Pulpit Commentary Homiletics
Matthew 12:42). We have, among many things -
I. ISRAEL FULFILLING ITS FUNCTION, viz. magnifying the Name of the Lord. One great end, the great end of its existence as a nation, was to bear witness to the Name and character of Jehovah. By the wisdom and the energy combined with the piety of Solomon, this was being accomplished. The works of the Lord were known and celebrated even in remotest lands.
II. GOD FULFILLING HIS WORD TO HIS SERVANT SOLOMON. He promised him wealth and honor, inasmuch as he had asked for something better than these (see 2 Chronicles 1:11, 12). In this most gratifying episode Solomon must have felt that the promise made him at Gibeon was graciously redeemed. So shall we find also. To those that seek first the kingdom of God he ensures all needful earthly good, and they may count confidently that he will make good his word (see Matthew 6:33).
III. THE TRUE BLESSEDNESS OF POSSESSION - TO COMMUNICATE. Solomon had great knowledge, large faculty, much penetration, as well as extensive worldly wealth. He probably had some enjoyment in the consciousness of their possession. But he found a better and wiser use of them in communicating to others. When he enlightened the mind (ver. 2) and enriched the hands (ver. 12) of the queen, he was then and thus experiencing the true excellency of possession. It is not as we are able to retain, but as we succeed in employing and in imparting our wealth, whether of truth or treasures, that we are really and truly rich (Acts 20:35).
IV. THE WORTH OF WISDOM. The queen was no doubt partly prompted by curiosity to see the magnificence of Solomon; but what largely induced her to take that long, tedious, expensive journey was her desire to learn what "the wise man" could teach her. She desired "to commune with him of all that was in her heart" (ver. 1), and she did so; and she gathered from him a great store of knowledge and of truth. She doubtless learned for the first time the fundamental truths of religion - perhaps also the elements of pure morality. It is probable that she went back to her own country mentally and even spiritually enriched far beyond her highest expectations. As she crossed the desert a second time she would feel that she had been repaid a thousand times for all her toil and outlay. Wisdom is always worth our purchase, whatever we may expend upon it. "Buy the truth," even though it cost much in travel, in money, in patient laborious study, even in fellowship and friendship. It is well worth while to "sell all that we have" in order to become possessed of "the pearl of great price," heavenly wisdom, the knowledge which is eternal life (Matthew 13:46; John 17:3). Many earnest pilgrims have traversed land and sea, many anxious students have searched books and inquired of sacred teachers, many hungering and thirsting souls have wrought and wrestled in thought and prayer for many years, that they might find rest in truth, that they might find a home for themselves in the knowledge of the living God. And when they have found what they sought (see Matthew 7:7, 8), they have gladly and gratefully acknowledged that the blessedness of acquiring heavenly wisdom is a most ample recompense for all they have expended in its pursuit. Wisdom is more precious than rubies; it is the absolutely incomparable good (Proverbs 3:15). - C.
I. HER JOURNEY TO JERUSALEM. (Ver. 1.)
1. The country whence she came. Sheba. Not Meroe, or Ethiopia, as Josephus ('Ant.,' 8:6. 5), Grotius, and others say, following Abyssinian legend; but Sabaa, a country in Arabia Felix. Its capital Saba, or Mariaba, still exists under the name Marib, six days east of Sanaa. The district was extremely fertile, and abounded in frankincense, gold, and precious stones (Jeremiah 6:20; Ezekiel 27:22; Isaiah 60:6; Psalm 72:15). Its inhabitants had become, through extensive commerce, among the most prosperous of Arabian tribes. The caravans of Sheba brought costly products to the markets of the world - to Tyre, Egypt, Syria, and Mesopotamia (Job 6:19; Ezekiel 27:22). That a high degree of civilization prevailed from an early period in South Arabia is attested, not only by the so-called Himarytic inscriptions found in that region, in which the name Sheba frequently occurs, but by the above-mentioned ruins of Marib, which, according to Arab tradition, was destroyed, probably in the second century after Christ, by the bursting of a great dam in the upper part of the valley (Ritter). Arabian tradition, more communicative than Scripture concerning this queen, names her Balkis, and makes her a wife of Solomon (Koran, 'Sur.,' 27).
