"And King Solomon gave unto the Queen of Sheba all her desire, whatsoever she asked, beside that which Solomon gave her of his royal bounty."--1 Kings x. 13.
The beautiful history recorded in the chapter from which the above words are quoted is deeply instructive to those who have learned to recognise CHRIST in the Scriptures. The reference to this narrative by our LORD Himself was surely designed to draw our attention to it, and gives it an added interest. The blessings, too, received by the Queen of Sheba were of no ordinary kind. She was not only pleased with her reception, and with what she saw, but all her difficulties were removed, all her petitions were granted, all her desire was fulfilled. She was satisfied--so satisfied that, with glad and thankful heart, she turned and went away to her own country to fulfil the duties which, in the providence of GOD, devolved upon her.
If we may learn from this narrative how to approach the Antitype of King Solomon, and to receive from Him blessings as much greater than those received by the Queen of Sheba as CHRIST is greater than Solomon, we shall not meditate without profit on this portion of Scripture.
In many respects we resemble the Queen of Sheba. Though of royal birth, she was doubtless, like the bride in the Song of Solomon, black, because the sun had looked upon her. The post which she was called to occupy was no easy one; in her own life, and in her duty towards others, she found many hard questions to which she saw no solution. She heard of one reigning in the power of the LORD, whose wisdom exceeded that of the wisest of men, and who, if any one could, might afford her the help that she needed. She felt sure that the reports that she heard of his wisdom and of his acts were exaggerated; yet, even allowing for this, she was prepared to take a long and difficult journey that she might see his face and prove for herself how far her difficulties could be solved by him. And she came not empty-handed; she came not only to receive, but also to give, "with a very great train, with camels that bare spices, and very much gold, and precious stones," not because she thought Solomon poor and needy, but because she knew of his magnificence she sought to bring gifts worthy of his royal dignity, and so coming she was not disappointed.
Her long journey accomplished, she reached Jerusalem, and was granted the audience with the great king which her soul craved. She not only unburdened her camels, she unburdened her own heart, and found that her difficult questions were no difficulty to him. "Solomon told her all her questions: there was not any thing hid from the king, which he told her not." And so gracious was he that, without restraint, "she communed with him of all that was in her heart." Surely this utter opening of the heart implies a great deal. To none but the true Solomon can we give such confidence, but to Him we may lay bare the innermost recesses of our souls, and bring the questions, difficult, perplexing, or sad, which we could breathe into no human ear.
We know what came of the questionings, in the case of the Queen of Sheba, as to whether Solomon really could be all that some enthusiasts had reported. When she had seen his wisdom, and the house that he had built, his state and his magnificence, and his ascent by which he went up into the house of the LORD, there was no more spirit in her; and she 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: thy wisdom and prosperity exceedeth the fame which I heard. Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and that hear thy wisdom. Blessed be the LORD thy GOD, which delighteth in thee, to set thee on the throne of Israel: because the LORD loved Israel for ever, therefore made He thee king, to do judgment and justice."
Was there not the true spirit of prophecy in these words? Solomon has passed away, and all his magnificence; the pleasant land is to this day desolate under the power of the Turk; but the LORD has loved Israel for ever, and soon a King shall reign in Mount Zion "before His ancients gloriously." But meanwhile this KING, all unseen to human sense, is reigning, and to those who come to Him in no sordid spirit, but gladly consecrating the wealth of their heart's affection and the most worthy gifts they possess--to those who feel enriched by His acceptance of their gifts, and find pleasure in bestowing on Him for His service the best they can offer--to such there is still given the opening of heart and opening of eye to behold the KING in His beauty, and to find all needed present solution of every hard question.
Do we not often give to a poor CHRIST rather than to a rich one? Are we not sometimes unwilling to give until we know His work to be in straits, and sometimes its very existence imperilled? Are not our hearts oft times more moved by the recital of human needs than by CHRIST'S claim for the prosecution of the one work for which He has left His Church on earth? A famine in India, a flood in China, is more potent to bring temporal relief than the continual famine of the bread of life and of the increasing floods of heathen ungodliness. It is well, it is CHRIST-like, to minister temporal relief to suffering humanity, but shall the deep longings and thirstings of His soul, and the impressiveness of His last command ere He ascended on high, be less urgent? How many of the parents who refuse to let son or daughter go into the mission-field would refuse the Queen of England were she to confer the honour of a mission on their beloved children? Do we recognize the majesty of the King of Glory, and the immortal honor that appertains to His service? To those who do, the glad exclamations of the Queen of Sheba afford well-suited expressions: Happy are Thy subjects, happy are Thy servants which stand continually before Thee and hear Thy wisdom.
To the Queen of Sheba, however, more was given than to those happy subjects or to those servants who served the king in their own land. To her was given, as an eye-witness of the majesty of the king, as a glad participant of his bounty, to return to the far-off land, and to testify to those to whom, if they had heard at all, the half had not been told. Not as she came did she return, with a longing, yearning, unsatisfied heart, with duties to discharge for which she had not the wisdom;--with a royal dignity indeed, but one which brought not rest to her own spirit. Now she had seen the king, now all her desire was met; and the glorious king, after thus marvelously satisfying her, had further overwhelmed her with unthought-of gifts of his own royal bounty!
Do we know much of this, beloved friends? Has CHRIST become to us such a living bright reality that no post of duty shall be irksome, that as His witnesses we can return to the quiet home side, or to the distant service among the heathen, with hearts more than glad, more than satisfied; and most glad, most satisfied, when most sad and most stripped, it may be, of earthly friends and treasures? Let us put all our treasures into His hand; then He will never need to take them from us on account of heart idolatry; and if in wisdom and love He remove them for a time, He will leave no vacuum, but Himself will fill the void, Himself wipe away the tear.
There is yet more for us than it was possible to give to the Queen of Sheba. King Solomon had to send her away, he could not go with her; while, though we have to leave the conference or convention, or the early hour of holy closet communion with our LORD, for the ordinary duties of daily life, our Solomon goes with us, nay, dwells in us, to meet each fresh need and to solve each fresh perplexity as it arises. We have His word, "I will never leave thee, never fail thee, never forsake thee." Satisfied and filled to begin with, we have the SATISFIER, the FILLER, with us and in us. When He says, "Whom shall We send and who will go for Us?" He means to send us on no lonely errand, but on one which will give to Him a better opportunity of revealing Himself, and to us of "finding out the greatness of His loving heart." Who will not answer Him, "Here am I, send me;" or, "Here are mine, send them"?