THE QUEEN OF SHEBA’S VISIT TO SOLOMON
1 Kings 10:6-7. And the said to the king, It was a true report that I heard in mine own land of thy acts and of thy wisdom. Howbeit I believed not the words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen it: and, behold, the half was not told me.
IT not unfrequently happens, that when the mind has been raised in any extraordinary degree by the representations of others, its expectations are disappointed: either the excellencies which appeared so fascinating to others, have been over-rated; or they are found blended with such defects, as greatly lessen their value. This is particularly the case with respect to the characters of men; in estimating which, it is easy to conceive, that our admiration may be too great, and our applause be too unqualified. But, in the passage before us, we have an instance where report, though heightened to the utmost, fell short of the reality. The wisdom of Solomon had attracted the attention of all the nations around him; insomuch that persons were sent from all the surrounding potentates, to ascertain whether the reports concerning him were true [Note: 1 Kings 4:34.]: and in the chapter before us, we are informed, that a queen of great power and authority came herself, in order to see with her own eyes, and hear with her own ears, the wonderful things which had been reported to her: and her testimony, after the fullest investigation, was, not only that all was true which had been told her, but that the half had not been told her; so greatly did the truth exceed her most sanguine expectations.
This circumstance deserves particular consideration, not merely for the honour of Solomon, but chiefly for the honour of Him whom Solomon prefigured, even of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Let us notice then,
I. The surprise occasioned by an acquaintance with Solomon—
We do not know the precise reports which the Queen of Sheba had heard; but they related principally, we apprehend, to the wisdom of Solomon. His splendour and magnificence indeed were unparalleled; but his wisdom was that which most of all induced her to come so far; for “she came to prove him with hard questions,” and “to commune with him of all that was in her heart.” Now “his wisdom excelled that of all mankind [Note: 1 Kings 4:30-31.]:” it was not confined to any one branch of science, but embraced the whole extent of philosophy, natural and political, moral and religious. It extended, I say, to things,
[Universal nature seemed, as it were, to be open to his view: “He spake of trees, from the cedar-tree that is in Lebanon, even to the hyssop that springeth out of the wall: he spake also of beasts and of fowl, and of creeping things, and of fishes [Note: 1 Kings 4:33.].” The distinctive properties of each in their several classes were comprehended by him; but whether from study or from revelation, we do not know: such knowledge however, though curious and entertaining, was probably in point of utility the lowest that he possessed. Still it could not fail to interest an inquisitive mind, and to excite an high admiration of him in the breast of this intelligent queen.]
[The perfection of his laws, the equity of his administration, the penetration exercised by him in his judicial capacity, the order in which every thing, whether in his civil or domestic concerns, was arranged; the grandeur of his edifices, the splendour of his court, the peacefulness of his reign, the prosperity of his people, and the whole extent of his political economy, bespoke him almost more than human; and made the admiring queen envy the lowest of his servants, who were honoured with access to his presence [Note: ver. 4, 5, 8.].]
[He had spoken three thousand proverbs, and composed above a thousand songs [Note: 1 Kings 4:32.]. What depths of wisdom were contained in these we may judge from those which have come down to us. The whole subject of ethics was familiar to his mind, so that he needed not to draw conclusions in a way of rational argumentation, but was enabled to declare with unerring certainty the duty of man in every relation, and in every circumstance of life. The most difficult cases were easy to his comprehensive mind; and the clouds with which they were enveloped were dispelled by him as before the rising sun. We wonder not that, when she heard his oracular discourses, she was lost in utter amazement.]
[This, after all, was the wisdom by which the Queen of Sheba sought most to profit: “When she heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the Lord, she came to prove him with hard questions [Note: ver. 1.].” Earnestly did she desire to be informed concerning the nature and perfections of God; and the way in which he was to be worshipped; and how a sinner might find acceptance with him. These and numberless other points Solomon no doubt opened to her with such clearness and perspicuity, as carried the fullest conviction to her mind. Nor can we doubt but that as she would inquire respecting the sacrifices and oblations, he would point out to her the figurative nature, and typical intent, of every thing that she beheld; the temple, its furniture, its ordinances, its ministers, its service altogether. Glorious would be the opportunity afforded him of commending to her the God of Israel, and of pointing out to her that Messiah in whom all these types should receive their accomplishment; and no doubt he availed himself of it. Well therefore might such transcendent wisdom overwhelm her with astonishment, so that “there was no more spirit in her [Note: ver. 5.]:” and well might she say, that “the half had not been told her.”]
Let us now turn from Solomon, to contemplate,
II. The surprise which an acquaintance with Jesus Christ will occasion—
Our views must not be confined to Solomon; for beyond all doubt “a greater than Solomon is here.” Solomon was an eminent type of Christ; as is clear from many passages of Scripture, and especially the 72d Psalm, which is not more applicable to Solomon in the letter of it, than it is to Christ in the spirit. Solomon was the first who could be called “a king, and a king’s son;” and therefore a fit type of that Son of David who is “King of kings, and Lord of lords.”
