+ In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!
Opening – (Northumbria Community)
One thing I have asked of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life; to behold the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple.
Praise to You, Lord Jesus Christ, King of endless glory.
Reading: 1 Kings 5-9 (NLT)
Preparations for Building the Temple
1 Kings 5 (NLT) – King Hiram of Tyre had always been a loyal friend of David. When Hiram learned that David’s son Solomon was the new king of Israel, he sent ambassadors to congratulate him.
Then Solomon sent this message back to Hiram:
“You know that my father, David, was not able to build a Temple to honor the name of the Lord his God because of the many wars waged against him by surrounding nations. He could not build until the Lord gave him victory over all his enemies. But now the Lord my God has given me peace on every side; I have no enemies, and all is well. So I am planning to build a Temple to honor the name of the Lord my God, just as he had instructed my father, David. For the Lord told him, ‘Your son, whom I will place on your throne, will build the Temple to honor my name.’
“Therefore, please command that cedars from Lebanon be cut for me. Let my men work alongside yours, and I will pay your men whatever wages you ask. As you know, there is no one among us who can cut timber like you Sidonians!”
When Hiram received Solomon’s message, he was very pleased and said, “Praise the Lord today for giving David a wise son to be king of the great nation of Israel.” Then he sent this reply to Solomon:
“I have received your message, and I will supply all the cedar and cypress timber you need. My servants will bring the logs from the Lebanon mountains to the Mediterranean Sea and make them into rafts and float them along the coast to whatever place you choose. Then we will break the rafts apart so you can carry the logs away. You can pay me by supplying me with food for my household.”
So Hiram supplied as much cedar and cypress timber as Solomon desired. In return, Solomon sent him an annual payment of 100,000 bushels of wheat for his household and 110,000 gallons of pure olive oil. So the Lord gave wisdom to Solomon, just as he had promised. And Hiram and Solomon made a formal alliance of peace.
Then King Solomon conscripted a labor force of 30,000 men from all Israel. He sent them to Lebanon in shifts, 10,000 every month, so that each man would be one month in Lebanon and two months at home. Adoniram was in charge of this labor force. Solomon also had 70,000 common laborers, 80,000 quarry workers in the hill country, and 3,600 foremen to supervise the work. At the king’s command, they quarried large blocks of high-quality stone and shaped them to make the foundation of the Temple. Men from the city of Gebal helped Solomon’s and Hiram’s builders prepare the timber and stone for the Temple.
Solomon Builds the Temple
1 Kings 6 (NLT) – It was in midspring, in the month of Ziv, during the fourth year of Solomon’s reign, that he began to construct the Temple of the Lord. This was 480 years after the people of Israel were rescued from their slavery in the land of Egypt.
The Temple that King Solomon built for the Lord was 90 feet long, 30 feet wide, and 45 feet high. The entry room at the front of the Temple was 30 feet wide, running across the entire width of the Temple. It projected outward 15 feet from the front of the Temple. Solomon also made narrow recessed windows throughout the Temple.
He built a complex of rooms against the outer walls of the Temple, all the way around the sides and rear of the building. The complex was three stories high, the bottom floor being 7 1⁄2 feet wide, the second floor 9 feet wide, and the top floor 10 1⁄2 feet wide. The rooms were connected to the walls of the Temple by beams resting on ledges built out from the wall. So the beams were not inserted into the walls themselves.
The stones used in the construction of the Temple were finished at the quarry, so there was no sound of hammer, ax, or any other iron tool at the building site.
The entrance to the bottom floor was on the south side of the Temple. There were winding stairs going up to the second floor, and another flight of stairs between the second and third floors. After completing the Temple structure, Solomon put in a ceiling made of cedar beams and planks. As already stated, he built a complex of rooms along the sides of the building, attached to the Temple walls by cedar timbers. Each story of the complex was 7 1⁄2 feet high.
Then the Lord gave this message to Solomon: “Concerning this Temple you are building, if you keep all my decrees and regulations and obey all my commands, I will fulfill through you the promise I made to your father, David. I will live among the Israelites and will never abandon my people Israel.”
