The Temple
1 Kings 5:2-6
And Solomon sent to Hiram, saying,…

Read also 2 Chronicles 2:1-10, where additional light is thrown on this transaction. It marks a period of extreme interest and importance in Hebrew history. It introduces us, by anticipation, to that which was the crowning glory of the reign of Solomon, for his name must ever stand connected with the magnificence of the first Temple, though it be but as a gorgeous dream of the far distant past, which imagination strives in vain to reproduce with distinctness and certainty. Whether the Hiram who entered into this treaty with Solomon is the same as the Hiram who was the friend of David is a matter of doubt. Menander of Ephesus (quoted by Josephus) describes him as a man of great enterprize, a lover of architecture, noted for his skill in building and adorning the temples of the gods. And in this we have a valuable indirect confirmation of the Biblical history. Look at this purpose of Solomon to build a splendid temple to the Lord in two or three different lights.

I. IT EXPRESSES HIS DESIRE TO CARRY OUT THE GOOD DESIGNS OF HIS FATHER DAVID. Filial feeling prompted it. It drew the inspiration of its enthusiasm from the warmth of a filial heart. "Thou knowest how that David my father could not," etc. We are told why he "could not" (1 Chronicles 22:7, 8; 1 Chronicles 28:5). He had been "a man of war," and had "shed much blood." Noble purposes may be conceived in a time of discord and confusion; they can be actualized only in a time of rest. The hands must be free from the blood of men that would build a worthy dwelling-place for a righteous God. Nothing was more natural than that Solomon, under happier auspices, should resolve to do what his father had the "heart to do," but "could not." To how large an extent is human life a record of thwarted purposes! A tale cut short before it is half told; a laying of plans that are never worked out; a reaching forth towards fair ideals that men have not the power or the time to turn into realities. What can the high mission of each succeeding generation be but just to take up the good purposes that a previous generation failed to accomplish and develop them to their ripe issues? This is the real law of human progress. All honour to the son who, knowing what was truest and deepest in his father's heart, endeavours worthily to fulfil it.

II. IT IS THE SPONTANEOUS OUTCOME OF HIS OWN DEVOUT FEELING. Solomon never had the pure and lofty spirit of devotion that inspired the soul of David; but as yet, at least, his religious sentiment is deep and true. A "house great and wonderful," dedicated to the Lord, in the royal city, will give it fitting public expression. All religious feeling instinctively seeks to body itself forth in appropriate forms. Forbidden as the Jews were to "make any likeness or image" of the great Object of worship (Exodus 20:4), it was quite in harmony with the Divine dispensation of the time that the spirit of worship should robe itself in a grand symbolic garb. Solomon only sought to develop the service of the tabernacle into a system more imposing and enduring (2 Chronicles 2:4, 5). In every age symbolism has its place as the spontaneous and natural expression of religious thought and feeling. Let it be relied on as the means of awakening such thought and feeling, as the prescribed form in which it shall move - an artificial substitute for it - and it becomes a mockery and a snare. The magnificence of Solomon's design for the Temple indicated not only the fervour of his devotion, but the breadth of his view as regards the essential sacredness of all natural things. "The earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof." All things beautiful and precious are turned to their true use when dedicated to Him. We cannot be too careful to give Him our richest and best. The true heart says," I will not offer burnt offering to the Lord of that which doth cost me nothing." Let us not be more concerned for our own houses than we are for the Lord's. The history of the Temple, however, and of all ecclesiology, shows how easily the wealth of outward adornment in worship may become the grave of the spiritual and the veil of the Divine. In proportion as care for the symbolic form - the mere shrine of worship - has increased, the living reality - the worship of the Father "in spirit and in truth" - has passed away.

III. IT EXPRESSES HIS SENSE OF THE FACT THAT THE ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF GOD IS THE HEAL STRENGTH AND GLORY OF A NATION. The Temple was to be dedicated "to the name of Jehovah" - the visible sign and symbol of the sovereignty of that name over the whole life of the people. There was worth in the sign just so far as that sovereignty was real. The Jewish commonwealth was a theocracy - the Temple the palace and throne of the great invisible King. Judaism was not the union of Church and State as two separate or separable powers, but their identification. No distinction between the political and ecclesiastical, the secular and spiritual spheres. The two were one. The ideal Christian nation is a theocracy in which Christ is king. Not made so by its institutions, but by the spiritual life that pervades it. True to its name only so far as the law of Christ is honoured in the homes of the people, moulds the form and habit of their social life, controls commerce, rules in Parliament, strengthens, ennobles, glorifies the Throne. Its Christian Churches are thus the very flower of a country's highest life.

"Those temples of His grace,
How beautiful they stand!
The honour of our native place
And bulwark of our land." As the graveyard - where "the rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep" - tells of the vanity of all earthly things, how the pride and glory of man must one day moulder down to dust, so the church is the memorial of the unfading inheritance of truth and purity and love - the blessed fellowship of the redeemed - the "House of God, not made with hands, eternal in the heavens."

IV. IT EXPRESSES HIS DESIRE THAT ISRAEL SHOULD HAVE A CENTRE OF RELIGIOUS ATTRACTION AND BOND OF RELIGIOUS UNITY. The tabernacle had been the movable sanctuary, of a wandering people, the Temple should be the resting place of the Divine presence (Psalm 132:14). Hitherto there had been a divided worship, connected both with the tabernacle at Gideon and the ark in the city of David (1 Chronicles 16:37-39). But in future all sacred associations are to be gathered up in the central glory of the Temple. One nation, one faith, one God, one sanctuary. But this localization of the highest forms of worship had its dangers. Men came to think of" the Holy Presence as belonging to the building, instead of the building as being hallowed and glorified by the Presence." Christ proclaims the infinite Presence, the impartial Love. "The hour cometh when ye shall neither in this mountain," etc. (John 4:21). "One greater than the Temple is here" - in whom all its sacred symbols are fulfilled - the attractive centre and bond of union for redeemed souls of every age and nation. Our thoughts are led on to the glorious vision of the holy city of which it is written, "I saw no temple therein, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it" (Revelation 21:22). - W.

Parallel Verses
KJV: And Solomon sent to Hiram, saying,

WEB: Solomon sent to Hiram, saying,

The Co-Operation of Hiram
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