Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

1 Kings 10:7

Nevertheless I did not believe the reports, until I came and my eyes had seen it. And behold, the half was not told me. You exceed in wisdom and prosperity the report which I heard.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Nave's Topical Bible - Queen;   Rulers;   Solomon;   Women;  
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Sabeans;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Arabia;   Solomon;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Israel;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Sheba;   Solomon;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Book(s);   Queen;   Riddle;   Seba, Sabeans;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Israel;   Sheba, Queen of;   Solomon;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Queen (2);   Unconscious Faith;   King James Dictionary - Amber;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Sheba ;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Jerusalem;   Sheba;  
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Hebrew Monarchy, the;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Fame;   Proverbs, Book of;   Queen;   Queen of Sheba;  

The Biblical Illustrator

1 Kings 10:7

Howbeit I believed not the words until I came.

Seeing and believing

This Queen of Sheba would not rest content with secondhand knowledge. Her example is worth following. Never rest content with secondhand knowledge. The great crisis is past, and the Christian life begins in its full beauty and strength when hearing gives place to seeing and the glory of the living Christ becomes a present fact and the governing factor in the daily life. There is something lacking m your experience unless you can say, “Mine eyes have seen.” It is the eternal distinction between the world and the Church, the children of the age and the children of eternity. Have you thus seen the Son? Has the glory of Jesus been so revealed to you as to capture your heart and deprive sin and the world of their power to allure you? Or is your knowledge of Jesus Christ still secondhand, unconvincing, unsatisfying, ineffectual? We take this Queen of Sheba then as a model seeker after truth, one of those sincere and genuine souls of whom Jesus said, “Every one that is of the truth heareth My voice.”

I. She was true to the needs of her own heart. As a great queen, she might easily have become engrossed in State affairs or in the pleasures of court life. But she would not allow even the din of an empire to drown the voice of her own heart. Spiritual suicide is seriously urged in some quarters as the ideal of true religion. People are urged to forget all about their own souls, and care or pretend to care for other people only. This Queen of Sheba put everything else aside until her inner life had been put right. For though a queen she was not satisfied. Questions kept coming before her which she dared not set aside and could not answer.

II. This Queen of Sheba proved her sincerity by making a personal inquiry. No man can put another’s questions, for no man can read another’s heart. You can never be saved by proxy. The hunger of your heart will never be met until you make personal application to Jesus Christ. And you must take trouble over it. Those who never put themselves to any trouble seldom get their questions answered. Of course you can hear the gospel without travelling 1500 miles. But with many there is a barrier between them and Jesus Christ more difficult to overcome than 1500 miles of space. It is the barrier of nearly 1900 years. The Bible seems such ancient history. It deals with a state of society so different to ours. It is an Eastern book wearing an Eastern dress, and its teaching is full of reference to Jewish customs and ideas. The education which can perfectly understand Tennyson or Browning is often utterly at a loss in reading the New Testament. Those who would find Christ in the Bible must take real pains to master the history of Genesis and Exodus and the types of Leviticus, or they will never understand either the Gospels or the Epistles. You might as well expect to understand the differential calculus by the light of Nature as think to understand the Bible without giving years to patient systematic study of it. When the word of God was rare and precious, men studied it and meditated upon it night and day. Now that the Bible is in everybody’s hands men think they know it because they can quote a few odd verses, though they have taken no pains to master its deep teaching. They will not take the trouble to make a personal inquiry. Certainly the Queen of Sheba will rise and condemn all such.

III. This queen was genuinely true in her private interview with Solomon. “She communed with him of all that was in her heart.” She had not meant to do this. Her questions had been carefully prepared, all couched in general terms and in the third person. How can one explain this? How can one answer this? How should one act under these circumstances? But when she came to Solomon it was no longer “How can one?” but “How can I?” She felt at once that her disguise was penetrated. Solomon read her heart and drew out with perfect tact all her personal longing and unrest. Do be true in your dealings with God. Never attempt to wear a mask in God’s presence. As soon as you really draw near to God you find out that you are personally involved. You are the guilty culprit needing propitiation and forgiveness, you are the sick and helpless one needing the Good Physician’s touch. You can never have a satisfactory interview with God until you take your right place.

