Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Here Comes the Queen

Episode Resources

Watch Nancy teach this series.

Leslie Basham: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has a question that perplexes her.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: How do you have a peaceful spirit, a gentle, quiet spirit, and still get a lot done?

Leslie: Today we’ll discover the very best place to take our perplexing questions.

You're listening to Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, co-author of True Woman 201, for Monday, August 19, 2019.

Today we’ll learn about a woman who was a powerful figure on the global scene. She was a adventurer and a deep thinker on wide range of subjects. Nancy is helping us to know this better. Let’s listen.

Nancy: Let me invite you to open your Bibles to the Old Testament, the book of 1 Kings. It comes right before 2 Kings, and all that comes before Chronicles, after Samuel. If you’re not sure, look in the Table of Contents. That’s fine to do, too. Get to know your Bible. Get to know the books of the Bible so you can move around and find things.

Some of you are new believers or maybe not a believer at all, and this is unfamiliar territory. So when we talk about these passages such as we’re going to do today, I think for a lot of you this is familiar, but for some, it’s not. So we’re going to kind of just step back and lay some foundation for those who may not be aware as we start a new short series today on the Queen of Sheba.

My husband kept asking me over the last week, “What got you interested in the Queen of Sheba? I said, “I don’t know.” But the more I’ve gotten into her life and into this passage, the more excited I am about sharing what we’re going to be talking about over the new few days.

Let me read the entire passage, the first 10 verses, and then verse 13. Then over the next few days, we’ll just unpack this a little bit at a time.

Now when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the Lord, she came to test him with hard questions. She came to Jerusalem with a very great retinue, with camels bearing spices and very much gold and precious stones. And when she came to Solomon, she told him all that was on her mind. And Solomon answered all her questions; there was nothing hidden from the king that he could not explain to her. And when the queen of Sheba had seen all the wisdom of Solomon, the house that he had built, the food of his table, the seating of his officials, and the attendance of his servants, their clothing, his cupbearers, and his burnt offerings that he offered at the house of the Lord, there was no more breath in her. [It took her breath away.]

And she said to the king, "The report was true that I heard in my own land of your words and of your wisdom, but I did not believe the reports until I came and my own eyes had seen it. And behold, the half was not told me. Your wisdom and prosperity surpass the report that I heard. Happy are your men! Happy are your servants, who continually stand before you and hear your wisdom! Blessed be the Lord your God, who has delighted in you and set you on the throne of Israel! Because the Lord loved Israel forever, he has made you king, that you may execute justice and righteousness." Then she gave the king 120 talents of gold, and a very great quantity of spices and precious stones. Never again came such an abundance of spices as these that the queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon.

And King Solomon gave to the queen of Sheba all that she desired, whatever she asked besides what was given her by the bounty of King Solomon. So she turned and went back to her own land with her servants (1 Kings 10:1–10, 13).

This is the Word of the Lord. And, oh, Lord, we ask that You would open our eyes and our ears and our hearts to receive all that You have for us from this Old Testament character, probably 3,000 years ago. What relevance does she have today? Well, we’re about to find out, and we pray that You would teach us. Teach us Your ways, and may we long for the wisdom that comes from You. We pray in Jesus’ name, amen.

So we’re in about the tenth century B.C., about 1,000 years before the time of Christ. King Solomon is the son of David, and he’s got a reputation that has spread far and wide. You see this in verse 1, 1 Kings 10: “Now when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the Lord, she came to test him with hard questions.”

  • Solomon has amassed great wealth.
  • He has expanded the borders of the kingdom.
  • He’s renowned for his wisdom. This is the golden age of Solomon.
  • He’s importing and exporting goods from all around the known world, including to and from Sheba.

So this woman is familiar with him.

Many commentators believe that the kingdom of Sheba was located at the southern end of the Arabian peninsula, along the Red Sea, in what would be modern-day Yemen—about 1500 miles south of Jerusalem. So it’s no small distance in that day when basically you were traveling on foot or camels or something like that.

Israel and Sheba were both engaged in international trade. Sheba was well-known for its perfumes and its spices and traded valuable resources such as gold, frankincense, and myrrh throughout Africa, India, and the Mediterranean region.

