Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Another Favorite Bible Story

This is another one of the great stories found in the Old Testament. It is a story that tells us something about the past as well as teaching us something about the present.

To give you just a bit of background, the Bible tells us that Solomon, the King of Israel, is the wisest king in all of the earth. He also has more wealth than any other king of his day.

1 Kings 10

The Queen of Sheba Visits Solomon

1 When the queen of Sheba heard about the fame of Solomon and his relation to the name of the LORD, she came to test him with hard questions. 2 Arriving at Jerusalem with a very great caravan—with camels carrying spices, large quantities of gold, and precious stones—she came to Solomon and talked with him about all that she had on her mind. 3 Solomon answered all her questions; nothing was too hard for the king to explain to her. 4 When the queen of Sheba saw all the wisdom of Solomon and the palace he had built, 5 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 [a] the temple of the LORD, she was overwhelmed.

6 She said to the king, "The report I heard in my own country about your achievements and your wisdom is true. 7 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. 8 How happy your men must be! How happy your officials, who continually stand before you and hear your wisdom! 9 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."

10 And she gave the king 120 talents [b] of gold, large quantities of spices, and precious stones. Never again were so many spices brought in as those the queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon.

11 (Hiram's ships brought gold from Ophir; and from there they brought great cargoes of almugwood [c] and precious stones. 12 The king used the almugwood to make supports for the temple of the LORD and for the royal palace, and to make harps and lyres for the musicians. So much almugwood has never been imported or seen since that day.)

13 King Solomon gave the queen of Sheba all she desired and asked for, besides what he had given her out of his royal bounty. Then she left and returned with her retinue to her own country.

So check this out...

A rich young Queen hears of a King in a far away land that has far more riches than any other kingdom on Earth and is the wisest man that has ever lived. Naturally, she assumes this to be an exaggerated tale that is being told by the merchant caravans that bring news and supplies from far away to her own kingdom. Surely there can be no king that can have amassed the fortunes told about by the travelers that have come to the south.

But caravan after caravan repeats the same stories of this magnificent King of the north. Finally, the young Queen of Sheba must go and see for herself. Being no slouch in the wisdom department herself, she loads a caravan full with the riches of her own kingdom. She will bring them as an offering to the king and as a statement of her own wealth and prosperity. The Queen of Sheba and her mighty entourage set out on a long journey to visit the great king that she has heard so much about. When she arrives in Jerusalem, she can hardly believe her royal eyes.

In her audience with King Solomon, she tests his wisdom and asks him all that is on her mind. I imagine that many of her questions concerned the people of her kingdom. She may have asked about certain sicknesses and how to treat or prevent them. She may have asked about how to produce more food or conserve on the resources of the kingdom. Whatever her questions, King Solomon had the answers. She was truly impressed by his great wisdom. But even more than that, she was impressed by the subjects in his kingdom. Look again at verses 4 and 5:

4 When the queen of Sheba saw all the wisdom of Solomon and the palace he had built, 5 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 [a] the temple of the LORD, she was overwhelmed.

Certainly she was impressed by the possessions that he had, and equally impressed by the possessions he gave up (sacrificed to the Lord), but she also arrived at her opinion of the king by the way his servants acted. She was impressed by their appearance and by their manner. She noted that they happily served their king. In the end, she said that even though what she had heard was hard to believe, she hadn’t heard half of the wonders and wealth of this great king!

She gave all of her gifts to Solomon and returned to her home.

If the Queen of Sheba formed her opinion of King Solomon based on his servants, I have to wonder what opinion people might have of Jesus based on His servants. What image do the officials (church leaders) of His courts give to those that come to check out our King? What is the appearance of the cupbearers and servants like? Do we happily serve our King? Would seekers of Jesus want to be a part of His Kingdom based on our attitudes of being members of His Kingdom? What do unbelievers think of Jesus based on how I (or you) act?

