The Queen of Sheba
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Matt. 12:42 (Holman) “The Queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and look – something greater than Solomon is here!”
Jesus, in verse 41, used Nineveh as an example to rebuke people who won’t humble themselves and repent. In verse 42, Jesus used the Queen of the South to rebuke people not curious enough to investigate His teachings and claims.
Jesus praised the queen’s inquiring spirit. She makes us ask ourselves if we have done as much research as she did. Her curiosity was so strong that she came to Solomon uninvited. The Pharisees were invited, but didn’t come. You and I have been invited. Have we come? Let’s learn from the Queen of the South.
Her name unknown, the Queen of the South ruled Sheba, modern Yemen, on the southwest corner of the Arabian peninsula. Ethiopia, which was colonized from Sheba, has an ancient tribe of Jews that claim as their ancestors Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. Ethiopian Christians claim Queen Candace (Acts 8:27) was also one of their descendants. These speculations can not be proved or disproved.
What we know for sure about the Queen of Sheba is written in I Kings 10. Our Master said she was a model seeker, worthy of being imitated by all inquirers.
“The Queen of Sheba heard about Solomon’s fame connected with the name of the Lord and came. . .” (1 Kings 10:1a). Sheba was the most mountainous and fertile part of Arabia. Its wealth was enhanced through controlling trade routes.
The queen evidently heard gossip from the caravans about a wise king to the north. She kept hearing traders speak of him and decided to investigate the rumor.
She was not too busy to seek. As Head of State, a whole kingdom depended on her. She came anyway. We’re busy with our job and studies. Have we come?
There were no phones, no mail, few scrolls. Her only hope was to go. To satisfy her craving for truth, she traveled a long distance, 3000 miles round trip, facing hardships, inconveniences, and expense, plus hazarding attack and dangers.
Her search was a gamble. Disappointment was a huge possibility. She could not be sure the rumors were true. She was willing to run the risk. Are we?
She risked all to come investigate Solomon the lesser. Many today are not willing to risk a trifle, a scorning or one day, to come investigate Jesus the greater.
Her striving rebukes spiritual laziness in others. Truth is found by sacrifice, not received effortlessly. A huge barrier to overcome is our own indifference.
The Pharisees had truth nearby, but refused it. We have it close, Bibles in homes and bookstores, churches omnipresent, but sadly, many people suffer from a cycle of sickness. They get ill once a week, on Sunday, the best day of the week for seeking Jesus. Sunday seems to be the favorite day each week for feeling sick.
The queen “came to test him (Solomon) with difficult questions” (1 Kings 10:1b). Jesus the greater also welcomes and answers tough questions. Ask them. Christianity can answer the world’s questions from any discipline of study.
Jesus is Lord of Earth, Heaven, and all creation. Thus, every field of study is under His authority and pertains to His teaching. We can defend the faith in any discipline: history, psychology, anthropology, archaeology, sociology. Ask tough questions, including the hardest of all, “How can I be made right with God?”
If you ask the questions, and receive answers, may you respond as the queen did. After having all her questions answered, she said, “The report I heard in my own country about your words and about your wisdom is true. But I didn’t believe the reports until I came and saw with my own eyes. Indeed, I was not even told half. Your wisdom and prosperity far exceed the report I heard” (I Kings 10:6-7).
Though a queen, she did not deem it beneath her dignity to come herself to inquire. Determined to find out for herself, a proxy would not do. The claims of Christ have to be sifted by each one of us. No one else can research it for us.
Though this be true, it’s hard to get people to test the faith for themselves. Many who are now skeptics would find their difficulties solved if they just took time to investigate. Being open to do a little research could change their mind.
The queen had proper balance. She did not believe all the gossip she heard, but at the same time didn’t reject all in advance or say, “I won’t believe any of it.”
The Duke of Wellington, hearing a man who had never read the Bible vilify it, rebuked him, saying it was unfair to criticize something he had not investigated.
Today too many are in advance prejudiced against Jesus. He is not given a fair shake, a fighting chance. Many are bias due to their own self-brainwashing.
People often decide on their own what religion should be like, and then use their own preconceived notions to judge what they hear from others about faith.
The very purpose of religion is to search out what God is like, not to create a God of our own making and then find a religion that conforms to our thoughts.
Learn from a queen. Not content with what she knew, she was willing to seek out truth. Her search was not in vain. Awed by what she heard, she said, “May the Lord your God be praised!” (1 Kings 10:9a). This declaration, and Jesus’ words about the queen, lead us to believe she embraced the living God.
She changed her religion. Before leaving Sheba, the queen already had her own religion. Once she found truth, she changed, going from unbelief to belief.
The queen, not disappointed by her search, was pleased with what she found in Solomon the lesser. All who come to Jesus the greater find He also exceeds all expectations. No one who believes in Jesus is ever disappointed in Him.
You can know this for sure only if you come to Jesus. Mozart’s music can’t be described, it has to be heard. Love can’t be explained, it has to be felt. Jesus must be received, not tried from a distance. “Taste and see that the Lord is good.”
The queen, somewhere in her search for truth, discerned what really matters. A dilemma we face now is people having priorities all askew. At Christmas some labor to a frazzle buying gifts and decorating, yet consider the birth of God trivial.
At Easter many think the most important detail is coloring and hiding eggs; the resurrection of God’s Son is deemed unimportant. At Thanksgiving the main gig is often the size and taste of the turkey; thanking God is boring, superfluous.
The Queen of Sheba has left unbelievers without excuse. To keep us from seeking truth, she proves no distance is far enough, no effort perilous enough, no position important enough, no obstacle big enough, no calendar full enough, no risk weighty enough, no religion ironclad enough. Despite huge difficulties, she sought out truth. It was the driving passion of her life. Is it in ours?
The queen came 3000 miles. We have to take only two steps: one, to step out of us, of what we can do; two, to step into Christ for all He’s done (Spurgeon).