1 Kings 6:1-38 A house for the Lord
The Jews were different from other people in many ways and were (and are) often treated with suspicion. The differences were most evident with regard to religion – in biblical times they had only one temple and rejected all visible representations of God. We continue to follow the record of Solomon’s building the temple and we now consider 1 Kings 6:1-38 A house for the Lord.
1. The faithfulness of the Lord
The account begins with a precise chronological statement situating the building of the temple in ‘the 4th year of Solomon’s reign over Israel’ (v1). The statement contains profound theology. 2 landmark events from Israel’s history are brought together – each in a different way inaugurates a new era for the people of God:
(i). Exodus. Exactly at the time promised, the Lord delivered Israel from bondage and granted them the gift of freedom, all in accordance with his covenant with Abraham (see Exodus 2:24). The Lord acted in covenant faithfulness.
(ii). Foundation of the temple. For 480 years Israel had in a sense been wandering and (as David realised – 2 Samuel 7:2) the place of worship for the Lord had been impermanent. In his covenant the Lord promised David ‘rest’ (2 Samuel 7:10-11) and deliverance from wandering. In v1 we have a powerful testimony to the faithfulness of the Lord to his covenant. The work of building the temple can now begin. Although God is never in a hurry, he will always keep his covenant promises – not one will fail.
2. The character of the Lord
Much detail regarding the building is provided – not to offer a guidebook, but to keep our focus on the Lord at the heart of the temple. It is a testimony to his character:
(i). Glory. No expense is spared. Note the abundance of gold, indicating God’s glory. As living temples, believers are to testify to the Lord’s glory (1 Corinthians 10:31).
(ii). Holiness. Gold also speaks of the purity of the Lord. The very structure of the building points worshippers to a holy God. The altar, the place of sacrifice for sin, is at the entrance (v20), the main building is the ‘holy place’ and at the far end, accessible only once a year to the high priest, is the ‘most holy place’ (v16). Believers are to reflect the holiness of the Lord – Leviticus 11:44, 1 Peter 1:16.
3. The requirements of the Lord
Why does the Lord speak to Solomon as he does in v11-13? These words underline the necessity of obedience to God’s law if his people are to enjoy his presence and the blessings of his covenant (v13). Our love is to be seen in obedience to God’s law (John 14:15), reflecting the Messiah whose work seals the covenant (Matthew 26:28).
Exodus 20:7 The Third Commandment
John 20:1-9 He must rise
Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15:17 ‘if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile, you are still in your sins’. The resurrection is not an ‘optional extra’ in the gospel. We can easily come to think and speak of our being saved by the death of Christ (which is essential) whilst neglecting the place of the resurrection. The cross followed by the resurrection is the path by which the Son returned to glory with the Father. We consider John 20:1-9 He must rise.
1. A despairing report
The details of these events recorded in the different Gospels are not easy to harmonise. Each account must be taken with full seriousness, each is a part of the ‘God-breathed’ Scriptures (2 Timothy 3:16). John mentions only Mary Magdalene going to the tomb (v1) whilst the other Gospels mention several others (Matthew 28:1, Mark 16:1, Luke 24:1). Perhaps Mary arrived first ‘while it was still dark’ (v1). When she arrives, she finds that ‘the stone had been removed’ – apparently taken from the entrance entirely, not just rolled aside. The other Gospels indicate the appearance of angels – Matthew 28:5, Mark 16:5, Luke 24:4. Perhaps Mary ran back to Peter and John before the angels appeared and so did not hear their announcement of the resurrection. Her message is, ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb and we don’t know where they have put him’ (v2). The only explanation Mary considers is tomb robbery. She has no thought of his rising, despite all he had said. She assumes he is still dead. Only the power of God and her meeting with the risen Christ will change her thinking (see v10ff).
2. A joyful discovery
Peter and John go to the tomb, with John arriving first (v4). He looks in but does not enter. Impetuous Peter does go in. It is clear that the body has not been stolen – no thief would unwrap the body and leave it the linen behind (v6). There is a profound sense of order and care. It seems the body of Jesus was filled with life and simply passed through the grave clothes, as he would later pass through walls into a locked room (v19, 26). He is risen. Note the different responses of the disciples:
John ‘saw and believed’. Confronted with the absence of Jesus’ body, John comes to faith, believing that the one he had seen on the cross has conquered death.
Peter: John does not comment on the presence or lack of faith. Note Luke 24:12 ‘he went away, wondering to himself what had happened’. Perhaps the matter was clinched by meeting the risen Christ. Grace brings people to faith by varied routes.
3. A divine necessity
Note v9 ‘They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead’. We see the slowness of the disciples to grasp the necessity of the death and resurrection of the Messiah – it was so different from their expectations. When Jesus had spoken of his death and resurrection in e.g. Matthew 16:21, Peter’s reaction was ‘Never, Lord!’ It was his death that was chiefly in view, but they did not take in the truth about the resurrection either. Death without resurrection would mean defeat and failure. Paul understood that without the resurrection, ‘you are still in your sins’ (1 Corinthians 15:17). The resurrection is essential. Paul and John would come to understand texts such as Psalm 16:8-11 and realise ‘it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him’ (Acts 2:24). He must and did rise.