The Temple’s Interior
So Solomon finished building the Temple. The entire inside, from floor to ceiling, was paneled with wood. He paneled the walls and ceilings with cedar, and he used planks of cypress for the floors. He partitioned off an inner sanctuary—the Most Holy Place—at the far end of the Temple. It was 30 feet deep and was paneled with cedar from floor to ceiling. The main room of the Temple, outside the Most Holy Place, was 60 feet long. Cedar paneling completely covered the stone walls throughout the Temple, and the paneling was decorated with carvings of gourds and open flowers.
He prepared the inner sanctuary at the far end of the Temple, where the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant would be placed. This inner sanctuary was 30 feet long, 30 feet wide, and 30 feet high. He overlaid the inside with solid gold. He also overlaid the altar made of cedar. Then Solomon overlaid the rest of the Temple’s interior with solid gold, and he made gold chains to protect the entrance to the Most Holy Place. So he finished overlaying the entire Temple with gold, including the altar that belonged to the Most Holy Place.
He made two cherubim of wild olive wood, each 15 feet tall, and placed them in the inner sanctuary. The wingspan of each of the cherubim was 15 feet, each wing being 7 1⁄2 feet long. The two cherubim were identical in shape and size; 26 each was 15 feet tall. He placed them side by side in the inner sanctuary of the Temple. Their outspread wings reached from wall to wall, while their inner wings touched at the center of the room. He overlaid the two cherubim with gold.
He decorated all the walls of the inner sanctuary and the main room with carvings of cherubim, palm trees, and open flowers. He overlaid the floor in both rooms with gold.
For the entrance to the inner sanctuary, he made double doors of wild olive wood with five-sided doorposts. These double doors were decorated with carvings of cherubim, palm trees, and open flowers. The doors, including the decorations of cherubim and palm trees, were overlaid with gold.
Then he made four-sided doorposts of wild olive wood for the entrance to the Temple. There were two folding doors of cypress wood, and each door was hinged to fold back upon itself. These doors were decorated with carvings of cherubim, palm trees, and open flowers—all overlaid evenly with gold.
The walls of the inner courtyard were built so that there was one layer of cedar beams between every three layers of finished stone.
The foundation of the Lord’s Temple was laid in midspring, in the month of Ziv, during the fourth year of Solomon’s reign. The entire building was completed in every detail by midautumn, in the month of Bul, during the eleventh year of his reign. So it took seven years to build the Temple.
Solomon Builds His Palace
1 Kings 7 (NLT) – Solomon also built a palace for himself, and it took him thirteen years to complete the construction.
One of Solomon’s buildings was called the Palace of the Forest of Lebanon. It was 150 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high. There were four rows of cedar pillars, and great cedar beams rested on the pillars. The hall had a cedar roof. Above the beams on the pillars were forty-five side rooms, arranged in three tiers of fifteen each. On each end of the long hall were three rows of windows facing each other. All the doorways and doorposts had rectangular frames and were arranged in sets of three, facing each other.
Solomon also built the Hall of Pillars, which was 75 feet long and 45 feet wide. There was a porch in front, along with a canopy supported by pillars.
Solomon also built the throne room, known as the Hall of Justice, where he sat to hear legal matters. It was paneled with cedar from floor to ceiling. Solomon’s living quarters surrounded a courtyard behind this hall, and they were constructed the same way. He also built similar living quarters for Pharaoh’s daughter, whom he had married.
From foundation to eaves, all these buildings were built from huge blocks of high-quality stone, cut with saws and trimmed to exact measure on all sides. Some of the huge foundation stones were 15 feet long, and some were 12 feet long. The blocks of high-quality stone used in the walls were also cut to measure, and cedar beams were also used. The walls of the great courtyard were built so that there was one layer of cedar beams between every three layers of finished stone, just like the walls of the inner courtyard of the Lord’s Temple with its entry room.