Now the Scripture doesn’t tell us much about the Queen of Sheba. All we know is what is in this passage in 1 Kings and in a parallel passage in 11 Chronicles 9, which is almost identical to this passage. There are a few little details that are added in one or the other.

But basically, this is what we know, in addition to one verse in the New Testament, well, actually, there are two—one in Matthew 12, and the other in the Gospel of Luke that’s a parallel passage. Jesus talked a thousand years later about the Queen of Sheba, and we’ll get to that in a couple days from now in this series.

There’s a lot of folklore and legend that has grown up around the Queen of Sheba. If you Google her, you’ll find all kinds of fascinating and not-so-fascinating, some bizarre things. Some have suggested that she was the Shulamite woman referred to in the Song of Solomon.

And then, according to one legend, she and Solomon had an affair and a son was born of that union who then moved to Abyssinia, also known as Ethiopia, and, to this day, as I understand it, the royal family of Ethiopia claims to be descended from Solomon and the Queen of Sheba.

Well, the Scripture is clear that Solomon had many wives and loved many foreign women, but there is no historical or biblical evidence that the Queen of Sheba was one of those women.

You’ll find more legends about this woman in the Koran, but as we talk about it this week, we’re going to stick with the Scripture because that’s what we know to be true. God has told us what we need to know, and that’s what we’re going to base this study on. The other things are conjecture. The things I’ve just mentioned, there’s no evidence that they are true. So let’s stick with the Scripture. We’re always safe there.

Now, here’s a woman who had great wealth, power, position, and influence. And the Scripture says, “She heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the LORD.” She heard of someone who was greater than she was.

So what motivated her to make this long, arduous trek to Jerusalem to meet Solomon? Well, she’d heard about his fame. She wanted to see if all the things she’d heard about him were true. So “she came to test him with hard questions,” to try him out.

She’d heard about his vast wealth. She wanted to see it with her own eyes.

She had heard about his wisdom. It says “she came to test him with hard questions.” That word in the original language could actually be translated riddles. This was a kind of sport between monarchs and the ancient Near East, to tell riddles and stories—you’ll find some examples of this in the Old Testament—to see who was the smarter of the two, who was the wiser of the two.

Surely she was familiar with the resources that Israel produced with the international trade efforts, so she may have been interested in exploring a possible trade agreement.

But whatever other reasons she may have had, there was at least one thing more. She had heard about, as one translation puts it, in verse 1: “His relationship with the LORD.” She had heard about his wisdom and his devotion to Jehovah. She had probably heard about a house he had built where people could actually approach their God.

A lot of nations had temples, but there was one nation where people could come and actually meet their God. I imagine this woman was curious. She was inquisitive. She asked questions. She wanted to know more about Solomon, and perhaps she wanted to learn more about his God.

Now, it wasn’t unusual for nations to send delegations and gifts to Solomon. But this woman didn’t send a delegation. She didn’t send an ambassador. She went herself. So the Scripture says, “She came to Jerusalem with a very great retinue, with camels bearing spices and very much gold and precious stones.”

She came from far away. One estimate is that the caravan that’s described here could travel maybe twenty miles a day, which means it would have taken seventy-five days to make this trip. This is a huge effort. A 3,000 mile round trip. But she did what it took to get there because she considered Solomon to be worth it.

Now, I want you to remember these things because in a couple of days when we move forward to the New Testament, you’re going to hear that Jesus makes a point about what trouble this woman went to, how far she traveled to come hear the wisdom of Solomon. This is going to be important as we get to the New Testament.

In God’s providence, as I was studying the Queen of Sheba a few days ago, I came to Psalm 119 in my Old Testament reading in my quiet time. Most commentators believe that this Psalm was written by Solomon’s father, David. As I read Psalm 119, just in one sitting—you know, that’s a long Psalm—but I took the time to read the whole thing through. And over and over again I saw reflected in the Psalmist’s heart this same heart that this woman had, the Queen of Sheba, as she came to see Solomon.

Let me give you an example. The Psalmist, whoever wrote Psalm 119, likely David, considered God’s wisdom and God’s Word to be of greater value than any material wealth or gain. He believed that God’s wisdom and His Word were worth seeking with all your heart. So listen to these verses from Psalm 119.

