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the Week of Proper 5 / Ordinary 10
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Bible Commentaries
1 Kings 5

Bridgeway Bible CommentaryBridgeway Bible Commentary

Verses 1-18


When David had expressed a desire to build a permanent house for God, he was told that God was more concerned with building a permanent ‘house’ for David, namely, a dynasty. As for a symbolic dwelling place for God, God had already shown his ideal for Israel in the tabernacle. Nevertheless, he would allow Israel to have a temple, though it would be built not by David, but by David’s son Solomon (see notes on 2 Samuel 7:1-17).

Despite God’s emphasis on the need to build a godly family, both David and Solomon seem to have been more concerned with building a lavish temple. David may not have been allowed to build the temple himself, but he helped Solomon all he could by preparing the plan and setting aside money and materials for the building’s construction. He wanted everything to be ready so that Solomon could begin construction as soon as he became king (1 Chronicles 22:2-16; 1 Chronicles 28:11).

But Solomon’s plans were for more than a temple. His building program lasted more than twenty years, and included an expensive palace and other impressive buildings to adorn his national capital. (For details of David’s preparations for the temple and its services, and his extensive instructions to Solomon, see notes on 1 Chronicles 22:2-30.)

Workers and materials (5:1-18)

No doubt Solomon intended the building of the temple to be a help to Israel’s spiritual life, but the way he carried out the work could easily have had the opposite effect. He obtained the best of materials from Hiram, king of Tyre, but the contract with Hiram almost certainly involved religious ritual and recognition of Hiram’s gods (5:1-9).
Solomon agreed to pay for all this material by sending farm produce to Hiram. But Israel’s farmers may not have been happy to see their hard earned produce going to a heathen king, especially since it was only to pay for a lavish building program in the capital city (10-12). Nor would people in northern Israel be pleased to see their land handed over to Hiram to pay off Solomon’s debts (see 9:11-14).

These disadvantages may not have existed had Solomon been more moderate in his plans and materials. The temple did not need to be any larger than the old tabernacle, and David seems to have left Solomon plenty of materials for its construction (1 Chronicles 22:2-5; 1 Chronicles 29:1-9).

Another of Solomon’s policies that created feelings of dissatisfaction and rebellion was that of forced labour (see 12:4). All working men were required to give three months work to the king each year, to provide a year-round workforce of 30,000 men. One third of these were sent to Tyre to work in relays, a month at a time, cutting the timber under the supervision of Hiram’s men. The timber was then floated down to the Israelite port of Joppa (see v. 6,9; 2 Chronicles 2:8-10,2 Chronicles 2:16). Besides these part-time Israelite workers, there were 150,000 full-time slaves (mainly Canaanites; 9:20-22) who did the harder work of quarrying and carrying the stone (13-18).

Bibliographical Information
Fleming, Donald C. "Commentary on 1 Kings 5". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bbc/1-kings-5.html. 2005.
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