Furnishings for the Temple
King Solomon then asked for a man named Huram to come from Tyre. He was half Israelite, since his mother was a widow from the tribe of Naphtali, and his father had been a craftsman in bronze from Tyre. Huram was extremely skillful and talented in any work in bronze, and he came to do all the metal work for King Solomon.
Huram cast two bronze pillars, each 27 feet tall and 18 feet in circumference. For the tops of the pillars he cast bronze capitals, each 7 1⁄2 feet tall. Each capital was decorated with seven sets of latticework and interwoven chains. He also encircled the latticework with two rows of pomegranates to decorate the capitals over the pillars. The capitals on the columns inside the entry room were shaped like water lilies, and they were six feet tall. The capitals on the two pillars had 200 pomegranates in two rows around them, beside the rounded surface next to the latticework. Huram set the pillars at the entrance of the Temple, one toward the south and one toward the north. He named the one on the south Jakin, and the one on the north Boaz. The capitals on the pillars were shaped like water lilies. And so the work on the pillars was finished.
Then Huram cast a great round basin, 15 feet across from rim to rim, called the Sea. It was 7 1⁄2 feet deep and about 45 feet in circumference. It was encircled just below its rim by two rows of decorative gourds. There were about six gourds per foot all the way around, and they were cast as part of the basin.
The Sea was placed on a base of twelve bronze oxen, all facing outward. Three faced north, three faced west, three faced south, and three faced east, and the Sea rested on them. The walls of the Sea were about three inches thick, and its rim flared out like a cup and resembled a water lily blossom. It could hold about 11,000 gallons of water.
Huram also made ten bronze water carts, each 6 feet long, 6 feet wide, and 4 1⁄2 feet tall. They were constructed with side panels braced with crossbars. Both the panels and the crossbars were decorated with carved lions, oxen, and cherubim. Above and below the lions and oxen were wreath decorations. Each of these carts had four bronze wheels and bronze axles. There were supporting posts for the bronze basins at the corners of the carts; these supports were decorated on each side with carvings of wreaths. The top of each cart had a rounded frame for the basin. It projected 1 1⁄2 feet above the cart’s top like a round pedestal, and its opening was 2 1⁄4 feet across; it was decorated on the outside with carvings of wreaths. The panels of the carts were square, not round. Under the panels were four wheels that were connected to axles that had been cast as one unit with the cart. The wheels were 2 1⁄4 feet in diameter and were similar to chariot wheels. The axles, spokes, rims, and hubs were all cast from molten bronze.
There were handles at each of the four corners of the carts, and these, too, were cast as one unit with the cart. Around the top of each cart was a rim nine inches wide. The corner supports and side panels were cast as one unit with the cart. Carvings of cherubim, lions, and palm trees decorated the panels and corner supports wherever there was room, and there were wreaths all around. All ten water carts were the same size and were made alike, for each was cast from the same mold.
Huram also made ten smaller bronze basins, one for each cart. Each basin was six feet across and could hold 220 gallons of water. He set five water carts on the south side of the Temple and five on the north side. The great bronze basin called the Sea was placed near the southeast corner of the Temple. He also made the necessary washbasins, shovels, and bowls.
So at last Huram completed everything King Solomon had assigned him to make for the Temple of the Lord:
- the two pillars;
- the two bowl-shaped capitals on top of the pillars;
- the two networks of interwoven chains that decorated the capitals;
- the 400 pomegranates that hung from the chains on the capitals (two rows of pomegranates for each of the chain networks that decorated the capitals on top of the pillars);
- the ten water carts holding the ten basins;
- the Sea and the twelve oxen under it;
- the ash buckets, the shovels, and the bowls.
Huram made all these things of burnished bronze for the Temple of the Lord, just as King Solomon had directed. The king had them cast in clay molds in the Jordan Valley between Succoth and Zarethan. Solomon did not weigh all these things because there were so many; the weight of the bronze could not be measured.
Solomon also made all the furnishings of the Temple of the Lord:
- the gold altar;
- the gold table for the Bread of the Presence;
- the lampstands of solid gold, five on the south and five on the north, in front of the Most Holy Place;
- the flower decorations, lamps, and tongs—all of gold;
- the small bowls, lamp snuffers, bowls, ladles, and incense burners—all of solid gold;
- the doors for the entrances to the Most Holy Place and the main room of the Temple, with their fronts overlaid with gold.
