1 Kings 5:1-18
And Hiram king of Tyre sent his servants to Solomon; for he had heard that they had anointed him king in the room of his father…
According to tradition, Hiram was a tributary or dependent monarch. The embassy which Hiram sent on this occasion was evidently meant to express the congratulations of the King of Tyre — in 2 Chronicles 2:14, 15, we find the words, "My lord," "My lord David thy father." There is a notable mixture of affection and reverence in the spirit which Hiram showed to Solomon; Hiram was "ever a lover of David," and yet he speaks of David in terms which an inferior would use to a superior. Hiram preserved the continuity of friendship, and herein showed himself an example, not only to monarchs but to other men. Although Solomon was blessed with "rest on every side," and was enabled to look upon a future without so much as the shadow of an adversary upon it, yet he was determined not to be indolent. Suppose a man to come into the circumstances which we have described as constituting the royal position of Solomon, and suppose that man destitute of an adequate and all-controlling purpose, it is easy to see how he would become the victim of luxury, and how what little strength he had would gradually be withdrawn from him. But at all events, in the opening of Solomon's career, we see that the purpose was always uppermost, the soul was in a regnant condition, all outward pomp and circumstance was ordered back into its right perspective, and the king pursued a course of noble constancy as he endeavoured to realise the idea and intent of heaven. The same law applies to all prosperous men. To increase in riches is to increase in temptation, to indolence and self-idolatry: to external trust and vain confidence, to misanthropy, monopoly, and oppression; the only preventive or cure is the cultivation of a noble "purpose," so noble indeed as to throw almost into contempt everything that is merely temporal and earthly. Even the noblest purpose needs the co-operation of sympathetic and competent men. Thus the Jew seeks assistance from the Gentile in building the house of the Lord. How wonderful are the co-operations which are continually taking place in life! so subtly do they interblend, and make up that which is lacking in each other, that it is simply impossible to effect an exhaustive analysis, Nor would it be desirable that such an analysis should be completed. We should fix our minds upon the great fact that no man liveth unto himself, that no man is complete in himself, that every man needs the help of every other man, and thus we shall see how mysteriously is built the great temple of life, and is realised before the eyes of the universe the great purpose of God. Co-operation is only another word for the distributions which God has made of talent and opportunity. In vain had Hiram responded in the language of generous sympathy if Israel itself had been a divided people. This must be the condition of the Church as a great working body in the world. It will be in vain that poetry, history, literature, music, and things which apparently lie outside the line of spiritual activity, send in their offers, tributes, and contributions, each according to its own kind, if the Church to which the offer is made is a divided and self-destroying body. When all Israel is one, the contributions of Tyre will be received with thankfulness and be turned to their highest uses. A beautiful picture is given in verse 14. The picture represents the difference between cutting down and setting up; in other words, the difference between destruction and construction. It was easier to cut down than it was to build up. The two operations should always go on together. The business of the Church is to pull down, and to build up; even to use the materials of the enemy in building up the temple of the living God. The picture has aa evident relation to the ease with which men can pull down faith and darken hope and unsettle confidence. Thus the work of foreign missions should help the work of missions at home. Every idolatry that is thrown down abroad should be turned into a contribution for the upbuilding and strengthening of the Church at home. The care shown of the foundation is another instance of the wisdom of Solomon. The stones which were used in the foundation were in no sense considered insignificant or worthless. The stones which Solomon used are described as "great stones, costly stones, and hewed stones"; the terms which are used to describe the foundation which was laid in Zion are these — "A stone, a tried stone, a precious corner-stone, a sure foundation." We read also of the foundations of the wall of the city which John saw in vision — "The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb." A curious illustration of the union between the permanent and the temporary is shown in all earthly arrangements. Solomon laid foundations which might have lasted as long as the earth itself endured. Judging by the foundations alone, one would have said concerning the work of Solomon, This is meant for permanence; no thought of change or decay ever occurred to the mind of the man who laid these noble courses. It is the same with ourselves in nearly all the relations of life. We know that we may die to-day, yet we lay plans which will require years and generations to accomplish. Yet we often speak as having no obligation to the future, or as if the future would do nothing for us, not knowing that it is the future which makes the present what it is, and that but for the future all our inspiration would be lost because our hope would perish. Let us see that our foundations are strong. A beautiful illustration of contrast and harmony is to be found in the distribution which Solomon made of his workers and the labour they were required to undertake. Here we find burden-bearers, hewers in the mountains, officers, and rulers. There was no standing upon one level or claiming of one dignity. Each man did what he could according to the measure of his capacity, and each man did precisely what he was told to do by his commanding officer. It is in vain to talk about any equality that does not recognise the principle of order and the principle of obedience. Our equality must be found in our devotion, in the pureness of our purpose, in the steadfastness of our loyalty, and not in merely official status or public prominence. The unity of the Church must be found, not in its forms, emoluments, dignities, and the like, but in the simplicity of its faith and the readiness of its eager and affectionate obedience.
(J. Parker, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And Hiram king of Tyre sent his servants unto Solomon; for he had heard that they had anointed him king in the room of his father: for Hiram was ever a lover of David.