Wednesday, September 4, 2013 — Week of Proper 17, Year One
[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]
Today’s Readings for the Daily Office
(Book of Common Prayer, p. 982)
Psalms 38 (morning) // 119:25-48 (evening)
1 Kings 9:24-10:13
What is your reaction when you meet someone wiser and more accomplished than yourself? Sometimes, we’re able to rejoice in others’ gifts. At other times, people’s bountiful virtues and achievements may cast a shadow over our seemingly smaller talents. When we glance at someone else’s gifts, sometimes all we see is ourselves in comparison.
The Queen of Sheba’s first reaction on meeting Solomon seems like devastating disappointment. She takes a look at Solomon’s house, his food, his servants and their snappy outfits, his burnt offerings to the Lord, and more. After taking it all in, and after hearing Solomon provide wise answers to every question on her mind, she says, “The report was true that I heard in my own land of your accomplishments and of your wisdom . . . your wisdom and prosperity far surpass the report I heard.” On seeing all of this, “there was no more spirit in her.”
Whether we measure our worth in wisdom, accomplishments, or prosperity, there will always be a Solomon in our lives who has more. How can we respond when we meet him? The Queen of Sheba starts to transform her despondency by acknowledging God and by giving her own gifts.
Her speech transitions from lavishing praise on Solomon to blessing God. She is able to see Solomon as a sign of God’s desire to bring justice and righteousness to his people. Then, she begins to give her own gifts to the king.
It turns out that the Queen of Sheba has some extraordinary gifts of her own. She has “talents of gold, a great quantity of spices, and precious stones.” She also has almug wood, which Solomon makes into supports for the Lord’s house and into lyres and harps. The Scripture tells us that the Queen of Sheba’s gifts were unprecedented and unrepeatable: “never again did spices come in such quantity,” and “no such almug wood has come or been seen to this day.”
Everything that the Queen of Sheba has to give is precious. In the case of the wood and the spices, they are also extremely rare. What exquisite, exceptional, extraordinary gift might you be holding onto today? There will always be people with more possessions, more achievements, and more answers than we have. But what do we have that no one can get from anyone but us? Something precious, I am sure.
Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal. She serves as curate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and as director of the Ark Fellows, an Episcopal Service Corps program sponsored by St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.