So King Solomon finished all his work on the Temple of the Lord. Then he brought all the gifts his father, David, had dedicated—the silver, the gold, and the various articles—and he stored them in the treasuries of the Lord’s Temple.
The Ark Brought to the Temple
1 Kings 8 (NLT) – Solomon then summoned to Jerusalem the elders of Israel and all the heads of the tribes—the leaders of the ancestral families of the Israelites. They were to bring the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant to the Temple from its location in the City of David, also known as Zion. So all the men of Israel assembled before King Solomon at the annual Festival of Shelters, which is held in early autumn in the month of Ethanim.
When all the elders of Israel arrived, the priests picked up the Ark. The priests and Levites brought up the Ark of the Lord along with the special tent and all the sacred items that had been in it. There, before the Ark, King Solomon and the entire community of Israel sacrificed so many sheep, goats, and cattle that no one could keep count!
Then the priests carried the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant into the inner sanctuary of the Temple—the Most Holy Place—and placed it beneath the wings of the cherubim. The cherubim spread their wings over the Ark, forming a canopy over the Ark and its carrying poles. These poles were so long that their ends could be seen from the Holy Place, which is in front of the Most Holy Place, but not from the outside. They are still there to this day. Nothing was in the Ark except the two stone tablets that Moses had placed in it at Mount Sinai, where the Lord made a covenant with the people of Israel when they left the land of Egypt.
When the priests came out of the Holy Place, a thick cloud filled the Temple of the Lord. The priests could not continue their service because of the cloud, for the glorious presence of the Lord filled the Temple of the Lord.
Solomon Praises the Lord
Then Solomon prayed, “O Lord, you have said that you would live in a thick cloud of darkness. Now I have built a glorious Temple for you, a place where you can live forever!”
Then the king turned around to the entire community of Israel standing before him and gave this blessing: “Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, who has kept the promise he made to my father, David. For he told my father, ‘From the day I brought my people Israel out of Egypt, I have never chosen a city among any of the tribes of Israel as the place where a Temple should be built to honor my name. But I have chosen David to be king over my people Israel.’”
Then Solomon said, “My father, David, wanted to build this Temple to honor the name of the Lord, the God of Israel. But the Lord told him, ‘You wanted to build the Temple to honor my name. Your intention is good, but you are not the one to do it. One of your own sons will build the Temple to honor me.’
“And now the Lord has fulfilled the promise he made, for I have become king in my father’s place, and now I sit on the throne of Israel, just as the Lord promised. I have built this Temple to honor the name of the Lord, the God of Israel. And I have prepared a place there for the Ark, which contains the covenant that the Lord made with our ancestors when he brought them out of Egypt.”
Solomon’s Prayer of Dedication
Then Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord in front of the entire community of Israel. He lifted his hands toward heaven, and he prayed,
“O Lord, God of Israel, there is no God like you in all of heaven above or on the earth below. You keep your covenant and show unfailing love to all who walk before you in wholehearted devotion. You have kept your promise to your servant David, my father. You made that promise with your own mouth, and with your own hands you have fulfilled it today.
“And now, O Lord, God of Israel, carry out the additional promise you made to your servant David, my father. For you said to him, ‘If your descendants guard their behavior and faithfully follow me as you have done, one of them will always sit on the throne of Israel.’ Now, O God of Israel, fulfill this promise to your servant David, my father.
“But will God really live on earth? Why, even the highest heavens cannot contain you. How much less this Temple I have built! Nevertheless, listen to my prayer and my plea, O Lord my God. Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is making to you today. May you watch over this Temple night and day, this place where you have said, ‘My name will be there.’ May you always hear the prayers I make toward this place. May you hear the humble and earnest requests from me and your people Israel when we pray toward this place. Yes, hear us from heaven where you live, and when you hear, forgive.