2. The occasion of her journey. The fame of Solomon. In 1 Kings 10. i the words, "concerning the Name of Jehovah," are added; but whether inserted by the author of Kings or omitted by the Chronicler cannot be determined. If the latter, they were probably intended to suggest that Solomon's fame rested chiefly on his temple-building for the Name of Jehovah (2 Chronicles 6:10), which showed him to be pre-eminently endowed with wisdom (2 Chronicles 2:12). (For other explanations, see Exposition.) There is reason in the conjecture that Solomon's voyages to Ophir were, in part at least, the means of extending Solomon's fame and bringing it to the ears of the queen.
3. The object of her visit. "To prove Solomon with hard questions." It is hardly supposable that the queen simply aimed at a trial of wit between herself and Solomon in propounding riddles, resolving enigmas, and untying word-puzzles, such as, according to Menander and Dins (Josephus, 'Ant.,' 8:5. 3), Solomon once had with Hiram, and such as in ancient times formed a common pastime with the Arabs. The "hard questions" doubtless related to deep and important problems in religion and life. The serious words addressed by her to Solomon (vers. 7, 8) make this the most plausible hypothesis. Great, rich, cultured, and powerful as she was, she was obviously troubled at heart about the solemn mystery of existence, and wished to have her doubts resolved, her questions answered, and her anxieties allayed by one who seemed specially upraised as an embodiment and teacher of wisdom.
4. The grandeur of her train. Attended by "a great company" of followers, courtiers, and servants, as well as by a numerous cavalcade of camels bearing the products of her country - gold, spices, and precious stones - intended for presents to Solomon (cf. Genesis 43:11), this royal lady, setting forth in search of wisdom, accomplished her long and painful journey, and eventually reached Jerusalem.
II. HER INTERVIEW WITH SOLOMON. (Vers. 2-8.)
1. The wisdom she heard. "Of all that was in her heart she communed with Solomon; and Solomon told her all her questions." If these did not include gravissimas et sacras quaestiones, i.e. questions relating to the mysteries of religion and the worship of God, one fails to see why they should exclude these, as has been suggested (Keil). That they concerned not metaphysical problems may be conceded. The story bears upon its surface that the wisdom she chiefly inquired after and Solomon principally discoursed about was that whose beginning is the fear of the Lord, and whose end is the keeping of his commandments (Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 1:7) - that which concerned the dignity and glory of human life, and promoted the attainment of human happiness (Proverbs 2:2-12; Proverbs 3:13-18; Proverbs 4:5-13; Proverbs 9:9-12). But whatever her queries were, they were all answered. None were too abstruse or recondite for this Heaven-endowed king to explain.
2. The splendour she beheld. She saw the wisdom of Solomon embodied in his works as well as heard it distilling from his lips. "The house that he had built" - not the temple, but the palace, which had occupied thirteen years in construction, and upon which he had lavished all that the architectural and decorating arts of the time, assisted by his enormous wealth, could procure - this royal residence which, in magnificence, rivalled, if it did not eclipse, the dwelling of Jehovah, was locked upon with wonder and astonishment. In particular she was fascinated by the splendour of the royal table.
(1) "The meat of his table," i.e. the variety and sumptuousness of the fare, perhaps also including the costliness and beauty of the vessels in which it was served (ver. 20; cf. 1 Kings 10:20); "the sitting of his servants," i.e. of his high officials at the royal table (Bertheau, Bahr)," or "the places, appointed in the palace for the ministers of the king" (Keil); "the attendance of his ministers, either the standing, i.e. waiting, of his servants at the table (Bertheau, Bahr), or, as above, the places appointed for them in the palace (Thenius, Keil); the apparel of his attendants, which would no doubt be distinguished for its splendour; "the cupbearers also," whose office was to pour out wine for the king (Genesis 40:11; Nehemiah 1:11; Xen., 'Cyrop.,' 1:3, 8, 9), "and their apparel," which would be correspondingly resplendent; - all these left upon her mind an impression, not so much of Solomon's wealth and power as of his transcendent wisdom. A second thing she witnessed confirmed this, viz.
