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Bible Commentaries

L. M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible

1 Kings 5

 

 

Verses 1-18

PREPARATIONS FOR THE TEMPLE

(vs.1-18)

God had told David that Solomon would build a house for Him (2 Samuel 7:12-13), and David therefore prepared many materials for this. We read now of Solomon making further preparations for this. Hiram king of Tyre, who had been friendly with David, sent his servants to express the same friendliness to Solomon (v.1). Solomon was encouraged by this to send word to Hiram, reminding him that David was not permitted by God to build a house for the name of the Lord because of his being constantly embroiled in warfare (vs.2-3). However, the Lord now had given Solomon rest, so that his kingdom was at peace (v.4).

Therefore, he told Hiram it was his purpose to build a house for the name of the Lord God, in accordance with God's word that David's son should do this work (v.5). He requested of Hiram that he should give orders to his men to cut down cedars in Lebanon to provide timber for building. Solomon would send servants to unite with Hiram's servants in this work, and Solomon would pay the wages of all of these according to the decision of Hiram. He reminded Hiram that it was well known that the Sidonians (who were connected with Tyre) were skillful lumbermen, and Solomon was fully willing to pay wages such as skillful workmen deserved.

There were no snags whatever in this arrangement. All was done in thorough concord. Huram rejoiced greatly at the message of Solomon, showing no envy, but joy in the Lord's having given a wise king to rule over Israel (v.7). He responded favorably to Solomon's request, willing to provide cedar and cypress logs for him. Hiram's servants would cut them down, then float them by the sea-coast in rafts (or what we may call "booms") to the port in Israel closest to Jerusalem, where the logs would be separated for transport by land to Jerusalem (vs.8-9). He accepted Solomon's word too that he would provide food for Hiram's household.

This arrangement proceeded well, with cedar and cypress logs being sent by Hiram and Solomon responding with 20,000 kors of wheat and 20 kors of pressed oil every year (v.11) for seven years (ch.6:37-38).

This friendliness between Solomon and Hiram pictures the peace established between Israel and the Gentile nations in the millennium. Gentiles will come to Israel's light and the wealth of the Gentiles will come to Israel (Isaiah 60:3-5). God knew how to dispose Hiram favorably toward Solomon, and He knows how to change the hearts of other Gentiles from enmity to friendliness toward Israel, as He will in the latter days. Solomon and Hiram made a treaty together. The labor force that Solomon raised from Israel to send to Lebanon was large indeed, involving 30,000 men. The men labored only for one month out of three, for 10,000 went each month and returned for two months. This was wise consideration for the laborers (vs.13-14).

For the building of the temple, Solomon designated 70,000 workers to carry burdens, which would include the transporting of logs from the sea coast to Jerusalem. Also 80,000 were engaged in quarrying stone in the mountains (v.15). It is understood that the caverns from which the stone was quarried are still in existence in the vicinity of Jerusalem.

There is good spiritual instruction for us in all this organization. God knows how to organize His work today without man's organization involved. The workers in the mountains of Lebanon, using axes to cut down trees, speak of evangelists sent by God to cut down the pride of men and thus save them from their sins, so that they might be fit for use in His house. The logs being then committed to the water picture the exercise of faith that is necessary for every convert. The logs may seem heavy enough to sink, but they do not: they float.

The burden bearers had the important work of carrying the logs up to Jerusalem, symbolizing the work of believers who care for the need of new converts, that they might be brought to realize their place in the house of God.

Those who quarried stone had hard underground work in gradually shaping stones that were then built into the temple with no tools being necessary, and no noise (ch.6:7). Typically this is the work of bringing souls from the darkness of their sins, dealing with them to shape their character so as to be fitted in perfectly with the rest of believers as a holy temple in the Lord. This is God's workmanship, but He uses believers to carry out His work.

There were also 3,300 supervisors of the work, which reminds us that God has provided in the Church today, elder men of experience and dependability to help and encourage His saints in the work God appoints.

Large, costly, hewn stones are specially mentioned in verse 17, used in laying the foundation of the building. These do not speak of Christ Himself, for He is the Rock, the bedrock as the foundation of the Church of God (Matthew 16:18; 1 Corinthians 3:11). He was not "hewn," for He is perfect as He is. The hewn stones therefore picture the work of apostles and prophets at the beginning of the Church's history, as Paul says, believers "have been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets" (Ephesians 2:20). God did a special work with these, as Paul's conversion and after-life illustrate. The hewing speaks of His cutting off what was extraneous to make them fit for the use God had for them. They were "costly," for they were redeemed by the precious blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:18-19). They were "large," for they were given a place of prime importance in the building of the Church.

As well as Solomon's and Hiram's builders, verse 18 speaks of the Gebalites quarrying stones. There were Gebalites in connection with Edom, Ammon and Moab (Psalms 83:6-7), but the Gebalites (or Giblites) in our chapter are more likely those spoken of in Joshua 13:4-5, closer to the Sidonians and to Lebanon.

 


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Bibliography Information
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on 1 Kings 5:4". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/lmg/1-kings-5.html. 1897-1910.

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