Twice during my reign the Lord had appeared to me with words of approval and counsel—in the night vision at Gibeon, when the promise of wisdom, riches, and honour was accompanied by an admonition to remain humble and obedient.
After the dedication of the temple, when once more the Lord exhorted to faithfulness. Plain were the admonitions, wonderful the promises, given to me. But of me who in circumstances, in character, and in life seemed abundantly fitted to heed the charge and meet the expectation of Heaven, it is recorded:
“He kept not that which the Lord commanded.” “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.” 1 Kings 11:9, 10.
And so complete was my apostasy, so hardened my heart in transgression, that my case seemed well-nigh hopeless. From the joy of divine communion, I turned to find satisfaction in the pleasures of sense. Of this experience I wrote “I made my works great, I built myself houses, and planted myself vineyards: I made me gardens and orchards: …
I acquired male and female servants. I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the special treasures of kings and of the provinces. I acquired male and female singers, the delights of the sons of men, and musical instruments of all kinds.
So, I was great, and increased more than all that were before me in Jerusalem.
My biographer wrote the following words of me:
Ki 11:4 For it was so, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned his heart after other gods; and his heart was not loyal to the LORD his God, as was the heart of his father David.
1Ki 11:5 For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites.
1Ki 11:6 Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD, and did not fully follow the LORD, as did his father David.
1Ki 11:7 Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, on the hill that is east of Jerusalem, and for Molech the abomination of the people of Ammon.
1Ki 11:8 And he did likewise for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and sacrificed to their gods.
Listen to my confession in my personal autobiography:
Ecc 2:10 Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure, For my heart rejoiced in all my labor; And this was my reward from all my labor.
Ecc 2:11 Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done And on the labor in which I had toiled; And indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind. There was no profit under the sun.
With much pain l learned the emptiness of a life that seeks in earthly things its highest good. I erected altars to heathen gods, only to learn how vain is their promise of rest to the spirit.
Gloomy and soul-harassing thoughts troubled me night and day. For me there was no longer any joy of life or peace of mind, and the future was dark with despair. I was asking myself: Will God ever take me back and forgive me?
Yet the Lord did not forsake me. By messages of reproof and by severe judgments, He sought to arouse me to a realization of the sinfulness of my course. He removed His protecting care and permitted adversaries to harass and weaken the kingdom.
“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 valour,” “even he lifted up his hand against the king.” 1 Kings 11:14-28.
At last the Lord, through a prophet, delivered to me the startling message: 1Ki 11:11 Therefore the LORD said to Solomon, “Because you have done this, and have not kept My covenant and My statutes, which I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom away from you and give it to your servant.
1Ki 11:12 Nevertheless I will not do it in your days, for the sake of your father David; I will tear it out of the hand of your son.
Awakened as from a dream by this sentence of judgment pronounced against me and my house, I with quickened conscience began to see my folly in its true light. Chastened in spirit, with mind and body enfeebled, I turned wearied and thirsting from earth’s broken cisterns, to drink once more at the fountain of life.
For me at last the discipline of suffering had accomplished its work. Long had I been harassed by the fear of utter ruin because of my inability to turn from my folly. But suddenly now I discerned in the message given to me a ray of hope.
God had not utterly cut me off, but stood ready to deliver me from a bondage more cruel than the grave, and from which I had had no power to free myself.
In gratitude I acknowledged the power and the loving-kindness of the One who is “higher than the highest” (Ecclesiastes 5:8); in penitence I began to retrace my steps toward the exalted plane of purity and holiness from whence I had fallen so far.
I could never hope to escape the blasting results of sin, I could never free my mind from all the bad memories of my horrible self-indulgent course I had been pursuing, but I would endeavour earnestly to dissuade, warning others from following after folly.
I would humbly confess the error of my ways and lift my voice in warning lest others be lost irretrievably because of the influences for evil I had been setting in operation.
The sinner’s true penitence does not put await past sins from remembrance. He does not, as soon as he has obtained peace, grow unconcerned regarding the mistakes he has made.
One thinks of those who have been led into evil by his course and tries in every possible way to lead them back into the true path. The clearer the light that he has entered, the stronger is 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.