Blessed are those who seek him with their whole heart (v. 2).

Incline my heart to your testimonies and not to selfish gain (v. 36).

The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces (v. 72).

How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth (v. 103).

I love your commandments above gold, above fine gold (v. 127).

My heart stands in awe of your words. I rejoice at your word like one who finds a great spoil (v. 161).

So you see the Psalmist placing such great value on the Word and the wisdom of God. The Queen of Sheba placed great value on the words and the wisdom of King Solomon.

Which leads me to ask, as we think about the effort she went to: What kind of effort and sacrifice are you willing to go to to get wisdom? What kind of sacrifices are you willing to make? Are you willing to spend time in God’s Word, studying it, meditating on it, memorizing it, dwelling on it?

What kind of effort and sacrifice are you willing to go to to get wisdom?

Let me ask the question a little differently: How much time and money do we spend on things that won’t matter at all just a little time from now, much less in eternity?

You see, we have a value system. We choose what to do with our time, what we do with our money. And so we say, “I don’t have time to read my Bible.” But we have time to do Facebook. We have time to do Twitter. We have time to do Instagram. We have time to . . . you fill in the blank.

I’m not criticizing those things. I do those things myself. But if I have time for those things but don’t have time to get to know the Word of God and the God of His Word, I’m saying that I value earthly, temporal things more than I value the eternal infinite wisdom of God.

What we want when it comes to our Christian lives, we want to be able to make a minimum of effort and get a maximum of result in no time. We want spiritually to live in fast-food, drive-through restaurants. Like, “Give me my two-buck, fifty-cent Happy Meal (or whatever it is)” and yell it out at the window, pick it up, throw a few bucks toward the window and drive off and have our quick, cheap meal. That’s the way a lot of us live spiritually.

I know at times in my own life, my devotional life has been not as much about devotion as it is about checking off something on my to-do list and wanting quick, cheap results. I want to know the God of the universe. I want to have all of His wisdom. I want to know how to live. But I don’t want to spend the time to get to know Him.

Proverbs 2 says,

If you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding (vv. 3–6).

You see, “the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning his relationship with the LORD,” and she said, “I want to know more about that.” So she pays a price. She takes the time. She goes to the effort to go and search it out.

Proverbs says if you want to know the fear of the Lord, if you want to know the wisdom of the Lord, if you want to know the ways of God, you’ve got to search for it as for silver, for hidden treasures. You’ve got to call out. You’ve got to seek for it. You’ve got to do what it takes, pay the price, to get that wisdom.

The New Testament says it this way in Colossians 3: “Seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God (v. 1).

That’s a constant, continual, pro-active effort. Be continually seeking to know Christ, seeking Him above all else. And I see in this Queen of Sheba an example of earnest seeking after wisdom.

Well, verse 2 tells us that “when she came to Solomon, she told him all that was on her mind. And Solomon answered all her questions; there was nothing hidden from the king that he could not explain to her.”

I’ve just been dwelling on this whole passage, this whole encounter, trying to put myself in the shoes of this queen and this situation. I hear this women telling this dignitary, this head of state, that she’s meeting for the first time—she’s only heard about him—and now she meets him. It sounds like, just right away, she tells him everything that’s on her mind. It may have been things that she’d never told anyone else. She unburdens herself to him.

She must have felt welcomed. She must have felt warmly received by him. She must have felt, for some reason, the freedom to tell him everything.

And when we come to the Lord, we come with that freedom to tell Him what’s on our hearts, what’s on our mind: What are we thinking about? What are we concerned about? What are we pondering? What is troubling us?

When we come to the Lord, this is, at some level, what prayer is: Telling God everything. Telling Him what’s on our heart, what’s on our mind, what we’re grappling with. It doesn’t have to be just big, huge things, just emergency situations. Wouldn’t this be something what it is just to “pray without ceasing,” always telling the Lord what’s going on inside?

But she came not just to tell him what was on her mind, but also to ask him questions. She brought her questions with her. And it says they were hard ones. They were riddles. They were mysteries. They were perplexities, things she couldn’t figure, things she wondered if he could figure out.

