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Bible Commentaries

The Biblical Illustrator

2 Chronicles 9

 

 

Verses 1-12

2 Chronicles 9:1-12

And when the Queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon.

The Queen of Sheba’s visit to Solomon

I. The spirit which prompted the visit.

1. A spirit of curiosity.

2. A spirit of inquiry.

3. A spirit of restlessness.

4. A spirit of self-sacrifice.

She undertook a long and risky journey. A reproof, says Christ, to indifference and stupidity concerning Himself.

II. The mutual inter- course during the visit.

1. Solomon answered her questions.

2. Received her gifts.

III. The impressions received from the visit.

1. She was astonished at the magnificence of Solomon.

2. She was surprised at the wisdom of Solomon.

3. She was confirmed in her belief concerning Solomon.

Faith exercised will be greatly strengthened. This just the result--

1. Of honest search after truth.

2. Of personal intercourse with Christ.

3. Of engagement in God’s service. (J. Wolfendale.)

Hard questions

This is what the Bible itself asks for; in effect the Bible says, “Prove me, put me to the test, under all circumstances of triumph, joy, need, fear, and see if I have not within me a better answer than can be found in any other book.” This is the criticism to which Jesus Christ is always willing to submit Himself. It is His complaint that we do not ask Him questions enough, the assumption of course being that all inquiries are put in a reverent and faithful spirit. There is a question-asking to which the Bible will pay no heed, and there is a question-asking which Christ will regard as impious and frivolous. Whatever we really want to know with our hearts, whatever is necessary for us to know, Jesus Christ is willing to answer. When we bring our riddles and enigmas to Christ, they must be riddles and enigmas that express the very agony of desire. To our speculation or curiosity Christ may have nothing to say, or if He condescend to speak to us it may be in tones of rebuke and repulse. Do not be afraid to put hard questions to Christ. The Queen of Sheba did not put any flippant questions to Solomon; she rather sought out the most difficult inquiries which it was possible to propound. The meaning of this is that we are to ask the very hardest questions which our soul wishes to have answered, always remembering that there are some questions which need not be answered in time, and which indeed could not be answered to our present incomplete or depraved capacity and power. Properly considered, it may be impossible to put any easy questions to Christ within the range of the scope which His mission fills. (J. Parker, D. D.)

The Queen of Sheba’s visit to Solomon

I. The meeting together of these representatives of two different nations had the happy effect of drawing closer the bonds or unity.

II. The beneficial effect which the exhibition or the works of national industry may have upon the thoughtful and well-governed mind. The things seen by the Queen of Sheba did much to correct and enlarge her mind; far more than all her previous intelligence and inquiry.

III. The spectacle of works of art and man’s device, vast, multiform, and beautiful, reflects as in a mirror the wondrous powers of man’s mind. As we turn from the statue to the mind that sketched and the hand that chiselled out the wonderful design, so let us turn from man with all his wonderful skill and give to God the glory. The Queen of Sheba returned to her home with higher thoughts of God than she had before.

IV. The impressive spectacle of Solom’s devotion. The Queen admired “the ascent by which he went up into the house of the Lord.” Some understand these words of a magnificent communication which Solomon had prepared between his palace and the courts of the temple; while others explain them of the cheerful and fervent solemnity with which he worshipped, showing that his heart was deeply engaged in the hallowed and hallowing service. (S. Bridge, M. A.)

Heart communing

We have in Christ one greater than Solomon.

I. We ought to communicate with Him of all that is in our heart. Neglect of intercourse with Jesus--

1. Is very unkind.

2. Betrays the sad fact of something wrong.

3. Shows a want of confidence in His love, sympathy, and wisdom.

4. Will be the cause of uneasiness in ourselves.

5. Will involve the loss of counsel and help.

6. Is greatly aggravated by eagerness to tell our troubles to others.

II. We need not cease communing for want of topics.

1. Our sorrows.

2. Our joys.

3. Our service.

4. Our plans.

5. Our success and failures.

6. Our desires.

7. Our fears.

8. Our lives.

9. Our mysteries.

III. Nor shall we cease communing for want of reasons. Intercourse with Christ--

1. Is ennobling and elevating.

2. Consoling and encouraging.

3. Sanctifying and refining.

4. Safe and healthy.

5. Delightful and heavenly. (C. H. Spurgeon.)


Verse 8

2 Chronicles 9:8

Therefore made he thee king over them.

The Divine appointment of kings

I. That princes are of Divine appointment.

II. That wise and good rulers are a signal mark of the Divine love and favour to any nation.

III. The description of the regal office and dignity, both in respect of God and of the people.

IV. That on the advancement of a prince eminently qualified to serve God and his country we ought to bless God, that is, to return the tribute of praise due to Him. (Abp. Potter.)

