1 Kings 7 – Solomon’s Palace and the Temple Furnishings
A. The construction of Solomon’s palace.
1. (1) Solomon builds his house.
But Solomon took thirteen years to build his own house; so he finished all his house.
a. But Solomon took thirteen years to build his own house: 1 Kings 6:38 tells us that Solomon spent 7 years building the temple, but here we learn that he spent 13 years building his own house. The temple was glorious, but it seems that Solomon wanted a house that was more glorious than the temple.
i. “It does show the place which his own personal comfort and luxurious tastes had come to occupy in the life of Solomon… It is often by such simple, and unexpected tests, that the deepest facts of a human life are revealed.” (Morgan)
ii. We could say that Solomon finished the work of building the temple; the Christian cannot say that the work of spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ is finished.
b. So he finished all his house: The following passage describes what a magnificent house Solomon had.
2. (2-12) The splendor of Solomon’s palace.
He also built the House of the Forest of Lebanon; its length was one hundred cubits, its width fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits, with four rows of cedar pillars, and cedar beams on the pillars. And it was paneled with cedar above the beams that were on forty-five pillars, fifteen to a row. There were windows with beveled frames in three rows, and window was opposite window in three tiers. And all the doorways and doorposts had rectangular frames; and window was opposite window in three tiers. He also made the Hall of Pillars: its length was fifty cubits, and its width thirty cubits; and in front of them was a portico with pillars, and a canopy was in front of them. Then he made a hall for the throne, the Hall of Judgment, where he might judge; and it was paneled with cedar from floor to ceiling. And the house where he dwelt had another court inside the hall, of like workmanship. Solomon also made a house like this hall for Pharaoh’s daughter, whom he had taken as wife. All these were of costly stones cut to size, trimmed with saws, inside and out, from the foundation to the eaves, and also on the outside to the great court. The foundation was of costly stones, large stones, some ten cubits and some eight cubits. And above were costly stones, hewn to size, and cedar wood. The great court was enclosed with three rows of hewn stones and a row of cedar beams. So were the inner court of the house of the LORD and the vestibule of the temple.
a. The House of the Forest of Lebanon: So much magnificent cedar wood from Lebanon was used to build Solomon’s palace that they called it the “House of the Forest of Lebanon.” Walking in the richly-paneled walls of the palace was like walking in a forest.
i. The forty-five pillars set in the House of the Forest of Lebanon also gave the impression of being in a majestic forest.
ii. 1 Kings 10:16-17 mentions 500 gold shields that were hung in the House of the Forest of Lebanon. Isaiah specifically called this building an armory in Isaiah 22:8.
b. So were the inner court of the house of the LORD: At the end of the detailed, magnificent description of Solomon’s palace, the writer also mentioned that some of the great architectural features of the palace were also used in the house of the LORD. We are left with the idea that as great as the temple was, Solomon’s palace was better.
i. When one travels in old Europe today, you often come to magnificent cathedrals. These amazing buildings were mostly built hundreds of years ago at great labor and cost to poor people who could never dream of living in such spectacular places. When their most magnificent buildings were churches, it said something about their values. When Solomon made his palace more spectacular than the temple, it said something about his values. Our most magnificent buildings in the modern world – usually given over to business, shopping, or entertainment – say something about our values.
ii. Haggai 1:3-10 speaks powerfully to those who think more about their house than they do the house of God.
B. Huram makes the temple furnishings.
1. (13-14) Huram – half Israeli and the best craftsman around.
Now King Solomon sent and brought Huram from Tyre. He was the son of a widow from the tribe of Naphtali, and his father was a man of Tyre, a bronze worker; he was filled with wisdom and understanding and skill in working with all kinds of bronze work. So he came to King Solomon and did all his work.
a. Huram from Tyre: This man was half Israeli and half Gentile, and he was the best craftsman around. Solomon hired him to do all his work – that is, the fine artistic work of the palace and especially the temple.
2. (15-51) Huram makes the needed furnishings for the temple basically after the pattern of the tabernacle furnishings.
