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).

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.

1 Kings 3:1-28 God the Giver of wisdom

1 Kings 3:1-28 God the Giver of wisdom

Various incidents and expressions from the Bible have passed into everyday speech, sometimes accurately (‘The patience of Job’) sometimes inaccurately (‘Money is the root of all evil’).  In a culture that is increasingly biblically illiterate, we can expect biblical language to fade from people’s minds or be misunderstood.  What of ‘the wisdom of Solomon’?  We now consider 1 Kings 3:1-28 God the Giver of wisdom.

1. The need for wisdom

‘Wisdom’ in Scripture is very practical, knowing how to translate our relationship with the Lord into daily godly living.  We see why Solomon needed wisdom in v1-3.  On the positive side, Solomon ‘showed his love for the Lord by walking according to the statutes of his father David’ (v3), but there were inconsistencies, as in his marriage (in addition to his first wife) to a pagan Egyptian princess, contrary to (Deuteronomy 17:17), and his continuing worship at the ‘high places’ (contrary to Deuteronomy 7:5).  But the Lord is very gracious to Solomon – he is ‘the giving God’ (James 1:5) in regard to wisdom.

2. The prayer for wisdom

            (i). God’s nature.  This is the foundation for all prayer.  He is the God of covenant ‘kindness’ (v6), as in the covenant with David (2 Samuel 7).  We can pray because he has promised all we need in his covenant.

            (ii). Solomon’s request.  His concern is for wisdom – ‘a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong’ (v9).  Our prayers should focus on how we can do the Lord’s work and serve his people.

            (iii). God’s answer.  He grants Solomon great wisdom (v12) and also ‘riches and honour’ (v13).  The requirement for obedience is also clear – ‘walk in my ways’ (v14).

3. The exercise of wisdom

The fact God has answered Solomon’s prayer is evident from v16-27, where it is clear that justice will be available for all, including despised prostitutes.  Wisdom is demonstrated in the decision (v27) – a very practical gift for a ruler – and note that ‘Israel…held the king in awe’ (v28).  The Lord is establishing his king over his people.

4. The perfection of wisdom

The affairs of God’s kingdom are to be viewed in the wider context of Scripture.  The king was God’s representative – each king was to portray to the world something of God’s righteous reign.  All merely human kings were flawed, but they pointed to the perfect King, the Messiah.  Note Isaiah 11, prophetic of the Messiah: ‘The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him – the Spirit of wisdom and understanding’ (v2).  As a result, ‘with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth’ (v4).  These words are fulfilled in Christ, ‘in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge’ (Colossians 2:3).  It is our privilege to belong to the kingdom of the perfect King and to serve him.

1 Kings 2:1-46 The kingdom secured

What makes a good leader?  Much depends on the sphere in which leadership is exercised.  Often in politics lack of leadership is apparent, and concern with popularity can take priority.  Scripture has much to say about those who lead God’s people.  Both being and doing are crucial.  We now consider 1 Kings 2:1-46 The kingdom secured.

1. Obeying God

We need to understand that Israel’s king ruled the covenant people of God.  This is rooted in the covenant that God made with David (2 Samuel 7), especially the promise ‘I will raise up your offspring to succeed you…I will establish his kingdom’ (v12).  The promise finds its ultimate fulfilment in King Jesus.  Within the covenant God’s requirement of his people is always loving obedience, especially on the part of the King.  Regarding Solomon, David charges him, ‘observe what the Lord your God requires’ (v3).  Within the covenant obedience is the path to blessing – by God’s grace, not because we deserve it.  Without obedience, we cannot claim to love God.  We want to be one ‘who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice’ (Matthew 7:24).

2. Implementing justice

God ensures the welfare of his kingdom.  He gives the covenant blessing, but his people, especially his king, have the responsibility to act in ways that promote the kingdom’s welfare.  The kingdom will not be established without the king’s implementing justice.  We are not to think of David and Solomon as cynical ruthless political operators: they are God’s rulers seeking to implement justice in the ambiguities of a fallen world.

