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QUEEN OF SHEBA
"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." (1 Kings x. 1.)
NOTES AND OBSERVATIONS.
THE Scriptural record of the queen of Sheba visiting Solomon, becomes the more interesting, and is the more strongly recommended to the attention of the church of God, from the notice which the Lord Jesus Christ himself took of this woman's history, in the days of the flesh. The fastidious indifference and contempt which the Scribes and Pharisees manifested to our most glorious Christ, prompted his divine mind to advert to her as an instance, which would one day condemn their determined stupidity, and applaud her conduct in her anxiety of being taught. The queen of the south (said Christ) shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it; for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and behold, a greater than Solomon is here." (Matt. xii. 42.)
And what, indeed, could be an higher reproach to
the nation of the Jews, from the midst of which, according to their own prophets, Christ was to arise, than "that when he came to his own, his own received him not?" And yet in ages remote from this period, and long before the advent of our Lord in the flesh, one of another nation, ignorant of all spiritual knowledge, and to whom the promised Saviour could not from common causes have been known, on the mere report of the fame of Solomon, visited Jerusalem in quest of knowledge. How very striking are the words of the prophets in the earliest ages of the church, on the rejection of the Lord's servants by the unbelievers. The prophet Hosea, speaking of Ephraim, whom, though described like Tyrus, planted in a pleasant place, under the eye of the Lord, yet made slight of his truths: "Give them, (said the prophet) give them, O Lord, what wilt thou give? Give them a miscarrying womb, and dry breasts." (Hosea ix. 14.)
But did not our Lord, when referring to this queen of the south, imply somewhat more than the mere condemnation of that generation among whom the Son of God then dwelt? Did he not mean to say, that this woman was led by sovereign grace to visit Jerusalem, where she had been taught to believe the Lord's people dwelt? The Scripture at the head of these observations certainly seems to intimate as much, in that it saith, " that when she heard of the fame of Solomon, and when she came to prove him with hard questions, it was because the fame of Solomon was "concerning the name of the Lord." And we certainly do no violence to holy Scripture, in supposing that she might be led by divine influence and her visit, however unconscious in herself to the cause, was not for the discovery of the natural understanding of the king of Israel in the wisdom of this world; but of his apprehension in divine truths, and
as the Scripture states it," concerning the name of the Lord." Might there not be the secret workings of the Lord in this woman's heart, for a somewhat which she knew not what, and which none could explain to her; but by which the Lord was leading her," as the blind, in a way which she knew not; and in places which she had not known, making darkness light before her, and crooked things straight?" (Isaiah xlii. 16.) Nay, might not her case be similar to that of that Æthiopian, which we read of in the after ages of the church, who came to Jerusalem for to worship, and was returning uninformed, and as ignorant of salvation as he came, until the Lord sent a special messenger after him into the wilderness, to preach Christ unto him, and to open his eyes to the knowledge of the Lord? (Acts viii. 26,
Indeed, do we not behold in both the wonderful confirmation of Scripture, when predicting the glorious æra of the day of the gospel; when "the Gen. tiles should come to the light of Christ, and kings to the brightness of his rising?" The prophet Isaiah, soaring high in the spiritual apprehension of these things, and under the unction of the Holy Ghost, expressed himself very strikingly to this point, when he said, "Thy sons shall come from far; and thy daughters shall be nursed at thy side. The multitude of camels shall cover thee; the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah; all they from Sheba shall come, they shall have gold and incense, and they shall shew forth the praises of the Lord." (Isaiah lx. 3, 6). What a very blessed instruction from the Lord is read to the church in those scriptures, when in ages so distant and remote, we behold the divine workings of the Lord in the hearts of his people. The Son of God said, and the truth must be confirmed, "All that the Father hath given me, shall come to me." (John vi. 37.) They shall come from the east, and from the west, and from
the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God." (Luke xiii. 29.)
But may we not add one observation more to the view we have already taken of this sweet Scripture concerning the queen of the south; and without violence to the history, behold in it, spiritually considered, the first outlines of a sinner, when convinced of sin, in his inquiry after the Lord Jesus Christ. If, on this woman's hearing of the fame of Solomon, she resolved to go to him for the discovery of his wisdom, and to prove him with hard questions; what a just, though faint description is this, of one, that having felt the burden of sin, and groaning after deliverance from it, and having heard of Christ, desires to come to Him," in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." The imagination cannot conceive what passeth in the mind of such an one, when under the impression of a lost, ruined, and undone estate by nature; the first discoveries are made to him of the Lord Jesus Christ, and of salvation in him by grace. And when under the secret workings of the Lord he comes to Christ, as she came to Solomon, "concerning the name of the Lord ;" let those who have been so taught of God determine the point for themselves; but certain it is, that in every instance of the soul, who finds an anxiety for futurity; and is dissatisfied in the pursuit of all creature comforts; though in the twilight of the first awakenings of grace, he is unconscious what his wants are, and from what direction the desire within him comes; yet he feels a certain wound in the spirit, a vacuum there, which rothing earthly can fill. And if, in such moments as these, he hears of the Lord Jesus Christ, as this woman did of the fame of Solomon; no distance is thought too remote; no journey too fatiguing to come unto him. And what question so hard to answer, as then appears to the view of an awakened conscience,
how to flee from the wrath to come; and how to escape the terrors with which the imagination is filled, concerning death, judgment and eternity.
"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." (1 Kings x. 2.)
NOTES AND OBSERVATIONS.
Ir is worthy observation, the splendour with which this queen of Sheba visited the monarch of Israel. It is not impossible but that from the natural affection of her own heart, in that innate and inbred pride, which belongs to our whole nature by the fall, though she had heard of Solomon's fame, she might have no small good opinion of herself. For it is said, that she came "to prove him with hard questions." And certainly, if she thought to put to the test the abilities of Solomon, she must have thought herself competent to do so from her own understanding. One thing however is evident from her history. Her visit was not in relation to the general system of monarchs; either to make a treaty for the extension of her own dominions, or for the discovery of his; or to form a mutual guarantee of peace for both. Her single errand, as it is said, was to know if the general report of Solomon's wisdom was correct; and principally on that first of all subjects, "concerning the name of the Lord."
I pause here, to remark the striking nature of that decision of our Lord, in relation to this woman; how her conduct at the last day will arise to the con