II Chronicles 2

 

 

1 “And Solomon determined to build an house for the name of the LORD, and

an house for his kingdom.”  In the Hebrew text this verse stands as the last of ch. 1.

Determined. The Hebrew word is the ordinary word for “said;” as, e.g., in

the expression of such frequent occurrence, “The Lord said.” Its natural

equivalent here might be, he gave the word, or issued the command, for the

building of a house. For the Name of the Lord; better, to the Name of the

Lord (I Kings 5:3; or in Hebrew text, 5:18; I Chronicles 22:7). The

expression, “the Name of the Lord,” is of very early date (Genesis 4:26).

A name named upon a person at the first purported as far as possible

to mark his nature, either its tout ensemble or some striking attribute of it.

Hence the changed name, sometimes of Divine interposition (Genesis

17:5,15; 32:28; 35:10); and much more noticeably the alterations of the

Divine Name, to serve and to mark the progressive development of THE

REVELATION OF GOD TO MAN (Genesis 17:1; Exodus 3:14; 6:3; 34:14).

So the Name of the Lord stands evermonogram most sacred — for

Himself. A house for his kingdom; i.e. a royal residence for Solomon

himself. This is mere clearly expressed as, “in his own house” (II Chronicles

7:11; 8:1; I Kings 9:10, 15). The description of this house for himself is given

in I Kings 7:1-13. But no parallel account exists in Chronicles.

 

 

The Three Elements in Human Purpose (v. 1)

 

“And Solomon determined to build a house,” etc. And whence came this

purpose of the king’s heart? From the depths of his own soul; or were

there not other elements besides that of his own volition? This

determination which is here chronicled as a simple act of one mind was, as

most of our resolutions are, more complex in its character than it seemed.

 

  • THE OUTSIDE HUMAN ELEMENTS — the human element which is

outside ourselves. In this case David’s influence had much, very much to

do with it. It was he who initiated the work (II Samuel 7:2). Moreover,

he urged Solomon to proceed with it after his own death, and even laid by

stores in partial preparation for it (I Chronicles 22:11, 14). Solomon, in

determining to build a house, was really resolving to go on with an

undertaking which he had already promised his father to carry out. Who

shall tell how much the thought and the desire of other people influence

the choices we are making, and consequently the course we are pursuing?

Perhaps it is very seldom indeed that we “determine” to enter a new path

without owing much to the influence of others; it may be, as in Solomon’s

case, to the action of a past generation, or it may be to that of our

contemporaries and companions. Only He who searches the most secret

chambers of the soul can tell how much of our best resolves is due to the

influence of our best friends.

 

  • THE DIVINE ELEMENT. God had already given His distinct sanction

and encouragement to the proceeding (II Samuel 7:13). And this Divine

decision, communicated by the Prophet Nathan, must have had a very

powerful weight in Solomon’s determination. It would seem to be enough,

of itself, to decide the matter. How much God has to do with our decisions

we do not know, but probably more than we ordinarily imagine. We often

and earnestly ask Him to affect our mind and will by the enlightenment and

influence of His own Spirit; we believe that He has access to us and power

over us, and can touch and quicken us at His will. Why should we not

believe that He is frequently, continually with us, acting upon us,

controlling and directing us, powerfully and graciously affecting our

determinations and our character?

 

  • THE INDIVIDUAL ELEMENT. However much in Solomon’s

decision was due to the sources, Divine and human, outside himself, there

was room left for his own individuality. He determined to proceed with the

work. It was not under compulsion, but with the full consent of his own

mind, that he began and continued and completed the noble task. He gave

himself to it, he threw his strength into it; so much had he to do with it that

it could be said with truth that “Solomon built him a house.” When all

other influences are taken into the account, it still remains true that our

actions are our own; that ultimately we determine upon the course which

honors or dishonors our life, which makes or mars our character, which

ensures or spoils our prospects.

 

In view of these three elements in human purpose, there is ground for:

 

Ø      Gratitude; for we owe much of our most fruitful actions to the

suggestion and counsel of our friends.

Ø      Humility; for we owe more than we know or think to the inspiration of

God.

Ø      A deep sense of responsibility; for it is in the depths of our own nature

we are determining the complexion of our life and the destiny of our

soul.

 

2 “And Solomon told out threescore and ten thousand men to bear

burdens, and fourscore thousand to hew in the mountain, and three

thousand and six hundred to oversee them.”  The presence of this verse here,

and the composition of it, may probably mark some corruptness of text or error

of copyists, as the first two words of it are the proper first two words of v. 17, and

the remainder of it shows the proper contents of v. 18, which are not only in

other aspects apparently in the right place there, but also by analogy of the

parallel (I Kings 5:15-16). The contents of this verse will therefore be

considered with vs. 17-18.

 

3 “And Solomon sent to Huram the king of Tyre, saying, As thou didst deal

with David my father, and didst send him cedars to build him an house to

dwell therein, even so deal with me.” Huram. So the name is spelt, whether

of Tyrian king or Tyrian workman, in Chronicles, except, perhaps, in I Chronicles

14:1. Elsewhere the name is written הִירָם, or sometimes חִירום, instead of

חוּרָם. Geseuius draws attention to Josephus’s Greek rendering of the name,

ΑἵρωμοςHairomos  with whom agree Menander, an historian of Ephesus, in a

fragment respecting Hiram (Josephus, ‘Contra Apion,’ 1:18); and Dius, a

fragment of whose history of the Phoenicians telling of Solomon and

Hiram, Josephus also is the means of preserving (‘Contra Apion,’ 1:17).

The Septuagint write the name Ξιράμ - Xiram; the Alexandrian, , Ξειράμ

Xeiram; the Vulgate, Hiram. The name of Hiram’s father was Abibaal. Hiram

himself began to reign, according to Menander, when nineteen years of age,

reigned thirty-four years (B.C. 1023-990), and died therefore at the age of

fifty-three. Of Hiram and his reign in Tyre very little is known beyond what

is so familiar to us from the Bible history of David and Solomon. The city

of Tyre is among the most ancient. Though it is not mentioned in Homer,

yet the Sidonians, who lived in such close connection with the Tyrians, are

mentioned there (‘Iliad.,’ 6:290; 23. 743; ‘Odys.,’ 4:84; 22:424), whilst

Virgil calls Tyre the Sidonian city, Sidon being twenty miles distant

(‘AEn.,’ 1:12, 677; 4:545). The modern name of Tyre is Sur. The city was

situate on the east coast of the Mediterranean, in Phoenicia, about seventy-four

geographical miles north of Joppa, while the road distance from Joppa

to Jerusalem was thirty-two miles. The first Bible mention of Tyre is in

Joshua 19:29. After that the more characteristic mentions of it are II Samuel

5:11, with all its parallels; ibid. ch. 24:7; Isaiah 23:1, 7; Ezekiel 26:2; 27:1-8;

Zechariah 9:2-3. Tyre was celebrated for its working in copper

and brass, and by no means only for its cedar and timber felling. The good

terms and intimacy subsisting between Solomon and the King of Tyre

speak themselves very plainly in Bible history, without leaving us

dependent on doubtful history, or tales of such as Josephus (‘Ant.,’ 8:5. §

3; ‘Contra Apion,’ 1:17). For the timber, metals, workmen, given by Hiram

to Solomon, Solomon gave to Hiram corn and oil, ceded to him some

cities, and the use of some ports on the Red Sea (I Kings 9:11-14, 25-

28; 10:21-23). As thou didst deal with David… and didst send

him cedars. To this vs. 7 and 8 are the apodosis manifestly, while

vs. 4-6 should be enclosed in brackets.

 

4 “Behold, I build an house to the name of the LORD my God, to

dedicate it to Him, and to burn before Him sweet incense, and for

the continual shewbread, and for the burnt offerings morning and

evening, on the sabbaths, and on the new moons, and on the

solemn feasts of the LORD our God. This is an ordinance for ever

to Israel.”  In the nine headings contained in this verse we may consider

that the leading religious observances and services of the nation are

summarized. To dedicate it. The more frequent rendering of the Hebrew

word here used is “to hallow,” or “to sanctify.”

 

(1) Sweet incense (see Exodus 30:1, 6-9, 34-38; 37:25-29; Psalm 141:2;

Revelation 5:8; 6:9; 8:3-5). This sweet incense, compounded of

the four ingredients:

a.      stacte,

b.      onycha,

c.       galbanum, and

d.      pure frankincense,

 

was to be burnt morning and evening, at the time of the morning and evening

sacrifices on the altar made of shittim wood, overlaid with gold, which

stood in the holy place facing the ark with the table of shewbread on the

one hand, and the golden candlestick on the other. While the act of

atonement was set forth by the offering of the victim on the brazen altar in

the outer court, the ascending, acceptable, and accepted prayer and

aspiration of the congregation were expressed by the sweet incense burning.