The blessing of a Protestant king and royal family to the

nation:--

I. That it is God who maketh kings, and setteth them on their thrones as His vicegerents to do justice and judgment upon earth.

II. All kings should remember that they sit upon the throne of the Lord their God, of whom the Psalmist says, that righteousness and judgment are the habitation of His seat. They must therefore be good and just, ruling in His fear, and after His example. (John Donne, D. D.)


Verse 9

2 Chronicles 9:9

And of spices great abundance.

The spicery of religion

Solomon had a great reputation for the conundrums and riddles that he made and guessed. The Solomonic navy visited all the world, and the sailors, of course, talked about the wealth of their king, and about the riddles and enigmas that he made and solved; and the news spread until Queen Balkis, away off south, heard of it, and sent messengers with a few riddles that she would like to have Solomon solve, and a few puzzles that she would like to have him find out: Queen Balkis was so pleased with the acuteness of Solomon, that she said: “I’ll just go and see him for myself.” Yonder it comes--the cavalcade--horses and dromedaries, chariots and charioteers, jingling harness and clattering hoofs, and blazing shields, and flying ensigns, and clapping cymbals. The place is saturated with the perfume. She brings cinnamon, and saffron, and calamus, and frankincense, and all manner of sweet spices. I shall take the responsibility of saying that all the spikenard and cassia and frankincense which the Queen of Sheba brought to Solomon is mightily suggestive of the sweet spices of our holy religion.

I. Men require more of the spicery of religion to brighten their life and sweeten their disposition amid the capes and duties of life.

II. We need to put more spice and enlivement in our religious teaching.

III. We want more life and slice in our Christian work.

IV. We need more spice and enlivenment in our Church music.

V. The religion of Christ is a present and everlasting redolence that counteracts all trouble. It lifted Samuel Rutherford into a revelry of spiritual delight while he was in physical agonies. It helped Richard Baxter until, in the midst of such a complication of diseases as perhaps no other man ever suffered, he wrote “The Saint’ Everlasting Rest.” And it poured light on John Bunyan’s dungeon--the light of the shining gate of the shining city. Oh, you sin-parched and you trouble-pounded, here is comfort, here is satisfaction. I cannot tell you what the Lord offers you hereafter so well as I can tell you now. “It doth not yet appear what we shall be.” May God grant that through your own practical experience you may find that religion’s ways are ways of pleasantness, and that all her paths are paths of peace--that it is perfume now and perfume for ever. (T. De Witt Talmage.)

Spiced work

More than that, we want more life and spice in our Christian work. The poor do not want so much to be groaned over as sung to. With the bread, and medicines, and the garments you give them, let there be an accompaniment of smiles and brisk encouragement. Do not stand and talk to them about the wretchedness of their abode, and the hunger of their looks, and the hardness of their lot. Ah! they know it better than you can tell them. Show them the bright side of the thing, if there be any bright side. Tell them good times will come. Tell them that for the children of God there is immortal rescue. Wake them up out of their stolidity by an inspiring laugh, and while you send in practical help, like the Queen of Sheba, also send in the spices. There are two ways of meeting the poor. One is to come into their house with a nose elevated in disgust, as much as to say: “I don’t see how you live here in this neighbourhood. It actually makes me sick. There is that bundle; take it, you poor miserable wretch, and make the most of it.” Another way is to go into the abode of the poor in a manner which seems to say: “The blessed Lord sent me. He was poor Himself. It is not more for the good I am going to try to do you than it is for the good that you can do me.” Coming in that spirit, the gift will be as aromatic as the spikenard on the feet of Christ, and all the hovels in that alley will be fragrant with the spice. (T. De Witt Talmage.)

Spiced life

The fact is that the duties and cares of this life, coming to us from time to time, are stupid often, and inane and intolerable. Here are men who have been battering, climbing, pounding, hammering for twenty years, forty years, fifty years. One great, long drudgery has their life been. Their face anxious, their feelings benumbed, their days monotonous. What is necessary to brighten up that man’s life, and to sweeten that acid disposition, and to put sparkle into the man’s spirits? The spicery of our holy religion. Why, it between the losses of life there dashed a gleam of an eternal gain; if between the betrayals of life there came the gleam of the undying friendship of Christ; it in dull times in business we found ministering spirits flying to and fro in our office, and store, and shop, every-day life, instead of being a stupid monotone, would be a glorious inspiration, penduluming between calm satisfaction and high rapture. How any woman keeps house without the religion of Christ to help her is a mystery to me. To have to spend the greater part of one’s life, as many women do, in planning for the meals, and stitching garments that will soon be rent again, and deploring breakages, and supervising tardy subordinates, and driving off dust that soon again will settle, and doing the same thing day in and day out, and year in and year out, until the hair silvers, and the back stoops, and the spectacles crawl to the eyes, and the grave breaks open under the thin sole of the shoe--oh, it is a long monotony! But when Christ comes to the drawing-room, and comes to the kitchen, and comes to the nursery, and comes to the dwelling, then how cheery become all womanly duties! She is never alone now. Martha gets through fretting and joins Mary at the feet of Jesus. (T. De Witt Talmage.)


