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Bible Commentaries

L. M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible

1 Kings 10

 

 

Verses 1-29

THE VISIT OF THE QUEEN OF SHEBA

(vs.1-13)

News of Solomon's greatness spread through the nations. It was not however his greatness itself that impressed the Queen of Sheba, but his fame concerning the name of the Lord (v.1). Solomon pictures the Lord Jesus in His great splendor of reigning in the millennium, and the Queen of Sheba indicates the interest of at least some nations awakened at that time to come to inquire of One so renowned for His wisdom.

At the same time the Queen of Sheba is a picture of any stranger at any time who is awakened to desire to learn more of the Lord Jesus. When she heard the report, then she came to test Solomon with hard questions. There are many hard questions of a spiritual nature that trouble people, and their wisest course is to bring them directly to the Lord Jesus who knows the answer to any question worth asking.

Being a wealthy woman, she came with a great entourage which included spices, gold and precious stones (v.2). This reminds us of Isaiah's prophecy that in the millennium the wealth of the Gentiles will be willingly brought to the Lord Jesus (Isaiah 60:5-7).

She spoke with Solomon about all that was in her heart. This was frank, open-hearted communion. if there is such simple honesty in seeking the Lord's presence and His counsel, the results for us will be fully as satisfying as the results were for the Queen of Sheba. Solomon answered all of her questions, for there was nothing too difficult for him (v.3). In this he pictures the Lord Jesus, though his wisdom was far inferior to that of the Lord, who can answer far deeper questions than the Queen of Sheba asked, such as, how to be sure our sins are forgiven, how to deal with our inherent sinful nature, and many other questions that are raised in the New Testament, which Solomon did not have and could not have answered in his day.

Only when the Queen of Sheba had come and communed with Solomon was she privileged to "see" his wisdom. If people object to the things of God by saying, "I don't see that," all they need to do is come to the Lord and they wilt see. The Queen of Sheba saw Solomon's wisdom particularly in the house he had built. Today the Lord is not building a material house, but "a spiritual house" (1 Peter 2:5) composed of all believers of the present age, and we might all well be impressed by the wisdom of His great love in fitting each believer into the Church of God. We are God's workmanship individually (Ephesians 2:10), but also collectively, as the Lord Jesus says, "On this Rock I will build My Church" (Matthew 16:18).

What the Queen of Sheba saw inside the house was equally impressive: "the food of his table." His provision for one day is told us in chapter 4:22-23 - an amazing amount. The provision of the Lord Jesus for His Church is also more than sufficient, not only in quantity, but in its wonderful quality, for Christ Himself is "the bread of life" to fully satisfy every hungry heart.

"The seating of his servants" is mentioned before service, for the Lord first seats us in godly order to receive instruction before serving. Then "the service of his waiters" is noticed. The order in this service must have been wisely planned too, and believers today will serve well when they do so in subjection to the authority of the Lord Jesus.

"Their apparel" was fitting for the presence of the king. Scripture tells us what is the clothing of believers: "Of Him are you in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God - and righteousness and sanctification and redemption" (1 Corinthians 1:30). This is a lovely answer to the prayer of the Psalmist, "Let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us" (Psalms 90:17).

Also impressive to the Queen of Sheba was "his entryway (or ascent) by which he (Solomon) went up to the house of the Lord" (v.5). We know of no record of what this ascent was like, but its spiritual significance is more important, for it speaks of the truth of the Lord's ascension to glory and connected with this the coming of the Lord to transfer His saints to their heavenly home. Solomon's own house speaks of the Church in its order on earth, but the temple (the house of the Lord) symbolizes the Father's house (John 14:2).

When we understand all these things connected with the order of the Church of God while on earth and also the marvelous truth of the Rapture so near now to be accomplished, we might well be overwelmed with wonder, just as was true of the Queen of Sheba: "there was no more spirit in her" (v.5).

Appropriately therefore her lips were opened in a lovely confession of faith, "It was a true report which I heard in my own land about your words and your wisdom. However, I did not believe the words until I came and saw with my own eyes; and indeed the half was not told me. Your wisdom and prosperity exceed the fame of which I heard" (vs.6-7). If we have had any true contact with the Lord Jesus, surely we shall be similarly affected to respond to Him in adoring appreciation.

Adding to her appreciation of Solomon's wisdom, the Queen of Sheba expressed her unselfish appreciation of the happiness of Solomon's servants in being privileged to stand continually in his presence to hear his wisdom (v.8). She shows no envy in her speaking of the Lord delighting in Solomon and setting him on the throne of Israel. She expressed her genuine joy in Solomon and in Israel (v.9). This will be the attitude of those nations in the millennium who have been born again. Through the ages the Gentile nations have been resentful against Israel because God has chosen them as His earthly people, but there is no doubt that the Queen of Sheba had actually been born of God, so that her attitude was beautifully affected by this.

