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1 Kings 5:1-7 & 1 Kings 5:51 by Robert Dean
Series:Kings (2007)
Duration:58 mins 25 secs

Solomon's Construction Projects; 1 Kings 5:1-7:51


In 1 Kings 5, 6 and 7 the focus is on Solomon's construction projects. There is a building contract with Hiram the king of Tyre. It is believed Hiram was a believer, a friend of David's and now of Solomon, and they worked together in a remarkable way. The little that we know about this period in the ancient world it appears that they were the most dominant power bloc on the face of the earth. Then we have the conscription of labour. He organises his labour force for the building of the temple in 5:13-18.Then the construction of the temple is described in 6:1-10, followed by the confirmation of the covenant with God. God appears to Solomon a second time and confirms the Davidic covenant with him in 6:11-13. Then there is the conclusion of construction in 6:14-38. Other construction is described in 7:1-12, specifically Solomon's own royal palace, and then there is a description of all of the articles and contents within the temple itself and how they were constructed in 7:13.

We begin with the first twelve verses of chapter five where learn about the contract that Solomon entered into with Hiram for the purchase of the materials for building the temple. In the first two verses we see that this comes as a result of Hiram's initiation. 1 Kings 5:1 NASB "Now Hiram king of Tyre sent his servants to Solomon, when he heard that they had anointed him king in place of his father, for Hiram had always been a friend of David." Solomon and Hiram want their respective kingdoms to grow and expand in dominance, yet without military conquest. This is a fantastic alliance that develops because under Hiram the Phoenicians controlled the seaway and all trade that took place on the water. Israel controlled the land routes, so between them all trade in the ancient world was controlled by either Phoenicia, Tyre or Israel. In verses 3-6 we see Solomon's response to Hiram and the negotiation of how this is going to work.

1 Kings 5:3 NASB "You know that David my father was unable to build a house for the name of the LORD his God because of the wars which surrounded him, until the LORD put them under the soles of his feet. [4] But now the LORD my God has given me rest on every side; there is neither adversary nor misfortune. [5] Behold, I intend to build a house for the name of the LORD my God, as the LORD spoke to David my father, saying, 'Your son, whom I will set on your throne in your place, he will build the house for My name.' [6] Now therefore, command that they cut for me cedars from Lebanon, and my servants will be with your servants; and I will give you wages for your servants according to all that you say, for you know that there is no one among us who knows how to cut timber like the Sidonians."

Solomon is relying upon the Davidic covenant which promised an eternal house, an eternal kingdom, and an eternal throne. It was possible that the seed would go through Solomon but because of his disobedience this does not happen—but it was potential at this time. One thing that stands out in this is that Solomon doesn't settle for second best. It is not appropriate to go to passages like this and make a direct application to the building of a church. A church is not the temple. The temple was the dwelling place of God in Israel and so that is a unique structure, but the principle is that we should not compromise with mediocrity in doing anything for the Lord. We should always do the very best for the Lord and do everything to His glory. Solomon wants the most skilled craftsmen he can get for the construction of the temple.

When Hiram hears this he rejoices. 1 Kings 5:7-9 NASB "When Hiram heard the words of Solomon, he rejoiced greatly and said, 'Blessed be the LORD today, who has given to David a wise son over this great people.' [8] So Hiram sent {word} to Solomon, saying, 'I have heard {the message} which you have sent me; I will do what you desire concerning the cedar and cypress timber. [9] My servants will bring {them} down from Lebanon to the sea; and I will make them into rafts {to go} by sea to the place where you direct me, and I will have them broken up there, and you shall carry {them} away. Then you shall accomplish my desire by giving food to my household'." The words "Blessed be Yahweh," indicate that he understands who the Lord is.

1 Kings 5:11 NASB "Solomon then gave Hiram 20,000 kors of wheat as food for his household, and twenty kors of beaten oil; thus Solomon would give Hiram year by year." This equates to 125,000 bushels of wheat per year and 115,000 gallons of olive oil a year. According to 2 Chronicles 2:10 this also included barley and wine. In verse we read that this is a result of God's wisdom. This is part of showing how Solomon's wisdom works itself out in all of these different areas—administration, leadership of the people, as well as the way he designs and constructs the temple, organising all the workers and everything related to that. David did the architectural planning; Solomon carries it out.

Beginning in verse 13 we see the conscription of labour. There is a levy of workers in vv. 13, 14: 30,000 men whom he sent to Lebanon in shifts, ten thousand each month. Solomon also set aside 70,000 who carried burdens and 80,000 who quarried stone. Then, according to v. 16, there were 3,300 who supervised the people. Their work is summarised in vv. 17, 18 NASB "Then the king commanded, and they quarried great stones, costly stones, to lay the foundation of the house with cut stones. So Solomon's builders and Hiram's builders and the Gebalites cut them, and prepared the timbers and the stones to build the house." Nothing is left today from the Solomonic temple. What we have is what was left over from the foundation laid of the Herodian temple. 

When look at this section where it talks about the different builders and the organization of their labour there are some things that appear to be contradictory. It seems that the verses 13 through 18 are contradicted in chapters nine in vv. 20-22, but in those verses there are two different terms used in the Hebrew text that distinguishes from the English text. The total number in the Chronicles passages and the Kings passages works out to be the same, they just arrive at the number a little differently, depending on whether they are focusing on the non-Israelite and the Canaanites. There were 550 officials who led the work project, according to 1 Kings 9:23, 150,000 non-Israelites, but there were 3,600 foremen. There were also 250 officials that supervised the labour force. When these are all added together we still come up with the same basic total of 183,850 workers. The Scriptures do not contradict each other. In Chronicles the Canaanite overseers are distinguished from the Israelites' in Kings the distinction is made between superior and inferior—3,300 inferior supervisors and 550 superior supervisors—and of those 250 are Israelites and 300 are Canaanites.

