"The half was never told." These are the words of the Queen of Sheba when she visited Solomon in Jerusalem. The fame of Solomon had spread throughout the world, and the Queen of Sheba journeyed to Israel to see if what she had heard was really true.
When she arrived in Jerusalem, she said to Solomon, "Howbeit I believed not their words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen it: and behold, the one half of the greatness of thy wisdom was not told me: for thou exceedest the fame that I heard." (2 Chronicles 9:6)
What brought the Queen of Sheba on such a long and arduous journey? It wasn't Solomon's great wealth or magnificent building projects that she came to witness. It was the greatness of his wisdom that she had to see for herself.
Solomon was a man destined for greatness. He had been chosen by God to be king of Israel even before his birth. In 1 Chronicles 22:9-10, the Lord said to Solomon's father David, "Behold, a son shall be borne to thee, who shall be a man of rest; and I will give him rest from all his enemies round about: for his name shall be Solomon, and I will give peace and quietness unto Israel in his days. He shall build an house in my name; and he shall be my son, and I will be his father; and I will establish the throne of his kingdom over Israel forever."
God's chosen name for him was Solomon, which means "peaceful" because, unlike the reign of David, Solomon's kingdom would be a kingdom of peace. Solomon was chosen from birth not only to inherit the throne of David, but to have a peaceable kingdom, to build the temple and to bring Israel to its zenith of power and glory. But even more importantly, Solomon was to represent the glorious reign of Christ who would bring these things on a grander, universal scale.
In the life of Solomon, it is obvious how great his father David's influence was. There is a wonderful passage in 1st Chronicles the 28th and 29th chapters that shows the heart of David and his desire for Solomon. Near the end of David's life, he gives his last admonitions to Solomon and to the nation of Israel.
David had called all the princes, captains, officers and valiant men of Israel to Jerusalem. There were literally thousands of people assembled to hear his last exhortations. David got to his feet and told the people that it had been in his heart to build a temple for the Lord in order to make a place of rest for The Ark of the Covenant, but because he had been a man of war, God would not allow him to build the temple. He informed Israel that Solomon would sit upon the throne of the kingdom of the Lord over Israel (1 Chronicles 28:5), and that Solomon would build the house of the Lord. Note that David recognized that Israel was the Lord's kingdom, not his and not Solomon's, nor could it belong to any man. This is one of the things that made David so special to God; that he acknowledged and established his own reign as subservient to the authority of God.
In verse 9, David turned to his son and publicly gave his parting advice to Solomon, "… Now Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the Lord searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off forever. Take heed now; for the Lord hath chosen thee to build a house for the sanctuary: be strong and do it." Then David gave to Solomon the pattern of the Temple and all the operations and furnishings required (1 Chronicles 28:9-18). In other words, David was passing the torch to Solomon to accomplish the work that had been in his heart to do.
This is truly one of the more precious scenes in the history of Israel. Here was David, the beloved king, now a tired old man. He rises slowly and from his heart gives a message to his son that was the foundation of how to be a faithful king and servant of the Lord, "Solomon, my son, have a pure heart and a willing mind." In these few words, David summarized what he had learned were the key elements of being a good king. The conduct of a good king should always be pure and above reproach. A good king should consider himself to be subservient to the rules and principles of God's higher dominion, and he should be open-minded and willing to listen to God's directions.
There are precious pictures in the lives of David and Solomon. While the life of David symbolizes the experiences of Jesus when he first came to the earth as a man, the monarchy of Solomon represents His glorious future Kingdom reign (Revelation 11:15). David prepared all the individual stones and furniture that would be used in the Temple, and Solomon took those things and supervised the actual construction of the Temple. This pictures a two-part effort to complete the Temple in which the nation of Israel would learn about God.
This is also true on a spiritual level. All the preparations for the spiritual Temple are being made during the Gospel Age. As they did with David, the plans and details originate from the mind of God who gave them to Jesus. These instructions are to be carried out at the time of Jesus' Second Presence.
