1 Kings
1-3 Visit of the Queen of Sheba 4-5 What the Queen Sees 6-9 Testimony of the Queen 10-13 Exchange of Gifts 14-15 The Income 16-17 The Shields 18-20 The Throne 21-25 Various Glories 26-29 The Horses
Visit of the Queen of Sheba

1Now when the queen of Sheba heard about the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the LORD, she came to test him with difficult questions. 2So she came to Jerusalem with a very large retinue, with camels carrying spices and very much gold and precious stones. When she came to Solomon, she spoke with him about all that was in her heart. 3Solomon answered all her questions; nothing was hidden from the king which he did not explain to her.

The purpose of this chapter is to emphasize the incredible wealth of Solomon. He possesses everything in quantities that exceed our comprehension. The queen of Sheba, a really rich woman, is overwhelmed by it. She is set by the Lord Jesus as an example to the scribes and Pharisees. The Lord tells them that this queen came from far away – most likely from Yemen, 1950 km south of Jerusalem – to hear the wisdom of Solomon, while they would not listen to Him Who is more than Solomon (Mt 12:4242[The] Queen of [the] South will rise up with this generation at the judgment and will condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and behold, something greater than Solomon is here.).

The coming of the queen of Sheba to Solomon is an example of the nations coming to Solomon and the God of Solomon (1Kgs 4:3434Men came from all peoples to hear the wisdom of Solomon, from all the kings of the earth who had heard of his wisdom.; 8:41-4341“Also concerning the foreigner who is not of Your people Israel, when he comes from a far country for Your name’s sake42(for they will hear of Your great name and Your mighty hand, and of Your outstretched arm); when he comes and prays toward this house,43hear in heaven Your dwelling place, and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to You, in order that all the peoples of the earth may know Your name, to fear You, as [do] Your people Israel, and that they may know that this house which I have built is called by Your name.). She doesn’t just come to pay a courtesy visit or to see a rich and wise king, but to see a king who has a great God. She is not only curious about Solomon, but wants to know more about the LORD. She has heard the call concerning Solomon “concerning the name of the LORD”. She may have heard this call through the shipmen of Solomon’s fleet, which will also have visited her country.

In this history we have a clear proof that we see here a picture of the kingdom of peace (Psa 72:8,108May he also rule from sea to sea
And from the River to the ends of the earth.
10Let the kings of Tarshish and of the islands bring presents;
The kings of Sheba and Seba offer gifts.
; Isa 60:5-65“Then you will see and be radiant,
And your heart will thrill and rejoice;
Because the abundance of the sea will be turned to you,
The wealth of the nations will come to you.
6“A multitude of camels will cover you,
The young camels of Midian and Ephah;
All those from Sheba will come;
They will bring gold and frankincense,
And will bear good news of the praises of the LORD.
). For us there is also an application. We are under the authority of Him of Whom Solomon is a picture. The queen of Sheba introduces someone who wants to learn the mysteries of God and to hear the solution from the mouth of the true Solomon. These mysteries concern, in pictures, Christ and His church. In Christ are “hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col 2:2-32that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and [attaining] to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, [resulting] in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, [that is,] Christ [Himself],3in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.). We may come to Him with all our questions, including questions about our practice.

She comes up with questions that occupied her in her heart, the big questions of life and no intellectual questions. Solomon answers all her questions. We don’t always get the answer we want, nor always in the form we immediately understand. Yet we never leave Him without an answer, even though we sometimes have to wait for what we have asked. The heart that is in His presence will experience that He is completely trustworthy.


What the Queen Sees

4When the queen of Sheba perceived all the wisdom of Solomon, the house that he had built, 5the food of his table, the seating of his servants, the attendance of his waiters and their attire, his cupbearers, and his stairway by which he went up to the house of the LORD, there was no more spirit in her.

