In this chapter we see, in the words of the Lord Jesus, “Solomon in all his glory” (Mt 6:2929yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these.). All the kings of the earth come to Solomon to bring their treasures to him (verses 23-2423And all the kings of the earth were seeking the presence of Solomon, to hear his wisdom which God had put in his heart.24They brought every man his gift, articles of silver and gold, garments, weapons, spices, horses and mules, so much year by year.). An example of this we see in the queen of Sheba. Like them, in the kingdom of peace in the future all kings will contribute to the glory of the King Who is chosen by God (Isa 66:18b-1918“For I know their works and their thoughts; the time is coming to gather all nations and tongues. And they shall come and see My glory.19I will set a sign among them and will send survivors from them to the nations: Tarshish, Put, Lud, Meshech, Tubal and Javan, to the distant coastlands that have neither heard My fame nor seen My glory. And they will declare My glory among the nations.).
The queen of Sheba comes because of the fame of Solomon’s glory has gone out. She leaves her land and comes to the house of God, Jerusalem. She comes to Solomon with questions and with wealth. The difficult questions she has are the difficult questions of life; they deal with the deepest questions of life. It seems that she has not yet received a satisfactory answer to her questions from anyone. Now she comes to put Solomon to the test. She wants to know if he really is as wise as is claimed of him. She talks to him about everything she has on her heart.
Only the wisdom of God, who is in Solomon, has an answer to her difficult questions and to what she has on her heart. Thus we see in the Gospels that the Lord Jesus, with perfect wisdom, is able to answer all the questions that are asked of Him, including trick questions (Mt 22:1515Then the Pharisees went and plotted together how they might trap Him in what He said.). He hid nothing from them (Jn 18:2020Jesus answered him, “I have spoken openly to the world; I always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews come together; and I spoke nothing in secret.; cf. Acts 20:2727For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God.).
There follows a sevenfold enumeration of the glory of Solomon which the queen sees and of which she is deeply impressed (verses 3-43When the queen of Sheba had seen the wisdom of Solomon, the house which he had built,4the food at his table, the seating of his servants, the attendance of his ministers and their attire, his cupbearers and their attire, and his stairway by which he went up to the house of the LORD, she was breathless.). She realizes that the source of all that glory is God Himself. So today we may see and admire our Lord Jesus. The queen of Sheba sees:
1. “The wisdom of Solomon” (verse 33When the queen of Sheba had seen the wisdom of Solomon, the house which he had built,). We see Christ, Who for us is God’s wisdom in connection with the cross (1Cor 1:24,3024but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.30But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption,). For the church “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” are hidden in Christ (Col 2:33in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.). The church shows Christ as the manifold wisdom of God (Eph 3:1010so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly [places].); He is the wisdom from above (Jam 3:15,1715This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic.17But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.).
2. “The house he had built” (verse 33When the queen of Sheba had seen the wisdom of Solomon, the house which he had built,). We see the church as the temple, the dwelling-place of God in the present time and forever (Eph 2:21-2221in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord,22in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.; Heb 3:66but Christ [was faithful] as a Son over His house—whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end.). It is God’s intention that we show and tell about this house (cf. Eze 43:1010“As for you, son of man, describe the temple to the house of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities; and let them measure the plan.).
3. ‘The food at his table’ (verse 44the food at his table, the seating of his servants, the attendance of his ministers and their attire, his cupbearers and their attire, and his stairway by which he went up to the house of the LORD, she was breathless.). The table is a picture of the place of fellowship with Him and what can be enjoyed in it. Food is a picture of Christ (Jn 6:3535Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.).
4. “The seating of his servants” (verse 44the food at his table, the seating of his servants, the attendance of his ministers and their attire, his cupbearers and their attire, and his stairway by which he went up to the house of the LORD, she was breathless.). This concerns his ministers, the highest civil officials, sitting at his table with him. An example we see at Mephibosheth at the table with David. Mephibosheth was not a minister, but still enjoyed the great privilege of being at that place to share the meal with David (2Sam 9:10b,1310You and your sons and your servants shall cultivate the land for him, and you shall bring in [the produce] so that your master’s grandson may have food; nevertheless Mephibosheth your master’s grandson shall eat at my table regularly.” Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants.13So Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem, for he ate at the king’s table regularly. Now he was lame in both feet.). For us it is about fellowship with the Father and the Son (1Jn 1:33what 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.).
5. “The attendance of his ministers and their attire” (verse 44the food at his table, the seating of his servants, the attendance of his ministers and their attire, his cupbearers and their attire, and his stairway by which he went up to the house of the LORD, she was breathless.). Thus we must stand ready to minister the Lord Jesus. That is what we are called to do. We may do the ministry with what He has entrusted to us. That we may minister Him is something to be grateful for. He gives each of His own tasks to perform for Him.
His wealth is also reflected in the clothing of the minister. He who does the humblest ministry, he who does the simplest work, is dressed like a prince. Clothing means that we have put on Christ and show Him in our conduct (Lk 3:2727the son of Joanan, the son of Rhesa, the son of Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, the son of Neri,; Eph 4:2424and put on the new self [lit man], which in [the likeness of] God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.).