 

(2) The continual shew-bread (מַעֲרֶכֶת תָּמִיד). The elementary meaning

of the word here rendered shewbread is “a ranging in order,” whether the

“order” might be, e.g., that of an army in battle array (I Samuel 4:16;

17:8,22,48), or of the lamps of the holy candlestick (Exodus 39:37), or

of pilings of wood to be burnt on the altar (Judges 6:26), or of cakes of

bread, as presumably here and in some parallel passages (Leviticus

24:6). For the table which was to carry these cakes, see Exodus 25:23-30;

37:10-16; the last verse of the former passage speaking of the

shewbread under the name לֶחֶם פָנִים. (For the position of the table, see

Exodus 26:35.) The word employed in the text is first used to express

the piles of cakes, called in our Authorized Version shewbread in

Leviticus 24:6-7; then I Chronicles 9:32; 23:29; 28:16; as also

again in here ch.13:11; 29:18; and in Nehemiah 10:33. Where

in these passages the word לֶחֶם, is not expressed, that it is understood may

be gathered from the other passages (Numbers 4:7). The bread

consisted of twelve large cakes of unleavened dough (Leviticus 24:5-9),

ranged in two heaps, and with a golden cup of frankincense

(ibid. v.7) to each pile. When on every seventh day new cakes

were substituted, the old ones belonged to the priests (v. 8-9; 8:31;

Matthew 12:4; Exodus 29:33-34). The twelve cakes pointed to the twelve

tribes. Their size may be judged from the statement that each cake contained

two tenth deals, i.e. two-tenths of an ephah, equal to about six pounds and a

quarter. The exact significance of this bread is not stated in Scripture. Part of

it lay plainly in the twelve cakes, part, perhaps, in their becoming priest’s food,

found by the people (Leviticus 24:8), after having been presented seven days

before the Lord. Much that is interesting but not finally satisfactory on the

question may be found in the article “Shewbread” in Dr. Smith’s ‘Bible Dictionary,’

3:1271. Our Authorized Version shewbread comes from Luther’s Schaubrode.

Wickliffe, after the Vulgate panes propositionis, designates it “the loaves

of proposition.” The New Testament has, in Hebrews 9:2, προθέσις τῶν ἄρτῶν

hae prothesis ton artonthe before-placing of the bread; as also in the Gospels

(Matthew 12:4; Luke 6:4); while the Septuagint has ἄρτους ἐνωπίουςartous

enopiousbread in sight of; before (Exodus 25:30), and  ἄρτοι τῆς προσφορᾶς

artoi taes prosphoras - (I Kings 7:48). The question really turns on the

significance of the designation of Exodus 25:30 (לֶחֶם פָּנִים).

 

(3) The burnt offerings morning and evening. A succinct statement of

these offerings, constituting the “daily offering,” is given in Numbers

28:3-8, according to its original institution (Exodus 29:38-42), except

in the added mention of the “strong wine,” or strong drink, spoken of in

the latter part of Numbers 28:7, which had probably originated as an incident

of the wilderness-journey. The morning and evening offering were alike, viz. a

lamb, a meal offering consisting of a tenth of an ephah of flour, mixed with

the fourth part of a bin of beaten oil, and a drink offering consisting of the

fourth part of a bin of “wine,” or of “strong drink.”

 

(4) The burnt offering on the sabbath. The account of this is given in

Numbers 28:9-10; and any previous institution of it is not recorded.

The sabbath-day burnt offerings were the double of the daily offerings

(Ezekiel 46:4).

 

(5) The burnt offering on the new moons; see Numbers 27:11-15,

where the phrase, “the beginnings of your months” is what is employed, i.e.

the first day of each month (Leviticus 10:10). No previous mention of this

burnt offering is found. It consisted of two bullocks, one ram, seven lambs,

 

a.      with meat offering consisting of three-tenths of an ephah of flour mixed

with oil for each bullock; two-tenths of an ephah of flour mixed with oil for

the ram; one-tenth of an ephah of flour similarly mixed for each lamb;

 

b.      with drink offering, of half a hin of wine to each bullock; the third part

of a hin to the ram; and the fourth part of a hin to each lamb. A kid of the

goats for a sin offering, which in fact was offered before the burnt offering.

And all these were to be additional to the continual offering of the day,

with its drink offering (see also Isaiah 66:23; Ezekiel 46:3; Amos 8:5).

 

(6) The burnt offering on the solemn feasts of the Lord. These were the

three great festivals of the year:

 

a.      the Passover (Exodus 12:3-20, 27, 43; Leviticus 23:4-8; Deuteronomy

16:1-8);

b.      the Feast of Weeks (Exodus 23:16; 34:22; Leviticus 23:15-21;

Numbers 28:26; Deuteronomy 16:8-12); and

 

c.        the Feast of Tabernacles (Exodus 23:16; Leviticus 23:33-44;

 Numbers 29:13-40; Deuteronomy 16:13-15).

 

5 “And the house which I build is great: for great is our God above all

gods.  6  But who is able to build Him an house, seeing the heaven and

heaven of heavens cannot contain Him? who am I then, that I

should build Him an house, save only to burn sacrifice before Him?”

The contents of these verses beg some special observation,

in the first place, as having been judged by the writer of Chronicles matter

desirable to be retained and put in his work. To find a place for this subject

amid his careful selection, and rejection in many cases, of the matter at his

command, is certainly a decision in harmony with his general design in this

work. Then, again, they may be remarked on as spoken to another king,

who, whether it were to be expected or no, was, it is plain, a sympathizing

hearer of the piety and religious resolution of Solomon (v. 12). This is

one of the touches of history that does not diminish our regret that we do

not know more of Hiram. He was no “proselyte,” but he had the sympathy

of a convert to the religion of the Jew. Perhaps the simplest and most

natural explanation may just be the truest, that Hiram for some long time

had seen “the rising” kingdom, and alike in David and Solomon in turn,

“the coming” men. He had been more calmly and deliberately impressed

than the Queen of Sheba afterwards, but not less effectually and

operatively impressed. And once more the passage is noteworthy for the

utterances of Solomon in themselves. As parenthetically testifying to a

powerful man, who could be a powerful helper of Solomon’s enterprise,

his outburst of explanation, and of ardent religious purpose, and of humble

godly awe, is natural. But that he should call the temple he purposed to

build “so great,” as we cannot put it down either to intentional

exaggeration or to sober historic fact, must the rather be honestly set down

to such considerations as these, viz. that in point of fact, neither David nor

Solomon were “traveled men,” as Joseph and Moses, for instance. Their

measures of greatness were largely dependent upon the existing material

and furnishing of their own little country. And further, Solomon speaks of

the temple as great very probably from the point of view of its simple

religious uses (note end of v. 6) as the place of sacrifice in especial rather

than as a place, for instance, of vast congregations and vast processions.

Then, too, as compared with the tabernacle, it would loom “great,”

whether for size or for its enduring material. Meantime, though Solomon

does indeed use the words (v. 5), “The house.., is great,” yet, throwing

on the words the light of the remaining clause of the verse, and of David’s

words in I Chronicles 29:1, it is not very certain that the main thing

present to his mind was not the size, but rather the character of the house,

and the solemn character of the enterprise itself (I Kings 8:27; here ch. 6:18).

Who am I… save only to burn sacrifice before him?

The drift of Solomon’s thought is plain — that nothing would justify

mortal man, if he purported to build really a palace of residence for Him

whom the heaven of heavens could not contain, but that he is justified all

the more in “not giving sleep to his eyes, nor slumber to his eyelids, until

he had found out a place” (Psalm 132:4-5) where man might

acceptably, in God’s appointed way, draw near to Him. If “earth draw near

to heaven,” it may be confidently depended on that heaven will not be slow

to bend down its glory, majesty, and grace, to earth.

 

 

The Acceptableness of the Imperfect (vs. 4-6)

 

The letter which Solomon wrote to Hiram was one that contained more

than a business proposal; it was something beyond the opening of a

negotiation; it included some valuable truth which not only may have

benefited the then King of Tyre, but may be of real value to us at this date

and this distance. For it intimated:

 

  • THE INESTIMABLE ADVANTAGE OF THE REVEALED

RELIGION OVER CONTEMPORARY FAITHS. “Great is our God

above all gods” (v. 5). Great indeed; for He was the living God, and they

were only imaginary; He was the holy God, and they were (by supposition)

unholy; He was just and kind, and they were capricious and cruel; He could

and did hear and answer prayer, and they were powerless and helpless.

