The Queen of Sheba
A mysterious woman once came from far away to see King Solomon with her own eyes, and more importantly, hear his wisdom with her own ears. We have no way of knowing from First Kings 10 (and other corresponding passages) who the queen of Sheba was and from whence she came. Scholars believe she reigned over the kingdom of Southern Arabia. Jesus calls her the “queen of the south” (Matt. 12:42). He also said that this woman would condemn those of the generation to which he spoke; He meant she would condemn them by comparison. The reference to her by our Lord indicates that she is an important figure historically; thus, there must be some great lessons that we are able to glean from studying a biography of her life. As a result, let us engage in a profitable character study of this interesting woman.
First, she was not content to take second-hand information. She heard about the wisdom of Solomon, but she wanted first-hand knowledge. In this case, what she had heard was true, but as she surmises, “the half was not told me: thy wisdom and prosperity exceedeth the fame which I heard” (1 Kings 10:6-7). Indeed, the things we sometimes hear about others are not true, and we need especially to be careful. Some accept second-hand information about the things that determine one’s eternal destiny. For example, some preacher says the Bible teaches a certain thing, and many people accept his word without investigating for themselves. The soul of man is too precious to risk its salvation on information that may or may not be true (cf. John 8:32). Consider some fatal errors millions have accepted without making a personal investigation to obtain first-hand knowledge.
- “All good people will be saved” (cf. Eccles. 7:20; Rom. 3:23; 6:23)
- “It makes no difference what church of which one is a member” (cf. Matt. 16:18; Eph. 1:22-23; 4:4)
- “The way one worships does not matter, just so long as he is honest and sincere” (cf. John 4:24)
- “All one must do to be saved is just pray the sinner’s prayer” (cf. Matt. 7:21)
- “The name we wear in religion is not important” (cf. Acts 4:12; 1 Cor. 1:12-13)
Hence, God has made it possible for us to know the truth (John 8:32). The queen of Sheba will rise in judgment and condemn us if we risk our souls on second-hand information. Remember that Christ is greater than Solomon is!
Second, she took the necessary time to hear the wisdom of Solomon. Remember that she was the ruler of her country. No doubt, she had important affairs of state to manage. However, she chose wisely to put this matter ahead of even important affairs of state. What of those in our time who think of themselves as being too busy with important matters to take the time for Bible study on Wednesday night? What of those in our time who never have time to study their Bible at home? What of those in our time who do not have time to visit the sick, the lost or the shut-in? The song “Take Time to Be Holy” should urge us to a better life. We usually find the time to do the things we really want to do. Doing the will of God should take precedence over everything else (Matt. 6:33). If we neglect our duty to God because we think we do not have the time, the queen of Sheba will rise in the judgment and condemn us. Remember that Christ is greater than Solomon is!
Third, she traveled a great distance to hear the wisdom of Solomon. As we mentioned before, scholars believe she came from Southern Arabia. If such is true, the distance from her home to Solomon’s was 800-1500 miles, depending on her exact location in Arabia. All we do know for sure is that Jesus said she came “from the uttermost parts of the earth” (Matt. 12:42). She made the journey without any of the modern modes of travel, and so it must have taken weeks. What of those today who will not travel across a county to attend a gospel meeting where one preaches Christ? What of those today who cannot go several miles to attend a lectureship program where outstanding Bible scholars deliver lessons from the word of God? What of those today who do not avail themselves of the opportunity to attend Bible study on Wednesday nights? What of those today who do not regularly attend the services of gospel meetings at their own home congregations? If we neglect opportunities to learn more of the word of the Lord, the queen of Sheba will rise in judgment and condemn us. Remember that Christ is greater than Solomon is!
