Lesson 26: King Solomon: Man of Wisdom, Man of Foolishness
Although it is not evident unless you have access to the books cited in the References, this 1938 seminary lesson draws on the story of Solomon to make broadly the same point as the lesson in this year’s Sunday School manual: Our blessings, if not used wisely, can actually become stumbling blocks to us. The Sunday School manual takes that in the direction of living worthy to enter the temple rather than following Solomon’s example of excess; the seminary lesson looks at using political freedom (“true Americanism”) to bless the world with good will and brotherhood rather than succumbing to greed and selfishness.
TAKING ACTION AGAINST SOCIAL EVILS
Are there phases of our social life that can be improved, and how can it be accomplished?
Point of View
Man, made in the pattern of his Creator, travele4d slowly along the path of freedom during the early history of the world. Ignorance and bondage were the cause of human suffering and injustice for centuries. Two thousand years have passed since Jesus brought to mankind the hope of a world to be governed by good-will and brotherhood. Today, much of the ignorance and bondage of the past has been cleared away,. Much of the blindness of creeds and the bondage of kings have been conquered. Today, true Americanism accepts Man’s right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Appreciating their heritage as God-given, they must accept the responsibility of aiding in the fulfillment of God’s plans for all mankind.
A famous historian tells of a tribe of savages in the Amazon valley who make it a rule on a long journey to stop very often to let their souls catch up with their bodies. Years ago wise men looked at our civilization and told us that we were making so many new things to make life new and exciting, that we were going too fast for the things of the spirit to catch up. To know that which is wrong with the society which we have made is not enough. To have courage and willingness to aid in making a world after God’s plan is the great need.
What then is the task? In the modern world there are still those who are sick in body and mind without aid; there are those who have little or no chance to obtain the necessities of life; there are those whose lives are worth nothing to selfish rulers and dictators; there are those who through ignorance and lack of opportunity know nothing of our all-wise and loving Creator’s plans.
The dignity of the individual is the sacred obligation of all to preserve, for Man is God’s creation. “Blessed are they who cultivate in themselves a love for their neighbors and who respect before everything, the dignity of the human being.” For these are God’s dreams for all His children.
That men shall love one another,
That white shall call black man brother,
That men shall cease from their hating
That glory of kings and lords shall pale
That pride of dominion and power shall fail
That love of humanity shall prevail
Dreams are they … but they are God’s dreams.
Washburn, J.A., Story of the Old Testament, pp. 381-385
Dalby, Ezra C., Land and Leaders of Israel, pp. 334-351; 356-373
In the two references above is the story of the social evils that existed during Old Testament times. It will be interesting to note what they were, how God felt about it, and what the consequences would be if they were continued.
Reader’s Digest, June 1938, p. 63, “Justice on the Job.”
Reader’s Digest, April 1938, p. 27, “Civic Progress – Toledo Style.”
Reader’s Digest, May `1938, p. 76, “Kansas City House Cleaning.”
All of the above references are good and interesting accounts of what people have accomplished as a group of united citizens opposed to racketeering.
Reader’s Digest, June 1938, “Double Trouble,” p. 66.
This deals with the added trouble that our double feature movies have brought.
Reader’s Digest, 1937 (See reader’s Guide for exact date), “The Art of Staying at Home.”
Davis, Maxine, Lost Generation, “Movie Addicts”
Washburn, J.A., Story of the Old Testament
Chapter 73. “Solomon the Wise Man.” This reveals the fall of a ruler from the highest idealism to the common practices of social wickedness.
Ibid., Chapters 87 and 88. “The Kingdom of Judah,” and “Hezekiah to the Fall of Jerusalem.”
This gives a picture of turbulent conditions in Judah due to corrupt government; in contrast we also find reform kings.
Dalby, Ezra C., Land and Leaders of Israel. Pp. 358-361, “Hezekiah, the Good King.”
This is the story of a prince who was reared under a corrupting influence, yet did not permit this to influence him in his later reign.
Ibid., “Josiah the Reformer King.” pp. 374-377.
This man is one of few who had power yet retained a righteous character. His motivation was his religious energy.
