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Author:Rev. Jack Moesker
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Congregation:Canadian Reformed Church at Owen Sound
 Owen Sound, Ontario
 www.oschurch.ca
 
Title:The Queen of Sheba came to see Solomon's glory
Text:1 Kings 10:1-10 (View)
Occasion:Advent
Topic:Christ's Kingship
 
Preached:2010-11
Added:2018-10-30
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Psalm 21:1,2

Psalm 138:3

Psalm 45:1,3,6

Psalm 72:1,5,6

Psalm 72:8,10

Read: Matthew 12:22-42

Text: 1 Kings 10:1-10 (read to 13)

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Jack Moesker, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


Beloved congregation of the Lord Jesus Christ;

You may remember yet how the Lord God said to Solomon back in 1 Kings 3, Ask whatever you wish, and I’ll give it to you. Solomon, you recall, asked for an understanding heart to discern between good and evil so he could rule wisely over God’s people. The Lord then told him that since he had asked for wisdom and not for riches and long life, He would grant him riches and honour in addition to great wisdom. And so, in 1 Kings 10, also in the part that comes after our text for this morning, Solomon is shown as an extremely wise and smart king as well as fabulously wealthy. It says in 1 Kings 10:23 that he surpassed all the kings of the earth at that time in riches and wisdom. Later on, Solomon took the Lord for granted and the riches and wisdom he received were no longer a blessing to him. You see the beginning of that at the end of 1 Kings 10, where Solomon does what the Lord had forbidden Israelite kings to do – he acquired horses and chariots. But this morning we deal with the time before that decline, when everything was wonderful and affluent in the kingdom yet. And we see in that glory the blessings of God on the OT prince of peace Solomon. And that glory was prophecy of the glory of the eternal Prince of Peace who is greater than Solomon, Jesus Christ.

I preach to you the Word of God in the text with this theme: God shows the glory of His kingdom in the Queen of Sheba’s visit. We pray attention to

1. Her coming.  

2. Her questions.

3. Her reaction

 

1. The queen of Sheba’s coming.

Congregation, when you read a story like the visit of the queen of Sheba to Israel to see Solomon’s wealth and to hear his wisdom, you maybe wonder why the Holy Spirit included this bit of history in the Bible at all. What does the Lord want to tell us with this? What message is there for us today in this visit of a pagan queen to Jerusalem around 3,000 years ago?

Well, let’s think about that. And maybe we should begin by asking ourselves what the Lord wanted to tell the first readers of this story. You understand that the book of kings a number of centuries after Solomon’s death. In fact, Kings was written after all the kings of Israel and Judah mentioned in it had died. The last king mentioned in 2 Kings was Jehoiachin, in captivity in Babylon. Jerusalem had been completely destroyed at that time by Nebuchadnezzar. Solomon’s beautiful palace was in ruins, and the temple was razed to the ground. 

Well, it’s in those circumstances that the original writer of the books of kings was moved to write about the history of Israel’s kings. He stands at the end of that history and looks back. And you can imagine that in that situation the obvious question that presents itself is, How could this have happened? How did it all go so wrong with those kings and with the people? The portrayal of what happened in the past only makes the present situation of ruin and destruction all the more painful. Knowing about the golden time of glory, the golden years under King Solomon made the great decline that came afterward all the more bitter.

What brought about that steady decline? That's the question the books of Kings want to answer. And so the two books of kings are more than simply historical accounts of what happened. No, what is written is an indictment against at the kings and people of Israel. It’s an admonition. Look at what happens when you forsake the Lord your God! The Lord God had given David and his house wonderful promises. One of David’s sons would always be king of Israel and the people would enjoy peace and prosperity. But those promises also came with a condition. If the kings and people of Israel did not walk in the ways of the Lord, the Lord would take everything back. He would send enemies to destroy the peace and He would take away their prosperity.

Well, it’s clear that the Lord God is true to what He says, both in giving peace and prosperity as well as taking them away. God is faithful to His covenant with Israel and David. Remember again how the Lord God said to young King Solomon, Ask whatever you wish, and I’ll grant it to you. And then Solomon had asked for understanding and discretion in order to rule God’s people with wisdom and justice. In the words of the Lord Jesus, Solomon had first sought God’s kingdom and righteousness. And therefore God promised to also give him honour, power and wealth.

Well, the coming of the Queen of Sheba in our text was evidence that God does as He promises. That Queen honoured Solomon with her visit, and she gave King Solomon rich gifts – gold and jewels and spices. And her coming to visit Solomon is proof positive which God holds out to His people. Look, this is what happens when king and nation serve me and walk in obedience with me. Then rulers come from distant places to Jerusalem to honour the king and the nation and bring you riches.