(2) the stair which led from the palace to the temple. The old translators (the Chaldee, the Syriac, and the Latin as well as the Greek) thought the words in the Hebrew referred to the burnt offerings which ha offered in the house of Jehovah - an opinion in which they have been followed by some modern interpreters (Luther, A. Clarke, Bertheau). These, however, he would hardly have shown to one not a proselyte. Besides, had she beheld the magnificence of the temple service, some allusion to this in her address to Solomon would most likely have appeared. Hence the opinion is to be preferred that the reference is to the arched viaduct which led from his palace to the temple (Keil, Bahr, Winer, Ewald, Jamieson), the remains of which, recently discovered, show it to have been, "for boldness of conception, for structure and magnificence, one of the greatest wonders in Jerusalem." That such a communication between the palace on Zion and the temple on Moriah existed seems hinted at in 2 Kings 16:18 and in ch. 23. 20; while Josephus speaks of a passage from the temple to the king's palace which led over the intermediate valley ('Ant.,' 15:11. 5). If the ruins described by Robinson are those of this bridge, it must have contained five arches, each sixty feet wide and a hundred and thirty feet high. "The whole structure," says Isaac Taylor, "when seen from the southern extremity of the Tyropoeon, must have had an aspect of grandeur, especially as connected with the lofty and sumptuous edifices of the temple and of Zion to the right and to the left" (quoted by Jamieson, in loc.).
3. The admiration she felt. Sincere and intense. Solomon's wisdom had been
(1) in complete accordance with the report she had heard of it in her own country (ver. 5) - rumour had not lied;
(2) it had equalled her expectations - fancy had not deceived;
(3) it had far exceeded both the report of it and her own expectations regarding it (ver. 6) - her sense of wonder was more than satisfied;
(4) it was so overpowering that it left no spirit in her (ver. 4) - her hope of rivalling it was gone.
4. The sentiments she expressed.
(1) She pronounced happy Solomon's courtiers and attendants because of their proximity to his throne and person, which enabled them to hear his wisdom. In so doing she took for granted both that Solomon would never discourse otherwise than wisely, and that Solomon's servants and ministers would always feel disposed to listen to and profit by their master's speech; in both of which she reckoned before the mark.
(2) She praised Jehovah for his goodness to Solomon in giving him such a throne, i.e. for making Solomon his vicegerent in Israel, and for his favour to Israel in furnishing them with such a king - in her eyes a proof that Jehovah loved them and purposed to establish them for ever (ver. 8). In neither of these utterances did she err. Stable thrones and good kings are of God's making.
(3) She instructed Solomon as to the kingly work such a one as he was raised up to do, viz. to execute judgment and justice (Psalm 72:2). If from these utterances it cannot be inferred that she was either assisted by inspiration or converted to Jehovah's religion, it is open to conclude she was a deeply reflecting and far-seeing woman, second only to Solomon in wisdom and sagacity.
5. The presents she made.
(1) "A hundred and twenty talents of gold " - equivalent to £657,000, valuing the talent at £5475.
(2) "Spices in great abundance," and of unsurpassed excellence, the principal of which was probably the Arabic balsam Josephus ('Ant.,' 8:6. 6) says his countrymen derived from this queen.
(3) "Precious stones," the names unknown.
6. The gifts she received. Besides the solution of her questions, she obtained handsome and valuable presents from Solomon, partly in compliance with her own request (ver. 12), partly in payment of the costly gifts brought to him by her, and partly over and above out of his own royal liberality (1 Kings 10:13).
III. HER RETURN TO SHEBA. (Ver. 12.)
1. The termination of her visit. How long this visit continued is not recorded, but at length the queen departed on her homeward journey, attended by her servants and accompanied by her train of camels.
2. The spoils of bet visit. Besides carrying home the presents given by Solomon, she bore with her, what was of greater moment for herself and her subjects, the impressions she had received upon her travels and the lessons of earthly and heavenly wisdom she had derived from her interview with the king.
3. The historicity of her visit, That the preceding narrative is no fable is guaranteed by Christ's use of it in the First Gospel (Matthew 12:42), and by recent archaeological research (see 'Ancient Arabia,' by Professor Sayce, in Contemporary Review, December, 1889).
1. The privilege of Christians in having as King a greater than Solomon - him "in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Colossians 2:3).
2. The obligation of the world to hear the wisdom of him who, besides being greater, is also nearer to them than was he to the Queen of Sheba (Matthew 12:42).
3. The blessedness of such as hear Christ's wisdom, waiting at his throne and standing in his presence, first on earth and afterwards in heaven (Proverbs 8:34).
4. The certainty that Christ will give to them who seek his wisdom all that they ask and more of his royal bounty (Ephesians 3:17).
5. The duty of those who come to know Christ's wisdom to carry the tidings of it back to their own country (Matthew 5:19, 20). - W.
I. THE MATERIAL CREATION. What wholly unanticipated wonders have been disclosed by the advance of human science! The men of remote generations had not the faintest notion of the powers we have discovered to reside in the material universe. And what still undiscovered forces await our inquiry and investigation as we patiently plod on in the paths of knowledge! Surely one-half hath not been told us or imagined by us.
