By J.R. Miller
1 Kings 10
Solomon's fame spread widely. Everywhere flew the stories of the splendors of his kingdom, and his great wisdom. It was not the fame of his piety and godliness that men heard, his generosity and kindness, his courage and heroism. His fame was rather that of the material splendor of his reign, than of fine personal and moral qualities. He sought to do brilliant things.
We are not to understand that Solomon did not contribute in any way to the good of his kingdom, that all his work was sensational. He did a great deal that was substantial. He gave his people a place among the nations which they had never dreamed of attaining. He made Jerusalem a great city in its beauty, its wealth, its brilliance. His wisdom, too, became famous. Wonderful stories of it were told near and far. From other countries, people came to see Solomon and his great buildings, and to hear his words, and to pay homage to him.
Of all his visitors, the queen of Sheba seems to have made the greatest impression. She was a much more important personage than the kings and princes of the near-by tribes or nations who came to see Solomon. She came from afar, from "the ends of the earth." She came in great state with a majestic splendor that excited much attention. She had heard the strange stories about the Israelitish king, and came to see for herself what foundation there was for them. "I wonder if these reports are true?" she began to ask. She would go and see for herself. The distance was great--but her curiosity and eagerness overcame all thought of the hardship of the journey.
Jesus taught us one use to make of this story, "Behold, one greater than Solomon is here!" He said, referring to Himself. In every way He was greater than Solomon. He was the eternal Son of God, Solomon's Lord. His wisdom infinitely surpassed Solomon's. Proverbs and Ecclesiastes are attributed to Solomon. There is a great deal that is practical in these books. Proverbs contain much that is helpful in common life. But the wisdom of Christ's teachings far surpasses the best that Solomon ever spoke! Christ's ability to enlighten and help excelled Solomon's, as divinity excels humanity. If, then, one woman came so far, at such cost, to see Solomon and hear his wisdom--the whole world should come to see and hear Jesus!
We have ever fresh illustrations of the same lesson. In every age, in every country, there are men and subjects who attract attention and draw people from far and near--to see and study them. Yet all the while, there stands One among us whom many men know not, nor desire to know--who surpasses in interest and wisdom--all the objects of attraction in the world. People throng to see and hear the scientist, the novelist, the explorer, the discoverer, the orator, or the singer--but only a sparse few gather about the blessed Divine Teacher! Men are interested in the questions of the day, in politics, in railroads, in inventions; but how few sit down to study the profound and eternal truths of Christ's redemption! They think these things suited only to children and women, and to the old and the dying, forgetting that they are the things which the "angels desire to look into."
The queen of Sheba came with "spices, and very much gold, and precious stones." Solomon need not in every sense be regarded as a type of Christ--yet this visit of the queen furnishes an illustration of the way we should come to Christ our King. We should bring presents to Him.
A tourist in Southern California tells of looking with much admiration at the wonderful flowers which grew about a fine residence. The lady of the house, seeing the visitors, came out and spoke to them very cordially, asking them questions about their home and their tour. Then taking a pair of scissors, she snipped off a fine handful of flowers, which she gave them. They noticed, however, that the flowers she cut were all past ripe, and when they turned away they gently shook the bouquet, and the petals nearly all fell to the ground.
That is the kind of gifts too many give to Christ. But we dishonor Him when we bring Him our fading flowers. This queen did not give trifles of little value--but the richest things she could find in all her kingdom. We should bring to Christ not the poorest and least things we can find--but the best--the most precious hours of our time, the finest gold of our youth, the sweetest fragrance of our heart's love. Nothing less than the best--is worthy of Him. Thus the wise men when they came from the Far East, brought their treasures and laid them at the feet of the new-born King. Thus Mary brought her alabaster box of precious nard, broke the box, and poured the ointment on the head and feet of her Lord. So should we all do.
The queen of Sheba brought spices, gold, and precious stones as a present to Solomon, and "behold, one greater than Solomon is here!" Solomon was rich and did not need the queen's gifts--yet he accepted them. Christ is infinitely rich; He owns all things, the gold of the mines, all the gems of the world. Yet He gladly accepts our smallest gifts. Even the poorest things, if they are our best, and if given with love--He will receive with joyful acceptance. The widow's two mites--He takes from the offerer's thin, wasted hand, with blessed words of recognition.