Who could estimate the priceless advantage to the nation of having for the

object of its worship the Lord God of Israel? (This same God is the One

that America has historically followed and thus the folly of the last half

century's rejection of Him!  - CY - 2016) It makes a difference which is

simply INCALCUABLE to have as the Object of our worship a Being who

is worthy of our devotion. What, then, is it to us to be worshipping the

Divine Father revealed to us in and by Jesus Christ?

 

Ø      It is to be seeking the favor of that Living One who holds us all in His

mighty hand, and is able and is willing to confer upon us inestimable

blessings, even unto eternal life.

 

Ø      It is to be drawing nigh unto, and to be drawn spiritually towards, the

Holy One; it is thus to be attracted in spirit, in sympathy, in character, in

life, toward the Perfect One; it is to be gradually, unconsciously, effectually

transformed into His likeness. For whom we reverence, we follow; whom

we love, we resemble; and just as we worship the Divine Father and love

the Divine Friend, so shall we breathe His spirit and bear His likeness.

 

  • THE IMPERFECTNESS OF THE MATERIAL AND OF THE

HUMAN, IN VIEW OF THE DIVINE GREATNESS.

 

Ø      The material. “Who is able to build Him a house, seeing the heaven…

cannot contain Him?” The temple of a heathen deity may be supposed by its

ignorant devotees to be its residence; it certainly contains its visible image,

the idol. But the temple Solomon was about to build could in no true sense

become the residence of Jehovah. No building could contain Him; “the

heaven of heavens” could not do that: how much less an earthly house!

There is no cathedral, no Christian sanctuary, that can be properly thought

of as the residence or earthly home of Jesus Christ. The heaven where He

dwells cannot contain Him.  (Read Isaiah 55:8-9 and then view

Fantastic Trip on You Tube for perspective! - CY - 2016)

 

Ø      The human. “Who am I, that I should build,” etc? To be the principal

agent in the construction of the one building with which the Name of

Jehovah would be associated, and the only building where there would be:

 

o        an abiding manifestation of His presence, and

o        the opportunity of approaching Him by sacrifice.

 

This was an honor of which Solomon naturally and becomingly considered

himself unworthy.  And who among the holiest and the wisest of men, who

among the most faithful servants of Jesus Christ, can consider himself

worthy to be:

 

o        the spokesman of his brethren in drawing nigh to God in prayer;

o        the messenger to make known the love and grace of God as manifested

in Jesus Christ His Son;

o        the workman in even the humblest corner of that sacred and blessed

field — the field of Christian service? To be thus engaged for the

Father of spirits, for the Redeemer of mankind, should be considered

by us all an honor of which we are wholly unworthy.

 

  • THE ACCEPTABLENESS OF IMPERFECT SERVICE.

 

Ø      Though the temple at Jerusalem could not contain God, yet it could

render various valuable services (vs. 4, 6). It was a place:

 

o        where God met with and manifested Himself to the people;

o        where they drew consciously near to Him, and realized that

He was very near to them;

o        where they communed with Him and rejoiced before Him;

o        where they sought and found forgiveness of their sins;

o        where they made grateful acknowledgment of their indebtedness

to Him for all blessings; and

o         where they dedicated themselves anew to His service. 

 

 Imperfect as it was, and utterly unable to constitute the residence of Deity,

 it yet answered most useful ends.

 

Ø      And thus with us who are the servants of God. Imperfection marks our

character and our work; we are not worthy to “build Him a house,” nor to

do anything, however humble, in His name and cause. Yet God will bless

us, Christ will own and honor us as His servants, if only we are loyal and

true. “To the wicked God says, What hast thou to do to declare my

statutes?” etc. (Psalm 50:16). But to the upright in heart (including the

penitent, see Psalm 51:12-13), to all those who have returned in spirit

to Him, and who sincerely desire to extend His reign over the hearts of men,

He is ever saying, “Go, work in my vineyard"; go, build up my kingdom;

go, gather my erring sons and daughters, and lead them home to my heart.”

 

7 “Send me now therefore a man cunning to work in gold, and in

silver, and in brass, and in iron, and in purple, and crimson, and

blue, and that can skill to grave with the cunning men that are with

me in Judah and in Jerusalem, whom David my father did provide.”

Send me… a man cunning to work, etc. The parenthesis is

now ended. By comparison of v. 3, it appears that Solomon makes of

Hiram’s services to David his father a very plea why his own requests

addressed now to Hiram should be granted. If we may be guided by the

form of the expressions used in I Chronicles 14:1 and II Samuel 5:11-12,

Hiram had in the first instance volunteered help to David, and had

not waited to be applied to by David. This would show us more clearly the

force of Solomon’s plea. Further, if we note the language of I Kings 5:1,

we may be disposed to think that it fills a gap in our present

connection, and indicates that, though Solomon appears here to have had

to take the initiative, an easy opportunity was opened, in the courteous

embassy sent him in the persons of Hiram’s “servants.” That the king of

this most privileged, separate, and exclusive people of Israel (and he the

one who conducted that people to the very zenith of their fame) should

have to apply and be permitted to apply to foreign and, so to say, heathen

help, in so intrinsic a matter as the finding of the “cunning” and the “skill”

of head and hand for the most sacred and distinctive chef doeuvre (a master-

piece) of the said exclusive nation, is a grand instance of nature breaking all

trammels, even when most divinely purposed, and a grand token of the dawning

comity of nations, of free-trade under the unlikeliest auspices, and of the

brotherhood of humanity, never more broadly illustrated than when on an

international scale. The competence of the Phoenicians and the people of

Sidon and those over whom Hiram immediately reigned in the working of

the metals, and furthermore in a very wide range of other subjects, is well

sustained by the allusions of very various authorities (already instanced

under I Chronicles 14:1, and passim; Homer, ‘Iliad,’ 6:289-294; 23.

743; ‘Odys.,’ 4:614; 15:415-426; Herod., 3:19; 7:23, 44, 96; Strabo, 16:2.

§ 23). The man who was sent is described in vs. 13-14, infra, as also

I Kings 7:13-14. Purple, ... crimson, ... blue. It is not absolutely

necessary to suppose that the same Hiram, so skilled in working of gold,

silver, brass, and iron, was the authority sent for these matters of various

coloured dyes for the cloths that would later on be required for curtains

and other similar purposes in the temple. So far, indeed, as the literal

construction of the words go, this would seem to be what is meant, and no

doubt may have been the case, though unlikely. The purple (אַדְגְּוָן ).  A

Chaldee form of this word (אַרְגְּוָנָא) occurs three times in Daniel 5:7,

16, 29, and appears in each of those cases in our Authorized Version as

“scarlet.” Neither of these words is the word used in the numerous

passages of Exodus, Numbers, Judges, Esther, Proverbs, Canticles,

Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, nor, indeed, in v. 13, infra and ch. 3:14.

In all these places, numbering nearly forty, the word is אַרְגָבָן. The

purple was probably obtained from some shell-fish on the coast of the

Mediterranean. The crimson (כַרְמִיל). Gesenius says that this was a

color obtained from multitudinous insects that tenanted one kind of the

flex (Coccus ilicis), and that the word is from the Persian language. The

Persian kerm, Sanscrit krimi, Armenian karmir, German carmesin, and our

own “crimson,” keep the same framework of letters or sound to a

remarkable degree. This word is found only here, v. 13, infra, and ch.3:14.

The crimson of Isaiah 1:18 and Jeremiah 4:30, and the scarlet of some forty

places in the Pentateuch and other books, come as the rendering of the word

שָׁנִי. The blue (תְּכֵלֶת). This is the same word as is used in some fifty other

passages in Exodus, Numbers, and in later books. This color was obtained

from a shell-fish (Helix ianthina) found in the Mediterranean, the shell of

which was blue. Can skill to grave. The word “to grave” is the piel conjugation

of the very familiar Hebrew verb פָּתַח, “to open.” Out of twenty-nine times that

the verb occurs in some part of the piel conjugation, it is translated:

 

Ø      “grave” nine times,

Ø      “loosed” eleven times,

Ø      “put off” twice,

Ø      ungirded once,

Ø      “opened” four times,

Ø      “appear” once, and

Ø      “go free” once.

 

Perhaps the “opening” the ground with the plough (Isaiah 28:24) leads most

easily on to the idea of “engraving.’’ Cunning men whom... David… did provide.

As we read in I Chronicles 22:15; 28:21.

 

8 “Send me also cedar trees, fir trees, and algum trees, out of Lebanon: for I

know that thy servants can skill to cut timber in Lebanon; and, behold,

my servants shall be with thy servants,  9  Even to prepare me timber in

abundance: for the house which I am about to build shall be wonderful great.”

Algum trees, out of Lebanon. These trees are called algum in

the three passages of Chronicles in which the tree is mentioned, viz. here

and ch. 9:10-11, but in the three passages of Kings, almug, viz. I Kings 10:11-12 bis.

