Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Jun 4 2019 - 1 Kings 10 – The Queen of Sheba

Solomon's fame as a man of exceptional wisdom had spread far and wide, particularly to those areas with which Solomon, along with Hiram (see verses 11-12), had established trade routes. We don't know exactly where Sheba may have been, it has variously been identified as being in the southern part of the Arabian Peninsula, in modern day Yemen, or in Ethiopia. Whatever the case, it is clear that the queen of Sheba was keen to travel a long distance from her home to Jerusalem to meet with Solomon and check whether what she had heard about him could possibly be true.

But the queen came not only because of Solomon's wisdom, she came also because she had heard of his relationship with the Lord, with Yahweh, the God of Abraham and of Israel. She had heard that Solomon's wisdom was not due to his natural ability or his studies of nature but was a gift bestowed on him by God. In coming to see Solomon she wanted to learn more of the living God.

The queen came armed with a set of difficult questions to put to Solomon. These may have been riddles such as those mentioned in Proverbs 1:6 or the one posed by Samson in Judges 14:12–14. These were commonly used as tests of wisdom. In posing these to Solomon she was seeking to engage in more than a battle of wits, she is seeking spiritual insight from one famed for possessing the Lord’s wisdom. And she would seem to have been well satisfied with Solomon's responses, for he, "answered all her questions; nothing was too hard for the king to explain to her" (v.3).

The queen of Sheba seems to have been deeply impressed by all that she head from Solomon and saw in Jerusalem. In vv.6-9 we read that not only does she praise Solomon for his wisdom and wealth and the wise way he rules over his people but she also praises the Lord who has given Solomon such wisdom. She concludes by saying, "Because of the Lord’s eternal love for Israel, he has made you king to maintain justice and righteousness" (v.9).

The latter half of this chapter lists the riches and extravagance which characterised Solomon's reign. He seems to have imported fabulous quantities of gold (we probably should not see anything sinister in the statement he received 666 talents of gold yearly). Gold and ivory were used to decorate his royal palace and impressive throne. He had such a surfeit of gold that, "Nothing was made of silver, because silver was considered of little value in Solomon’s days" (v. 21, see also v. 27). He also built us a collection of, "fourteen hundred chariots and twelve thousand horses, which he kept in the chariot cities and also with him in Jerusalem" (v.26).

All of this extravagance came at great cost; cost not to Solomon personally but to the people he governed. They were required to pay taxes and provide labour to support the king in the lifestyle he thought appropriate to a king of his day. Samuel had warned the people what their request for a king might cost them (see 1 Samuel 8:10-18). But the people had taken no notice of his warning insisting that they wanted a king like the nations around them. That is what they now have and they are learning the consequences the hard way. As we shall see, after Solomon's death the nation splits apart with revolt caused by such extravagant kingship.

We have in the Lord Jesus a King who is wiser and more glorious than Solomon. But the splendour and glory of King Jesus is not supported at our expense. On the contrary, he gave himself for us: "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich" (2 Corinthians 8:9). His kingdom is secure for all eternity since he is the righteous one. We also are secure for all eternity in him.

Lord Jesus, we delight in your wisdom and glory, but we delight even more in the riches of your grace. As the Queen of the South came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon's wisdom, so we pray that all the world may hear of your fame and come to bow the knee to you.

Jun 4 2013 - Acts 2:1-47 – The beginning of a new movement

The coming of the Spirit in Acts 2 marks the dawning of a new age. Having completed all that the Father had sent him to do, the crucified and risen Saviour is now seated at the Father’s right hand. From the Father he has been given the Spirit to pour out upon the world.

The passage begins with the description of the Spirit poured out upon the little group of disciples. But the Spirit is certainly not for them alone. There were people in Jerusalem who had come from all over the Greco-Roman world to attend the feast of Pentecost. Most were probably Jews from the Diaspora but many were God-fearing Gentiles who would have had limited access to the Temple and would have been very aware that they were still, as it were, kept at arm’s length from the God of Israel. But Jesus’ death had broken down that barrier – the curtain in the Temple had been torn from top to bottom. God himself has burst through to touch the lives of these people. In a miraculous reversal of Babel, they all hear the word of God in their own mother tongue. Scattered nations are now being gathered together and reunited by word and Spirit.

And this is Peter’s explanation of what is happening. The prophets had spoken about this day when God would pour out his Spirit on people of every kind – male and female, young and old. This is what is now happening. The Spirit is not just for this little group of disciples but is for everyone who will call on the name of the Lord – Jesus the crucified one whom God raised from the dead. This new and last age of the Spirit will continue until every knee bows to Jesus (2:34-35).

Peter’s sermon identifies some of the hallmarks of this new age that Jesus has inaugurated: It is the age of the Spirit – there are no barriers to where, when and in whom God may work; It is the age of fulfilment – Jesus fulfils the promises of the Old Testament and they are now being realised in the world; It is an age of empowered witness to Jesus; It is an age in which people of all sorts are being drawn to Jesus – an age of kingdom expansion; Baptism plays a significant part in community formation as (with repentance) signifying union with Christ and entrance into the fellowship of his people – an end to the old and the beginning of the new; The reality of the new age is seen in transformed community.

This transformed community is exemplified in 2:44-47. “They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching.” They were eager to learn more of the Lord Jesus from those who had been with him and had known him. These primary witnesses have left us their testimony in the pages of the New Testament, and particularly in the Gospel accounts, that we might learn of Jesus and grow in faith and in conformity to him (see, for instance, John 20:30-31).

“They devoted themselves ... to the fellowship and the breaking of bread.” They loved to meet together because they were convinced that they shared together in the life of the kingdom – the life of the risen Christ. They treated one another as brothers and sisters. They shared meals together and, in the breaking of bread and drinking of wine, remembered that the life they enjoyed in Christ flowed to them from his broken body and shed blood.

“They devoted themselves ... to prayer.” They were convinced that Jesus was Lord and Christ. He had ascended to the right hand of God and could intercede for them. So they gladly poured out their praise and requests to the Father in Jesus' name. And this happy band saw remarkable answers to their prayer as many miracles were performed by the apostles, they enjoyed favour with all the people and the Lord continued to add to their number as more came to confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

Lord Jesus, we confess that our Christian lives are often spoilt by division and selfishness which rob us of joy and destroy our witness to your risen power. Fill us afresh with your Spirit that we may learn of you, live shared lives centred in you and daily pour out our praise and petitions to you. May our shared life of celebration bring many to join us in confessing that you are Lord and Saviour.

Peter Misselbrook