Verse 21

2 Chronicles 9:21

And apes, and peacocks.

Apes and peacocks

(to children):--We learn from this passage--

I. That a rich man can get, as far as worldly goods are concerned, almost what he likes in this world.

II. What even wise men will do, when they have more money than they know how to use. Such was Solomon’s position; apes and peacocks were costly, and so he had a special desire to have s goodly number about him. (D. Davies.)

Apes

I. The ape is something like us, and yet he is very much unlike us.

1. He cannot speak.

2. He cannot learn.

3. He has no foresight or forethought. It is wonderful how deceptive appearances can be.

II. The ape is only a caricature of a man, and does not imitate him in his better movements or habits; so you generally find that if a child or man apes another, he apes him only in his failings. I saw a boy the other day, who could not have been more than eleven, vigorously puffing the end of a cigar that he had picked up somewhere. He evidently thought he looked like a man, but I need not tell you how disgusted I felt, and wished that he could imitate the man in a more manly way. He stupidly aped a gentleman whose failing was that he smoked at all. Learn to be natural. Let the one desire of your life be to be true. Never put on a false look or try to live under false pretences. (D. Davies.)

Peacocks

The peacock has a beautiful tail, and in this respect no bird can match him. But the more you know about him the less you think of his tail. He can only screech hideously when he tries to sing. He is also a very gluttonous and a very selfish and destructive character. The beautiful bird has nothing to commend it except its beautiful feathers. Its characteristic failing is vanity.

I. I want you to remember that there are some people in the world like that peacock. Everything depends upon their dress, or their outward appearance. But if you get to know their disposition and their conduct, you will very often cease to be charmed with their dress.

II. I want you to guard yourselves against attaching too much importance to appearances. God does not. Learn that the truest ornament is “a meek and gentle spirit, which in the sight of God is of great price.” (D. Davies.)


Verse 31

2 Chronicles 9:31

And Solomon slept with his fathers.

The death of Solomon

Such is the sole record of the departure of the most magnificent king of the Israelitish nation.

1. Why is this? For it was not so with David, his father, whose last days, and almost last thoughts, last prayers and exhortations, are fully detailed.

2. Nothing on the first sight, in popular judgment, appears more excellent and full of hope than that petition of Solomon when, just called to the throne, he asked of God wisdom and knowledge, “that I may go out and come in before this people.” God granted him his request. His reign proved to be one of unexampled splendour. Prosperity almost to overflow poured in upon the nation. But as the monarch’s glory increased, his personal character declined. He sank morally and religiously. He became tyrannical and despotic, and grievously oppressed his subjects. Then intense sensuality set in. So deeply did he fall that his name has been connected with the practice of the magical arts and sorceries denounced in the law of Moses.

3. How shall we account for this? Was it that from the first his heart was not set upon God, but upon self? that when he asked at first for wisdom to rule God’s people, he only thought of the honour he would gain thereby? Or is it that we here witness in an individual the corrupting influences of a civilisation not merely luxurious, but high and cultivated, when it discards the faith in God?

4. Whichever it be, by both alternatives we are warned that wisdom, even high, intellectual, and varied, is not godliness, and cannot take its place; that where it is unsanctified, a worm lies at its root.

5. It is a solemn thought that the temple, the culminating point of Solomon’s glory, was the harbinger, and in a degree the cause, of the decline of his nation. The exactions and the oppressive burdens its extravagant cost entailed upon the people alienated them, made the monarchy hateful, and prepared the nation for revolt:

6. Twice since has the same thing been witnessed. The sale of indulgences to help the building of St. Peter’s led to the disruption of a large part of Christendom. So also the gorgeous palace of the French monarch, the memorial of his boundless luxury and consequent oppression, was the prelude of that great convulsion from which the nation has never recovered. Such is the logic of mere human splendour and luxury.

7. What was the end of this renowned monarch? What was the final stamp set upon his character? Scripture is silent on the point, and Christendom has always been divided in regard to it. Those who have thought and hoped the best of him have rested their hopes chiefly on the tenor of the Book of Ecclesiastes. But no tone of repentance pervades this solemn writing; no utterance of contrition or even personal remorse; not one such anguished cry for forgiveness as pervades several of David’s psalms; no humiliation appears in it, not even such as Ahab’s; no confession, even such as Saul’s. Solomon appears to pass away and, “make no sign,” (Archdeacon Grant, D. C. L.)
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Bibliography Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "2 Chronicles 9:4". The Biblical Illustrator. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/2-chronicles-9.html. 1905-1909. New York.

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