Ellen G. White Writings

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The Health Reformer

May 1, 1878

The Apostasy of Solomon

His Idolatry and Dissipation

By Mrs. E. G. White

Solomon's career of lasciviousness and unholy ambition was mercifully arrested by God, and he was effectually aroused from the iniquitous state into which he had fallen. He gave proofs of his reformation in the relation of his experience contained in his inspired writings. The case of Solomon should convey to all a lesson of human weakness, and the constant need of divine aid. Solomon possessed great intelligence, and learning, riches, and honor; yet all this was insufficient to insure his integrity to God, to himself, and to his nation. After a youth and early manhood of unsurpassed promise, there followed a blotted history of deterioration and iniquity. It might well be said of him, “How art thou fallen, O Lucifer, son of the morning!”

All the sins and excesses of Solomon can be traced to his great mistake in ceasing to rely upon God for wisdom, and to walk in humility before him. Therefore he went not on from strength to strength, rising higher and higher in the perfection of an elevated character, but soon became the prey of temptation and carnal desires. In the careless life which he entered upon, the blessings which God bestowed upon him were not improved to his glory, but were used to promote himself to an unexampled pinnacle of earthly grandeur. He surrendered the reins of self-control, laying them upon the neck of degrading passions. His conscience was violated, his manhood perverted, and his moral powers debased. Gifted with wondrous genius and fortune, he nevertheless lost his God and his happiness, and degenerated into the most miserable of men.

God had expressly forbidden his chosen people to marry with the idolatrous nations around them. God singled out Israel to make them the depository of the true faith, and he placed a high barrier between them and the rest of the world. Their safety depended upon keeping pure, and preserving their unity with each other and with God. Solomon, in contracting a marriage to please his fancy instead of seeking by his marriage to glorify God, separated himself from God, ruined himself, and nearly ruined his nation.

Solomon was extolled for his wisdom to the uttermost parts of the earth. He forgot that he was indebted to God for all his admirable qualifications, and came to look upon himself as being supreme in wisdom. He accordingly led out in enterprises without consulting the will of God; he established political alliances with pagan governments, and cultivated commercial intercourse with them. But the advantages accruing therefrom were dearly purchased by the sacrifice of principle and the divine favor. Silver was brought from Tarshish, and gold from Ophir, to enrich the nation; but the fine gold of righteousness, the purity and strength of the nation, became corrupted by idolatry. Polygamy spread widely abroad, and domestic and social life were poisoned under the reign of this apostate king, who had been exalted so highly in point of privilege, and in the favor of God.

The original character of Solomon, as manifested during the earlier years of his reign, was bold, honorable, and judicious. Unparalleled success would have been his, had he continued to seek it in God. But there was everything about him to flatter his pride, and to indulge his appetite and passions. He was fond of wine, and his naturally clear intellect was often clouded by its effects. He was absolute monarch of Israel, holding in his power the lives and property of his people over all his wide-spread domain. As his mental powers became enervated and degraded by his dissipation and lascivious habits, he grew hasty, fitful, and tyrannical. His fine sensibilities were blunted, and his conscience seared. He who had prayed at the dedication of the temple that the hearts of his people might be undividedly given unto the Lord, had become a weak, fallen man. It was through his connection with idolaters that he became thus profligate and a despot. He maintained his unreasonable extravagance by heavy taxation, and lived in a state of unrivaled luxury and magnificence.

His giant mind degenerated, and he could be molded like wax by the unscrupulous persons who studied his caprices and played upon his weaknesses. He endeavored to unite heathenism with the faith of the Hebrews, mistaking his own unscrupulous license for liberality and merciful toleration. But his attempt to unite darkness and light, in serving God and Baal, was like mingling ink and pure water. The water does not impart its crystal clearness to the ink, but, on the contrary, the ink gives its dark color to the water, making a murky compound. Purity cannot unite with impurity without being stained by the contact. This was the result developed by Solomon in his attempted union of God and Belial. He came finally to disregard all religions.

The lesson for us to learn from the history of this perverted life is the necessity of continual dependence upon the counsels of God; to carefully watch the tendency of our course, and to reform every habit calculated to draw us from God. It teaches us that great caution, watchfulness, and prayer are needed to keep undefiled the simplicity and purity of our faith. If we would rise to the highest moral excellence, and attain to the perfection of religious character, what discrimination should be used in the formation of friendships, and the choice of a companion for life.

Many, like the king of Israel, follow their own carnal desires, and enter into unsanctified marriages. Many who started out in life with as fair and promising a morning, in their limited sphere, as Solomon had in his exalted station, through one false and irrevocable step in the marriage relation, lose their souls, and draw others down to ruin with them. As Solomon's wives turned his heart away from God to idolatry, so do frivolous companions, who have no depth of principle, turn away the hearts of those who were once noble and true, to vanity, corrupting pleasures, and downright vice.

Moral worth has a charm that wealth and outward attractions do not possess. The woman having the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, in the sight of God has an endowment of great value, before which the silver of Tarshish, and the gold of Ophir, are worthless. Solomon's bride, in all her glory, cannot compare with one of these household treasures.

Few realize that, in their lives, they constantly exert an influence which will be perpetuated for good or evil. Hundreds of years had elapsed since Solomon caused those idolatrous shrines to be erected on the mount; and, although Joshua [Josiah] had demolished them as places for worship, their debris, containing portions of architecture, were still remaining in the days of Christ. The prominence upon which those shrines had stood was called, by the true-hearted of Israel, the Mount of Offense.

Solomon, in his pride and enthusiasm, did not realize that in those pagan altars he was erecting a monument of his debased character, to endure for many generations, and to be commented on by thousands. In like manner, every act of life is great for good or evil; and it is only by acting upon principle in the tests of daily life, that we acquire power to stand firm and faithful in the most dangerous and most difficult positions.

The marks of Solomon's apostasy lived ages after him. In the days of Christ, the worshipers in the temple could look, just opposite them, upon the Mount of Offense, and be reminded that the builder of their rich and glorious temple, the most renowned of all kings, had separated himself from God, and reared altars to heathen idols; that the mightiest ruler on earth had failed in ruling his own spirit. Solomon went down to death a repentant man; but his repentance and tears could not efface from the Mount of Offense the signs of his miserable departure from God. Ruined walls and broken pillars bore silent witness for a thousand years to the apostasy of the greatest king that ever sat upon an earthly throne.

The lesson of Solomon should be a warning to the youth, and to those of mature age who are tempted to deviate from principle in order to follow inclination. The great danger is in feeling that our own strength is sufficient, and not relying upon the strength of God. The youth who have been religiously educated are not safe from temptation; and unless the principles taught them are woven into the words and actions of their daily lives, and they fully comprehend the danger of contamination through evil associations, they are liable to make shipwreck of their lives.

Bewitching temptations to follow the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, are to be met on every side. The exercise of firm principle, and strict control of the appetites and passions, in the name of Jesus the Conqueror, will alone carry us safely through life.

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