“If someone wrongs another person and is required to take an oath of innocence in front of your altar in this Temple, then hear from heaven and judge between your servants—the accuser and the accused. Punish the guilty as they deserve. Acquit the innocent because of their innocence.
“If your people Israel are defeated by their enemies because they have sinned against you, and if they turn to you and acknowledge your name and pray to you here in this Temple, then hear from heaven and forgive the sin of your people Israel and return them to this land you gave their ancestors.
“If the skies are shut up and there is no rain because your people have sinned against you, and if they pray toward this Temple and acknowledge your name and turn from their sins because you have punished them, then hear from heaven and forgive the sins of your servants, your people Israel. Teach them to follow the right path, and send rain on your land that you have given to your people as their special possession.
“If there is a famine in the land or a plague or crop disease or attacks of locusts or caterpillars, or if your people’s enemies are in the land besieging their towns—whatever disaster or disease there is—and if your people Israel pray about their troubles, raising their hands toward this Temple, then hear from heaven where you live, and forgive. Give your people what their actions deserve, for you alone know each human heart. Then they will fear you as long as they live in the land you gave to our ancestors.
“In the future, foreigners who do not belong to your people Israel will hear of you. They will come from distant lands because of your name, for they will hear of your great name and your strong hand and your powerful arm. And when they pray toward this Temple, then hear from heaven where you live, and grant what they ask of you. In this way, all the people of the earth will come to know and fear you, just as your own people Israel do. They, too, will know that this Temple I have built honors your name.
“If your people go out where you send them to fight their enemies, and if they pray to the Lord by turning toward this city you have chosen and toward this Temple I have built to honor your name, then hear their prayers from heaven and uphold their cause.
“If they sin against you—and who has never sinned?—you might become angry with them and let their enemies conquer them and take them captive to their land far away or near. But in that land of exile, they might turn to you in repentance and pray, ‘We have sinned, done evil, and acted wickedly.’ If they turn to you with their whole heart and soul in the land of their enemies and pray toward the land you gave to their ancestors—toward this city you have chosen, and toward this Temple I have built to honor your name—then hear their prayers and their petition from heaven where you live, and uphold their cause. Forgive your people who have sinned against you. Forgive all the offenses they have committed against you. Make their captors merciful to them, for they are your people—your special possession—whom you brought out of the iron-smelting furnace of Egypt.
“May your eyes be open to my requests and to the requests of your people Israel. May you hear and answer them whenever they cry out to you. For when you brought our ancestors out of Egypt, O Sovereign Lord, you told your servant Moses that you had set Israel apart from all the nations of the earth to be your own special possession.”
The Dedication of the Temple
When Solomon finished making these prayers and petitions to the Lord, he stood up in front of the altar of the Lord, where he had been kneeling with his hands raised toward heaven. He stood and in a loud voice blessed the entire congregation of Israel:
“Praise the Lord who has given rest to his people Israel, just as he promised. Not one word has failed of all the wonderful promises he gave through his servant Moses. May the Lord our God be with us as he was with our ancestors; may he never leave us or abandon us. May he give us the desire to do his will in everything and to obey all the commands, decrees, and regulations that he gave our ancestors. And may these words that I have prayed in the presence of the Lord be before him constantly, day and night, so that the Lord our God may give justice to me and to his people Israel, according to each day’s needs. Then people all over the earth will know that the Lord alone is God and there is no other. And may you be completely faithful to the Lord our God. May you always obey his decrees and commands, just as you are doing today.”
Then the king and all Israel with him offered sacrifices to the Lord. Solomon offered to the Lord a peace offering of 22,000 cattle and 120,000 sheep and goats. And so the king and all the people of Israel dedicated the Temple of the Lord.
That same day the king consecrated the central area of the courtyard in front of the Lord’s Temple. He offered burnt offerings, grain offerings, and the fat of peace offerings there, because the bronze altar in the Lord’s presence was too small to hold all the burnt offerings, grain offerings, and the fat of the peace offerings.
