IN the reign
of David and Solomon, Israel became strong among the nations and had many
opportunities to wield a mighty influence in behalf of truth and the
right. The name of Jehovah was exalted and held in honor, and the purpose
for which the Israelites had been established in the Land of Promise bade
fair of meeting with fulfillment. Barriers were broken down, and seekers
after truth from the lands of the heathen were not turned away
unsatisfied. Conversions took place, and the church of God on earth was
enlarged and prospered.
anointed and proclaimed king in the closing years of his father David, who
abdicated in his favor. His early life was bright with promise, and it was
God's purpose that he should go on from strength to strength, from glory
to glory, ever approaching nearer the similitude of the character of God,
and thus inspiring His people to fulfill their sacred trust as the
depositaries of divine truth.
that God's high purpose for Israel could be met only as rulers and people
should seek with unceasing vigilance to attain to the standard placed
before them. He knew that in order for his son Solomon to fulfill the
trust with which God was pleased to honor him, the youthful ruler must be
not merely a warrior, a statesman, and a sovereign, but a strong, good
man, a teacher of righteousness, an example of fidelity.
earnestness David entreated Solomon to be manly and noble, to show mercy
and loving-kindness to his subjects, and in all his dealings with the
nations of earth to honor and glorify the name of God and to make manifest
the beauty of holiness. The many trying and remarkable experiences through
which David had passed during his lifetime had taught him the value of the
nobler virtues and led him to declare in his dying charge to Solomon:
"He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God. And
he shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth, even a
morning without clouds; as the tender grass springing out of the earth by
clear shining after rain." 2 Samuel 23:3,4.
Oh, what an
opportunity was Solomon's! Should he follow the divinely inspired
instruction of his father, his reign would be a reign of righteousness,
like that described in the seventy-second psalm:
the king Thy judgments, O God,
righteousness unto the king's son.
judge Thy people with righteousness,
And Thy poor
with judgment. . . .
He shall come
down like rain upon the mown grass:
that water the earth.
In his days
shall the righteous flourish;
of peace so long as the moon endureth.
He shall have
dominion also from sea to sea,
And from the
river unto the ends of the earth. . . .
The kings of
Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents:
The kings of
Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts.
kings shall fall down before him:
shall serve him.
For he shall
deliver the needy when he crieth;
also, and him that hath no helper. . . .
shall be made for him continually;
shall he be praised. . . .
shall endure forever:
shall be continued as long as the sun:
And men shall
be blessed in him:
shall call him blessed.
be the Lord God, the God of Israel,
doeth wondrous things.
be His glorious name forever:
And let the
whole earth be filled with His glory;
In his youth
Solomon made David's choice his own, and for many years he walked
uprightly, his life marked with strict obedience to God's commands. Early
in his reign he went with his counselors of state to Gibeon, where the
tabernacle that had been built in the wilderness still was, and there he
united with his chosen advisers, "the captains of thousands and of
hundreds," "the judges," and "every governor in all
Israel, the chief of the fathers," in offering sacrifices to God and
in consecrating themselves fully to the Lord's service. 2 Chronicles 1:2.
Comprehending something of the magnitude of the duties connected with the
kingly office, Solomon knew that those bearing heavy burdens must
Source of Wisdom for guidance, if they would fulfill their
responsibilities acceptably. This led him to encourage his counselors to
unite with him heartily in making sure of their acceptance with God.
earthly good, the king desired wisdom and understanding for the
accomplishment of the work God had given him to do. He longed for
quickness of mind, for largeness of heart, for tenderness of spirit. That
night the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream and said, "Ask what I
shall give thee." In his answer the young and inexperienced ruler
gave utterance to his feeling of helplessness and his desire for aid.
"Thou hast showed unto Thy servant David my father great mercy,"
he said, "according as he walked before Thee in truth, and in
righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with Thee; and Thou hast kept
for him this great kindness, that Thou hast given him a son to sit on his
throne, as it is this day.
now, O Lord my God, Thou hast made Thy servant king instead of David my
father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in.
And Thy servant is in the midst of Thy people which Thou hast chosen, a
great people, that cannot be numbered nor counted for multitude. Give
therefore Thy servant an understanding heart to judge Thy people, that I
may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this Thy so
great a people?
speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing."
this was in thine heart," God said to Solomon, "and thou hast
not asked riches, wealth, or honor, nor the life of thine enemies, neither
yet hast asked long life; but hast asked wisdom and knowledge for thyself,
that thou mayest
people," "behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have
given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like
thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee. And I
have also given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches, and
honor," "such as none of the kings have had that have been
before thee, neither shall there any after thee have the like."
thou wilt walk in My ways, to keep My statutes and My commandments, as thy
father David did walk, then I will lengthen thy days." 1 Kings
3:5-14; 2 Chronicles 1:7-12.
that as He had been with David, so He would be with Solomon. If the king
would walk before the Lord in uprightness, if he would do what God had
commanded him, his throne would be established and his reign would be the
means of exalting Israel as "a wise and understanding people,"
the light of the surrounding nations. Deuteronomy 4:6.
used by Solomon while praying to God before the ancient altar at Gibeon
reveals his humility and his strong desire to honor God. He realized that
without divine aid he was as helpless as a little child to fulfill the
responsibilities resting on him. He knew that he lacked discernment, and
it was a sense of his great need that led him to seek God for wisdom. In
his heart there was no selfish aspirations for a knowledge that would
exalt him above others. He desired to discharge faithfully the duties
devolving upon him, and he chose the gift that would be the means of
causing his reign to bring glory to God. Solomon was never so rich or so
wise or so truly great as when he confessed, "I am but a little
child: I know not how to go out or come in."
today occupy positions of trust should seek to learn the lesson taught by
Solomon's prayer. The higher the position a man occupies, the greater the
responsibility that he has to bear, the wider will be the influence that
he exerts and the greater his need of dependence on God. Ever should he
remember that with the call to work comes the call to walk circumspectly
before his fellow men. He is to stand before God in the attitude of a
learner. Position does not give holiness of character. It is by honoring
commands that a man is made truly great.
