Today’s chapter is really a continuation of the previous two chapters, where we read about the preparations Solomon made and the work he did to build the temple in Jerusalem.
Hiram king of Tyre agreed to provide him with all the timber he needed to build the temple. And Solomon conscripted men from Israel and sent them off to Lebanon to work with Hiram’s men. He also had carriers and stonecutters as well as foremen to oversee the work. And with all these men working for him, Solomon built the temple.
It was built with dressed stone which was then covered with planks of cedar and pine; and then the interior of the temple was cover in gold, because it was designed to represent the glory of heaven. Heaven had come down to earth so that God could dwell among his people in this special house which Solomon had built for him.
And the building of the temple signified the end of a journey which had begun at the time of the Exodus in the days of Moses, when God rescued his people from Egypt and when he began to lead them on a journey which would end up on the mountain of the Lord in Jerusalem, where all of God’s people would enjoy the presence of the Lord in the place he had prepared for them.
And chapter 7 is a continuation of those two chapters because in this chapter we read about some of the things which Solomon made to go in the temple. So, there are these two bronze columns which stood at the entrance to the temple. And there was the Sea of cast metal and ten movable stands of bronze which held ten bronze basins with water in them. And there’s the golden altar of incense and the golden table for the Bread of the Presence and the golden lamp stands and there were other objects made of gold.
But before we read about the things Solomon made to go in the temple, we read about the palace complex which he made in Jerusalem.
And as we read these things, we need to remember that all of what we read represents in one way or another the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the great hope he gives to his people of eternal life in God’s presence.
Verses 1 to 12
Let’s turn to verses 1 to 12 where we read about this palace complex which Solomon built in Jerusalem.
And we’re told in verse 1 that it took Solomon thirteen years to complete the construction of his palace. If you look back to the last verse of chapter 6, you’ll see that it took seven years to build the temple. I’ve mentioned before that some of the commentators criticise Solomon for various things. And they criticise him for taking thirteen years to build his own palace and only seven years to build the temple. And these commentators think that this must mean that the palace was more important to him. And that’s not right! Surely building the temple should have been his first priority? Surely this shows a lack of commitment to God? And so, they criticise Solomon for taking more time over the construction of the palace than over the construction of the temple.
However, we need to remember that Solomon’s father, David, had already made preparations for the construction of the temple, which might help to explain why it didn’t take so long to build it. And while the temple was magnificent in that it was overlaid with gold, the construction of the palace complex might have been more complicated, because the palace complex will have contained many rooms, whereas the temple was really one large rectangle, divided into three parts. And it’s possible that the shorter time to build the temple shows that this was in fact Solomon’s priority. A builder who works all day at his job, is perhaps less inclined to finish a building project at home. The building project at home can wait, because he’s not getting paid to do it, whereas he gets paid for what he does at work. And the work that pays is the priority. And so, that’s what he spends most of the time on. That’s what he concentrates on; and the work at home can wait until he has some free time. And in a similar way, if the temple was Solomon’s priority, then he would give most of his time and attention to it. And so, he’d complete the work on the temple first and the work on the palace can wait. And so, I don’t think we need to criticise Solomon.
Notice now that he built, not one palace, but what we might call a palace complex which comprised both public and private buildings. And so, there was the Palace of the Forest of Lebanon with four rows of cedar columns to support cedar beams. And it was roofed with cedar and there were windows. This building was larger than the temple and we learn elsewhere that it was used as a treasury and armoury where valuable items and weapons were stored. And no doubt it was called the Palace of the Forest because of the cedar columns which must have looked like tall trees.
Then there was a colonnade with a portico with pillars and an over-hanging roof. It’s possible this may have been a kind of entrance to the Palace of the Forest.
Next there was the throne hall or Hall of Justice which was covered with cedar. Presumably this was his throne room and people came to Solomon to ask him for justice. So, think of the story of the two prostitutes who came to him to sort out their dispute. Solomon would presumably hear such cases in this Hall of Justice.
And then, in verse 8, his own living quarters are mentioned. And we’re told that he also made a palace for Pharaoh’s daughter, whom he had married.
According to verse 9 all of these buildings were made with high-grade stone. The foundations were laid with large stones of good quality. Above were high-grade stones and cedar beams. And then it mentions a great courtyard which was surrounded by a wall made of stone and cedar beams, as was the inner courtyard of the temple.
And so, the palace complex comprised the Palace of the Forest and the colonnade and the throne room and the royal residences. And the buildings were made from stone and cedar.
The writer doesn’t give us a lot of detail about these buildings; and we really have no idea how any of these buildings looked or what they contained or how they were decorated. We wouldn’t be able to take what he says and draw an accurate picture of what he was describing. And so, it seems that the writer is giving us the bear minimum of information so that he can get back to the more important building which is the temple of the Lord.
However, the palace complex was a marvellous structure. It was larger than the temple and it was made of high-grade stone and cedar. It was a fitting building for the king. And therefore it foreshadows the royal residence of our King, the Lord Jesus Christ, who ascended to heaven to sit at the right hand of his Father in glory, where he is surrounded by worshipping angels and the saints in glory.
