Tuesday, October 22, 2013
As a follow-up to my posting below, and a second to what Brother Stephen wrote in his, I wanted to pen the thoughts of some notable men on the case of Solomon. This will expose how presumptuous it is to conclude that he was either eternally lost, or to do as the Hardshells, find support for their modern-day teaching that perseverance is not guaranteed by preservation, but that they may be separated so that the former becomes uncertain. Matthew Henry writes: "The account we have of Solomon's apostasy from God, in the latter end of his reign (1 Kings xi. 1), is the tragical part of his story; we may suppose that he spoke his Proverbs in the prime of his time, while he kept his integrity, but delivered his Ecclesiastes when he had grown old (for of the burdens and decays of age he speaks feelingly ch. xii.), and was, by the grace of God, recovered from his backslidings." Matthew Poole comments as well: "Three things in general are to be noted concerning this book: 1. The author of it, who was Solomon, as is manifest both from the common consent of Jewish and Christian writers, and from the express words of the first verse. Nor can any thing be opposed to it but bold and groundless conjectures. That he wrote it in his old age is more than probable from divers passages in it, as, that he did it after his buildings, Eccles 2:4, which yet took up twenty years of his life, 1 Kings 9:10, and after some considerable enjoyment of them, and planting of gardens and orchards, and reaping the fruit of them, Eccles 2:5-6, and after long and much consideration and experience of all those methods in which men expected to find happiness, and after he had been deeply plunged in impure and inordinate loves, Eccles 7:27, etc., and from many other places, which may be observed by any diligent reader. And so this book was written by him as a public testimony of his repentance and detestation of all those vain and wicked courses to which he had addicted himself; wherein he followed the example of his father David, who after his sad fall penned Ps 51. And the truth of this opinion may be confirmed by that expression, 2 Chron 11:17, they walked in the way of David and Solomon, i.e. wherein they walked both before their falls, and after their repentance." Puritan James Durham says: "It's of weight also, that it seems more than probable, that Solomon wrote Ecclesiastes after his recovery; it being neither amongst the Proverbs, nor Songs which are mentioned, I Kings 4:32. And in it, he speaks out of experiences he had both of folly and madness, and the vanity he had found in all created things, even when he had finished his experiment of all the possible ways of attaining, either the knowledge of their perfections, or satisfaction in the enjoyment of them." A.W. Pink writes: "With others, it is our own conviction that before the end of his earthly pilgrimage Solomon was made to repent deeply of his waywardness and wickedness. We base this conviction upon three things. First, the fact that he was the writer of the book of Ecclesiastes (1:1) and that it was penned at a later period of his life than the Proverbs and Canticles (see 1 Kings 4:32). Now to us it seems impossible to ponder Ecclesiastes without being struck with its prevailing note of sadness and without feeling that its writer is there expressing the contrition of one who has mournfully returned from the paths of error. In that book he speaks out the bitter experiences he had gone through in pursuing a course of folly and madness and of the resultant "vexation of spirit"—see especially 7:2, 3, 26, 27 which is surely a voicing of his repentance. Second, hereby God made good His express promise to David concerning Solomon: "I will be his Father and he shall be My son. If he commit iniquity, I will chastise him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men: but My mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul" (2 Sam. 7:14, 15). Third, centuries after his death the Spirit declared, "Did not Solomon king of Israel sin by these things? yet among many nations was there no king like him, who was beloved of his God" (Neh. 13:26)." In his recent posting Brother Stephen cited the words of Dr. Gill to which the reader may turn as well. From these sound opinions based on Bible facts it is obvious that Solomon is no poster-child for denying the perseverance of the saints.