Six of the nine chapters which the chronicler in this book devotes to Solomon refer to the temple:
1. 2 Chronicles 2 is about the preparation for the building of the temple;
2. 2 Chronicles 3-4 describe the building of the temple;
3. 2 Chronicles 5-7 deal with the dedication of the temple.
The preparations for the temple building by Solomon are preceded by all the other extensive preparations his father David did. David made the design or plan for the entire complex and took care of staff and materials (1 Chronicles 28-29). It is now Solomon’s turn. He must organize the work by assigning his task to each worker (verses 2,17,18).
Another aspect of the preparations is that the young king requires technical support from Huram, the king of Tyre. In this way Solomon assures himself of experienced supervisors and also in this way he can make use of the cedars of the Lebanon (verses 3-10). For the help he calls in from Huram, a contract is drawn up (verses 11-16).
There are some remarkable similarities between the building of the tabernacle and that of the temple. These agreements contribute to the testimony of the inspiration of God’s Spirit by Whom the chronicler wrote.
1. Both Bezaleël and Solomon have been specifically appointed by God for the building project of the tabernacle and the temple respectively (Exo 35:30; 1Chr 28:6).
2. Both Bezaleël and Solomon are from the tribe Juda.
3. Both Bezaleël and Solomon are endowed by God for the task for which he is chosen.
4. Both build the bronze altar for the LORD (2Chr 1:5; 4:1).
5. Bezaleël prepares the tools for the tabernacle and Solomon prepares the tools for the temple (Exo 31:15; 2Chr 4:19-22).
6. Both the tabernacle and the temple have a design that comes from God (Exo 25:9; 1Chr 28:11-13).
7. Both for the building of the tabernacle and for the building of the temple the people give voluntarily and generously (Exo 35:20-29; 1Chr 29:6-9).
8. When both buildings are finished, the glory of God fills the building (Exo 40:34-35; 2Chr 7:1-3).
1 - 2 The Intention of Solomon
1 Now Solomon decided to build a house for the name of the LORD and a royal palace for himself. 2 So Solomon assigned 70,000 men to carry loads and 80,000 men to quarry [stone] in the mountains and 3,600 to supervise them.
For Solomon the importance of the LORD’s house is paramount (verse 1). It is for him first the house of the LORD, and then his own house. The two houses are symbolic for priestly service (the temple) and reign (palace). It is always good, especially when we are young, to give the things of the Lord first place. It is proof that we are aware that we are on earth for Him, to serve Him, and not for ourselves.
The tasks mentioned (verse 2) can be translated to our time. We see the “men to carry loads” in the teachers in the church. They teach persons, who are stones carved out of the rock by the evangelists, represented by “men to quarry [stone]”, about their place in the church, the house of God. Those who “supervise them” are the overseers, who lead the church. They ensure that everything is done in the right way. There must be good cooperation between these workers. It is not possible to work on your own (Eph 4:11-16).
3 - 10 The Request to Huram to Help
3 Then Solomon sent [word] to Huram the king of Tyre, saying, “As you dealt with David my father and sent him cedars to build him a house to dwell in, so do for me. 4 Behold, I am about to build a house for the name of the LORD my God, dedicating it to Him, to burn fragrant incense before Him and [to set out] the showbread continually, and to offer burnt offerings morning and evening, on sabbaths and on new moons and on the appointed feasts of the LORD our God, this [being required] forever in Israel. 5 The house which I am about to build [will be] great, for greater is our God than all the gods. 6 But who is able to build a house for Him, for the heavens and the highest heavens cannot contain Him? So who am I, that I should build a house for Him, except to burn [incense] before Him? 7 Now send me a skilled man to work in gold, silver, brass and iron, and in purple, crimson and violet [fabrics], and who knows how to make engravings, to [work] with the skilled men whom I have in Judah and Jerusalem, whom David my father provided. 8 Send me also cedar, cypress and algum timber from Lebanon, for I know that your servants know how to cut timber of Lebanon; and indeed my servants [will work] with your servants, 9 to prepare timber in abundance for me, for the house which I am about to build [will be] great and wonderful. 10 Now behold, I will give to your servants, the woodsmen who cut the timber, 20,000 kors of crushed wheat and 20,000 kors of barley, and 20,000 baths of wine and 20,000 baths of oil.”