And just as people came to Solomon’s Hall of Justice where he settled disputes with justice, so one day everyone who has ever lived will come before Christ the King, who will sit on his judgment seat to judge the living and the dead. And, he will judge us with perfect justice and will separate us the way a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And so, he will acquit all those who trusted in him and he will invite them to take their inheritance and to enjoy eternal life in the presence of God, which has been prepared for them before the creation of the world. But he will condemn all those who did not trust in him, and he will tell them to depart into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and all his wicked angels. He will send them into the eternal fire to be punished for all that they have done wrong.
But since that day of judgment has not yet come, there is still time to repent and believe. And so, if you have not yet trusted in Christ for salvation, then I say to you that you must turn from your sins in repentance and you must turn to Christ with faith, trusting in him as the only Saviour of the world who died to pay for our sins and who shed his blood to cleanse us. Trust in him for forgiveness so that you do not need to fear his coming, but can look forward to it, because, if you believe in him now, then when he comes he will not send you away into the eternal fire, but he’ll invite you to receive eternal life in the presence of God where we will be perfectly happy forever and forever.
Verses 13 and 14
Let’s move on now to consider what Solomon made to go into the temple. We’re told in verse 12 that he brought from Tyre a man named Huram. The little footnote in the NIV tells you that his name in Hebrew is Hiram. But this is not Hiram king of Tyre; this is another man named Hiram or Huram. And you’ll see that while his mother was an Israelite from the tribe of Naphtali, his father was from Tyre. And we’re told Huram was highly skilled and experienced in all kinds of bronze work. A better translation is that he was full of wisdom and understanding and skill. And Solomon hired him to make the things that went into the temple.
And what we read about Huram recalls what we read in Exodus 31 about Bezalel who was filled with wisdom and understanding and skill. In other words, Huram was a new kind of Bezalel. And that’s significant because, of course, the temple which Solomon was building in Jerusalem was to be a new kind of tabernacle which Moses built in the wilderness. Like the tabernacle, the temple was to be God’s dwelling place. It was a house for the Lord in the presence of his people. Only it was to be bigger and better. The temple was much bigger than the tabernacle and it was better, because it was made of stone and timber and gold as well as bronze. And since a craftsman filled with wisdom, understanding and skill helped Moses to build the tabernacle, Solomon wanted a craftsman filled with wisdom, understanding and skill to help him build the temple.
Verses 15 to 22
And what did Huram make first? According to verse 15, he made two bronze pillars which were about 27 feet high. Both of them were topped with a large bronze capital. And they were made to look like trees, with a network of interwoven chains to resemble tangled branches and with pomegranates all around. And the capitals on top were either shaped like lilies or they had lily-shaped designs over them. And these two bronze pillars stood at the entrance to the temple. Many of the commentators think they were free-standing, but at least one suspects that they supported the roof of the portico.
And we’re told in verse 21 that he named one of the pillars Jakin and he named the other pillar Boaz. It’s likely that these two names were inscribed on the pillars. Jakin means ‘he establishes’ while Boaz, as well as being the name of one of Solomon’s ancestors, means ‘in him is strength’. And so, we can imagine the people, gathering outside the temple and seeing these two pillars, one of which reminded them that the Lord is the one who established them as a nation, and the other reminded them that the Lord is their strength. And so, they should always trust ih him, because just as he established them by his mighty power, so they can count on him and his mighty power to help them in the future. Think of Psalm 46 which begins:
The Lord is my refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear,
though the earth gives way.
Why will we not fear? Because God is with his people. God is with his people: and these two pillars at the entrance to God’s house reminded the people that God is with them to establish them and he is their strength.
Verses 23 to 26
According to verse 23, Huram made the Sea of cast metal. So, this was to be a large pool. It was circular in shape and it was about 15 feet across and seven and a half feet high. And it was carved with images of fruit. And the Sea sat upon twelve statues of bulls. And the Sea, this pool, contained thousands of gallons of water. This was designed to replace the bronze basin for washing which was in the tabernacle. The small bronze basin in the tabernacle was used by the priests to wash themselves before entering the tabernacle and also after they offered a sacrifice. And presumably this Sea outside the temple served the same purpose, though the priests would need stairs or a ladder to reach the water.
And so, it speaks to us of cleansing, doesn’t it? And just as the priests cleansed themselves with water before they could approach the Lord in his temple, so we need to be cleansed from the guilt of our sin in order to approach God to worship him in this life and to live with him in the life to come. And the way to be cleansed from our guilt is not by washing ourselves with water, but it’s by believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, who shed his blood on the cross to cleanse us from our guilt. Through faith in Christ, we are washed and cleansed and pardoned. And therefore we can approach God to worship him and we can look forward to coming into his presence in the life to come.
Furthermore, since this large pool was called the Sea, some of the commentators think it represents the actual sea. In fact, some believe the area outside the temple represented the world around us; while the main hall of the temple represented the visible heavens; and the Most Holy Place in the temple represented the invisible heaven where God dwells. Moreover, since the sea often signifies what is evil and chaotic, the Sea outside the temple, which was calm and not stormy, may also represent how God is mightier than the forces of evil. And therefore his people can always trust in him to keep them safe.
