Sermon: Wednesday in the First Week of Lent

Visit of the Queen of Sheba to Solomon  by Jacopo Tintoretto circa 1555 

During the Season of Lent, readings are assigned for each day (for example, today is Wednesday in the First Week of Lent), so I thought we would break from our lessons on the Saints and see what is being said on these days.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus spoke of two historical events: Jonah and Nineveh and the Queen of Sheba coming so that she might hear the wisdom of Solomon. We’ve looked at the story of Jonah and Nineveh before, but what of this Queen of Sheba?

The Biblical account in 1 Kings 10 tells us that the Queen—she and her people are reported to have worshipped the sun—had heard of Solomon’s great wisdom and came to see and hear for herself if the rumors were true. With her, she brought a great entourage and gifts. After spending time in Solomon’s courts, we are told she said, “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 Kings 10:6-9) Then, Scripture says, “she turned and went back to her land with her servants.” From there, other texts pick up the story, including The Glory of Kings, which comes to us from the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

The Glory of the Kings tells us that the Queen bore Solomon a son, Menelik, who traveled to Jerusalem when he was twenty-two to meet his father. Solomon met him and was overjoyed. He tried to get Menelik to stay in Jerusalem, but the young man wanted to return home to modern-day Ethiopia. Desiring to honor him, Solomon sent many nobles with him and Israel’s greatest treasure, the Ark of the Covenant. (The Ethiopian Church, to this day, declares that the Ark is held in the Church of Maryam Tsion in Aksum, Ethiopia.) Menelik went on to become Menelik I, and it was the line of kings established through him that ruled Ethiopia until 1974, known as the Solomonic Dynasty of Ethiopia because those “kings were seen as direct descendants of the House of David, rulers by divine right.” (Source

Jesus said, “The queen of the South [The Queen of Sheba] will rise at the judgment with the people of this generation and condemn them because she came from the ends of the earth to listen to the wisdom of Solomon and see, something greater than Solomon is here!” Jesus said, “One who worshipped the sun came and heard the wisdom of God through Solomon and praised God for such wisdom. On hearing such wisdom, she returned home and took with her gifts of gold and spices, but she also took with her a far greater gift—the knowledge and the love of the One True God. She heard, and she believed.” 

Jesus was condemning the nonbelievers of his time because they were not only hearing the word of God but were being visited by one greater than Solomon—God Himself in the person of Jesus—and yet they did not believe.

Some, in the time of Jesus and even today, were so convinced that they were right that they became unteachable. Unwilling to have God speak a greater truth within them. Like the Queen of Sheba, be open to what God is saying to His people so that you may know Him in even greater ways.

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