A High Way and a Low
To every man there openeth
A way, and ways, and a way.
And the high soul climbs the High Way,
And the low soul gropes the low;
And in between, on the misty flats,
The rest drift to and fro.
But to every man there openeth
A High Way and a Low;
And every man decideth
The Way his soul shall go. – John Oxenham
“I find the great thing in this world is not so much where we stand as in what direction we are moving; to reach the port of heaven we must sail, sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it – but we must sail, and not drift, not lie at anchor.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes.
The tongue of the just is as choice silver;’
The heart of the wicked is little worth. – Prov. 10:20
The mouth of the just bringeth forth wisdom;
But the forward tongue shall be cut out. –0 Prov. `10:31
Before destruction the heart of man is haughty,
And before honour is humility. – Prov. 18:12
The desire of the slothful killeth him;
For his hands refuse labour. – Prov. 21:25
By much slothfulness the building decayeth; and through
Idleness of hands the house droppeth through. – Ec. 10:18
“I do not believe in a fate that falls on a person no matter how he acts, but I do believe in a fate that falls on him unless he acts.”
My son, walk not thou in the way with them; refrain thy foot from their path; For their feet run to evil; and make haste to shed blood. Surely, in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird. And they lay wait for their own blood; they lurk privily for their own lives. So are the ways of every one that is greedy of gain; which taketh away the life of the owner thereof. – Prov. 1:15-19
When the Nineteenth Century died, its Spirit descended to the vaulted chamber of the Past, where the Spirits of the Dead Centuries sit on granite thrones together. When the newcomer entered, all turned toward him and the Spirit of the Eighteenth Century sp9oke:
“Tell thy tale, brother. Give us word of the humankind we left to thee.”
“I am the spirit of the Wonderful Century. I gave man the mastery over nature. Discoveries and inventions which lighted the black space of the past like lonely stars have clustered in a milky way of radiance under my rule. One man does by the touch of his hand what the toil of a thousand slaves never did. Knowledge has unlocked the mines of wealth, and the hoarded wealth of today creates the vaster wealth of tomorrow. Man has escaped the slavery of Necessity and is free.
“I freed the thoughts of man. They faced the facts and know. Their knowledge is common to all. The deeds of the East at eve are known in the West at morn. They send their whispers under the seas and across the clouds.
“I broke the chains of bigotry and despotism. I made men free and equal. Every man feels the wort of his manhood.
“I have touched the summit of history. I did for mankind what none of you did before. They are rich. They are wise. They are free.”
The Spirits of the Dead Centuries sat silent, with troubled eyes. At last the Spirit of the First Century spoke for all:
“We all spoke proudly when we came here in the flush of our deeds, and thou more proudly than we all. But as we sit and think of what was before us, and what has come after us, shame and guilt bear down our pride. Your words sound as if the redemption of man had come at last. Has it come?
“You have made men rich. Tell us, is none in pain with hunger today, and none in fear of hunger for tomorrow? Do all children grow up fair of limb and trained for thought and action? Do none die before their time? Has the mastery of nature made men free to enjoy their lives and loves, and to live the higher life of the Mind?
“You have made men wise. Are they wise or cunning? Have they learned to restrain their bodily passions? Have they learned to deal with their fellows in justice and love?
“You have set them free. Are there none, then, who toil for others against their will? Are all men free to do the work they love best?
“You have made men one. Are there no barriers of class to keep man and maid apart? Does none rejoice in the cause that makes the many moan? Do men no longer spill the blood of men for their ambition and the sweat of men for their greed?”
As the Spirit of the Nineteenth Century listened, his head sank on his breast.
“Your shame is already upon me. My great cities are as yours were. My millions live from hand to mouth. Those who toil longest have least. My thousands sink exhausted before their days are half spent. My human wreckage multiplies. Class faces class in sullen distrust. Their freedom and knowledge has only made men keener to suffer. Give me a seat among you, and let me think why it has been so.”
The others turned to the Spirit of the First Century, “Your promised redemption is long coming.”
“But it will come,” he replied.
– Walter Rauschenbusch, Christianity and the Social Crisis, pp. 211-212