Verses 27 to 39
In verses 27 to 39 we read about these ten movable stands which Huram made. They were about four or five feet high and were carved with images of lions and bulls and cherubim. Lions are the kings of wild animals and bulls are the kings of domestic animals and cherubim are angels. The stands had wheels, although the size and weight of the stands means that moving them would have been difficult. And the stands were designed to hold basins filled with water. Each of the ten basins held around 240 gallons of water. So, there was lots and lots of water. And half of the stands and basins was set along the south side of the area outside the temple; and the other half was set along the north side. And perhaps they were arranged in such a way that they were seen as an extension to the Sea. That is to say, they represented rivers flowing from the Sea in the temple.
This is perhaps designed to recall the Garden of Eden. I mentioned last week that the images of flowers and fruit in the temple recall the Garden of Eden, which itself was a temple-garden where God would come to meet Adam and Eve. And already in today’s chapter, we’ve seen that the pillars at the entrance to the temple were designed to look like trees and we’ve also seen some of what Huram made was decorated with flowers and fruit. And so, once again the temple — with its trees and flowers and fruit — recalls the Garden of Eden. And now we have the Sea with these two lines of basins coming from it like a river. And this too recalls the Garden of Eden, because a river flowed from Eden.
But then, right at the end of the Bible, the Apostle John had a vision of the New Jerusalem and he saw that there was a river flowing through it. And the river was the water of life. And those who drink from it will live forever.
And so, the Sea and the ten basins of water speak to us of the great hope of eternal life in the presence of God. All those who have their guilt washed away through faith in Christ can look forward to coming into the presence of God in the new heavens and earth where we will drink from the water of life and live forever.
Verses 40 to 51
Verses 40 to 47 contain a summary of what Huram made and we’re reminded that he made these things for Solomon for the temple of the Lord. And in verses 48 to 50 we’re told about some of the other things which Solomon made. So far, we’ve been reading about bronze objects which were kept in the area outside the temple. But these other objects are made of gold, because they were kept in the temple, which represents heaven and its glory.
And so, there was the golden altar of incense. The incense may represent the prayers of God’s people going up to God in heaven above.
And then there was the golden table on which the Bread of the Presence was kept. Since the temple was God’s home, then there was always a table set and food ready for his people. It therefore speaks to us of fellowship and friendship with God, which Christ has secured for us by his death on the cross. And the table and the bread also anticipates what is called the Wedding Supper of the Lamb which all of God’s people will enjoy in the life to come. And we can look forward to enjoying that supper, because the Lord Jesus is the Bread of Life who gave up his life so that all who believe in him may have eternal life.
Then there are the lamp stands of pure gold. There was only one lamp stand in the tabernacle, but since the temple is bigger, then ten lamp stands are needed to light up the main hall. Some commentators think the lamp stands represent the lights in the sky. But they also foreshadow the Lord Jesus who is the light of the world who will lead us into the presence of God.
And then the writer mentions other objects made of gold which were kept in the temple and which were presumably used for the worship of God. And we’re told right at the end that when all the work King Solomon had done was finished, he brought in the things his father had set aside for the temple and he placed them in the treasuries of the Lord’s temple. The use of the word ‘finished’ recalls the way God finished his work of creation. Just as God rested from his work of creating the world, so Solomon could rest from his work of building the temple.
And let’s remember that this temple was God’s house. It was his dwelling-place among his people at that time. And it speaks to us of the great hope which Christ gives to all who trust in him of eternal life in the presence of God in the life to come. Whenever the Israelites went up to the temple to worship the Lord, it foreshadowed how all of God’s people will one day enter the new heavens and earth where we will enjoy the presence of God with us forever. Gathering at the temple in Jerusalem anticipated the time when all of God’s people will enjoy the presence of God in the place he has prepared for us.
And the Lord Jesus Christ has opened up the way for us to come into God’s presence, because he gave up his life on the cross to pay for all that we have done wrong; and he shed his blood to cleanse us from all our guilt. The water the priests used to wash themselves before entering the temple of the Lord symbolised the forgiveness of sins which is available to us now from Christ the Saviour, whose blood cleanses us from even the darkest stains in our life.
None of us is so bad that we can’t be washed and cleansed by Christ. None of us is so guilty that we can’t be made pure. His blood can wash away the darkest, dirtiest stain. And so, perhaps there’s something which you have done and you worry that it’s too big for God to forgive. What you did is so serious, so bad, so shameful, that God will never forgive you. But the blood of Christ washes away all of your sins, from the smallest one that no one notices to the biggest one that is always on your mind. His blood cleanses us from every stain so that when God looks at us with his all-seeing, perfectly-pure and holy eyes, he cannot see your sins at all. There’s not even a trace of them left. Not a speck. Christ’s blood washes it all away. That’s the promise he gives to all who trust in him. And so, all who trust in him are washed and cleansed and they can look forward to eternal life in the presence of God where they will see him and enjoy him forever.