The third division is the construction of the temple, covered in 6:1-10. 1 Kings 6:1 NASB "Now it came about in the four hundred and eightieth year after the sons of Israel came out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon's reign over Israel, in the month of Ziv which is the second month, that he began to build the house of the LORD." This is one of the most significant chronological notations in the Old Testament because we can date through various comparisons the year of Solomon's accession. He begins to build the temple in 966 BC, and if we add 480 years to that we come up with 1446 for the date of the coming out of Egypt. Then we have the details of the construction. This doesn't give us the ability to write a blueprint but to give us a general understanding of how the temple was structured. The writers were more interested in the theological significance than in the archaeological details.

In vv. 11-13 is the confirmation of the covenant. This is when God appears and speaks a second time to Solomon. NASB "Now the word of the LORD came to Solomon saying, '{Concerning} this house which you are building, if you will walk in My statutes and execute My ordinances and keep all My commandments by walking in them, then I will carry out My word with you which I spoke to David your father. I will dwell among the sons of Israel, and will not forsake My people Israel'." The words "if you walk" indicate a condition here. The Abrahamic covenant was unconditional but whether Solomon is going to be the line, the seed, or not is conditioned in his obedience. Solomon became disobedient later on in life and the result was that the Messiah did not come through his line but through the line of Nathan his brother. Because of the sin of Manasseh eventually the Shekinah will depart the temple just before they fall to the Babylonians.

Chapter 6:14-38 describes the completion of the temple. There is a summary given in verse 14 NASB "So Solomon built the house and finished it." Verses 15-20 describe the interior. The combination of wood and gold is the same kind of thing as with the tabernacle: the acacia wood was covered with gold and this is a picture of the hypostatic union. Just like the tabernacle everything in the temple speaks of something about the nature of the Lord Jesus Christ. In verse 23 is a description of the cherub over the ark of the covenant. Verses 31-35 is a description of the doors that went into the holy of holies. They were of olive wood and on them was carved figures of cherubim, palm trees, flowers, and overlaid with gold.

How heavy the doors must have been; they were covered with gold. There is a foundation stone that is under the door posts holding up those doors. That foundation stone is referred to by a word that is a form of amen, which is the word for trust. This gives us an idea of what is meant by the core word with means that which is solid, stable and can't be shaken. A form of amen is used to describe the foundation stone of the doorposts in passages in Chronicles. 1 Kings 6:37 NASB "In the fourth year the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid, in the month of Ziv. [38] In the eleventh year, in the month of Bul, which is the eighth month, the house was finished throughout all its parts and according to all its plans. So he was seven years in building it."

In chapter seven the focus is on the construction of the royal palace, verses 1-12. 1 Kings 7:1 NASB "Now Solomon was building his own house thirteen years, and he finished all his house." He has really seven houses joined together: meeting rooms, etc., and it is a much more complex construction and there is no indication here that he is slighting the Lord or the building of the temple. The building of the temple was a fairly simple construction project. The palace is 11,250 square feet and several buildings that are interconnected.

The last section is vv. 13-51 describing the contents of the temple. He begins by giving an indication of who the craftsman is, another Hiram, one of the most well-known craftsmen in Israel. Because of his abilities with wood and metal and decoration Solomon is going to bring Hiram from Tyre, not far from the northern area of Galilee. 1 Kings 7:14 NASB "He was a widow's son from the tribe of Naphtali, and his father was a man of Tyre, a worker in bronze; and he was filled with wisdom and understanding and skill for doing any work in bronze. So he came to King Solomon and performed all his work."

Verses 15-22 describe the two pillars that are outside of the temple at the entry way. These were name the pillars of Jachin and Boaz. They are placed at or near the porch, according to 7:21 and 2 Chronicles 3:17. It was typical of temples in the ancient world at that time to have these kinds of free-standing pillars. The terms are significant. Boaz means "he established," which would refer to God and to His initiative in establishing the kingdom. Boaz means "by him he is mighty," which expresses the dependence of the king upon God. So these two pillars were a memorial to David and Solomon in their dependence upon the grace of God for establishing the kingdom of Israel.

Then we have a description of the molten sea, vv. 23-26. It was fifteen feet in diameter and seven and a half feet high, and forty-five feet in circumference. According to Kings it held about 11,500 gallons, but according 2 Chronicles 12:4 it held about 17,500 gallons, and perhaps the difference is explained by one is capacity and one is how much they filled it with. Verses 27ff is a description of the carts and the lavers. The carts were the wheeled mobile stands that carried the lavers or basins for cleansing. They were about six feet square and five feet high. The work is summarised in vv. 40-47.

1 Kings 7:47 NASB "Solomon left all the utensils {unweighed,} because {they were} too many; the weight of the bronze could not be ascertained. [48] Solomon made all the furniture which {was in} the house of the LORD: the golden altar and the golden table on which {was} the bread of the Presence; [49] and the lampstands, five on the right side and five on the left, in front of the inner sanctuary, of pure gold; and the flowers and the lamps and the tongs, of gold; [50] and the cups and the snuffers and the bowls and the spoons and the firepans, of pure gold; and the hinges both for the doors of the inner house, the most holy place, {and} for the doors of the house, {that is,} of the nave, of gold. [51] Thus all the work that King Solomon performed {in} the house of the LORD was finished. And Solomon brought in the things dedicated by his father David, the silver and the gold and the utensils, {and} he put them in the treasuries of the house of the LORD." All of this is significant. The lamps focus on Jesus Christ as the Light of the world (John 8:12; 9:5). The bread represents the fact that Jesus is the bread of life (John 6:35-48). The altar of incense, not mentioned here, represents the continuous intercessory ministry of Jesus Christ.