3–9 June 2018.
There was a popular belief among the ancient Israelites that the exotic people of Southern Arabia and Ethiopia were especially blessed with wisdom. Other nations may have great warriors or great riches, but the people from Sheba were famous for their wisdom.
In 1 Kings 10, these wise and mysterious foreigners had heard a rumour that something amazing had happened: there was now a king ruling in Jerusalem – King Solomon – who was also blessed with wisdom. And so the great and wise Queen of Sheba makes a long journey to Jerusalem to see King Solomon for herself and to carefully test him. After a long discussion, after observing the way that Solomon rules, and after asking many very difficult questions, in vv. 6–7 the grand and wise Queen of Sheba declares that the rumours are really true: Solomon truly is a wise king.
Having wise leaders is a good thing. But what do national leaders need wisdom for? Sadly, when we look around the world today, it seems that many politicians simply use whatever cleverness they have to increase their own wealth and improve their own lives. But the great and wise queen of Sheba knows that just making your own life better is not the true purpose of wisdom. In v. 9 the wise queen explains to Solomon why he too has been given this special gift. He has been blessed not simply because God likes him, but because God loves the people Solomon is ruling over. God’s gift of wisdom to Solomon is a blessing that God is giving to the nation’s people. The queen makes it clear to Solomon that he has been given this great gift not for his own benefit, but specifically to establish justice and righteousness now in all Israel.
In ancient Israel we can see how the wisdom of one person can become a blessing for the whole nation. But today this is still true. Today we raise our children to be wise, we encourage our students to be wise, and we seek after wisdom ourselves – not just because this wisdom will improve our own lives, but because through this wisdom God will bless our families, our community, and also our whole country. When we use our minds not for selfish reasons but to improve the lives of everyone, that’s when we show that we really have been blessed with great wisdom.
Pastor Stephen Lakkis