And the capitals atop the pillars in the portico were shaped like lilies, four cubits high.
I. THE FIRMNESS OF ITS FOUNDATION. The threshing floor of Araunah, the site of the temple, was part of the plateau on the top of Mount Moriah (2 Chronicles 3:1). Solomon, as we are told by Josephus, in order to enlarge the area, built massive walls on the sloping sides of the mountain, filling in the spaces with earth; and the foundations of these walls were composed of huge stones bedded and, as it were, mortised in the solid rock How forcibly are we reminded of the word of Christ to Peter, "Upon this rock will I build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matthew 16:18). Whatever the bearing of this word on the disciple himself may be, it is certain that it cannot refer to him apart from the grand confession he has just made - " Thou art the Christ, the son of the living God." Peter may be one of the great foundation stones, but Christ Himself is the solid, primary, unhewn Rock on which the fabric rests. Not so much any truth about Him, but the personal Christ in the grandeur of His being, the integrity of His righteousness, the strength and fidelity of his wondrous love, is the Church's firm foundation.
II. THE SILENT PROCESS OF ITS STRUCTURE. "There was neither hammer, nor axe, nor any tool of iron heard in the house while it was in building (ver. 7). This was probably in obedience to the prohibition recorded in Exodus 20:26 and Deuteronomy 27:5. It expressed the king's sense of the sanctity of the work. The tranquillity of the scene must not be broken by the clang of inharmonious sounds. "Like some tall palm the noiseless fabric grew." The fact is suggestive. The building up of the Church of God is a silent, hidden process. Outward visible agencies must be employed, but the real constructive forces are out of sight. Truth works secretly and silently in the souls of men. "The kingdom of God cometh not with observation." Noise and show are out of harmony with the sanctity of it. Clamour and violence only hinder the work. Let us not mistake a restless, busy, fussy zeal for the externalities of Church life for true spiritual service. This is often in inverse ratio to the amount of real edification. The best machinery works with least friction and noise. The quiet, thoughtful workers, who move on steadily by the inspiration of their holy purpose, without much public recognition, may after all be the most efficient builders of the temple of God.
III. THE VARIETY OF THE AGENCIES BY WHICH THE WORE WAS DONE. Foreign power was enlisted in the service - Hiram and his artificers. Cedars from Lebanon, gold and silver and precious stones from Ophir and Parvaim, brass "without weight" from the foundries of Succoth and Zarethan - all were consecrated to it. So also with the spiritual fabric. The resources of the world are at the command of Him who rears it. "All things serve His might." All beings, with all their faculties, are at His disposal All streams of human interest, and thought, and speech, and activity may be made tributary to the great river of His purpose. Our faith rests in the assurance that it is so - that just as our physical life is nourished by all sorts of ministries, near and remote, so the kingdom of truth and righteousness in the world is being built up by a vast variety of agencies which it is beyond our power to trace. All human affairs are but as the scaffolding within which the structure of God's great house is slowly rising to its completion. To this structure it is that the prophetic word, in its deepest meaning, may be applied, "The sons of strangers shall build up thy walls" (Isaiah 60:10). And in its final consummation shall be fulfilled the apocalyptic picture, "The kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it." (Revelation 21:22).
IV. THE MINGLED STRENGTH AND BEAUTY OF THE FABRIC. The blocks of stone were lined with cedar planks, and the cedar overlaid with plates of gold; the walls covered with carved "cherubims and palm trees and open flowers;" the brazen pillars crowned with "lily work." The building was not of large dimensions, but wonderful for its combination of solidity and adornment, partaking of the firmness of the rocky mount on which it stood, glittering in the sunlight, the crowning glory of the royal city. How much more truly may we say of the spiritual temple, "Strength and beauty are in His sanctuary." There is no strength like that of truth and righteousness; no beauty like that of holy character: - strength drawn from Christ, the living Foundation, the reflected beauty of that purer heaven which is the eternal home of God.
V. THE ORDERLY ARRANGEMENT OF ITS PARTS AND APPURTENANCES. The temple was framed apparently after the model of the tabernacle, but with doubled dimensions and more enduring materials, and that was "after the pattern shown to Moses in the mount" - all regulated with regard to the due administration of the service of God. Courts, chambers, galleries, altars, layers, utensils - all consecrated to some sacred use, or meant to enshrine some high symbolic meaning. The gathering up of a complex variety of parts in one grand structural unity. Such is the Church - an aggregate of various but harmonious and mutually helpful parts. "There are diversities of gifts and administrations and operations, but the same Spirit" (1 Corinthians 12:4). "All the building fitly framed together," etc. (Ephesians 2:13). "The whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth," etc. (Ephesians 4:16). It would seem necessary that the social religious life should assume some visible organized form; and though there may be no such form or forms ecclesiastical that can claim to have the stamp of distinct Divine approval, yet all are Divine so far as they minister to the general edification and preserve "the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace." They each and all have their place in the Divine order, if they help to fulfil the holy uses, and to heighten the glory of the great temple of the Lord.