II. OUR HUMAN EXPERIENCE. We have our expectation concerning the life that is before us; but it is very little like the reality, as experience will prove. Many things we may picture to ourselves which will find no fulfilment; but many other things there are, of which we have no discernment, that will find their place on the page of our biography. Of these some are unexpected sorrows - losses, disappointments, separations, struggles - of which we can form no idea; others are unanticipated blessings-comforts, relationships, joys, triumphs - exceeding and excelling our hopes. We do not anticipate, for good or evil, one-half of the bright or dark reality.
III. THE GOSPEL OF THE GRACE OF GOD. "Eye had not seen, nor ear heard, nor had it entered into man's heart to conceive" one-half of "what God had prepared for them that love him." No man could or did imagine that such wealth of grace and goodness as that which the gospel of Christ contains would be brought to us by the Anointed of God, would be purchased for us by a Saviour's sacrifice, would be pressed upon us by a heavenly Father's urgent and persistent love.
IV. THE GLORY WHICH IS TO BE REVEALED. In that "land of great distances' we are one day to traverse, in that home of love in which we are soon to dwell, what unimaginable good is in reserve! What joy and what glory; what rest and what activity; what realization and what hope; what knowledge of God and what pursuit of that knowledge; what royalty and what service; what purity and what progress; what unanticipated and inconceivable blessedness to satisfy but not satiate the soul! - C.
I. A SOURCE OF PRESENT GRATIFICATION. Undoubtedly Solomon, his courtiers, and his subjects did find a pleasure in the fact that all these objects were "of beaten gold," that gold and silver met their eye everywhere. At first that pleasure may have been keen enough. But it was one of those joys that pall and pass with time; familiarity with it made it to lose its charm; it must have become less delightful as it became more common, until it became literally true that "it was not anything accounted of" (ver. 20). Splendid surroundings are pleasurable enough at first, but their virtue fades with the passing years and even with the fleeting months; and it is not long before that which seemed so brilliant and promised so much enjoyment is "not accounted of" at all.
II. A LASTING ENRICHMENT. Abundance of material wealth often proves a transient good. In the nation it becomes a prey for the spoiler, a temptation to the neighbouring power that can come up with a victorious army and go back with a well-stored treasury (see 1 Kings 14:25, 26). In the man it often allures the fraudulent adventurer and becomes his possession. No one can be sure that he will hold what he has gained. "Securities" are excellent things in their way, but they go down before some of the forces which no finite power can control.
III. A REAL ENLARGEMENT. Great wealth does not go far to enrich a nation when it does nothing more for it than provide targets and shields, drinking-vessels and ivory thrones overlaid with gold with golden footstools: - nothing more than multiply splendours about the royal palace. When it promotes healthful and remunerative activities among the people, when it facilitates and quickens the expenditure of profitable labour in agriculture, in seamanship, in manufacture, in art, in literature, in worship, then it is really and truly serviceable. So with individual men. Wealth that only ministers to luxury does very little good to its owner. But when it enables a man to put forth mental and physical powers that otherwise would slumber for lack of opportunity, when it stimulates to worthy and elevating enterprise, when it opens the door of usefulness and helpfulness, then it is a blessing indeed, a real and true enlargement.
IV. A SPIRITUAL PERIL. Serious and strong indeed are the Master's words (Mark 10:23-25). But they are amply verified by human history, both national and individual. Wealth tends to luxury; luxury to indulgence; indulgence to deterioration; deterioration to ruin. Much gold and silver may be attractive enough; but they need to be well fortified with sacred principles who would stand the test of them, and be quite unscathed by them.
V. PICTORIAL OF A WEALTH THAT IS TRUER AND BETTER. ][t is possible to be endowed with those resources that make rich and that add no sorrow thereto; it is possible to be "rich toward God;" to have treasures within our keeping which the strong thief of time has no power to steal. These are to be had of the ascended Lord. He counsels us to buy of himself "gold tried in the fire, that we may be rich." Of him we may gain the riches of a reverence that ennobles, a faith that saves, a love that blesses and beautifies, a hope that strengthens and sustains, a joy that "satisfies and sanctifies" the soul. - C.
I. THE VASTNESS OF HIS WEALTH. (Vers. 13, 14, 21, 24.)
1. Its sources.
(1) The contributions of merchants and traders towards the imperial revenues (ver. 14);
(2) the presents of kings and governors in Arabia and elsewhere; and
(3) the cargoes brought by his fleets from Ophir yearly (ver. 10), and from Tartessus, or Tarsus, in Spain, every three years (ver. 21).
