Results of Transgression
among the primary causes that led Solomon into extravagance and oppression
was his failure to maintain and foster the spirit of self-sacrifice.
When, at the
foot of Sinai, Moses told the people of the divine command, "Let them
make Me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them," the response of
the Israelites was accompanied by the appropriate gifts. "They came,
everyone whose heart stirred him up, and everyone whom his spirit made
willing," and brought offerings. Exodus 25:8; 35:21. For the building
of the sanctuary, great and extensive preparations were necessary; a large
amount of the most precious and costly material was required, but the Lord
accepted only freewill offerings. "Of every man that giveth it
willingly with his heart ye shall take My offering," was the command
repeated by Moses to the congregation. Exodus 25:2. Devotion to God and a
spirit of sacrifice were the
requisites in preparing a dwelling place for the Most High.
call to self-sacrifice was made when David turned over to Solomon the
responsibility of building the temple. Of the assembled multitude David
asked, "Who then is willing to consecrate his service this day unto
the Lord?" 1 Chronicles 29:5. This call to consecration and willing
service should ever have been kept in mind by those who had to do with the
erection of the temple.
construction of the wilderness tabernacle, chosen men were endowed by God
with special skill and wisdom. "Moses said unto the children of
Israel, See, the Lord hath called by name Bezaleel, . . . of the tribe of
Judah; and He hath filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in
understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship. . . .
And He hath put in his heart that he may teach, both he, and Aholiab, . .
. of the tribe of Dan. Them hath He filled with wisdom of heart, to work
all manner of work, of the engraver, and of the cunning workman, and of
the embroiderer, . . . and of the weaver, even of them that do any work. .
. . Then wrought Bezaleel and Aholiab, and every wisehearted man, in whom
the Lord put wisdom and understanding." Exodus 35:30-35; 36:1.
Heavenly intelligences co-operated with the workmen whom God Himself had
descendants of these workmen inherited to a large degree the talents
conferred on their forefathers. For a time these men of Judah and Dan
remained humble and unselfish; but gradually, almost imperceptibly, they
lost their hold upon God and their desire to serve Him unselfishly. They
wages for their services, because of their superior skill as workmen in
the finer arts. In some instances their request was granted, but more
often they found employment in the surrounding nations. In place of the
noble spirit of self-sacrifice that had filled the hearts of their
illustrious ancestors, they indulged a spirit of covetousness, of grasping
for more and more. That their selfish desires might be gratified, they
used their God-given skill in the service of heathen kings, and lent their
talent to the perfecting of works which were a dishonor to their Maker.
It was among
these men that Solomon looked for a master workman to superintend the
construction of the temple on Mount Moriah. Minute specifications, in
writing, regarding every portion of the sacred structure, had been
entrusted to the king; and he could have looked to God in faith for
consecrated helpers, to whom would have been granted special skill for
doing with exactness the work required. But Solomon lost sight of this
opportunity to exercise faith in God. He sent to the king of Tyre for a
man, "cunning to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass, and in
iron, and in purple, and crimson, and blue, and that can skill to grave
with the cunning men . . . in Judah and in Jerusalem." 2 Chronicles
Phoenician king responded by sending Huram, "the son of a woman of
the daughters of Dan, and his father was a man of Tyre." Verse 14.
Huram was a descendant, on his mother's side, of Aholiab, to whom,
hundreds of years before, God had given special wisdom for the
construction of the tabernacle.
Thus at the
head of Solomon's company of workmen
placed a man whose efforts were not prompted by an unselfish desire to
render service to God. He served the god of this world, mammon. The very
fibers of his being were inwrought with the principles of selfishness.
his unusual skill, Huram demanded large wages. Gradually the wrong
principles that he cherished came to be accepted by his associates. As
they labored with him day after day, they yielded to the inclination to
compare his wages with their own, and they began to lose sight of the holy
character of their work. The spirit of self-denial left them, and in its
place came the spirit of covetousness. The result was a demand for higher
wages, which was granted.
influences thus set in operation permeated all branches of the Lord's
service, and extended throughout the kingdom. The high wages demanded and
received gave to many an opportunity to indulge in luxury and
extravagance. The poor were oppressed by the rich; the spirit of
self-sacrifice was well-nigh lost. In the far-reaching effects of these
influences may be traced one of the principal causes of the terrible
apostasy of him who once was numbered among the wisest of mortals.
