THE GLORIOUS MAJESTIC PRESENCE OF THE LORD DESERVES COSTLY BUILDING MATERIALS AND COVENANT OBEDIENCE THAT COMMUNICATE PURITY, HOLINESS AND BEAUTY ACCENTUATING OUR PRIVILEGE OF ACCESS
How casual are we in our approach to the Lord? A study of the construction of Solomon’s Temple should elevate our sense of privilege of the access we have to the glorious majestic presence of the God the Universe. We need to recapture a sense of the glory of the Lord; of His beauty; of His holiness; of His purity; of how precious He should be to His redeemed who can only enter His presence by the blood of His Son.
Bob Henkins: After their exodus from the bonds of slavery in Egypt, God revealed to Moses the blue print of the tabernacle. From that time on, the children of God dreamed of building a permanent house for their God in the Promised Land. Finally that time arrived. God allowed Solomon to build the temple in Jerusalem. It would be the place, where God’s eyes and ears would be. It would be a house of prayer for all nations. It would be God’s dwelling place on earth. And in the center, the very heart of the temple, would be the inner sanctuary, called “the Holy of Holies.” And in this most holy place, the Ark of the Covenant would be set. The Mercy Seat was placed on top of the Ark, and upon this seat sat the power, presence and glory of God, ever present, shining the wonderful light of God’ mercy. This was the biggest building project in its day.
William Sanford LaSor: The Temple was not intended to house a congregation, neither was it a private chapel for the king. It was built to house the ark and to symbolize the presence of Yahweh.
R. D. Patterson: The general symbolism of the temple as the place that God indwells is continued in the church age in the temple that is the individual believer’s body and in the temple that is the corporate body of believers, the church.
Philip Graham Ryken: emphasizes the following features of the temple and what they reveal about the person of God:
– His Beauty
– His Magnificent Glory – seen in the abundance of pure gold
– His Holiness
– Doors providing the entrance into His Presence
There was a time when God lived in Solomon’s house, but his long-range plan is for us to come and live in his house, the palace of paradise.
I. (:1-10) EXTERIOR CONSTRUCTION OF THE TEMPLE
A. (:1) Timing in Redemptive History
“Now it came about in the four hundred and eightieth year after the sons of Israel came out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month of Ziv which is the second month, that he began to build the house of the LORD.”
August Konkel: The introduction sets the month in which the foundation is laid in reference to the Exodus. This is significant for two reasons.
(1) The temple represents the worldview of the Israelites that Yahweh rules in all the earth (e.g., Ps. 24:1), so they calculate their chronology from the founding of the temple.
(2) The Exodus is the redemptive event through which the Israelites experience the rule of God in the world (Ex. 15:13, 18; Ps. 24:6–10). The details of the temple are chronologically linked to the salvation event, which the temple represents.
John Davis: The chronological information supplied in this verse is of great importance to Bible students. If it is numerically correct, the date of the exodus must be placed in the middle of the fifteenth century B.C. According to the information supplied, the fourth year of Solomon represented a point in time which was 480 years after the exodus from Egypt. The fourth year of Solomon is generally regarded as being 967/966 B.C. This being the case, the exodus would have taken place approximately 1445 B.C.
B. (:2-3) Dimensions
1. (:2) Length / Width / Height
“As for the house which King Solomon built for the LORD, its length was sixty cubits and its width twenty cubits and its height thirty cubits.”
John Davis: exactly twice the size of the tabernacle (cf. Exod. 26:16, 18). If the cubit is regarded as eighteen inches, then the floor plan of the temple would have been 90 X 30 feet. The temple proper was divided into two sections. The inner room or the most Holy Place was a cube measuring 20 X 20 X 20 cubits (6:16, 20). The other room or the outer chamber called the Holy Place measured 40 X 20 cubits.
2. (:3) Porch
“And the porch in front of the nave of the house was twenty cubits in length, corresponding to the width of the house, and its depth along the front of the house was ten cubits.”
C. (:4-6) Specific Details
1. (:4) Windows with Artistic Frames
“Also for the house he made windows with artistic frames.”
MacArthur: Placed high on the inner side of the temple wall, these openings had lattices or shutters capable of being opened, shut, or partially opened. They served to let out the vapors of the lamps and the smoke of incense, as well as to give light.
2. (:5) Side Chambers
“And against the wall of the house he built stories encompassing the walls of the house around both the nave and the inner sanctuary; thus he made side chambers all around.”
MacArthur: It provided rooms off of the main hall to house temple personnel and to store equipment and treasure (cf. 7:51).
3. (:6) Differing Widths for the 3 Stories
“The lowest story was five cubits wide, and the middle was six cubits wide, and the third was seven cubits wide; for on the outside he made offsets in the wall of the house all around in order that the beams should not be inserted in the walls of the house.”
William Sanford LaSor: The three stories, each of which is wider than the one below it, suggest some kind of buttressing of the outer walls, with the use of the space above the stages or levels of the buttress.
D. (:7) Stone Construction
“And the house, while it was being built, was built of stone prepared at the quarry, and there was neither hammer nor axe nor any iron tool heard in the house while it was being built.”