As we read in I Kings 10:11; here ch. 9:10-11, that they were exports from Ophir,

we are arrested by the expression, “out of Lebanon,” here. If they were accessible

in Lebanon, it is not on the face of it to be supposed they would be ordered from

such a distance as Ophir. Lastly, there is very great difference of opinion as to

what the tree was in itself. In Smith’s ‘Bible Dictionary,’ vol. 3. appendix,

p. 6., the subject is discussed more fully than it can be here, and with some

of its scientific technicalities.

 

Algum or Almug Trees,  the former occurring in ( II Chronicles 2:8 ; II Chronicles 9:10, 

II Chronicles 9:11 ) the latter in (I  Kings 10:11; I Kings 10:12 ) These words are identical.

From ( I Kings 10:11; I Kings 10:12; II Chronicles 9:10; II Chronicles 9:11 ) we learn that

the almug was brought in great plenty from Ophir for Solomons temple and house, and

for the construction of musical instruments. It is probable that this tree is the red sandal

wood, which is a native of India and Ceylon. The wood is very heavy, hard and fine grained,

and of a beautiful garnet color.   (Smith’s Bible Dictionary)

 

Celsius has mentioned fifteen woods for which the honor has been claimed.

More modern disputants have suggested five, of these the red sandalwood

being considered, perhaps, the likeliest. So great an authority as Dr. Hooker

pronounces that it is a question quite undetermined. But inasmuch as it is so

undetermined, it would seem possible that, if it were a precious wood of the

smaller kind (as e.g. ebony with us), and, so to say, of shy growth in Lebanon,

it might be that it did grow in Lebanon, but that a very insufficient supply of

it there was customarily supplemented by the imports received from Ophir. Or,

again, it may be that the words, “out of Lebanon,” are simply misplaced

(I Kings 5:8), and should follow the words, “fir trees.” The rendering

“pillars” in ibid. ch. 10:12 for “rails” or “props” is unfortunate, as the

other quoted uses of the wood for “harps” and “psalteries” would all

betoken a small as well as very hard wood. Lastly, it is a suggestion of

Canon Rawlinson that, inasmuch as the almug wood of Ophir came via

Phoenicia and Hiram, Solomon may very possibly have been ignorant that

Lebanon was not its proper habitat. Thy servants can skill to cut

timber. This same testimony is expressed yet more strongly in I Kings

5:6, “There is not any among us that can skill to hew timber like the

Sidoniaus.” Passages like II Kings 19:23; Isaiah 14:8; 37:24, go to

show that the verb employed in our text is rightly rendered “hew,” as

referring to the felling rather than to any subsequent dressing and sawing

up of the timber. It is, therefore, rather more a point of interest to learn in

what the great skill consisted which so threw Israelites into the shade,

while distinguishing Hiram’s servants. It is, of course, quite possible that

the “hewing,” or “felling,” may be taken to infer all the subsequent cutting,

dressing, etc. Perhaps the skill intended will have included the best

selection of trees, as well as the neatest and quickest laying of them

prostrate, and if beyond this it included the sawing and dressing and

shaping of the wood, the room for superiority of skill would be ample.

My servants (so vs. 2, 18; I Kings 5:15).

 

 

“A Wonderful Great House.” (v. 9)

 

  • ITS BUILDER. The temple of Solomon was constructed by Solomon

the son of David; the temple of the Christian Church by Jesus, David’s

Son, but also David’s Lord, the Only-Begotten of the Father, whose name

is “Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Prince of Peace”

(Isaiah 45:13; Hebrews 3:3).

 

  • ITS MATERIALS. The temple of Solomon was fashioned out of gold,

silver, precious stones, etc.; the temple of the Christian Church out of lively

stones, or believing and regenerated souls (I Peter 2:5).

 

  • ITS SITE. The temple of Solomon stood on Mount Moriah, where

Jehovah had appeared to Abraham and afterwards to David, its walls

reaching down to and rising up from the solid rock; the temple of the

Christian Church rests upon THE IMMOVABLE ROCK OF CHRIST’S

PERSON (Matthew 16:18; Ephesians 2:20), in whom the clearest and fullest

revelation of the Father has been made to men (John 1:18; 14:9).

 

  • ITS CONSTRUCTION. The temple of Solomon had two apartments

a holy place and a holy of holies, the former for the worshipping priests,

the latter for the worshipped God; the Church of Jesus Christ has only one

chamber, the separating veil being done away, in fact rent in twain, by the

sacrifice of the cross (Matthew 27:51; Hebrews 10:20).

 

  • ITS ADORNMENTS. The temple of Solomon was radiant with gold

and silver and decorations of carved work; the Church of Jesus Christ is

rendered beautiful by the inward graces of the Spirit (Psalm 149:4;

I Peter. 3:3-4).

 

  • ITS PROPORTIONS. The temple of Solomon was, after all, but a

small structure; the temple of the Christian Church is a spacious house of

many mansions (John 14:2).

 

  • ITS USES. The temple of Solomon was designed as a habitation for

Jehovah’s symbolic presence; the Church of Jesus Christ is a habitation for

Jehovah Himself through the Spirit (Ephesians 2:22).

 

  • LEARN:

 

1. The glory of the Christian Church.

2. The superiority of the gospel dispensation.

3. The nobler privilege of New Testament believers.

 

10 “And, behold, I will give to thy servants, the hewers that cut timber,

twenty thousand measures of beaten wheat, and twenty thousand measures

of barley, and twenty thousand baths of wine, and twenty thousand baths of

oil.”  Beaten wheat. In I Kings 5:11 the language is “wheat for food” (מַכֹּלֶת),

while the Septuagint gives καὶ μαχεὶρ kai macheir. In our present passage

the Septuagint gives  εἰς βρώματαeis bromata - , suggesting at once that our

Hebrew מִכּות is an error for מַכֹּלֶת. The former Hebrew word is that

constantly employed for “plagues,” “strokes,” etc., and it is nowhere but in

this place rendered “beaten.” I will give to thy servants. This passage is

hard to reconcile with what is said in I Kings 5:11; but meantime it is

not certain that it needs to be reconciled with it. It is possible that the two

passages are distinct. The contents of the present verse, at all events, need

not be credited with any ambiguity, unless, indeed, we would wish it more

definite, whether the expression, “I will give to thy servants,” may not be

quite as correctly understood, for thy servants,” i.e. to thee as the hire of

them. If this be so, it would enable us to give at once all the wheat, and

two hundred out of the 20,000 baths of oil, for the consumption, not of the

literal workmen, but of the royal household. Then this granted, the verse,

though not identical with I Kings 5:11, is brought into harmony with it.

Reverting to the statement in 1 Kings 5., what we learn is that Solomon, in

his application to Hiram, offers payment for the hire of his servants such as

he shall appoint (v. 6). Hiram’s reply is that he shall be satisfied to

receive as payment “food for his household (v. 9), the amount of it and

the annual payment of it being specified in v. 11. This is the whole case,

the discrepancies in which are plain, but they do not amount to

contradictions. The appearance that is worn on the face of things is that the

writer in Chronicles gives what came to be the final arrangement as to

remuneration, though confessedly it is placed as much as the account in

Kings in the draft of Solomon’s original application to Hiram. Measures.

These were cors, and the cor was the same as the homer. From a

calculation of some doubtfulness, however, made under the suggestions of

I Kings 4:22, it has been said that the consumption of the royal

household of Solomon was above 32,000 measures. The cor, or homer,

was the largest of the five dry measures of capacity, being equal to 180

cabs, 100 omers, 30 seahe, 10 ephahs (see Dr. Smith’s ‘Bible Dictionary,’

3.1741), though what was the exact value of any one of these in modern

measures has only been uncertainly and very approximately arrived at.

Baths. The bath was the largest of the three liquid measures of capacity,

being equal to 6 hins and 72 logs (see same ‘Dictionary,’ 3:1740).

 

 

A Great Project: The Building of a Temple (vs. 1-10)

 

  • THE PROJECT CONCEIVED. (v. 1.) A project:

 

Ø      Not new, but old. Not taken up by Solomon for the first time, but one

his father David had years before meditated, though not permitted to

execute it, because he had been “a man of war, and had shed blood”

(I Chronicles 28:3).

 

Ø      Not self-devised, but delegated.  Not assumed out of vanity or from

purely political motives, but handed down to him in circumstances of great

solemnity by his royal sire (ibid. vs. 1-10).

 

Ø      Not sinful, but approved. Not “proceeding from the sight of the temple

service of the Phoenicians and Philistines and of their ostentatious cultus

(Duncker), but commanded by Jehovah, who indicated His wish that it

should be carried forward to completion by David’s son (II Samuel 7:13)

 

Ø      Not subordinate, but principal. Not after he had built a palace for

himself, a house for his kingdom, but before, so giving God and religion

the chief and foremost place in the thoughts of his mind and the activities

of his reign. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,” etc.

