She sees his cupbearers, who provide him and his company with wine, that is to say everything that makes them merry. The Lord Jesus wants us to share in His joy (John 15:11). This joy comes from engaging with Him as He is presented to us in God’s Word (1 John 1:1-Numbers :).
7. She sees his stairway by which he went up to the house of the LORD, or: his burnt offering which he offered, as it also can be translated. His burnt offerings represent everything with which he glorifies God. After leaving the meal, they may have gone to the temple to bring burnt offerings. She has seen how Solomon has glorified God and she has been amazed. She is introduced into the worship of God. Everything that we see of the Lord Jesus and everything that others see of Him in us should not be for our glorification, but should lead us to worship the Father (John 4:23-Jeremiah :).

Verses 6-9

Testimony of the Queen

Only when we have seen the riches and wisdom of the Lord Jesus we can speak about it. She had heard it, but now she has seen it and she is overwhelmed by it. It is much more glorious than she had imagined in response to everything she had heard. That’s how we also can experience it. We can hear and read about the glory of the Lord Jesus from others, for example by Bible readings or by Bible commentaries, but only when we delve into it ourselves will we be overwhelmed by it.

From the praise of the queen we cannot deduce whether she has accepted the true God as her God. Perhaps we can conclude this from what the Lord Jesus says about her, that she “will rise up with this generation at the judgment and will condemn it” (Matthew 12:42). It is important for us whether we know the happiness she speaks about. Then people will praise us for what we are allowed to see. They will see that God loved His people with an eternal love, because of the Lord Jesus, although they have no awareness of its content.

Verses 10-13

Exchange of Gifts

The queen of Sheba gives Solomon a huge gift of gold, spices and precious stones. She did not know the spiritual meaning of this. In a literal sense she brings the most glorious of God’s creation. We see spiritual glory in this gift. Gold represents Divine glory. Spices represent the glories that in Christ, God revealed in the flesh, come out from His innermost being. Precious stones also represents His glories, but then as they can be seen in their external and versatile radiation. All these glories we see in the Lord Jesus.

The 1 Kings 10:11-2 Kings : are an interjection. It’s as if the writer, through the gifts of the queen of Sheba, suddenly thinks of other gold and wood. He wants to involve his readers in this.

Then we read in 1 Kings 10:13 that Solomon gives the queen of Sheba everything she desires and asks for. That comes on top of everything he has already given her. The total will be much more than what she has given him. He gives “according to his royal bounty”. He gives according to His full wealth.

Full of all kinds of glories of King Solomon she goes back home. Whether her heart is full of Him for Whom she came to Solomon (1 Kings 10:1), does not become clear. As indicated above, we may conclude from the words of the Lord Jesus that she did get to know the God of Israel and did accept Him.

Verses 14-15

The Income

The income of Solomon is huge. Without being able to give an immediate explanation, the mentioned number “666” is remarkable (Revelation 13:18; Ezra 2:13).

Verses 16-17

The Shields

Because of the large number of shields, his house, his palace, becomes, as it were, a giant fortress. The shield speaks of the LORD. He is the shield of His people. Solomon made these shields to defend his house.

Verses 18-20

The Throne

The throne belongs to the wonderful government of Solomon and is actually a high point. It is a throne that has never been made in any kingdom. It can only be applied to the throne of the Lord Jesus, of whom Solomon is still such a beautiful picture here.

It is not very obvious that there is talk about ivory covered with gold. It may be a throne of wood covered partly with ivory and partly with gold. Ivory can only be obtained by death. It is different with gold; there the thought of death does not come to the fore. Ivory as the fruit of death and gold as the picture of Divine glory are the basis of the throne of the Lord Jesus. He rules because He is God Himself and at the same time He is the One Who died as Man, but also rose up and lives forever.

Six steps lead up to that glorious throne. On each of these six steps are two lions, that is twelve lions together, one for each tribe. Beside the throne are two more, that brings the total to fourteen, that is two times seven. The throne itself is on the seventh step. The lion is also a symbol of Christ Himself.

To take place on the throne, there have to be climbed seven steps. We see these steps in the life of the Lord Jesus, Who will finally take place on the throne. If the Lord had knelt before Satan (Matthew 4:8-1 Samuel :), He would not have had such a throne. It would be, so to speak, a throne without steps. The Lord wanted to go every step of the six, while the seventh makes Him sit directly on the throne itself.

