1 Kings 10 & Philippians 1

1 Kings 10

    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.” Then she gave the king 120 talents of gold, and a very great quantity of spices and precious stones. Never again came such an abundance of spices as these that the queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon.

    Moreover, the fleet of Hiram, which brought gold from Ophir, brought from Ophir a very great amount of almug wood and precious stones. And the king made of the almug wood supports for the house of the LORD and for the king's house, also lyres and harps for the singers. No such almug wood has come or been seen to this day.

    And King Solomon gave to the queen of Sheba all that she desired, whatever she asked besides what was given her by the bounty of King Solomon. So she turned and went back to her own land with her servants.

    Now the weight of gold that came to Solomon in one year was 666 talents of gold, besides that which came from the explorers and from the business of the merchants, and from all the kings of the west and from the governors of the land. King Solomon made 200 large shields of beaten gold; 600 shekels of gold went into each shield. And he made 300 shields of beaten gold; three minas of gold went into each shield. And the king put them in the House of the Forest of Lebanon. The king also made a great ivory throne and overlaid it with the finest gold. The throne had six steps, and the throne had a round top, and on each side of the seat were armrests and two lions standing beside the armrests, while twelve lions stood there, one on each end of a step on the six steps. The like of it was never made in any kingdom. All King Solomon's drinking vessels were of gold, and all the vessels of the House of the Forest of Lebanon were of pure gold. None were of silver; silver was not considered as anything in the days of Solomon. For the king had a fleet of ships of Tarshish at sea with the fleet of Hiram. Once every three years the fleet of ships of Tarshish used to come bringing gold, silver, ivory, apes, and peacocks.

    Thus King Solomon excelled all the kings of the earth in riches and in wisdom. And the whole earth sought the presence of Solomon to hear his wisdom, which God had put into his mind. Every one of them brought his present, articles of silver and gold, garments, myrrh, spices, horses, and mules, so much year by year.

    And Solomon gathered together chariots and horsemen. He had 1,400 chariots and 12,000 horsemen, whom he stationed in the chariot cities and with the king in Jerusalem. And the king made silver as common in Jerusalem as stone, and he made cedar as plentiful as the sycamore of the Shephelah. And Solomon's import of horses was from Egypt and Kue, and the king's traders received them from Kue at a price. A chariot could be imported from Egypt for 600 shekels of silver and a horse for 150, and so through the king's traders they were exported to all the kings of the Hittites and the kings of Syria.

(1 Kings 10 ESV)

Philippians 1

    Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,

    To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons:

    Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

    I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

    I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.

    Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.

    Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again.

    Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.

(Philippians 1 ESV)

Something to Consider

Philippians 1: In writing to the church in Philippi, the apostle Paul reveals the remarkable way in which our Lord prevents victims of tragedy from suffering in vain. Paul has been imprisoned for proclaiming his allegiance to Christ but joyfully declares that his imprisonment has “served to advance the gospel” (v. 1:12). Although suffering in chains and not knowing his fate, the apostle Paul successfully proclaims the gospel of Christ while in prison to the “whole imperial guard” and “especially those of Caesar’s household” (v. 1:13; 4:22).  

Paul is hopeful and in fact excited at the fact that he can magnify the name of Christ whether he is killed for his faith or whether he keeps on living. As someone who now belongs to Christ, this is the meaning and purpose of his life, and he rejoices at the reality that his circumstances here on earth have no power to break him from fulfilling this purpose. That is why the apostle can sincerely say, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (v. 1:21). He had settled it. His faith would not falter in the face of persecution.  

Therefore, to encourage the Philippians in the suffering that they too might have to endure and now encouraging us today in the suffering that may be down the road or approaching our doorstep, the apostle Paul exhorts us to “let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ… standing firm in one Spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents” (v. 1:27-28). 

So how do we live a life worthy of the gospel of Christ?

Basically, we are to extraordinarily demonstrate that our supreme allegiance is to Christ’s Kingdom as we carry out our ordinary responsibilities as citizens of the United States. No matter what it may cost us, Christ is worthy of that cost. Therefore, we are to live like it. 

You live as a citizen worthy of the gospel by living in such a way here in this country that demonstrates your heart and treasure rests somewhere else. Our king is not the President of the United States, and our treasure is not American exceptionalism. When you finally begin to live in this way, it changes your entire perspective on life. Your reason for living at all is to show the world that your true King and His Kingdom is your greatest treasure and has your undivided allegiance. This can be demonstrated persistently in life or powerfully in death, but the man who’s allegiance belongs to Christ can rejoice at the reality that his circumstances here on earth have no power to break him from fulfilling his life’s purpose. 

The apostle refers to this faithful fearlessness in the face of persecution as “a clear sign… from God” (v. 1:28). For those who belong to Christ, tragedy is never a defeat at the hands of your enemy but rather a demonstration of your faithfulness from the hand of God. In His sovereignty, our Lord has a way of using frightening opposition and the gift of unrelenting faith to produce the “clear sign” of faithful fearlessness.     

This fearlessness benefits us in the way that is grants us assurance of our own salvation. Only in the face of suffering can we find out that our faith is in fact for real. This fearlessness also has a way of bringing your enemies face to face with eternal deliverance or destruction. Either they will see the “clear sign” that faith in Christ is powerfully real or they’ll turn away from it marking themselves for eternal destruction. Either way, the Christian never suffers in vain, and Christ is always the ultimate victor.

Therefore, may we settle where we stand in order that we may in fact stand in faithful fearlessness in the face of opposition and persecution. The man who belongs to the Lord must fearlessly believe that to live is Christ and to die is truly gain, and that no matter his circumstances, persecution has no power to prevent him from fulfilling his life’s purpose.