The Review and Herald


February 8, 1906

Lessons From the Life of Solomon—No. 21

“Godly Sorrow Worketh Repentance”


Twice during Solomon's reign the Lord had appeared to him with words of approval and of counsel. Soon after he ascended the throne, the king passed through a remarkable experience at Gibeon, where the Lord, after promising him wisdom, riches, and honor, admonished him to remain obedient and humble. “Walk in my ways,” he counseled the youthful king, “to keep my statutes and my commandments.” And after the dedication of the temple, “the Lord appeared to Solomon the second time,” and exhorted him to remain true to his sacred trust. “Walk before me,” the Lord pleaded, “as David thy father walked, in integrity of heart, and in uprighteousness, to do according to all that I have commanded thee.” As the reward of obedience, the Lord declared, “I will establish the throne of thy kingdom upon Israel forever, as I promised to David thy father, saying, There shall not fail thee a man upon the throne of Israel.” RH February 8, 1906, par. 1

Plain are these admonitions, wonderful are these promises of prosperity on condition of obedience; and yet of him who in circumstances, in character, and in life, seemed favored above all others, it is recorded that “his heart was turned from the Lord God of Israel, which had appeared unto him twice, and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods: but he kept not that which the Lord commanded.” RH February 8, 1906, par. 2

Solomon's apostasy was so complete, his heart became so hardened in transgression, that his case seemed well-nigh hopeless. But the Lord in his infinite mercy forsook him not. By terrible judgments and by words of stern rebuke he sought to arouse the king to a realization of the sinfulness of sin. God's protecting care was removed, and adversaries were permitted to harass and weaken him. “The Lord stirred up an adversary unto Solomon, Hadad the Edomite.” “And God stirred him up another adversary, Rezon, ... captain over a band,” who “abhorred Israel, and reigned over Syria. And Jeroboam, ... Solomon's servant,” “a mighty man of valor,” “even he lifted up his hand against the king.” RH February 8, 1906, par. 3

God spoke to Solomon not only by means of these judgments, but also through a prophet, who delivered the startling message: “Forasmuch as this is done of thee, and thou hast not kept my covenant and my statutes, which I have commanded thee, I will surely rend the kingdom from thee, and will give it to thy servant. Notwithstanding in thy days I will not do it for David thy father's sake: but I will rend it out of the hand of thy son.” RH February 8, 1906, par. 4

When Solomon heard this terrible denunciation, he awoke as from a dream. His folly began to dawn upon him in its true light. By his own bitter experience, he had learned the emptiness of a life that seeks in earthly things its highest good. He had erected altars to heathen gods, only to learn how vain is their promise of rest to the soul. And now, in his later years, Solomon returned to drink at the fountain of life. For him at last the discipline of suffering accomplished its work. RH February 8, 1906, par. 5

The Book of Ecclesiastes

The history of the king's wasted years, with their lessons of warning, he by the Spirit of inspiration recorded for after generations. And thus, although the seed of his sowing was reaped by his people in harvests of evil, the life-work of Solomon was not wholly lost. Chastened, broken in spirit, trusting not in his own power, but in the power of Him that is “higher than the highest,” he acknowledged that “the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart.” Whenever left to their own devices, he confessed, “they have sought out many inventions.” And “because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.” RH February 8, 1906, par. 6

Through his own experience Solomon learned that, “though a sinner do evil an hundred times, and his days be prolonged, yet surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before him: but it shall not be well with the wicked, neither shall he prolong his days, which are as a shadow; because he feareth not before God.” RH February 8, 1906, par. 7

In meekness and lowliness Solomon “taught the people knowledge; yea, he gave good heed, and sought out, and set in order many proverbs.” He “sought to find out acceptable words: and that which was written was upright, even words of truth.” “The words of the wise,” he declared, “are as goads, and as nails fastened by the masters of assemblies, which are given from one shepherd. And further, by these, my son, be admonished.” RH February 8, 1906, par. 8

“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” RH February 8, 1906, par. 9