For the building of the temple Solomon appeals to foreigners and not to Israelites. Both prophetically and spiritually, this is not remarkable. Prophetically we see that later, in the realm of peace, also strangers will help to build the temple (Zec 6:15a; Isa 60:10a). Spiritually we see that the mystery of the church is found among the nations (Col 1:27). [Note: This is not the same as Ephesians 2. There the truth is unfolded that the believers from the Jews and the believers from the Gentiles are one. In Colossians 1, the Jews are not involved and only the peoples are involved.]
The new thing in the current dispensation, that is the time since the Pentecost of Acts 2, is that salvation is also for the nations. The Jew Paul offers a message to the believers among the nations that they belong to the church and that they are saints who understand the mystery of the church. That is, in picture, the way in which Solomon appeals to the people.
Solomon reminds Huram that he sent his father David cedars at the time to build a house for himself (1Chr 14:1). Because of his benevolence then, Solomon asks him to help him build God’s house now. Before he specifically asks Huram for help, he first talks about the impressiveness of the LORD’s house.
The first thing mentioned in connection with the temple is that it is a house that is dedicated to the LORD. The house belongs to Him alone and is only for Him. So too is the church, the house of God now, only of and for Him. The local church is not for people, believers or disbelievers, to entertain them.
That the house is dedicated to the LORD, and there is to sanctify Him, is manifested in what happens there. Solomon begins his list of activities in the house of the LORD with “to burn fragrant incense before Him” (verse 4). He repeats that as the great reason for the building of the house (verse 6). Fragrant incense represents the sweetness before God of prayer and worship (Psa 141:2; cf. Rev 5:8; 8:3). The life of the Lord Jesus on earth was complete prayer, He was “prayer” (Psa 109:4) and therefore completely a pleasant fragrance for God.
“The showbread continually” set out suggests that the whole people, seen in the twelve breads, are in God’s presence and constantly before His attention. The bread also represents the life of the Lord Jesus. God’s people have Him as their life. Only through Him His people is pleasing to God. There are also the “burnt offerings” that are made at different times. In the burnt offerings we see the perfection of the work of the Lord Jesus in His complete surrender to God.
Solomon testifies to the greatness of God against the heathen Huram (verse 5). The house bears the feature of Him Who dwells in it. The temple is the dwelling place of God and therefore it is a grand building (verses 5,9). At the same time he speaks about the fact that Huram should not think that the house can contain God (cf. Acts 17:24). Solomon asks himself out loud, who is able to do these things. Yet, despite this feeling of powerlessness and at the same time in this feeling of powerlessness, he is prepared to go to work. He knows that this is the task of the LORD and that He will give him what is needed to carry out this task.
Solomon asks for someone who can work with what his father David has prepared. There is no urge for Solomon to work with other materials than those provided by David (verse 7). The metals and colors speak of what is seen of Christ in His own. Gold represents glory, silver redemption, brass righteousness, iron power, purple, crimson and violet royal dignity. This is the “material” with which the church is now built “into a dwelling of God in the Spirit” (Eph 2:22).
In the following verses we see an example of fellowship in the service (verses 8-9). The servants of Solomon work together with the servants of Huram. We see an example of this in the men who accompany Paul (Acts 20:4). The building of such a great work as the house of God requires cooperation between reliable and skilled workers. It is a house that is “great and wonderful”. It is about more than the formation of a local church. We must remember that the church includes all the children of God, “all the saints” (Eph 3:18), from the coming into being of the church on Pentecost until its rapture. We can contribute to its building, although it is taking shape locally.
In exchange for what Huram delivers, Solomon gives food (verse 10). This food comes from the land of God. It speaks for us of the blessings given to us in the heavenly places. Those who help to build, even if they come from the Gentiles, receive a wonderful supply of the heavenly land.
Wheat” and “barley” both speak of the Lord Jesus Who became the life of every child of God. He is the bread that descended from heaven and gives life to the world (Jn 6:33). To participate in it one must believe that He is the grain of wheat that has fallen into the earth and died and therefore bears much fruit (Jn 12:24).
2. “Wine” speaks of the joy of fellowship with the Father and the Son (Jdg 9:13; 1Jn 1:3-4).
