When we think of Solomon’s wisdom, three incidents from his life would readily come to mind as well as the book he wrote that we call ‘Proverbs’. If you recall, he asked for wisdom from God when he began his reign – and God answered that request. We see his wisdom when two women were claiming the same baby. The third incident is the visit by the Queen of Sheba.
“When the queen of Sheba heard about Solomon, she came to challenge him with difficult questions … Solomon answered all her questions; there was no question too complex for the king.” (2 Chronicles 9:1-2 NET)
Solomon’s wisdom had spread throughout the known world. Although we don’t know precisely where Sheba was located, it is thought by many to have been in the southern part of Arabia. If this is the case, she had quite a long journey to meet with Solomon, being around 1,660 miles (2,670 km). If this journey was on foot, it would have taken at least two months and most likely longer to get to Jerusalem (GoogleMaps calculates that from the south of Saudi Arabia to Jerusalem would take around 540 hours on foot).
The Queen of Sheba seems to have questioned whether Solomon was as wise as his reputation said that he was. She came prepared with difficult questions to challenge him. And Solomon was able to answer everything she asked – there was nothing too complex for him.
After spending time with him she “saw for herself Solomon’s wisdom” – in his palace, the food he served, his servants and attendants, and the sacrifices he made in the temple. Her reaction was amazement:
“The report I heard in my own country about your wise sayings and insight was true! I did not believe these things until I came and saw them with my own eyes. Indeed, I didn’t hear even half the story! Your wisdom surpasses what was reported to me. Your attendants, who stand before you at all times and hear your wise sayings, are truly happy!” (2 Chronicles 9:3-7)
She rightly concluded that God was behind Solomon:
“May the Lord your God be praised because he favored you by placing you on his throne as the one ruling on his behalf. Because of your God’s love for Israel and his lasting commitment to them, he made you king over them so you could make just and right decisions” (2 Chronicles 9:8).
She brought lavish gifts to give Solomon: “She gave the king 120 talents of gold and a very large quantity of spices and precious gems. The quantity of spices the queen of Sheba gave King Solomon has never been matched” (2 Chronicles 9:9). Although she gave so much to Solomon, he gave her even more: “King Solomon gave the queen of Sheba everything she requested, more than what she had brought him” (2 Chronicles 9:12).
The Queen rightly concluded that with the great wisdom God had given Solomon he also had great responsibilities of using this wisdom to make just and correct decisions. When God blesses us it isn’t so that we gain from it but so that we can use these blessings to help others.
Solomon used his wisdom to help his people. What are we doing with the blessings God has given us?
Readings for next week: 2 Chronicles 9; Psalms 45, 50, 75-77; Proverbs 1-4