Visit of the Queen of Sheba

“Thus it was when the Queen of Sheba came to visit Solomon. Hearing of his wisdom and the magnificent temple he had built, she determined to “prove him with hard questions” and to see for herself his famous works. Attended by a retinue of servants she made the long journey to Jerusalem. “And when she was come to Solomon, she communed with him of all that was in her heart.” Solomon taught her of the God of nature, of the great Creator, who dwells in heaven and rules over all. And “Solomon told her all her questions: there was not anything hid from the king, which he told her not.” 1 Kings 10:1-3; see 2 Chronicles 9:1, 2.

“When the Queen of Sheba had seen all Solomon’s wisdom, and the house that he had built, ... there was no more spirit in her.” She acknowledged, “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.” 1 Kings 10:4-7; see 2 Chronicles 9:3-6.

The queen had been so fully taught by Solomon as to the source of his wisdom and prosperity that she was constrained not to extol the human agent, but to exclaim, “Blessed be the Lord thy God, which delighteth in thee, to set thee on the throne of Israel: because the Lord loved Israel forever, therefore made He thee king, to do judgment and justice.” 1 Kings 10:9. This is the impression that God designed should be made upon all peoples.

Had Solomon continued to turn attention from himself to the One who had given him wisdom, riches, and honor, what a history might have been his! But, raised to a pinnacle of greatness, Solomon became dizzy, lost his balance, and fell. Constantly extolled, he finally permitted men to speak of him as the one most worthy of praise for the matchless splendor of the building planned and erected for the honor of the name of the Lord God of Israel.

Thus the temple of Jehovah came to be known throughout the nations as “Solomon’s temple.” The human agent had taken to himself the glory that belonged to the One “higher than the highest.” Ecclesiastes 5:8. Even to this day the temple of which Solomon declared, “This house which I have built is called by Thy name” ( 2 Chronicles 6:33) is spoken of as “Solomon’s temple.”

Man cannot show greater weakness than by allowing men to ascribe to him the honor for gifts that are Heaven-bestowed. When we are faithful in exalting the name of God, our impulses are under divine supervision, and we are enabled to develop spiritual and intellectual power.

Jesus, the divine Master, taught His disciples to pray, “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name.” Matthew 6:9, RSV, emphasis supplied. And they were to acknowledge, “Thine is ... the glory.”

So careful was the great Healer to direct attention from Himself to the Source of His power, that the multitude, “when they saw the dumb speaking, the maimed whole, the lame walking, and the blind seeing,” did not glorify Him, but “glorified the God of Israel.” Matthew 15:31, RSV.

“Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth Me, that I am the Lord which exercise loving-kindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.” Jeremiah 9:23, 24.

Another Gross Perversion of God’s Plan

The introduction of principles leading toward self-glorification was accompanied by another perversion of the divine plan. God had designed that from His people was to shine forth the glory of His law. For carrying out this design, He had caused the chosen nation to occupy a strategic position among the nations of earth. In the days of Solomon the kingdom extended from Hamath on the north to Egypt on the south, and from the Mediterranean Sea to the river Euphrates. Through this territory ran many natural highways of the world’s commerce, and caravans from distant lands were constantly passing to and fro. Thus there was given to Solomon and his people opportunity to reveal to all nations the character of the King of kings and to teach them to reverence and obey Him. Through the sacrificial offerings, Christ was to be uplifted, that all who would might live.

Solomon should have used his God-given wisdom and influence in directing a great movement for the enlightenment of those who were ignorant of God and His truth. Multitudes would have been won, Israel would have been shielded from the evils practiced by the heathen, and the Lord would have been honored. But Solomon lost sight of this high purpose. He failed of enlightening those who were continually passing through his territory.

The missionary spirit that God had implanted in the hearts of all true Israelites was supplanted by a spirit of commercialism. The opportunities afforded by contact with many nations were used for personal aggrandizement. Solomon sought to strengthen his position politically by building fortified cities at the gateways of commerce. The commercial advantages of an outlet at the head of the Red Sea were developed by the construction of “a navy of ships ... on the shore of the Red Sea, in the land of Edom.” “The servants of Solomon” manned these vessels on voyages “to Ophir, and fetched from thence gold” and “great plenty of almug trees, and precious stones.” 1 Kings 9:26-28; 10:11.

Revenue was greatly increased, but at what a cost! Through the cupidity of those to whom had been entrusted the oracles of God, the countless multitudes who thronged the highways of travel were allowed to remain in ignorance of Jehovah.

Christ and Solomon Contrasted

In striking contrast to Solomon, the Saviour, though possessing “all power,” never used this power for self-aggrandizement. No dream of worldly greatness marred the perfection of His service for mankind. Those who enter the service of the Master Worker may well study His methods. He took advantage of the opportunities to be found along the great thoroughfares of travel.

