The Review and Herald


December 21, 1905

Lessons From the Life of Solomon—No. 14



For many years Solomon walked uprightly. Heavenly wisdom was given him to rule over God's people with impartiality and mercy. But his life, after a morning of so great promise, was darkened with apostasy. History records the melancholy fact that he who was called Jedidiah (Beloved of the Lord),—he who had been specially honored by God with tokens of divine favor so remarkable that his wisdom and uprightness gained for him world-wide fame,—he who had so often given wise counsel to others,—turned from the worship of the true God to bow before the idols of the heathen. RH December 21, 1905, par. 1

Solomon's apostasy was so gradual that almost before he was aware of it, he had wandered far from God. Gradually but surely, he lost sight of the necessity of implicit obedience to the plain precepts of Holy Writ, and conformed more and more closely to the customs of the surrounding nations. Yielding to the temptations connected with his prosperity and his honored position, he forgot God, and the conditions of success. RH December 21, 1905, par. 2

Hundreds of years before Solomon came to the throne, the Lord, foreseeing the perils that would beset those chosen as rulers of Israel, gave Moses special instruction for their guidance. Directions were given that he who sat on the throne of Israel should “write him a copy” of the statutes of Jehovah “in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites: and it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them: that his heart be not lifted up above his brethren, and that he turn not aside from the commandment, to the right hand, or to the left: to the end that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he, and his children, in the midst of Israel.” RH December 21, 1905, par. 3

In connection with this instruction, the Lord particularly cautioned the one who should be anointed king not to “multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt, to the end that he should multiply horses: forasmuch as the Lord hath said unto you, Ye shall henceforth return no more that way. Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away: neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold.” RH December 21, 1905, par. 4

These plain warnings were familiar to Solomon. And for a time he heeded them. His greatest desire was to live and rule in accordance with the statutes given at Sinai. His manner of conducting the affairs of the kingdom was in striking contrast with the customs of the idolatrous nations of his time,—nations who feared not God, and whose rulers trampled under foot his holy law. RH December 21, 1905, par. 5

The beginning of Solomon's apostasy may be traced to his violation of the plain commandments of the Lord. God had given the king of Israel wonderful prestige in the surrounding nations. Had Solomon continued to trust the Lord fully, his fame and the greatness of his nation would have constantly increased. But he began, almost imperceptibly at first, to trust less and less in the guidance and blessing of God, and to put confidence in his own strength. This is seen in his effort to gain power and dignity by allying himself with the nations round about him. RH December 21, 1905, par. 6

In seeking to strengthen his relations with the powerful kingdom lying to the southward of Israel, Solomon ventured upon forbidden ground. He “made affinity with Pharaoh king of Egypt, and took Pharaoh's daughter, and brought her into the city of David.” From a human point of view, this marriage, although contrary to the teachings of God's law, seemed to prove a blessing; for Solomon's heathen wife was converted, and united with him in the worship of the true God. Furthermore, Pharaoh rendered signal service to Israel by taking Gezer, slaying “the Canaanites that dwelt in the city,” and giving it “for a present unto his daughter, Solomon's wife.” Solomon rebuilt and fortified this city, and thus apparently greatly strengthened his kingdom along the Mediterranean seacoast. RH December 21, 1905, par. 7

The barrier was further broken by Solomon's marriage with other heathen princesses. He flattered himself that his wisdom and the power of his example would lead his wives from idolatry to the worship of the true God, and also that the alliances thus formed would draw the nations round about into close touch with the people of God. Vain hope! How fatal was Solomon's mistake in regarding himself strong enough to resist the influence of heathen associates! And how fatal, too, the deception that led Solomon to hope that a disregard of God's law on his part, would lead others to revere and obey its sacred precepts! RH December 21, 1905, par. 8

Alliances and commercial relations with many heathen nations brought Solomon renown, honor, and the riches of this world. He was enabled to bring gold from Ophir and silver from Tarshish in great abundance. More and more he came to regard luxury, self-indulgence, and the favor of the world as indications of greatness. Beautiful and attractive women were brought from Egypt, Phoenicia, Edom, Moab, and from many other places. These women were numbered by hundreds. Their religion was idol-worship, and they had been taught to practise cruel and degrading rites. Infatuated with their beauty, the king neglected his duties to God and to his kingdom. His wives exerted a strong influence over him, and gradually prevailed on him to unite with them in their worship. RH December 21, 1905, par. 9

Solomon's course brought its sure penalty. His separation from God through communication with idolaters ruined him. As he cast off his allegiance to God, he lost the mastery of himself. His moral efficiency was gone, as power is gone from a paralytic. His fine sensibilities became blunted, his conscience seared. Association with idolaters corrupted his faith. The instruction that God had given to serve as a barrier for his safety,—“neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away: neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold,”—was disregarded, and Solomon gave himself up to the worship of false gods. He became the tool of Satan and a slave to impulse. RH December 21, 1905, par. 10

“It came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. And Solomon did evil in the sight of the Lord, and went not fully after the Lord, as did David his father. Then did Solomon build an high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon. And likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods.” RH December 21, 1905, par. 11

On the southern eminence of the Mount of Olives,—opposite Mount Moriah, where stood the beautiful temple of Jehovah,—Solomon erected an imposing pile of buildings to be used as idolatrous shrines. To please his wives, he placed huge idols, unshapely images of wood and stone, amid the groves of myrtle and olive. There, before the altars of the heathen deities, were practised the most degrading rites of heathenism. RH December 21, 1905, par. 12

He who in his early reign had displayed so much wisdom and kingly sympathy in restoring a helpless babe to its unfortunate mother, fell so low as to consent to the erection of an idol to whom children were offered as living sacrifices. He who in his youth was endowed with discretion and understanding, and who in his strong manhood had been inspired to write, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death,” in later years departed so far from purity as to countenance the licentious revolting rites connected with the worship of Chemosh and Ashtoreth. He who at the dedication of the temple had said to his people, “Let your heart therefore be perfect with the Lord our God,” himself became an offender, in heart and life denying his own words. He mistook license for liberty. He tried, but at what cost, to unite light with darkness, Christ with Belial, purity with impurity, good with evil. RH December 21, 1905, par. 13

From being one of the greatest kings that ever wielded a scepter, whose wisdom made him renowned throughout the world, Solomon became a profligate,—the tool and slave of others. His character, once noble and manly, became enervated and effeminate. His faith in the living God was shaken and supplanted by atheistic doubts. Unbelief marred his happiness, weakened his principles, and degraded his life; gloomy and soul-harassing thoughts troubled him night and day. The justice and magnanimity of his early reign were changed to despotism and tyranny. Poor, frail human nature! God can do but little for men who lose their sense of dependence upon him. RH December 21, 1905, par. 14