2. Its amount. 666 talents of gold per annum, not reckoning the silver as abundant as stones (ver. 27). Estimating a talent at £5475 sterling, the gold would reach the immense total of £3,646,350 sterling per annum.
3. Its use. It was employed:
(1) In making state shields - 200 larger, to each of which 600 shekels of gold were devoted; and 300 smaller, to each of which 300 shekels were assigned. The shields, probably made of wood and covered with gold instead of leather, were hung in Solomon's palace, "the house of the forest of Lebanon" (1 Kings 7:2), where they remained until plundered by Shishak (2 Chronicles 12:9; 1 Kings 14:26).
(2) In fashioning a state throne, made of ivory and overlaid with pure gold (ver. 17); i.e. the woodwork, not the ivory, was covered with the metal. The throne had six steps and a golden footstool (ver. 18); each step had on either side a lion, probably of cast metal gilded. On each side of the seat was an arm or stay, beside which sat another lion. Thus there were in all fourteen gilt lions. No wonder the historian adds, "there was nothing like it in any kingdom." Yet many modern thrones surpass it in splendour.
(3) In constructing state cups or drinking-vessels for the palace. All were made of pure gold - gold of Ophir, Tarshish, or Parvaim; "not one of silver, which was nothing accounted of in the days of Solomon."
4. Its credibility. The above account is rendered trustworthy by comparing it with well-known recorded facts. "When Nineveh was besieged, Sardanapalus had 150 golden bedsteads, 150 golden tables, 1,000,000 talents of gold, ten times as much silver, while 3000 talents had been previously distributed among his sons. No less than 7170 talents of gold were used for the statues and vessels of the temple of Bel in Babylon. Alexander's pillage of Ecbatana was valued at 120,000 talents of gold; Cyrus's pillage was 34,000 pounds of gold and 500,000 petards of silver, besides an immense number of golden vessels" (Bahr, in loco, Lange's series).
II. THE EXCELLENCE OF HIS WISDOM. (Vers. 22, 23.) Solomon's wisdom was excellent in respect of:
1. Origin. It was God-inspired. All wisdom proceeds from the same source (Job 32:8), and "a man can receive nothing except it be given him from heaven" (John 3:27); but in Solomon's case wisdom was a special endowment (2 Chronicles 1:12).
2. Measure. Solomon surpassed all the kings of the earth in the quantity as well as quality of his wisdom - not easy to do. The Queen of Sheba was a proof that royal personages in that era were not fools; while the monumental histories of Egypt and Assyria have revealed the existence of wise and powerful princes long before Solomon. There were brave men before Agamemnon.
3. Manifestation. Solomon's wisdom expressed itself in a variety of ways: in temple-building and other architectural undertakings; in the pronouncing of judgments and the utterance of apothegms; in the acquisition of knowledge, and more especially of natural history; and in literary compositions both prosaic and poetical (1 Kings 4:29-33).
4. Fame. It spread abroad through all countries, and attracted kings and queens to his court to hear his oracular utterances and make trial of his insight, as well as to gaze upon the splendour of his court and the magnificence of his person (1 Kings 4:34).
III. THE EXTENT OF HIS EMPIRE. (Ver. 26.)
1. Its eastern boundary - the Syrian desert, in which Tadmor or Palmyra was situated.
2. Its western - the Mediterranean, or, more correctly, Phoenicia and the country of the Philistines, with the strip of Mediterranean coast between.
3. Its northern - the river - the Euphrates, in its upper reaches, from Tiphsah, or Thapsacus, a large and populous town on the west bank, a place where armies crossed over the stream, and where was a quay for landing and shipping wares coming from or going to Babylon (Winer, 2. p. 612).
4. Its southern - the border of Egypt (1 Kings 4:24). Within these limits he either exercised sovereign power directly, as over his own subjects in Palestine, or indirectly through receiving tribute from the reigning kings who expressed their fealty to him by bringing, year by year, every man his present - vessels of silver and vessels of gold and raiment, harness and spices, horses and mules (ver. 24).
IV. THE DURATION OF HIS REIGN. (Ver. 30.) Forty years.
2. A large opportunity. Life not for personal enjoyment merely, but for religious and philanthropic activity. A long life means a long time for doing good. What benefits Solomon might have conferred upon his people during that extended period!
3. A high responsibility. "To whomsoever much is given," etc. That Solomon did less than he might with his great wisdom, vast riches, immense power, extended fame, and protracted life, entailed upon him deeper guilt.
