In the world today, many people are temporally blessed with influence, power, wealth, and beauty. Interestingly, these folks receive more recognition despite having so much more than others, at least materially. Some people some presume to be blessed without any thought; even Christians take Christ and their eternal life for granted. But recognizing, thanking God for our earthly blessings, and sharing them is what we’re called to do. God has given me a place to live in a close, primarily Christian retirement community. As I walk my dog in the afternoons, many of my neighbors comment on their blessings and thank the Lord for our comforts and GG, whom they love to pet and enjoy. In 2019, I had to train my adopted rescue dog to sit quietly to be petted, so I would give him treats when he “let” someone pet him. We all laughed at the irony of having to reward him for receiving something so delightful. Now, petting is the reward, and he can’t get enough of it. Unfortunately, like my rescue dog, we often don’t understand, appreciate, and allow God’s blessings to be sufficient reward without craving more. Sometimes when people want to greet GG, he is distracted. I help him refocus by saying, “Stop, look at me.” And he does, ready for the following command, which leads to something more valuable–getting petted lovingly. God uses circumstances, people, or Scripture to tell us to stop looking at what is inappropriate, to look at him with love. Instead of looking at God, King Solomon received praise for using God’s blessings narcissistically and exclusively, rewarding those who were already blessed to be in his circle of influence rather than for the nation of Israel. We’ll see how the Queen of Sheba complemented Solomon on his worldly, luxurious treatment of his circle of leaders when he should have been the king of justice and righteousness for all Israel. Hopefully, we share God’s blessings with all people, not only those in powerful positions or people related to us, those who help us, or are popular. Solomon’s misuse of God’s blessings was sinful in God’s sight, and our’s violates God’s command to love our neighbors—all our neighbors.
The Queen’s Visit to Jerusalem
After King Solomon was established, the Queen of Sheba traveled a long way to witness, complement, and reward Solomon for his wisdom and luxurious rewards for his leaders. But the king should have been the king of justice and righteousness for all Israel, not just those in powerful positions in his court. “Now when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the Lord, she came to test him with hard questions. She came to Jerusalem with a very great retinue, with camels bearing spices and very much gold and precious stones…And when the queen of Sheba had seen all the wisdom of Solomon, the house that he had built, the food of his table, the seating of his officials, and the attendance of his servants, their clothing, his cupbearers, and his burnt offerings that he offered at the house of the Lord, there was no more breath in her.” (1 Kings 10:1-5) “Carnal confidence frequently creeps upon the saints when they indulge themselves in their prosperity, and so to speak, wallow upon their dunghill…we are taught to be on our guard when in prosperity, that Satan may not bewitch us with his flatteries. The more bountifully God deals with any one, the more carefully ought he to watch against such snares.” (1) It is so easy to get caught up in the Queen’s worldly praise for Solomon, treated as such by Jesus. “The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here.” (Luke 11:31) Many people praise her for her judgment of Solomon when she says, “Happy are your men! Happy are your servants, who continually stand before you and hear your wisdom! Blessed be the Lord your God, who has delighted in you and set you on the throne of Israel! Because the Lord loved Israel forever, he has made you king, that you may execute justice and righteousness.” (1 Kings 10:8-9) But should we follow her example? I think not.
Solomon’s Misuse of God’s Blessings
“When the authors of 1–2 Kings described the joyful kingdom back in Ch. 4, they stressed the benefits of Solomon’s wisdom for all his subjects. The queen of Sheba, however, refers much more specifically to the blessing that Solomon must be to his court officials. While Solomon’s wisdom and wealth are still remarkable, and are still evidence of God’s abundant blessing, it seems that his great wisdom, wealth, and power have begun to distort his moral judgment in the proper use of these blessings. Chapter 10 as a whole in fact focuses on this benefit that wisdom brings to the royal court, and particularly to Solomon himself, rather than on any benefit that might flow out to the people. (2) “The accumulation of gold…is mentioned no fewer than 11 times in verses 14, 16-18, 21-22, and 25. Solomon decorates his palace with it, overlays the finest throne ever seen, and makes household items. It arrives in Israel by various means…[from] lands so distant that it took three years to return with their extraordinary cargo. [This] accumulation of silver and horses, as well as gold, is forbidden in Deuteronomy. [“I will set a king over me…only he must not acquire many horses for himself or cause the people to return to Egypt in order to acquire many horses, since the Lord has said to you, ‘you shall never return that way again.’ And he shall not acquire many wives for himself, lest his heart turn away, nor shall he acquire for himself excessive silver and gold.” (Deuteronomy 17:14-17)] The significant addition to the theme here is the detail that Solomon’s import of horses was from Egypt. All but one of the instructions about kingship in Deut. 17:16–17 have thus far been violated by Solomon.” (3)
God’s Plan for Solomon’s Blessings
God set Solomon on Israel’s throne and “loved him with a love of complacency and delight…because the Lord loved Israel for ever; to establish them as a kingdom…to do judgment and justice; not merely for the sake of honour and glory, much less to indulge to pleasure and luxury, and still less to oppression and tyranny; but to administer justice and judgment to the people, which is the principal end of government. [He] essentially was meant to fulfill the prophecy of the last psalm of David, a prayer for Solomon.” (4) “May he defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the children of the needy, and crush the oppressor!… May the kings of Tarshish and of the coastlands render him tribute; may the kings of Sheba and Seba bring gifts! May all kings fall down before him, all nations serve him! For he delivers the needy when he calls, the poor and him who has no helper. He has pity on the weak and the needy, and saves the lives of the needy. From oppression and violence he redeems their life, and precious is their blood in his sight. Long may he live; may gold of Sheba be given to him! May prayer be made for him continually, and blessings invoked for him all the day!” (Psalms 72:4, 10-15–the emphasis is mine) “The world passes over all the works of God with its eyes shut, and is especially ignorant of his fatherly care of the saints; still it is certain that there shines forth such daily proofs of it, that even the reprobate cannot but see them, except in so far as they willingly shut their eyes against the light. David, therefore, speaks according to truth, when he declares that God gives evidences of his goodness to his people before the sons of men, that it may be clearly seen that they do not serve him unadvisedly or in vain.” (5) It seems that Solomon forgot his own words: “Let these words of mine, with which I have pleaded before the Lord, be near to the Lord our God day and night, and may he maintain the cause of his servant and the cause of his people Israel, as each day requires, that all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God; there is no other. Let your heart therefore be wholly true to the Lord our God, walking in his statutes and keeping his commandments, as at this day.” (1 Kings 8:59-61). But God has preserved these words for us. This Easter weekend, I especially want to remember to share God’s temporal and eternal blessings for good, not to hoard them selfishly. Christ did not suffer, die, and ascend to heaven for my comfort but for God’s glory and kingdom. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” (Colossians 3:16)
Related Scripture: 2 Samuel 8:15; 1 Kings 5:7; 8:41-43; 11:1-8; 2 Chronicles 2:11-12; 9:1-12; Proverbs 8:33-36; Luke 11:31.
- Calvin, John, Heart Aflame: Daily Readings from Calvin on the Psalms, Psalm 30:6, P & R Publishing, 1999.
- English Standard Version Study Bible Notes, 1 Kings 10, (digital edition), Crossway, 2008.
- ESV Study Bible Notes, Ibid.
- Gill, John, “John Gill’s Exposition on the Whole Bible,” 1 Kings 10:8-10, https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/1-kings-10.html
- Calvin, Psalm 31:14-2, Ibid.
Post on April 14, 2022