Hidden Message in King Solomon’s Test by the Queen of Sheba
The Queen of Sheba is said to have hailed from the kingdom of Sheba or Saba in South Arabia, which is roughly modern-day Yemen, as per the predominant scholarly view. The location of the kingdom of Sheba has long been argued, and one of the arguments is that the kingdom was located in Ethiopia, East Africa. However, most scholarly voices vouch that Saba was a South Arabian kingdom. There are dates that suggest the South Arabian kingdom of Sheba started to flourish after the period in which the story of Israeli King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba is set.
The Queen of Sheba mentioned in 1 Kings 10 and 2 Chronicles 9 could be different from the Queen of the South mentioned in Matthew 12:42 and Luke 11:31. The former could have come from South Arabia or Yemen while the latter could have been an Ethiopian queen. In another blog, I have explained in detail how the two queens could have been two different monarchs who visited Solomon separately at Jerusalem. Each mention of the Queen of Sheba in this blog hereafter is made in reference to the queen of the Sabaean kingdom in South Arabia, not the Queen of the South from Ethiopia.
Shift in Spiritual Authority: Solomon Opened a Small Door
The very first verse of 1 Kings 10, where the Queen of Sheba is mainly mentioned in the Bible, shows how her visit to Solomon was used by Satan. It says she tested Solomon with hard questions. Solomon was a well-known king who surpassed all other kings of his time in riches and wisdom. Why would you want to test such a king? Isn’t the testimony of other monarchs enough evidence of his riches and wisdom? In 1 Kings 3:12, God blessed Solomon with a wise and understanding heart so that there shall not be anyone like him nor has been anyone like him before. And frankly, he was not obliged to answer any question by anyone or go through any test from anyone just to prove his wisdom.
It is both insulting and an attack on the image or identity of a great monarch with great stature as Solomon to have been put to test to prove himself, unless God is the one testing him. That is exactly what Satan does when you start to grow spiritually. He attacks your identity and authority in Christ. However, you can stand your ground in Christ and defeat the devil. Secondly, the moment Solomon allowed the Queen of Sheba to test his wisdom, he gave her a spiritual authority over him and disrespected the precious gift that God had placed in his heart (1 Kings 10:24). The word ‘communed’ used in 1 Kings 10:2 in the King James Version suggests that the Queen of Sheba tested Solomon at a spiritual level.
1 Kings 10:1 also states that the Queen of Sheba visited Solomon to test him after she heard of his fame. Now that rings a bell. Jesus was tempted by Satan (Matthew 4:1) immediately after His water baptism, following which God opened the heaven and announced Him as His beloved Son (Matthew 3:16). The timing of Solomon’s test by the Queen of Sheba is similar to that of Jesus’ test by Satan. Furthermore, the Queen of Sheba threw hard questions at Solomon and carried a very great retinue, who may have probably helped her to frame the hard questions. And no doubt, Satan’s test for Jesus was not an easy one.
Food, Clothing, and Shelter: The Three Bases of Solomon’s Test
Satan tested Jesus based on three factors, viz. spiritual food, spiritual clothing (covering), and spiritual shelter. The Queen of Sheba carried things related to each of these factors on her visit to Solomon (1 Kings 10:2). In terms of the food factor, Jesus was tempted by Satan to turn stones into bread (Matthew 4:3) and the Queen of Sheba carried spices in great abundance when she visited Jerusalem. In terms of the covering factor, Satan asked Jesus to test God by jumping off from the pinnacle of the temple in Jerusalem (Matthew 4:5), knowing that angels would protect (cover) Him. On the other hand, the Queen of Sheba was backed or surrounded (covered) by a huge retinue.
Lastly, in terms of the shelter factor, Satan tempted Jesus with all great kingdoms of the earth and their glory (Matthew 4:8). He tried to trick Jesus with false eternal dominion and riches and the need to have a roof above His head forever as if He is a man who needs to labor to secure his future. If we consider the Queen of Sheba’s visit to Solomon, she carried much gold and precious stones, which represent riches and the means to have a secure future.
The Queen of Sheba gave her best to test Solomon with the most difficult questions. Most people confuse the last part of 1 Kings 10:2 with a deep, normal conversation between the two monarchs that was nothing to do with Solomon’s test. However, the following verse suggests that questions were asked and answered one after the another, and Solomon successfully proved his wisdom that the whole world was talking about, although it was not required of him. Solomon would have never experienced any loss in terms of riches and wisdom had he not allowed the Queen of Sheba to test him.
If we look closely at the three factors based on which Satan tested Jesus, it was a spiritual attack on the survival of man. This is because food, clothing, and shelter are the basic necessities of life. But Jesus defended His church and did not allow Satan to take authority over man by giving the right answers and successfully passing the test. In the same way, the Queen of Sheba tried to spiritually attack Solomon and his authority through her test focusing on the three factors. It could also be said that her test was a spiritual attack on Solomon’s kingdom, prosperity, and reputation in the world.
God’s Wisdom and Presence Defeated the Spirit in the Queen of Sheba
There is a striking difference between the approach of the Queen of Sheba and that of other monarchs of the world to Solomon’s wisdom and riches. According to 1 Kings 10:24, all the kings of the world sought Solomon’s presence to “hear” his wisdom, but the Queen of Sheba came to “test” him. Why would you want to test Solomon when all other kings across the globe have already appreciated his wisdom and riches? Satan clearly wanted to steal Solomon’s anointing and disrupt God’s plan for him.
In Matthew 4:11, the devil left Jesus after He passed the temptation. In 1 Kings 10:5, the Scripture mentions there was no more spirit in the Queen of Sheba after she had seen the wisdom of Solomon and other things in his house. Just as Jesus defeated Satan in Matthew 4, Solomon defeated the devil in 1 Kings 10:4-5.
Surely, the wisdom of God helped Solomon to defeat the devil at the time when the Queen of Sheba tested him. However, one cannot deny the fact that the presence of God was evident on every aspect of Solomon’s daily life, and it helped him to defeat the devil. Besides God’s wisdom, His presence on each and every thing and person in Solomon’s house defeated the spirit in the Queen of Sheba, and it left her.
Again, we see the three factors, viz. food, clothing (covering), and shelter hidden in 1 Kings 10:4-5. The meat on Solomon’s table symbolizes the food factor, the apparel of his ministers and servants symbolize the clothing factor, and his house and entryway by which he went up to the Lord’s house symbolize the shelter factor. Solomon was able to ward off the devil and pass the test because of God’s presence reflected through all of these factors, which are the three basic necessities for human survival. However, Satan took advantage of Solomon’s trade with the Queen of Sheba and his generosity shown to her. We will study that in the next part.