Read 1 Kings 4:1-21
· VV. 1-19 – Hey, no cheating….read through all those tedious names. And enjoy the reminder that good leaders govern through good people. King Jesus is a good leader.
· V. 6 – The one discordant note in these verses sounds with “forced labor.” Our minds are taken back to Samuel’s warning about monarchy in 1 Samuel 8: 10-18. This side of Eden until the King of kings, we can only hope for the “worst kind of government except for all the others that have been tried from time to time.”
· V. 20 – “As many as the sand of the sea” – see Genesis 22:17. Which begins a few phrases in a row to indicate that, with Solomon, Israel has entered a time of fulfillment. All of Abraham’s waiting and Joseph’s travails and wandering through the desert and … led to this great moment.
· “They ate and drank and were happy” – I don’t know a better way to express an era of good times.
Read 1 Kings 4: 22-34
· VV. 22-24 – A certain kind of person turns up his nose at this description of Solomon’s heavily laden table. “He should have shared it with the poor.” But nobler souls enjoy the fact that their leaders live within a certain splendor. And the king’s table here is a microcosm of the flourishing of the whole country (v.20).
· What phrase in v. 25 do you also find in the play Hamilton? And what does the phrase mean?
· V. 29 – How about that gift of God to Solomon: “breadth of mind”? To be given wide interests that are yet directed by properly ordered affections. To have wide-ranging pursuits while still maintaining a center of godliness – this is a gift to be sought!
· V. 31 – “His fame was in all the surrounding nations” – Israel was supposed to be a light to the world, and we get a glimpse of that here.
· In these descriptions of the early years of Solomon’s reign, a singular lesson forms: When God and His King are aligned, the world can be a very splendid place. “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”
Read 1 King 5
· VV. 1-12 – the timber for the Temple was supplied by Lebanon, that is, by Gentiles. We recall that the Tabernacle was funded by Egyptians, and that the means of building the post-exilic Temple came from the coffers of Cyrus the Persian. So, while the meeting place of God was for Israel, the Gentiles played a major part in its construction. What wisdom of God do you think was behind this pattern?
· V. 6 – The wisdom of Solomon included the sense to use the best people for the job. God gives this kind of practical wisdom.
Read 1 Kings 6
· V. 1 – “In the four hundred and eightieth year…” – As if to say, finally! Seems that this Temple is the goal of a long process. The place where God dwells with man, where Heaven intersects earth, is of great consequence. Right, Church?
· V. 7 – pause and think for a moment: why this arrangement?
· VV. 11-13 – In the middle of the building project, God tacitly reminds Solomon that, in conjunction with the Temple and its administration, the king was to walk in God’s ways, to reflect God, to live up to his title as the “Son of God” (Psalm 2). And through the instruments of the Temple and the godly King, God would dwell among Israel. In short, the arrival of the Temple didn’t negate the requirements of the King. Subsequent history will bear this out.
· VV. 14-36 – Throughout, the decoration combined symbols of Heaven and earth and recalled scenes from Eden, before the fissure split Heaven and earth. One way of describing the story of Redemption is the Marriage of Heaven and Earth.
Read 1 Kings 7
· V. 1 – I’m not exactly sure why the account of the Temple’s construction is interrupted with summaries of these other building projects. Also, I don’t know if the feeling is justified, but I’ve always been a little uneasy that Solomon’s house took five years longer to build than the Temple. What do you think?
· V. 13 – Obviously not the Hiram who was the king of Tyre. This Hiram was a tradesman metallurgist “full of wisdom, understanding, and skill for making any work in bronze.” Just from that description it sounds like Hiram’s single mom had raised a pretty good son. Do you remember Bezalel and Oholiab who worked on the Tabernacle (Exodus 31: 1-11; 35:30ff)? For them and Hiram, the Scripture uses consequential words (wisdom, understanding) to portray people really good at their craft. Aim for excellence at your job. Push yourself. Parents, stop being so nice, stop trying to be your kids’ friends, and set high standards for them. Tiger Mothers, Unite!
