Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Queen Of Sheba Comes To Town

Of all the people who came to visit the great King Solomon, perhaps the most intriguing one was the Queen of Sheba. Like so many, she came to hear his wisdom. In today's world, King Solomon would be considered a genius! This genius stature was a miraculous gift from God. When Solomon became King, God told him to ask for anything and it would be granted. So with a humble heart, Solomon asked for wisdom and discernment in leading God's chosen people. Not only did God grant his wish, but because he didn't ask for long life or wealth, riches, and honor, God gave him all those as well, and in great abundance!

Kings from every nation came to consult with him and to hear the wisdom God had given him. Year after year everyone who visited brought him gifts of silver and gold, clothing, weapons, spices, horses, and mules (1 Kings 10:14-25). Solomon's wisdom exceeded that of all the great wise men of his time. His fame spread throughout all the surrounding nations. And kings from every nation sent their ambassadors to listen to his wisdom. (1 Kings 4:29-34)

Each year Solomon received about 25 tons of gold! (In today's market, that would be worth about 1.2 billion dollars.) This did not include the additional revenue he received from merchants and traders. All the kings of Arabia and the governors of the provinces also brought gold and silver to Solomon. King Solomon made 200 large shields of hammered gold, each weighing more than 15 pounds. He also made 300 smaller shields of hammered gold, each weighing more than 7 1⁄2 pounds.

King Solomon's throne was huge, decorated with ivory and overlaid with pure gold. The throne had six steps, with a footstool of gold. There were armrests on both sides of the seat, and the figure of a lion stood on each side of the throne. There were also twelve other lions, one standing on each end of the six steps. No other throne in all the world could be compared with it!

All of King Solomon’s drinking cups were solid gold, as were all the utensils in the Palace of the Forest of Lebanon. They were not made of silver, for silver was considered worthless in Solomon’s day! The king had a fleet of trading ships manned by the sailors sent by Hiram. Once every three years the ships returned, loaded with gold, silver, ivory, apes, and peacocks.

When the queen of Sheba heard of Solomon’s fame, she came to Jerusalem to test him with hard questions. She arrived with a large group of attendants and a great caravan of camels loaded with spices, large quantities of gold, and precious jewels. When she met with Solomon, she talked with him about everything she had on her mind. Solomon had answers for all her questions; nothing was too hard for him to explain to her. When the queen of Sheba realized how wise Solomon was, and when she saw the palace he had built, she was overwhelmed. She was also amazed at the food on his tables, the organization of his officials and their splendid clothing, the cup-bearers and their robes, and the burnt offerings Solomon made at the Temple of the Lord.
She exclaimed to the king, “Everything I heard in my country about your achievements and wisdom is true! I didn’t believe what was said until I arrived here and saw it with my own eyes. In fact, I had not heard the half of your great wisdom! It is far beyond what I was told. How happy your people must be! What a privilege for your officials to stand here day after day, listening to your wisdom! Praise the Lord your God, who delights in you and has placed you on the throne as king to rule for him. Because God loves Israel and desires this kingdom to last forever, he has made you king over them so you can rule with justice and righteousness.”

Then she gave the king a gift of 9,000 pounds of gold, great quantities of spices, and precious jewels. Never before had there been spices as fine as those the queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon. King Solomon gave the queen of Sheba whatever she asked for—gifts of greater value than the gifts she had given him. Then she and all her attendants returned to their own land. (1 Kings 10:1-13)

Centuries after this event took place, Jesus himself reflected on this famous, historic visit made by the Queen of Sheba. Only He used it as an illustration to show the sorry state of a corrupt generation who refused to acknowledge Him as the Christ. Jesus contrasted the Queen of Sheba's desire to sit and listen to King Solomon, with those who refused to come and listen to Him. 

It's quite a lesson. In other words, if the Queen of Sheba came to sit at the feet of King Solomon and listen to his wisdom, why wouldn't the people of Jesus' day come and listen to Him, who is so much greater than King Solomon? If the Queen of Sheba made the effort to travel from a distant land to hear King Solomon, why couldn't the people in Jesus' day make an effort to listen and learn from Jesus when He was walking right in their midst?

"The Queen of Sheba will also stand up against this generation on judgment day and condemn it, for she came from a distant land to hear the wisdom of Solomon. Now someone greater than Solomon is here—but you refuse to listen." (Matthew 12:42).

Perhaps we should heed the words of Jesus himself...."Then Jesus called to the crowd to come and hear. “Listen,” he said, “and try to understand." (Matthew 15:10)

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