The Queen of Sheba
(2 Chronicles 9.1-12)
1 The Queen of Sheba heard how famous Solomon was, so she went to Jerusalem to test him with difficult questions. 2She took along several of her officials, and she loaded her camels with gifts of spices, jewels, and gold. When she arrived, she and Solomon talked about everything she could think of. 3He answered every question, no matter how difficult it was.
4-5The Queen was amazed at Solomon's wisdom. She was breathless when she saw his palace, the food on his table, his officials, his servants in their uniforms, the people who served his food, and the sacrifices he offered at the Lord's temple. 6She said:
Solomon, in my own country I had heard about your wisdom and all you've done. 7But I didn't believe it until I saw it with my own eyes! And there's so much I didn't hear about. You are wiser and richer than I was told. 8Your wives and officials are lucky to be here where they can listen to the wise things you say.
9I praise the Lord your God. He is pleased with you and has made you king of Israel. The Lord has always loved Israel, so he has given them a king who will rule fairly and honestly.
10The Queen of Sheba gave Solomon more than four tons of gold, many jewels, and more spices than anyone had ever brought into Israel.
11-13In return, Solomon gave her the gifts he would have given any other ruler, but he also gave her everything else she wanted. Then she and her officials went back to their own country.
(2 Chronicles 9.13-28)
King Hiram's ships brought gold, juniper wood, and jewels from the country of Ophir. Solomon used the wood to make steps for the temple and palace, and harps and other stringed instruments for the musicians. It was the best juniper wood anyone in Israel had ever seen.
23He was the richest and wisest king in the world. 24People from every nation wanted to hear the wisdom God had given him. 25Year after year people came and brought gifts of silver and gold, as well as clothes, weapons, spices, horses, or mules.
This Bible passage is another demonstration of an answer to the prayer Solomon made at the beginning of his reign. He had asked God: “Give me an understanding heart, to govern your people and distinguish right from wrong…” (1 Kings 3:9). The Lord made him the wisest man on earth and, as a bonus, the richest man as well. God appears to us here as a God of abundance and faithfulness in what he grants to the son of David.
The queen of Sheba (today’s Yemen) witnessed Solomon’s wisdom and wealth, having seen them herself. Even today, we can be blessed by the writings of Solomon, in the following books of the Bible: Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon and some of the psalms. Magnificent indeed!
In spite of all the magnificence of Solomon, Jesus said… that “even Solomon, in all his glory, did not clothe himself like one of these” (the lilies of the fields, Matthew 6:29). In fact, everything we have on earth has been given to us by someone, ultimately God. It is therefore preferable to remain humbly grateful to the one who gives, than to be proud of what we have. The one who gave to Solomon is greater than Solomon himself. Jesus says as much: “The queen of the South (Sheba/Yemen)… traveled a long way to hear Solomon’s wisdom, and yet here is something far greater than Solomon” (Luke 11:31), that is to say, Jesus himself.
Following the commandments and the example of the Lord Jesus is more important than imitating the great of this world, even the greatest.
Everlasting God, help us to see the whole of life with a perspective that includes eternity, so that we cling to you, who determine our ultimate destiny, rather than cling to temporal things. Amen.