But the Queen of Sheba’s visit is then also an admonition to the generations that came afterwards. For that great glory of king and kingdom lasted only such a short time. Think of the rest of the book of kings. For after the visit of the Queen of Sheba many other kings also came to Jerusalem. But they didn’t come to give honour and riches to king and kingdom there, but to rob the city of riches and to bring it to ruin. Occasionally Jerusalem was able to buy off attackers by giving them gold, even gold stripped from the temple and the palace. But then too the king and kingdom were living off the riches accumulated in Solomon’s days. And those riches in palace and temple were soon depleted. Even the holy vessels of the temple were taken. And finally, the temple itself was completely demolished.

The decline and eventual destruction of Jerusalem and the temple there wasn’t because of the changing political situation. No, it was because of the worsening spiritual situation in Israel. It was because God’s people had become disobedient and disbelieving. God wanted things to be so that foreign nations would come to Jerusalem to give honour and riches to His anointed king and to the kingdom of Israel. 

Well, that’s what happened at the time of our text yet. When Solomon reigned in obedience to God, the glory and wealth of Jerusalem was famous all over the known world. And everyone knew that that had to do with the blessing of the Lord, Israel’s God. Look at verse 1 of our text. Now when the Queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the Name of the Lord… When Solomon held the Name of the Lord in high esteem, the Lord God gave him great fame and fabulous wealth. When he and the people of God walked in His ways and distinguished themselves from the pagan nations in their worship and lifestyle, Jerusalem became a beacon of light in the world. It became a centre of wisdom and culture. And people noticed that. That can happen today too, right? When people live close to God and His Word, they stand out. The church becomes a light in the world. That's what happened with Solomon and Jerusalem. They became famous far and wide. Even to the land of Sheba. 

And, of course, it was asked where all that glory and wisdom and wealth in Jerusalem came from. And people came to the conclusion that it must be Yahweh, the God of Israel who had so blessed Israel’s king and people. People realized that that glory of Jerusalem and King Solomon was connected to the Name of the Lord. And that’s the way it was supposed to be too, wasn’t it? Not Solomon’s name, but the Lord God’s Name should receive all glory and honour. It was about His glory. And so that pagan queen was drawn to the light which shone out of Jerusalem and from Solomon, the Son of David.

Amazing, if you think about it, how the greater than Solomon, the true Son of David, the true Prince of Peace, also received glory and gifts from wise men, from king who came to Israel from a distant nation. They gave gifts which were actually similar to those the Queen of Sheba gave to Solomon! Gold and spices were special gifts of honour in ancient times.

Well, the Queen of Sheba came and saw the some of the faithfulness and greatness of the Lord God in how blessed Israel was with a wise king and with such great prosperity. She knew, this all has to do with the Name of the Lord, the God of Israel. So, God receives glory even from the mouth of a pagan queen who saw with her own eyes what the Lord does with a king and a people who are faithful in serving Him.

We come to the second part of the sermon:

2. The Queen of Sheba’s questions.

Drawn to Jerusalem by the fame of Solomon and the connection of that glory to the Name of the Lord, the Queen of Sheba journeyed all the way to Jerusalem. We don’t know with absolute certainty where Sheba was, but it seems to have been located in the far south of the Arabian Peninsula, where the country of Yemen is today. Jesus simply called her the queen of the south in Matthew 12. The fame Solomon’s wisdom and riches had reached all the way there, most likely via travelling traders.

Well, now she wanted to see it with her own eyes. She came with a whole impressive retinue. And she came in particular, we’re told in verse 3, to ask Solomon all kinds of difficult questions - questions about nature and science and mathematics and philosophy and psychology. The queen must have been a very smart lady in her own right. Rulers in the ancient near east were highly educated, and this queen may have excelled in her time and place. She came to Jerusalem with all her pagan wisdom to test Solomon’s wisdom.

And you need to understand, congregation, that this was a very tense moment. Here all the intellect of the pagan world, all the wisdom acquired through experience and observation and discussion confronted the wisdom which Solomon had received from God, via his observing and meditating on everything in the light of God’s will and way. The wisdom of the world here confronts the wisdom of the God of Israel.

And the big question is then, which kind of wisdom can better explain the course of world history? Which can give a better explanation of the origin of creation and the place of man in it all? Which provides more insight into the purpose of life and into what life and death are about? Which kind of wisdom gives better ethical discernment, discernment into what is good and what is not? The wisdom of man who doesn’t know the God or the wisdom of man who knows and serves the God of Israel? Which wisdom is able to best respond to all the questions of life? That's what this is about.

