Stories Jesus told with women in them
The Queen of the South (Luke 11:31)
Jesus was referring to the Queen of Sheba (1 Kings 10:1-13 and 2 Chronicles 9:1-12), who stepped out from the pages of the very well-known and often-read chronicles of Solomon’s reign.
Solomon came to the throne in 961 BC. The Bible only gives a hint of Solomon's true wealth; he was possibly the wealthiest person in all of history. His first 20 years were the good ones: Solomon was about 40 years old when all his building projects were finished, including the completion in every detail of the work God had given him to do in building the temple.. Under Solomon there was no unemployment, no hunger, no poor.
As the Bible puts it, “During Solomon’s lifetime Judah and Israel, from Dan to Beersheba, lived in safety, everyone under their own vine and under their own fig tree. (1 Kings 4:25) Archaeology testifies to his skill in architecture, ability in administration, his vast knowledge of the sciences, his artistic acumen, and acute business sense.
There was a time when scholars thought the Bible’s description of Solomon’s stables was mythical, but evidence discovered in the past 75 years reveals hundreds of luxurious stables, in marble and cedar, with room for a parade of chariots.
Solomon’s commercial enterprises were legendary. Lucrative trade routes that went through Israel, connecting Africa and Egypt with the east, produced a steady stream of tariffs from travelers. King Solomon had all the bronze artifacts for the temple smelted in the plain of the Jordan. Archaeology has revealed Solomon was a copper magnate in partnership with King Hiram of Tyre; if he were alive today he would have patented his discoveries in engineering in connection with his copper foundry in Ezion-geber. And here’s where the Queen of the South, the Queen of Sheba, comes in. Solomon’s fleet of ships traded along the east coast of Africa.
God’s promises of prosperity, enjoying the full length and breadth of the promised land, and of being a blessing to all nations were being fulfilled. Solomon's kingdom was a picture of what it will be like when Jesus comes to reign in glory.
The Queen of Sheba possibly heard of God when Solomon's ships came to her ports in Marib, the Hebrew sailors singing Psalms and boasting of the wealth of distant Israel, to the north, the beauty of their holy city Jerusalem, and the wisdom of their monarch. Her heart must have been swept up with sailors’ stories, their Proverbs, the wisdom they spoke of, and of their God. She was intrigued enough to travel 1,250 miles through the desert on camel back to see with her own eyes the wealth and wisdom of Solomon.
Solomon had every privilege and advantage a human could possibly imagine, privilege of birth and inheritance, enormous natural talent and supernatural gift of wisdom, untold wealth and power, he was at his zenith when the Queen of Sheba came to see Israel and its king.
Once arrived, she was filled with wonder and amazement, and frank admiration of Solomon’s God, exclaiming,
“The report I heard in my own country about your achievements and your wisdom is true. But I did not believe these things until I came and saw with my own eyes. Indeed, not even half was told me; in wisdom and wealth you have far exceeded the report I heard. How happy your people must be! How happy your officials, who continually stand before you and hear your wisdom! Praise be to the Lord your God, who has delighted in you and placed you on the throne of Israel. Because of the Lord’s eternal love for Israel, he has made you king to maintain justice and righteousness.” (1 Kings 10:6-9)
Jesus’ point about both the Ninevites and the Queen of the South had to do with the quality of their faith in God. Though they did not have any of the advantages of the Jews, none of the access Jews had to God, or favored position, though they were not given jaw dropping miracles and signs, they believed. They believed the message of God, they responded to God’s word in repentance, they received God in faith, and they will one day be with God forever in eternity.
Their stories of faith stood in judgment against the Jews who did not believe and receive Jesus Himself, with all their advantages, access to God, favored position, and now the Lord of the Universe standing there before speaking audibly to them about truth and life, with hair-raising signs and miracles before their very eyes.
All passages taken from the New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.