« PreviousContinue »
his friend, were by no means insignificant; for Solomon had too enlarged a mind to think of making him trifling presents : but these cities, which were in the outskirts of Israel, and had been, till Solomon took possession of them, in the hands of the natives, were most likely encompassed with corn-fields, and pastures, and therefore not acceptable to a Tyrian prince, whose subjects being unskilled in the culture of the earth, had probably learnt to undervalue the choicest gifts of nature, and to prefer luxury and pomp to the more substantial advantages of rural simplicity.
Another branch of commerce which Solomon carried on, was with Egypt. It seems as if, on account of his alliance with Pharaoli's daughter, he was supplied from thence with chariots, &c. at a cheaper rate than the neighbouring nations; for Solomon sold them again to advantage. How he came to reserve such a number for himself, cannot certainly be accounted for; but it appears probable, that God's command, which forbad kings to multiply horses to themselves, was limited to times of war; and as Solomon had a promise of peace during his whole reign, he was at liberty, if he refrained from putting his trust in them, to indulge in every article of mag. nificence that the neighbouring princes regarded as marks of royalty; and that he had a right to surpass them in every temporal possession, because his grandeur served at that period to display the superiority of the LORD JEHOVAH, who they must perceive was able to bestow wealth and wisdom without measure.
It is not exactly ascertained at what time Solomon married Pharaoh's daughter; but we will venture to suppose that it was after he had built the Temple: for it is reasonable to imagine, that his whole attention was engaged by that important business, and that the fame of his wisdom made this princess ambitious of an alliance
with him, and induced her to become professedly a preselyte to the true religion, otherwise it would have been unlawful for him to have married her; nor would he, have brought an heathen into the Holy City, at a time when piety and devotion had entire possession of his heart: it appears as if she soon hegan to discover, some inclination for idelatry, by his thinking it improper for her to dwell any longer in a place peculiarly sanctified by the LORD.
Solomon had reason to say, that the merchandize of wisdom was better than the merchandize of silver, and the gain thereof, than fine gold: for he had not only a greater portion of worldly advantages than any man was ever able to acquire by his own industry; but he must, necessarily have had a fund of mental delights, infinitely superior to all the enjoyments that wealth can purchase.
THE QUEEN, OF SHEBA VISITS KING SOLOMON.
From 1 Kings, Chap. X. And wh queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon, concerning the name of the LORD, she came to prove him with hard questions.
And she came to Jerusalem with a very great train, with cainels that bare spices, and very much gold, and precious stones: and when she was come to Solomon, she communed with him of all that was in her heart.
And Solomon told her all her questions: there was not any thing hid from the king, which he told her not.
And when the queen of Sheba had seen all Solomon's wisdom, and the house that he had built, and the meat
of his table, and the sitting of his servants, and the attendance of his ministers and their apparel, and his cupbearers, and his ascent by which he went up unto the house of the Lord: there was no more spirit in her.
And she said to the king, It was a true report that I heard in mine own land, of thy acts, and of thy wis. dom.
Howbeit, I believed not the words, until I came, and mine eyes
had seen it: and behold, the half was not told me; tay wisdom and prosperity exceedeth the fame which I heard.
Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and that hear thy wisdom.
Blessed be the LORD thy God, which delighteth in thee, to set thee on the throne of Israel; because the LORD loved Israel for ever, therefore made he thes king to do judgment and justice.
And she gave the king an hundred and twenty talents of gold, and of spices very great store, and precious stones: there came no more such abundance of spices, as those, which the queen of Sheba gave to king Solo
And king Solomon gave unto the queen
of Sheba all her desire, whatsoever she asked, besides that which Solomon gave her of his royal bounty: so she turned and went to her own country she and her servants.
And all the kings of Arabia, and governors of the country, brought gold and silver,
And all the kings of the earth sought the presence of Solomon to hear his wisdom, that God had put in his heart.
And Solomon had four thousand stalls for horses and chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen; whom he be
stowed in the chariot cities, and with the king at Jerusalem.
And he reigned over all the kings, from the river even unto the land of the Philistines, and to the border of Egypt.
And all the earth sought to Solomon, to lear the wisdom which God had put in his heart.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS. The surrounding nations preferred worldly pomp and grandeur to every spiritual blessing: and being pos. sessed of a large share of the treasures of the earth, they were enabled to appear with great outward splen, dour; on which account they would have despised the LORD's chosen people, if they had been inferior to themselves in this particular. It pleased God, there. fore to raise the kingdom of Israel in a most wonderful manner, by degrees, from a state of abject slavery, to the highest pitch of magnificence; and to occasion all other nations to pay tribute and homage to the king of his
appointment; by which means the Divine BEING proved himself to be, beyond dispute, King of kings, and LORD of lords.
The queen of Sheba, who visited Solomon, is sup. posed to have been sovereign of some part of Arabia, and originally descended from Keturah, Abraham's second wife ; so that it is very likely, the knowledge of the true God had been transmitted to her by her pious ancestors; though his holy worship was in her kingdom, as in other countries, mixed and corrupted by the introduction of idolatry.
It appears, by the queen of Sheba's taking such a long journey to hear the wisdom of Solomon, that she was desirous of being thoroughly acquainted with the DIVINE WILL; for she did not go to Jerusalem merely
to see the glory of Solomon, and vie with him in splen. dor; but to prove, whether he were in reality possessed of such extraordinary endowments as fame reported; and whether it was certainly true, that God had mani. fested himself in Israel. The inhabitants of the east country were remarkable for their wit and ingenuity; but Solomon was reputed to excel them all. It was customary for the learned to amuse themselves with difficult questions which required a knowledge of profound sciences to propose and to explain ; in compliance with this custom, the queen of Sheba had furnished herself with problems of this kind from wise men in her kingdom, that she might, by the answers she carried back, confirm the truth of the extraordinary reports they had heard of Solomon's superior understanding. We find that she received ample satisfaction in every particular, and returned to her own country full of ad. miration of Solomon's glory, and of reverence for that ALMIGHTY Being, who alone could exalt the human mind so near to perfection, and bestow with unbounded liberality those treasures which mankind in general strive to accumulate with incessant toil, and enjoy not without the interruption of many anxious cares.
We learn from the New Testament, that the desire which the queen of Sheba had to know the true God procured her the Divine favour, and obtained her a preference to many lukewarm Christiang *.
SOLOMON'S APOSTASY-HIS DEATH.
From 1 Kings, Chap. xi. But king Solomon loved many strange women, (to. gether with the daughter of Pharaoh), women of the * Matt. xii. 42.