Solomon worked with Hiram for the final preparations for building the Temple. He also conscripted workers and levied taxes to pay for all of his building projects, creating the first cracks of resentment that will, ultimately, divide the nation.
I Kings 6
The author gives a date of when Solomon dated building the Temple: 480th year after coming out of Egypt (987 bc), fourth year of Solomon's reign, month of Ziv, or second month (April/May).
A surprisingly small structure: 100 feet long, 35 feet wide, 50 feet high. Plus a porch, plus side chambers, so that must have just been the sanctuary. Three stories.
The work was done at the quarry that God's house would stay quiet.
God Speaks to Solomon
As he was completing the work, the Lord spoke to Solomon and reiterated the covenant:
Concerning this house which you are building, if you will walk in My statutes and execute My ordinances and keep all of My commandments by walking in them, the I will carry out My word with you which I spoke to David your father.
And I will dwell among the sons of Israel, and will not forsake My people Israel.I King 6: 12-13
Before I read further, I just want to camp here for a minute. If I remember what God said to Solomon at Gibeon correctly, God gave many gifts to Solomon "for free", but the final gift had a caveat...'If you obey me and my commandments then I will prolong your days'. Direct incentive. He compliments Solomon for asking for something for his people; but then this comes with a caveat. That should have been enough for Solomon (or any of us)--to hear from God and have Him emphasize an area of our lives to be watchful of...
But then, a SECOND time, God visits Solomon and almost the entire message is about Solomon keeping the Lord's commandments. Nothing about the Temple itself. Nothing about his Solomon's leadership of the people- just a clear reminder.
Solomon should have (as all of us should) put all of his energy into a "keeping God's commandments" campaign. Whatever, in all of his gifted wisdom, he could come up with to focus on the Lord's commandments. But he didn't. And we don't. Our everyday life and pursuits get our attention. Even Godly things (like building His Temple or serving His people) can steal our focus from our main jobs- trusting and obeying.
And a second observation, so far. Look at what God offered in the deal, if Solomon could manage to keep the Lord's commandments...the God would uphold His end of the covenant He had made with David. And the look at the very next sentence where He summarizes that obligation:
I will dwell among the sons of Israel, and will not forsake My people Israel.
This seems to confirm my revelation about why David was so obsessed about building a house for the Lord- not so that the Lord had a house; but so that the Lord would dwell among the people as He had when with the tabernacle. That was the heart of David. For his people to be able to experience life with the God of all of creation among them.
That is an amazing vision. To want your people to have that firsthand, personal experience for God. Not just a place for His glory to dwell, like a palatial hotel suite; or even, as Solomon described it, as a place to worship the Lord. But an agreement that God would be AMONG the people because they had the faith to obey and want to be in relationship with Him.
We miss that. Obeying isn't for the act of obeying itself but the act of faith and trust it displays. We should want that too. To bring the God of the universe to the people who do not already know Him as Savior. May that be the call of my heart, as it was for David.
And look closely at what is at stake: "and will not forsake My people Israel."
That means that Solomon's willingness and ability to keep the Lord's commandments has a direct affect on if God dwells among the people and if God will not forsake His people." The same was true with the original covenant with David. The leaders actions directly affect the people's relationship with God.
This, on the surface, doesn't sound "fair". But we know God is good and He is righteous. We can trust that, if this was the arrangement of the day, it was good. And Solomon knew the arrangement. And the stakes.
And yet, had already broken several commandment to date.
It's the same with us. We know our actions or misplaced focus means some eternal work doesn't get done; but we want what we want and we often times pursue the world. Solomon is a good cautionary tales. Things don't have to look grim. Everything can look like it's going ok. But if we're being disobedient- there are consequences.
God's House is Complete
In verse 14, The Temple is finished. That went very quick. I thought we would have many chapters describing this event.
In verse 15 we move on to interior design.
- Everything was covered in cedar and cypress so that no stone was seen. (Floors, walls, ceiling.)
- Lots of gold in and around the Holy of Holies.
- Giant cherubs spanning the length of the wall, covered in gold.
- Detailed carved engravings
Seven years later, in the month of Bul (October/November) is was completed.
II Chronicles 3
Many of the same descriptions. Here's a few new things that stood out:
- The Temple was on Mount Moriah
- The was the place God told David to buy after the census incident
- But also, this was the place that Abraham brought Isaac for sacrifice.
- Inside the Temple, in addition to all of the gold, precious stones were also laid.
- There were giant pillars on the outside of the "house".
Wiersbe points out that David's two worst sins were probably the murderous affair with Bathsheba and the taking of the census.
From the census incident, came the purchase of the land for the Temple and, eventually, Solomon was the outcome of the relationship with Bathsheba. God redeemed David's sins and now has Solomon building God's Temple on that land. David and everyone around paid dearly for those sins; so they weren't without consequence. However, the Lord can redeem us and our worst choices.
I thought it was an interesting point and wanted to capture it.
The two giant pillars at the gates of the Temple were named:
- Jachin, which means "He establishes"
- Boaz, which means "In Him is strength" (Ruth's redeemer's name)
I really like that. The Jewish people had giant public reminders that the LORD established them as a nation and deserved all the glory. And the LORD was their strength and their only hope. Resting in Solomon's wisdom or David's name or anything else was not reality. God alone is our strength.