Peter Misselbrook's Blog
May 30 2019 - 1 Kings 6 – Solomon builds the temple

After looking at some of the Wisdom writings attributed to Solomon, we are now returning to the narrative of his reign. You may remember that Solomon's father, David, had wanted to build the temple – a house for the Lord – but had been told that he would not build it; it would be built by his son, Solomon. Nevertheless, David had made preparations for the temple by arranging for stonecutters to prepare dressed stone, iron and bronze to make nails and fittings and more cedar logs than could be counted (1 Chronicles 22).

Now Solomon is king and begins to build the temple. Hiram, king of Tyre, had been a friend to David and is now a good friend to Solomon also. In exchange for wheat and oil, Hiram provides even more cedar logs and juniper logs for the work of the temple (1 Kings 5:1-12). Now that all is prepared, Solomon sets men to work and in seven years of hard labour and making use of much costly stone, wood and gold the temple is finally finished.

As you were reading the description of the temple built by Solomon, were you able to visualise it? Many Bibles will contain an artist's impression of the temple or at least a diagram of how it was laid out. The main building of the temple was about 10 metres wide and 30 metres deep. It's height was about 15 metres. A square rear section, 10 metres by 10 metres was the most holy place or holy of holies. This housed the ark of the covenant overshadowed by the wings of two cherubim whose other wings touched each wall of the building. In Solomon's temple the most holy place was separated from the rest of the temple by a set of doors rather than the curtain that acted as a barrier in Herod's temple in the days of Jesus – in an imitation of the tabernacle. The inner walls of the temple were elaborately carved with flowers and trees and cherubim and every surface, even the floors, were covered with gold. It must have looked magnificent and dazzling.

Perhaps all of this was intended not only as the house of God but also as a picture of paradise – a paradise lost – a garden full of flowers and trees and guarded by cherubim; the shining gold representing the glory of God. The temple was the place of God's abode with his people and yet reminded them that they were barred from coming into his presence. Sin had shut the gates of paradise against them.

The temple, like the tabernacle that was its forerunner, was intended to act as a visual aid for the people of God. It was a place of worship and the place where the sin of God's people was atoned for through the shed blood of sacrifice.

The temple also points us forward to the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the person in whom God has come to dwell among us. He is the one in whom we see the glory of God – the glory of God's love and grace as well as his holiness and justice. He is the one whose blood was shed to atone for our sins and reconcile us to God. He is the one who has flung wide the gates of paradise that we might live in God's presence and enjoy fellowship with him. He is the one through whom the whole of this creation shall at last be made anew and filled with the glory of God as the waters cover the sea. In that day there will no longer be a special temple or a fixed place to meet with God because:

… the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light. (Revelation 21:22-24)

Lord God, we are amazed at the magnificence of the temple built by Solomon, but we are even more amazed at your glory and grace revealed to us in the Lord Jesus Christ. We thank you that the blessings lost through human sin are more than restored through the saving work of Christ. We pray that you would open the eyes of men and women to see your glory in Christ Jesus and that the nations will walk by his light.

Peter Misselbrook