June 9, 2015.
Daily Reading: I Kings 5-9.
Background: I Kings 1-4.
Concepts and Connections.
Preparing to build the temple: Since David was not allowed to build a house for the Lord due to the bloodshed and fighting that he had seen in his days (see II Samuel 7 and I Chronicles 22:6-10), the task of building of the temple fell to his son, Solomon. As Solomon prepares to build the house of the Lord, he sends word to Hiram king of Tyre to get skilled labor and materials from him, for they were the best cutters of timber that Solomon knew. Hiram had been friendly to David (see II Samuel 5:11), and was very pleased when Solomon asked for his help. Hiram agreed to the project, asking for food for his servants in return. With this there was peace between Hiram and Solomon as they entered into a treaty. Then we are given the record of the forced labor that Solomon drafted in order to build the temple, noting the preparation of cutting out the stone for the foundation of the temple.
Building the temple: After gathering the supplies and people to build the house of the Lord, construction was begun on the house in the 480th year after the exodus from Egypt (note the importance of the exodus, as that was one way by which the children of Israel marked time). As the house was being built, the Lord comes to Solomon and tells him that if he keeps HIs statues and walks in His ways, then He would establish the promise given to his father, establishing his throne forever (see II Samuel 7:13). And thus Solomon built the house of the Lord according to all its specifications laid out in this chapter. The house took seven years to complete.
1. Solomon’s house: Apart from building the house of the Lord, Solomon also set out to build his own house which was a marvel in and of itself. It took 13 years for the construction of his house, and living in the golden age of Israel where silver was counted as nothing (see I Kings 10:21), Solomon seems to have spared no expense on his house. During this time, Solomon also built a house for his wife, the daughter of Pharaoh, whom he had taken in a marriage alliance with Egypt (see I Kings 3:1). What a marvelous sight this house would have been!
2. The temple furnishings: After the record of the construction of the temple, we find here that Solomon once again sends for Hiram, king of Tyre, because of his skill and craftsmanship so that he could form the furnishings for the house of the Lord. Notice how Solomon seeks out people who are very skilled in their craft to do the work of the Lord. Hiram made the pillars of bronze, the sea of cast metal that held 2,000 baths (a bath was about 6 gallons), stands of bronze carved with cherubim, lions, and palm trees, and 10 basins of bronze that held 10 baths each, carved with various designs. Everything in the temple was at least overlaid with bronze, if not gold, so much so that the weight of the bronze was not even measured. Thus all the vessels for the house of the Lord were constructed and and stored in the house of the Lord.
1. Bringing the ark to the temple: After the house of the Lord was completed, it was time to open and dedicate it, almost like an opening ceremony that we would see today. Solomon assembled all the elders and leaders of the tribes and the priests took up the ark of the covenant, the tent of meeting and all the holy vessels and brought them to the house of the Lord. Perhaps Solomon had learned a lesson from his father, as the ark seems to have been carried in the proper manner, and he sacrificed countless animals on the trip to the temple (see II Samuel 6). Once they made it to the house of the Lord, they placed the ark in the inner sanctuary, the Most Holy place, underneath the cherubim. At this point, the ark only contained the two tablets of stone that Moses had received on the mountain after receiving the law (see Exodus 25:21), and just as at the dedication of the tabernacle, the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord as soon as the priests came out of the holy place (compare with Exodus 40:34-38).
2. Dedication of the temple and benediction: After the glory of the Lord filled the house, Solomon gives a prayer and benediction for the house, as a kind of inaugural speech/plea to the Lord to dedicate the temple. He begins by blessing the Lord, reminding the people why he had built the house instead of his father David, though it had been in his father’s heart to build the house (see II Samuel 7). This house was a fulfillment of the promise to David that his son would build the house of the Lord. Then Solomon offers a prayer to the Lord, thanking Him for the covenant that He had made with David and the children of Israel, that if he would walk in His statutes and His ways, then David would never lack a man to sit on the throne of Israel. Notice his humility, acknowledging that God cannot be contained in all the earth, much less the house that he had built for Him, but thanking Him that He was pleased to let His name and presence dwell in the house to listen to the prayers of His servants. Notice the physical connection that the house had to the Lord here in Solomon’s prayer, as he asked the Lord to hear the prayers of His servants for a multitude of reasons when they prayed toward this house and toward this city. Solomon prays for the Lord to hear His children in rough times of famine, drought, battle and even individual sin. It is interesting to note that Solomon recognizes that no man is without sin (see Proverbs 20:9, Ecclesiastes 7:20, Romans 3:23 and I John 1:5-10), and asks the Lord for forgiveness of the transgressions that they would inevitably commit against Him when they prayed to Him towards this house, turning their heart back to the Lord. After Solomon finished his prayer to the Lord, he addressed the assembly and blessed them, blessing and thanking the Lord for all that He had done in keeping his covenant with Moses and the children of Israel. Then he charges the assembly to have their heart wholly turned to the Lord and to walk in His commands and statutes. This was a time of celebration and offering to the Lord, as Solomon made a great many peace offerings to the Lord and called a feast for all of Israel. When the people went away, they blessed the king and left with joyful hearts. This was a beautiful time in the history of Israel.
1. The Lord’s word to Solomon: After the house of the Lord was built and Solomon made the prayer of dedication we find in the previous chapter, the Lord comes to Solomon just as He did at Gibeon (see I Kings 3:1-15) and lets Solomon know that He has heard his prayer and has concentrated the house of the Lord to put His name there forever. Then the Lord gives Solomon a warning, that if he and his sons would indeed walk in His ways and keep His commands, then He would establish the covenant that He made with David that he would not lack a son to sit on the throne of Israel forever. However, if he or his sons did not abide in the way of the Lord, but turned aside to other gods and transgressed the law of the Lord, then He would cut off Israel from the land and this house and make them a byword of the peoples, and the house that Solomon built for the Lord would become a heap of ruins. Then all would know that the Lord had brought disaster upon His people because they had not obeyed His voice. This was the choice that Solomon and all Israel was given by the Lord.
2. Solomon’s acts: The rest of this chapter is a record of some of the acts that Solomon did as he reigned as king in Israel. Solomon gave Hiram, king of Tyre, 30 cities in the land of Galilee (Hiram’s mother was actually from the tribe of Naphtali, see 7:13-14), but when Hiram saw the cities, he didn’t like them and called them good for nothing (cabul). Then we have a record of the forced labor that Solomon drafted to build the temple, his own house and the wall of Jerusalem, who his chief officers over the work were, some offerings he made to the Lord and the fleet of ships he made on the shore of the Red Sea. Perhaps Hiram wasn’t too upset with Solomon for the cities in Galilee (or perhaps he just did’t want to get in a fight with him), for he continued to bring gifts to the king.
Tomorrow’s Reading: Psalm 66-68.
The Lord bless you.