Solomon Entertains a Queen
1 When the queen of Sheba heard about Solomon, she came to challenge him with difficult questions. 2 She arrived in Jerusalem with a great display of pomp, bringing with her camels carrying spices, a very large quantity of gold, and precious gems. She visited Solomon and discussed with him everything that was on her mind. 3 Solomon answered all her questions; there was no question too complex for the king. 4 When the queen of Sheba saw for herself Solomon’s extensive wisdom, the palace he had built, 5 the food in his banquet hall, his servants and attendants, their robes, his cup-bearers, and his burnt offerings which he presented in the Lord’s temple, she was amazed. 6 She said to the king, “The report I heard in my own country about your wise sayings and insight was true! 7 I did not believe these things until I came and saw them with my own eyes. Indeed, I didn’t hear even half the story! Your wisdom and wealth surpass what was reported to me. 8 Your attendants, who stand before you at all times and hear your wise sayings, are truly happy! 9 May the Lord your God be praised because he favored you by placing you on the throne of Israel! Because of the Lord’s eternal love for Israel, he made you king so you could make just and right decisions.” 10 She gave the king 120 talents of gold, a very large quantity of spices, and precious gems. The quantity of spices the queen of Sheba gave King Solomon has never been matched. 11 (Hiram’s fleet, which carried gold from Ophir, also brought from Ophir a very large quantity of fine timber and precious gems. 12 With the timber the king made supports for the Lord’s temple and for the royal palace and stringed instruments for the musicians. No one has seen so much of this fine timber to this very day.) 13 King Solomon gave the queen of Sheba everything she requested, besides what he had freely offered her. Then she left and returned to her homeland with her attendants.
14 Solomon received 666 talents of gold per year, 15 besides what he collected from the merchants, traders, Arabian kings, and governors of the land. 16 King Solomon made two hundred large shields of hammered gold; 600 measures of gold were used for each shield. 17 He also made three hundred small shields of hammered gold; three minas of gold were used for each of these shields. The king placed them in the Palace of the Lebanon Forest.
18 The king made a large throne decorated with ivory and overlaid it with pure gold. 19 There were six steps leading up to the throne, and the back of it was rounded on top. The throne had two armrests with a statue of a lion standing on each side. 20 There were twelve statues of lions on the six steps, one lion at each end of each step. There was nothing like it in any other kingdom.
21 All of King Solomon’s cups were made of gold, and all the household items in the Palace of the Lebanon Forest were made of pure gold. There were no silver items, for silver was not considered very valuable in Solomon’s time. 22 Along with Hiram’s fleet, the king had a fleet of large merchant ships that sailed the sea. Once every three years the fleet came into port with cargoes of gold, silver, ivory, apes, and peacocks.
23 King Solomon was wealthier and wiser than any of the kings of the earth. 24 Everyone in the world wanted to visit Solomon to see him display his God-given wisdom. 25 Year after year visitors brought their gifts, which included items of silver, items of gold, clothes, perfume, spices, horses, and mules.
26 Solomon accumulated chariots and horses. He had 1,400 chariots and 12,000 horses. He kept them in assigned cities and in Jerusalem. 27 The king made silver as plentiful in Jerusalem as stones; cedar was as plentiful as sycamore fig trees are in the lowlands. 28 Solomon acquired his horses from Egypt and from Que; the king’s traders purchased them from Que. 29 They paid 600 silver pieces for each chariot from Egypt and 150 silver pieces for each horse. They also sold chariots and horses to all the kings of the Hittites and to the kings of Syria.
C H Spurgeon
Let us first read part of the tenth chapter of the first Book of Kings; and, afterwards, a part of the twelfth chapter of the Gospel according to Matthew.
10:1. And when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the LORD, she came to prove him with hard questions.
Her visit, you see, had a religious aspect. She “heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the Lord.” He had wisdom of various kinds, but it was his knowledge of God, and of God’s ways, that seemed chiefly to attract this ruler from a far-distant land.
1 Kings 10:2. And she came to Jerusalem with a very great train, with camels that bare spices, and very much gold, and precious stones: and when she was come to Solomon, she communed with him of all that was in her heart.
She came with a price in her hand to get wisdom. Well did Solomon say, “Buy the truth, and sell it not.” No price is too dear to pay for it, but any price would be too cheap to sell it at.
1 Kings 10:3. And Solomon told her all her questions: there was not any thing hid from the king, which he told her not.
His wisdom came from God, and therefore it was full and complete, and could not be confounded by man. Let us seek after the wisdom which cometh from above, and remember that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Indeed, is it not the sum total of wisdom really to fear, in a filial sense, the Lord Most High?
1 Kings 10:4-5. And when the queen of Sheba had seen all Solomon’s wisdom, and the house that he had built, and the meat of his table, and the sitting of his servants, and the attendance of his ministers, and their apparel, and his cupbearers, and his ascent by which he went up unto the house of the LORD there was no more spirit in her.
She was a queen, but she had never seen such royal magnificence as Solomon’s. “The ascent by which he went up unto the house of the Lord” appears to have been a marvellous viaduct, constructed of the most ponderous stones, by which the king went from his own house up to the temple itself. I have read that an arch of that viaduct is standing at the present day, and it is still a marvel. To this princess, it must have seemed a wonder of wonders.
1 Kings 10:6-12. And she said to the king, 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. Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and that hear thy wisdom. Blessed be the LORD thy God, which delighted in thee, to set thee on the throne of Israel: because the LORD loved Israel for ever, therefore made he thee king, to do judgment and justice. And she gave the king an hundred and twenty talents of gold, and of spices very great store, and precious stones: there came no more such abundance of spices as these which the queen of Sheba gave to king Solomon. And the navy also of Hiram, that brought gold from Ophir, brought in from Ophir great plenty of almug trees, and precious stones. And the king made of the almug trees pillars for the house of the LORD, and for the king’s house, harps also and psalteries for singers: there came no such almug trees, nor were seen unto this day.
Probably, these “almug trees” were trees of sandal-wood. Whatever they were, they seem to have been the best timber known to the Easterns, and therefore Solomon very properly used them in the house of the Lord. Let the harps of our praises be made of such wood that there shall be no others equal to them in the whole world. Let us give to our Lord our best young blood, our warmest zeal, our highest thoughts, our most careful attention. Let us give him, in fact, the whole of our being, the love of our heart. He should be served with the best of the best, “for he is good, and his mercy endureth for ever.”
1 Kings 10:13. And king Solomon gave unto the queen of Sheba all her desire, whatsoever she asked, beside that which Solomon gave her of his royal bounty. So she turned and went to her own country, she and her servants.
The king first of all bountifully gave her a present which he thought most fitting; and then, afterwards, permitted her to ask whatever she would. How much is this like our King Solomon, who has already given us all our hearts can wish for; and yet, if there be any right desire that is still ungratified, he provides the golden mercy-seat, at the foot of his throne, where we may present our petitions to him, encouraged by his gracious word, “Ask what thou wilt; according to thy faith, so shall it be unto thee.”