So here’s a woman who came to the great King Solomon, the wise King Solomon:

  • not as a teacher but as a student, as a learner.
  • not with answers, but with questions.
  • not with pride, but with humility.

She was inquisitive. She was teachable. She was a learner.

There, again, I go back to Psalm 119, which again just felt so much like Queen of Sheba sort of thinking, as I was reading it one day. The Psalmist, whoever wrote Psalm 119, likely Solomon’s father, he came to God as a humble learner, looking to Him for wisdom and understanding.

Twelve times in Psalm 119 you read these two words: Teach me. Teach me. Teach me. Teach me. Teach me.

“Blessed are you, O Lord; teach me your statutes!” (Ps. 119:12). Teach me Your Law. Teach me Your ways. Teach me Your Word. Teach me about You. Teach me what it is I need to know, what it is I need to learn.

My dad, as we were growing up, lived in the book of Proverbs. He loved the wisdom literature. He loved the whole of God’s Word, but he read a chapter of Proverbs every day from the time he came to know Jesus until the time he went to be with the Lord twenty-eight years later. He loved the Proverbs.

He would often remind us of the importance of seeking wisdom, of having a teachable spirit, of having a learner’s heart, of asking for help when you need to solve difficult problems.

When we ask questions of the Lord, we’re expressing humility. We’re saying, “I don’t know everything there is to know. I have so much to learn. Lord, You know everything. Would you teach me? I have these questions. You have the answers.” So I bring my questions to Him to get His answers.

Proverbs 1 says: “Let a wise person listen and increase learning” (v. 5 CSB). We should always be learning.

I see some gray hairs here. I’m glad to see such a mixture of younger women and older women. We have younger women and older women who listen to our podcast or the broadcast. But I’m telling you, no matter how old you get, you never want to stop learning. You always want to be growing. But you can’t grow if you don’t listen.

You can’t grow if you don’t listen.

So we ask our questions, and then we listen. We open God’s Word, and we listen. We say, “Teach me, oh Lord.”

I’ve been listening and learning from the Queen of Sheba over this last week or so, asking questions, learning, wanting to grow in wisdom.

Proverbs 20, verse 5 says, “Counsel in a person’s heart is deep water; but a person of understanding draws it out.”

That’s what the Queen of Sheba did with Solomon, isn’t it? The counsel in Solomon’s heart was like a deep well. But she came to him, and she asked questions, and she listened—and she drew out the wisdom.

Some of us don’t ever learn from the people around us because we’re not taking time to ask questions, to draw out. Some of you are thinking: I wish my husband would give wisdom. I wish he’d share. I wish he’d lead spiritually.

Well, let me ask you this: Your husband may have some wisdom. He may have a deep well of wisdom. But do you listen? Do you ask questions? Do you let him know that you want to learn, you want to learn together from the Lord and from each other? Or does he somehow have the impression, because you’re the one who gets to go to all the Bible studies, and you have all those different colored pencils that you mark your Bible with, and he feels a little intimidated by that that he thinks, I don’t have anything I could teach her.

Now, I know I’m not describing every marriage here, but I bet I’m describing a few marriages here. Do you have a teachable spirit?

Well, the queen’s questions and riddles were no match for Solomon. No matter how difficult a question she could lob at him, he handled them all easily.

As we think about our relationship with the Lord, we all have some questions that we really need answers to, we want answers to. I mean, do you have some hard questions, things that are perplexing you, problems that you’re dealing with? Some of those are questions that are common to many of us.

Maybe you need direction or guidance for a tough decision you’re making. What’s God’s will? What am I supposed to do next? What school am I supposed to go to? What course of study should I pursue?

Maybe you’re asking a question like:

  • How to be right with God? How can you have a right relationship with Him?
  • How to deal with difficult people in your life?
  • How to deal with pain or sorrow or loss?
  • How can you find peace?

Maybe your mind is tormented with things that are going on around you, and you find your head is just spinning with all that’s happening, all this going on, and you say, “I just want some peace. How do you get that?”

