The Discipline of Suffering
All who in this world render true service to God or man
receive a preparatory training in the school of sorrow. The
weightier the trust and the higher the service, the closer
is the test and the more severe the discipline.
Study the experiences of Joseph and of Moses, of Daniel [p.
152] and of David. Compare the early history of David with
the history of Solomon, and consider the results.
David in his youth was intimately associated with Saul, and
his stay at court and his connection with the king's
household gave him an insight into the cares and sorrows and
perplexities concealed by the glitter and pomp of royalty.
He saw of how little worth is human glory to bring peace to
the soul. And it was with relief and gladness that he
returned from the king's court to the sheepfolds and the
|David & Solomon—S. M. Davis collection
When by the jealousy of Saul driven a fugitive into the
wilderness, David, cut off from human support, leaned more
heavily upon God. The uncertainty and unrest of the
wilderness life, its unceasing peril, its necessity for
frequent flight, the character of the men who gathered to
him there,—"everyone that was in distress, and
everyone that was in debt, and everyone that was
discontented" (1 Samuel 22:2),—all rendered the more
essential a stern self-discipline. These experiences aroused
and developed power to deal with men, sympathy for the
oppressed, and hatred of injustice. Through years of waiting
and peril, David learned to find in God his comfort, his
support, his life. He learned that only by God's power could
he come to the throne; only in His wisdom could he rule
wisely. It was through the training in the school of
hardship and sorrow that David was able to make the
record—though afterward marred with his great
sin—that he "executed judgment and justice unto all
his people." 2 Samuel 8:15.
The discipline of David's early experience was lacking in
that of Solomon. In circumstances, in character, and in
life, he seemed favored above all others. Noble [p. 153] in
youth, noble in manhood, the beloved of his God, Solomon
entered on a reign that gave high promise of prosperity and
honor. Nations marveled at the knowledge and insight of the
man to whom God had given wisdom. But the pride of
prosperity brought separation from God. From the joy of
divine communion Solomon turned to find satisfaction in the
pleasures of sense. Of this experience he says:
"I made me great works; I builded me houses; I planted me
vineyards: I made me gardens and orchards: . . . I
got me servants and maidens: . . . I gathered me
also silver and gold, and the peculiar treasure of kings and
of the provinces: I gat me men singers and women singers,
and the delights of the sons of men, as musical instruments,
and that of all sorts. So I was great, and increased more
than all that were before me in Jerusalem. . . .
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 labor. . . . Then I looked on all the works
that my hands had wrought, and on the labor that I had
labored to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of
spirit, and there was no profit under the sun. And I turned
myself to behold wisdom, and madness, and folly: for what
can the man do that cometh after the king? even that which
hath been already done."
"I hated life. . . . Yea, I hated all my labor
which I had taken under the sun." Ecclesiastes 2:4-12, 17,
By his own bitter experience, Solomon learned the emptiness
of a life that seeks in earthly things its highest good. He
erected altars to heathen gods, only to learn how vain is
their promise of rest to the soul.
In his later years, turning wearied and thirsting from [p.
154] earth's broken cisterns, Solomon returned to drink at
the fountain of life. The history of his wasted years, with
their lessons of warning, he by the Spirit of inspiration
recorded for after generations. And thus, although the seed
of his sowing was reaped by his people in harvests of evil,
the lifework of Solomon was not wholly lost. For him at last
the discipline of suffering accomplished its work.
But with such a dawning, how glorious might have been his
life's day had Solomon in his youth learned the lesson that
suffering had taught in other lives!—Education, pp. 151-154.