Leaners Don’t Count

2 Chronicles 9:12: “Then she left and returned with her retinue to her own country” (NIV).

Observation: This verse concludes the chronicle of the Queen of Sheba’s visit to Solomon. Extensive trade was consummated and a warm personal relationship established before she and her large retinue returned home.

Application: Personal and corporate diplomacy between Solomon and Sheba seem to have been a smashing success. She had come to test Solomon with hard questions (see 2 Chron. 9:1), each of which he answered brilliantly. She admired his court, his table, his servants, and his worship. In fact, verse 4 says “she was overwhelmed” by all she learned.

She gave gifts of spices and rare woods such as had never been seen; in turn, Solomon gave her even more. It was an all ‘round great ending to an important state visit. Surely the cable news outlets were abuzz with diplomacy’s triumph.

Still, a tinge of sadness must pierce the heart as we watch her ride happily into the sunset. The fact is, the queen had the most favorable brush with God imaginable, yet she left His presence unchanged. “Praise be to the LORD your God,” she said, “who has . . . placed you on his throne as king to rule for the LORD your God. Because of the love of your God for Israel, He has made you king” (v. 8).

The Lord your God. See how close she careened to the kingdom of God, yet without the kind of collision that would have changed her? She had asked Solomon all she had on her mind, yet there is not a shred of evidence that she considered his faith anything more than a spectator sport.

It is easy to come close to God yet miss Him. It is painfully possible to enter into His presence, yet never permit His presence to enter in.  This otherwise smart woman will to all appearances spend eternity in hell, her own words echoing her condemnation:  “Praise be to your God—your God—your God.” For all the lasting good her trip produced she may as well have played horseshoes with Solomon, where coming close is a “leaner.” In salvation as in horseshoes, leaners don’t count for much.

I must confess that her problem has too often been mine. Easily focused on tasks at hand I, too, have concentrated on externals when God’s desire was to capture my heart. She surely returned home to a triumphal ticker tape parade unaware that for her, all was lost.

Prayer:  Lord Jesus, open my eyes to Your kingdom. Unstop my ears. Attune my heart to the language of heaven, that I might be yours forever.

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