1 Kings 6 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of 1 Kings 6)

Verse 1

[1] And it came to pass in the four hundred and eightieth year after the children of Israel were come out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon's reign over Israel, in the month Zif, which is the second month, that he began to build the house of the LORD.

Four hundred and four score, … — Allowing forty years to Moses, seventeen to Joshua, two hundred ninety-nine to the Judges, forty to Eli, forty to Samuel and Saul, forty to David, and four to Solomon before he began the work, we have just the sum of four hundred and eighty. So long it was before that holy house was built, which in less than four hundred and thirty years was burnt by Nebuchadnezzar. It was thus deferred, because Israel had by their sins, made themselves unworthy of this honour: and because God would shew how little he values external pomp and splendor in his service. And God ordered it now, chiefly to be a shadow of good things to come.

Verse 2

[2] And the house which king Solomon built for the LORD, the length thereof was threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof twenty cubits, and the height thereof thirty cubits.

The house — Properly so called, as distinct from all the walls and buildings which were adjoining to it; namely, the holy, and most holy place.

Length — From east, to west. And this and the other measures may seem to belong to the inside from wall to wall.

Cubits — Cubits of the sanctuary.

Height — Namely, of the house: for the porch was one hundred and twenty cubits high, 2 Chronicles 3:4. So that all the measures compared each with other were harmonious. For sixty to twenty (the length to the breadth) is triple: or as three to one: and sixty to thirty (the length to the height) is double, or as two to one: and thirty to twenty (the height to the breadth) is one and an half, as three to two. Which are the proportions answering to the three great concords in music, commonly called, a twelfth, an eighth, and a fifth. Which therefore must needs be a graceful proportion to the eye, as that in music is graceful to the ear.

Verse 3

[3] And the porch before the temple of the house, twenty cubits was the length thereof, according to the breadth of the house; and ten cubits was the breadth thereof before the house.

The porch — In the front of, or entrance into the house, 2 Chronicles 3:4, being a portico, a walk or gallery, at one end of the building (from side to side.) And the measures of this were harmonious also. For twenty to ten (the length of the portico to the breadth of it) is double, or as two to one. And, if the height within, be the same with that of the house, that is thirty; it will be to the length of it, as three to two; and to its breadth, as three to one. Or, if we take in the whole height mentioned, 2 Chronicles 3:4, which is one hundred and twenty; there is in this no disproportion: being to its length as six to one; and to its breadth as twelve to one; especially when this height was conveniently divided into several galleries, one over another, each of which had their due proportions.

Verse 4

[4] And for the house he made windows of narrow lights.

Narrow — Narrow outward, to prevent the inconveniences of the weather; widening by degrees inward, that so the house might better receive, and more disperse the light.

Verse 5

[5] And against the wall of the house he built chambers round about, against the walls of the house round about, both of the temple and of the oracle: and he made chambers round about:

Against the wall — The beams of the chambers were not fastened into the wall, but leaned upon the buttresses of the wall.

Chambers — For the laying the priests garments, and other utensils belonging to the temple, therein.

Round about — On all the sides except the east, where the porch was; and except some very small passages for the light. And yet these lights might be in the five uppermost cubits of the wall, which were above all these chambers, for these were only fifteen cubits high, and the wall was twenty cubits high.

Chambers — Galleries which encompassed all the chambers; and which were necessary for passage to them.

Verse 6

[6] The nethermost chamber was five cubits broad, and the middle was six cubits broad, and the third was seven cubits broad: for without in the wall of the house he made narrowed rests round about, that the beams should not be fastened in the walls of the house.

Broad — On the inside, and besides the galleries mentioned above.

Narrowed rests — Or, narrowings: as in our buildings the walls of an house are thicker, or broader at the bottom, and narrower towards the top: only these narrowings were in the outside of the wall, which at each of the three stories was a cubit narrower than that beneath it. And this is mentioned, as the reason of the differing breadth of the chambers; because the wall being narrower, allowed more space for the upper chambers.

Not fastened — That there might be no holes made in the wall for fastening them; and that the chambers might be removed, if occasion were, without any inconvenience to the house.

Verse 7

[7] And the house, when it was in building, was built of stone made ready before it was brought thither: so that there was neither hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron heard in the house, while it was in building.

Made ready — Hewed, and squared, and fitted exactly according to the direction of the architect.

