When Jesus referred to the Queen of the South in Matthew 12:42 and Luke 11:31, He was actually talking about the Queen of Sheba. We read of the Queen of the South visiting the court of Solomon in 1 Kings 10:1, 3, 9. Jesus was contrasting the Queen’s actions with the actions of the religious leaders of His time. Though she was a pagan queen, she traveled a long distance to listen to Solomon and seek his wisdom whereas the religious leaders were unwilling to listen to the Son of God who came down from heaven to save them.
The Queen of the South
The the Queen of Sheba sought the wisdom of Solomon for her many questions. As she had “heard about the fame of Solomon and his relationship to the LORD, [and] came to test Solomon with hard questions” (1 Kings 10:1). And God had granted Solomon the gift of wisdom (1 Kings 3:5–12), so “nothing was too hard for the king to explain to her” (1 Kings 10:3).
Solomon shared God’s Wisdom
Solomon gave helpful, intelligent answers, which directed the queen’s mind to the true source of all wisdom and prosperity. After the Queen of Sheba had witnessed Solomon’s wisdom and works, she didn’t thank him only for the hospitality that he showed her but more importantly for the knowledge of God’s truth. She said, “Blessed be the Lord your God, who delighted in you, setting you on the throne of Israel! Because the Lord has loved Israel forever, therefore He made you king, to do justice and righteousness” (1 kings 10:9).
Her visit led to her conversion and salvation. In gratitude to Solomon, the Queen of the south gave King Solomon gifts. And she returned to her own country blessed (1 Kings 10:13).
The Comparison with the Jewish Leaders
While the Queen of the south accepted the wisdom of Solomon with all eagerness, the religious leaders rejected Jesus which is the personification of all wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:30) for He was indeed greater than Solomon (Matthew 12:42). For this, Jesus added that the Queen of the South will be saved whereas the religious leaders will be judged at the judgement day for their rebellion against God’s Son.
In His service,