(Matthew 6:33).

 

  • THE PROJECT ANNOUNCED. (v. 4.)

 

Ø      The person informed. Huram, Hiram (1 King 5:1), Hirom (ibid. ch.7:40) —

probably the original (Schrader), Eἵρωμος - (Josephus, Contra

Apion, 1:17), Hirummu (Assyrian), Chirom (Phoenician). The name,

probably equivalent to Achirom, signifies “Brother or Friend of the

highness” (s.c. of Baal). Whether this was David’s friend (I Chronicles

14:1), who had negotiations with him prior to the building of his palace

(II Samuel 5:11), and therefore before the birth of Solomon (ibid. ch. 11:2),

is disputed, chiefly on the ground that he must then have

reigned considerably over forty years, whereas Menander (Josephus,

‘Contra Apion,’ 1:18) assigns to Solomon’s friend a reign of thirty-four

years. But a reign of fifty years was not impossible either then (Uzziah,

here ch. 26:3; Manasseh, ch. 33:1) or in England (George III, Queen Victoria).

The proposal to regard Solomon’s friend as the son of David’s (Thenius,

Bertheau) is exposed to the difficulty that the father of Solomon’s friend

was Abibaal (Josephus) — a difficulty which may be removed by supposing

that Abibaal was a surname of the first Hiram, or that the first Hiram was the

father of Abibaal. There is, however, no sufficient ground for challenging the

identity of the two Hirams; and upon the whole it is as likely that Menander

and Josephus have erred as to the length of Hiram’s reign, as it is that the

Hebrew writers have confounded father and son.

 

Ø      The communication made. “I build an house,” etc. Ancient kings were

wont to erect temples to their tutelary divinities. Urukh of Chaldea founded

temples — of the moon at Ur, of the sun at Larsa, of Venus at Erech

(‘Records,’ 3:9); while the magnificent shrines of Memphis, Thebes

(Karnack), and Edfou were constructed by Egyptian Pharaohs “for the

houses of the gods whose existence is for endless years” (Brugsch, ‘Egypt

under the Pharaohs,’ 1:322). These may be used to illustrate the nature of

Solomon’s project.

 

  • THE PROJECT EXPLAINED. (vs. 5-6.) Solomon’s temple was

to be “great,” “exceeding magnifical, of fame and of glory throughout all

countries (I Chronicles 22:5). A resplendent edifice, designed:

 

Ø      For a lofty purpose. For the honor of a great God.

 

o        An absolutely supreme God: “Great is our God above all gods”

(Deuteronomy 4:39; I Kings 8:23).

o        An infinitely exalted God: “The heaven of heavens cannot contain

Him” (I Kings 8:27; Jeremiah 23:24).

o        A personally accepted God. Solomon called Him “the Lord my God”

(v. 4). Theoretical theism is valueless; theism like David’s

(Psalm 63:1) alone profitable.

o        A profoundly revered God: “Who is able to build Him a house?”

“Who am I, that I should build Him a house?” God should be

feared by all who approach Him (Deuteronomy 28:58; Joshua 24:14;

II Kings 17:36; Psalm 33:8; Matthew 10:28; II Corinthians 7:1;

Hebrews 12:28). Man never knows his own littleness till he examines

himself in the light of GOD’S GREATNESS!

o        A truly national God: “The Lord our God.” Solomon conjoined his

people with himself. Christ taught His disciples to pray, “Our Father”

(Matthew 6:9).

 

Ø      For a noble use. Not to contain this immeasurably great and glorious

Divinity (ch. 6:18), seeing that Jehovah dwelleth not in temples made

with hands (Isaiah 66:1; Acts 7:47), but inhabiteth eternity (Isaiah 57:15),

and filleth heaven and earth with His presence (Jeremiah 23:24); but to be

a visible center for His worship, to be dedicated to Him for the burning before

Him of sweet incense, etc. Hitherto the people had sacrificed in local

sanctuaries (I Kings 3:2), Solomon himself being no exception (ch. 1:3;

I Kings 3:4); henceforth the nation’s sacrificial worship was to be

concentrated in the capital and to circulate round the temple. The different

parts of that worship here mentioned are those specified by Moses in

connection with the tabernacle.

 

o        The burning of sweet incense (Exodus 25:6), which Aaron was

directed to do every morning and evening in the holy place

(ibid. ch. 30:7);

o        the presentation of the shewbread (ibid. ch. 25:30); and

o        the offering day by day continually of the burnt offering (ibid.

ch. 29:39).

§         The first symbolized the adorations presented to Jehovah

by His worshippers (Revelation 5:13);

§         the second, the spiritual sustenance Jehovah provided for

His servants (Psalm 132:15);

§         the third, the self-consecration expected by Jehovah of all

whose sins were covered by sacrificial blood (Romans 12:1).

The assertion that in the first temple the evening offering was purely

cereal (Robertson Smith, ‘The Old Testament in the Jewish Church,’

p. 421) is without foundation (Thenius, on II Kings 16:15).

 

  • THE PROJECT PREPARED FOR. (vs. 2, 18)

 

Ø      The furnishing of workmen. (vs. 2, 18)

 

o        Their number:

§         70,000 burden-bearers or laborers,

§         80,000 timber-hewers or skilled woodmen,

§         3600 overseers or superintendents,

in all 153,600, quite an army of workmen. The discrepancy between

I Kings 5:16 and this account vanishes by observing that to the 3300

overseers in Kings falls to be added 550 chief officers (ibid. ch. 9:23),

while the 3600 of Chronicles require to be supplemented by 250 chief

officers (here - ch. 8:10), thus making both totals equal 3850. A gang

of 100,000 men, changed every three months, labored for ten years in

building a causeway along which to convey the stones for Cheops

pyramid; and seven millions more men were needed to build the

pyramid itself (Birch, ‘Egypt,’ p. 35; Budge, ‘The Dwellers on the

Nile,’ p. 58).

 

o        Their orders — laborers, wood-cutters, overseers, chief officers. So

society on a larger scale is organized. The principle of division of

labor is of endless application.

 

“So work the honey bees;

Creatures that by a rule in nature teach

The act of order to a peopled kingdom.”

(‘King Henry V.,’ act 1. sc. 2.)

 

o        Their station: “strangers in the land” (v. 17); i.e. descendants of the

unexter-minated Canaanites (ch. 8:7-8; I Kings 9:20-22). These had

David also appointed to be stone-cutters (I Chronicles 22:2).

 

Ø      The securing of materials. In addition to the stores gathered and given

by his lately deceased father — gold, silver, brass, iron, wood, precious

stones (I Chronicles 29:2-5) — Solomon required cedar, fir, and algum

trees out of Lebanon. Found nowhere in Palestine except Lebanon, the

cedar was a rapidly growing, high-reaching, wide-spreading, and long-living

tree, whose beautiful white wood was much prized for architectural

purposes (ch. 3:5; I Kings 6:15; Jeremiah 22:14). The fir, often mentioned

in connection with the cedar (Isaiah 14:8; 37:24), was a “choice” and

goodly tree, whose wood was used for building ships and making

musical instruments (II Samuel 6:5), and was now to be employed for

flooring, ceiling, and doors in the temple (I Kings 6:15, 34). The algum,

probably the red sandalwood, fetched along with gold and precious stones

from Ophir (ch. 9:10-11; I Kings 10:11) by Solomon’s and Hiram’s fleets,

and here inaccurately said to have grown in Lebanon, was used by Solomon

for making pillars for the temple and the palace, as well as harps and

psalteries for singers. These different sorts of timber accordingly Solomon

sent for from Hiram, his father’s friend and his own (v. 3).

 

Ø      The obtaining of a skilled artificer. This also he courteously solicited

from Hiram, whose subjects were the “artists” of the day (see homily on

‘The two Hirams’). Both requests were accompanied with a promise of

generous support to the workmen and the artist (v. 10), and both were

frankly honored.

 

 

  • LEARN:

 

1. The highest glory of a king (or private person) is to seek the glory of

God (John 8:50).

2. Great undertakings, especially in religion and the Church, should be

gone about with deliberation, and only after due preparation (Luke 14:28).

3. The least service in connection with God’s house is honorable

(Psalm 84:10).

4. The value of friendship (Proverbs 27:10).

5. Humble thoughts of self the best preparation for acceptable service of

God (II Corinthians 3:5).

6. The talents of unbelievers may be legitimately employed in the service of

the Church, seeing that “gifts” are from God, no less than “graces” (Job 32:8).

7. The Church should honorably requite those who aid in her undertakings,

sincethe laborer is worthy of his hire” (Luke 10:7; I Timothy 5:18).