The Queen of Sheba sees seven things. The question is whether we also have seen this, but in the spiritual application, or at least want to see it.
1. She doesn’t hear the wisdom of Solomon so much, but perceives it in everything he has made. This can be seen by us in creation and in the church. Christ is the “wisdom of God” (1Cor 1:3030But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption,).
2. She sees the house he has built. She walks on to his throne room and also to his house. She sees what many Israelites have never seen. Solomon likes to show it to her. In this way the Lord Jesus also likes to show us what He has built: the church.
3. She sees the food of his table. Solomon will have offered her a meal. Have we seen what the Lord Jesus gives us to eat: His flesh and His blood (Jn 6:51-5851I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.”52Then the Jews [began] to argue with one another, saying, “How can this man give us [His] flesh to eat?”53So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves.54He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.55For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink.56He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.57As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me.58This is the bread which came down out of heaven; not as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever.”)? As members of the church, the food He has for us is necessary to maintain and enjoy fellowship with Him and the Father.
4. She sees the dignity and happiness of those who surround Solomon. There are servants who are sitting, possibly his Council of Ministers. They sit with the king at his table and take part in the meal. The high place of the believer is in Christ in the heavenly places, a place he has been given by the good pleasure of the Father. This must be seen in the believer.
5. She sees servants standing: the attendance of his waiters. They are ready to serve Solomon and his people. In addition to a high place in the heavenly places the believer also has a task for the Lord to perform. This task requires appropriate behavior, which is reflected in the attire. That attire is Christ (Eph 1:66to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.; Rom 13:1414But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to [its] lusts.). He should be seen in our service.
6. She sees his cupbearers, who provide him and his company with wine, that is to say everything that makes them merry. The Lord Jesus wants us to share in His joy (Jn 15:1111These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and [that] your joy may be made full.). This joy comes from engaging with Him as He is presented to us in God’s Word (1Jn 1:1-41What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life—2and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us—3what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.4These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.).
7. She sees his stairway by which he went up to the house of the LORD, or: his burnt offering which he offered, as it also can be translated. His burnt offerings represent everything with which he glorifies God. After leaving the meal, they may have gone to the temple to bring burnt offerings. She has seen how Solomon has glorified God and she has been amazed. She is introduced into the worship of God. Everything that we see of the Lord Jesus and everything that others see of Him in us should not be for our glorification, but should lead us to worship the Father (Jn 4:23-2423But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.24God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”).


Testimony of the Queen

6Then she said to the king, “It was a true report which I heard in my own land about your words and your wisdom. 7Nevertheless I did not believe the reports, until I came and my eyes had seen it. And behold, the half was not told me. You exceed [in] wisdom and prosperity the report which I heard. 8How blessed are your men, how blessed are these your servants who stand before you continually [and] hear your wisdom. 9Blessed be the LORD your God who delighted in you to set you on the throne of Israel; because the LORD loved Israel forever, therefore He made you king, to do justice and righteousness.”

Only when we have seen the riches and wisdom of the Lord Jesus we can speak about it. She had heard it, but now she has seen it and she is overwhelmed by it. It is much more glorious than she had imagined in response to everything she had heard. That’s how we also can experience it. We can hear and read about the glory of the Lord Jesus from others, for example by Bible readings or by Bible commentaries, but only when we delve into it ourselves will we be overwhelmed by it.

From the praise of the queen we cannot deduce whether she has accepted the true God as her God. Perhaps we can conclude this from what the Lord Jesus says about her, that she “will rise up with this generation at the judgment and will condemn it” (Mt 12:42a42[The] Queen of [the] South will rise up with this generation at the judgment and will condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and behold, something greater than Solomon is here.). It is important for us whether we know the happiness she speaks about. Then people will praise us for what we are allowed to see. They will see that God loved His people with an eternal love, because of the Lord Jesus, although they have no awareness of its content.


Exchange of Gifts

10She gave the king a hundred and twenty talents of gold, and a very great [amount] of spices and precious stones. Never again did such abundance of spices come in as that which the queen of Sheba gave King Solomon. 11Also the ships of Hiram, which brought gold from Ophir, brought in from Ophir a very great [number of] almug trees and precious stones. 12The king made of the almug trees supports for the house of the LORD and for the king’s house, also lyres and harps for the singers; such almug trees have not come in [again] nor have they been seen to this day. 13King Solomon gave to the queen of Sheba all her desire which she requested, besides what he gave her according to his royal bounty. Then she turned and went to her own land together with her servants.

