Imagine yourself a monarch – a king or queen – in the time of Solomon. The queen of Sheba was such a ruler. Because of Solomon’s fame, this queen heard about him from the distant land in which she lived. Sheba is considered to be the modern day country of Yemen, to the far south of Saudi Arabia on the Gulf of Aden in the Arabian Sea. It’s in the vicinity of Ethiopia, over 1,300 miles from Jerusalem.
All nations of the earth, other than Israel, worshiped pagan gods that had come to rule following the incident of the Tower of Babel (Deuteronomy 32:8 – ESV). These gods included such notables as Ashtoreth, Milcom, Chemosh, and Molech among others. No doubt the queen of Sheba idolized one of these or another god of their ilk. Yet, in 1 Kings 10:1 we read:
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.
The queen had heard about Solomon specifically because of Yahweh. The Name of the Lord – because of how He raised Solomon’s stature among the nations – had been heard of even as far away as Sheba. It was that Name and this God who intrigued her enough to make the long and arduous journey to Israel.
Why would she do this? It may be that as an intelligent woman and queen, she had questions about life that her gods could not answer. Solomon was known for his wisdom far and wide. Likely, these questions burned in her heart, and she had to search out the answers. Sure enough, in 1 Kings 10:3, this is what ensued:
And Solomon answered all her questions; there was nothing hidden from the king that he could not explain to her.
Envision this queen, perhaps from her youth, having so many responsibilities and seeking guidance that never came from the wise men surrounding her and the gods of her land. When she comes to Solomon and learns what he willingly imparts, here is how the last phrase of 1 Kings 10:5 describes her reaction:
… there was no breath in her.
She knew in her heart that everything Solomon said in answering her every question was true. The understanding she’d sought for so long came to fruition from the lips of Solomon who spoke with the wisdom and knowledge of Yahweh. Because of this, in 1 Kings 10:6-7 she exclaimed:
“The report was true that I heard in my own land of your words and of your wisdom, 7 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.”
Would that not have moved her? Wouldn’t she also want to have a part of this God who so graciously gave the king of Israel so much? Of course!. It’s why she said in 1 Kings 10:9:
“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.”
With this statement of blessing, she became a believer in Yahweh. In doing so, she rejected the gods of her youth and of her nation. (Remember, God always intended Israel to be a light to the nations so that all would be drawn to Him.) In fact, Jesus mentioned her in Matthew 12:42 (and Luke 11:31 as a parallel passage) in His judgment about the lack of faith in Israel:
“The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here.”
Another probable proof of the queen of Sheba’s faith is the Ethiopian eunuch that Philip encountered in the account in Acts:8:26-40. As noted earlier, Ethiopia and Yemen are in the same area. Ethiopia could even have been under this queen’s rule as part of Sheba at the time. When she returned home, she would likely have brought the knowledge and worship of Yahweh with her, resulting in a body of believers in the One true God.
The eunuch is considered a Jewish proselyte, i.e. one who had converted to Judaism. There is the real possibility his faith resulted from its being handed down from this queen about 900 years earlier.
In this account of the queen’s faith in Yahweh, we see a foreshadowing of the future Millennial Kingdom in 1 Kings 10:24:
And the whole earth sought the presence of Solomon to hear his wisdom, which God had put into his mind.
The time is coming when Jesus will rule and reign in person over the entire earth. Won’t all peoples in all lands desire to see and know Him? Won’t He make Himself available so as to impart all wisdom and knowledge that we seek?
What an amazing time this coming 1,000 years will be for all the inhabitants of the earth!