I acknowledged that “the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart.” Ecclesiastes 9:3. And again I declared,
Ecc 8:10 Then I saw the wicked buried, who had come and gone from the place of holiness, and they were forgotten in the city where they had so done. This also is vanity.
Ecc 8:11 Because the 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.
Ecc 8:12 Though a sinner does evil a hundred times, and his days are prolonged, yet I surely know that it will be well with those who fear God, who fear before Him.
Ecc 8:13 But it will not be well with the wicked; nor will he prolong his days, which are as a shadow, because he does not fear before God.
By the spirit of inspiration I, the king recorded for after generations the history of my wasted years with their lessons of warning.
And thus, although the seed of his sowing was reaped by his people in harvests of evil, his life-work was not wholly lost.
With meekness and lowliness, I Solomon in my later years ‘’taught the people knowledge; yes, he pondered 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 are like goads, and the words of scholars are like well-driven nails, given by one Shepherd. 12:12 And further, my son, be admonished by these
Ecc 12:13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man’s all. Ecc 12:14 For God will bring every work into judgment, Including every secret thing, Whether good or evil.
My later writings reveal that as I realized more and still more the wickedness of my course, I gave special attention to warning the youth against falling into the errors that had led me to squander for nought Heaven’s choicest gifts.
With sorrow and shame, I confessed that in the prime of manhood, when I should have found God my comfort, my support, my life, I turned from the light of Heaven and the wisdom of God, and put idolatry in the place of the worship of Jehovah.
And now, having learned through sad experience the folly of such a life, my yearning desire was to save others from entering the bitter experience through which I had passed.
With touching pathos, I wrote concerning the privileges and responsibilities before the youth in God’s service:
Ecc 11:7 Truly the light is sweet, And it is pleasant for the eyes to behold the sun;
Ecc 11:8 But if a man lives many years And rejoices in them all, Yet let him remember the days of darkness, For they will be many. All that is coming is vanity.
Ecc 11:9 Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, And let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth; Walk in the ways of your heart, And in the sight of your eyes; But know that for all these God will bring you into judgment.
Ecc 11:10 Therefore remove sorrow from your heart, And put away evil from your flesh, For childhood and youth are vanity.
Ecc 12:1 Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, Before the difficult days come, And the years draw near when you say, “I have no pleasure in them”:
Ecc 12:2 While the sun and the light, The moon and the stars, Are not darkened, And the clouds do not return after the rain;
Ecc 12:3 In the day when the keepers of the house tremble, And the strong men bow down; When the grinders cease because they are few, And those that look through the windows grow dim;
Ecc 12:4 When the doors are shut in the streets, And the sound of grinding is low; When one rises up at the sound of a bird, And all the daughters of music are brought low.
Ecc 12:5 Also they are afraid of height, And of terrors in the way; When the almond tree blossoms, The grasshopper is a burden, And desire fails. For man goes to his eternal home, And the mourners go about the streets.
Ecc 12:6 Remember your Creator before the silver cord is loosed, Or the golden bowl is broken, Or the pitcher shattered at the fountain, Or the wheel broken at the well.
Ecc 12:7 Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, And the spirit will return to God who gave it.
Ecc 12:8 “Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher, “All is vanity.”
Not only to the youth, but to those of mature years, and to those who are descending the hill of life and facing the western sun, my life full of warning. We see and hear of unsteadiness in youth, the young wavering between right and wrong, and the current of evil passions proving too strong for them.
In those of mature years, we do not look for this unsteadiness and unfaithfulness; we expect the character to be established, the principles firmly rooted. But this is not always so.
When I should have been in character as a sturdy oak, I fell from my steadfastness under the power of temptation. When my strength should have been the firmest, I was found to be the weakest.
From such examples we should learn that in watchfulness and prayer is the only safety for both young and old. Security does not lie in exalted position and great privileges. One may for many years have enjoyed a genuine Christian experience, but he is still exposed to Satan’s attacks.
In the battle with inward sin and outward temptation, even the wise and powerful Solomon was vanquished. His failure teaches us that, whatever a man’s intellectual qualities may be, and however faithfully he may have served God in the past, he can never with safety trust in his own wisdom and integrity.