God's requirements show that He intended the building of the Temple to be a picture of the greater building project of the Gospel Age, Christ's Church (1 Corinthians 3:16). There were to be no sounds of a hammer or any iron tool heard at the site where the Temple was to be erected (1 Kings 6:7) showing that the spiritual Temple would not occupy the same place where the individual stones are quarried. All the heavy chiseling and hammering of those spiritual stones would take place on earth, in the quarry of this world, while the actual location of the finished Temple (the perfected Church) would be in heaven.
Many commentators suggest that Solomon was about 20 years old when he became king. Some also suggest that he wasn't referring to his age when he prayed, "And now, O Lord my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in" (1 Kings 3:7). Rather, he was recognizing his lack of experience. We see a genuine humility in the young Solomon that worked to his advantage as he became king and finished the work that his father had started. This is an important qualification for anyone who has, or will have, authority and power.
Solomon also recognized that he needed the Lord's help to be a good king. This is shown in his famous request for wisdom in 1 Kings 3:3-12. In fact, it can be said that this has to be one of the most profound prayers ever spoken. It offers a wonderful lesson in living. There are many things that people seek in life, but seeking wisdom and an understanding heart is one of the things that the Lord truly approves of and will bring His blessings.
It was said that "Solomon's wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the east country, and all the wisdom of Egypt. For he was wiser than all men…and his fame was in all nations round about…And there came of all people to hear the wisdom of Solomon, from all kings of the earth, which had heard of his wisdom" (1 Kings 4:30-34).
Solomon's wisdom entailed even more than the ability to make sound decisions. The fact that he could decipher riddles and had great musical skill, and that he possessed extensive knowledge about nature, and taught about plants and animals, all tell us that the wisdom that God gave Solomon covered many aspects of life on earth. He was a brilliant man.
This is also a picture or "type" of what Jesus and his Church will bring to the table in the Kingdom (the "antitype"). Not that many of Jesus' followers are geniuses now (though undoubtedly, our Lord Jesus is more than impressively intelligent), but in the Kingdom, they will outshine the stars for brilliance.
One of the terms used in Scripture to describe the Kingdom is "The Day of Judgment." That phrase is used not just because, at some point, everyone will be given a final sentence of life or death, but because, during the time of the Kingdom, decisions will be made and wise counsel will be given to a world in desperate need of such things. This is similar to Solomon in that he asked for a discerning heart so that he could righteously judge his people.
The Scriptures show that Solomon focused his mind on learning everything he could. Even the amazing qualities of ants was fascinating to him. He talked about them and wrote about them in Proverbs. So, as in the "type," no avenue of learning will be out of reach for the inquisitive mind in the Kingdom of God. It will be a time for education and learning and will involve every level of human activity taught to resurrected mankind by a wise group of specially educated counselors and judges, Christ and his Church. The learning process will range from how to make good moral decisions to how to manage the earth and its resources. Music, art, science… all avenues of training will be God-centered, and, through these many avenues, mankind will come to praise the Creator for all His wonderful works. The Kingdom will not be a mere existence for man; it is going to be challenging and exciting, because that is what true education does. It opens the mind to new and wonderful things.
Solomon was a picture of Jesus.
In the New Testament, when criticizing some of the unbelieving Jews, Jesus said that on the judgment day, the Jews who lived during his day would be compared with the "Queen of the South," and she would be a witness against them because "she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon's wisdom, and now something greater than Solomon is here!" (Matthew 12:42) Jesus was saying that the Jews, who had wisdom right in their midst, refused to heed his words. He was the "something" far greater than Solomon and yet his words fell on deaf ears.
This is an example of the principle that all "antitypes" are greater than their "types." In other words, that which is pictured is always greater than that which pictures it. So it was with Solomon. As great as he was, he merely prefigured the one who was far greater.