3. The “oil” is a picture of the Holy Spirit (1Jn 2:20,27) through Whom we can enjoy all blessings.
11 - 16 Huram Promises to Help
11 Then Huram, king of Tyre, answered in a letter sent to Solomon: “Because the LORD loves His people, He has made you king over them.” 12 Then Huram continued, “Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, who has made heaven and earth, who has given King David a wise son, endowed with discretion and understanding, who will build a house for the LORD and a royal palace for himself. 13 “Now I am sending Huram-abi, a skilled man, endowed with understanding, 14 the son of a Danite woman and a Tyrian father, who knows how to work in gold, silver, bronze, iron, stone and wood, [and] in purple, violet, linen and crimson fabrics, and [who knows how] to make all kinds of engravings and to execute any design which may be assigned to him, [to work] with your skilled men and with those of my lord David your father. 15 Now then, let my lord send to his servants wheat and barley, oil and wine, of which he has spoken. 16 We will cut whatever timber you need from Lebanon and bring it to you on rafts by sea to Joppa, so that you may carry it up to Jerusalem.”
Huram responds by letter. His answer is beautiful. He recognizes the love of the LORD for His people in His making Solomon king over His people. He also praises the LORD as the God of Israel and then as the Creator of heaven and earth. He seems to say that the LORD is in connection with the earth through Israel. That will in any case be the case in the realm of peace. Then Israel will be the means by which God has blessing for all the earth. That blessing will be given to Israel by the true Solomon, the wise Son of David, Who will then reign.
Huram’s letter is also a kind of ‘letter of commendation’ (cf. 2Cor 3:1; Acts 9:27). In the letter he testifies of the man he will send and the qualities he has (verses 13-14). We can learn from this the lesson that we can give a testimony of a good spiritual development we see in others, where and when it is necessary.
Besides being skilled in the work, Huram Abi is also creative “to execute any design which may be assigned to him”. However, he does not execute on his own initiative, he does not listen to his own ideas, but executes designs “which may be assigned to him”. We may be creative in building God’s house, but it must be done according to the guidelines that are given to us in God’s Word.
The qualities of the man who is send by Huram show many similarities with the qualities of Bezalel, the maker of the tabernacle (Exo 31:3-5). These qualities are spiritually reflected in Paul’s service in the church in Colossae. His efforts are aimed at forming the believers in Colossae through teaching and warnings (Col 1:28). Just as Huram-abi cooperates with the sages of Huram and the sages of David (verse 14), Paul also cooperates with others (Col 4:7-13).
Huram is also mindful of the welfare of his workers (verse 15) and asks Solomon to send the promised food for them. By the power of this good food the work can be started.
The trees needed for building are transported in rafts across the sea to Joppa and from there to Jerusalem (verse 16). We can apply this as follows. All those who have just been converted, the babies in Christ, must be helped on their way to their right place in the sanctuary. This first happens by sea, a picture of the difficulties they have to go through (cf. 1Thes 3:3-4). Then they must be carried up to the sanctuary. This is done by ‘load bearers’, more mature believers who care for young converts. They tell them about the church and the place they have in it.
17 - 18 Solomon Distributes the Functions
17 Solomon numbered all the aliens who [were] in the land of Israel, following the census which his father David had taken; and 153,600 were found. 18 He appointed 70,000 of them to carry loads and 80,000 to quarry [stones] in the mountains and 3,600 supervisors to make the people work.
These verses are a further explanation of what the chronicler has already noticed (verse 2). We read here that Solomon counts “all the aliens” in Israel for the work to be done. David has previously gathered foreigners to help with the building of the temple (1Chr 22:2). How many there are is not mentioned. Solomon counts a total number of “153,600”. From this he appoints three groups of workers: “70,000 of them to carry loads and 80,000 to quarry [stones] … and 3,600 supervisors”.
Those who quarry stones have to cut the stones “in the mountains”. These must have been large stones, according to investigations up to eight meters long. These stones must not only be cut out, but also made ready to fit, because they are simply placed on and next to each other during building.
The Lord Jesus counts His workers as well. He has His twelve servants whom He sends out (Lk 9:1). He then appoints another seventy whom He sends out (Lk 10:1). Just like the aliens that Solomon puts to work, all the Lord’s workers today are “aliens” (1Pet 1:1; 2:11; Heb 11:13) who perform a heavenly service in a foreign country. This service is performed by teachers (those who carry loads), evangelists (those who quarry [stones]) and shepherds or overseers or elders (supervisors). The last category, as in the days of Solomon, must teach the people of God how to serve Him in their daily lives.