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The Review and Herald

February 15, 1906

Lessons From the Life of Solomon—No. 22

The Power of Influence

Mrs. E. G. White

For hundreds of years after the death of Solomon, a strange and melancholy sight could be seen opposite Mount Moriah. Crowning the eminence of the Mount of Olives, and peering above the groves of myrtle and olive trees, were imposing piles of buildings, for the idolatrous worship of gigantic, unseemly images of wood and stone. Many a devout stranger, seeing these shrines for the first time, was led to inquire, “How came these buildings and idols on the opposite side of the Jehoshaphat ravine, thus impiously confronting the temple of God?” The truthful answer must be given: “The builder was Solomon. He whom God so wonderfully honored, failed to give God the glory, and finally was persuaded by his heathen wives to build these altars for idol worship.”

Little did Solomon think when he built the unholy shrines on the hill before Jerusalem, that these evidences of his apostasy would remain from generation to generation, to testify against him. Notwithstanding his repentance, the evil that he did lived after him, witnessing to the terrible fall of the greatest and wisest of kings.

More than three centuries later, Josiah, the youthful reformer, in his religious zeal demolished these buildings and all the images of Ashtoreth and Chemosh and Moloch. Many of the broken fragments rolled down the channel of the Kedron, but great masses of ruins remained. Even as late as the days of Christ, the ruins on the “Mount of Offense,” as the place was called by many of the true-hearted of Israel, might still be seen. Could Solomon, when rearing these idolatrous shrines, have looked into the future, how he would have started back in horror to think of the sad testimony they would bear to the Messiah!

By a life of loyalty and integrity, Solomon could have done much to preserve God's people from backsliding. His early piety and his great wisdom, the power and the prosperity that attended his reign, the respect and the honor shown the kingdom of Israel by the surrounding nations,—all these favorable conditions combined to increase greatly the influence wielded by the king. Had he remained sincere, earnest, and true, had no taint of apostasy marred his life, he might have exerted a most powerful influence for good on the lives of others. But he swerved from his allegiance to God; and the nation, of which he had been the pride, followed his leading. So powerful was his influence, that through his apostasy he became their seducer.

Solomon's repentance was sincere, but the harm that his example of evil-doing had done the people, could not well be remedied. In the anguish of bitter reflection on the evil influence of his sinful course, he was constrained to declare: “Wisdom is better than weapons of war: but one sinner destroyeth much good.” “There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, as an error which proceedeth from the ruler: folly is set in great dignity.” “Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savor: so doth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honor.”

During the king's apostasy, there were faithful men who remained true to their trust, maintaining their allegiance to purity and loyalty. Many, however, were led astray by his example, and the forces of evil that were set in operation as the result of the introduction of idolatry and worldly practises, could not easily be stayed by the penitent king after his return to God. His influence for good was broken. Many hesitated to place full confidence in his leadership.

How sad the thought that the far-reaching influence of Solomon's apostasy could never be fully counteracted! The king confessed his sins, and wrote out, for the benefit of after generations, a record of his folly and repentance; but he could never hope to destroy the baleful influence of his evil deeds. Emboldened by his apostasy, many continued to do evil, and evil only. And in the downward course of many of the rulers that followed him, may be traced the sad influence of the prostitution of his God-given powers.

Among the manifold lessons that we may learn from Solomon's life, none are more plainly taught than the power of influence for good or for ill. However contracted may be one's sphere, he exerts an influence. That our influence should be a savor of death unto death, is a fearful thought, yet this is possible. One soul misled—forfeiting eternal bliss—who can estimate the loss! And yet one rash act, one thoughtless word, on our part, may exert so deep an influence on the life of another that it will prove the ruin of his soul! One blemish on the character may turn many away from Christ.

God calls for strong, brave Christians, whose influence is always exerted for the right. His cause needs men and women whose every word and act draws those around them to Christ, binding them to him by the persuasive force of loving service. Men and women who commune with God, who, because they co-operate with the heavenly angels, are surrounded by a holy influence, are needed at this time.

It is only through the grace of God that we can make a right use of our influence. There is nothing in us of ourselves by which we can influence others for good. If we realize our helplessness, and our need of divine power, we shall not trust to ourselves. We know not what results a day, an hour, or a moment may determine, and never should we begin the day without committing our ways to our Heavenly Father. His angels are appointed to watch over us, and if we put ourselves under their guardianship, then in every time of danger they will be at our right hand. When unconsciously we are in danger of exerting a wrong influence, the angels will be by our side, prompting us to a better course, choosing words for us, and influencing our actions. Thus our influence may be a silent, unconscious, but mighty power in drawing others to Christ and the heavenly world.

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