And he cast two pillars of bronze, each one eighteen cubits high, and a line of twelve cubits measured the circumference of each. Then he made two capitals of cast bronze, to set on the tops of the pillars. The height of one capital was five cubits, and the height of the other capital was five cubits. He made a lattice network, with wreaths of chainwork, for the capitals which were on top of the pillars: seven chains for one capital and seven for the other capital. So he made the pillars, and two rows of pomegranates above the network all around to cover the capitals that were on top; and thus he did for the other capital. The capitals which were on top of the pillars in the hall were in the shape of lilies, four cubits. The capitals on the two pillars also had pomegranates above, by the convex surface which was next to the network; and there were two hundred such pomegranates in rows on each of the capitals all around. Then he set up the pillars by the vestibule of the temple; he set up the pillar on the right and called its name Jachin, and he set up the pillar on the left and called its name Boaz. The tops of the pillars were in the shape of lilies. So the work of the pillars was finished. And he made the Sea of cast bronze, ten cubits from one brim to the other; it was completely round. Its height was five cubits, and a line of thirty cubits measured its circumference. Below its brim were ornamental buds encircling it all around, ten to a cubit, all the way around the Sea. The ornamental buds were cast in two rows when it was cast. It stood on twelve oxen: three looking toward the north, three looking toward the west, three looking toward the south, and three looking toward the east; the Sea was set upon them, and all their back parts pointed inward. It was a handbreadth thick; and its brim was shaped like the brim of a cup, like a lily blossom. It contained two thousand baths. He also made ten carts of bronze; four cubits was the length of each cart, four cubits its width, and three cubits its height. And this was the design of the carts: They had panels, and the panels were between frames; on the panels that were between the frames were lions, oxen, and cherubim. And on the frames was a pedestal on top. Below the lions and oxen were wreaths of plaited work. Every cart had four bronze wheels and axles of bronze, and its four feet had supports. Under the laver were supports of cast bronze beside each wreath. Its opening inside the crown at the top was one cubit in diameter; and the opening was round, shaped like a pedestal, one and a half cubits in outside diameter; and also on the opening were engravings, but the panels were square, not round. Under the panels were the four wheels, and the axles of the wheels were joined to the cart. The height of a wheel was one and a half cubits. The workmanship of the wheels was like the workmanship of a chariot wheel; their axle pins, their rims, their spokes, and their hubs were all of cast bronze. And there were four supports at the four corners of each cart; its supports were part of the cart itself. On the top of the cart, at the height of half a cubit, it was perfectly round. And on the top of the cart, its flanges and its panels were of the same casting. On the plates of its flanges and on its panels he engraved cherubim, lions, and palm trees, wherever there was a clear space on each, with wreaths all around. Thus he made the ten carts. All of them were of the same mold, one measure, and one shape. Then he made ten lavers of bronze; each laver contained forty baths, and each laver was four cubits. On each of the ten carts was a laver. And he put five carts on the right side of the house, and five on the left side of the house. He set the Sea on the right side of the house, toward the southeast. Huram made the lavers and the shovels and the bowls. So Huram finished doing all the work that he was to do for King Solomon for the house of the LORD: the two pillars, the two bowl-shaped capitals that were on top of the two pillars; the two networks covering the two bowl-shaped capitals which were on top of the pillars; four hundred pomegranates for the two networks (two rows of pomegranates for each network, to cover the two bowl-shaped capitals that were on top of the pillars); the ten carts, and ten lavers on the carts; one Sea, and twelve oxen under the Sea; the pots, the shovels, and the bowls. All these articles which Huram made for King Solomon for the house of the LORD were of burnished bronze. In the plain of Jordan the king had them cast in clay molds, between Succoth and Zaretan. And Solomon did not weigh all the articles, because there were so many; the weight of the bronze was not determined. Thus Solomon had all the furnishings made for the house of the LORD: the altar of gold, and the table of gold on which was the showbread; the lampstands of pure gold, five on the right side and five on the left in front of the inner sanctuary, with the flowers and the lamps and the wick-trimmers of gold; the basins, the trimmers, the bowls, the ladles, and the censers of pure gold; and the hinges of gold, both for the doors of the inner room (the Most Holy Place) and for the doors of the main hall of the temple. So all the work that King Solomon had done for the house of the LORD was finished; and Solomon brought in the things which his father David had dedicated: the silver and the gold and the furnishings. He put them in the treasuries of the house of the LORD.
a. He cast two pillars of bronze: These impressive pillars were actually so noteworthy that they were given names. They were called Jachin and Boaz (mentioned also in 2 Chronicles 3:17).
i. “The one on the right was given the name ‘Jachin,’ meaning ‘He shall establish,’ and the one on the left the name ‘Boaz,’ meaning ‘in strength.’” (Dilday)
ii. “In practical terms the pillars were to be an ever-present reminder to each successive king of the fact that he was ruling by God’s appointment and by his grace, and that in God lay his strength. Just so ought believers today to be ever mindful of God’s grace in their lives and of their utter dependence on him.” (Patterson and Austel)
iii. Some believe that the pillars were meant to remind Israel of the twin pillars from the Exodus. The pillar of fire by night and the pillar of cloud by day were constant reminders of the presence of God in the wilderness.
iv. Every time someone came to the house of the LORD in the days of Solomon they said, “Look! There is He Shall Establish. And there is In Him Is Strength.” This set them in the right frame of mind to worship the LORD. When the crowds gathered at the morning and evening sacrifice to worship the LORD, the Levites led the people standing in front of the temple with these two great, bronze pillars behind them. It was always before them: He Shall Establish and In Him Is Strength.
v. One could say that the house of God itself was Jachin and Boaz. That temple was established by God, and built by the strength of God. Every time they looked at that temple, they knew that God liked to establish and strengthen things.
vi. The house of God was a place where people experienced what the pillars were all about. At that house, people were established in their relationship with God. At that house, people were given strength from the LORD. From this building, it should go out to the whole community: “Come here and get established. Come here and receive the strength of God.”
b. He made the Sea of cast bronze, ten cubits from one brim to the other: The huge laver was more than 15 feet (5 meters) across, and was used for the ceremonial washings connected with the temple. In addition, Huram made ten lavers of bronze; each laver contained forty baths.
i. “It was used by priests for cleansing their hands and feet and perhaps also to supply water to the standing basins for the rinsing of offerings (2 Chronicles 4:10)” (Wiseman). Poole believes that perhaps water came out of the bulls that formed the foundation of the Sea.
ii. “The volume of the Sea was 2,000 baths, generally calculated to be about 11,500 gallons” [43,532 liters] (Patterson and Austel).
c. The table of gold on which was the showbread: 2 Chronicles 4:8 says there were 10 tables of showbread. Here, they are described collectively as a unit.
d. He put them in the treasuries of the house of the LORD: All these great works of art and articles of great value were placed in the temple. This included the ten carts and the shovels, bowls and other needed utensils for sacrifices.
d. Solomon brought in the things which his father David had dedicated: God told David that he could not build the temple, but David still collected furnishings and treasures for the temple that his son Solomon would build (1 Chronicles 29).
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