A Touching Appeal

The true penitent does not put his past sins from his remembrance. He does not, as soon as he has obtained peace, grow unconcerned in regard to the mistakes he has made. He thinks of how many have been led into evil by his wrong course, and he tries in every possible way to help those whom he has led into false paths. The clearer the light that he has entered into by returning to the Lord, the stronger his desire to set the feet of others in the right way. He does not gloss over his wayward course, making his wrong a light thing, but lifts the danger-signal, that others may take warning. He walks humbly and carefully, his eyes fixed on his Leader. RH February 8, 1906, par. 10

Solomon's later writings reveal that he realized the wickedness of his course, and sought to warn those who were in danger of going astray. With sorrow and shame he confessed that in the prime of manhood, when he should have found in God his comfort, his support, his life, he had lost sight of the rich experience of his youth and of the signal blessings bestowed at the time of the dedication of the temple. How sad the confession recorded in Ecclesiastes! For a time, he had turned from the light of heaven and the wisdom of God; he had confounded idolatry with religion. RH February 8, 1906, par. 11

After the king repented, and returned to his allegiance to God, he made a special appeal to those who were still in the earlier years of life. His yearning desire to save others from the bitter experience through which he had passed, is clearly revealed in this touching appeal: RH February 8, 1906, par. 12

“Truly the light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun. Yea, if a man live many years, let him rejoice in them all; but let him remember the days of darkness, for they shall be many. All that cometh is vanity. Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment. Therefore remove sorrow from thy heart, and put away evil from thy flesh: for youth and the prime of life are vanity”—they soon pass away. RH February 8, 1906, par. 13

“Remember also thy Creator in the days
of thy youth, Or ever the evil days come, And the years draw nigh,
When thou shalt say, I have no
pleasure in them;
RH February 8, 1906, par. 14

Or ever the sun,
And the light,
And the moon,
And the stars, Be darkened, And the clouds return after the rain:
RH February 8, 1906, par. 15

In the day when the keepers of the
house shall tremble,
And the strong men shall bow themselves,
And the grinders cease because they
are few,
And those that look out of the
windows be darkened,
And the doors shall be shut in the
RH February 8, 1906, par. 16

When the sound of the grinding is
And one shall rise up at the voice of
a bird,
And all the daughters of music shall
be brought low;
RH February 8, 1906, par. 17

Yea, they shall be afraid of that which
is high,
And terrors shall be in the way:
RH February 8, 1906, par. 18

And the almond tree shall blossom,
And the grasshopper shall be a burden,
And the caper-berry shall burst:
RH February 8, 1906, par. 19

Because man goeth to his long home, And the mourners go about the streets:

Or ever the silver cord be loosed.
Or the golden bowl be broken.
Or the pitcher be broken at the
Or the wheel broken at the cistern;
RH February 8, 1906, par. 20

And the dust return to the earth
As it was, And the spirit return unto God
Who gave it.”
RH February 8, 1906, par. 21

The Hope of the Penitent

Christ, the gift of the Father to our world, is the hope and efficiency of the penitent. In him all hopes of eternal life center. He is our advocate in the heavenly courts. He is interceding in our behalf. Without his grace, no progress in spiritual grace can be made. The penitent can not take one step in sincerity, in truthfulness, in righteousness, without the help of the Lord Jesus. For this help let us most earnestly plead. RH February 8, 1906, par. 22

Through no power of his own could Solomon have broken from the snare of Satan. By no human means could he have been cleansed from the defilement of sin. Without divine help, he would have sunk lower and still lower. Only by coming to Jesus in humility and contrition, with heartfelt confession of sin; only by making a full surrender; only through the merits of Christ's righteousness, could he hope to be freed from the snare of the enemy, and be cleansed. RH February 8, 1906, par. 23

“Godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of.” True repentance can never be mistaken. It bears fruit that testifies to its own genuineness. Self is subdued; Christ is magnified. RH February 8, 1906, par. 24

The words and deeds of the truly penitent bear witness that theirs is a repentance that needs not to be repented of. They will offer earnest petitions for fresh grace, for new supplies of strength, for the efficiency and power of the Holy Spirit, promised to all who ask in faith. The truly penitent soul will reach high attainments of holiness, peace, and joy. But he will never forget that he owes it all to the Saviour. A sense of deep humiliation and contrition will fill his heart, and he will bow low before God. RH February 8, 1906, par. 25