The queen of Sheba gives Solomon a huge gift of gold, spices and precious stones. She did not know the spiritual meaning of this. In a literal sense she brings the most glorious of God’s creation. We see spiritual glory in this gift. Gold represents Divine glory. Spices represent the glories that in Christ, God revealed in the flesh, come out from His innermost being. Precious stones also represents His glories, but then as they can be seen in their external and versatile radiation. All these glories we see in the Lord Jesus.

The verses 11-1211Also the ships of Hiram, which brought gold from Ophir, brought in from Ophir a very great [number of] almug trees and precious stones.12The king made of the almug trees supports for the house of the LORD and for the king’s house, also lyres and harps for the singers; such almug trees have not come in [again] nor have they been seen to this day. are an interjection. It’s as if the writer, through the gifts of the queen of Sheba, suddenly thinks of other gold and wood. He wants to involve his readers in this.

Then we read in verse 1313King Solomon gave to the queen of Sheba all her desire which she requested, besides what he gave her according to his royal bounty. Then she turned and went to her own land together with her servants. that Solomon gives the queen of Sheba everything she desires and asks for. That comes on top of everything he has already given her. The total will be much more than what she has given him. He gives “according to his royal bounty”. He gives according to His full wealth.

Full of all kinds of glories of King Solomon she goes back home. Whether her heart is full of Him for Whom she came to Solomon (verse 11Now when the queen of Sheba heard about the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the LORD, she came to test him with difficult questions.), does not become clear. As indicated above, we may conclude from the words of the Lord Jesus that she did get to know the God of Israel and did accept Him.


The Income

14Now the weight of gold which came in to Solomon in one year was 666 talents of gold, 15besides [that] from the traders and the wares of the merchants and all the kings of the Arabs and the governors of the country.

The income of Solomon is huge. Without being able to give an immediate explanation, the mentioned number “666” is remarkable (Rev 13:1818Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six.; Ezra 2:1313the sons of Adonikam, 666;).


The Shields

16King Solomon made 200 large shields of beaten gold, using 600 [shekels of] gold on each large shield. 17[He made] 300 shields of beaten gold, using three minas of gold on each shield, and the king put them in the house of the forest of Lebanon.

Because of the large number of shields, his house, his palace, becomes, as it were, a giant fortress. The shield speaks of the LORD. He is the shield of His people. Solomon made these shields to defend his house.


The Throne

18Moreover, the king made a great throne of ivory and overlaid it with refined gold. 19[There were] six steps to the throne and a round top to the throne at its rear, and arms on each side of the seat, and two lions standing beside the arms. 20Twelve lions were standing there on the six steps on the one side and on the other; nothing like [it] was made for any other kingdom.

The throne belongs to the wonderful government of Solomon and is actually a high point. It is a throne that has never been made in any kingdom. It can only be applied to the throne of the Lord Jesus, of whom Solomon is still such a beautiful picture here.

It is not very obvious that there is talk about ivory covered with gold. It may be a throne of wood covered partly with ivory and partly with gold. Ivory can only be obtained by death. It is different with gold; there the thought of death does not come to the fore. Ivory as the fruit of death and gold as the picture of Divine glory are the basis of the throne of the Lord Jesus. He rules because He is God Himself and at the same time He is the One Who died as Man, but also rose up and lives forever.

Six steps lead up to that glorious throne. On each of these six steps are two lions, that is twelve lions together, one for each tribe. Beside the throne are two more, that brings the total to fourteen, that is two times seven. The throne itself is on the seventh step. The lion is also a symbol of Christ Himself.

To take place on the throne, there have to be climbed seven steps. We see these steps in the life of the Lord Jesus, Who will finally take place on the throne. If the Lord had knelt before Satan (Mt 4:8-98Again, the devil *took Him to a very high mountain and *showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory;9and he said to Him, “All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.”), He would not have had such a throne. It would be, so to speak, a throne without steps. The Lord wanted to go every step of the six, while the seventh makes Him sit directly on the throne itself.

