Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Queen of Sheba

1 Kings 10:1-9 "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. 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."

1. From Sheba a distant report
Of Solomon's glory and fame,
Invited the queen to his court,
But all was outdone when she came;
She cried, with a pleasing surprise,
When first she before him appeared,
"How much, what I see with my eyes,
"Surpasses the rumor I heard!"

2. When once to Jerusalem come,
The treasure and train she had brought;
The wealth she possessed at home,
No longer had place in her thought:
His house, his attendants, his throne,
All struck her with wonder and awe;
The glory of Solomon shone,
In every object she saw.

3. But Solomon most she admired,
Whose spirit conducted the whole;
His wisdom, which God had inspired,
His bounty and greatness of soul;
Of all the hard questions she put,
A ready solution he showed;
Exceeded her with and her suit,
And more than she asked him bestowed.

4. Thus I when the gospel proclaimed
The Savior's great name in my ears,
The wisdom for which he is famed,
The love which to sinners he bears;
I longed, and I was not denied,
That I in his presence might bow;
I saw, and transported I cried,
"A greater than Solomon Thou!"

5. My conscience no comfort could find,
By doubt and hard questions opposed;
But He restored peace to my mind,
And answered each doubt I proposed:
Beholding me poor and distressed,
His bounty supplied all my wants;
My prayer could have never expressed
So much as this Solomon grants.

6. I heard, and was slow to believe,
But now with my eyes I behold,
Much more than my heart could conceive,
Or language could ever have told:
How happy thy servants must be,
Who always before thee appear!
Vouchsafe, LORD, this blessing to me,
I find it is good to be here.

-- John Newton
Olney Hymns, Book 1. Hymn 34

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