|Topical Bible Study||June 1962|
The People in God’s Plan—Lesson XIII
Solomon, Prophet and Writer
SOLOMON was used by the Lord to write three of the Old Testament books—The Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and The Song of Solomon. Each of these books contains gems of truth relating to the divine plan which are cherished by every sincere student of the Word of God.
The Book of Proverbs is, in character, what its name implies, a compilation of proverbs expressing the wisdom of the Lord which he had imparted to Solomon. A large number of these proverbs emphasize the importance of wisdom itself and the manner in which it should control the servant of the Lord in his relationships with others and in his humble obedience to the Lord. The proverbs are presented as from a father to his son and, while Solomon may well have been thinking of one of his own sons when writing these proverbs, they are more meaningful to us if we think of them as being addressed by our Heavenly Father to us as his children.—Prov. 2:1; 3:1; 4:1; 5:1; 23:26
Under the direction of the Holy Spirit we find that in one of Solomon’s lessons Wisdom is personified, and applied to the Logos, the only directly created Son of God; or at least many students of the Bible give the passage this interpretation, which seems most reasonable.—Prov. 8:22-30; Col. 1:15-17; John 1:1-3
It is a rewarding experience to read the Book of Proverbs, and we highly recommend this to all students of the Bible.
An alternate title to Ecclesiastes is “The Preacher.” Solomon had been richly blessed by the Lord in wisdom, glory, and riches. He had done much to gratify his own desires, but finally realized that it must all soon end, so the vanity of all things on earth seems to be one of the principal themes of Ecclesiastes.—Eccles. 1:24; 2:1-11
Solomon had great reverence for the Lord. This is evidenced by his prayer of dedication at the completion of the temple. (I Kings 8:22-53) And when he wrote Ecclesiastes he emphasized the great importance of reverence before the Lord.—Eccles. 5:7; 8:12
Israel was continually surrounded by heathen nations. Solomon had taken many heathen women as wives and concubines, so it is natural that the religious viewpoints of these should be impressed upon his mind. While in his later years he was guilty of worshiping false gods, apparently he did not give up all things he knew pertaining to the true nature of man, and the divine penalty for sin.
We know that the error first expressed by Satan to Mother Eve, “Ye shall not surely die,” found its way into the beliefs of the heathen, and was expressed by them in various ways. Acknowledging that the body dies, most non-Christian religions insist that there is a “spirit” within man which escapes at death and returns to heaven, and to God. Solomon knew that this was wrong, and asked in Ecclesiastes who can prove this erroneous viewpoint.—Gen. 3:4; Eccles. 3:19-21, RSV; 9:5
We are indebted to Solomon for a most concise, distinct and precise definition of the Hebrew word sheol. In a text in which this word is translated “grave” Solomon explains that therein is no wisdom, no knowledge, and no device; meaning that it is a state of complete unconsciousness.—Eccles. 9:10
In the last chapter of Ecclesiastes, Solomon gives an admonition for all to remember their Creator in the days of their youth. Then in beautiful, pictorial language, he describes the aging process and finally death itself, which he speaks of as the body or dust returning to the earth and the spirit returning to God.—Gen. 2:7; 3:19; Eccles. 12:7
Some claim this teaches that a person has an immortal spirit which does not die when the body returns to dust. But the use of the word “return” with respect to the spirit returning to God, precludes the possibility of this interpretation. The body returns to the earth; that is, to its original state, and so does the “spirit.”
Here the word spirit translates the Hebrew word ruwach, which, according to Prof. Strong, means “wind,” or “breath.” We might properly speak of it as the God-given power to live, which at death reverts to God. Paul said that in God “we live, and move, and have our being.” When the power to live reverts to him, death ensues, and the individual is as though he had not been born, except that God has promised to restore life in the resurrection.—Acts 17:28; I Cor. 15:21,22
The Song of Solomon, or Canticles, is rather obscure in meaning, and has been interpreted in many different ways. According to the Jewish Talmud, the “Beloved” of the book is taken to be God, while the loved one, or bride, is the congregation of Israel. In Christian circles the generally accepted interpretation is that the book portrays the mutual love of Christ and his church. In keeping with this, how beautifully stated is the adoration of the church, when she says concerning Christ that he is “the chiefest [margin, Heb. a standard bearer] among ten thousand,” the One “altogether lovely.”—ch. 5:10,16
What three books of the Old Testament were written by Solomon?
Describe one of the chief characteristics of the Book of Proverbs. As Christians, whom should we think of as “Father”?
Is it reasonable to conclude that in chapter 8, verses 22 to 30 of this book the only begotten Son of God is personified as Wisdom?
What is an alternate title to the Book of Ecclesiastes?
What is one of the principal themes presented in Ecclesiastes?
How do we know that Solomon was a man who reverenced God?
How did Solomon, in this book, refute the erroneous teaching that the dead are not dead?
How did Solomon define the Hebrew word Sheol?
Explain what Solomon meant by his statement that at death the spirit returns to God who gave it.
How does the Jewish Talmud interpret the Song of Solomon?
How is the Song of Solomon generally understood by Christian students of the Bible?
SUMMARY OF IMPORTANT THOUGHTS
The great importance of wisdom, particularly from God, is stressed in the Book of Proverbs. Ecclesiastes emphasizes strongly that “all is vanity,” and also sets forth the truth on the state of the dead. To Christian students the Song of Solomon depicts the mutual love of Christ and his church.