Exodus 20:4-6 The Second Commandment
1 Kings 5:1-18 A temple to build
The presence of some chapters in the Bible may baffle us – as we saw regarding 1 Kings 4. The content may have been important to the original readers, but what value does it have for today’s Christians in Christ’s church? The details of the building of the temple fall into that category. We now consider 1 Kings 5:1-18 A temple to build.
1. The significance of the temple
The fact that 5 chapters are devoted to the building of the temple shows that this is an event of great importance. Building the temple matters greatly to Solomon as it mattered to David (2 Samuel 7:1ff). Why is that the case?
We need to understand the significance of the temple first in its OT setting. The temple is the appointed place to worship God – the only prescribed place. Above all ‘a temple for the name of the Lord my God’ (v5). The temple is for the Lord’s glory and is the symbol of his presence among his people (see also 1 Chronicles 29:1).
Note the significance of the temple in the NT revelation:
(i). Christ. The temple is fulfilled in Christ himself (see John 2:19). He is the one in whom are God’s glory and the sacrifice for sin, so we no longer need a temple.
(ii). Believers. United to Christ, each believer is a part of the spiritual temple (1 Corinthians 3:16). We are to manifest the Lord’s glory and are living sacrifices.
(iii). Church. The whole gathering of believers is described in temple language in Ephesians 2:21.
2. The foundation of the temple
In one sense it is ‘a foundation of dressed stone’ (v17), but in a more important sense the foundation is the covenant promise of God, as in the promise to David of a temple – building son (v5). This is rooted in 2 Samuel 7. That promise, that can never be broken, is the justification for Solomon’s work. The temple will be part of God’s covenant with his people until the coming of the Messiah, when it will have fulfilled its function.
3. The anticipation of the kingdom
Note the good relationship between Solomon and Hiram which opens the way for the supply of cedar for the temple (v6). Hiram’s words are significant – v7 – not a statement of personal faith, but a fulfilment of God’s promise to Solomon (as in 4:34) and an anticipation of worldwide blessing in the kingdom of Christ (Psalm 72:8, Matthew 8:11).
4. The wisdom of the builder
Solomon’s wisdom flows from God’s promise (v12). He shows God-given abilities. Ultimately we see here the wisdom of God in fulfilling his plans, including the political situation. In all things God works out ‘the purpose of his will’ (Ephesians 1:11).
Exodus 20:3 The First Commandment
1 Kings 4:1-34 Covenant promises kept
Many people (Christians included) try to divide life into the sacred and the secular, with the sacred relating to worship, etc, and the secular to the concerns of everyday life. In the secular realm religion seems to have little or no part to play. Those who think in this way will struggle to see why 2 Kings 4 has a place in the Bible. We will seek to answer this problem as we consider 1 Kings 4:1-34 Covenant promises kept.
1. Efficient administration
What is the value of v1-19 for Christians today? The context helps. This account follows chapter 3 regarding God’s gift of wisdom to Solomon and here we have examples of how that wisdom was seen. We see that efficient administration for God’s people should give evidence of godly wisdom. God’s people are not to think that the affairs of the material world do not matter to God. Administration in every area of life ought to be carried out with an awareness of God’s oversight and a sense of need of God’s wisdom.
2. Covenant blessings
By any measure Solomon’s kingdom is flourishing (v20-28). We need to view this kingdom from two perspectives:
– an outworking of God’s covenant promises
– a foreshadowing of Christ’s kingdom.
We see here blessing regarding:
(i). The people. God is keeping his promise to Abraham in Genesis 22:17 and the people are ‘as numerous as the sand of the seashore’ (v20). The fulfilment is in Christ’s kingdom where he saves an innumerable multitude (Revelation 7:9).
(ii). The place. The description in v21 of the extent of Solomon’s kingdom is the fulfilment of Genesis 15:19. Believers in Christ’s kingdom are ‘Abraham’s seed’ (Galatians 3:29) and are part of his spiritual kingdom by the new birth (John 3:3), with the hope of life body and soul in the new creation that far outshines Solomon’s kingdom.
(iii). The peace. Solomon ‘ruled over all the kingdoms…and had peace on all sides’ (v24). The Lord grants peace to his people through the reign of his king, in fulfilment of his covenant promise to David (2 Samuel 7:10-11). Peace characterises the kingdom of Christ, the ‘Prince of Peace’ (Isaiah 9:6). We have ‘peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ’ (Romans 5:1) and look forward to perfect peace in the new creation, like no earthly kingdom.
3. Outstanding wisdom
God’s gifts to Solomon are abundant (v29). His understanding is beyond that of all other men (v30-31) and he instructs in proverbs and songs (v32). He also studies God’s wonderful creation (v33) and has a worldwide reputation (v34). One far greater than Solomon has come – the Messianic King, ‘Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God’ (1 Corinthians 1:24), who provides all the wisdom we need for godly living.