The throne described here is not the throne comparable to the place He occupies on the right side of God. He has already reached it. This is the throne of David on earth, who has been prepared from the foundation of the world. In the six steps we can see the way He has gone to take his place on that throne. Maybe there are other applications to make, but a possible interpretation for each step is the following:

1. The first step is His willingness to do the will of God: “‘Behold, I have come … To do Your will, O God” (Heb 10:77“Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come (In the scroll of the book it is written of Me) To do Your will, O God.’”).
2. The second is that He became Man. For Him that was a humiliation. He Who sits on the throne of David is the Son of man. To this end He has partook of blood and flesh: “Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same” (Heb 2:14a14Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil,).
3. He partook of blood and flesh to give His life: “Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2:88Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.). His death was the necessary third step.
4. It could not stop there. He is raised and resurrected: “But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep” (1Cor 15:2020But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep.). This is the fourth, middle step.
5. The fifth is that He went to heaven, glorified at God’s right hand: He “has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb 12:2b2fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.). He now sits with His Father on the throne of His Father, not on His own throne (Rev 3:2121He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.).
6. The sixth step is that He rises from it and comes to earth on the clouds from heaven: “For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and WILL THEN REPAY EVERY MAN ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS” (Mt 16:2727For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and WILL THEN REPAY EVERY MAN ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS.).
7. Then He will climb the seventh step by taking place on His throne: “But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne.” (Mt 25:3131“But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne.).

If we compare in the description of the throne what is written in verse 1919[There were] six steps to the throne and a round top to the throne at its rear, and arms on each side of the seat, and two lions standing beside the arms. with what is written in 2 Chronicles 9 (2Chr 9:1818[There were] six steps to the throne and a footstool in gold attached to the throne, and arms on each side of the seat, and two lions standing beside the arms.), the following question arises: Is the shape of the head of the throne round or is it a description of a footstool attached to the throne? It is a difficult word to translate. It seems that on the throne, on its head, is a sheep. This is how the Septuagint translates these words. This gives a nice explanation in connection with Revelation 5, where there is a lion and a lamb (Rev 5:5-65and one of the elders *said to me, “Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals.”6And I saw between the throne (with the four living creatures) and the elders a Lamb standing, as if slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth.). He Who sits on the throne is also the Lamb. Such a throne, such a government has never been seen.


Various Glories

21All King Solomon’s drinking vessels [were] of gold, and all the vessels of the house of the forest of Lebanon [were] of pure gold. None was of silver; it was not considered valuable in the days of Solomon. 22For the king had at sea the ships of Tarshish with the ships of Hiram; once every three years the ships of Tarshish came bringing gold and silver, ivory and apes and peacocks. 23So King Solomon became greater than all the kings of the earth in riches and in wisdom. 24All the earth was seeking the presence of Solomon, to hear his wisdom which God had put in his heart. 25They brought every man his gift, articles of silver and gold, garments, weapons, spices, horses, and mules, so much year by year.

The glory of Solomon is so great, that even the silver is not considered as valuable. From every corner of the earth one comes to him with many gifts. This is what will happen when the Lord Jesus reigns.

However, there is also something that is a warning to us with regard to merchandise. Solomon’s ships also brings apes and peacocks (verse 2222For the king had at sea the ships of Tarshish with the ships of Hiram; once every three years the ships of Tarshish came bringing gold and silver, ivory and apes and peacocks.). Apes stand for folly and peacocks for vanity. In the book of Ecclesiastes Solomon describes his research into the value of the things of life under the sun. He always comes to the conclusion that it is folly and vanity or futility. In that book he describes the time when he lived more or less separately from God, even though there was a certain feeling of His presence.

That is how we can live. We know Who God is, yet we choose to live in the world. A wisdom greater than Solomon’s is within reach, but we often do not desire it. We can “be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding” (Col 1:99For this reason also, since the day we heard [of it], we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,), but do we also pray for it? Or do we surrender to the foolish and vain things of the life of the world?


The Horses

26Now Solomon gathered chariots and horsemen; and he had 1,400 chariots and 12,000 horsemen, and he stationed them in the chariot cities and with the king in Jerusalem. 27The king made silver [as common] as stones in Jerusalem, and he made cedars as plentiful as sycamore trees that are in the lowland. 28Also Solomon’s import of horses was from Egypt and Kue, [and] the king’s merchants procured [them] from Kue for a price. 29A chariot was imported from Egypt for 600 [shekels] of silver, and a horse for 150; and by the same means they exported them to all the kings of the Hittites and to the kings of the Arameans.