contrast between the spirit and motives of the people building the
wilderness tabernacle, and of those engaged in erecting Solomon's temple,
has a lesson of deep significance. The self-seeking that characterized the
workers on the temple finds its counterpart today in the selfishness that
rules in the world. The spirit of covetousness, of seeking for the highest
position and the highest wage, is rife.
service and joyous self-denial of the tabernacle workers is seldom met
with. But this is the only spirit that should actuate the followers of
Jesus. Our divine Master has given an example of how His disciples are to
work. To those whom He bade, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers
of men" (Matthew 4:19), He offered no stated sum as a reward for
their services. They were to share with Him in self-denial and sacrifice.
Not for the
wages we receive are we to labor. The motive that prompts us to work for
God should have in it nothing akin to self-serving. Unselfish devotion and
a spirit of sacrifice have always been and always will be the first
requisite of acceptable service. Our Lord and Master designs that not one
thread of selfishness shall be woven into His work. Into our efforts we
are to bring the tact and skill, the exactitude and wisdom, that the God
of perfection required of the builders of the earthly tabernacle; yet in
all our labors we are to remember that the greatest talents or the most
splendid services are acceptable only when self is laid upon the altar, a
living, consuming sacrifice.
the deviations from right principles that finally led to the downfall of
Israel's king was his yielding to the temptation to take to himself the
glory that belongs to God alone.
From the day
that Solomon was entrusted with the work of building the temple, to the
time of its completion, his avowed purpose was "to build an house for
the name of the Lord God of Israel." 2 Chronicles 6:7. This purpose
was fully recognized before the assembled hosts of Israel
at the time
of the dedication of the temple. In his prayer the king acknowledged that
Jehovah had said, "My name shall be there." 1 Kings 8:29.
One of the
most touching portions of Solomon's dedicatory prayer was his plea to God
for the strangers that should come from countries afar to learn more of
Him whose fame had been spread abroad among the nations. "They shall
hear," the king pleaded, "of Thy great name, and of Thy strong
hand, and of Thy stretched-out arm." In behalf of every one of these
stranger worshipers Solomon had petitioned: "Hear Thou, . . . and do
according to all that the stranger calleth to Thee for: that all people of
the earth may know Thy name, to fear Thee, as do Thy people Israel; and
that they may know that this house, which I have builded, is called by Thy
name." Verses 42, 43.
At the close
of the service, Solomon had exhorted Israel to be faithful and true to
God, in order that "all the people of the earth may know," he
said, "that the Lord is God, and that there is none else." Verse
than Solomon was the designer of the temple; the wisdom and glory of God
stood there revealed. Those who were unacquainted with this fact naturally
admired and praised Solomon as the architect and builder; but the king
disclaimed any honor for its conception or erection.
Thus it was
when the Queen of Sheba came to visit Solomon. Hearing of his wisdom and
of the magnificent temple he had built, she determined "to prove him
with hard questions" and to see for herself his famous works.
Attended by a retinue of servants, and with camels bearing
and gold in abundance, and precious stones," she made the long
journey to Jerusalem. "And when she was come to Solomon, she communed
with him of all that was in her heart." She talked with him of the
mysteries of nature; and Solomon taught her of the God of nature, the
great Creator, who dwells in the highest heaven and rules over all.
"Solomon told her all her questions: there was not anything hid from
the king, which he told her not." 1 Kings 10:1-3; 2 Chronicles 9:1,
the Queen of Sheba had seen all Solomon's wisdom, and the house that he
had built, . . . there was no more spirit in her." "It was a
true report," she acknowledged, "which I heard in mine own land
of thine acts, and of thy wisdom: howbeit I believed not their words,
until I came, and mine eyes had seen it:" "and, behold, the half
was not told me: thy wisdom and prosperity exceedeth the fame which I
heard. Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants, which stand
continually before thee, and that hear thy wisdom." 1 Kings 10:4-8; 2
By the time
of the close of her visit the queen had been so fully taught by Solomon as
to the source of his wisdom and prosperity that she was constrained, not
to extol the human agent, but to exclaim, "Blessed be the Lord thy
God, which delighted in thee, to set thee on the throne of Israel: because
the Lord loved Israel forever, therefore made He thee king, to do judgment
and justice." 1 Kings 10:9. This is the impression that God designed
should be made upon all peoples. And when "all the kings of the earth
sought the presence of Solomon, to hear his wisdom, that God had
put in his
heart" (2 Chronicles 9:23), Solomon for a time honored God by
reverently pointing them to the Creator of the heavens and the earth, the
Ruler of the universe, the All-wise.