Donald Wiseman: As an iron tool was thought to violate a holy structure, the dressing of the stone would have to be done at the quarry (cf. Exod. 20:25).
R. D. Patterson: It is not necessary to see here, with Gray (Kings, p. 165), a concession to the “long-standing taboo in the religion of Israel” against using iron in the construction of the altar (Exod 20:25), since iron was indeed used at the quarries. It does indicate excellent organization and planning. The erection of the temple could go much faster and with far less confusion by utilizing precut and prefitted materials. In addition the relative quiet would be consistent with the sacredness of the undertaking.
E. (:8) Doorway and Stairs
“The doorway for the lowest side chamber was on the right side of the house; and they would go up by winding stairs to the middle story, and from the middle to the third.”
F. (:9-10) Finishing Details
1. (:9a) Summary of Basic Construction
“So he built the house and finished it;”
2. (:9b-10) Special Features
“and he covered the house with beams and planks of cedar.
He also built the stories against the whole house, each five cubits high; and they were fastened to the house with timbers of cedar.”
August Konkel: The description of the exterior concludes with a statement that the building has been completed (v. 9a); this is followed by a parenthetical note on the construction of the roof, the room extensions around the sides of the building, and the exterior paneling (vv. 9b–10).
II. (:11-13) COVENANT REMINDER
“Now the word of the LORD came to Solomon saying,”
Dale Ralph Davis: Solomon’s personal fidelity to Yahweh’s covenant law is the condition for Yahweh’s gracious presence among his people through the temple. How critical one man’s obedience will be. And one must interrupt a construction report to underscore it.
A. (:12a) Covenant Obligation
“Concerning this house which you are building,
if you will walk in My statutes and execute My ordinances
and keep all My commandments by walking in them,”
B. (:12b-13) Covenant Blessing
1. (:12b) Fulfilment of Davidic Promises
“then I will carry out My word with you
which I spoke to David your father.”
2. (:13) Personal Presence of Favor and Protection
“And I will dwell among the sons of Israel,
and will not forsake My people Israel.”
Wiersbe: The Lord reminded Solomon, as He must constantly remind us, that He’s not impressed with our work if our walk isn’t obedient to Him. What He wants is an obedient heart (Eph. 6:6). God would fulfill His promises to David and Solomon (2 Sam. 7), not because Solomon built the temple but because he obeyed the Word of the Lord. A similar warning was included in the covenant God gave Moses in Deuteronomy 28-30, so it was not a new revelation to Solomon. This was the second time God spoke to Solomon about obedience (see 3:5ff), and He would speak to him about it again after the dedication of the temple (9:3-9).
III. (:14-38) INTERIOR CONSTRUCTION OF THE TEMPLE
A. (:14) Summary Statement
“So Solomon built the house and finished it.”
B. (:15-18) Interior Walls for the Holy Place
1. (:15) Boards of Cedar and Cypress
“Then he built the walls of the house on the inside with boards of cedar; from the floor of the house to the ceiling he overlaid the walls on the inside with wood, and he overlaid the floor of the house with boards of cypress.”
2. (:16) Rear Room = Holy of Holies = Inner Sanctuary
“And he built twenty cubits on the rear part of the house with boards of cedar from the floor to the ceiling; he built them for it on the inside as an inner sanctuary, even as the most holy place.”
John Gates: Thus the entire Temple building contained two main rooms,
(1) the Holy of Holies and
(2) the Holy Place before it, sixty feet long (6:17), reminiscent of the arrangement of the Tabernacle.
Sliding doors separating the two chambers replaced the former curtain (6:31, 32).
3. (:17) Length of the Holy Place
“And the house, that is, the nave in front of the inner sanctuary,
was forty cubits long.”
4. (:18) Special Carvings
“And there was cedar on the house within, carved in the shape of gourds and open flowers; all was cedar, there was no stone seen.”
John Gates: From the floor to the ceiling, the entire interior of the Temple was covered with cypress boards, so that that stone construction was hidden. The decoration of this section of the Temple, which consisted of cedar wood carved in gourds and open flower designs, must have been very beautiful.
C. (:19-36) Inner Sanctuary of the Holy of Holies
1. (:19-22) Summary of the Holy of Holies
a. (:19) Purpose of the Inner Sanctuary = for the Ark of the Covenant
“Then he prepared an inner sanctuary within the house in order to place there the ark of the covenant of the LORD.”
b. (:20a) Dimensions of the Inner Sanctuary
“And the inner sanctuary was twenty cubits in length,
twenty cubits in width,
and twenty cubits in height,”
c. (:20b-22) Glory of the Inner Sanctuary – Costly Pure Gold
“and he overlaid it with pure gold. He also overlaid the altar with cedar. 21 So Solomon overlaid the inside of the house with pure gold. And he drew chains of gold across the front of the inner sanctuary; and he overlaid it with gold. 22 And he overlaid the whole house with gold, until all the house was finished. Also the whole altar which was by the inner sanctuary he overlaid with gold.”
Constable: The altar (vv. 19, 22) refers to the altar of incense (cf. 7:48). This altar evidently stood in the west end of the holy place (cf. Exod. 30:6; 40:5; Lev. 16:2; Heb. 9:4, 7).