Because the Queen of Sheba recognized the greatness of King Solomon, she gave him many gifts from her own kingdom. You may be thinking that in order to recognize Jesus as your King, it will require you to give Him a gift of great worth. In one sense you’re right. It is not a gift of physical value or worth, it is the gift of your loyalty; the gift of your heart. He wants to give you an eternal home in His Kingdom. He wants for you to happily serve Him. Nobody is forced to endure the blessings of His Kingdom. Everybody is given the choice: recognize Jesus as Lord and live by the Kingdom Rules, or choose to live outside of the Kingdom.

Before you make your choice, there is one more thing that you should know about how the story ends. This visit by the Queen of Sheba is also recorded in 2 Chronicles, Chapter 9. Verse 12 says: “King Solomon gave the queen of Sheba all she desired and asked for; he gave her more than she had brought to him. Then she left and returned with her retinue to her own country.”

Jesus is the same way. He will give you more than you can give to Him; more than you desire; more than you will ask for. He will give you an eternal place in His Kingdom.

John

a 1 Kings 10:5 Or the ascent by which he went up to

b 1 Kings 10:10 That is, about 4 1/2 tons (about 4 metric tons)

c 1 Kings 10:11 Probably a variant of algumwood ; also in verse 12

8 comments:

Sicilian said...

Great post John! In my mind I have always pictured Sheba as a beauty. I suspect she was also wise which is why she went to make sure the reports were true.
Ciao

Sherer said...

John,


Excellent post my friend! I love the way you displayed the concept of "servant leadership" through the might wise king solomon - interesting how the servants of Solomon impressed the beautiful queen. Interesting how a man of great power became so because of giving!

Jesse

Jenny Fletcher said...

The spaniards and the portguese supposedly 'brought god' to the native people of South America. In reality, they took them diseases they couldn't fight, and death when they refused to become Christian. Settlers from Europe brought death and disease to Native Americans and took their lands away. Islam and Christianity are at each others' throats in many parts of Africa where they have no right to be. The happiest people in the world are said to be the ones that live in the Amazon forests and know nothing about the Bible or Jesus. We want to destroy their forest and their lifestyle. I got that from an EX-Christian missionary who concluded the Amazonian peoples were better off without him and his beliefs and he was happier living as they did.
Believe what you wish, but don't hassle people who are happy in their own beliefs and cultures. History tells us we learn nothing from history. Think very carefully before you 'take god' to the few places on earth that have done very well without him so far.
My prayers are to a good Mother Goddess as befits a true member of the Old Religion of the British Isles. (and a chocolate lover)

Mike said...

I'm glad to see you stayed under the Zondervan 25% of total text requirement and avoided a copyright violation.

John said...

Jenny,
Welcome to Out of My Hat. Your comments speak to the very matter of the post...that our God is judged by how we act.

The Crusades and Inquisition are dark times in the history of Christianity, as are many of the conquests in Central America and Mexico.

Jesus never forced his teachings or beliefs on others, neither should we. As a follower of Jesus, I do believe that I have an obligation to teach what Jesus taught. As for what you (or any else) do with it...well that's up to you.

"Believe what you wish, but don't hassle people who are happy in their own beliefs and cultures."

I hope that this is a general statement to followers of all faiths and not an indictment of what you have read here. I've never looked at sharing my beliefs as hassling somebody and I am just as willing to hear about your Mother Goddess and why you choose to pray to her.

By the way, we share a common love of chocolate!

HEALTH NUT WANNABEE MOM said...

I love reading your posts and they are very inspirational to me. I like how you explain the bible. I recall this story vaguely and am glad to see it again. Excellent!

Kevin said...

As for Solomon the story doesn't end there. Once again, free will trumps all else, in this case, wisdom. For all his wisdom, Solomon allowed himself to be distanced from God as he worshiped other gods. All the intelligence in the world is of little use to one's soul if their free will leads them astray.

For me, that is the story of Solomon.

Claudia said...

Amen, Amen!