SOLOMON’S TEMPLE 2 Chronicles 1–4“Solomon gave orders to build a temple for the Name of the Lord” (2 Chron. 2:1).The temple Solomon built was not large, but in quality and workmanship it was the best he could create. We need not do great things for God. But whatever we offer Him should represent the best that we can do.
Definition of Key Terms
The Jerusalem temple, which housed the ark of the covenant, symbolized God’s presence with His people. All the religious celebrations and all Israel’s sacrifices were to be held there, in the presence of the Lord. Because the temple was fully identified with the public worship of God, the attitude of a king toward the temple was an urate measure of his piety. A major feature of the revivals led by godly kings was always purification and/or repair of the temple, and revitalization of temple worship. This fact is reflected in 2 Chronicles, which in each description of Judah’s godly kings emphasizes the ruler’s restoration of temple rites. The emphasis on the temple in the Chronicles reflects conditions in the writer’s day. A small group of Jews had ventured back to Judah from Babylon, intent on rebuilding the temple. After years of delay the temple was completed, but only after the Prophet Haggai reminded the Jews that the promised Messiah, the descendant of David destined to reestablish Israel, would come to God’s house and fill it with glory (Hag. 2:6–9). Thus the temple must be ready, and God’s people must worship there while awaiting the promised Offspring of David. The writer’s purpose in the Chronicles, then, was to demonstrate God’s faithfulness to His promises to David, and to encourage worship while waiting expectantly for God to keep the rest of the Davidic Covenant. The Jews must gather around God and His temple and wait. Cherubim. The word seems to be a general term for various winged, supernatural beings who symbolize the holiness of God (cf. Ezek. 1:4–14; 10:1–22). We have no clear evidence to suggest how they were depicted on the inner walls of the Jerusalem temple.
Solomon pleased God by asking for wisdom to lead the Lord’s people (1:1–17). He ordered construction of a temple dedicated to God (2:1–10), and obtained help from King Hiram of Tyre (vv. 11–18). The temple (3:1–17) and its golden decorations and furnishings (4:1–22) are described.
Understanding the Text
“Solomon son of David established himself firmly over his kingdom” 2 Chron. 1:1–13. Solomon had flaws. But 2 Chronicles focuses our attention on Solomon’s concern for Israel’s spiritual welfare, demonstrated in his building of the temple. In this and other ways Solomon foreshadowed the King yet to come from David’s line. The similarity is emphasized when we first meet Solomon. He had been appointed ruler, and immediately called all Israel together to worship the Lord. When invited by God to ask for a gift, he chose “wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people.” The selfless request pleased God, who granted him wisdom, and added the riches and honor which Solomon had not requested. The story emphasizes aspects of Christlikeness that are to characterize us as well. We too are to bring others to meet and worship the Lord. We too are to put others first, and seek gifts that enable us to serve. “The king made silver and gold as common in Jerusalem as stones” 2 Chron. 1:14–17. First Kings devotes considerable space to descriptions of Solomon’s wealth, wisdom, and commercial ventures. Second Chronicles hardly mentions these, but goes into great detail about Solomon’s concern for the temple. To this commentator on history, the spiritual is far more important than material splendor. The Chronicler’s emphasis is a valid reminder that none of our worldly accomplishments are as significant as our spiritual achievements. “The temple I am going to build will be great” 2 Chron. 2:1–18. The chapter lists some of the preparations Solomon made. The number of men involved, as well as the vast amounts of timber, stone, and precious metals, are impressive. Yet Solomon clearly expressed a basic truth. The temple would be great “because our God is greater than all other gods.” It’s true that God deserves our best. But it is important to remember that God Himself is our glory, not the monuments we erect to Him. The Jerusalem Temple. The wonder of the Jerusalem temple was not in its size, but in the wealth and workmanship expended on it. The temple was long and narrow. At 90 feet long, 30 feet wide, and 40 feet high, it was about the size of a modern suburban house. The description given here in 2 Chronicles 3–4 does not provide enough details for an accurate portrayal, but the temple probably looked much like the drawing above.
Come Share (2 Chron. 2)
The women who ran our Backyard Bible Clubs were concerned. A number of the clubs were held in neighborhood homes where the moms weren’t Christians. Now some of those moms wanted to teach! In some ways their doubts must have reflected Solomon’s as he wrote to Hiram, king of Tyre. Though Tyre had maintained friendly relationships with David, the two nations were of diverse race and religion. Yet Solomon’s letter not only offered to purchase lumber and hire workmen, but even requested a skilled metalworker to supervise his Hebrew artisans! In effect Solomon invited Hiram to have a significant role in constructing a temple dedicated to Israel’s God! Two things are striking about this passage. Solomon went to a Gentile to help him build God’s temple. And that Gentile acknowledged God as no mere local deity, but the One “who made heaven and earth.” Israel had an exclusive relationship with the Lord, rooted in the Abrahamic Covenant and confirmed in history by God’s acts on His people’s behalf. Yet Isaiah spoke frequently of a day when Gentiles will flock to God, called by the bright light of Israel’s Messiah (Isa. 11:10; 42:6; 49:6). The temple of Israel was to be a temple for all mankind. As Jeremiah 16:19 predicts: To You the nations will come from the ends of the earth and say, “Our fathers possessed nothing but false gods, worthless idols that did them no good.” That day of universal salvation is foreshadowed in the fact that God permitted the Gentile Hiram of Tyre to contribute so much to the Jerusalem temple. And the conversion of the Gentiles is foreshadowed by Hiram’s recognition of God as Maker of heaven and earth. Interestingly, the women who ran our Backyard Bible Clubs decided to make the hostesses “teacher’s helpers.” In that role several, like Hiram of old, came to know the Lord.
When others seem responsive to God, welcome them.