6. “His cupbearers and their attire” (verse 44the food at his table, the seating of his servants, the attendance of his ministers and their attire, his cupbearers and their attire, and his stairway by which he went up to the house of the LORD, she was breathless.). The cupbearer serves the king directly. It represents the joy that we as believers are before the Lord when we serve Him (Isa 65:1919“I will also rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in My people;
And there will no longer be heard in her
The voice of weeping and the sound of crying.
; Zep 3:1717“The LORD your God is in your midst,
A victorious warrior.
He will exult over you with joy,
He will be quiet in His love,
He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.
). This is also linked to our dignity, which is expressed in our clothing (see the previous point).
7. “His stairway by which he went up to the house of the LORD” (verse 44the food at his table, the seating of his servants, the attendance of his ministers and their attire, his cupbearers and their attire, and his stairway by which he went up to the house of the LORD, she was breathless.) to bring there his burnt offerings. Solomon is the priest of his people. The Lord Jesus is in the midst of the church not only to receive our worship, but He Himself raises the song of praise to the glory of God (Psa 22:2323You who fear the LORD, praise Him;
All you descendants of Jacob, glorify Him,
And stand in awe of Him, all you descendants of Israel.
; Heb 2:12b12saying, “I will proclaim Your name to My brethren, In the midst of the congregation I will sing Your praise.”). He sings praises to God in the midst of the church, He is the great Priest (Heb 10:2121and since [we have] a great priest over the house of God,), He is the mouth of the church that has come together. We bring our sacrifices through Him to God, He leads the worship.
She has seen with her eyes what she had heard in her land. We can, like them, hear “a report” through what we are told and impressed by it. But when we see it in reality, it surpasses everything we’ve heard. Also, a real appreciation is only possible after we have got to know from close by what we have heard about and thus get a share in it. The words she heard could not contain all the glory she sees now. After hearing comes seeing, that is growth. We see this growth in the queen of Sheba (verses 5-65Then she said to the king, “It was a true report which I heard in my own land about your words and your wisdom.6Nevertheless I did not believe their reports until I came and my eyes had seen it. And behold, the half of the greatness of your wisdom was not told me. You surpass the report that I heard.). We also have to hear, come and see (Jn 1:4040One of the two who heard John [speak] and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother.).
She is also a good observer with good judgement. In verse 77How blessed are your men, how blessed are these your servants who stand before you continually and hear your wisdom., she speaks of “men” and “servants”. ‘Men’ indicates adulthood, mature in insight; ‘servants’ indicates submission.
After speaking of Solomon’s men and servants, she speaks of the LORD Himself (verse 88Blessed be the LORD your God who delighted in you, setting you on His throne as king for the LORD your God; because your God loved Israel establishing them forever, therefore He made you king over them, to do justice and righteousness.”). She notices that the LORD has put him on His throne as king because of His pleasure in Solomon. Solomon’s throne is the throne of the LORD. She also notes that God’s love for His people is expressed in the fact that He gave a king like Solomon to His people. Thus, the reign of the Lord Jesus over Israel will be a special proof of God’s love for His earthly people. At the same time this is a beautiful picture of God’s love for the church. God so loves the church that He gave the Lord Jesus, in His capacity as Head over all things, to her (Eph 1:2222And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church,).
The Queen of Sheba gives Solomon a huge gift of gold and precious stones, as well as very rare spices that represent an enormous value (verse 99Then she gave the king one hundred and twenty talents of gold and a very great [amount of] spices and precious stones; there had never been spice like that which the queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon.). These are types of the appreciation that someone has for the Lord Jesus, after he has seen and been deeply impressed by His great glory. The heart is completely overwhelmed by it and will express it. The spices represent the unique scent of Christ spread by believers for whom Christ is everything.
Other gifts are added to the gifts of the queen (verse 1010The servants of Huram and the servants of Solomon who brought gold from Ophir, also brought algum trees and precious stones.), which are brought by “the servants of Huram and the servants of Solomon” (cf. Rev 21:24,2624The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it.26and they will bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it;). Of the added gifts Solomon uses the algum trees to make “steps” out of it both for the house of the LORD and for his own house. This indicates the application of possibilities to ascend to the higher things, the things of heaven, of Christ and of God. In this context, a study of the ‘songs of degrees’, or ‘songs of steps’, also called ‘songs of ascents’, Psalms 121-134, will also fit well.
Making these steps suggests that we are helped to search for the things that are above and to think of them, because Christ is there (Col 3:1-21Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.2Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.). This help is given to us through the gifts the Lord has given to His church. If we use them, it will give us instruments in our hands and make us singers, so that we can sing about the fame of Christ in sonorous sounds. That will not be a mere repetition of what others have said, but will be unique in its expression and experience, something that is “never seen before”. As we continually seek the things that are above, we will see more and more of the glory of Christ and express it in our thanksgiving.
The queen of Sheba gets everything she asks for from Solomon. What she gets is more than what she gave Solomon. So does the Lord also with us. If we give to Him what we have seen in Him, He will bless us even more abundantly. After receiving all the riches of Solomon, she returns to her country. There she can tell what she saw and show what she got. That also applies to us. Richly blessed we may enter the world and tell there about the Lord Jesus and how rich we have become in Him.