Neither hammer, … — So it was ordered, partly for the ease and conveniency of carriage: partly, for the magnificence of the work, and commendation of the workmen's skill and diligence: and partly, for mystical signification. And as this temple was a manifest type both of Christ's church upon earth, and of the heavenly Jerusalem: so this circumstance signified as to the former, that it is the duty of the builders and members of the church, as far as in them lies, to take care that all things be transacted there with perfect peace and quietness; and that no noise of contention, or division, or violence, be heard in that sacred building: and for the latter, that no spiritual stone, no person, shall bear a part in that heavenly temple, unless he be first hewed, and squared, and made meet for it in this life.

Verse 8

[8] The door for the middle chamber was in the right side of the house: and they went up with winding stairs into the middle chamber, and out of the middle into the third.

The door — That is, by which they entered to go up to the middle chamber or chambers; such as were in the middle story.

Right side — That is, in the south-side, called the right side; because when a man looks towards the east, the south is on his right hand. There was another door on the left, or the north-side, leading to the chambers on that side.

Winding stairs — Without the wall, leading up to the gallery out of which they went into the several chambers.

Middle chamber — Or rather, into the middle story, or row of chambers; and so in the following words, out of the middle story: for these stair's could not lead up into each of the chambers; nor was it needful, but only into the story, which was sufficient for the use of all the chambers.

Verse 10

[10] And then he built chambers against all the house, five cubits high: and they rested on the house with timber of cedar.

Built chambers — The Hebrew words may be properly rendered, He built a roof, a flat and plain roof, over all the house, according to the manner of the Israelitish buildings. The inner roof was arched, verse 9, that it might be the more beautiful, but the outward roof was flat.

Five cubits — Above the walls of the temple: that it might be a little higher than the arched roof, which it was designed to cover and secure.

They rested — Heb. it rested, namely, the roof.

Timber of cedar — Which rested upon the top of the wall, as the chambers, verse 5, rested upon the sides of the wall.

Verse 12

[12] Concerning this house which thou art in building, if thou wilt walk in my statutes, and execute my judgments, and keep all my commandments to walk in them; then will I perform my word with thee, which I spake unto David thy father:

If — God expresses the condition upon which his promise and favour is suspended; and by assuring him thereof in case of obedience, he plainly intimates the contrary upon his disobedience. Thus he was taught, that all the charge he and the people were at, in erecting this temple, would neither excuse them from obedience to the law of God, nor shelter them from his judgments in case of disobedience.

Verse 15

[15] And he built the walls of the house within with boards of cedar, both the floor of the house, and the walls of the cieling: and he covered them on the inside with wood, and covered the floor of the house with planks of fir.

Walls — The name of a wall is not appropriated to stone or brick, because we read of a brazen wall, Jeremiah 15:20, and a wall of iron, Ezekiel 4:3. And that wall into which Saul smote his javelin, 1 Samuel 19:10, seems more probably to be understood of wood, than of stone; especially, considering that it was the room where the king used to dine. By this periphrasis, from the floor of the house, unto the walls of the ceiling, he designs all the side-walls of the house.

Them — The side-walls of the house.

Wood — With other kind of wood, even with fir; as appears from 2 Chronicles 3:5, wherewith the floor is here said to be covered.

Floor — This is spoken only concerning the floor, because there was nothing but planks of fir; whereas there was both cedar and fir in the sides of the house, the fir being either put above, or upon the cedar; or intermixed with, or put between the boards or ribs of cedar: as may be gathered from, 2 Chronicles 3:5.

Verse 16

[16] And he built twenty cubits on the sides of the house, both the floor and the walls with boards of cedar: he even built them for it within, even for the oracle, even for the most holy place.

House — That is, the most holy place, which contained in length twenty cubits, which may be said to be on the sides Of the house, because this part took off twenty cubits in length from each side of the house, and was also twenty cubits from side to side, so it was twenty cubits every way.

The oracle-the most holy place — The last words are added, to explain what he means by the word oracle, which he had not used before.

Verse 17

[17] And the house, that is, the temple before it, was forty cubits long.

House — That is, the holy place.

Temple — This is added, to restrain the signification of the word house, which otherwise notes the whole building.

It — The oracle.

Verse 18

[18] And the cedar of the house within was carved with knops and open flowers: all was cedar; there was no stone seen.

Cedar — Cedar is here named, not to exclude all other wood, but stone only; as the following words shew.

Verse 19

[19] And the oracle he prepared in the house within, to set there the ark of the covenant of the LORD.

Prepared — That is, adorned and fitted it for the receipt of the ark. Solomon made every thing new, but the ark. That with its mercy seat was still the same that Moses made. This was the token of God's presence, which is with his people, whether they meet in tent or temple, and changes not with their condition.