 

 

Human Labor (vs. 2-3,7-10)

 

Concerning the work in which we are engaged as men of action and

production, we have here four suggestions:

 

  • THE AMPLITUDE OF MATERIAL WITH WHICH GOD HAS

SUPPLIED US. We have mention made (v. 7) of different metals —

gold, silver, brass, iron; and this enumeration is far from being exhaustive.

We have reference (v. 8) to different trees; and these are only a reminder

of all the kinds of timber to be had in the forests of the earth. We have a

statement of articles of food (v. 10), representing various industries; and

these again are only suggestive of a large number at our command. The

Divine Author of our nature and Builder of our home has given us many

tastes and cravings; He has also supplied us with the most ample material

on which our skill and our labor can be expended, so that all our wants

and even our wishes may be supplied.

 

  • THE NECESSITY, DIVINELY ORDERED, FOR CORDIAL

      COOPERATION.  Solomon had to negotiate with Hiram; the skilled

            labor of Israel had to be supplemented with the more skilled labor of Tyre

            (vs. 3, 8). The servants of one sovereign had to “be with,” to co-operate with,

those of another, if the house was to be built. And not only had land to

work with land, but citizen with citizen, according to individual culture;

some had to “bear burdens,” others to “hew trees,” others to overlook both

of these workmen (v. 2). As one country produces valuable commodities

which another lacks; and as one man has a natural faculty of which another

is devoid; as the interchange of products and of industries is spreading

comfort and acquisition; — we are learning that God has so made this

earth and so constituted us, His children, that we may work together, and

make one another inheritors of the results of our thought and toil.

Commerce is not more human in its outworking than it is Divine in its

origin.

 

  • THE GRADATIONS IN LABOUR. To overlook implies more

trained intelligence than manual labor itself involves (v. 2). And men

“cunning to work” and men that Had skill to hew (v. 8) were superior

workmen to those that did the labor of carrying. Work has its gradations;

it ascends in rank as it involves natural intelligence and sagacity, long and

careful training, faithfulness and trustworthiness.

 

  • THE ADVANTAGE OF INTEGRITY TO THOSE WHO COME

AFTER US. (V. 30 Solomon invited Hiram to treat with him “as thou

didst deal with David my father.” And Hiram responded; for we read

(I Kings 5:1), “Hiram was ever a lover of David.” He found that he could

trust the King of Israel — that with him piety meant truthfulness and

equity. Thus David’s integrity made the path of Solomon smooth and easy;

it perhaps contributed as much to the work as the various materials he had

so carefully stored up for his son. It is impossible to reckon how much

thoroughness and uprightness in our labor have to do with our own real

success, and how much they do for those who come after us. In this way

one generation truly serves another.  (Let us not forget the importance

of spiritual thought and concern:  One generation shall praise God's

works to another and shall declare His mighty acts (Psalm 145:4)

and in so doing serves the next generation!  (CY - 2016)

 

  • THE RIGHTEOUS CLAIM OF LABOR TO A FULL

RECOMPENSE. (v. 10.) “The workman is worthy of his hire” (see

Luke 10:7; James 5:4).

 

  • OUR DUTY TO DO OUR BEST. “The house shall, be wonderfully

great” (v. 9). Solomon meant to make it worthy, not only of himself and

his kingdom, but even, as far as that might be, of the Lord for whom it was

to be erected. It should be constructed of the best materials and with the

greatest skill he could command.

 

Ø      What we do in the direct service of God has a distinct claim on our

highest faculties, on our largest resources. What we do for Christ should

be done at the full height of our capacity and opportunity. In His worship

and service we should be at our very best.

 

Ø      ALL WORK as rendered unto God, should be done faithfully and heartily.

Into all the labor of our hands we should put our mind and our strength,

because EVERYTHING DONE IS IN THE PRESENCE OF THE

MASTER and should be done with a view to His approval.

 

11 “Then Huram the king of Tyre answered in writing, which he sent to

Solomon, Because the LORD hath loved His people, He hath made

thee king over them.  12 Huram said moreover, Blessed be the LORD God

of Israel, that made heaven and earth, who hath given to David the king a

wise son, endued with prudence and understanding, that might build an

house for the LORD, and an house for his kingdom.”  Huram… answered in

writing. It is impossible to argue with any but superficial plausibility that Solomon

had not used writing. In the parallel of Kings an identical expression is used for

the communications of both: “Solomon sent to Hiram” (v. 2), and “Hiram sent to

Solomon” (v. 8). The productions of the forms of this correspondence by Josephus

(‘Ant. Jud.,’ 8:2)and Eupolemus (‘Ap. Praep. Evang.,’ 9:33) are, of

course, merely mythical. Because the Lord hath loved His people. This

beautiful expression has parallels, not only in such passages as ch. 9:8;

I Kings 10:9; but in such as Deuteronomy 7:13; 10:15; Psalm 47:4; 115:12;

Jeremiah 31:3; Hosea 11:1, 4.  These were all precursors of the fuller assertion

and kinder demonstration of God’s love repeated so often and in such tender

connections in the Epistles of the New Testament. This verse and the following

are also testimony to the indirect influences on surrounding nations of the

knowledge of the one true Creator-God and Ruler-God, that was

domiciled by special revelation and oracle (Romans 3:2) with Israel.

Where nations near were bitter foes, they often feared Israel’s God,

whereas now they were friends they could summon to their lips the highest

of the outbursts of praise, not to say of adoration. The very noteworthy

sympathy of Hiram with Israel may have owed something to his personal

predilection for David (I Kings 5:1). And this again is convincing

testimony to the worth and usefulness of individual character which here

influenced the destiny of two whole nations.

 

 

God’s Care for the Country (v. 11)

 

“Because the Lord hath loved His people, He hath made thee king over

them.” We reach our subject by the remembrance of:

 

  • GOD’S ATTITUDE TOWARD ISRAEL IN RESPECT OF THE

MONARCHY UP TO SOLOMON’S TIME. It has to be considered:

 

Ø      That for a visible human sovereignty God held the people themselves

responsible. He did not impose it; nor did He suggest it; nor did He desire it;

on the other hand, by the mouth of His servant Samuel, He strongly

dissuaded from it (see I Samuel 8.).

 

Ø      That, granting their request, God gave them a king on their own chosen

principle. They demanded a sovereign they could see and hear, one that

would be a king “after the flesh;” and on this fleshly and material principle

God selected one that had bodily advantages (see I Samuel 10:23-24).

(Is this the goal toward which Contemporary Christianity is gravitating? -

CY - 2016)

 

Ø      That, when Saul failed, God had pity upon them, and gave them a man

after His own choice — a man who had, truly, some serious defects — as

who had not? — but who, by the fascination of his bearing, by the courage

and capacity of his leadership, by his unswerving loyalty to his God, bound

the nation together, overcame its numerous enemies, extended its borders,

and held it fast to the service of Jehovah. And now God had given to the

people David’s son, Solomon. And we look at:

 

  • GOD’S GIFT TO ISRAEL IN PREFERRING SOLOMON TO THE

THRONE. It was a Divine appointment, that made for:

 

Ø      National piety. Solomon regarded as the great act of his reign the

“building a house for the Name of the Lord.” And the erection of the

temple and the subsequent arrangement of its services did much to bind the

people, not of Jerusalem only but of the entire kingdom, to the worship of

Jehovah. It promoted national piety by securing the adherence of the

people to the service of the true and living God. And this piety meant more

than worship; it meant purity also, a sound morality. For no man could be

an acceptable worshipper of Jehovah who did not renounce iniquity and

seek after righteousness and blamelessness of life.

 

Ø      National peace. Solomon, true to his name, was a man of peace. The

nation had known enough of war under David; it required peace, and this

Solomon gave it. In this matter almost everything then and there depended

upon the character and spirit of the monarch. A war-like king would create

national hostilities; a peace-loving king ensured national rest from strife.

We know what war means; it may mean glory, enlargement, enrichment; it

must mean cruelty, passion, pain, death, desolation in heart and home; it

must mean an arrest laid upon national industry and enterprise. But by the

promotion of Solomon God was providing for:

 

Ø      National industry. During his reign a great stimulus was given to the

industrial arts and to the commerce of the country. Israel opened its eyes to

see what it had not had any glimpse of before, and an immense stride was

taken in the path of civilization and production.

 

Thus God cared for the country which he had especially made His own.

Thus He cares for all countries, when He raises up men that seek the piety

(and with that the morality), the peace, the industry, of the people. Thus

shall we be truly working with God when we live to promote these great

causes. It is in these things that a nation finds its real prosperity; and he is

the faithful citizen of his native land who throws his influence, in every

open way, into these scales; it is he who truly loves and serves his country.

