In the days of King Josiah a strange appearance could be seen opposite the temple of God. Crowning the eminence of the Mount of Olives, peering above the groves of myrtle and olive trees, were unseemly, gigantic idols. Josiah gave commandment that these idols should be destroyed. This was done, and the broken fragments were rolled down the channel of the Kedron. The shrines were left a mass of ruins.
But the question was asked by many a devout worshiper, How came that architecture on the opposite side of the Jehoshaphat ravine, thus impiously confronting the temple of God? The truthful answer must be made: The builder was Solomon, known as the wisest king that ever wielded a scepter. These idols bore testimony that he who had been honored and applauded for his wisdom, became a humiliating wreck. He was thrice called the beloved of God. Pure and elevated in character, his piety and wisdom were unexampled. But Solomon did not go on from strength to strength in the pure and true life. It was his ambition to excel other nations in grandeur. To do this, he allied himself by marriage with heathen nations, and in the place of keeping loyal to the true and living God, he allowed his wives to draw him away from God. To please them, he built altars where they might worship their idols. Thus the leaven of idolatry became mingled with Solomon’s religious principles. Tares were sown among the wheat.
Solomon knew that God had chosen Israel, and had made them the depositaries of the true and sacred faith. God had erected a wise barrier between them and the rest of the world, and only by jealousy guarding the ancient landmarks could they preserve their high and distinct character. Why, then, did Solomon become such a moral wreck? He did not act on correct principles. He cultivated alliances with heathen kingdoms. He procured the gold of Ophir and the silver of Tarshish; but at what a cost!
Solomon mingled error with truth, and betrayed sacred trusts. The insidious evils of paganism corrupted his religion. One wrong step taken, led to step after step of political alliance. The polygamy so common at that time was directly opposed to the law of Jehovah. But this evil was tolerated in Palestine, and the Israel of God mingled in marriage with Phoenicia, Egypt, Edom, Moab, and Ammon, nations that bowed at idolatrous shrines, practising [sic] licentious and cruel rites, greatly dishonoring to God. These Solomon countenanced and sustained. His once noble character, bold and true for God and righteousness, became deteriorated. His profligate expenditure for selfish indulgence made him the instrument of Satan’s devices. His conscience became hardened. His conduct as a judge changed from equity and righteousness to tyranny and oppression. He who had offered the dedicatory prayer when the temple was consecrated to God, he who prayed for the people, that their hearts might be undividedly given to the Lord, was in his later years following a course entirely contrary to right. The life once wholly dedicated to God, had been given to the enemy.
Solomon tried to incorporate light with darkness, Christ with Belial, purity with impurity. But instead of converting the heathen to the truth, he allowed pagan sentiments to be incorporated with his religion. He became an apostate. God was no longer to him the only true and living God, a ruling Providence. Solomon was a religious wreck.
In the days of Christ, the ruins of the groves erected by Solomon for his wives might still be seen. By the true-hearted in Israel this place was named the Mount of Offense. Solomon little thought that those idol shrines would outlast his reign, continuing even till Shiloh came and looked upon the melancholy sight.
This case is placed on record as a warning to all who profess to serve God. Let those who know the word of the living God beware of cherishing the errors of the world. These Satan presents in an attractive guise; for he seeks to deceive us, and destroy the simplicity of our faith. If these errors are introduced, they will obscure the precious landmarks of truth.
God has given men and women talents. None of these gifts are to be perverted to Satan’s service. We need to guard jealously the simplicity of our faith. Let none who know the truth employ their mental faculties in any work that leads away from right principles. Thus they prostitute their powers, which are gifts from the Heavenly Father, and bring upon themselves spiritual weakness and inefficiency. We can not with safety tamper with the leaven of false, dishonoring doctrines. Think of Solomon’s history, and do not mingle error with the truth.
The safeguards of our peace are to be preserved by watchfulness and much prayer. Great care is to be shown in the choice of associates, lest instead of leading them, we are led into evil, and imperil our souls. We must do nothing to lower the standard of our religious principles. Let there be a decided reformation. Let nothing be done to weaken the faith or mar the soul. Let our reward be the clean hands, the pure heart, the noble purpose.
The Review and Herald, March 10, 1910.