The God whom
we serve is no respecter of persons. He who gave to Solomon the spirit of
wise discernment is willing to impart the same blessing to His children
today. "If any of you lack wisdom," His word declares, "let
him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and
it shall be given him." James 1:5. When a burden bearer desires
wisdom more than he desires wealth, power, or fame, he will not be
disappointed. Such a one will learn from the Great Teacher not only what
to do, but how to do it in a way that will meet with the divine approval.
So long as he
remains consecrated, the man whom God has endowed with discernment and
ability will not manifest an eagerness for high position, neither will he
seek to rule or control. Of necessity men must bear responsibilities; but
instead of striving for the supremacy, he who is a true leader will pray
for an understanding heart, to discern between good and evil.
The path of
men who are placed as leaders is not an easy one. But they are to see in
every difficulty a call to prayer. Never are they to fail of consulting
the great Source of all wisdom. Strengthened and enlightened by the Master
Worker, they will be enabled to stand firm against unholy influences and
to discern right from wrong, good from evil. They will approve that which
God approves, and will strive earnestly against the introduction of wrong
principles into His cause.
that Solomon desired above riches, honor, or long life, God gave him. His
petition for a quick mind, a large heart, and a tender spirit was granted.
wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and largeness of heart, even as
the sand that is on the seashore. And Solomon's wisdom excelled the wisdom
of all the children of the east country, and all the wisdom of Egypt. For
he was wiser than all men; . . . and his fame was in all nations round
about." 1 Kings 4:29-31.
Israel . . . feared the king: for they saw that the wisdom of God was in
him, to do judgment." I Kings 3:28. The hearts of the people were
turned toward Solomon, as they had been toward David, and they obeyed him
in all things. "Solomon . . . was strengthened in his kingdom, and
the Lord his God was with him, and magnified him exceedingly." 2
years Solomon's life was marked with devotion to God, with uprightness and
firm principle, and with strict obedience to God's commands. He directed
in every important enterprise and managed wisely the business matters
connected with the kingdom. His wealth and wisdom, the magnificent
buildings and public works that he constructed during the early years of
his reign, the energy, piety, justice, and magnanimity that he revealed in
word and deed, won the loyalty of his subjects and the admiration and
homage of the rulers of many lands.
The name of
Jehovah was greatly honored during the first part of Solomon's reign. The
wisdom and righteousness revealed by the king bore witness to all nations
of the excellency of the attributes of the God whom he served. For a time
Israel was as the light of the world, showing forth the greatness of
Jehovah. Not in the surpassing wisdom, the fabulous riches, the
far-reaching power and fame that were
his, lay the
real glory of Solomon's early reign; but in the honor that he brought to
the name of the God of Israel through a wise use of the gifts of Heaven.
As the years
went by and Solomon's fame increased, he sought to honor God by adding to
his mental and spiritual strength, and by continuing to impart to others
the blessings he received. None understood better than he that it was
through the favor of Jehovah that he had come into possession of power and
wisdom and understanding, and that these gifts were bestowed that he might
give to the world a knowledge of the King of kings.
an especial interest in natural history, but his researchers were not
confined to any one branch of learning. Through a diligent study of all
created things, both animate and inanimate, he gained a clear conception
of the Creator. In the forces of nature, in the mineral and the animal
world, and in every tree and shrub and flower, he saw a revelation of
God's wisdom; and as he sought to learn more and more, his knowledge of
God and his love for Him constantly increased.
divinely inspired wisdom found expression in songs of praise and in many
proverbs. "He spake three thousand proverbs: and his songs were a
thousand and five. And he spake of trees, from the cedar tree that is in
Lebanon even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall: he spake also
of beasts, and of fowl, and of creeping things, and of fishes." 1
Kings 4:32, 33.
proverbs of Solomon are outlined principles of holy living and high
endeavor, principles that are heaven-born and that lead to godliness,
principles that should govern
every act of
life. It was the wide dissemination of these principles, and the
recognition of God as the One to whom all praise and honor belong, that
made Solomon's early reign a time of moral uplift as well as of material
is the man that findeth wisdom," he wrote, "and the man that
getteth understanding. For the merchandise of it is better than the
merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold. She is more
precious than rubies: and all things thou canst desire are not to be
compared unto her. Length of days is in her right hand; and in her left
hand riches and honor. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her
paths are peace. She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and
happy is every one that retaineth her." Proverbs 3:13-18.
is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get
understanding." Proverbs 4:7. "The fear of the Lord is the
beginning of wisdom." Psalm 111:10. "The fear of the Lord is to
hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth,
do I hate." Proverbs 8:13.
O that in
later years Solomon had heeded these wonderful words of wisdom! O that he
who had declared, "The lips of the wise disperse knowledge"
(Proverbs 15:17), and who had himself taught the kings of the earth to
render to the King of kings the praise they desired to give to an earthly
ruler, had never with a "froward mouth," in "pride and
arrogancy," taken to himself the glory due to God alone!