VI. ITS SUBLIME DISTINCTION AS THE HABITATION OF GOD (see vers. 12, 18, etc.) This was but the repetition of a more ancient promise (Exodus 25:8; Exodus 29:45). And what are all these promises, with all the marvellous manifestations that verified them, but typical foreshadowings of the richer grace by virtue of which the Church becomes "the habitation of God through the Spirit"? "The Most High dwells not in temples made with hands;" His dwelling place is the fellowship of redeemed souls. - W.
King Solomon sent and fetched Hiram out of Tyre.I. HIRAM WAS A BORN MASTER BUILDER. The influence of heredity needs no more signal illustration. He combines his mother's heart and his father's mind. Strange, that in a correspondence between Eastern kings of antiquity, with whom woman's fame was of less than cypher value, Hiram's mother should be mentioned at all; stranger still, that the premier place is given to her, implying that, while both parents were eminent, the mother was pre-eminent. Who was she? "A woman of the daughters of Dan" (2 Chronicles 2:13, 14). The Danites bore the brunt of all the Sidonian incursions, until, driven from hearth and home for refuge to the hills, privation and isolation but varied the form of the disasters that dogged them. Finally, submitting to capture or surrender, they were taken across the border into Tyre to suffer further ignominy amid alien surroundings. But never did the sons and daughters of Dan forget their tribal ancestry or affinities. Their traditions and Pride became a splendid inheritance, and their faith sustained them under the sharpest persecution. Even their oppressors grew to respect them, and permitted them to thrive in their midst. Hiram's mother had the tribal grit, the unswerving courage of her people, so that when named at the Tyrian Court, it is as "a woman of the daughters of Dan." And, in his letter to Solomon, Hiram the King lets drop this bit of feminine biography that is a tribute to her fine fidelity to conscience. Do not think that this passes in the record as of no account. You can prophesy with tolerable certainty as to Hiram's future when you read his mother's story, and you can as surely anticipate as much for every child of promise whose mother is true to the form of faith that holds her to the people of God — call it what you will, whether Danism or Methodism. Keep your eyes open for these embryo workers, who are, like poets, born, not made. It is the self-constituted man we want. It is character, and not birth, that mainly tells. The river has its source in the mountain torrent, but the true test of its strength is in the assimilative power with which, while preserving its identity, it absorbs its tributaries. Therefore we judge Hiram as we would judge ourselves, at the bar of self-examination — and he emerges from the ordeal admirable.
II. HIRAM THE MASTER BUILDER HAD A MASTERMIND.
1. He was a cunning man. When the Saxons said a man was "cunnen" they meant that he was knowing — that he had his wits about him. And they implied more. The root of the word obtained amongst the Latins also. It means a wedge, and we get its signification in the word cuneated, which precisely hits off the disposition of the man Hiram. He was a wedge-shaped man. Let opportunity give him but the smallest conceivable opening, and in he went, especially if the hammer of necessity but tapped home the wedge. Every Christian worker should be of wedge-shaped character.
2. Hiram, the cunning man, was endued with understanding. To have an understanding is to be able to get to the bottom of things; and to Re endued with understanding, as Hiram was, is to exercise this faculty from circumference to centre. It means that he had not only a mental bias, but also a mental equipment, thoroughly comprehensive.
III. HIRAM OF THE MASTER MIND WAS ALSO A MASTER CRAFTSMAN.
1. Hiram wrought in gold, to him the most precious of metals; of supreme quality, of standard value, capable of sovereign impress, non-rusting, non-corroding. Gold is the one mineral that does not depreciate; it is immutable amid all change of time and circumstance; it is gold — always gold. This he used for overlay work, for the decoration of the holy place, and for the consecrated vessels. We, too, work in gold when we work in Divine truth. We cannot alter the material, but do we make its presentation attractive or repellant? Is the image and superscription of the King upon it? When we use it in the holy place, does it shine as the wings of a seraph or an overlaid panel would when Hiram wrought? Are the "vessels unto honour sanctified, and meet for the Master's use"?
