Great and long preparation had been making for the building of
the temple, and here, at length, comes an account of the building of it; a noble
piece of work it was, one of the wonders of the world, and taking in its
spiritual significancy, one of the glories of the church. Here is, I. The time
when it was built (v. 1), and how long it was in the building (v. 37, 38). II.
The silence with which it was build (v. 7). III. The dimensions of it (v. 2, 3).
IV. The message God sent to Solomon, when it was in the building (v. 11-13).
V. The particulars: windows (v. 4), chambers (v. 5, 6, 8-10), the walls and
flooring (v. 15-18), the oracle (v. 19-22), the cherubim (v. 23-30), the
doors (v. 31-35), and the inner court (v. 36). Many learned men have well
bestowed their pains in expounding the description here given of the temple
according to the rules of architecture, and solving the difficulties which, upon
search, they find in it; but in that matter, having nothing new to offer, we
will not be particular or curious; it was then well understood, and every man's
eyes that saw this glorious structure furnished him with the best critical
exposition of this chapter.
Here, I. The temple is called the house of the Lord (v.
1), because it was, 1. Directed and modelled by him. Infinite Wisdom was the
architect, and gave David the plan or pattern by the Spirit, not by word of
mouth only, but, for the greater certainty and exactness, in writing (1 Chr.
28:11, 12), as he had given to Moses in the mouth a draught of the tabernacle.
2. Dedicated and devoted to him and to his honour, to be employed in his
service, so his as never any other house was, for he manifested his glory in it
(so as never in any other) in a way agreeable to that dispensation; for, when
there were carnal ordinances, there was a worldly sanctuary, Heb. 9:1,
10. This gave it its beauty of holiness, that it was the house of the
Lord, which far transcended all its other beauties.
II. The time when it began to be built is exactly set down. 1.
It was just 480 years after the bringing of the children of Israel out of Egypt.
Allowing forty years to Moses, seventeen to Joshua, 299 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 480. So long it was after that holy
state was founded before that holy house was built, which, in less than 430
years, was burnt by Nebuchadnezzar. It was thus deferred because Israel had, by
their sins, rendered themselves unworthy of this honour, and because God would
show how little he values external pomp and splendour in his service: he was in
no haste for a temple. David's tent, which was clean and convenient, though it
was neither stately nor rich, nor, for aught that appears, ever consecrated, is
called the house of the Lord (2 Sa. 12:20), and served as well as Solomon's
temple; yet, when God gave Solomon great wealth, he put it into his heart thus
to employ it, and graciously accepted him, chiefly because it was to be a shadow
of good things to come, Heb. 9:9. 2. It was in the fourth year of Solomon's
reign, the first three years being taken up in settling the affairs of his
kingdom, that he might not find any embarrassment from them in this work. It is
not time lost which is spent in composing ourselves for the work of God, and
disentangling ourselves from every thing which might distract or divert us.
During this time he was adding to the preparations which his father had made (1
Chr. 22:14), hewing the stone, squaring the timber, and getting every thing
ready, so that he is not to be blamed for slackness in deferring it so long. We
are truly serving God when we are preparing for his service and furnishing
ourselves for it.
III. The materials are brought in, ready for their place (v. 7),
so ready that there was neither hammer nor ax heard in the house while it was
in building. In all building Solomon prescribes it as a rule of prudence to prepare
the work in the field, and afterwards build, Prov. 24:27. But here,
it seems, the preparation was more than ordinarily full and exact, to such a
degree that, when the several parts came to be put together, there was nothing
defective to be added, nothing amiss to be amended. It was to be the temple of
God of peace, and therefore no iron tool must be heard in it. Quietness and
silence both become and befriend religious exercises: God's work should be
done with as much care and as little noise as may be. The temple was thrown down
with axes and hammers, and those that threw it down roared in the midst of
the congregation (Ps. 74:4, 6); but it was built up in silence. Clamour and
violence often hinder the work of God, but never further it.
