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Bible Commentaries
1 Kings 6

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-10

First Kings - Chapter 6 AND Second Chronicles - Chapter 3

Temple Structure, Commentary on 1 Kings 6:1-10; AND 2 Chronicles 3:1-14

Again the Levitical authors of Chronicles are more explicit in their description of the building of the temple and its furniture. They are careful to note that Solomon constructed the temple on the site which David had chosen for it. This was the place on Mount Moriah were David had seen the angel poised with the drawn sword to destroy Jerusalem during the time of the plague for David’s numbering of the people (2 Samuel 24:15-17). Here David had purchased the threshingfloor of Araunah (Ornan, in Chronicles) and made sacrifice to the Lord. At that time he had chosen the site for the temple. The construction began four hundred eighty years after Israel had come out of Egypt. It was in the second day of the second month of the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel.

The overall dimensions of the temple are described first. In English measure it was ninety feet long, by thirty feet wide, by thirty feet high. A porch extended the width of the temple at its front, the depth of which was fifteen feet. The Kings account notes that it was lighted by narrow windows which seem to have been in the sides of the house near the roof. This would be necessitated by the construction of chambers around the perimeter of the walls.

The Kings account continues to describe the building of the chambers (small rooms), while the Chronicles account goes into detail to describe the skilled work which went into its embellishment. The chambers were built in three stories around the south, west, and north sides of the temple. The lower chambers were seven and a half feet broad, the middle eight feet, and the upper ten and a half. This was necessitated by the manner of construction, whereby the beams which supported the roofs and floors of the chambers were not fastened into the temple wall itself, but had revetments built on the walls to support them. The manner of their construction also accounted for the stories being ascendingly larger. These were entered by a central door at the lower story which admitted to a stairway which led up to the middle and upper stories. The stones for this building were ready squared and fitted for placement in the building so that no sound of ax or hammer was heard in its construction. When finally completed it was covered with cedar beams and boards.

The Chronicles account speaks of the greater house (the holy place, or first room in the sanctuary) and the most holy house (the holy of holies, or second room of the sanctuary). The greater room was cieled with fir (or cypress), overlaid with fine gold and garnished with engraved palm trees and chains. Fine stones were also set in it with gold of Parvaim (thought to be gold from countries of the east).

The holy of holies was foursquare, thirty feet by thirty feet, all overlaid with six hundred talents of fine gold (in today’s values, over 650 million dollars). The golden nails weighed fifty gold shekels ($18,000). Inside the holy of holies also was constructed two angelic figures, cherubim (-im is the Hebrew plural and does not need the English -s). These faced the front of the temple with outstretched wings meeting in the center between them and extending thus from wall to wall of the most holy place. These also were overlaid with gold. To separate this most holy place form the larger room there was constructed a vail of the beautiful colored cloth, of blue, purple, crimson, and fine linen with embroidered cherubim on it.. It was doubtless a magnificent structure, as history attests.

Verses 11-22

God’s Approval, Verses 11-22

The account of Kings is interrupted to tell of a message from God to Solomon relative to his building of the temple. It does not appear to have come in a dream or vision as when God granted him wisdom at Gibeon. Probably it was delivered by a prophet. It is a very significant message, with stipulations for Solomon.

God will accept the building and perform His promises to David in the person of his son if Solomon will faithfully walk in the statutes of the Lord, execute His judgments, and keep all His commandments. Furthermore God would continue to dwell with Israel and never forsake them if they abide in these things. Especially is this lesson pertinent for the time when Solomon will have accomplished his great building projects, has become very rich, and has acquired great prestige by his wisdom. Then he would become over-confident and lax and be in danger of God’s judgment. Compare what the Lord has said to His children in the New Testament (Hebrews 13:5).

The author of Kings proceeds to tell of the building and completion of the temple with similar information to that already studied in Second Chronicles, chapter 3, above. He refers to the holy of holies as the oracle.

An oracle is a divine communication, and the name pertains to the holy of holies in the temple because this is where the Lord revealed His will to Israel by Urim and Thummim. Here they set the ark of the covenant which was built by Moses in the wilderness and had been the chief object of the tabernacle worship in the wilderness. The Kings account also tells some of the decorations which were carved in the wood of the temple walls. These boards covered all the stone work and had engravings of knops (or knobs) and open flowers to beautify it. It is also learned from this account that Solomon had constructed golden chains to draw across the curtain separating the holy place from the holy of holies.

Verses 23-30

Inner Sanctuary, Verse 23-30

The Kings account continues to add details to the construction of the temple furniture not found in the Chronicles account. The cherubim in the oracle (or holy of holies) were constructed of olive wood, which is very hard and polishes to a beautiful luster. The dimensions are given in slightly different way, but it is learned here that they measured ten cubits, or fifteen feet, in height. These were also overlaid with gold. Figures of cherubim, palm trees, and open flowers were carved in the wood inside and out of the oracle.

Verses 31-38

Commentary on 1 Kings 6:31-38; AND 2 Chronicles 4:9

Beautiful olive wood doors were made through which to enter the oracle, or holy of holies. These were set in the vail, already described, separating the oracle and holy place (or larger front room of the temple sanctuary). These doors took up one-fifth of the space, or six feet, with the posts on which they hung. the figures of the palm trees, cherubim, and flowers were carved on these also, then covered with gold.

Doors were also constructed of cypress (fir) to enter the holy place, or larger room of the sanctuary, through the curtain, or vail, at the front of the temple. These were a bit larger, being one-fourth of the overall width, or seven and a half feet, their olive wood door posts. The two doors in the front were folding doors rather than hinged. These were decorated in similar manner to the doors to the oracle and covered with gold.

The court immediately adjacent to the sanctuary of the temple was called the inner court, and was constructed of three rows of hewed stone and a row of cedar beams. In 2 Chronicles 4:9 this is called the court of the priests. The great court is also mentioned there. The doors which gave admission to this area were covered with bronze (the correct rendering of the original Hebrew, rather than "brass").

Verses 37, 38 sum up the chronology of the building of the temple. Solomon had begun to build in his fourth year, in the second month of the year, Zif. He completed the building in his eleventh year, the eighth month, Bul. Nothing was left undone. The magnificent structure was done in six and a half years, though the account here rounds it off to seven.

Some lessons : 1) God has a pattern of service to be followed by His people, which in their so doing will bring their greatest blessing; 2) the beauty of the temple is a weak foreview of the majesty of heaven; 3) God approves beautiful places of worship if rightly used for Him.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on 1 Kings 6". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/1-kings-6.html. 1985.
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