The Queen of Sheba and Solomon's Wisdom

George Frideric Handel (1685-1759)

"Handel is the greatest composer who ever lived. I would bare my head and kneel at his grave."
L. v.Beethoven

This page is to honor the memory of George Frideric Handel. Who of us has not had his spirit lifted when listening to The Messiah? Here are Handel's own words after he finished writing what would become known as the Hallelujah Chorus: "I did think I did see all Heaven before me, and the great God himself." Handel conducted just 30 performances of this masterpiece, only one of which was in a church--Bristol Cathedral. John Wesley was in the audience that day. "I doubt if that congregation was ever so serious at a sermon as they were during this performance," he remarked.

Handel died on the day before Easter, 1759, hoping to "meet his good God, his sweet Lord and Savior, on the day of his Resurrection." A close friend remarked: "He died as he lived—a good Christian, with a true sense of his duty to God and to man, and in perfect charity with all the world."

Perhaps a lesser-known piece is Handel's "Arrival of the Queen of Sheba" from his oratorio Solomon. It is one of my favorites, and you can listen to it now by clicking on the screen of the player below or the triangle at its bottom left corner. The music accompanies a video highlighting some of God's glorious creation of which Solomon, we are told, was privileged to know so many of its "secrets".

(If your Internet connection speed is slow and the video starts and stops, turn your volume down and let it play through. Then turn the volume back up and start the video again without reloading this page.)

"Thus Solomon's wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the men of the East and all the wisdom of Egypt . . . He spoke of trees, from the cedar tree of Lebanon even to the hyssop that springs out of the wall; he spoke also of animals, of birds, of creeping things, and of fish." (1 Kings 4:30,32-33).

"Now when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of Yahweh, she came to test him with hard questions. She came to Jerusalem with a very great retinue, with camels that bore spices, very much gold, and precious stones; and when she came to Solomon, she spoke with him about all that was in her heart. So Solomon answered all her questions; there was nothing so difficult for the king that he could not explain it to her." (1 Kings 10:1-3)

"Then she said to the king: 'It was a true report which I heard in my own land about your words and your wisdom. However I did not believe the words until I came and saw with my own eyes; and indeed the half was not told me. Your wisdom and prosperity exceed the fame of which I heard.'" (1 Kings 10:6,7)

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