The Review and Herald


December 14, 1905

Lessons From the Life of Solomon—No. 13

The Perils of Prosperity


In the midst of Solomon's wonderful prosperity, lurked danger. The sins of his father David's later years, though sincerely repented of and sorely punished, had emboldened the people in transgression of God's commandments. Through association with surrounding nations, evil influences were gradually permeating the kingdom that had been so remarkably blessed. God was not inquired of. Wealth, with all its temptations, came in Solomon's day to a rapidly increasing number of the people. “The king made silver and gold at Jerusalem as plenteous as stones, and cedar trees made he as the sycamore trees that are in the vale for abundance.” RH December 14, 1905, Art. B, par. 1

Throughout the ages, riches and honor have been attended with much peril to humility and spirituality. It is when a man is prospered, when all his fellow men speak well of him, that he is in special danger. Man is human. Spiritual prosperity continues only so long as man depends wholly upon God for wisdom and for perfection of character. And those who feel most their need of dependence upon God are usually those who have the least amount of earthly treasure and human honor on which to depend. RH December 14, 1905, Art. B, par. 2

The Commendation of Man

There is danger in the bestowal of rich gifts or of words of commendation upon human agencies. Those who are favored by the Lord need to be on guard constantly, lest pride spring up and obtain the supremacy. He who has an unusual following, he who has received many words of commendation from the messengers of the Lord, needs the special prayers of God's faithful watchmen, that he may be shielded from the danger of cherishing thoughts of self-esteem and spiritual pride. Never is such a man to manifest self-importance, or attempt to act as a dictator or a ruler. Let him watch and pray, and keep his eye single to the glory of God. As his imagination takes hold upon things unseen, and he contemplates the joy of the hope that is set before him,—even the precious boon of life eternal,—the commendation of man will not fill his mind with thoughts of pride. And at times when the enemy makes special efforts to spoil him by flattery and worldly honor, his brethren should faithfully warn him of his dangers; for, if left to himself, he will be prone to make mistakes, and reveal human frailties. RH December 14, 1905, Art. B, par. 3

In Solomon's day, as in ours, the very ones who praised and flattered and glorified the man of ability were the ones who failed to recognize and glorify God for the blessings he bestowed upon them through the human instrumentality. They praised the man; God was dishonored; and soon the Lord found the vessel he had ordained and used in his sacred service, becoming unclean. The sentiments, the spirit, and the likeness of the natural man began to appear, and he who once was doing God's will, became corrupted through human exaltation. Then the feebleness and weakness of man was revealed by the choice of injudicious friends, whose course helped the tempter to ensnare the man. The Lord allowed him to be ensnared, because he would not be counseled; he would walk in his own way. RH December 14, 1905, Art. B, par. 4

Strength in Service

The Lord places men in positions of responsibility to carry out not their own will, but God's will. He gives wisdom to those who seek him, and who depend upon him as their counselor. So long as men represent the pure principles of his government, he will continue to bless and maintain them as his instrumentalities to carry out his purposes concerning his people. He co-operates with those who co-operate with him. It is to the interest of all who act any part in God's service, to labor with exactitude and fidelity; for with distinctness is to be revealed the line of demarcation separating his people from the inhabitants of the world. He who remains true to principle will never be left by the Lord to become weak and discouraged. RH December 14, 1905, Art. B, par. 5

The Lord's word to Solomon is applicable to every man who consents to assume responsibilities in any place in the Lord's work. Strength of character is to be honored by those who claim to keep the commandments and statutes of God. The solemn charges and appeals and promises, so large and full, that were made to Solomon, are made to every man who will stand in his lot and place to do the work that God has appointed him to. RH December 14, 1905, Art. B, par. 6

In the Valley of Humiliation

It is not the empty cup that we have trouble in carrying; it is the cup full to the brim that must be carefully balanced. Affliction and adversity may cause much inconvenience, and may bring great depression; but it is prosperity that is dangerous to spiritual life. Unless the human subject is in constant submission to the will of God, unless he is sanctified by the truth, and has the faith that works by love and purifies the soul, prosperity will surely arouse the natural inclination to presumption. RH December 14, 1905, Art. B, par. 7

Our prayers need most to be offered for the men in high places. They need the prayers of the whole church, because they are entrusted with prosperity and influence. RH December 14, 1905, Art. B, par. 8

In the valley of humiliation, where men depend on God to teach them and to guide their every step, there is comparative safety. But let every one who has a living connection with God pray for the men in positions of responsibility,—for those who are standing on a lofty pinnacle, and who, because of their exalted position, are supposed to have much wisdom. Unless such men feel their need of an Arm stronger than the arm of flesh to lean upon, unless they make God their dependence, their view of things will become distorted, and they will fall. RH December 14, 1905, Art. B, par. 9