Today, I want to share with everyone the enlightenment I’ve gained from the stories of two rich people in the Old Testament—Solomon and Job. The two of them, as we all know, were both blessed by God at first, yet they ended up differently. What is it that contributed to their different outcomes? To figure out this question, let’s have a look at their stories.
How wealthy was Solomon?
Once, Jehovah God appeared to Solomon in a dream and asked him what he wished to receive. Solomon only asked God to grant him wisdom, which was accepted by God. And then God said to him, “Because you have asked this thing, and have not asked for yourself long life; neither have asked riches for yourself, nor have asked the life of your enemies; but have asked for yourself understanding to discern judgment; Behold, I have done according to your words: see, I have given you a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like you before you, neither after you shall any arise like to you. And I have also given you that which you have not asked, both riches, and honor: so that there shall not be any among the kings like to you all your days” (1 Kings 3:11-13). Jehovah God bestowed great blessings upon Solomon, not only granting him great wisdom but making his nation increasingly powerful and prosperous, so, many nations made obeisance to him. The following scriptures are detailed records about the richness of his nation during the golden age of his reign.
“Judah and Israel were many, as the sand which is by the sea in multitude, eating and drinking, and making merry. And Solomon reigned over all kingdoms from the river to the land of the Philistines, and to the border of Egypt: they brought presents, and served Solomon all the days of his life” (1 Kings 4:20-21).
During that golden age of Solomon’s reign, the nation had a large population and all the people led a peaceful and contented life; he had dominion over a large territory with a huge and mighty army; all the kings of the surrounding nations came to serve him with tributes, and his fortune exceeded that of all the other kings of the earth. Isn’t that astonishing?
How wealthy was Job?
Now let’s look at how rich Job was at that time. It is recorded in the, “And there were born to him seven sons and three daughters. His substance also was seven thousand sheep, and three thousand camels, and five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred she asses, and a very great household; so that this man was the greatest of all the men of the east” (Job 1:2-3).
From these verses we can know that Job had many children and possessed abundant assets. He had many servants and livestock carpeting the mountains and the plains. At that time he was virtually the richest man of the east.
Solomon was detested and rejected by God.
Apart from bestowing wisdom and wealth upon Solomon, Jehovah God also promised him, “And if you will walk in my ways, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as your father David did walk, then I will lengthen your days” (1 Kings 3:14). However, Solomon didn’t obey this requirement of Jehovah God to walk in God’s ways for life as his father David did: After receiving untold wealth, he began to indulge in a life of luxury and comfort, and strayed from the way of fearing God, gradually forsaking God in his heart; moreover, he married many Gentile women and followed them in worshiping their idols, which totally violated Jehovah God’s teaching, “You shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in to you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods” (1 Kings 11:2).
Solomon didn’t walk the way of fearing God and shunning evil, but openly violated the statutes of Jehovah God. In the end, he offended God’s disposition. God said to Solomon, “For as much as this is done of you, and you have not kept my covenant and my statutes, which I have commanded you, I will surely rend the kingdom from you, and will give it to your servant. Notwithstanding in your days I will not do it for David your father’s sake: but I will rend it out of the hand of your son. However, I will not rend away all the kingdom; but will give one tribe to your son for David my servant’s sake, and for Jerusalem’s sake which I have chosen” (1 Kings 11:11-13). Because of Solomon’s deeds, God detested and rejected him and decided to rend the kingdom from him. Although there is no record in the Scripture about what Solomon was like after he lost God’s blessings, it is not difficult to imagine how he felt from what he said in his later years, “I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit” (Ecclesiastes 1:14). When he lost God, even though he still possessed wisdom, status and wealth, he didn’t feel sated or happy in his spirit at all, but led a miserable and desolate life in the vast palace till his end.
Job was approved by God.
Compared with Solomon, Job maintained the path of fearing God and shunning evil throughout his life. Being a man of great wealth, he had the capital to enjoy a luxurious life, yet he continued to walk in God’s way. Each time after his children feasted, he would send and sanctify them and sacrifice burnt offerings for them for fear that they would offend God. Just as the Bible says, “And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually” (Job 1:5).
Later even when Satan’s temptations befell him—losing all of his immense wealth and all of his children, and he himself being covered in sore boils all over his body—he never abandoned God or complained about Him, but still offered praise to Him, “Jehovah gave, and Jehovah has taken away; blessed be the name of Jehovah” (Job 1:21). After he stood witness in those trials, God appeared to him out of a whirlwind and doubly blessed him, just as it is recorded in the Bible, “So Jehovah blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning: for he had fourteen thousand sheep, and six thousand camels, and a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand she asses. He had also seven sons and three daughters. … After this lived Job an hundred and forty years, and saw his sons, and his sons’ sons, even four generations. So Job died, being old and full of days” (Job 42:12-13, 16-17).
From the accounts in the Bible, we can know that no matter whether in a comfortable or difficult environment, Job never shunned Jehovah God, but still followed His way. He bore a resounding testimony for God relying on his reverence to Him, and finally lived out his last years in peace and happiness.
What lessons should we learn from these stories?
Solomon and Job were both believers in God with untold masses of wealth in the beginning, yet they walked in different ways and had entirely different outcomes: Job held fast to the way of fearing God and shunning evil all his life and gained God’s blessings in the end; Solomon, after gaining the incomparable wealth, began to indulge in the worldly enjoyment, losing his God-fearing heart and knowingly going against His commandments without the slightest hint of repentance, and finally changed from a man favored by God to a man loathed by God, suffering God’s abandonment and punishment.
From the stories of Solomon and Job, we can learn a lesson: As Christians, only if we strictly follow God’s teachings and revere Him at all times can we gain His approval and blessings. Especially in today’s society full of enticements and temptations, once our hearts stray away from God and no longer revere Him, we may be easily devoured by various kinds of evil trends. As we have seen, some brothers and sisters, after receiving bountiful grace and blessings from the Lord, were full of faith when they first started to believe in the Lord, and some even resolved to give up marriage and expend themselves for God all their lives. Later, however, influenced by the evil trends, many of them not only didn’t keep their promises made before God, but turned to pursue wealth and fame, and began to attend meetings and read the Bible less and less; some, after establishing their own families, were no longer dedicated to doing church work, but busied themselves in struggling for a better life for their families. Some once pledged to God that no matter how the evil trends lured them, they would never do things that offended and disgusted God. However, when Satan’s temptations befell them—people of the opposite sex they admired chased after them, they began to sway and suffer a fierce inner struggle, and some were even tempted into doing things that offended God, and live the rest of their lives in remorse. There were also some who, after once resolving to serve God all their lives, failed to uphold their oaths when they were offered a decent job by their relatives or friends or stumped upon an opportunity to gain wealth. … In daily life, temptations like these often befall us, and if we are unable to maintain a heart that reveres God at all times as Job did, we are liable to end up like Solomon, going against God’s exhortations and requirements for us, abandoning His way and finally being detested and rejected by Him. The Bible says, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you” (James 4:8). So living in such an evil world, we should come before the Lord every day, constantly pray and draw near to Him, asking Him to protect our hearts from shunning Him. And most importantly, we should keep in mind the teachings of the Lord and walk in God’s way—fearing God and shunning evil as Job did. Only this way can we avoid being seduced away by the evil trends and losing the most precious wealth God bestows upon us—the blessing of the kingdom of heaven.