An interesting relation is given, in the opening of this chapter, of a visit made to Solomon by the Queen of Sheba, drawn by the report of his great wisdom. Solomon's riches are again noticed in this chapter.
(1) В¶ 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.
As Sheba lay to the south of Canaan, and, probably was on the sea coast, where the ships of Hiram, or Solomon, might have touched for provisions or water; there is no great difficulty in conceiving how the report of Solomon's greatness and wisdom gained knowledge in the court of Sheba. Our dear Lord hath conferred the highest honour on this woman, in noticing her on this account in the gospel. Luke 11:31. But I beg the Reader to remark with me, that the expression in this verse of the occasion of this Queen of the South's visit seems to have been not so much to discover the natural wisdom of Solomon, as his gracious knowledge in divine things concerning the name of the Lord. Is it not more than probable that her visit was on a religious account, and that she was anxious for her soul?
(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.
The state in which she came, if we consider the subject in a religious point of view, becomes no unapt representation of the soul's first approach to Jesus, before that God the Holy Ghost hath brought the sinner into a real acquaintance with his own heart. Oh! how apt are we to come to Jesus in our best things. And what a beautiful representation of an awakened sinner's mind is here given, in that all the heart is laid open before Jesus. That this woman was led by the Lord to this enquiry is, I think, plain from what our blessed Lord saith concerning her, that she shall rise up in judgment, and condemn the men of that generation in which Jesus came; for she came so far to hear of the Lord from the mouth of Solomon, when they neglected to ask of Jesus when he was present with them. Luke 11:31.
(3) And Solomon told her all her questions: there was not anything hid from the king, which he told her not.
How fully and satisfactorily doth the Lord Jesus tell the poor sinner all that is in his heart, when he manifesteth himself to him otherwise than he doeth to the world. Everyone that hath been with Jesus can bear testimony to this, and like the Samaritan woman, can certify this is Christ, by such an unfolding of the heart. See John 4:29.
(4) And when the queen of Sheba had seen all Solomon's wisdom, and the house that he had built, (5) 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. (6) 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. (7) 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. (8) Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and that hear thy wisdom. (9) Blessed be the LORD thy God, which delighted 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.
Reader! if such were the surprising effects wrought on the mind of this woman in the view of Solomon, and his wisdom and grandeur; think if it be possible what surprise will overpower the soul when we arrive at the court of our Jesus above; when we come into a perfect knowledge of the wisdom of our Jesus; the house which he hath formed for himself, which is his body, his temple, his people: when we shall behold him as the Lamb in the midst of the throne feeding his church, and leading them to fountains of living waters; the attendance of his angels, and the spirits of just men made perfect; their apparel in the garments of his salvation, and his robes: of righteousness: oh! how will our whole spirits be overpowered amidst the Hallelujahs of heaven, when every knee shall bow before him, and every tongue confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father! How delightful are her expressions of holy joy and rapture! and what a beautiful order is observed in them. Solomon's men are happy; his servants yet more so, who are continually near his person. But above all, blessed is the Author and Giver of all. It is sweet and refreshing at all times to bless God for his mercies; and to delight in the instruments by which those mercies come to us. But oh! with what tenfold sweetness do gracious souls bless the God of their mercies. And in this view, how infinitely precious is it to behold the hand of God our Father in all our blessings in Christ Jesus. Reader! never, never omit, I charge you, to eye the Father in the Son; and to look at Jesus as the Sent, and Sealed, and the precious Gift of Jehovah!
(10) 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. (11) And the navy also of Hiram, that brought gold from Ophir, brought in from Ophir great plenty of almug trees, and precious stones. (12) 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. (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.
And is there not a mutual exchange made between the Saviour and the sinner? Though you and I, Reader, have nothing to offer, nothing but what we have first received from our God, and of his own, whatever we present, we can only give him; yet our Jesus graciously accepts at our hands and hearts our poor offerings, being made acceptable to our God and Father in him the beloved. And while we present to him our choicest offerings, think what a profusion of blessings he bestows on us. So that we barter our emptiness for his fulness; our weakness for his strength; our darkness for his light; our pollution for his holiness. And he is made of God to us wisdom, and righteousness, sanctification and redemption, that all our glorying may be in the Lord. 1 Chronicles 1:30.