A gentleman worth millions accepted a bunch of withered flowers from a ragged child in a mission Sunday-school, and could not have manifested more real pleasure, if he had received from a jeweled hand the choicest flowers from the florist. Thus our blessed Divine Lord accepts our poorest gifts--if they are prompted by true love for Him and are indeed the best we can bring. He wants our best, however, and is worthy of our best. The queen brought spices and much gold and precious stones to King Solomon. We should bring to Christ--the sweetest fragrance of our heart's love and the richest jewels of our life!
The queen of Sheba brought to Solomon all her questions, her problems--and he answered them all. "She came to Solomon and talked with him about all that she had on her mind. Solomon answered all her questions; nothing was too hard for the king to explain to her." She seems to have had many questions to ask the wise king. Some of them may have been mere silly puzzles with which she sought to test his wisdom; others of them may have been real questions, concerning which she wanted answers. To every question she asked, Solomon gave her patient and satisfying answer.
We should learn to take all our questions--to our Heavenly King. No matter what it is that troubles or perplexes us, whatever we cannot understand, we should carry it to Him. Nothing can be too small, and nothing too great--to lay before Him, for He condescends to our least affairs and has wisdom for the greatest. Perhaps we are too formal and restrained in our secret prayers. It is better that we should break away from all forms--and just talk to God as a child talks to its father or mother, telling Him everything that is on our mind or heart, all our worries, our needs, our temptations, the things that vex and try us, the matters that are mysterious to us and hard to be understood, the questions that arise in our reading and conversation and thinking. In a word, we should commune with Him of all that is in our heart--and take His counsel about everything.
Then He will always answer all our questions. Ho will do this in different ways. Some of our questions He answers in His Word, and we have to search there for what we seek to learn. Some of them He answers through wise, loving, human friends, whom He sends to us to counsel and advise us. Sometimes our difficulties are met by words that we hear, or by books that come into our hands. Some of our questions, He solves in His Providence by opening or shutting doors for us, if we quietly go on in duty. He will always find some way to answer our questions, if we will do His will as it is made known to us--and wait His time.
"When the queen of Sheba saw all the wisdom of Solomon and the palace he had built, the food on his table, the seating of his officials, the attending servants in their robes, his cupbearers, and the burnt offerings he made at the temple of the LORD, she was overwhelmed. She said to the king--The report I heard in my own country about your achievements and your wisdom is true. But I did not believe these things until I came and saw with my own eyes! Indeed, not even half was told me; in wisdom and wealth you have far exceeded the report I heard!" 1 Kings 10:4-7
Here again we have an illustration of the experience of those who come to Christ. People often doubt when they read or hear about Him and His love, whether the reality can be so wonderful as they are promised it shall be. They think that at least, His friends must exaggerate the greatness of the blessings which He bestows upon them. But when they come and see for themselves, when they have experienced the riches of Christ's grace and love, they learn that instead of the reports being too highly colored--that the half has not been told!
No one is ever disappointed in coming to Christ. We need never be afraid to say to those who doubt or question, "Come and see for yourselves!" If they will only come and try Christ, accept His friendship, experience His love, let His grace into their hearts, trust His promises--they will find that the truth far surpasses the report! It will be the same also of heaven's glories--when we come to enjoy them. We read wonderful things about the blessed home which Christ has gone to prepare for us; but when we reach it--we shall find that the half was never told us!
The queen's witness to Solomon, as she concluded her visit and turned homeward, was very complimentary: "How happy your men must be! How happy your officials, who continually stand before you and hear your wisdom! Praise be to the LORD your God, who has delighted in you and placed you on the throne of Israel. Because of the LORD's eternal love for Israel, he has made you king, to maintain justice and righteousness!" It is a privilege to be among the friends of any good and wise man. There are people whose close companions we may almost justly envy. They live near to the godly, the wise. They hear their words, they see their life, they have their friendship.
We may think of the disciples of Jesus, who had the privilege of being with Him continually, hearing the wonderful words which fell from His lips, seeing the sweetness, gentleness, purity, and holiness of His life and witnessing the wonderful works which He did. What a privilege was John's--leaning on Jesus' bosom, and Mary's--sitting on a stool at His feet, listening to His teachings! It is a privilege to be a member of a godly man's family, living in the midst of refinement and culture. It is a far greater privilege to be a Christian, a member of the Heavenly Father's family. "A greater than Solomon is here!"