In every generation and in every land the true foundation and pattern for character building have been the same. The divine law, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, … and thy neighbor as thyself,” the great principle made manifest in the character and life of our Saviour, is the only secure foundation, the only sure guide. Luke 10:27.
Isa 33:6 Wisdom and knowledge will be the stability of your times, And the strength of salvation; The fear of the LORD is His treasure.
It is as true now as when the words were spoken to Israel of obedience to His commandments: “This is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations.” Deuteronomy 4:6.
Here is the only safeguard for individual integrity, for the purity of the home, the well-being of society, or the stability of the nation. Amidst all life’s perplexities and dangers and conflicting claims, the one safe and sure rule is to do what God says. “ Psa 19:8 The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. “He who does these things shall never be moved. ” Psalm 15:5.
Those who heed the warning of my apostasy will shun the first approach of those sins that overcame me. Only obedience to the requirements of Heaven will keep you from apostasy.
God has bestowed upon man great light and many blessings; but unless this light and these blessings are accepted, they are no security against disobedience and apostasy.
When those whom God has exalted to positions of high trust turn from Him to human wisdom, their light becomes darkness. Their entrusted capabilities become a snare.
Till the conflict is ended, there will be those who will depart from God. Satan will so shape circumstances that unless we are kept by divine power, they will almost imperceptibly weaken the fortifications of the soul.
We need to inquire at every step, “Is this the way of the Lord?” So long as life shall last, there will be need of guarding the affections and the passions with a firm purpose.
Not one moment can we be secure except as we rely upon God, the life hidden with Christ. Watchfulness and prayer are the safeguards of purity.
All who enter the City of God will enter through the strait gate—by agonizing effort. Rev 21:27 says But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
Aged men, once honoured of God, may have defiled their souls, sacrificing virtue on the altar of lust; but if they repent, forsake sin, and turn to God, there is still hope for them. He who declares,
“Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life,” Revelation 2:10 And God also gives the invitation, “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.” Isaiah 55:7.
God hates sin, but He loves the sinner. “I will heal their backsliding,” He declares; “I will love them freely.” Hosea 14:4.
My repentance was sincere; but the harm that my example of evildoing had wrought could not be undone. During my apostasy there were in the kingdom men who remained true to their trust, maintaining their purity and loyalty.
But many were led astray; and the forces of evil set in operation by the introduction of idolatry and worldly practices could not easily be stayed by me, the penitent king.
My influence for good was greatly weakened. Many hesitated to place full confidence in my leadership. Though I confessed my sin and wrote it out for the benefit of after generations a record of my folly and repentance, I could never hope entirely to destroy the baleful influence of my wrong deeds.
Emboldened by my apostasy, many continued to do evil, and evil only. And in the downward course of many of the rulers who followed me, may be traced the sad influence of the prostitution of my God-given powers.
In the anguish of bitter reflection on the evil of my course, I was constrained to declare, “Wisdom is better than weapons of war: but one sinner destroys much good.” Ecclesiastes 9:18;
There is an evil I have seen under the sun, As an error proceeding from the ruler: Ecclesiastes 10:5;
Folly is set in great dignity, While the rich sit in a lowly place. 10:6
“Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour: so doth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honour.” Ecclesiastes 10:1.
Among the many lessons taught by my life, none is more strongly emphasized than the power of influence for good or for evil. However limited our sphere, we still exert an influence for weal or woe, joy or sorrow.
Beyond our knowledge or control, it tells upon others in blessing or cursing. It may be heavy with the gloom of discontent and selfishness, or poisonous with the deadly taint of some cherished sin; or it may be charged with the life-giving power of faith, courage, and hope, and sweet with the fragrance of love. But potent for good or for ill it will surely be.
That our influence should be a savour of death unto death is a fearful thought, yet it 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.
As the seed sown produces a harvest, and this in turn is sown, the harvest is multiplied. In our relation to others, this law holds true. Every act, every word, is a seed that will bear fruit. Every deed of thoughtful kindness, of obedience, of self-denial, will reproduce itself in others, and through them in still others.
So every act of envy, malice, or dissension is a seed that will spring up in a “root of bitterness” whereby many shall be defiled. Hebrews 12:15. And how much larger number will the “many” poison! Thus the sowing of good and evil goes on for time and for eternity.