The throne described here is not the throne comparable to the place He occupies on the right side of God. He has already reached it. This is the throne of David on earth, who has been prepared from the foundation of the world. In the six steps we can see the way He has gone to take his place on that throne. Maybe there are other applications to make, but a possible interpretation for each step is the following:

1. The first step is His willingness to do the will of God: “‘Behold, I have come … To do Your will, O God” (Hebrews 10:7).
2. The second is that He became Man. For Him that was a humiliation. He Who sits on the throne of David is the Son of man. To this end He has partook of blood and flesh: “Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same” (Hebrews 2:14).
3. He partook of blood and flesh to give His life: “Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8). His death was the necessary third step.
4. It could not stop there. He is raised and resurrected: “But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep” (1 Corinthians 15:20). This is the fourth, middle step.
5. The fifth is that He went to heaven, glorified at God’s right hand: He “has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2). He now sits with His Father on the throne of His Father, not on His own throne (Revelation 3:21).
6. The sixth step is that He rises from it and comes to earth on the clouds from heaven: “For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and WILL THEN REPAY EVERY MAN ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS” (Matthew 16:27).
7. Then He will climb the seventh step by taking place on His throne: “But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne.” (Matthew 25:31).

If we compare in the description of the throne what is written in 1 Kings 10:19 with what is written in 2 Chronicles 9 (2 Chronicles 9:18), the following question arises: Is the shape of the head of the throne round or is it a description of a footstool attached to the throne? It is a difficult word to translate. It seems that on the throne, on its head, is a sheep. This is how the Septuagint translates these words. This gives a nice explanation in connection with Revelation 5, where there is a lion and a lamb (Revelation 5:5-Joshua :). He Who sits on the throne is also the Lamb. Such a throne, such a government has never been seen.

Verses 21-25

Various Glories

The glory of Solomon is so great, that even the silver is not considered as valuable. From every corner of the earth one comes to him with many gifts. This is what will happen when the Lord Jesus reigns.

However, there is also something that is a warning to us with regard to merchandise. Solomon’s ships also brings apes and peacocks (1 Kings 10:22). Apes stand for folly and peacocks for vanity. In the book of Ecclesiastes Solomon describes his research into the value of the things of life under the sun. He always comes to the conclusion that it is folly and vanity or futility. In that book he describes the time when he lived more or less separately from God, even though there was a certain feeling of His presence.

That is how we can live. We know Who God is, yet we choose to live in the world. A wisdom greater than Solomon’s is within reach, but we often do not desire it. We can “be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding” (Colossians 1:9), but do we also pray for it? Or do we surrender to the foolish and vain things of the life of the world?

Verses 26-29

The Horses

This is still about the glory of Solomon, as shown in 1 Kings 10:27 (cf. Isaiah 55:13; Isaiah 60:17). Yet there are also signs of decay. We see this in the horses that Solomon imports from Egypt, a way of doing things that is contrary to the law of the king. Also the strange women and the strange gods that Solomon brings into his house – we see this in the next chapter – are in conflict with this and will lead to his fall (Deuteronomy 17:16-Esther :).

Solomon has never known days of persecution and sorrow as his father David. He did not know the school of God’s discipline. That may be a reason for his fall. We cannot do without the necessary trial of our faith to keep us on the right path.

Whatever blessings we are surrounded with, we can never ignore God’s law unpunished, nor become sloppy in our walk He has presented to us in His Word. God has given Solomon an abundance of riches and honor, although Solomon only asked for wisdom. But He has also prescribed that the king should read the law (Deuteronomy 17:18-Proverbs :), so that he would be restrained to use these means to obtain even more wealth. We see here that Solomon does what the law forbids. It proves that there has come distance between his heart and God.

In the days of David we read more about donkeys than about horses. Donkeys are subservient animals. They seem to have no place in the kingdom of Solomon, except the time he rides on David’s mule to be anointed in Gihon (1 Kings 1:33-Zechariah :). Horses are used for war, but David writes even before Solomon begins to rule: “A horse is a false hope for victory; Nor does it deliver anyone by its great strength” (Psalms 33:17; cf. Psalms 147:10).

Solomon seems to have had a great horse trade, including chariots, with the surrounding nations. That trade brought him much profit, but it was not a trade that the LORD liked. This trade gave the surrounding pagan nations the impression that it was better to rely on horses than on the LORD. When they entered the land of Canaan He had also said that His people should hamstring the horses and burn the chariots (Joshua 11:6). It is a lesson that He does not want to use the methods of the nations in His work and His battle. He alone must be the trust of His people, then and now.

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Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op 1 Kings 10". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/1-kings-10.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniƫl', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.