Below are just 8 of many points of comparison showing how Jesus was "greater than Solomon":
1. Our Lord's wisdom never errs. He never makes a mistake in judgment.
2. He never gives in to temptation.
3. His wealth doesn't go to his head and he is always truly humble.
4. His chief goal has always been, and will always be, to glorify his Father.
5. His reign will be righteous and bring untold blessing to his subjects.
6. His Kingdom brings life to the world and not corruption.
7. Unlike the glory of Solomon's temple and the glory of ancient Jerusalem, His building projects will endure.
8. His Kingdom, as the representative of God, will have no end.
The kingdom of Israel is also a type of Christ's Kingdom, which is yet to come. The peace that Solomon's kingdom had didn't happen just because of his fame. Solomon went to great lengths to build up the defenses of Israel. David had defeated most of Israel's enemies, but those enemies had to be kept at bay, so the Scriptures tell us that Solomon spent vast amounts of money to fortify the frontier cities of Israel. He built towers and walls to make sure that outsiders would not be tempted to invade. Solomon gathered a standing army of 1,400 chariots and 12,000 horse soldiers (1 Kings 9 & 10).
The picture of a fortified nation having a large number of defenders is comparable to the work of the Kingdom because Christ's peaceable Kingdom doesn't happen just because Christ is so wise. It happens because the spiritual powers of the Kingdom will be so mighty that no one could possibly attack it.
Revelation 7:4-8 gives us a picture of the Church. It will be made up of 12,000 individuals from each of the 12 spiritual tribes of Israel. This is represented in the 12,000 horse soldiers of Solomon's Kingdom. The same number, 12,000, is being applied to that spiritual class of people who will be called upon to serve and protect God's earthly Kingdom.
The most famous example of Solomon's wisdom had to do with the two women who claimed the same baby as her own (1 Kings 3:16-26).
Because Solomon understood the heart of a mother, he was able to make a wise decision. A mother would rather see her child live with someone else than see it killed. It makes perfect sense when you understand that a typical mother will always have an emotional connection to her child. The fact that the other woman was willing to allow the baby to be killed shows that she didn't have that connection, and was dealing with anger and jealousy. This judgment illustrates the fact that Solomon had studied people from many different walks of life.
This is an illustration of another reason (besides his necessary sacrifice) that Jesus had to come to earth. Like Solomon, his experience here taught him about humanity in a way that he could never have learned simply by watching from heaven (Hebrews 5:8).
It is obvious from Scripture that the wisdom of Jesus was far greater than Solomon's, and that he had the ability to read the hearts of men. What an amazing advantage that gave him. And what he learned about people provided for him the ability to guide, not only our lives, but the lives and experiences of all the people in the Kingdom. How vitally essential that skill will be in the resurrection and recovery our lost race (Acts 3:20-21). The "Greater than Solomon" will have an understanding heart in order to discern the habits and reasons that people do what they do (Isaiah 11:1-4).
Psalm 72 is David's last prayer and it was for his son, Solomon. It emphasizes that David wanted righteousness and justice to prevail during Solomon's reign. The psalm contains magnificent words and, of course, Solomon was never able to live up to those lofty ideals. In a fallen human being, such power as King Solomon possessed has a tendency to corrupt, but in the Kingdom, where the Lord and his saints will rule (2 Timothy 2:12; Revelation 20:6), these things are not only possible, but they will happen.
When David said that there should be peace and justice throughout the land (Psalm 72:2-4), he connected that thought with the poor being treated fairly and the helpless being assisted and protected. Today, we live in a very unjust world, where the poor are often abused and taken advantage of. A perfect society with real peace cannot be attained if there is even one oppressed human being. That will be one of the seeds that the Lord will someday plant in every human heart--hearts that will not tolerate injustice and that will not allow even one person to be downtrodden or used unfairly. In the Kingdom, the followers of Christ will not tolerate such a violation of justice (Revelation 21:1-5; Isaiah 11:6-10).
These are lofty ideals and David must have known that when God selected Solomon, He was creating a type of the glorious reign of the Messiah.
The Temple and how it was dedicated shows a clear antitypical reference to our day and the time of trouble.
The inauguration of the Temple was actually done in two phases. The Temple was completed in the 8th month of Solomon's 11th year as king of Israel. It took seven years to build the Temple and it was built exactly as planned (1 Kings 6:38). But one month earlier, in the 7th month, even though the building was not completed, Solomon had the priests bring in the Ark of the Covenant along with all the holy vessels that had been in the Tabernacle, and immediately it was filled with smoke so that no one was able to enter (1 Kings 8:1-12).
