Vol.XVI No.IV Pg.6
June 1979

The Pursuits Of Solomon

Robert F. Turner

Isaac Errett, editor of CHRISTIAN STANDARD, wrote a lengthy series of articles called "Evenings With The Bible;" published in book form from 1884 to 1889. We quote from Vol. l, p. 342-f. We feel inspiration deserves a greater place in the analysis of Solomon's writings, but urge you to "hear him out" in this different look at the "wise" man's life and work.


"Solomon was enthusiastic in the pursuit of everything but piety. Here he was half-hearted. His wisdom was, after all, worldly wisdom. His proverbs relate mostly to the practical affairs of life, and are the lessons of experience and observation as applied to the regulation of personal, domestic, social and political affairs. In many instances they teach lessons of trust in God and obedience to His law; but rather with an eye to the earthly blessings to be thus secured... In his best days, Solomon's piety wears a utilitarian hue, never unmixed with considerations of State policy... It is remarkable that our Lord found nothing worthy, in the way of illustration, in the life of Solomon, and was content with bare allusions to his wisdom and his glory.

In Eccl. 12:26 he says: "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man." It will be observed that the word duty is in italics, being supplied by the translators... The book is not so much a treatise on duty, as on happiness — a record of the determined and unrestrained experiments of the writer with every element and every combination of elements of earthly good. Its language is that of a sated and disgusted devotee at the shrine of pleasure... It should read: "...for this is the whole happiness of man.... Alas! That it should require the waste of a great life to reach this conclusion!

* * * *

"I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly; I perceived that this also is vexation of spirit. For in much wisdom is much grief; and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow" (l:17-18). That is, earthly knowledge and wisdom as ends, not as means to the great end which God sets before us.

"I said in mine heart, Go to now, I will prove thee with mirth, therefore enjoy pleasure: and behold, this also is vanity" (2:l-2).... It seems to have taken Solomon long to learn that the cup of life is a mixture of good and evil, which imparts no perfect happiness, but may serve to prepare us for true happiness hereafter.

* * * *

Solomon's life was a tremendous failure. If his sun rose in splendor, it set behind dark and threatening clouds. Worn out with self-indulgence — far more exhausting than all the cares and turmoils and bloody conflicts belonging to his father's reign, — he went down to the grave when he ought to have been in a glorious prime — not yet sixty years old, muttering as he went, "Vanity of vanities, vanity of vanities; all is vanity!" (Condensed, as indicated.)


Well, you don't often hear that angle.