Verse 20

[20] And the oracle in the forepart was twenty cubits in length, and twenty cubits in breadth, and twenty cubits in the height thereof: and he overlaid it with pure gold; and so covered the altar which was of cedar.

Forepart — Which was in the inner part of the house, called in Hebrew, the forepart; not because a man first enters there, but because when a man is entering, or newly entered into the house, it is still before him.

Covered — With gold, chap. 7:48; 1 Chronicles 28:18.

The altar — The altar of incense.

Verse 21

[21] So Solomon overlaid the house within with pure gold: and he made a partition by the chains of gold before the oracle; and he overlaid it with gold.

House — Or, that house, the oracle.

Partition — He made a veil, which was a farther partition between the holy, and the most holy; which veil did hang upon these golden chains.

Before the oracle — In the outward part of the wall, or partition, which was erected between the oracle and the holy place; which is properly said to be before the oracle, there the veil was hung; and there the chains or bars, or whatsoever it was which fastened the doors of the oracle, were placed.

It — The partition; which he here distinguisheth from the house, or the main walls of the house, which he had in the former part of this verse told us were overlaid with gold; and now he affirms much as of the partition.

Verse 22

[22] And the whole house he overlaid with gold, until he had finished all the house: also the whole altar that was by the oracle he overlaid with gold.

Whole house — Not only the oracle, but all the holy place.

The altar — the altar of incense, which was set in the holy place close by the doors of the oracle.

With gold — As before he overlaid it with cedar.

Verse 23

[23] And within the oracle he made two cherubims of olive tree, each ten cubits high.

Cherubim — Besides those two made by Moses, Exodus 25:18, which were of gold, and far less than these. The Heathens set up images of their gods, and worshipped them. These were designed to represent the servants and attendants of the God of Israel, the holy angels, not to be worshipped themselves, but to shew how great he is whom we worship.

Verse 29

[29] And he carved all the walls of the house round about with carved figures of cherubims and palm trees and open flowers, within and without.

Cherubim — As signs of the presence and protection of the angels vouch-safed by God to that place.

Palm-trees — Emblems of that peace and victory over their enemies, which the Israelites duly serving God in that place might expect.

Within and without — Within the oracle and without it, in the holy place.

Verse 31

[31] And for the entering of the oracle he made doors of olive tree: the lintel and side posts were a fifth part of the wall.

Fifth part — That is, four cubits in height or breadth, whereas the wall was twenty cubits.

Verse 36

[36] And he built the inner court with three rows of hewed stone, and a row of cedar beams.

Inner court — The priests court, 2 Chronicles 4:9, so called, because it was next to the temple which it compassed.

Cedar beams — Which is understood, of so many galleries, one on each side of the temple, whereof the three first were of stone, and the fourth of cedar, all supported with rows of pillars: upon which there were many chambers for the uses of the temple, and of the priests.

Verse 38

[38] And in the eleventh year, in the month Bul, which is the eighth month, was the house finished throughout all the parts thereof, and according to all the fashion of it. So was he seven years in building it.

Seven years — It is not strange that this work took up so much time: for, 1. The temple properly so called, was for quantity the least part of it, there being very many and great buildings both above ground in the several courts, (for though only the court of the priests be mentioned, yet it is thereby implied, that the same thing was proportionably done in the others) and under ground. 2. The great art which was used here, and the small number of exquisite artists, required the longer time for the doing it. And if the building of Diana's temple employed all Asia for two hundred years; and the building of one pyramid employed three hundred and sixty thousand men, for twenty years together; both which, Pliny affirms: no reasonable man can wonder that this temple was seven years in building. Now let us see what this temple typifies. 1. Christ himself is the true temple. He himself spoke of the temple of his body: and in him dwelt all the fullness of the godhead. In him all the Israel of God meet, and thro' him have access with confidence to God. 2. Every believer is a living temple, in whom the spirit of God dwelleth. We are wonderfully made by the Divine Providence, but more wonderfully made anew by the Divine grace. And as Solomon's temple was built on a rock, so are we built on Christ. 3. The church is a mystical temple, enriched and beautified, not with gold and precious stones, but with the gifts and graces of the spirit. Angels are ministering spirits, attending the church and all the members of it on all sides. 4. Heaven is the everlasting temple. There the church will be fixt, and no longer moveable. The cherubim there always attend upon the throne of glory. In the temple there was no noise of axes or hammers: every thing is quiet and serene in heaven. All that shall be stones in that building, must here be fitted and made ready for it; must be hewn and squared by the Divine grace, and so made meet for a place in that temple.