Text: I Kings 10:1-13 and 2 Chronicles 9:8
Title: The Wise King
In the history of film, the movie “Solomon and Sheba” has the distinction of being the last movie that Tyrone Power made. He didn't even finish it having become ill and passing away during filming, a movie director's nightmare.
A. So director King Vidor brought in Yul Brynner, hoping to utilize his “King and I” popularity and try to create an epic love story.
The result was a mediocre film, one that a critic called “all eye-wash, no brain-food”.
B. King Vidor was not the first to try to embellish the story with romantic images.
The Ethiopian emperors tried to claim direct lineage to Solomon declaring that Solomon had children with the Queen of Sheba and began the first imperial line.
This has been proven false by history.
The movie may have not been brain-food, but the text tells us that we had a meeting of the minds.
A. This is not some romantic love story like Song of Solomon.
1. The Queen of Sheba had a serious reason to be in Israel.
B. Sheba would be the land we now call Yemen in southern Arabia.
1. The people of Sheba had a beautiful land. They were agriculturally advanced for their
time. They had an irrigation system that made their land productive.
C. Solomon was at this peak of power. He reigned over vast amounts of land.
1. Under his domain was the northern tip of the Gulf of Aquaba, about 150 miles below Jerusalem.
2. The northern tip of Aquaba was necessary for Sheba to transport products to Egypt.
D. Solomon and King Hiram of Tyre had developed enough naval power to affect Sheba's use of the Gulf of Aquaba as well as the Red Sea.
E. It is imperative that the Queen of Sheba meet with King Solomon and discuss her nation's trading situation. In the area of politics we note that at verse 10 she gives him 120 talents of gold. This is the same amount that King Hiram of Tyre gave Solomon in the previous chapter. She is showing that she also has economic power.
1. However, the text indicates that she has more interests than that.
F. We read that she tested Solomon with hard questions, in the Hebrew we could say parables and riddles.
1. The chapter says that she heard of his fame and his relation to the name of the LORD.
G. She is motivated by economics, but Solomon's wisdom and understanding are an added perk. She wants to discover what kind of king he is and her questions expand from politics and economics to the essence of life itself.
H. She has heard of his great wisdom and wants to see if it is real. This would not be unusual for these ancient women. Cleopatra centuries later would also be known for her intellect.
I. In the negotiation of trade policy and philosophical topics, she is not disappointed.
The queen is quite impressed. She sees the palace rituals and the banquets.
A. She sees Solomon's style of worship.
1. The Hebrew would read that it takes her breath away.
B. She remarks that she had been skeptical of Solomon, only to discover on her own that the rumors did not do Solomon justice.
1. Usually a rumor is an exaggeration, but here, the rumor could not express the grandeur of the reality.
C. She seems happy with the results of her meeting with Solomon.
1. In our own lives may our faith and the expressions of it not be a disappointment to the
non-believers that observe us.
D. She returns to Sheba contented with the political goals she has attained.
1. As the Wise Men would bring Jesus gold and spices centuries later, she gave Solomon 120 talents of gold, with camels loaded with spices, as well as precious stones.
2. But Solomon gave her much more: “all she desired” at verse 13. This is more than just wealth. She possessed that to begin with. She was privileged to hear wisdom and not just philosophy, but the things of Israel's God. One hears the echoes of Mary, who listened to Jesus' teaching and received, he told Martha, “the good part”.
What does this all mean for us in 2018.
A. One thing that we can learn is that if Christians develop a reputation for wisdom, those in the non-believing world will take us more seriously. I find myself thinking of the writer Adolus Huxley. He was not a Christian, but he admired the Christian thinker Jaques Ellul and recommended his book The Technological Society.
A. Christians can sometimes over-react to what happens in pop-culture .
B. I was reading a book called “Power Religion” Ken Myers.
1. He talks about the time when Christians over-reacted to the movie “The Last Temptation of Christ”. American Christians played right into the hands of Hollywood.
C. Myers wrote that executives were afraid that the movie would not make any money.
1. So they intentionally released information about the film, hoping that Christians would protest it and provide the movie free advertising.
2. As they say there is no such thing as bad publicity.
D. Such a fuss was made about the film nation-wide, that it made money.
E. Myers also wrote that the protest made Christians out to look like the stereo-typical, narrow minded people the media declares us to be.
1. There are those Christians again trying to interfere with culture, telling us what we can't see, hear, or read.
F. I'm also reminded of an episode of a tv series I liked in the 1990's called The Great Books on The Learning Channel. The show dealt with the author Mark Twain. There is a scene where a man reads a statement made by an official in Twain's time about Huckleberry Finn, stating that the book contains “a course type of humor” and “trash”. After hearing that Mark Twain is shown smiling, holding his cigar and saying, “And that will sell 25,000 copies for sure.”
1. Sometimes protests are counter-productive.
SERMON PAGE ONE