And whatsoever mine eyes desired I kept not from them, I withheld not my heart from any joy; for my heart rejoiced in all my labour: and this was my portion of all my labour (Ecclesiastes 2.10).
SOLOMON’S accomplishments are the substance of dreams for the majority of mankind. His glorious majesty, his immense wealth and acquisitions, his grand buildings, his mines, and of course his wisdom are all legendary. They are the subject matter for which archeologists and historians have dedicated lifetimes researching and exploring. Even during his own lifetime, Solomon’s fame reached far and wide so that “...when the Queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the Lord, she came to prove him with hard questions (1 Kings 10:1).” His status was far and away the highest of the time, “...so King Solomon exceeded all the kings of the earth for riches and wisdom (1 Kings 10:23),” and men then and now would gladly trade places with him to assume that position.
Solomon, speaking autobiographically, states that he made great works (Ecclesiastes 2:4) and gives an extensive list of accomplishments. Such an acclamation! Great works. Nothing mundane or mediocre, small or insignificant. Houses, gardens, orchards, irrigation systems, servants unto the second generation, cattle, silver, gold, and “the peculiar treasures of kings and of the provinces (2:8),” and choirs and orchestras. Nothing was small; everything was on the grandest of scale.
Not only did he do great works, but, he was great, more than all that were before him in Jerusalem (2:9). His greatness involved everything that his heart desired and any joy that he could obtain (2:10). Yet, as he gave himself to these matters to see if there was any joy or satisfaction in them, he discovered pain, emptiness and sadness, while the world esteemed him great.
Many of his acquisitions came from his being King of Israel. Others came from those who paid tribute, and still more came from those who sought his favor by lavishing upon him shiny trinkets and shallow praise. By all of the world’s standards, he had arrived. He had it all. Yet, instead of finding joy, he found heartache. Instead of finding peace he found a conflict. Instead of security in wealth, he found emptiness. Instead of abundance, he found a void. “Therefore I hated life; because the work that is wrought under the sun is grievous unto me: for all is vanity and vexation of the spirit (2:18).”
For all of the external comforts which he had, all the accomplishments he had achieved, and all the power which he had at his disposal, even the building of the temple of God, yet in all this he found no satisfaction, no peace, and no profit (2:11).
Solomon then turned inward to himself, “...to behold wisdom, and madness, and folly (1:17).” He attempted to find solace in the intellectual and philosophical realms. He abandoned the normal restraints and gave himself to vice. He loved many women of forbidden lineage, and they turned his heart away (1 Kings 11:1-3). He gave himself to wine and folly to “...see what was that good for the sons of men, which they should do under the heaven all the days of their life (Ecclesiastes 2:3).” He gave his heart to all of the natural means to find joy and peace, yet to no avail.
This was for him, like Moses and Abraham before him, his setting apart, his sanctification. This was his wilderness, his schoolmaster to bring him through trials and tribulations unto patience, experience, hope, and truth. God, who works all things according to his good pleasure, had afore ordained this vessel to undertake this arduous path, according to His abundant mercy, unto all knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding.
“And moreover, because the preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge: yea, he gave good heed, and sought out, and set in order many proverbs (Ecclesiastes12:1).” He was given of God to see the heights and depths of the flesh and the disparity of life. This was his lot, his assignment, his portion in life (2:10).
Have you ever considered that word, “portion”? Even though Solomon was king he did not possess everything, nor did he have all wisdom, power, and knowledge. He did not possess all the riches of the world. He did not rule over all of his kingdom, nor over all of his own house, nor even his own body and desires. He was a man, born of a woman, made under the law, of corruptible seed, who was given a portion by the hand of the Almighty. Before there can be a portion of something, there must first be a whole from which the portion or part can be taken. Where there is a whole there must have been the origin of that whole, a plan and design for it, the actual making of it, and a purpose for both the whole and all its parts.
This also intimates that there was a designer and a planner whose wisdom and power rendered the portions completely passive so that His purpose may be fulfilled. This would also require a designation for the portions and the complete coordination of these designations, called vessels or man, so that all things would work together in harmony, “to the intent that now all principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God according to the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord (Ephesians 3:10f).”
Each vessel, properly equipped to perform the portion assigned unto it, must, without any possibility of failure, complete its portion in the allotted time and in the exact required order. Such precision could not include such frailties as ’free will’ or random choice. Nor could they be contingent upon conditions.
Therefore, in the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit covenanted together to do whatsoever seemed good in His sight. According to the purpose of His will, He began, enacted, and completed all that has been, is, and shall be done, saying “...I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, my counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure (Isaiah 46:10).”