Now of Jesus are great things spoken in the Holy Scriptures: and as the Queen of Sheba “believed not the reports concerning Solomon, till she came to see him with her own eyes,” so respecting Jesus it must be said, “Who hath believed our report [Note: Romans 10:16.]?” But if once we behold him with the eye of faith, we shall then indeed say that the half had not been told us. Two things in particular we shall be amazed at;
1. The glory of his person—
[Let us behold him in his whole office and character, and so behold him as to have any just conception of his excellency, and we shall be altogether lost in wonder, so that there will be “no more spirit in us.” Even in his human nature, wherein the glory of his majesty is veiled, we are utterly astonished at all his spotless perfections. His wisdom, his goodness, his love, and all his other virtues, surpass our utmost conceptions. In the view of him many hundreds of years before he came into the world, the Church exclaimed, “He is chiefest among ten thousand,” “he is altogether lovely [Note: Song of Solomon 5:10; Song of Solomon 5:16.]!” In his divine nature, “he is the brightness of his Father’s glory, and the express image of his person [Note: Hebrews 1:3.]” — — — In his mediatorial character, he is “the power of God and the wisdom of God [Note: 1 Corinthians 1:24.].” He has within himself all fulness treasured up [Note: Colossians 1:24.]: nothing is wanting that can secure the happiness and salvation of his redeemed people. His meritorious sacrifice is a sufficient satisfaction for the sins of the whole world. His unspotted righteousness affords a robe, whereby all the fallen race of Adam may “cover their nakedness,” and stand spotless in the presence of an holy God. In him is a fountain of all grace, from which every believer may receive an inexhaustible supply [Note: John 1:16.]. Let us only “behold, I say, his glory, as the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth [Note: John 1:14.],” and we shall immediately exclaim with the prophet, “How great is his goodness, how great is his beauty [Note: Zechariah 9:9; Zechariah 9:17.]!”]
2. The felicity of his people—
[This in particular was contemplated by the Queen of Sheba in reference to Solomon. After saying to him, “Thy wisdom and thy prosperity exceed the fame which I heard,” she added, “Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and that hear thy wisdom [Note: ver. 7, 8.]!” But with how much greater propriety may this be said respecting the servants of the Lord Jesus Christ! Much is said of it indeed in the Scriptures [Note: Psalms 89:15-17.]; but little of it is believed, till it is known by actual experience. But let it once be felt, and truly we shall say, “The half had not been told us.” Indeed the Scriptures speak of it in this very view: their “peace passeth all understanding;” and their “joy is unspeakable and glorified.” To this, as well as to the mysteries of faith, may we apply those words of the Apostle, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him: but God hath revealed them to us by his Spirit [Note: 1 Corinthians 2:9-10.].” It is to what is experienced in this world that those words are to be applied: but if we look forward to the eternal world, with what emphasis may we pronounce them then! If the glory of Christ be so bright when beheld only through the dark medium of faith, how will it appear when we shall behold him face to face! And if our happiness be so great now that we carry about with us a body of sin and death, what shall it be, when our corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and we shall possess without alloy the full fruition of our God! Happy, happy beyond conception shall we be, when we are enabled to say, “I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear; but now mine eye seeth thee!”]
This subject furnishes us with abundant matter,
1. For reproof—
[It was in this view that our Lord himself improved it in his day [Note: Matthew 12:42.]: and may not we take up the same complaint against you and say, “The Queen of the South (of Sheba) shall rise up in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the utmost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold a greater than Solomon is here?” How little is Christ sought after and admired amongst us! The Queen of Sheba counted no expense or trouble too great to obtain an acquaintance with Solomon; but we grudge any labour that may be necessary to bring us to an acquaintance with Christ: almost any thing is a sufficient excuse to keep us from the public ordinances, and especially to make us neglect the private duties of religion. Oh, let us blush and be ashamed, that when our means of access to Christ are so easy, we are so indifferent about him; that we rest contentedly without the knowledge of him, when, if we judged aright, “we should count all things but dung in comparison of it [Note: Philippians 3:8.]!” The Queen of Sheba did not consider even the affairs of a large empire of sufficient importance to keep her from seeking an interview with Solomon: let nothing detain us from visiting the Lord Jesus. To sit at his feet and hear his gracious instructions should be regarded by us as “the one thing needful [Note: Luke 10:42.].”]
2. For encouragement—
[That the Queen of Sheba derived much spiritual benefit from her visit to Solomon is manifest, from the manner in which she adored Jehovah for his mercy and grace in raising Solomon to the throne of Israel [Note: ver. 9.]. And will the Lord Jesus Christ suffer any one to “seek his face in vain?” Are we not told, “Then shall ye know, if ye follow on to know the Lord?” and, “The meek he will guide in judgment, the meek he will teach his way?” Let us take encouragement and go unto him; for we have advantages which the Queen of Sheba had not. Solomon could impart knowledge to her, but could not enable her to comprehend it: but Jesus can both “open to us the Scriptures,” and “open our understandings also to understand them:” yea, and if we go humbly unto him, he will return with us to our respective homes, and be our instructor even unto death. Let us then “buy the truth,” whatever it may cost us, and “not sell it” for the whole world. Methinks the Queen of Sheba never afterwards regretted the labour she had bestowed on that great object; and sure I am that none who seek the Lord, shall ever have to complain that “they have laboured in vain, or spent their strength for nought [Note: Isaiah 49:4.].”]
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Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on 1 Kings 10". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week of Lent