IV. The Queen of Sheba was true in the confession she made of her former unbelief. She was a sincere, candid, and whole-hearted seeker, but she was an unbeliever when she came to Jerusalem. Such unbelief is most wholesome. It is the unbelief of those who are staggered at the greatness of the gospel message. Have you ever been thus staggered? Has it come home to you as the greatest wonder in the world that God should love sinners? Have you ever when listening to the joyful tidings of a Saviour able to the uttermost, of a God willing to forgive and forget all your sins, of a throne of grace to which all needy souls may flee for succour, said in your heart, “It is too good to be true, I cannot believe it”? Solomon was not vexed when the Queen of Sheba said, “I believed not the words.” It is the blind unbelief that sees no glory in redeeming love that deserves rebuke, not the weak faith that is so dazzled by it that it can hardly believe it to be true. (F. S. Webster, M. A.)

Truth seeking

I. That rumour as to truth should lead us to inquire as to its reality. How many are content with the mere rumour or report of what has transpired. It does not do to be content with hearsay; there must be some endeavour to learn the truth for ourselves. Listening must result in action. When we have heard, we must seek personal acquaintance with the facts.

II. That the realities relating to truth will prove greater than the rumours.

1. If our pursuits arise out of our curiosity, until it becomes an anxiety to gather knowledge, we shall never fail to acquire more than we sought. The retailing of impressions is never the same as the possession of experience--the one is infinitely richer than the other can indicate.

2. Nothing that may be told us about Jesus Christ can equal what we shall know when we have been to Him for ourselves. The eye of the soul must behold His glory before His greatness and His beauty can be appreciated and understood. Thus nothing that can be written about Him ever seems to equal what the soul, when given up to Him, has experienced of His love.

3. There are some things which in their recital seem to transcend belief. If the account of them has stimulated inquiry, then any latent scepticism with which the facts may have been treated is beneficial--we are making the right use of doubt when we are looking out for the truth. Personal experience is the best criterion of truth. (U. R. Gardner.)

The visit of the queen

I. Learn first from this subject what a beautiful thing it is when social position and wealth surrender themselves to God. If there are those here who have been favoured of fortune, or, as I might better put it, favoured of God, surrender all you have, and all you expect to be, to the Lord, who blessed this Queen of Sheba. Certainly you are not ashamed to be found in this queen’s company. I am glad that Christ has had His imperial friends in all ages. Elizabeth Christina, Queen of Prussia; Marie Feoderovna, Queen of Russia; Marie, Empress of France; Helena, the imperial mother of Constantine; Arcadia, from her great fortunes, building public baths at Constantinople, and toiling for the elevation of the masses; Queen Clotilda leading her husband and three thousand of his armed warriors to Christian baptism; Elizabeth of Burgundy giving her jewelled glove to a beggar, and scattering great fortunes among the distressed; Prince Albert singing “Rock of Ages” in Windsor Castle; and Queen Victoria incognito reading the Scriptures to a dying pauper. Again--

II. What is earnestness in the search of truth. Do you know where Sheba was? It was in Abyssinia, or some say in the southern part of Arabia Felix. In either case it was a great way off from Jerusalem. To get from there to Jerusalem she had to cross a country infested with bandits, and go across blistering deserts. When I see that caravan dust-covered, weary, and exhausted, trudging on across the desert and among the bandits, until it reaches Jerusalem, I say, “There is an earnest seeker after the truth.” But you want the truth to come to you; you do not want to go to it. There are people who fold their arms and say, “I am ready to become a Christian at any time; if I am to be saved, I shall be saved; and if I am to be lost, I shall be lost.” A man who says that, and keeps on saying it, will be lost. Jerusalem will never come to you; you must go to Jerusalem. The religion of the Lord Jesus Christ will not come to you; you must go and get religion. Bring out the camels; put on all the sweet spices, all the treasures of the heart’s affection; start for the throne. Goad on the camels! Jerusalem will never come to you; you must go to Jerusalem. Take the kingdom of heaven by violence. Urge on the camels. Again--

III. Religion is a surprise to anybody that gets it. This story of the new religion in Jerusalem, and of the glory of King Solomon, who was a type of Christ--that story rolls on and rolls on, and is told by every traveller coming back from Jerusalem. Religion is always a surprise to any one that gets it. The story of grace--an old story. Apostles preached it with rattle of chain; martyrs declared it with arm of fire; death-beds have affirmed it with visions of glory, and ministers of religion have sounded it through the lanes, and the highways, and the chapels, and the cathedrals. It has been cut into stone with chisel, and spread on the canvas with pencil; and it has been recited in the doxology of great congregations. And yet when a man first comes to look upon the palace of God’s mercy, and to see the royalty of Christ, and the wealth of His banquet, and the luxuriance of His attendants, and the loveliness of His face, and the joy of His service, he exclaims with prayers, with tears, with songs, with triumph, “The half--the half was not told me!” (T. De Witt Talmage, D. D.)