continued in humility of mind to turn the attention of men from himself to
the One who had given him wisdom and riches and honor, what a history
might have been his! But while the pen of inspiration records his virtues,
it also bears faithful witness to his downfall. Raised to a pinnacle of
greatness and surrounded with the gifts of fortune, Solomon became dizzy,
lost his balance, and fell. Constantly extolled by men of the world, he
was at length unable to withstand the flattery offered him. The wisdom
entrusted to him that he might glorify the Giver, filled him with pride.
He finally permitted men to speak of him as the one most worthy of praise
for the matchless splendor of the building planned and erected for the
honor of "the name of the Lord God of Israel."
Thus it was
that the temple of Jehovah came to be known throughout the nations as
"Solomon's temple." The human agent had taken to himself the
glory that belonged to the One "higher than the highest."
Ecclesiastes 5:8. Even to this day the temple of which Solomon declared,
"This house which I have built is called by Thy name" (2
Chronicles 6:33), is oftenest spoken of, not as the temple of Jehovah, but
as "Solomon's temple."
show greater weakness than by allowing men to ascribe to him the honor for
gifts that are Heaven-bestowed. The true Christian will make God first and
last and best
in everything. No ambitious motives will chill his love for God; steadily,
perseveringly, will he cause honor to redound to his heavenly Father. It
is when we are faithful in exalting the name of God that our impulses are
under divine supervision, and we are enabled to develop spiritual and
divine Master, ever exalted the name of His heavenly Father. He taught His
disciples to pray, "Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy
name." Matthew 6:9, A.R.V. And they were not to forget to
acknowledge, "Thine is . . . the glory." Verse 13. So careful
was the great Healer to direct attention from Himself to the Source of His
power, that the wondering multitude, "when they saw the dumb to
speak, the maimed to be whole, the lame to walk, and the blind to
see," did not glorify Him, but "glorified the God of
Israel." Matthew 15:31. In the wonderful prayer that Christ offered
just before His crucifixion, He declared, "I have glorified Thee on
the earth." "Glorify Thy Son," He pleaded, "that Thy
Son also may glorify Thee." "O righteous Father, the world hath
not known Thee: but I have known Thee, and these have known that Thou hast
sent Me. And I have declared unto them Thy name, and will declare it: that
the love wherewith Thou hast loved Me may be in them, and I in them."
John 17:1, 4, 25, 26.
saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the
mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches:
but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth
that I am the
Lord which exercise loving-kindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the
earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord." Jeremiah 9:23,
praise the name of God, . . .
magnify Him with thanksgiving."
art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and
praise Thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart: And I will
glorify Thy name forevermore."
magnify the Lord with me,
And let us
exalt His name together."
Revelation 4:11; Psalms 86:12; 34:3.
introduction of principles leading away from a spirit of sacrifice and
tending toward self-glorification, was accompanied by yet another gross
perversion of the divine plan for Israel. God had designed that His people
should be the light of the world. From them was to shine forth the glory
of His law as revealed in the life practice. For the carrying out of this
design, He had caused the chosen nation to occupy a strategic position
among the nations of earth.
In the days
of Solomon the kingdom of Israel extended from Hamath on the north to
Egypt on the south, and from the Mediterranean Sea to the river Euphrates.
Through this territory ran many natural highways of the world's commerce,
and caravans from distant lands were constantly passing to and fro. Thus
there was given to Solomon and his people opportunity to reveal to men of
all nations the character of the King of kings, and to teach them to
reverence and obey Him. To all the world this knowledge was
to be given.
Through the teaching of the sacrificial offerings, Christ was to be
uplifted before the nations, that all who would might live.