Besides her words of appreciation, she expressed this by giving to Solomon 120 talents of gold, spices in great quantity and precious stones (v.10). She was not paying Solomon for anything, but voluntarily giving which is a picture of a believer giving to the Lord the willing worship of his heart. The gold, amounting of 15,700 pounds'. speaks of the glory of God, that which is the first consideration in worship. The spices, also a great amount, picture the fragrances of the Lord Jesus, whose entire life, His death and resurrection were wonderfully fragrant to the nostrils of God. The precious stones symbolize the fruit of the Spirit with their many colors reflected by the light that shines upon them. Thus our worship is simply our thankful, glad response to the working of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in our hearts.

Verses 11 and 12 are a parenthesis, showing both a comparison and a contrast to the gifts of the Queen of Sheba. Her gifts showed lovely personal affection, a most valuable presentation. But the ships of Hiram brought great amounts of almug trees and precious stones from Ophir. The almug trees were used to make steps (or a balustrade) both for the house of the Lord and the king's house, and also for making harps and other stringed instruments. Servants of Solomon brought this wood, used for the support (the balustrades) and the joy (the music) of the people. Thus Israel will be supported and rejoicing in the coming kingdom of the Lord Jesus. They will surely thank God for His sustaining grace and for the joy He gives them. But what the Queen of Sheba gave speaks more of the joy that is given to the Lord from devoted hearts. The precious stones, speaking of the fruit of the Spirit of God, will not be lacking in the servants of God in the millennial kingdom, even in those who are not as fully devoted as some others are.

The Queen of Sheba did not lose by giving so much to Solomon, for his grace exceeded hers, just as the grace of the Lord Jesus is exceedingly abundant (1 Timothy 1:14). Solomon gave her all she desired of him, and much more (v.13). How true are the words of Psalms 37:4, "Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart."

With a full and satisfied heart the Queen of Sheba returned to her own country. Thus, one who has learned of Christ returns to his own circumstances, but surely with a changed attitude that desires to tell others of Him.

SOLOMON'S WEALTH AND WISDOM

(vs.l4-29)

We are told now of the amazing wealth of the kingdom of Solomon simply because this is symbolical of the kingdom of the Lord Jesus in the millennium. Every year 666 talents of gold came to him, that is 87,245 pounds! (v.14). This did not include the gold brought in by traveling merchants and traders and that which was sent by the kings of Arabia and from the governors of the country (v.15). Solomon made 200 large shields of hammered gold, each weighing 3 minas of gold (6 pounds) and put them in the house of the forest of Lebanon. This was symbolical of the protection of his kingdom in its administration.

Also in the same place was his amazingly unique throne, made of ivory and overlaid with gold (v.18). Six steps led up to the throne, which was rounded at the back and having arm rests on either side, while beside the arm rests were two lions. But added to this were two lions on each of the six steps, that is, 12 lions (v.20). These were included as part of the throne, because we are told the throne had six steps, therefore all of these steps and lions were overlaid with gold. Nothing like this was true of any other kingdom. The gold speaks of the glory of God which will indeed be paramount in the glorious high throne of the Lord Jesus in His kingdom. His reign of great prosperity will be altogether for God's glory.

All of Solomon's drinking vessels and all the vessels in the House of the Forest of Lebanon were pure gold (v.21). Not only will Christ's authority be for God's glory, but the provision He makes for the people in the kingdom will also glorify God, even in regard to what they drink. Silver was not used because of its relatively less value. Silver speaks of the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, putting emphasis on the great work He has accomplished for us. But Christ personally is greater than His work.

The friendship of Hiram was valuable to Solomon, for he profited by the sea-faring knowledge of Hiram's fleet of ships which Solomon's ships accompanied on trips to bring back gold, silver, ivory, apes and monkeys (v.22). Thus Solomon's riches and wisdom surpassed that of all the kings of the earth (v.23). From every direction also people came to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and they came always with gifts, silver, gold, garments, armor, spices, horses and mules. This indicates that many in the millennium will come to Israel to learn of the glory of the great King of kings and will bring gifts of homage to Him.

Solomon also gathered chariots and horsemen, 1400 chariots and 12,000 horsemen, stationed in cities designated as chariot cities as well as in Jerusalem. These were for the protection of his kingdom, reminding us that the kingdom of the Lord Jesus will have more full protection than this, though with no trusting in chariots and horses. Israel's trust then will be simply in the name of the Lord (Psalms 20:7).

Silver became as common as stones in Jerusalem and cedar trees as abundant as the lowly sycamores [27]. Also Solomon imported chariots and horsemen from Egypt, chariots at a cost of 600 silver shekels and horses 150 shekels each. He used these in Israel, but also exported them to the kings of the Hittites and the kings of Syria, thus making a profit. If he had read Deuteronomy 17:15-16, then he was deliberately disobedient, for the Lord forbad a king to multiply horses or to cause the purchase of horses from Egypt. This was depending on the world (Egypt) for the protection of his kingdom, instead of on the Lord.

 


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Bibliography Information
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on 1 Kings 10:4". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/lmg/1-kings-10.html. 1897-1910.

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