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QUEEN OF SHEBA VISITS SOLOMON
--AUGUST 1.--1 KINGS 10:1-10,13.--
KING SOLOMON'S RENOWN -- A DISTINGUISHED VISITOR -- SOLOMON'S GREAT ENGINEERING AND ARCHITECTURAL FEATS -- HIS LITERARY ATTAINMENTS -- "THE HALF WAS NOT TOLD" -- "A GREATER THAN SOLOMON IS HERE" -- RICHES OF DIVINE FAVOR.
"Wisdom is better than rubies." -- Proverbs 8:11.
IN ANSWER to King Solomon's prayer for
wisdom, God promised him both wisdom
and riches that would make him world-famous.
By the middle of his reign King
Solomon had accomplished marvels for his
nation. Its fame spread to every land. He
was known as the wise king, the peaceful
king, the rich king.
We may suppose that the visit of the
Queen of Sheba to King Solomon was
about the middle of his reign--after he had been manifesting
his wisdom for twenty years. She came, it is
supposed, a journey of 1,500 miles, with quite a large
retinue of servants and camels, and with valuable presents,
gold and Arabian perfumes. Our lesson gives the
queen's own statement of her object in coming to see
King Solomon, and of how she found the facts to be
more than double all of her anticipations and all the
stories that had been told respecting King Solomon's
wisdom and riches and the prosperity of his kingdom.
THE WONDERS OF SOLOMON
The Temple of the Lord, the materials of which his
father David had prepared for him years before, was
one of the first marvels of King Solomon's reign. Its
beauty and its cost as a religious edifice were a world
marvel. Then the king's own palace and the corridor,
or ascent which led from his house to the Temple, were
marvelous for that time, and indeed for any time until
the wonders of engineering and architecture brought forward
during the past century, which is noted in the Bible
as the period of God's preparation for Messiah's Kingdom.
-- Nahum 2:3.
Another great engineering feat of King Solomon was
called the Pools of Solomon--the system of water supply
[R5722 : page 205] for his capital, Jerusalem. These pools were connected
by covered aqueducts, the first known in history. Additionally,
he built strongholds or fortresses throughout his
kingdom, for its defense against invaders. Furthermore,
he extended the boundaries of his kingdom to the full
limits set by the Lord prophetically long before. (Genesis 15:18.)
This brought his kingdom down to the seacoast.
Near Joppa (Jaffa) he had a harbor for ships, which is
now completely cut off from the sea, and, having gradually
filled up with earth, has become a beautiful orange grove.
But his largest port of entry was at the city of Tyre
--not in his own domain. He did business through the
king of Tyre; and unitedly their ships traversed the Red
Sea, the Mediterranean, etc., bringing commerce from all
parts of the world, and affording good facilities for importing
goods not produced in Palestine. It was through
this means that King Solomon became so very rich that
figuratively it was said that the precious metals became
as common as stones in Jerusalem.
A ROYAL VISITOR
Busied with these enterprises, and at heart loyal to
God, Solomon's reign, by the time of the Queen of
Sheba's visit, seems to have been a most wonderful one.
Later, satisfied with the blessings of the present life, the
king seems to have been less wise and less a man after
God's own heart and less thoughtful for his people. It
is difficult, especially for the poor, to realize how great
are the temptations of the rich and the danger that even
a wise man may become foolish through the gratification
of every desire of his heart. Incidentally, we should not
forget King Solomon's literary achievements. He wrote
three thousand proverbs and a thousand songs. Surely
the Lord did for him to the full all that He had promised.
It was this great King Solomon that the Queen of
Sheba visited, with presents of gold and spices, desiring
to learn to a certainty respecting his wonderful wisdom
and skill. Her declaration was that the rumors which
had reached her were less than half of the reality which
she beheld and heard. She had questions to ask, probably
respecting God and the future life; for apparently
she recognized in Solomon more than human wisdom, and
accredited to him wisdom from on High. She exclaimed,
"Blessed be Jehovah thy God, which delighteth in thee,
to set thee on the throne of Israel! Because Jehovah
loved Israel forever, therefore made He thee king to do
judgment and justice. Happy are thy men, happy these
thy servants, which stand continually before thee and
hear thy wisdom." "And King Solomon gave unto the
Queen of Sheba all of her desire, whatsoever she asked;
besides which, he gave her of his royal bounty"--a present.
So she returned to her own country with her retinue.
"A GREATER THAN SOLOMON"
Jesus remarked on the story of our lesson, and marveled
that there were no more to appreciate Himself and
the wonderful lessons which He set forth respecting the
Kingdom of God. (Matthew 12:42.) For people to
travel a long distance merely to know about the wisdom
of God such as King Solomon possessed, would imply
that if it were known that a still wiser One could be
conferred with, He would be sought; and if it should be
known that this wiser One was heir to the world, and
that He was seeking a Bride for His joint-heirship, how
many might be expected to hasten to Him and to accept
the generous proposal!
This is exactly the condition of things. God's Son,
according to the Divine Program, is selecting a Bride
class. To be acceptable as a member of this class, we
must hear of how the Wisdom of God centers in Jesus,
how He is the Father's Agent and Representative in all
the work of creation, past, present and future. Additionally,
we must be so thoroughly impressed with this
matter that we would leave all to go to Him to prove
the matter for ourselves, to be convinced. Thus coming
to Jesus, we are sure to be accepted, not merely that we
might ask, as the queen did, for certain blessings, but that
the King would enter into a covenant of espousal.
The fact that not all are attracted to the Lord is the
basis for our opportunity; for the Scriptures declare that
the Bride of the Lamb is foreordained of God. The first
opportunity to be of this elect company was given to the
natural seed of Abraham. Had they accepted their privileges,
the Church would have been completed in Jesus'
day; but, as the Bible tells us, the Jews knew not the time
of their visitation--did not appreciate who was with them
--the Greater than Solomon. (Luke 19:44.) They did
not inquire for the Kingdom nor for the terms of membership.
They crucified the Prince of Life, unwittingly.
Nevertheless, a wonderfully large part of that little
nation, as "Israelites indeed," accepted Jesus, giving
themselves wholly to Him--surrendering their wills.
Then the nation was set aside temporarily while the door
of this High Calling to membership with Christ was
thrown open to the Gentiles. The unreadiness of the
Gentiles to receive the Message of God is indicated by
the fact that it has required all the eighteen centuries
since to complete the elect number which, apparently, is
only 144,000 altogether, "out of every nation, people,
kindred and tongue."