IV. The dimensions are laid down (v. 2, 3) according to the
rules of proportion. Some observe that the length and breadth were just double
to that of the tabernacle. Now that Israel had grown more numerous the place of
their meeting needed to be enlarged (Isa. 54:1, 2), and now that they had grown
richer they were the better able to enlarge it. Where God sows plentifully he
expects to reap so.
V. An account of the windows (v. 4): They were broad within,
and narrow without, Marg. Such should the eyes of our mind be, reflecting
nearer on ourselves than on other people, looking much within, to judge
ourselves, but little without, to censure our brethren. The narrowness of the
lights intimated the darkness of that dispensation, in comparison with the
VI. The chambers are described (v. 5, 6), which served as
vestries, in which the utensils of the tabernacle were carefully laid up, and
where the priests dressed and undressed themselves and left the clothes in which
they ministered: probably in some of these chambers they feasted upon the holy
things. Solomon was not so intent upon the magnificence of the house as to
neglect the conveniences that were requisite for the offices thereof, that every
thing might be done decently and in order. Care was taken that the beams should
not be fastened in the walls to weaken them, v. 6. Let not the church's
strength be impaired under pretence of adding to its beauty or convenience.
Here is, I. The word God sent to Solomon, when he was engaged in
building the temple. God let him know that he took notice of what he was doing, the
house he was now building, v. 12. None employ themselves for God without
having his eye upon them. "I know thy works, thy good works."
He assured him that if he would proceed and persevere in obedience to the divine
law, and keep in the way of duty and the true worship of God, the divine
loving-kindness should be drawn out both to himself (I will perform my word
with thee) and to his kingdom: "Israel shall be ever owned as my
people; I will dwell among them, and not forsake them." This
word God sent him probably by a prophet, 1. That by the promise he might be
encouraged and comforted in his work. Perhaps sometimes the great care, expense,
and fatigue of it, made him ready to wish he had never begun it; but this would
help him through the difficulties of it, that the promised establishment of his
family and kingdom would abundantly recompense all his pains. An eye to the
promise will carry us cheerfully through our work; and those who wish well to
the public will think nothing too much that they can do to secure and perpetuate
to it the tokens of God's presence. 2. That, by the condition annexed, he
might be awakened to consider that though he built the temple ever so strong the
glory of it would soon depart, unless he and his people continued to walk in
God's statutes. God plainly let him know that all this charge which he and
his 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. Keeping God's commandments is better, and more pleasing to him,
than building churches.
II. The work Solomon did for God: So he built the house
(v. 14), so animated by the message God had sent him, so
admonished not to expect that God should own his building unless he were
obedient to his laws: "Lord, I proceed upon these terms, being firmly
resolved to walk in thy statutes." The strictness of God's government
will never drive a good man from his service, but quicken him in it. Solomon
built and finished, he went on with the work, and God went along with him till
it was completed. It is spoken both to God's praise and his: he grew not weary
of the work, met not with any obstructions (as Ezra 4:24), did not out-build his
property, nor do it by halves, but, having begun to build, was both able and
willing to finish; for he was a wise builder.
Here, I. We have a particular account of the details of the
1. The wainscot of the temple. It was of cedar (v. 15), which
was strong and durable, and of a very sweet smell. The wainscot was curiously
carved with knops (like eggs or apples) and flowers, no doubt as the fashion
then was, v. 18.
2. The gilding. It was not like ours, washed over, but the
whole house, all the inside of the temple (v. 22), even the floor (v. 30),
he overlaid with gold, and the most holy place with pure gold, v.
21. Solomon would spare no expense necessary to make it every way sumptuous.
Gold was under foot there, as it should be in all the living temples: the
abundance of it lessened its worth.
3. The oracle, or speaking-place (for so the word
signifies), the holy of holies, so called because thence God spoke to
Moses, and perhaps to the high priest, when he consulted with the breast-plate
of judgment. In this place the ark of the covenant was to be set, v. 19.