(14) В¶ Now the weight of gold that came to Solomon in one year was six hundred threescore and six talents of gold, (15) Beside that he had of the merchantmen, and of the traffick of the spice merchants, and of all the kings of Arabia, and of the governors of the country. (16) And king Solomon made two hundred targets of beaten gold: six hundred shekels of gold went to one target. (17) And he made three hundred shields of beaten gold; three pound of gold went to one shield: and the king put them in the house of the forest of Lebanon. (18) Moreover the king made a great throne of ivory, and overlaid it with the best gold. (19) The throne had six steps, and the top of the throne was round behind: and there were stays on either side on the place of the seat, and two lions stood beside the stays. (20) And twelve lions stood there on the one side and on the other upon the six steps: there was not the like made in any kingdom. (21) And all king Solomon's drinking vessels were of gold, and all the vessels of the house of the forest of Lebanon were of pure gold; none were of silver: it was nothing accounted of in the days of Solomon. (22) For the king had at sea a navy of Tharshish with the navy of Hiram: once in three years came the navy of Tharshish, bringing gold, and silver, ivory, and apes, and peacocks. (23) So king Solomon exceeded all the kings of the earth for riches and for wisdom. (24) And all the earth sought to Solomon, to hear his wisdom, which God had put in his heart. (25) And they brought every man his present, vessels of silver, and vessels of gold, and garments, and armour, and spices, horses, and mules, a rate year by year. (26) And Solomon gathered together chariots and horsemen: and he had a thousand and four hundred chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen, whom he bestowed in the cities for chariots, and with the king at Jerusalem. (27) And the king made silver to be in Jerusalem as stones, and cedars made he to be as the sycomore trees that are in the vale, for abundance. (28) And Solomon had horses brought out of Egypt, and linen yarn: the king's merchants received the linen yarn at a price. (29) And a chariot came up and went out of Egypt for six hundred shekels of silver, and an horse for an hundred and fifty: and so for all the kings of the Hittites, and for the kings of Syria, did they bring them out by their means.
I include the whole of these verses within one view, because they all refer to one and the same subject; namely, the grandeur and riches of Solomon. The Holy Ghost perhaps by this account intends to instruct the church in the incompetency of riches and earthly splendour, to give happiness. Solomon himself was a most lovely evidence of it. For it was at the moment when he was thus exalted in splendour, that he wrote those solemn sentences in his book of Ecclesiastes, to show that the whole is but vanity and vexation of spirit. Reader! do mark it down as a maxim, which the universal voice of mankind in all ages hath decided with the clearest evidence; that the whole world in possession cannot satisfy a soul, void of an interest in God's covenant love. Unless Jesus be in our earthly comforts, be they what they may, there is no real enjoyment in them. It is Jesus which must put a sweetness, and give a real relish to all. If I have him this heightens all creature comforts, and makes up the want of all creature enjoyments. Look therefore, Reader, for the Lord Jesus whenever worldly prosperity is at the highest, or when adversity surrounds you. When I am most happy, is it because Jesus is near? When matters frown, doth Jesus smile? Oh! it is precious to make him the foundation, as God the Father hath made him in all our blessings. Men shall be blessed in him. Psalms 72:17. It is precious to make him the substance of all our happiness, as he himself saith; I cause them that love me to inherit substance, and I will fill their treasures. Proverbs 8:21. It is precious to make him the one enjoyment of all our comforts; because his presence and blessing is absolutely necessary to make all blessings blessings indeed. Unless the Lord lift up the light of his countenance, who, or what creature, can show us any good? Psalms 4:6. And it is precious to have Jesus for our portion, that when the streams of all earthy comforts fail; when neither the fig-tree blossom, nor fruit be in the vine, we may then rejoice in the Lord, and joy in the God of our salvation. Hebrews 3:17-18.
READER! added to the view we have taken in this chapter of Solomon's wisdom and greatness, as a shadow of him in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge; are we not led by what we have read to behold in this Queen of the south, thus coming to Solomon, a picture of the whole Gentile church coming to Christ? Was it not a promise of our covenant God concerning him, that Gentiles should come to his light, and kings to the brightness of his rising? And in allusion to the same blessed and glorious event, did not the Lord Jehovah promise that the multitude of camels should cover him; the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah; they from Sheba should come, they should bring gold and incense, and show forth the praises of the Lord. And how is the mind overpowered in the contemplation, when we behold these great predictions accomplished in the first fruits of the wise men from the East coming to Christ in the moment of his Incarnation; and now in the dispensation of the fullness of times the Lord gathering together in one all things in Christ?
But Reader! while our souls are deeply impressed with the contemplation of the stupendous blessings and mercies in Jesus; shall we not advance one step higher in the wonderful subject, and look at Jesus himself thus gloriously shadowed forth in the several striking features of Solomon king of Israel? As far as the excellencies of Solomon go, they were surely descriptive of Solomon's Lord God, and Saviour. And here (though not in the infirmities of the man) as we read the relation (but in the wisdom of the king) we are constrained to cry out in the representation, and say, a greater than Solomon is here. Yes! blessed Jesus; as the Lord sent by the hand of Nathan to David, and at the birth of Solomon called him Jedidiah, beloved of the Lord; so by a voice from heaven at thy gracious entrance upon the work the Father gave thee to do, thou wert declared to be the true Jedidiah; the beloved Son of God, in whom the soul of thy Father was well pleased. And thy wisdom hath not only called forth the whole earth to admire and adore; but all the powers of heaven join to acknowledge thee to be the power of God, and the wisdom of God, for salvation to everyone that believeth. Thy kingdom was but faintly represented by the peaceful reign of Solomon; for of the increase of thy government and peace, there is, there can be no end. Well may every true believer, like the Queen of Sheba, and yet in higher notes of gratitude, love and praise, exult and say; Happy are thy redeemed ones; happy are thy servants who minister in thy great name, and stand continually before thee! And blessed be the Lord Jehovah, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, who hath constituted our Jesus the Solomon of his people, and hath given him an everlasting kingdom, and a dominion that ruleth over all. Lord! hasten thy kingdom, and thy glory; take to thyself thy great name, and rule and reign forever.