MacArthur: Gold was beaten into fine sheets, and then hammered to fit over the beautifully embellished wood (vv. 18, 29), then attached to every surface in the temple proper, both in the Holy Place and in the Most Holy Place, so that no wood or stone was visible (v. 22).
2. (:23-28) Cherubim in the Holy of Holies
a. (:23-26) Construction Details
“Also in the inner sanctuary he made two cherubim of olive wood, each ten cubits high. 24 And five cubits was the one wing of the cherub and five cubits the other wing of the cherub; from the end of one wing to the end of the other wing were ten cubits. 25 And the other cherub was ten cubits; both the cherubim were of the same measure and the same form. 26 The height of the one cherub was ten cubits, and so was the other cherub.”
August Konkel: Cherubs were a distinguishing feature of thrones in ancient Mesopotamia, Syria, and Canaan. Keel provides numerous examples of cherub thrones comparable to those of Solomon’s temple. They were composite creatures (a bull, a lion, an eagle, and a human head), signifying union of the highest powers of strength, speed, and sagacity. Reproductions of ancient Egyptian temples found in Phoenicia show the throne of the deity supported by two animals. The sides of ancient Canaanite thrones were commonly shaped as a cherub. The cherubs of Solomon’s temple (vv. 23–28) are distinct because they are not designed to serve as a human throne. They are attached to the ark, which serves as a footstool to the throne (cf. 1 Chron. 28:2), with the wings touching in the middle and extending to the walls of the throne room. There is no actual seat to the throne, since none is necessary. They are made of costly wild olive wood and are covered with gold.
William Sanford LaSor: These cherubim are not to be confused with the cherubim of the mercy seat (Ex. 25:18-20).
R. D. Patterson: These composite figures (cf. Ezek 1:4-14) represented the cherubim associated with the throne and government of God (Ezek. 1:22-28). They are also the guardians of the way to God (Gen 3:24). The impact to the beholder of these representations of the cherubim would be to impress on him the awesomeness of God’s holiness. Approaching God is not a light or frivolous matter and must be undertaken in the exact way he has prescribed – through the blood.
b. (:27) Placement and Impact of the Cherubim
“And he placed the cherubim in the midst of the inner house, and the wings of the cherubim were spread out, so that the wing of the one was touching the one wall, and the wing of the other cherub was touching the other wall. So their wings were touching each other in the center of the house.”
c. (:28) Overlay with Gold
“He also overlaid the cherubim with gold.”
3. (:29-30) Other Adornments
a. (:29) Special Carvings
“Then he carved all the walls of the house round about with carved engravings of cherubim, palm trees, and open flowers, inner and outer sanctuaries.”
b. (:30) Gold Overlay
“And he overlaid the floor of the house with gold,
inner and outer sanctuaries.”
Dale Ralph Davis: Above all, I suggest that the splendor of the temple is meant to reflect the splendor of Israel’s God, that the temple’s gold points to Yahweh’s glory. It was a world in which kings built or refurbished lavish temples as appropriate tributes to their gods and goddesses. In such a world why should Yahweh look like a discount store deity with a government loan house? If there is an indulgence that is sinful (cf. Luke 12:17–21), there is an extravagance that is godly (cf. Mark 14:3–9). And perhaps the message of temple gold is that nothing cheap should be offered to Yahweh but only what is a tribute commensurate with his splendor, whether, for example, in formal worship, biblical scholarship, or quality of daily work.
4. (:31-35) Entrances
a. (:31-32) Entrance of the Inner Sanctuary
1) (:21-32a) Doors and Doorposts
“And for the entrance of the inner sanctuary he made doors of olive wood, the lintel and five-sided doorposts. 32 So he made two doors of olive wood,”
2) (:32b) Special Carvings
“and he carved on them carvings of cherubim, palm trees,
and open flowers,”
3) (:32c) Gold Overlay
“and overlaid them with gold; and he spread the gold on the cherubim and on the palm trees.”
b. (:33-35) Entrance of the Nave
1) (:33-34) Doors and Doorposts
“So also he made for the entrance of the nave four-sided doorposts of olive wood 34 and two doors of cypress wood; the two leaves of the one door turned on pivots, and the two leaves of the other door turned on pivots.”
2) (:35a) Special Carvings
“And he carved on it cherubim, palm trees,
and open flowers;”
3) (:35b) Gold Overlay
“and he overlaid them with gold
evenly applied on the engraved work.”
5. (:36) Inner Courtyard
“And he built the inner court with three rows of cut stone
and a row of cedar beams.”
Iain Provan: Having quickly toured the interior of the temple and passed through the “two pine doors” that stand at its entrance, we discover ourselves once more outside, in the inner courtyard (v. 36) that stands before it.
D. (:37-38) Construction Timeline
1. (:37) Beginning Timestamp
“In the fourth year the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid,
in the month of Ziv.”
2. (:38a) Ending Timestamp
“And in the eleventh year, in the month of Bul, which is the eighth month, the house was finished throughout all its parts and according to all its plans.”
3. (:38b) Duration of the Construction Project
“So he was seven years in building it.”