The reality beyond the report

A brief enumeration and invoice of some of the departments of Christian truth and life.

1. First among these riches of grace should be named the life-giving, everlasting book which we call the Bible. As to its certainty, completeness, and power “not half has been told.”

2. Not half has been told by poet, artist, or preacher concerning the wisdom, power, and love of God in the created universe. God’s world as well as His Word should be studied. “Nature is Christian and preaches to us.”

3. Not a tithe has been told of the glory of the words, works, and life of Christ.

4. The most sanguine saint has scarcely dreamed of the power of the gospel to save, yea, “even to the uttermost.” Modern Miracles, such as Leila Thompson writes of, should become common occurrences.

5. Not half has been told of the blessedness and possibilities of Christian experience;--“exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20).

6. How faint our conception of the golden opportunities of Christian activity and usefulness.

7. And who can delineate, who can tabulate the attractions of heaven? That is the true home of the soul, the ideal society and kingdom without fault, the Church without spot or blemish. The exclusion of all evil, the inclusion of all that is pure, true and good. (P. Ross Parish.)

Exceeding all thought

The love of God passeth knowledge; man cannot grasp it. When Columbus landed in America, he did not know that he had discovered a vast continent. He knew nothing about its vast rivers, its great lakes and valleys. What did he know about the wealth of minerals hidden in its mountains? So it will take us all our days to discover the love of God; its depths we know nothing about. We shall need all eternity to fathom it.

Realisers alone can appreciate

The queen’s words and gifts suggest wide truths. Her experience that the reality transcended all report and expectation is repeated in every, heart that faithfully clings to Jesus and brings its questions and doubts to Him. “He must be loved ere that to you He will seem worthy of your love.” Just as, after all the speech of poets from the beginning of the world, he sweetness of love has not been told, and every heart that is blessed by it feels that it is more than all words can declare; so, after all that saints and evangelists have said of Christ, each soul which enters into faithful fellowship with Him finds that “the half was not told” it. No painter can put the melting glories of sunset on his canvas. No description can give one who has not heard it a true impression of the majesty and pathos of Beethoven’s thunderous music. Nothing but tasting for ourselves can tell us how good the Lord is. Even here Jesus gives “to eat of the hidden manna,” and the secrets of His love are only known by the loving heart. No man who rejects Him knows rightly Him whom he rejects. (A. Maclaren, D. D.)

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Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "1 Kings 10:7". The Biblical Illustrator. 1905-1909. New York.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Howbeit I believed not the words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen it,.... That is, she did not believe the whole of what was related to her; somewhat of it she credited, and supposed there was something grand and extraordinary in it, or she would never have taken such a journey; but she did not believe that all could be true; she thought things were too much magnified:

and, behold, the half was not told me; of what she now saw and heard:

thy wisdom and prosperity exceedeth the fame which I heard; the inward endowments of his mind, and the outward magnificence of his court, exceeded the relation of them to her; they were beyond expression, they were so great that reporters could not hyperbolize upon them, nor even come up to them in their account of them, and in which yet men are apt to exceed.

Copyright Statement
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on 1 Kings 10:7". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". 1999.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

I believed not the words which the reporters used concerning him; or, the things reported; they seemed incredible, and above the perfection of human nature.

Prosperity; or, happiness; or, virtue; Heb. goodness.

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Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 1 Kings 10:7". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. 1685.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

behold. Figure of speech Asterismos. App-6.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on 1 Kings 10:7". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". 1909-1922.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Howbeit I believed not the words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen it: and, behold, the half was not told me: thy wisdom and prosperity exceedeth the fame which I heard.
I believed
Isaiah 64:4; Zechariah 9:17; Mark 16:11; John 20:25-29; 1 Corinthians 2:9; 1 John 3:2
thy wisdom and prosperity exceeded the fame
Heb. thou hast added wisdom and goodness to the fame.
Reciprocal: 2 Chronicles 9:6 - the one half;  Ecclesiastes 1:16 - Lo;  Ecclesiastes 2:9 - GeneralMatthew 12:42 - hear

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 1 Kings 10:7". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge".