The Visit of the Queen of Sheba
10 Now the queen of Sheba had heard of the fame of Solomon regarding the name of Yahweh, and she came to test him with hard questions. 2 So she came to Jerusalem with very great wealth; with camels carrying spices, very much gold, and precious stones. She came to Solomon, and she spoke to him all that was on her heart. 3 Solomon answered all of her questions; there was not a thing hidden from the king which he could not explain to her. 4 When the queen of Sheba observed all the wisdom of Solomon and the house which he had built, 5 the food of his table, the seat of his servants, the manner of his servants and their clothing, his cupbearers, and his burnt offerings which he offered in the house of Yahweh, she was breathless. 6 Then she said to the king, “The report which I heard in my land was true concerning your accomplishments and your wisdom. 7 I had not believed the report to be true until I came and my eyes had seen, and behold! The half had not been told to me. Your wisdom and prosperity surpass the report that I had heard. 8 Happy are your men and happy are these your servants who stand before you continually hearing your wisdom. 9 May Yahweh your God be blessed, who has delighted in you to set you on the throne of Israel, because of the love of Yahweh for Israel forever, and he has made you king to execute justice and righteousness.” 10 Then she gave the king a hundred and twenty talents of gold, abundant spices, and precious stones. Spices as these did not come again in such abundance as that which the queen of Sheba brought to King Solomon.
11 Moreover, the fleet of ships of Hiram which carried the gold from Ophir also brought from Ophir abundant amounts of almug wood and precious stones. 12 The king made a raised structure for the house of Yahweh and for the house of the king out of the almug wood, as well as lyres and harps for the singers. This much almug wood has not come nor been seen again up to this day. 13 King Solomon gave to the queen of Sheba all of her desire that she asked, besides that which King Solomon freely offered her. Then she turned and went to her land with her servants.
14 The weight of the gold that came to Solomon in one year was six hundred and sixty-six talents of gold, 15 apart from that of the men of the traders and the profits of the traders, and all the kings of the Arabs and the governors of the land. 16 King Solomon made two hundred shields of hammered gold; six hundred measures of gold went up over each shield. 17 Also he made three hundred small shields of hammered gold; three minas of gold went up over each of the small shields; and the king put them into the House of the Forest of Lebanon. 18 The king also made a large ivory throne, and he overlaid it with fine gold. 19 Six steps led up to the throne, and there was a circular top to the throne behind it, and armrests were on each side of the seat, with two lions standing beside the armrests. 20 Twelve lions were standing there on the six steps, on either side; nothing like this was made for any of the kingdoms. 21 All of the drinking vessels of King Solomon were gold, and all the vessels for the House of the Forest of Lebanon were pure gold. There was no silver; it was not considered as something valuable in the days of Solomon. 22 For the fleet of Tarshish belonged to the king and was on the sea with the fleet of Hiram; once every three years the fleet of Tarshish used to come carrying gold and silver, ivory, apes, and baboons.
23 King Solomon was greater than all the kings of the earth with respect to wealth and wisdom. 24 All of the earth was seeking the presence of Solomon, to hear his wisdom which God had put in his heart. 25 They were each bringing his gift; objects of silver and objects of gold, clothing, weapons, spices, horses, and mules. This used to happen year after year.
26 Solomon gathered chariots and horses; he had fourteen hundred chariots and twelve thousand horses. He stationed them in the cities of the chariots and with the king in Jerusalem. 27 The king made the silver in Jerusalem as the stones, and the cedars he made as the sycamore fig trees which are in the Shephelah in abundance. 28 The import of the horses which were Solomon’s was from Egypt and from Kue; the traders of the king received horses from Kue at a price. 29 A chariot went up and went out from Egypt at six hundred silver shekels and a horse at a hundred and fifty. So it was for all the kings of the Hittites and for the kings of Aram; by their hand they were exported.
Solomon’s Foreign Wives
11 King Solomon loved many foreign women: the daughter of Pharaoh, Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, Hittite; 2 from the nations which Yahweh had said to the Israelites, “You shall not marry them, and they shall not marry you. They will certainly turn your heart after their gods.” But Solomon clung to them to love. 3 He had seven hundred princesses and three hundred concubines, and his wives turned his heart.