Placed at the
head of a nation that had been set as a beacon light to the surrounding
nations, Solomon should have used his God-given wisdom and power of
influence in organizing and directing a great movement for the
enlightenment of those who were ignorant of God and His truth. Thus
multitudes would have been won to allegiance to the divine precepts,
Israel would have been shielded from the evils practiced by the heathen,
and the Lord of glory would have been greatly honored. But Solomon lost
sight of this high purpose. He failed of improving his splendid
opportunities for enlightening those who were continually passing through
his territory or tarrying at the principal cities.
missionary spirit that God had implanted in the heart of Solomon and in
the hearts of all true Israelites was supplanted by a spirit of
commercialism. The opportunities afforded by contact with many nations
were used for personal aggrandizement. Solomon sought to strengthen his
position politically by building fortified cities at the gateways of
commerce. He rebuilt Gezer, near Joppa, lying along the road between Egypt
and Syria; Beth-horon, to the westward of Jerusalem, commanding the passes
of the highway leading from the heart of Judea to Gezer and the seacoast;
Megiddo, situated on the caravan road from Damascus to Egypt, and from
Jerusalem to the northward; and "Tadmor in the wilderness" (2
Chronicles 8:4), along the route of caravans from the east. All these
cities were strongly
The commercial advantages of an outlet at the head of the Red Sea were
developed by the construction of "a navy of ships in Ezion-geber, . .
. on the shore of the Red Sea, in the land of Edom." Trained sailors
from Tyre, "with the servants of Solomon," manned these vessels
on voyages "to Ophir, and fetched from thence gold," and
"great plenty of almug trees, and precious stones." Verse 18; 1
Kings 9:26, 28; 10:11.
of the king and of many of his subjects was greatly increased, but at what
a cost! Through the cupidity and shortsightedness of those to whom had
been entrusted the oracles of God, the countless multitudes who thronged
of travel were allowed to remain in ignorance of Jehovah.
contrast to the course pursued by Solomon was the course followed by
Christ when He was on this earth. The Saviour, though possessing "all
power," never used this power for self-aggrandizement. No dream of
earthly conquest, of worldly greatness, marred the perfection of His
service for mankind. "Foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have
nests," He said, "but the Son of man hath not where to lay His
head." Matthew 8:20. Those who, in response to the call of the hour,
have entered the service of the Master Worker, may well study His methods.
He took advantage of the opportunities to be found along the great
thoroughfares of travel.
intervals of His journeys to and fro, Jesus dwelt at Capernaum, which came
to be known as "His own city." Matthew 9:1. Situated on the
highway from Damascus to Jerusalem and Egypt and to the Mediterranean Sea,
it was well adapted to be the center of the Saviour's work. People from
many lands passed through the city or tarried for rest. There Jesus met
with those of all nations and all ranks, and thus His lessons were carried
to other countries and into many households. By this means interest was
aroused in the prophecies pointing forward to the Messiah, attention was
directed to the Saviour, and His mission was brought before the world.
In this our
day the opportunities for coming into contact with men and women of all
classes and many nationalities are much greater than in the days of
Israel. The thoroughfares of travel have multiplied a thousandfold.
the messengers of the Most High today should take their position in these
great thoroughfares, where they can meet the passing multitudes from all
parts of the world. Like Him, hiding self in God, they are to sow the
gospel seed, presenting before others the precious truths of Holy
Scripture that will take deep root in mind and heart, and spring up unto
the lessons of Israel's failure during the years when ruler and people
turned from the high purpose they had been called to fulfill. Wherein they
were weak, even to the point of failure, the Israel of God today, the
representatives of heaven that make up the true church of Christ, must be
strong; for upon them devolves the task of finishing the work that has
been committed to man, and of ushering in the day of final awards. Yet the
same influences that prevailed against Israel in the time when Solomon
reigned are to be met with still. The forces of the enemy of all
righteousness are strongly entrenched; only by the power of God can the
victory be gained. The conflict before us calls for the exercise of a
spirit of self-denial, for distrust of self and for dependence on God
alone, for the wise use of every opportunity for the saving of souls. The
Lord's blessing will attend His church as they advance unitedly, revealing
to a world lying in the darkness of error the beauty of holiness as
manifested in a Christlike spirit of self-sacrifice, in an exaltation of
the divine rather than the human, and in loving and untiring service for
those so much in need of the blessings of the gospel.