Today's reading is all about the wealth and splendor of Solomon's court. As part of this, we read the story of the Queen of Sheba. He impressed her with his wisdom, causing her to reply,
Everything I heard in my country about your achievements and wisdom is true! I didn’t believe what was said until I arrived here and saw it with my own eyes. In fact, I had not heard the half of it! Your wisdom and prosperity are far beyond what I was told.In this passage, the Queen of Sheba is set up as a skeptic. She did not believe that all she had heard of Solomon was true until she saw it for herself. Since she, a skeptic, is convinced of Solomon's wisdom and greatness, it follows that we, the readers are also supposed to be convinced.
Of course, that doesn't convince us skeptic. The problem with skeptics is that we do not change our mind on hearsay, even if the person telling the story claims that another skeptic was convinced.
Well, I'm glad to see that I was wrong and Simon's purpose was not to show that even a magician is converted by Phillip's preaching. Instead, his purpose is to show how the power of the apostles exceeds that of magicians completely (which, I suppose, still means the general point stands: these people really believed in magicians and I'm expected to trust them?). In any case, Simon gets a lecture because he wants to buy the power to give people the Holy Spirit.
Apparently, giving people the Holy Spirit was not the only amazing power of the apostles. Today we also read how, after converting a travelling Ethiopian, Phillip gets snatched away by the Lord to another place. Teleportation!
Psalms and Proverbs
Today we get plenty of fodder for platitude from both our psalm and proverbs.
Lord, if you kept a record of our sins,
who, O Lord, could ever survive?
But you offer forgiveness,
that we might learn to fear you.
Fire tests the purity of silver and gold,
but the Lord tests the heart.