Solomon then proceeded to dedicate the temple.
One month later, in the 8th month, when the smoke had cleared, the Israelites were able to put the final touches on the construction of the Temple, and it was completed.
Why did Solomon furnish and dedicate the temple one month prior to its completion? Obviously, the Lord had something specific in mind when He directed Solomon in this. The answer is found in Revelation 15:5-8:
"And, behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened: And the seven angels came out of the temple, having the seven plagues… And one of the four living creatures gave unto the seven angels seven golden vials full of the wrath of God, who liveth for ever and ever. And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from his power; and no man was able to enter into the temple, till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled."
The temple filling with smoke pictures the great time of trouble and the pouring out of the plagues.
What we saw in the dedication of Solomon's Temple was that the Temple was filled with smoke before it was actually finished. Then, one month later, the Temple was ready to go into operation. The completion of the Temple represents the completion of Christ's body, the Church (1 Corinthians 3:16; 2 Corinthians 6:16) and when this happens, the spiritual Temple will go into operation to perform the future work in the Kingdom (2 Timothy 2:12; Revelation 3:12 and 20:6).
Again, the smoke is a picture of God's judgment and the resulting time of trouble as shown in Psalm 97:2-3, "Clouds and darkness are round about him (God): righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne. A fire goeth before him, and burneth up his enemies round about."
Where there's fire, there's smoke, and this smoke is symbolic of the destructive judgments of God. Solomon echoed those words when he said, "…The LORD said that he would dwell in the thick darkness" (1 Kings 8:12).
When the temple was filled with smoke the priests were unable to do their priestly work. Once the trouble is finished and the smoke clears, the spiritual Temple (the Church class) will be completed.
Returning to the story of the Queen of Sheba's visit to Jerusalem, this also is a picture. Experts tell us that the land of Sheba was far south of Israel, in what today is the country of Yemen. The queen came a long way; a trip that, in her day, would have taken several months. When she finally got to Jerusalem and met Solomon, her first words indicated that what she witnessed was grander than anything she had heard about Solomon; that "the half was never told" to her. All her questions were answered. All her gifts were accepted. She got to know Solomon and the wonderful qualities that made him such a remarkable king. And when she went home, Solomon gave her gifts, which likely far exceeded what she had brought to him.
After that comment, she went on to say more. Her words are full of antitypical meaning. It's a lovely picture of the appreciation that the Gentiles will have for Jesus, the one greater than Solomon, and all that he will have done. They will come to see the marvelous things that Jesus is doing in the land of Israel, a type of the world of mankind (Romans 15:12).
The words of the Queen of Sheba…
"Happy are thy men, and happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and hear thy wisdom. Blessed be the LORD thy God, which delighted in thee to set thee on his throne, to be king for the LORD thy God: because thy God loved Israel, to establish them forever, therefore made he thee king over them, to do judgment and justice." And she gave the king an hundred and twenty talents of gold, and of spices great abundance, and precious stones: neither was there any such spice as the Queen of Sheba gave King Solomon" (2 Chronicles 9:7-9).
There is a wonderful lesson in this story that has a literal application. Someday the world will understand that those who serve in the Lord's house are truly blessed because they get to be near the Lord and see his wisdom and goodness everyday. And those who are a part of the group of people who will work in the spiritual Temple will rejoice when they bring such heartfelt joy to the world and have, on a daily basis, the opportunity to see how deeply the Lord understands the human heart and what is required to heal it and bring it to perfection (Revelation 21:3-4; 20:6 and 5:10).
The Queen of Sheba came with wonderful, rich gifts, a picture of the world's lasting appreciation for the Lord's Kingdom arrangement, and for the wisdom of the one greater than Solomon, who brings justice and peace to this world (Zechariah 2:10-11; Psalm 72:11).
Just as Solomon also gave greater gifts to the Queen of Sheba (1 Kings 10:13), so too the world will receive from the Lord the greater gifts of the riches of life and health and happiness, and most of all, a renewed relationship with the Heavenly Father. What royal bounties these will be!