Solomon made every thing new, and more magnificent than it had been, except the
ark, which was still the same that Moses made, with its mercy-seat and cherubim;
that was the token of God's presence, which is always the same with his people
whether they meet in tent or temple, and changes not with their condition.
4. The cherubim. Besides those at the ends of the mercy-seat,
which covered the ark, (1.) Solomon set up two more, very large ones, images of
young men (as some think), with wings made of olive-wood, and all overlaid with
gold, v. 23, etc. This most holy place was much larger than that in the
tabernacle, and therefore the ark would have seemed lost in it, and the dead
wall would have been unsightly, if it had not been thus adorned. (2.) He carved
cherubim upon all the walls of the house, v. 29. The heathen set up images of
their gods and worshipped them; but these were designed to represent the
servants and attendants of the God of Israel, the holy angels, not to be
themselves worshipped (see thou do it not), but to show how great he is
whom we are to worship.
5. The doors. The folding doors that led into the oracle were
but a fifth part of the wall (v. 31), those into the temple were a fourth part
(v. 33); but both were beautified with cherubim engraven on them, v. 32, 35.
6. The inner court, in which the brazen altar was at which the
priests ministered. This was separated from the court where the people were by a
low wall, three rows of hewn stone tipped with a cornice of cedar (v. 36), that
over it the people might see what was done and hear what the priests said to
them; for, even under that dispensation, they were not kept wholly either in the
dark or at a distance.
7. The time spent in this building. It was but seven years and a
half from the founding to the finishing of it, v. 38. Considering the vastness
and elegance of the building, and the many appurtenances to it which were
necessary to fit it for use, it was soon done. Solomon was in earnest in it, had
money enough, had nothing to divert him from it, and many hands made quick work.
He finished it (as the margin reads it) with all the appurtenances thereof, and
with all the ordinances thereof, not only built the place, but set forward the
work for which it was built.
II. Let us now see what was typified by this temple. 1. Christ
is the true temple; he himself spoke of the temple of his body, Jn. 2:21. God
himself prepared him his body, Heb. 10:5. In him dwelt the fulness of the
Godhead, as the Shechinah in the temple. In him meet all God's
spiritual Israel. Through him we have access with confidence to God. All the
angels of God, those blessed cherubim, have a charge to worship him. 2. Every
believer is a living temple, in whom the Spirit of God dwells, 1 Co. 3:16. Even
the body is such by virtue of its union with the soul, 1 Co. 6:19. We are not
only wonderfully made by the divine providence, but more wonderfully made anew
by the divine grace. This living temple is built upon Christ as its foundation
and will be perfected in due time. 3. The gospel church is the mystical temple;
it grows to a holy temple in the Lord (Eph. 2:21), enriched and
beautified with the gifts and graces of the Spirit, as Solomon's temple with
gold and precious stones. Only Jews built the tabernacle, but Gentiles joined
with them in building the temple. Even strangers and foreigners are built up a
habitation of God, Eph. 2:19, 22. The temple was divided into the holy place
and the most holy, the courts of it into the outer and inner; so there are the
visible and the invisible church. The door into the temple was wider than that
into the oracle. Many enter into profession that come short of salvation. This
temple is built firm, upon a rock, not to be taken down as the tabernacle of the
Old Testament was. The temple was long in preparing, but was built at last. The
top-stone of the gospel church will, at length, be brought forth with shoutings,
and it is a pity that there should be the clashing of axes and hammers in the
building of it. Angels are ministering spirits, attending the church on all
sides and all the members of it. 4. Heaven is the everlasting temple. There the
church will be fixed, and no longer movable. The streets of the new Jerusalem,
in allusion to the flooring of the temple, are said to be of pure gold,
Rev. 21:21. The cherubim there always attend the throne of glory. The temple was
uniform, and in heaven there is the perfection of beauty and harmony. In Solomon's
temple there was no noise of axes and hammers. Every thing is quiet and serene
in heaven; all that shall be stones in that building must in the present sate of
probation and preparation be fitted and made ready for it, must be hewn and
squared by divine grace, and so made meet for a place there.