An Unlikely Woman
I remember this being one of my favorite devotions to write in 2012. It came out of the blue with no thought or prior planning on my part. I love when God works that way! Today it reminds me of the journey I am on with my fiction novel - completely inspired by God without me working hard to conjure up any part of it. I also want to remind you these devotions were written for a women's group-hence the reference to women godly role models in the Bible. There are numerous men as well!
1 Kings 10:9 (NIV) Praise be to the Lord your God, who has delighted in you and placed you on the throne of Israel. Because of the Lord's eternal love for Israel, he has made you king, to maintain justice and righteousness.
The Bible is filled with examples of women we can look to as godly role models: Mary Magdalene lingered - at the cross and at the tomb - and saw the Lord, Ruth was a loving, selfless daughter-in-law to emulate, Rahab's obedience and faith saved not only her life, but the lives of her entire household, Hannah was a woman of her word, following through on her promise to the Lord. The list goes on and on. I'm sure you have your own.
But I wonder how many would include the queen of Sheba on their list. I know she wasn't on mine-until the Lord highlighted her and beckoned me to consider her life.
The queen of Sheba arrives on the scene in 2 Chronicles 9:1-12, but it was 1 Kings 10:1-13 where I was introduced to her. From the very start, I was captivated by her unconventional and unexpected nature. The Bible tells us she came to visit Solomon after hearing about his fame and his relationship to the Lord and to test him with hard questions. Don't you already admire her gumption?
Even though she is only mentioned for a brief moment (twelve verses in 2 Chronicles 9 and thirteen in 1 Kings 10 to be exact), here's what we learn about the queen: she is a woman of wealth (1 Kings 10:2), she seeks the truth (10:2-3, 6-7), and she knows how to give credit where credit is due (10:9).
Let's begin with how the queen of Sheba sought the truth and how we can do the same in our lives.
Even though she heard good things about Solomon, not bad, she didn't take a third party's word for it; she went straight to the source to see if all she heard was true.
We may often hear positive reports about others-a job promotion, an engagement, an honor bestowed, a baby on the way-but most often it seems we hear about the negative. As unfortunate as this is, it's in these moments our actions will prove either wise or foolish.
Our first wise line of defense is to not involve ourselves in gossip, whether the talk is positive or negative about another person. It's always the best choice to learn how someone is doing straight from their own mouth.
But, at times, we find ourselves in the presence of someone who is quick to blurt out what they consider a "juicy" bit of information before we even know what hit us. What do we do with the information we couldn't help but hear?
We can let it roll off and walk away-especially when we only overhear a conversation.
We can admonish the person gossiping-making sure it is done with grace and love.
We can pray about it-God knows the truth and will lead us in the truth.
We can go to the person spoken about and seek the truth-making sure to search our motives.
Above all, let's be consistent in seeking the Source of all truth.
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
1 Timothy 3:16-17.
Which brings me to the second point: the queen of Sheba knew how to give credit where credit is due.
The queen of Sheba was a wealthy woman talking to a wealthy man on the throne. The likely response would have been for her to limit her praise to Solomon, but that's not what this unlikely woman did.
While she acknowledges King Solomon's achievements and wisdom (1 Kings 10:6-8), you can see from the verse highlighted at the beginning of this post (10:9) that God is the one she praises for the wealth, wisdom, and position bestowed upon him.
Her response was surprising, unexpected even...at least it was to me.
In Mark 10:25, Jesus says, "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God."
All too often in our world when the blessings of wealth and position are bestowed, it seems we are quick to think it's because of something we have done ourselves-how hard we've worked, the sacrifices we've made-or simply something we deserve.
We forget the One who provided the blessings of wealth, wisdom, and position...or we never acknowledge Him in the first place.
I like the New Living Translation of Psalm 103:2: Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me.
I hope the queen of Sheba has intrigued you and given you cause to pause and consider the value of her example. Who knows...maybe she's made it onto your list of great women of the Bible as she has mine!
Father God, Your word says that the arrogance of man will be brought low and human pride humbled. You alone, Lord, will be exalted in that day (Isaiah 2:17). Lord, please forgive me for the times I have been prideful and robbed You of the glory You so deserve. Forgive me for the times I have considered myself higher than others by entertaining gossip. Today I choose to humble myself under Your mighty hand so that You may lift me up in due time (1 Peter 5:5-6).