Then Solomon and all Israel celebrated the Festival of Shelters in the presence of the Lord our God. A large congregation had gathered from as far away as Lebo-hamath in the north and the Brook of Egypt in the south. The celebration went on for fourteen days in all—seven days for the dedication of the altar and seven days for the Festival of Shelters. After the festival was over,[aw] Solomon sent the people home. They blessed the king and went to their homes joyful and glad because the Lord had been good to his servant David and to his people Israel.
The Lord’s Response to Solomon
1 Kings 9 (NLT) – So Solomon finished building the Temple of the Lord, as well as the royal palace. He completed everything he had planned to do. Then the Lord appeared to Solomon a second time, as he had done before at Gibeon. The Lord said to him,
“I have heard your prayer and your petition. I have set this Temple apart to be holy—this place you have built where my name will be honored forever. I will always watch over it, for it is dear to my heart.
“As for you, if you will follow me with integrity and godliness, as David your father did, obeying all my commands, decrees, and regulations, then I will establish the throne of your dynasty over Israel forever. For I made this promise to your father, David: ‘One of your descendants will always sit on the throne of Israel.’
“But if you or your descendants abandon me and disobey the commands and decrees I have given you, and if you serve and worship other gods, then I will uproot Israel from this land that I have given them. I will reject this Temple that I have made holy to honor my name. I will make Israel an object of mockery and ridicule among the nations. And though this Temple is impressive now, all who pass by will be appalled and will gasp in horror. They will ask, ‘Why did the Lord do such terrible things to this land and to this Temple?’
“And the answer will be, ‘Because his people abandoned the Lord their God, who brought their ancestors out of Egypt, and they worshiped other gods instead and bowed down to them. That is why the Lord has brought all these disasters on them.’”
Solomon’s Agreement with Hiram
It took Solomon twenty years to build the Lord’s Temple and his own royal palace. At the end of that time, he gave twenty towns in the land of Galilee to King Hiram of Tyre. (Hiram had previously provided all the cedar and cypress timber and gold that Solomon had requested.) But when Hiram came from Tyre to see the towns Solomon had given him, he was not at all pleased with them. “What kind of towns are these, my brother?” he asked. So Hiram called that area Cabul (which means “worthless”), as it is still known today. Nevertheless, Hiram paid Solomon 9,000 pounds of gold.
Solomon’s Many Achievements
This is the account of the forced labor that King Solomon conscripted to build the Lord’s Temple, the royal palace, the supporting terraces, the wall of Jerusalem, and the cities of Hazor, Megiddo, and Gezer. (Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, had attacked and captured Gezer, killing the Canaanite population and burning it down. He gave the city to his daughter as a wedding gift when she married Solomon. So Solomon rebuilt the city of Gezer.) He also built up the towns of Lower Beth-horon, Baalath, and Tamar in the wilderness within his land. He built towns as supply centers and constructed towns where his chariots and horses could be stationed. He built everything he desired in Jerusalem and Lebanon and throughout his entire realm.
There were still some people living in the land who were not Israelites, including Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. These were descendants of the nations whom the people of Israel had not completely destroyed. So Solomon conscripted them as slaves, and they serve as forced laborers to this day. But Solomon did not conscript any of the Israelites for forced labor. Instead, he assigned them to serve as fighting men, government officials, officers and captains in his army, commanders of his chariots, and charioteers. Solomon appointed 550 of them to supervise the people working on his various projects.
Solomon moved his wife, Pharaoh’s daughter, from the City of David to the new palace he had built for her. Then he constructed the supporting terraces.
Three times each year Solomon presented burnt offerings and peace offerings on the altar he had built for the Lord. He also burned incense to the Lord. And so he finished the work of building the Temple.
King Solomon also built a fleet of ships at Ezion-geber, a port near Elath in the land of Edom, along the shore of the Red Sea. Hiram sent experienced crews of sailors to sail the ships with Solomon’s men. They sailed to Ophir and brought back to Solomon some sixteen tons of gold.
“O Lord Hear My Prayer” – Taize
Blessing – (Northumbrian Community)
May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you, wherever He may send you. May He guide you through the wilderness, protect you through the storm. May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown you. May He bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors.
+ In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!