· VV. 15ff – Again you see that the Temple is decorated with images of Heaven and Earth. You’re also impressed with the detailed work and the description to match. The Temple, and this book that records its construction, were labors of love. Go ahead, love the work that God has given you to do. I LOVE BEING A PASTOR. I LOVE BEING YOUR PASTOR.
Read 1 Kings 8: 1-11
· V. 3 – After nearly 500 years, the Ark of the Covenant, an almost four-foot-long wooden chest containing the two tablets of stone, comes home to the Temple. What events from its colorful history between Sinai and this chapter can you recall?
· V. 5 – A lot of animal bloodshed as the Ark and other holy vessels are transported into the Temple. The point of all this sacrifice is that the place where God and sinners dwell together must be made holy by bloodshed. Even with all the elaborate decorations wrought by skilled craftsman, only when the life in the blood spills out of the flesh is sacred space created. Reality is actually very, very deep and mysterious.
· VV. 10, 11 – What can we say about this? Is this a built-in fault of the Temple? When the glory of the LORD enters, the priests are compelled – could not stand to minister – to exit. Puts in mind 2 Corinthians 3: 1-11. Glory is a slippery concept to understand. But it would seem that only when the glory of God is expressed through Jesus can human beings endure it. Let me try to say it simply: Ultimately, God and humanity don’t mix well, except through Jesus. Thank you, our King and Mediator Jesus!
Read 1 Kings 8: 12
· V. 12 – The cloud of glory which the priests cannot tolerate remind Solomon of something: God “dwells in thick darkness.” Think about it: what does that mean?
· V. 12 – Given the occasion, it’s quite a statement about God. As the Temple is built and God “moves in” to live with His people, Solomon doesn’t then begin to claim that God is now under his/Israel’s control. Instead, he chooses this time to recall that God is essentially mysterious.
Worship or religion or whatever you want to call shouldn’t be the human claiming to have figured out God. Rather, it’s the human claiming that God is unknowable, beyond us, HOLY, and that we’ll only discover Him if He decides to reveal Himself. My prayer is that you grow to understand how really vast our God is.
Have you heard the great lines from the old hymn written by that mentally unstable William Cowper:
God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform; He plants His footsteps in the sea And rides upon the storm.
He plants His footsteps in the sea – that is, the ways of God cannot be traced. AND rides up on the storm: God doesn’t require stable conditions to gain purchase, to move His projects forward. Chaos is just another of His servants.
Take comfort today that this great, mysterious, God who dwells in thick darkness has through Jesus’ shed blood entered into a covenant with you: to guard you, to grow you, to bring you securely into the world to come. You don’t need to understand the details of what He’s doing. Just make sure you’re always in sight of Him, even close enough to live under the shadow of the Almighty.
Read 1 Kings 8: 12-30
· VV. 12-27 – Look at all the references to David throughout. This is a) a son who admires his father. And b) a historian-theologian who recognizes that, since the conversation recorded in 2 Samuel 7, David and his descendants have become the hotspot for God putting the world to rights. Be like Solomon.
· VV. 15, 24 – Solomon credits the completion of the Temple to God’s hand. V.20 – And to his own efforts. If you understand that God ALMOST ALWAYS works through human agency, you don’t have to choose one Causer over the other! Big point here!
· V. 21 – 500 years after the event, no one is getting tired of referring to God bringing His people out of Egypt. That something happened a long time ago doesn’t diminish its significance and shouldn’t cause you to stop thinking and talking about it. Hey…like the Gospel!
· V. 27 – Similar to what he said in v. 12, Solomon isn’t so taken with the Temple that he forgets that God is much bigger than it. The Temple in no way binds or domesticates God.
· VV. 28-30 – A main point of the Temple is that it orients people in their praying. “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.” Worship and prayer…religion and being in dialogue with God go hand in hand. Hey, Christian, do you pray? Will you pray today?