THE QUEEN OF SHEBA AND THE WISDOM OF KING SOLOMON
“When the Queen of Sheba had seen the wisdom of Solomon, the house which he had built, the 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” | 2 Chronicles 9:3-4 (NASB)
Solomon is said to be the wisest king to have ever ruled in all of Israel. His wisdom was greater than the wisdom of all the people of the earth (1 Kings4:30). His inimitable wisdom was recognized and experienced not only by his fellow countryman, but also by kings and queens, peasants and nobles both within the borders of his kingdom and beyond.
Having heard of Solomon’s wisdom, the Queen of Sheba traveled to Jerusalem with a grand entourage, camels carrying dozens of gold pieces, precious stones and spices. The purpose of this visit was simple; to test King Solomon, not just with questions, but “with difficult questions”. The queen of Sheba’s palace, Dungur, was situated in Aksum, Ethiopia. She literally traveled a distance of about 3612 km from Aksum to Jerusalem, a journey of about 719 hours on foot, just to “test Solomon with difficult questions”.
The encounter between the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon is good illustration of the saying “your reputation precedes you”. It gives people insight into who you are, allowing them to decide, even before meeting you, whether or not to be associated with you. Simply by hearing about you, people are drawn or pushed away from you.
In an imaginably fascinating conversation, the Queen ventured in different fields of her expertise, seeking to confound him. The bible notes that “she spoke with him about all that was on her mind (heart)”; they spoke about astrology, science, mathematics, economics, history, medical science and every possible subject under the sun. She pulled no punches and left no stone unturned.
King Solomon met her every challenge with astute and incisive responses so much so that when she had satisfied her curiosity, she confessed of her disbelief in the reports she had received about his wisdom, “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” (2 Chronicles 9:6 NASB).
King Solomon did not issue the Queen with an invoice after the conversation, but the Queen came prepared to give gifts to the king in response to his wisdom, she felt moved to give him the gifts she brought with her. She gave him 120 talents of gold, equivalent to 3600 kg’s. In today’s value, with gold trading at approximately $40 000/kg, she gave him gold worth $144 Million, equivalent to R1.8 billion worth of gold. Together with the gold, she gave him the best spices, a very special kind of spice that “there had never been spice like that which the queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon.”.
We may wonder how could someone go through all the trouble of travelling for months, carrying so much, just to ask someone difficult questions? What gains they will get from it? She spared no cost; no amount of distance was too great to travel just to hear wisdom. The answer is simple: Wisdom is drawn towards Wisdom!
Our greatest asset is our minds; hence it must be equipped with wisdom and that wisdom should translate in our deeds and words. The kind of people you attract is a barometer to measure the atmospheric pressure of your wisdom. So, acquire wisdom; it will help you speak wisely, look wise and treat others with dignity. Only “fools despise wisdom” Proverbs 1:7.
Another invaluable lesson we draw from this encounter is that we teach people how to treat us; our actions tell them how much we are worth. This in by no means limited to gold and gifts, but it extends to the respect people accord to us and the manner in which they relate to us. Its a lesson on self-love.
My prayer for you in 2019 is that you represent yourself well, that you acquire wisdom and remember that you are valuable beyond measure.