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understanding heart to judge Thy people, that I may discern between good and bad."
The Lord was pleased with this request, and He said unto Solomon, “Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life, neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies; but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment, behold, I have done according to thy words. Lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart, so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee. And I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches and honour; so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee all thy days. And if thou wilt walk in My ways, to keep My statutes and My commandments, as thy father David did walk, then I will lengthen thy days."
These promises of God were abundantly fulfilled. King Solomon's dominions were vast, and his wealth almost boundless. He had forty thousand stalls of horses for his chariots, and all other possessions in the like degree. All his vessels were of gold : and we are told that silver was “nothing accounted of in the days of Solomon.” He made silver to be as stones in Jerusalem, and cedars as sycamore trees for abundance. Foreign kings paid him tribute of the most costly produce of their lands; he had a great many ships, a powerful army, and Holy Scripture tells us, he "exceeded all the kings of the earth for riches."
For wisdom also there was none like unto King Solomon; he surpassed all the wise and learned Egyptians; then the most famous of all men for their wisdom and learning. He composed works, under the influence of the Holy Spirit of God, which to this day are a most valuable part of Holy Scripture—the book of Proverbs—that of Ecclesiastes, or the Preacher, and the highly mystical book called the Song of Solomon, wherein the Son of God, our blessed Lord Jesus Christ is typified, and His union with His Church wonderfully set forth. Probably there were many other writings by King Solomon, which God's Holy Spirit did not see fit to preserve with the rest—as we read. that Solomon “spake of trees, from the cedar that is in Lebanon, even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall. He spake also of beasts, and of fowl, and of creeping things, and of fishes." Kings and queens, wise men from
all ends of the world came to hear the wisdom of Solomon-this wisdom " which GOD had put into his heart.”
Yet in the midst of all this splendour, and power, King Solomon could say, “ It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for that is the end of all men, and the living will lay it to his heart. Sorrow is better than laughter, for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better." He seems always to have borne in mind that for all these great gifts, there would be a reckoning with God their giver, and he sums up the words of the Preacher, saying, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter : Fear GOD, and keep His Commandments, for this is the whole duty of man; for God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.”
KING SOLOMON'S JUDGMENT.
Holy Scripture does not tell us many instances of the wisdom with which Solomon judged the people; but one touching story is given. It was of two poor women who dwelt together in the same house, and had each born a son within three days of one another.
After awhile one little babe died in the night, so its mother rose up while her companion slept, took the living baby herself, and laid the dead child in the sleeping mother's bosom. When this woman woke in the morning, and would have given suck to her babe, she found it dead; but on examining the child, she saw that it was not her own baby that lay in her arms. Then the two mothers disputed together, each saying that the living babe was her's, and the dead babe her neighbour's.
King Solomon heard all they had to say, but how could he tell to which mother the living baby really belonged ? So he called for a sword, and it was brought. Doubtless both the women stood looking on, and marvelling what the king was going to do. Then Solomon said, “Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one, and half to the other.”
Of course the baby's mother would rather see another person take her child than have it killed : “her bowels yearned upon her child,” and she made haste to cry out, “O my lord,
O give her the living child, and in no wise slay
it !” But the other woman said, “Let it be neither mine nor thine, but divide it."
Then the king directly ordered the child to be given to her who would rather part with it than see it hurt, saying, “Give her the living child, and in no wise slay it: she is the mother thereof."
All the people admired and feared greatly when they heard of this judgment, seeing that their king received all his wisdom and power to judge rightly from the LORD.
THE QUEEN OF SHEBA.
Among the great people who came to see Solomon, to hear his wisdom, and to see the wonders and riches of his court, was the Queen of Sheba, herself a very great, rich, and wise monarch. She came to Jerusalem with a very large train in her company, and with many camels, bearing quantities of gold and precious stones, and spices, such splendour as had never been seen in Jerusalem, as a present to the king. The queen's object in coming seems to have been, not merely curiosity to see a noble king, of whose state and power she had heard