            (i). Adonijah.  He is the architect of his own downfall, the request for Abishag either folly or a renewed attempt on the throne.  He rejects the mercy already shown.

            (ii). Joab.  He had much blood on his hands, including Abner (2 Samuel 3:27) and Amasa (2 Samuel 20:9-10), as well as Absalom.  The justice that David had failed to exact, in fear of Joab, will now be executed.

            (iii). Abiathar.  Although he had stood by David during Absalom’s revolt (2 Samuel 15:24), which now saved his life, he had joined Adonijah’s revolt.  To retain usefulness in the Lord’s service, we must persevere.

            (iv). Barzillai.  His faithfulness to David is rewarded (v7).  The ‘kindness’ is a reflection of the covenant kindness of the Lord who never forsakes his people.

3. Securing peace

Note ‘The kingdom was now finally established in Solomon’s hands’ (v46).  There is peace within the kingdom, based on the justice described.  The rule of King Jesus is established on justice, with the King bearing the penalty due to the sins of his people (2 Corinthians 5:21).  That is how God’s kingdom operates.  Concern for righteousness and justice should inform the discipline of the church.  Ultimate peace will be secured at the return of the King in his judgment of unrepentant enemies, when ‘he has put all his enemies under his feet’ (Psalm 110:1, 1 Corinthians 15:25), securing his Kingdom.

1 Kings 1:1-53 Long live King Solomon

No leader is immortal.  Even the greatest can serve only for a limited time.  Eventually he or she must step aside (or be removed by death or other forces).  That time of change can be difficult and dangerous.  At the beginning of 1 Kings Israel is approaching a time of transition as David nears the end of his life: what will become of the kingdom?  We must also bear in mind that the Lord appoints the king and Israel is a picture of the Kingdom of God, so that the king foreshadows the Messiah, who reigns over God’s eternal kingdom.  We begin by considering 1 Kings 1:1-53 Long live King Solomon.

1. The rebellion planned

The kingdom is in danger since David is ‘old and well advanced in years’ (v1).  He seems to have reached a point of allowing things to happen rather than taking decisive action.  Such apparent weakness provides an opportunity for Adonijah (v5) to foment rebellion.  He seems totally unqualified, making no mention of the Lord and giving no evidence of personal godliness.  David has not exercised control (v6) and the rebellion gathers supporters (v7ff).  Here is a reminder that God’s king and kingdom are always under attack – see Psalm 2 – with the ultimate fulfilment in the Messiah (see Acts 4:24-30).

2. The succession secured

The Lord always has faithful kingdom servants to fulfil his purposes, such as Nathan (v11) who sees the danger and implements a plan of action.  He also includes Bathsheba, Solomon’s mother, who received a promise that Solomon would be king (v17).  They understood that trust in God’s sovereignty did not rule out action guided by faith.  God used the action of such faithful servants to preserve the kingdom.  Being ‘shrewd as snakes’ (Matthew 10:16), we must work diligently for the King as he gives opportunity.

3. The king proclaimed

The news from Nathan and Bathsheba transforms David.  The ‘old David’ is needed and returns.  He is powerfully motivated when he understands the danger in which the kingdom stands.  He has a profound awareness of the Lord: ‘As surely as the Lord lives, who has delivered me out of every trouble’ (v29).  He does all that is required for Solomon’s coronation as co-regent (v32-40).  His action is necessary for the fulfilment of the sovereign plan of God.  Like David, we should be stirred by a deep concern for the welfare of God’s kingdom as we serve King Jesus.

4. The kingdom preserved

Adonijah’s rebellion disintegrates in the face of the king’s action and Solomon’s anointing.  Though David’s action was crucial, he knows that it is by God’s hand that this has happened – ‘Praise be to the Lord’ (v48).  Ultimately the rebellion of the nations is frustrated by the appointed Messiah – ‘I have installed my king on Zion’ (Psalm 2:6).  The Lord will not allow his kingdom to perish and so we can rejoice in faith.