We worship in very plain buildings. As descendants of Scottish Reformers we reject elaborate church buildings and furnishings. What then are we to do with the description of Solomon’s temple? Is it of merely historical interest or does it have spiritual significance? We turn now to consider 1 Kings 7:13-51 The beauty of holiness.
1. The supremacy of the Lord
What – or who – matters most to Solomon? Some see in his 13 years spent building a palace and 7 building the temple a self-centred outlook. This does not seem to be justified by the text. The space given to the description of the temple is much greater and it is adorned with the richest of materials. It is clear that the Lord’s glory is foremost in Solomon’s mind. At this point he is an example of Matthew 6:33 ‘seek first…’
2. The worthiness of the Lord
The design of the temple demonstrates Solomon’s view of God. Though no building can be entirely worthy of him (8:27), the king does what he can to acknowledge the worthiness of the Lord – all the materials are the best available and no expense is spared. This is a visual reminder of who the Lord is – ‘you are worthy…’ (Revelation 4:11). The lives of the covenant people are to show his glory – 1 Corinthians 10:31.
3. The faithfulness of the Lord
The 2 bronze pillars were about 34 feet high and free standing. Their names are profoundly significant:
Jakin means ‘He will/may he establish’. The word is used several times in the covenant with David (2 Samuel 7:12, 13, 16). This pillar speaks of the unbreakable promise of the covenant Lord that upholds the temple and the kingdom.
Boaz means ‘In him is strength’. The Lord will perform his work of covenant mercy despite the frailty of his people, even Solomon.
Both point to the Messiah who will by God’s power establish the Covenant of Grace. What is depicted in the temple is fulfilled in Christ.
4. The holiness of the Lord
Everything in the temple gives a strong impression of purity. In ‘the Sea’ (containing some 11000 gallons) the priests cleansed themselves and in the ‘bronze basins’ (v38) the sacrifices were washed. Christ’s blood performs true cleansing (Hebrews 9:14)
5. The beauty of the Lord
Why is all the decoration included (see e.g. v18, 29)? It is not essential, but is a token of the beauty of the Lord. The highest revelation of his beauty is in Christ – John 1:14, and into that glory we are being changed (2 Corinthians 3:18).