This is still about the glory of Solomon, as shown in verse 2727The king made silver [as common] as stones in Jerusalem, and he made cedars as plentiful as sycamore trees that are in the lowland. (cf. Isa 55:1313“Instead of the thorn bush the cypress will come up,
And instead of the nettle the myrtle will come up,
And it will be a memorial to the LORD,
For an everlasting sign which will not be cut off.”
; 60:1717“Instead of bronze I will bring gold,
And instead of iron I will bring silver,
And instead of wood, bronze,
And instead of stones, iron.
And I will make peace your administrators
And righteousness your overseers.
). Yet there are also signs of decay. We see this in the horses that Solomon imports from Egypt, a way of doing things that is contrary to the law of the king. Also the strange women and the strange gods that Solomon brings into his house – we see this in the next chapter – are in conflict with this and will lead to his fall (Deu 17:16-1716Moreover, he shall not multiply horses for himself, nor shall he cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, since the LORD has said to you, ‘You shall never again return that way.’17He shall not multiply wives for himself, or else his heart will turn away; nor shall he greatly increase silver and gold for himself.).

Solomon has never known days of persecution and sorrow as his father David. He did not know the school of God’s discipline. That may be a reason for his fall. We cannot do without the necessary trial of our faith to keep us on the right path.

Whatever blessings we are surrounded with, we can never ignore God’s law unpunished, nor become sloppy in our walk He has presented to us in His Word. God has given Solomon an abundance of riches and honor, although Solomon only asked for wisdom. But He has also prescribed that the king should read the law (Deu 17:18-2018“Now it shall come about when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself a copy of this law on a scroll in the presence of the Levitical priests.19It shall be with him and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, by carefully observing all the words of this law and these statutes,20that his heart may not be lifted up above his countrymen and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, to the right or the left, so that he and his sons may continue long in his kingdom in the midst of Israel.), so that he would be restrained to use these means to obtain even more wealth. We see here that Solomon does what the law forbids. It proves that there has come distance between his heart and God.

In the days of David we read more about donkeys than about horses. Donkeys are subservient animals. They seem to have no place in the kingdom of Solomon, except the time he rides on David’s mule to be anointed in Gihon (1Kgs 1:33-3833The king said to them, “Take with you the servants of your lord, and have my son Solomon ride on my own mule, and bring him down to Gihon.34Let Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet anoint him there as king over Israel, and blow the trumpet and say, ‘[Long] live King Solomon!’35Then you shall come up after him, and he shall come and sit on my throne and be king in my place; for I have appointed him to be ruler over Israel and Judah.”36Benaiah the son of Jehoiada answered the king and said, “Amen! Thus may the LORD, the God of my lord the king, say.37As the LORD has been with my lord the king, so may He be with Solomon, and make his throne greater than the throne of my lord King David!”38So Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, the Cherethites, and the Pelethites went down and had Solomon ride on King David’s mule, and brought him to Gihon.). Horses are used for war, but David writes even before Solomon begins to rule: “A horse is a false hope for victory; Nor does it deliver anyone by its great strength” (Psa 33:1717A horse is a false hope for victory;
Nor does it deliver anyone by its great strength.
; cf. Psa 147:1010He does not delight in the strength of the horse;
He does not take pleasure in the legs of a man.
).

Solomon seems to have had a great horse trade, including chariots, with the surrounding nations. That trade brought him much profit, but it was not a trade that the LORD liked. This trade gave the surrounding pagan nations the impression that it was better to rely on horses than on the LORD. When they entered the land of Canaan He had also said that His people should hamstring the horses and burn the chariots (Jos 11:66Then the LORD said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid because of them, for tomorrow at this time I will deliver all of them slain before Israel; you shall hamstring their horses and burn their chariots with fire.”). It is a lesson that He does not want to use the methods of the nations in His work and His battle. He alone must be the trust of His people, then and now.


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