Some of you may be experiencing a gnawing sense of guilt as you think about your past, some sin that you’ve been involved in. Maybe it’s something that you’re involved in at present, and you think, I just cannot figure out how to get extricated from that situation or how to deal with that temptation. I just keep falling and falling and falling. How do I get victory over sin, over the sins of my flesh?

Well, there are lots of questions we’re asking. One of the questions I wonder sometimes, and I asked this of a pastor’s wife not too long ago: “How do you have a peaceful spirit, a gentle, quiet spirit, and still get a lot done, be productive?”

This was a woman I was talking to, a really productive woman. She gets a lot done. And I do a lot, but a lot of times I create a whirlwind, inside and outside, around me, while I’m doing it. So this was a perplexing question to me: “How do I have a gentle and quiet spirit? How do I demonstrate peace when I’m doing a lot, when I’m getting ready for a recording session, I’m writing a book, I’m meeting with people, or whatever?” That’s a perplexing question.

Well, think about whatever your questions are and where do you go for answers? Where do you turn? Do you turn to the Internet? Do you turn to friends? To books? To education? We’ve got to start by going to the source of all wisdom.

I don’t know how to answer my questions, much less yours. A lady asked me at the break earlier today about a situation in her family. It’s a tough situation. And I just had to say, “I don’t know what I would do, but I know that Jesus knows the answer to that question. I know He will show you what to do. He has the wisdom you need in this situation.”

Verse 3 says that “Solomon answered all her questions." "Nothing was too hard for the king to explain to her,” says one translation. Now, where did he get that wisdom? From God. God gave him that wisdom.

And today, you and I have the chance to meet with One who is greater than Solomon, One who has all wisdom. We do that by studying His Word, doing it with an open heart, open ears. I often pray in a teaching session or in my own time with the Lord, “Lord, open our ears, open our eyes, open our hearts, open our minds to understand, to receive what You have, what You want to teach us about Yourself and Your ways and Your gospel and our own lives.”

Are you seeking wisdom from the King of kings? Do you look like the Queen of Sheba in that respect, that you’re making the effort, making the sacrifice, taking the time to go to the King of kings for wisdom?

James 1 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God—ask God; ask God—who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him” (v. 5).

So thank You, Lord, that we can turn to you, we can come to You as this queen did almost 3,000 years ago, and You will receive us. You will welcome us. You will hear what is on our hearts. You will give us wisdom when we ask You for it. And with that, You will give us so much more as we’ll see as we continue in this passage.

Help us, Lord, to turn to You, to turn to You first, to turn to You most. To look to Your wisdom above all other wisdom that we might gain from any other source. And thank You that You will give that wisdom to us generously, and You will not in any way reproach us for asking. We give You thanks, in Jesus’ name, amen.

Leslie: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has been helping us get to know a somewhat obscure biblical character. But after that teaching, she’s becoming less obscure to us. That message is part of a series called, “The Queen of Sheba.”

You can hear that kind of thorough, trustworthy Bible teaching from Nancy thanks to listeners who give so you can listen.

One supporter wrote to Revive Our Hearts and said,

Thank you for the life-changing content that is being produced at the Revive Our Hearts’ podcast. I’ve been a listener for about five years and gladly give each month. I’ve shared this ministry with so many women over the years because of the changes it has brought about in my own life.

She went on to tell us that for the third time she was taking The 30-day Husband Encouragement Challenge from Revive Our Hearts. She said,

I’m moved each time by how much it has changed, not only my marriage, but my own heart towards my husband. Thanks and keep up the good work.

She’s helping the ministry keep up the good work so you can hear the program today. Would you spread what you’ve heard with others through your gift?

When you make a donation of any amount, we’d like to send you a new book by our friend, Mary Kassian. It’s our way of saying thank you for helping us help women experience true freedom in Christ. Mary writes about the seven simple habits that characterize a strong woman. It’s called The Right Kind of Strong, and it’s available for your gift of any size.

Visit our website, Revive Our Hearts.com to donate, or call 1–800–569–5959. Ask for Mary’s book on becoming a strong woman.

When was the last time you were blown away by the wonder of God’s world? Tomorrow, Nancy will show you how to recapture that sense of wonder every day. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants to help you gain godly wisdom. The program is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the ESV unless otherwise noted.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.