 

13 “And now I have sent a cunning man, endued with understanding,

of Huram my father’s,”  Of Huram my father’s. The words of ch.4:11,16

would invest these with suspicion, if nothing that occurred before did,

as e.g. the parallel passage (I Kings 7:13-14, 40). There can be no

doubt from these passages that the name Huram of this verse is the name

of the workman sent (the lamed prefixed being only the objective sign), not

the supposed name of King Hiram’s father, which, as already seen, was

Abibaal. But the following word translated “my father” (אָבִי) is less easily

explained; ch. 4:16 (“his father”) is quite sufficient to

negate the rendering “father” altogether. In our text altogether

inappropriate, it may be called there altogether impossible. It has been

proposed to render it as a proper name Abi, or as an affix of honour, Ab,

equal to “master.” However, Gesenius (in ‘Lexicon,sub roe. אב (6),

which see) furnishes a signification, “chief counselor,’’ which (taking it to

mean chief counselor, or as it were expert, chief referee, or even only

foreman in such matters as might be in question) would well suit all the

passages, and remove all difficulty.

 

14 “The son of a woman of the daughters of Dan, and his father was a

man of Tyre, skilful to work in gold, and in silver, in brass, in iron,

in stone, and in timber, in purple, in blue, and in fine linen, and in

crimson; also to grave any manner of graving, and to find out every

device which shall be put to him, with thy cunning men, and with

the cunning men of my Lord David thy father.”  Son of a woman… of Dan.

Both this and the parallel (I Kings 7:14) agree as to the father of this very clever

workman, that he was “a man of Tyre.” But the parallel gives the mother as a

woman “of the tribe of Naphtali,” and calls her a “widow.” This must mean,

either that she was a widow now, or that she was a widow when “the man of Tyre

married her. If this latter is the correct meaning, it has been suggested that,

though the mother was really a woman of the daughters of Dan, yet the husband

who, dying, left her a widow, was of the tribe of Naphtali, and that from

this she became credited with belonging to that tribe. It would seem not

altogether impossible that it may be intended to state, in a delicate way,

that this remarkably able man was the natural son of the widow in question,

“the man of Tyre (not called her husband) being the father. On the

intermarriages of Danites and Phoenicians, see Blunt’s ‘Coincidences,’ pt.

2. 4. Skilful… to find out every device. (For the identical phrase, see

Exodus 31:4.) The present verse, exceeding in definiteness v. 7,

supra, undoubtedly purports on the face of it to ascribe a very wide range

of practical skill, and not merely general administrative and directing skill,

to Hiram. Note, however, the significance couched in the last clauses of

both verses.

 

15 “Now therefore the wheat, and the barley, the oil, and the wine,

which my Lord hath spoken of, let him send unto his servants:”

The contents of this verse cannot be supposed to imply that

King Hiram is eager for the pay to be remembered, but are equivalent to

saying promptly that all things are ready to begin, and that therefore the

commissariat must be ready also.

 

 

The Two Hirams (vs. 11-15)

 

  • HIRAM THE KING.

 

Ø      His kingdom. Phoenicia Variously explained as “the land of palms,” “the

land of purple-dyeing.” “the land of the brown-red,” with reference to the

color of the skin of its inhabitants, Phoenicia in Solomon’s time was

bounded on the west by the Mediterranean, on the east by Lebanon, on the

south by the kingdom of Israel, while towards the north the limit was

uncertain, though usually fixed about Arvad, thus making in all a territory a

hundred and twenty miles long and twenty miles broad. “It is a liberal

estimate for the area to reckon it at four thousand square miles, which is

less than that of at least one English county, (Rawlinson, ‘Phoenicia: Story

of the Nations,’ p. 2). Well watered by streams from Lebanon, the country

was extremely fertile. In addition to cedars on the heights of Lebanon, fruit

trees and vines clothed its slopes, whilst the valleys yielded an abundance

of palms, fat pasture, garden produce, and corn. Silicious earth for making

glass was found upon the coast, which also furnished the purple shells

necessary for dyeing. Iron and probably copper were obtained at Sarepta

and elsewhere (Riehm, Handworterbuch, art. Phoenicien ).

 

Ø      His capital. Tyre — in Hebrew Sor, in Assyrian Surru, in Old Latin

Sarra. The city is supposed to have been so called because of its having

been built — at least the insular part of it — upon a rock. Most likely

younger than Sidon, it was yet a city “whose antiquity was of ancient days”

(Isaiah 23:7). Founded two hundred and forty years before the

building of Solomon’s temple (Josephus, ‘Ant.,’ 8:3. 1), it was greatly

celebrated for its natural and artificial splendor (Ezekiel 27:3). Planted

in a pleasant place (Hosea 9:13), it was afterwards compared to “a

virgin bathing in the sea, a Tartessus ship swimming upon the ocean, an

island on shore, and a city in the sea” (Kitto’sCyclopaedia,’ art. “Tyre’).

 

Ø      His subjects. The men of Tyre. Renowned as wood-cutters and artists,

skilful to work in gold, and in silver, in brass, in iron, in stone, and in

timber, in purple, in blue, and in fine linen, and in crimson,” they were

likewise merchants who traded with all parts of the then known world

(Ezekiel 27:1-36). As to physical characteristics, on the whole “the

Phoenicians probably, both in form and feature, very much resembled the

Jews who were their near neighbors, and who occasionally intermarried

with them (I Kings 11:1; 16:31; here v.14), while as to moral characteristics,

they shared those of the Western Semites generally — “first, pliability

combined with iron fixedness of purpose; secondly, depth and force;

thirdly, a yearning for dreamy ease, together with a capacity for the

hardest work; fourthly, a love of abstract thought; and fifthly,

religiousness, together with an intensely spiritual conception of the

Deity” (Rawlinson, ‘Phoenicia,’ p. 25).

 

Ø      His history. A son of Abibaal, the first King of Tyre, and a

contemporary as well as friend of both David and Solomon (see preceding

homily), he was clearly a man of culture. He could write, and in that

accomplishment many later kings, even in Christian times and in our own

land, have been deficient. Withred, King of Kent, A.D. 700, thus concluded

a charter to secure the liberties of the Church: “All the above dictated by

myself I have confirmed, and, because I cannot write, I have with mine

own hand expressed this by putting the sign of the holy cross + ‘ (Adam

Clarke). Writing, however, had been introduced into Phoenicia from Egypt

long before the days of Hiram (Rawlinson, ‘Phoenicia,’ p. 328). Whether

copies of the epistolary correspondence of Hiram and Solomon were

preserved in “the public records of Tyre” (Josephus, ‘ Ant.,’ 8:2. 8) may be

doubtful, but no ground exists for challenging the accuracy of the biblical

account that both Solomon and Hiram could write.

 

Ø      His character. Originally a worshipper of Baal, and a restorer of the

temple of the sun-god, he appears to have become an enlightened and

sincere follower of Jehovah, whom he recognizes as not merely the

national Divinity of Israel, but also as the Maker of heaven and earth

(v.12). That he was courteous and kind, his friendship both with David and

Solomon attests. That he was a shrewd man of business, who could look

well after his own interest, shines out by no means dimly in the hint given

to Solomon to forward “the wheat and the barley, the oil and the wine,

which my lord had spoken of,” when he would see to the felling of the

timber (vs. 15-16).

 

  • HIRAM THE ARTIST.

 

Ø      His parentage. The son of a Tyrian brass-worker, and of a Danite

widow belonging to the tribe of Naphtali.(v. 14; I Kings 7:14), he

was probably on this account selected by the aged sovereign as one likely

to be acceptable to the Hebrew monarch and his people. The discrepancy

as to the tribe from which Hiram’s mother proceeded may be removed by

supposing that she was originally a Danite maiden, whose first husband

belonged to the tribe of Naphtali, and whose second was a Tyrian.

 

Ø      His profession. A sort of universal genius, who had skill and

understanding to find out every device put before him — like the artist

Harmon, of whom Homer (‘Iliad,’ 5:59, 60) says that he “knew how to

form with his hands all ingenious things.” “As Theodore of Samos was an

architect, a caster of works in bronze, an engraver of signets, and a maker

of minute works in the precious metals, as Michael Angelo Buonarotti was

at once a painter, a sculptor, an architect, and a worker in bronze”

(Rawlinson, ‘Phoenicia,’ p. 97), so Hiram of Tyre, like Bezaleel

(Exodus 31:4), was goldsmith, silversmith, brazier, iron-worker,

stonecarver, wood-engraver, linen-weaver, all in one.

 

Ø      His renown. On account of professional eminence the king had dignified

him with the title Abi, “my father,” which meant “master;” in the sense

that he was both master of his work and master of works for the king, as

afterwards he is styled Solomon’s father (ch. 4:16), because

he manufactured for Solomon the vessels for the house of the Lord.