In His journeys to and fro, Jesus dwelt at Capernaum. Situated on the highway from Damascus to Jerusalem and Egypt and to the Mediterranean Sea, it was well adapted to be the center of the Saviour’s work. People from many lands passed through the city. There Jesus met with those of all nations and all ranks, and thus His lessons were carried to other countries. Interest was aroused in the prophecies pointing to the


Messiah, and His mission was brought before the world.

In our day, such opportunities are much greater than in the days of Israel. The thoroughfares of travel have multiplied a thousandfold. Like Christ, messengers of the Most High should take their position in these great thoroughfares, where they can meet the passing multitudes from all parts of the world. Hiding self in God, they are to present before others the precious truths of Holy Scripture that will take root and spring up unto life eternal.

Solemn are the lessons of Israel’s failure, when ruler and people turned from the high purpose they had been called to fulfill. Wherein they were weak, the representatives of heaven today must be strong; for on them devolves the finishing of the work committed to man, and of ushering in the day of final awards. Yet the same influences that prevailed against Israel when Solomon reigned are to be met with still. Only by the power of God can the victory be gained. The conflict calls for a spirit of self-denial, distrust of self, and dependence on God alone for the wise use of every opportunity for the saving of souls.

The Lord’s blessing will attend His church as they advance unitedly, revealing to a world in the darkness of error the beauty of holiness as manifested in a Christlike spirit of self-sacrifice, in an exaltation of the divine rather than the human, and in loving service for those in need of the gospel.

Solomon’s Deep Repentance

Plain were the admonitions, wonderful the promises given to Solomon; yet of him it is recorded: “He kept not that which the Lord commanded.” “His heart was turned from the Lord God of Israel, which had appeared unto him twice, and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods.” 1 Kings 11:10, 9. So hardened was his heart in transgression, that his case seemed well-nigh hopeless.

From the joy of divine communion, Solomon turned to the pleasures of sense. He says: “I made great works; I built houses and planted vineyards for myself; I made myself gardens and parks, and planted in them all kinds of fruit trees ... . I bought male and female slaves ... . I also gathered for myself silver and gold ... . So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem ... .”

“And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them; I kept my heart from no pleasure ... . Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had spent in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.” “So I hated life ... . I hated all my toil in which I had toiled under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 2:4-11, 17, 18, RSV.

By bitter experience, Solomon learned the emptiness of a life that seeks in earthly things its highest good. Gloomy and harassing thoughts troubled him night and day. There was no longer any joy or peace of mind, and the future was dark with despair.

Yet the Lord forsook him not. By reproof and severe judgments He sought to arouse the king to realize the sinfulness of his course. He permitted adversaries to harass and weaken the kingdom. “The Lord stirred up an adversary unto Solomon, Hadad the Edomite.” And “Jeroboam ..., Solomon’s servant,” “a mighty man of valor,” “even he lifted up his hand against the king.” 1 Kings 11:14, 26-28.

A Prophetic Warning Arouses Solomon

At last a prophet delivered to Solomon the startling message: “I will surely rend the kingdom from thee, and will give it to thy servant. Notwithstanding in thy days I will not do it for David thy father’s sake: but I will rend it out of the hand of thy son.” Verses 11, 12.

Awakened as from a dream by this sentence of judgment, Solomon began to see his folly. With mind and body enfeebled, he turned from earth’s broken cisterns to drink once more at the fountain of life. Long had he been harassed by the fear of utter ruin because of inability to turn from folly; but now he discerned in the message given him a ray of hope. God stood ready to deliver him from a bondage more cruel than the grave, and from which he had no power to free himself.

Solomon Acknowledges His Sin

In penitence Solomon began to retrace his steps toward the exalted plane of purity and holiness from whence he had fallen. He could never hope to escape the blasting results of sin, but he would humbly confess the error of his ways and warn others lest they be lost irretrievably because of the evil influences he had set in operation. The true penitent thinks of those who have been led into evil by his course and tries to lead them back to the true path. He does not gloss over his wayward course, but lifts the danger signal that others may take warning.

Solomon acknowledged that “the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart.”

“Though a sinner do evil an hundred times, and his days be prolonged, yet surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, ... but it shall not be well with the wicked, neither shall he prolong his days.” Ecclesiastes 9:3; 8:12, 13.

By inspiration the king recorded the history of his wasted years with their lessons of warning. And thus his lifework was not wholly lost. With lowliness Solomon in his later years “taught the people knowledge, weighing and studying and arranging proverbs with great care.” He “sought to find pleasing words, and uprightly he wrote words of truth.” Ecclesiastes 12:9, 10, RSV.

“Fear God, and keep His commandments,” he wrote, “for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” Verses 13, 14.


SS 35-42