Ellen G. White Writings

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The Signs of the Times

November 26, 1896

A Lesson from Israel's Wisest King

By Mrs. E. G. White

“Be thou strong therefore, and show thyself a man; and keep the charge of the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses, that thou mayest prosper in all that thou doest, and whithersoever thou turnest thyself; that the Lord may continue his word which he spake concerning me, saying, If thy children take heed to their way, to walk before me in truth with all their heart and with all their soul, there shall not fail thee (said he) a man on the throne of Israel.”

This was David's dying charge to Solomon. The aged monarch had already invested his son with kingly authority, and now he bids him perform faithfully the duties devolving upon him. He counsels him not to show himself merely a warrior, a statesman, or a sovereign, but to reign as a strong, good man. He entreats him to display a noble, manly nature, to show mercy and loving-kindness to his subjects; and he adds, “Then shalt thou prosper, if thou takest heed to fulfil the statutes and judgments which the Lord charged Moses concerning Israel. Be strong, and of good courage; dread not, nor be dismayed.”

In his early youth Solomon was a noble character. He was named “Jedidiah,” which means “Beloved of the Lord.” He was the pride and hope of his father, and “tender and only beloved in the sight of his mother.” And during the first years of his reign Solomon fulfilled the promise of his youth. He loved God, and was beloved of God. The Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Ask what I shall give thee.” And Solomon answered the Lord in these words, “Give thy servant an understanding heart, ... that I may discern between good and evil.” The Lord granted this request, “and Solomon's wisdom excelled all the wisdom of the children of the east; for he was wiser than all men.”

Had Solomon relied continually on the Lord, had he kept the precepts and commandments enjoined upon him, what a history would have been his! But the unerring pen of inspiration, while it records his virtues, also bears faithful witness to his sad downfall. After a morning of promise and a manhood of integrity, Solomon took a course displeasing to the Lord. He did not continue to walk before God in truth. Raised to the pinnacle of human greatness, and surrounded with the gifts of fortune, he became dizzy. He was extolled by kingly powers for his unsurpassed wisdom, and he could not stand the flattery. Thus the very gift of heaven,—the wisdom which was entrusted to him by God, and which should have reflected honor upon the Giver,—filled Solomon with pride. He built the temple, and it was a marvel of richness and glory, unequalled by any work of human art. A greater than Solomon was the designer of this building; the wisdom and glory of God stood revealed there; but the honor was diverted from God and given to Solomon.

God singled out the children of Israel as his people. He separated them from other people, making them the repository of his law; and it was his design that they should preserve his honor in the earth. They were forbidden to mingle with idolatrous nations, and in no case were they to intermarry with them. A wise barrier was thus erected between them and the rest of the world, and their safety consisted in observing these landmarks. But he who by his loyalty and integrity, could have done much to preserve God's people from backsliding, he who at the dedication of the temple had urged them—“Let your hearts therefore be perfect with the Lord our God, to walk in his statutes, and to keep his commandments,”—he set the example of apostasy. In his thirst for political power, he cultivated and encouraged alliances with pagan kingdoms, and violated the express command of Jehovah by taking wives from among them.

Solomon thought himself strong enough and wise enough to maintain the purity of his religion and yet deviate from the commands of God. He thought he could convert his wives to the true religion, and that by thus binding himself with idolatrous nations, he could win them all to the service of the true God. But we can not incorporate light with darkness. Christ has no fellowship with Belial. By a union with idolaters, the king's own faith was perverted. The power and purity of true religion lost their influence over him. His conscience became marred and blunted; his finite judgment, in which he placed so much confidence, led him far astray, and wild license was regarded by him as independence and toleration. He lost his connection with God, and no longer realized that God was his wisdom and his strength.

Solomon thought to gain more power by thus allying himself with the heathen nations around him; and he was enriched with the gold and silver which was transported from Ophir and Tarshish, but it was at the cost of sacrificing noble principles and betraying sacred trusts.

One false step leads to another. Solomon's alliance with heathen nations was followed by evils which led the children of Israel to violate the law of God. The people became contaminated with the principles and practices of the heathen. Polygamy was introduced into Palestine. The pure religious service instituted by God was replaced by idolatry of the darkest hue. Human sacrifices were offered; and the licentious rites practiced by the inhabitants of the Noatic world, were countenanced.

And “it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned his heart after other gods; and his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God.” From being one of the greatest kings that ever wielded a scepter, whose exalted wisdom made him renowned throughout the world, Solomon became profligate and intemperate, 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 into despotism and tyranny; and his extravagance was sustained by grinding taxes, which were imposed upon the people. Poor, frail human nature! God can do but little for men, because they so soon lose their sense of dependence upon him.

The Lord would have all learn a lesson from the record of the life of Solomon. He desires his servants to preserve their holy and peculiar character. “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers” is his command; “for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? and what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?”

While we are to be kind and courteous to all, we are not to connect with those who we know are acting in opposition to God. Solomon was estranged from God by the influence of his heathen wives; and God has forbidden his people to unite with unbelievers; for in so doing, they bring untold sorrow upon themselves, and reproach upon the cause of God. They may think, like Solomon, that their influence over those who are in the wrong will be beneficial; but too often they themselves, entrapped and overcome, yield their sacred faith, sacrifice principle, and separate themselves from God. By one false step they place themselves where they can not hope to break the chains that bind them.

I would warn all, both young and old, Be careful what friendships you form and what companions you choose. Take heed lest what you now think to be pure gold turns out to be base metal. Worldly associations tend to throw obstructions in the way of your service to God; and many souls are ruined by unhappy unions, either business or matrimonial, with those who can never elevate or ennoble. Because of this, many men and women are without hope and without God in the world. Their noble aspirations are dead; by a chain of circumstances they are held in Satan's net.

Beware of following any voice but that of God. Those who call themselves sons and daughters of God, and yet walk contrary to his wise arrangements in order that they may follow the promptings of their own unsanctified hearts, which are ruled by passion and impulse, will have a bitter harvest to reap in this life, and their course may result in the loss of their souls.

Keep your religion pure and untainted. Worldly interests may tempt you to yield your principles, but “what shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” Worldly greatness is no equivalent for integrity, honesty, a pure heart, and a noble, unwavering purpose to do right. Even Solomon, in all his glory, was not arrayed like him who possesses the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, untouched by the tinsel and show of the world.

God would have us learn the solemn lesson that we are working out our own destiny. The characters we form in this life decide whether or not we are fitted to live through the eternal ages. No man can with safety attempt to serve both God and the world. God is fully able to keep us in the world, but not of the world. His love is not uncertain and fluctuating. Ever he watches over his children with a care that is measureless and everlasting. But he requires us to give him our undivided allegiance. “No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. Ye can not serve God and mammon.”

Solomon was endowed with wonderful wisdom, but the world drew him away from God. We need to guard our souls with all diligence, lest the cares and attractions of the world absorb the time that should be given to eternal things. God warned Solomon of his danger, and today he warns us not to imperil our souls by affinity with the world, saying, “Come out from among them, and be ye separate, and touch not the unclean, and I will receive you, and I will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.”

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