Lesson Six


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Memory Verse: Ecclesiastes 2:26
Further Study: 1 Kings 3, 4, 10-12; 2 Chronicles 9; Prophets and Kings, 51-98; The Bible Story, vol. 4, pp. 134-136; 152-177

Stephen Smith initially accepted the biblical truths that became the foundation of the Adventist church. But he struggled and eventually came to a place where his opposition toward the members was stronger than his love of the truth. In the 1850s, Ellen White wrote a letter to Smith where she outlined what his future life would be like if he continued to live as he did. Receiving the letter, but imagining it to be yet another criticism, he hid the unopened letter at the bottom of a trunk.

For almost 30 years, Smith was not involved with the church. 

For almost 30 years, Smith was not involved with the church. But his wife remained connected and received the church paper each week. One day Smith picked up the paper. The next week he did the same. As he read, his heart began to soften.

Stephen read of revival meetings to be held in Washington, New Hampshire, and decided to attend. His presence that day surprised the church members. Even more so when he asked to speak. Everyone braced themselves for the hate-filled speeches he was known for. Instead, what they heard was remorse and the desire for forgiveness.

Everyone braced themselves for the hate-filled speeches he was known for. 

He had planned to stay for the rest of the meetings, but remembered the letter hidden in the trunk. Although a 12-mile walk, he left immediately. Upon arrival home, he opened the letter and read what had been written years ago. “If I had heeded [the counsel given],” Smith said, “they would have saved me a world of trouble.” What the letter revealed was a description of the unhappy life he’d led for the past 28 years.*

Solomon also received a letter of sorts written years earlier by Moses (Deut. 17:14-20) and from his father, David (2 Sam. 23:1-7). If Solomon had heeded this counsel he might have found himself in a very different place. Like Stephen Smith, Solomon eventually recognized his poor choices, but almost too late. He could have avoided much heartache.

Solomon eventually recognized his poor choices, but almost too late.  

We wonder why or how someone who knows God can drift so far from Him. For Stephen Smith, it was his self-described arrogance, believing he knew better. For Solomon, it was wealth and self-reliance that led to compromises leading him away from God.

We are not immune to such things. We, too, can drift. We, too, can think we can interpret truth better or rely on ourselves to know what is best. Maybe the biggest mistake, though, is being too busy to read the Bible—God’s “letter” to us. Had Stephen read and accepted his letter, life would have been different. Had Solomon read Deuteronomy, his life course might have been saved. We, too, can discover God’s will if we study the Bible each day. Store up its truths and be renewed.

Digging Deeper 

Long before the idea of a king to lead Israel was ever thought of, Moses wrote principles for a king to follow in Deuteronomy 17:14-20.

  • The king should come from within Israel.
  • The king shouldn’t accumulate many horses.
  • The king shouldn’t purchase horses from Egypt.
  • The king shouldn’t have multiple wives.
  • The king shouldn’t accrue much silver and gold.

Solomon violated all but one; he was an Israelite. Why the counsel against horses, wives, and wealth? Because all can cause a lack of dependence on God. Many horses represented the building of military strength giving a sense of invincibility. To return to Egypt is to return from where Israel was redeemed exposing them to idolatry. Too many wives is a distraction and those from foreign nations also exposed the king to idols. Too much money makes one rely on self, not God.

Making it Real

If you have dominoes, why not use them for an illustration for family worship? First, talk about Solomon’s life. For each good thing he did, stack one domino on top of another while they lay flat on a level surface. The table represents the Word of God. For each poor choice, stand a domino vertically on its end in a line so the dominoes stand with no more than an inch between them.

Once this is completed, ask, “Which is the most stable? The ones stacked flat on the table or the ones standing up?” Then give the table a bit of a shake and see what happens. Do they stay together or fall down? 

Now stand the dominoes up in a line again. Give the first one a gentle push and see how each one knocks the other down. How does this illustrate our choices? Each choice can affect another and another until we find things crashing to the ground. Which is the better way to live? With our life grounded on the Bible or wobbly and unsupported?


Merle Poirier writes from Silver Spring, Maryland, where she works as the operation manager for Adventist Review and Adventist World magazines as well as the designer for KidsView, a magazine for 8-12-year-olds. She enjoys spending time with her family including being the grandmother of two active little boys, who greatly enjoy Starting With Jesus.


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