It says in our text that Solomon was able to answer all the queen’s questions, everything that was on her heart. Nothing was too hard for the king to speak about and give a reasonable explanation. You see that in Jerusalem life wasn’t shut out of reason and reality. No, you see there that the fear of the Lord is indeed the beginning of all wisdom! Solomon didn’t have a faith which shut him off from real life on earth. No, he knew God had created man and given him a place on earth and His Word points to the answers to all life’s basic issues. God’s good commandments don’t cut off from real life and make it burdensome, but they free up life and make it enjoyable. The gospel of God’s grace frees life from the burden of sin which drags it down and opens it up and makes it satisfying. You know what the meaning and purpose of life is. No philosophy or science which leaves God out of the picture can explain the why and wherefore of human existence, of all existence really. But as Christians we know the goal of creation, don’t we? It all exists to glorify God’s Name. And we also know where everything is headed. It’s all headed to the renewal of all things when Christ returns, the new heavens and the new earth which are on the way. And whatever is taking place now – wars and rumors of wars and disasters and so on – are all birth pangs of what is coming.

And congregation, whereas Solomon was a light in the world in his time, we now know the great Son of David and Solomon, Jesus Christ. He is the Saviour sent by God to this earth so that all creation again can give perfect glory to God. And whoever follows Jesus Christ won’t walk in darkness, but in the light. Christians know their place and purpose in this world. They know where they and everything else are headed. At this time God’s kingdom is still stained with sins and subject to decay. But one day Solomon’s great Son, Jesus Christ will come and then full glory of the Kingdom of God will be seen by all. The glory and wealth of Solomon’s kingdom is tiny compared to the fullness of God and Christ’s kingdom which is coming! It’ll encompass all creation forever.

We come to that last part of the sermon:

3. The Queen of Sheba’s reaction.

When the queen of Sheba had tested Solomon’s wisdom with all her questions, and Solomon had answered them all with wisdom, it was time for a great feast. Verse 5 implies that the queen paid careful attention not only to the food but to the whole organization of the meal. After that, she was given a tour of the palace and the temple as far as she was allowed to see it. After she had heard and seen and tasted everything, it says in verse 5 that there was no more spirit in her. That maybe sounds kind of strange, but it simply means that it all took her breath away. She was so amazed by everything.

And then she praised everything. She says in verse 8, Happy are your men! Happy are your servants, who continually stand before you and hear your wisdom! Remember again why the books of Kings were written. Only a few years later a great many of those same servants rebelled against Solomon’s house. They didn’t want to have anything to do with Jerusalem and its king anymore. One of those servants – Jeroboam – led the breakaway kingdom of the 10 tribes. That happened because Solomon no longer served the Lord as he did before. Happy are your servants who hear your wisdom, the Queen of Sheba said. And you can’t help but think of much later, when the true Son of David came, the one greater than Solomon, Jesus Christ. The people of Israel at that time didn’t want to serve Him as King either. Do you see the point? A pagan queen says, Happy are the people who have such a king! But when the Son of David who is greater than Solomon ministered among the people with power and wisdom, they said, Away with Him, crucify Him!

The Queen of Sheba also praised the Lord God because of His love for and His blessings on His people. We don’t know how much the queen understood about the Lord and His covenant with Israel. But even though she only visited Jerusalem for a short time, she did understand that all that she saw and heard was ultimately from the Lord, that Israel was prosperous and great because of the relationship with the Lord their God. In His great mercy the Lord had given Israel a king who led the people wisely and in the ways of the Lord.

And with all her praise at the conclusion of her brief visit to Jerusalem, the Queen of Sheba was also a witness against the thanklessness and blindness of the Jews who later didn’t see how blessed they were with the Lord and His king. And so, it’s no wonder that much later the Lord Jesus referred to this queen when the leaders of the Jews rejected Him as their Lord and King in Matthew 12. He said, The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here. The Queen of Sheba saw some of the light of God’s Kingdom when she visited Solomon. And she could hardly contain her amazement and delight, and she burst out in praise to God. But when the greater than Solomon, the greatest King of the Jews came to Israel, those near Him hated and rejected Him. That's why Jesus said, The Queen of Sheba will testify against you in the judgment! Against you who hear the wisdom and truth of Christ and who rejected the riches of His salvation.

That can happen, can’t it, that people exist close to the wisdom and riches of the kingdom of God and don’t even see it. Or don’t want to see it. That they know about the Lord Jesus Christ and His gospel and they possess His promises, but turn away from Him. Don’t let it become for you as it did for the people of Israel, the people of promise who didn’t see their wealth and privilege anymore. Then you as children of the kingdom will end up outside while people from other parts will come and take your place at table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of God. And then Gentiles will witness against you.

Congregation, let’s let our eyes, the eyes of our hearts, be continually opened to the majesty and wisdom of Christ the King and the glory of His kingdom to which we belong. Then happy are you that you may be one of His servants. Happy are you that you may belong to His church. Don’t throw away the riches you have as member of Christ. And don’t reject your service in His Kingdom. For whoever loves King Jesus and serves Him uprightly, will only go from grace to grace and will know themselves richer and richer in His presence. And to use the words of the Queen of Sheba said, Happy are the people who stand continually before the King who is greater than Solomon and hear His wisdom and know the riches of His kingdom!  

AMEN

 




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Jack Moesker, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 2010, Rev. Jack Moesker

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