4. An evident mercy. Considering the bad use Solomon made of his numerous years, declining in his old age through love of women into debasing idolatries (1 Kings 11:1-8), it was a proof of the Divine patience and long-suffering that he was not earlier cut off.
V. THE CLOSE OF HIS CAREER. (Vers. 29, 31.)
1. His biography was written by the hand of prophets. (Ver. 29.) Nathan the prophet, who bad announced his birth to David (2 Samuel 7:12-14; 1 Chronicles 17:11), and who had called him, when a child, Jedidiah, "Beloved of the Lord" (2 Samuel 12:25), in all probability began it; Ahijah the Shilonite (i.e. inhabitant of, or prophet from, Shilo, an Ephraimite town), who predicted the division of the kingdom (1 Kings 11:29), it may be supposed, carried it on; and Iddo the seer, a contemporary of Rehoboam and Jeroboam (2 Chronicles 12:15 and 2 Chronicles 13:22), finished it. Being prophets of the Lord, these writers would "nothing extenuate, nor set down aught in malice," but would deliver "a plain unvarnished tale" of the great monarch's acts and words, of his wise speeches and foolish deeds.
2. His corpse was buried in the tomb of his father. (Ver. 31.) It was well that he had a tomb to lie in; better men than he have had none. He had sat upon his father's throne, worn his father's crown, extended his father's kingdom, improved upon his father's vices, declined from his father's piety; now his lifeless dust was consigned to rest in his father's sepulchre.
3. His throne was filled by his own son. No man likes to be succeeded by a stranger. It must have been a comfort to the old monarch that Rehoboam was to wear his crown. Learn:
1. The vanity of earthly glory - the magnificence of Solomon unequal to the raiment of a lily (Matthew 6:29).
2. The worthlessness of all earthly things without religion: Solomon had everything that could satisfy ambition, and yet he declined from the worship of Jehovah (Matthew 19:20);
3. The certainty of death: if a Solomon could not evade the king of terrors, how shall common men? (Ecclesiastes 8:8). - W.
I. GRANDEUR WITHOUT GODLINESS. The historian is drawing his records of the reign of Solomon to a close; and, in taking his view (or his review) of it, he has much to say of the splendours of his throne and of his surroundings; of the multitude of his horses and chariots, with their stalls and stables; of his store of gold and silver; of his apes and peacocks; of his ships and his cedars; but he says nothing of his service of Jehovah; nothing of the gratitude he showed to God for the very bountiful blessings he had bestowed upon him, and the high estate to which he had raised him, and the special gifts of mind with which he had endowed him. Hem there is a painful absence, a silence that speaks only too forcibly. When Solomon came to review his own life and to examine his own career in the light of early influence and special privilege, he must have felt constrained to be silent, or, if he spoke at all, to use the language of confession. There had been much grandeur but little godliness in his reign. And what had been the proved value of it?
1. The delight it had ministered to him had been of a less noble and less elevating kind, if not actually ignoble and injurious.
2. It bad led his mind away from sources of joy which would have been far worthier in themselves and far more beneficial in their influence.
3. It had raised a standard of excellency before the eyes of his subjects which can have had no enlarging and elevating effect upon their minds.
4. It must have awakened the cupidity of surrounding sovereigns and the envy of many among his subjects.
5. It must have been in painful, not to say guilty, contrast with much poverty in many hundreds of Hebrew homes.
6. It entailed a heavy penalty on the people in the shape of burdensome taxes. Grandeur without godliness is a serious sin and a profound mistake. It is as guilty as it is foolish. And so we find the man who "passed all the kings of the earth" in wealth and in a certain order of wisdom (ver. 22), going down into fault and failure because he lost that "fear of God" which he ought to have understood was "the beginning of wisdom." Unfaithfulness to the principles he learned in youth sent him down into his grave "prematurely old," his kingdom weakened, his character corrupted, his reputation bearing upon its face a dark and ineffaceable stain. How unspeakably preferable is -
II. SIMPLICITY AND SACRED SERVICE. Rather than have grandeur without godliness, who would not live in obscurity with a name that does not travel beyond his "native hills," in a home unfamiliar with ivory and gold, living on homeliest fare and dressed in plainest raiment, with the love of the heavenly Father in the heart, the sense of his abiding favour in the soul, Christ's happy and holy service for the heritage of the life, and his nearer presence the promise of the future? Before honour is humility, before grandeur is godliness, before gold and silver is a noble and a useful life. - C.