Thursday, September 10, 2015

The queen of Sheba - conclusion

This has been an interesting story to look at. This woman was a leader, a ruler of a country, and she heard of Solomon's wealth and wisdom. She traveled thousands of miles to visit him. She brought him gifts.

Let's look at those gifts. The caravan is noted in our verses (I Kings 10) as being very "great" or large. It also says she gave him one hundred and twenty talents of gold. That converts to 9,000 pounds of gold . . . . anybody recall what an ounce of gold sells for these days? (Grin)  Pretty amazing, no?
If we look at the weight of cargo that a camel could comfortably carry, it looks like it was also a very LONG caravan -- she would have needed about twenty-two camels just for the gold! But she also brought him large quantities of spices, and precious stones, in addition to the gold. And she would have had lots of folks with her, so it was a really long caravan. But I digress.

After she gave him her gifts, and riddled him her riddles, she exclaimed:

               The report I heard in my own country about your 
           achievements and your wisdom is true. But I did not 
           believe these things until I came and saw with my own 
           eyes. Indeed, not even half was told me; in wisdom and 
           wealth you have far exceeded the report I heard. How 
           happy your people must be! How happy your officials, who 
           continually stand before you and hear your wisdom! Praise 
           be to the Lord your God, who has delighted in you and 
           placed you on the throne of Israel. Because of the Lord’s 
           eternal love for Israel, he has made you king to maintain 
           justice and righteousness. (I Kings 10:6-9)

The next thing you know, she is getting her people and her camels prepared for the long journey home. And Solomon is giving her some parting gifts to take home with her.

Our passage says that he gave her "all that she wanted or asked for, besides what he had given her out of his royal bounty." So he probably had a "standard gift" that he gave to visiting rulers and potentates, and then he gave her some extras!

Most of the time, when you were part of a personal meeting in ancient cultures, you expected to give and receive gifts. If you were visiting someone in their home, you were expected to bring a gift for the host or hostess. Sometimes gift-giving was a mark of submission to someone's position or authority; sometimes it was used to curry favor with someone, similar to a bribe.

The gifts that Solomon and the queen exchanged are staggering - even in our times, the amount and value of these gifts is phenomenal! But it seems it was par for the course, for silver was "as common in Jerusalem as stones" according to I Kings 10.  In the New Testament, the focus changes. The writers note the gifts that we give, but not to each other -- to God. We've seen that no gift, no matter how tiny, is insignificant. In fact, it is pleasing to God when it is given with a cheerful and generous spirit.

Even more wonderful than any gifts we can offer to God are those He gives so freely to us. Solomon was surrounded by splendor, yet he noted that a good and simple life was a gift from God -- peaceful rest in the night, work to do in the day, some happiness and contentment . . . but the greatest gift is that One that God so lovingly gave us: eternal life through His Son.

                      Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! (II Corinthians 9:15)

Yes, the queen of Sheba lavished gifts upon Solomon, and she was acknowledging his greatness. We have One who is greater than Solomon . . . what gifts can we lavish upon Him? We can be generous with our praise; we can tell Him all the things that we love about Him, and how grateful we are to Him. We can be generous with our time -- oh, that's a hard one, sometimes. But we can; we can go out of our way to help someone in need. We can be generous with our money, as we learned last week from the widow who gave all. And we can be generous with our trust.

What do I mean by that?
Generous with our trust . . . let me explain. We can act and pray in ways that show our confidence in God's goodness and His power. I've mentioned before, that when we have reached the end of our rope, it delights Him when we simply say, "I can't do anything more, here, Lord. I've tried and I can't solve this problem. I need to put this in your hands, and I will give you the glory when you solve it, as I know you will." Pray a verse to Him, that bolsters your confidence that He will be faithful for you. I am a living, breathing example that this is the kind of faith God loves and honors. I don't deserve the blessings that He has given me; but when I have sincerely told Him these things, and trusted in Him, He has reached down into my life and moved obstacles.
I've told others about this, and I always cry because I don't deserve His blessings, but He keeps right on sending them!

This week, let's open our hearts and be generous. Let's think of ways that we can express our affection for our Father!


Cathy said...

That is the wonderful, fabulous, awesome thing about our Lord. We don't deserve His love and care, or even the tiniest atom of what He graciously gives us. And yet, in spite of that, He gave us the greatest gift ever, in the person of His Son. He gives us the gift of His presence, the gift of answered prayer and even the trust that we have for Him is a gift from Him. There isn't enough praise in the world, to express our thanks to Him, and the joy that His salvation gives.

Austin Towers said...

Amen to Cathy's comment! It's all by grace. Terrific study, Jacque. Thank you! Hugs, Caro xx