Compare Joseph’s calling himself “a father,” i.e. a master or manager,

to Pharaoh” (Genesis 45:8).

 

  • LEARN:

 

Ø      The highest office of a king — to promote the material, intellectual, and

religious prosperity of his people.

 

Ø      The proper duty of friendship — to rejoice in the welfare, co-operate in

the undertakings, and reciprocate the courtesies of others.

 

Ø      The noblest service of art — to consecrate its genius to THE GLORY

OF GOD and the advancement of true religion.

 

16 “And we will cut wood out of Lebanon, as much as thou shalt need:

and we will bring it to thee in floats by sea to Joppa; and thou shalt

carry it up to Jerusalem.” Joppa, This was one of the most ancient of towns, and

is referred to by Pliny (‘Hist. Nat.,’ 5:13), as “Joppa Phoenicum, antiquior

terrarum inundatione, ut ferunt.” Its name (יָפו - “beauty”) is said to have

been justified by the beautiful groves in its neighborhood. It is mentioned

Joshua 19:46 as Japho, where also we learn the circumstances under

which the Dan tribe were possessed of it. It is remarkable that it is not

mentioned again till our present verse, not even in the parallel (I Kings

5:9). But it appears again in Ezra 3:7; Jonah 1:3, and in several

places in the Acts of the Apostles. The modern name of it is Joffa, and it is

not reputed as a good port now. It was distant from Jerusalem some thirty-four

miles. The carriage of the timber this road-journey is nowhere

described in detail, nor is the exact spot of the coast west of Lebanon

mentioned where the floats were made, and thence dispatched.

 

17 “And Solomon numbered all the strangers that were in the land of Israel,

after the numbering wherewith David his father had numbered them; and

they were found an hundred and fifty thousand and three thousand and six

hundred.”  Strangers. By these are meant those of the former inhabitants

and possessors of the land, who had not been extirpated or driven out.

Special regulations respecting them are recorded in Judges 1:21-28,33-36.

But these had largely lapsed till, as it appears, David revived them

rather trenchantly, and David is now followed by Solomon (ch. 8:7-8;

I Kings 9:20-21). The very much milder enforcement of labor upon the

Israelites themselves is evident from I Kings 5:13-16. After the numbering

wherewith David his father had numbered them. Of this transaction on the part

of David we do not possess any absolutely distinct statement. But the place of it

is sufficiently evident, as indicated in I  Chronicles 22:2.

 

18 “And he set threescore and ten thousand of them to be bearers of

burdens, and fourscore thousand to be hewers in the mountain, and

three thousand and six hundred overseers to set the people a work.”

Three thousand and six hundred. Adding to these the 250 of ch. 8:10, infra,

the total 3850 of I Kings 5:16 is exactly reached. That total, however, is

reached by a somewhat different classification, the division being into 3300

“strangers,” and 500 “chief of the officers” (I Kings 9:23). The explanation

probably is that of the 3600 “stranger” overseers, the small proportion of 300

were of much higher grade in office than the rest, and were ranked by the writer

in Kings with those overseers (250) of Solomon, who were probably Israelites.

 

 

                                    Methods of Religious Enterprise (vs. 1-18)

 

  • THE REPEATED RECORD, ON THE PART OF SOLOMON, OF

HIS RESOLUTION OR DETERMINATION. “Solomon determined.”

The enterprise “of building a house to the Name of the Lord” had been set

before him. He knew it had been in his father’s mind. He had heard it in the

earnest tones of a father’s prayer. He had listened to the urgent, loving,

proud tones of a father’s charge to a son. He had, no doubt, said “Yes”

with lip and heart. But now after coronation, vision, prayer, and gracious

promise, he takes up the enterprise, and lifts up the responsibility, and

makes the resolution all his own.

 

  • THE ADDING TO RESOLUTION THE COMMENCEMENT OF

ACTUAL WORK. Resolutions there have often been, and strong ones,

determinations alike deliberate and enthusiastic, which nevertheless have

gone the same way by which, to a proverb, mere good intentions so very

frequently go! Solomon’s immediate setting to work is by far the simplest,

surest safeguard. He makes the preparations nearest to hand, and that were

within his own command. He seeks the help of others at a distance, both

forecasting his own needs for the work, and also drawing upon memories

of his father’s doings and his father’s experiences.

 

  • SUCH BEGINNING OF ACTUAL WORK AS WAS PROOF

AGAINST THAT FERTILE SOURCE OF FAILURE THAT COMES OF

STUMBLING ON THE THRESHOLD. Early disappointments go a long

way toward disheartenment. And early disappointments originate most

frequently in one or both of two causes — viz,:

 

Ø      in letting things drift, go by default, or take their own chance; or, on

the other hand,

Ø      in a busy disorder.

 

Many a promising work of a man of good intention has been wrecked in

these ways. But here there was order in what Solomon did at home, and

distinctness and order in what he asked for far away from home. And it all

told. All helped him and his work to find favor with God and man.

 

 

  • LASTLY, TWO GREAT TRIBUTARIES TO SUCCESS IN THE MORAL

QUALITIES WHICH SOLOMON EXHIBITS, as shown in:

 

Ø      The great respect he has to “the ordinance for ever to Israel,” which

centered in “the house to the Name of the Lord,” to be dedicated to

Him, with all its various services (v. 4).

 

Ø      The humble estimate he rightly entertains of himself, in all comparison of

the work which he had to do, and him for whom it was to be done (vs. 5-6).

 

 

Lessons from the Laborers (vs. 13-18)

 

The interesting particulars we have of the labors of building the temple

give us a variety of suggestions.

 

  • THE VALUE OF A WISE INTERMINGLING.

 

Ø      Of blood. The principal architect and engineer supplied by King Hiram

was a man of mixed blood; his father was a man of Tyre, but his mother

was a Jewess (see I Kings 7:14), and he appears to have been a man of

unusual ability. The mixture of races is proved to be of a very distinct

advantage, and we may be very thankful that the discords and contentions

of our early history resulted in the mingling of the virtues of Saxon, Celt,

and Roman in the English of our own time.

 

Ø      Of labor. “I have sent a cunning man.., to find out every device… with

thy cunning men” (v. 14). International exchange and co-operation are of

immense value, and will prove to be more and more so as the nations open

their doors, and all peoples meet and mingle together (see homily on vs.

2-3, 7-10).

 

  • A BENEFICENT APPEAL TO OUR INTELLIGENCE. (v. 14.) In

the variety of material with which God has supplied us we find a striking

instance of His creative kindness. It is conceivable that He might have

placed us on a planet which had little elemental variety, and which did not

therefore admit of many combinations. But on this earth there is practically

no limit to the variety of productions, by the putting forth of our

observation, ingenuity, and skill. (This is a part of the original command

to subdue the earth - Genesis 1:28 – CY – 2016) Herein we have very much

more, and very much better, than a provision for our comforts; we have an

effective appeal to our intelligence, a constant development of our intellectual

powers, an elevation of our manhood. It is a rich and noble home, furnished

with everything that meets the needs of our complex nature, in which our

heavenly Father has placed us.

 

  • THE POWER WE POSSESS OVER THE ELEMENTS OF NATURE.

(v. 16.) At that time and in that country men had learned to

hew down the tall trees, to cut and carve them into what size and shape

they liked, to carry them across the land, and to employ the sea as a

highway. “We will bring it to thee in floats by sea.” The sea, with its depth

and breadth, with its swelling billows and its fearful storms, may well have

been regarded at first as an impassable barrier between land and land, as a

decisive limit put upon our progress. But we have made it a common

highway on which to travel, by which to transport our treasures, and we

can map our route and calculate our time with nearly as much regularity as

on the still and solid land. Indeed, we can rule the elements of nature much

more readily and constantly than we can govern the forces within our own

breast. These too often baffle our skill and defeat our purpose. Our

greatest difficulty and truest triumph is in turning to good account the

elements of our own human nature.

 

  • AN UNCONSCIOUS ANTICIPATION OF GOSPEL BREADTH.

(vs. 17-18.) Solomon employed “the strangers” to do the triple work,

here specified, in the temple-building. Moreover, he had recourse to the

King of Tyre and to his “cunning workmen.” So that we have Gentiles as

well as Jews engaged in this work which we may regard as the work of the

Lord. Between that event and the present time there was to come a long

period of exclusiveness which manifested itself in most ungracious forms in

the days of our Lord. But this co-operation of those without and those

within the sacred pale is predictive of the glorious breadth of these later

times, when, IN CHRIST JESUS,  there is neither Jew nor Gentile,

barbarian nor Scythian, bond nor free.  (Colossians 3:11)  There is an

absolutely open way to the kingdom of God, and an equally open gate

into the broad field of holy usefulness.

 

 

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