4 It happened at the time of Solomon’s old age that his wives guided his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully with Yahweh his God as the heart of David his father had been. 5 Solomon went after Ashtoreth the god of the Sidonians and after Molech the abhorrence of the Ammonites. 6 So Solomon did evil in the eyes of Yahweh and did not fully follow after Yahweh as David his father. 7 At that time, Solomon built a high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, on the mountain which faces Jerusalem and for Molech, the abomination of the Ammonites. 8 Thus he did for all of his foreign wives, offering incense and sacrificing to their gods.
Jesus Walks on the Water
45 And immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he himself dismissed the crowd. 46 And after he had said farewell to them, he went away to the mountain to pray. 47 And when evening came, the boat was in the middle of the sea and he was alone on the land. 48 And he saw them being beaten in their rowing because the wind was against them. Around the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea, and he was wanting to pass by them. 49 But when they saw him walking on the sea, they thought that it was a ghost, and they cried out. 50 For they all saw him and were terrified. But immediately he spoke with them and said to them, “Have courage, I am he! Do not be afraid!” 51 And he went up with them into the boat, and the wind abated. And they were extraordinarily astounded within themselves, 52 because they did not understand concerning the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.
Many Healed at Gennesaret
53 And after they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and anchored there. 54 And as they were getting out of the boat, people recognized him immediately. 55 They ran about through that whole region and began to carry around those who were sick on stretchers, wherever they heard that he was. 56 And wherever he would go, into villages or into towns or to farms, they would put those who were sick in the marketplaces and would implore him that if they could touch even the edge of his cloak. And all those who touched it were healed.
Human Traditions and God’s Commandments
7 And the Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered to him. 2 And they saw that some of his disciples were eating their bread with unclean—that is, unwashed—hands. 3 (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands ritually, thus holding fast to the traditions of the elders. 4 And when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other traditions which they have received and hold fast to—for example, the washing of cups and pitchers and bronze kettles and dining couches.) 5 And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, but eat their bread with unclean hands?” 6 So he said to them, “Isaiah prophesied correctly about you hypocrites, as it is written,
‘This people honors me with their lips,
but their heart is far, far away from me.
7 And they worship me in vain,
teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’
8 Abandoning the commandment of God, you hold fast to the tradition of men.”
9 And he said to them, “You splendidly ignore the commandment of God so that you can keep your tradition. 10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘The one who speaks evil of father or mother must certainly die.’ 11 But you say, ‘If a man says to his father or to his mother, “Whatever benefit you would have received from me is corban” (that is, a gift to God), 12 you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or his mother, 13 thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down, and you do many similar things such as this.”
Wisdom and Piety
3 My child, do not forget my instruction,
and may your heart guard my commands.
2 For length of days, years of life,
and peace they shall add to you.
3 May loyal love and truth not forsake you;
bind them around your neck,
write them upon your heart.
4 And you shall find favor and good sense
in the eyes of God and humankind.
5 Trust Yahweh with all your heart;
do not lean toward your own understanding.
Traditions make us feel secure. They give us a sense of camaraderie with those who came before us, and they can build a sense of community with those around us. But traditions handed down unexamined can be dangerous. We can apply them in contexts that differ from those in which they were born—often leading to disastrous results, offenses, and misunderstanding. More dangerously, we might consider these human traditions to be the commands of God—or above His commands. In doing so, we hold the opinions of people to be higher than God’s. We commit the same type of idolatry we find rampant in the ot.
In many communities, traditions can carry the heavy weight of religiosity, as if God were the very author of the tradition. Many of the Pharisees in Jesus’ time were known to “tie up heavy burdens and put them on people’s shoulders” (Matt 23:4). When the Pharisees confront Jesus because His disciples did not wash before eating, Jesus quotes from Isaiah: “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (Mark 7:6–7).
To us, hand-washing seems like a smart, valuable tradition. For these Pharisees, it is a cleansing ritual meant to protect against defilement. Jesus shows how the practice sharply conflicts with the state of their hearts, which are far from God. The Pharisees often excuse some of God’s commands if it means following their traditions—like offering sacrifices while neglecting to provide for the material needs of parents (Mark 7:11–13).
Are there areas in your life in which you hold others’ opinions above those of God? Do you have nagging guilt because you’re not living up to others’ expectations? Why? Examine your life, seek biblical wisdom, and ask God to show you how best to serve Him.
How are you holding the values of people higher than those of God?
Author: John D. Barry & Rebecca Van Noord
Publisher: Lexham Press
Publication Date: 2012
This 365-day devotional walks you through the Bible in a year, following a custom reading plan that delves into the stories of the Bible from five unique perspectives.