The whole creation was prepared from start to finish, and by His own power it was brought into existence. He “measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, and meted out the heavens with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance (Isaiah 40:12).” He created all things “after his kind, whose seed is in itself.” He established the times of their habitations, their influences, and the boundaries of their existence, and in Him we live and move and have our being. He arrayed Himself in majesty and glory, and when He had finished His work of creation, time was set in motion to divide one portion from another and to establish a time for every purpose under heaven.
This all-encompassing sovereignty extends to “...all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in the earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him, and for Him: and He is before all things, and by Him all things consist (Colossians 1:16f).” This is where all of the household of faith were given to the Son in covenant, the plan for their salvation accomplished by the Son’s becoming the servant to the Father’s will.
Dare any rise up in objection to this? The flesh does, for it cannot comprehend this glorious truth. The will-worshipping workmongers do, with their socialized religion that endeavors to bring Christ to the world and to improve man, his society, and his lifestyle. These new and exciting places indeed do, that thrive on attendance, numbers, and the emotions of their people.
The signs out front may read, “Where Jesus is Lord”; but within, in word and deed, the doctrine of the sovereignty of God is despised and hated, and every neo-ism of philosophy is preached, and every means of works is explored. Their “itchy-eared” teachers preach with emotionally charged words of man’s learning and education. They excite the senses of the hearers and drive the teams of “evangelistic” workmongers with a two pronged whip of duty faith and rewards.
Like swarms of locusts, they are sent forth into the world preaching hell-fire and brimstone in attempts to frighten prospective converts into their assembly. There, they learn man’s doctrine of self improvement and the fine points of the mechanics of man’s system. This massive juggernaut is fueled with the morose pleas of emotionalism centered on women and children, the poor and the indigent, the depraved, and the pseudo-passions of “good works.” The machinery is greased with the mammon of filthy lucre and arrayed with the tapestries of maliciousness. This whited sepulchre continues from age to age requiring a labor for the wind in exchange for a promise of eternal gratitude from an impotent god. With the zeal of martyrdom and the pride of their humility, they accuse the children of faith of being hard-shelled, rigid in their system, and old-fashioned in their ways. They claim that the teachings of the sovereignty of God would legalize sin and excuse the offender. They defiantly ask, “Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will (Romans 9:19)?”
In effect, the apostle Paul answered such arrogance with the same words that God answered Job, “Wilt thou also disannul my judgment? Wilt thou condemn me, that thou mayest be righteous (Job 40:8)?” “Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say unto him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honor, and another unto dishonor (Romans (19:20)?” And if God was willing for His own purpose, glory, and honor to make one vessel one way and another vessel another way, dare any of His creations say anything against Him?
If He made one wicked, fitted for destruction, for the purpose of revealing His strength and power, and that His name would be known throughout all the land, and this wicked one performed great wickedness to the point of indiscriminately killing man, woman and child, and burdening God’s people almost to the breaking point, would God be unjust, seeing this was His way of delivering Israel from Pharaoh’s bond and out of Egypt? Could this “vessel of wrath, fitted for destruction,” upon whom God is “willing to show His wrath,” do anything but that for which it was intended and created? And could the “vessel of mercy, which He afore prepared unto glory,” do anything which would translate it into a vessel of wrath by a temporal deed, either in commission or omission? Can the glory of God be tarnished in any way by a weakness of the flesh in doubt, fear, or backsliding? God forbid! The Lord God omnipotent reigns. He is seated in heaven and rules all things on earth, “And all the inhabitant of the earth are reputed as nothing: and He doeth according to His will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay His hand, or say unto Him, What doest thou (Daniel 4:35)?”
To intimate that a vessel of honor, or one of dishonor, could in some way fail to perform the prescribed portion of the whole of creation assigned to them, or that their work may change their status from sheep to goat or vice versa, is to say that the God in whom we live and move and have our being is devoid of power and unable to sustain His work and His will.
Can a hand perform in such a way as to make itself a lesser hand or even no hand at all? If the foot goes astray, is it not God who directs the path of the righteous? Is the way of man within himself? When Peter looked about and saw the waves and the winds, the tempest and the storms, did he “fall from grace” as he began to sink? Did he not do that which was according to his Adamic nature and after his kind, so that the word of God might be revealed in him in power and majesty, without any assistance from him? No free will and no conditions were imposed.
In Ephesians chapter 2, it is written that the whole body is composed of parts and that these parts, or members, are fitly framed together unto an holy habitation of God through the Spirit (verse 22), each member being given a “measure of faith” ( Romans 12:3) and “grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ (Ephesians 4:7).” Each member is given a portion in the proper amounts, “for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ (Ephesians 4:12f).”
Christ has made each one vital to the household and effectual in his duty, to the end that “...the whole body [is] fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, making increase of the body unto edifying itself in love (Ephesians 4:16).”
“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord (1 Corinthians 15:58).”
In hope of Glory,
C. A. Dirkes
Welsh Tract Church