By Tom Wacaster
When the Queen of Sheba heard of the wisdom of Solomon, it is said by the sacred writer that “she came to prove him with hard questions” (1 Kings 10:1); and come she did! “She came to Jerusalem with a very great train, with camels that bare spices, and very much gold, and precious stones” (verse 2). Her entourage must have been a spectacle to behold. It is doubtful that anything was spared to make her journey comfortable and her interview with Solomon profitable. Upon her arrival she was granted an appointment with King Solomon, and it is said that “there was not any thing hid from the king which he told her not” (verse 3). Upon the completion of that meeting with Solomon she said, “It was a true report that I heard in mine own land of thine acts, and of thy wisdom. Howbeit I believed not the words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen it: and, behold, the half was not told me” (1 Kings 10:6-7). And then she added this most remarkable observation: “Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants, that stand continually before thee, and that hear thy wisdom” (verse 8).
Fast forward to a mountain side in Galilee, where “a greater than Solomon” (Matt. 12:42) sat down and taught the disciples and the multitude that surrounded Him. If the sayings of Solomon manifested the wisdom of a mortal king over a physical kingdom, how much more do the sayings of Jesus declare Him to be “the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords” (1 Tim. 6:15). It is fitting that the Son of David would begin this Sermon On The Mount with the same word used by the Queen of Sheba to describe the effect of Solomon’s wisdom on the people of Israel: “Blessed”! The first one-hundred-forty words from the lips of our Savior (in English) not only provide us with heavenly advice for a joyful and happy life here upon this earth, they also set the background for the remainder of this sermon, and point us to the majesty of Jesus the Christ. To borrow a phrase from the Queen of Sheba, “And, behold, the half” has not been told.
In slightly more than a half dozen “beatitudes,” Jesus unleashes heavenly wisdom for those who would find true happiness. His sayings are not politically correct, they do not cater to the physical part of man, and they run contrary to the thinking of every generation of men that have walked the face of this earth. How can someone be happy when they are poor? Where is the joy in mourning? How can the meek inherit anything, especially the earth? Why should men hunger and thirst for something they cannot see with the physical eye or hold in the palm of their hands? Who ever heard of refusing to seek revenge, and instead be merciful toward those who do us harm? Of what value is purity of heart? After all, it’s a dog-eat-dog world, filled with “evil men and imposters” who shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived” (2 Tim. 3:13). Wherein is the value of making peace when those about us promote only hatred and violence? How can a person find contentment when he is being falsely accused and reproached for the cause of Christ?
Keep in mind that our Lord paved the way for us. He blazed the trail as the “author (literally, ‘captain,’ or ‘trailblazer,’ TW) and perfecter of our faith” (Heb. 12:2). He manifested each and every one of these beatitudes (with perhaps the only exception being His mourning over sins committed) to perfection, “one that hath been in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15). Being “poor in spirit,” it is said that “he emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, becoming obedient even unto death, yea, the death of the cross” (Phil. 2:7-8). When Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem at the beginning of the Passion Week, “this is come to pass, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken through the prophet, saying, Tell ye the daughter of Zion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, Meek, and riding upon an ass, And upon a coal the foal of an ass” (Matt. 21:4-5). His entire life was a demonstration of what it means to “hunger and thirst after righteousness,” showing compassion and mercy to those in sin and in need of redemption. His heart is the epitome of purity, having never once entertained an evil thought or committing some vile deed. He was, to say the least, the Great Peacemaker, reconciling man to God and bringing about a peace of mind and calm assurance for everyone who would take His yoke upon them and thereby “find rest” for their weary souls (Matt. 11:28-30). His godly life caused Him to endure every form of reproach imaginable, culminating in a horrible death upon the cross thereby securing our salvation.
Read again each of these eight beatitudes and see if you don’t see a portrait of our King that will cause the heart to swell with deep appreciation and love for He Who gave Himself for our sins. Let men talk of earthly kings that have come and gone, and then let them look at Christ with an honest and open mind, and in view of the overwhelming evidence, bow in grateful submission to our King. The words of Napoleon Bonaparte bear repeating:
I know men; and I tell you that Jesus Christ is not a man. You speak of Caesar, of Alexander, of their conquests, and of the enthusiasm which they enkindled in the hearts of their soldiers, but can you conceive of a dead man making conquests, with an army faithful, entirely devoted to his memory? My armies have forgotten me even while living. Can you conceive of Caesar as the eternal emperor of the Roman Senate, and, from the depth of his mausoleum, governing an empire, watching over the destinies of Rome? Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and myself founded empires. But on what did we rest the creations of our genius? Upon force. Jesus Christ alone founded his empire upon love; and, at this hour, millions would die for him (original source not known).
If the beatitudes were all that men might read of the Sermon on the Mound, they would be the better for it. Yet “the half hath not been told,” and as we continue our study of these chapters in Matthew, our life cannot help but be enriched and our allegiance to our King the stronger.
I received the following article by the late G.K. Wallace. I thought it worth sharing with your readers:
In the vigor of youth, we despised danger. Now our caution increases year by year. With many, life’s problem is preventing being idle. We are anxious about a continual existence. Winter is on our heads, but spring is in our hearts. Roses and violets smell just as they did forty years ago. Our minds cannot be perplexed or frightened, but go in a quiet peace like a clock in a thunderstorm.
The events of life flow on as usual. It has been well said that the “fuller the current, the more noiselessly it flows.” Time passes swiftly—months and years are so much alike that we hardly notice. Victor Hugo said, “Forty is the old age of youth: fifty is the youth of old age.” It may be better to be seventy or eighty years young and not forty years old.
If we would stay young in heart we must keep the mind active. Read, read, and read. The man who is mentally active does not grow old like the one who never thinks. The mind, like muscles, needs exercise. Chapirl said: “An aged Christian, with snow on his head, may remind us that those points of earth are whitest which are nearest Heaven.” David wrote: The days of our years are threescore and ten. Or even by reason of strength fourscore years…. For it is soon gone, and we fly away…. So teach us to number our days that we may get us a heart of wisdom (Psa. 90:10, 12).