2. Hiram wrought also in silver — fair and chaste. Silver is subject to market fluctuation, but it is increased manifold in value when it receives a sovereign impression. It is the rich man's plenty, and the poor man's wealth. We, too, work in silver, when we serve in human sympathy, that is brightened by use, and that, when beautified with the Divine likeness, as "the liquid drops of tears that you have shed," "brings ten times double gain of happiness." And, when you work your silver into the Gospel trumpet, the world will hear sounds that for thrill and cadence will rival the music of a thousand harps.
3. Hiram wrought in brass. The word is used technically for a compound of metals, that should be rendered bronze. It is a fusion of copper — the only alloy with gold — and tin. And our thoughts, like the sea, must be wide and deep, generous and cleansing. Join prayer and thought, and you will get a spiritual amalgam of the utmost use in temple service.
4. Hiram wrought in iron, that is rough, resistant, obdurate; but in his hands it became ductile, and exceeding serviceable. When we forge these our wills, we, too, toil in iron. Proud, repellant, unlovely they are; yet, when, by the grace of God, they become wrought-work, they are marvels of resource, strength, control, support.
5. He worked upon stone, rugged and hard; but, by patient continuance in well-doing, he formed the useful block that helped to make the temple, and brought out upon it the artistic form and beauty of the sculptured decoration. This is just what we do.
6. Hiram wrought upon timber, that supported the roof, that panelled the holy place, that formed the tables for the shewbread, which was the symbol for the bread of life.
7. Hiram wrought upon textiles, and in their subdued colours he could see mysteries. Perhaps only mysteries; whereas, to you and me, the mysteries seem revealed. But, small blame to the worker Hiram. It was the purpose of his dispensation to make the marvel, and sustain it.
IV. HIRAM HAD THE MASTER SPIRIT. He came to Solomon a man skilful "to grave every manner of graving, and to find out every manner of device." Nothing issues from his master mind that is not a sublimely pure conception; the Divine touch glorifies everything he fashions. That is true sacrifice; it is the master art, and you know it to be true, for it is your Master's art.
V. FOR SUCH SERVICE AS HIRAM'S, WHAT WAS THE REWARD? No man labours as he did without recognition, for no man serves God for naught. The upraised temple; its outer ornamentation; its inner splendour; its acknowledgment of the people; the accepted sacrifice, and the consummate approval of the Divine presence — surely these tokens were enough? Shall we each be a master builder? Then let us remember that he who would seek to fulfil this high calling must have a master mind; that he who would have the master mind must have the Master's spirit; that he who would have the Master's spirit must be much in the presence of the Master. There, amid the silences, he will hear the Master's voice: there are the hidden victories that overcome the world.
(J. R. Jackson.)
PeopleBoaz, David, Hiram, Huram, Jachin, Naphtali, Pharaoh, Solomon
PlacesHall of Judgment, Hall of Pillars, Hall of the Throne, House of the Forest of Lebanon, Jordan River, Most Holy Place, Succoth, Tyre, Zarethan
TopicsAcross, Capitals, Chapiters, Crowns, Cubits, Design, Flowers, Lilies, Lily, Lily-work, Ornamented, Pillars, Porch, Portico, Shape, Tops, Vestibule
Outline1. The building of Solomon's house
2. Of the house of Lebanon
6. Of the porch of pillars
7. Of the porch of judgment
8. Of the house for Pharaoh's daughter
13. Hiram's work of the two pillars,
23. Of the molten sea
27. Of the ten bases
38. Of the ten lavers
40. and all the vessels
Dictionary of Bible Themes1 Kings 7:19
There was a double Gadara. One at the shore of the Mediterranean sea: that was first called Gezer, 1 Kings 9:15. In Josephus, "Simon destroyed the city Gazara, and Joppe, and Jamnia."--And in the Book of the Maccabees, "And he fortified Joppe, which is on the sea, and Gazara, which is on the borders of Azotus." At length, according to the idiom of the Syrian dialect, Zain passed into Daleth; and instead of Gazara, it was called Gadara. Hence Strabo, after the mention of Jamnia, saith, "and there …
John Lightfoot—From the Talmud and Hebraica
Hiram, the Inspired Artificer
Whether any Preparation and Disposition for Grace is Required on Man's Part?
A Discourse of the House and Forest of Lebanon
Adam and Zaretan, Joshua 3
That the Ruler Should be a Near Neighbour to Every one in Compassion, and Exalted Above all in Contemplation.
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