Fourth, she came without an invitation. So far as we know, Solomon did not invite her. Could we imagine traveling that distance and expense to visit a king without an invitation? She did not know for sure that Solomon would receive her, or even that he was himself not gone on a journey and would not be there to receive her. Conversely, Jesus had given all of us invitation after invitation (Matt. 11:28; 24:37; John 5:40; Rev. 22:17). Not only are we invited to come to Christ, but He commands us to hear Him (Matt. 17:5; Acts 3:22-23). Twenty times in the New Testament, the expression occurs, “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” or “He that hath an ear, let him hear.” If we do not avail ourselves of the opportunity to familiarize ourselves with the word of the Lord, the queen of Sheba will rise in the judgment and condemn us. Remember that Christ is greater than Solomon is!
Fifth, she came with an open mind (1 Kings 10:6- 7). She came obviously expecting to see that the reports she had heard were false. However, she examined the matter with an open mind, and changed her mind. She was not too stubborn to change her mind when she learned that she had been wrong. In like manner, we must hear Christ with an open mind. Some in His day refused to be open-minded (Matt. 13:15). The truth of the matter is that prejudice causes many people to remain in ignorance. Prejudice occurs when one draws a conclusion before examining all the facts. It means to pre-judge. Although the queen had formed a false conclusion before having access to all the information, she was honest enough and open-minded enough to change her mind when she saw the truth. If we are not open-minded, the queen of Sheba will rise in the judgment and condemn us. Remember that Christ is greater than Solomon is!
Sixth, she put Solomon to the test by asking hard questions (1 Kings 10:1). In other words, she was not gullible, as many people are today when it comes to religious matters. She would accept only that as being true that could stand the test. This is the attitude we must have with reference to religious matters. The apostle Paul penned, “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good” (1 Thess. 5:21). In other words, put every doctrine and practice to the test, and reject all that will not stand the test. The word of the Lord is the standard by which we are to judge each doctrine and practice (John 12:48; cf. 2 John 1:9-11). The New Testament was given to us “that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive” (Eph. 4:14). We must examine things in the light of the New Testament. This further shows it makes a difference what we believe and practice in religion. False teachers do not want others to question them about their religious doctrine and practice. Those who teach and practice the truth have nothing to fear from examination (1 Pet. 3:15). If we accept error and refuse to conduct a careful examination, the queen of Sheba will rise in the judgment and condemn us. Remember that Christ is greater than Solomon is!
Seventh, she allowed Solomon to answer all her questions and show her all his wisdom (1 Kings 10:3- 4). She was not content with only a part; she wanted to know all she could about Solomon. In other words, she had an inquiring spirit. What of those who are content to know only a part of the will of God? We ought to develop an inquiring spirit that thirsts for the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth (cf. John 8:32; Heb. 5:12-14; Ps. 119:128). The psalmist stated, “Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth forever” (Ps. 119:160). The ASV translates this verse: “The sum of thy word is truth; and every one of thy righteous ordinances endureth forever.” Henceforth, this shows we must take all the truth on every subject. Some accept only a part of the word of God and leave off what they do not like. The queen of Sheba will rise in the judgment and condemn us if we do not learn all we can about the wisdom of Christ. Remember that Christ is greater than Solomon is!
Eighth, she gave precious gifts to Solomon (1 Kings 10:10). There is no indication that Solomon required such gifts. She did so of her own free will because of her appreciation of his wisdom. In like manner, we are taught to give to our Lord (1 Cor. 16:2; 2 Cor. 9:7). If we are stingy in our giving, the queen of Sheba will rise in the judgment and condemn us. Remember that Christ is greater than Solomon is!
In conclusion, tradition says that she asked that she might bear a son of Solomon. First Kings 10:13 suggests this might be the case. We would not consider such unusual in that day, considering the fact that Solomon had seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines (1 Kings 11:3). Tradition also says through the influence of the queen, she converted her nation from heathenism and began to worship the true God. This we do know—the dust of the remains of the queen of Sheba lies somewhere awaiting the resurrection day. On that day, she will stand in the judgment with all of us, and by comparison, she will condemn those who failed to appreciate the Lord Jesus Christ. Look how she appreciated Solomon, and “Behold, a greater than Solomon is here.”