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Bible Commentaries
1 Kings 5

Preacher's Complete Homiletical CommentaryPreacher's Homiletical

Verses 1-18



1 Kings 5:1. Hiram, king of Tyre, called Hirom (1 Kings 5:7; 1 Kings 5:9), Huram (2 Chronicles 2:3), and by Josephus Εἵρωμος, the same who bad sent David timbers for his palace (2 Samuel 5:11; 1 Chronicles 14:1). This embassy to Solomon was a declaration that he desired to maintain equally friendly relations with David’s successor Solomon took the incident as an opportunity to negociate for “cedar trees out of Lebanon” (1 Kings 5:6) with which to build the temple.

1 Kings 5:3. Wars which were about him on every side—David was not prevented from erecting God’s temple because wars allowed him no leisure (see 2 Samuel 7:1, “Lord had given him rest,” &c.); he was free from military claims to do this work, but not free from military stains; his had been a career of war, and Jehovah’s temple must be reared by one who should prefigure the “Prince of Peace” (cf. 1 Chronicles 28:8). Note: Solomon assumes that Hiram knew David’s intention to build the temple (cf. 1 Chronicles 27:1-4).

1 Kings 5:4. Neither adversary nor evil occurrent—מֶּגַע רַע means an unhappy event, e.g., plague, rebellion, famine. David had such “evil occurrent” in Absalom’s rebellion, and in the plague following his numbering the people.

1 Kings 5:6. Cedar trees out of Lebanon—Only from the forests of Lebanon could Solomon have procured such timber for the temple. These forests belonged to the Phœnicians, who carried on extensive trade in both cedars and cypresses. The best cedars grew on the north-west of the mountain range. The Sidonians were at this time expert shipbuilders and good navigators; it would, therefore, be an easy part of their contract to “convey by sea” their merchandize (1 Kings 5:9). Robinson says the famous cedar forests lie two days’ journey north of Beirut, near the highest mountain peak, distant from Jebul Sunnin six or eight hours north.

1 Kings 5:7. Hiram said, Blessed be the LORD—The Septuagint here reads Θεός, not Κύριος; yet this recognition of JEHOVAH might indicate in Hiram nothing more than a polytheistic acceptance of the God of Israel as one of many deities. In the parallel passage (2 Chronicles 2:12) Hiram calls him יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל Jehovah, God of Israel, and adds, “that made heaven and earth.” Yet this may only imply his assent to the religious views of the Israelites.

1 Kings 5:8. Cedar and fir—גְּרוֹשׁ more probably denotes the cypress, not “fir,” although the pine, larch, and cypress are all found at this day in the Lebanon; and by berosh may be intended either tree.

1 Kings 5:9. Convey them by sea in floatslit., I will make them into floats on the sea. Thus they could be brought down the river, probably the Dog River, to the sea coast, and by sea to Joppa (2 Chronicles 2:16).

1 Kings 5:11. Wheat for food, and pure oil—Phœnicia was poor in agricultural produce, but rich in umbrageous growth. The land of Israel was poor in trees, rich in corn and oil. This exchange was, therefore, mutually advantageous. The “pure oil,” שֶׁמֶן כָּתִית beaten, i.e., finest oil, was obtained from olives not fully ripe, and pounded in mortars; had a white colour, as well as a better flavour; and yielded a purer and clearer light than the ordinary olive oil obtained through the press.—Keil

1 Kings 5:12. The Lord gave Solomon wisdom, &c., means that, guided by “wisdom profitable to direct,” Solomon entered into a friendly alliance and commercial treaty with Hiram.

1 Kings 5:13. Raised a levylit., caused to go up (see note on 1 Kings 4:6), וַיַּעַל to take out “30,000 men.” These were Israelites, in distinction from Canaanitish bondservants (1 Kings 9:20; 2 Chronicles 8:7-9), and prisoners taken by David in war, numbering 153,600; and these levied Israelites are employed on lighter terms than the bondslaves, serving in detachments of 10,000 for one month, and then resting for two months at home, while the other two detachments take their turn.

1 Kings 5:14. Adoniram was over the levy (cf. note on 1 Kings 4:6).

1 Kings 5:15. Threescore and ten thousand that bare burdens, &c—70,000 carriers and 80,000 cutters of wood; or, more probably, of stone—חֹצֵנ being more strictly used of a cutter of stone (2 Kings 12:12), although used of both in this instance (Gesenius). This total of 150,000 were “strangers in the land of Israel” (2 Chronicles 2:17). not Israelites.

1 Kings 5:16. Officers over the work, 3,300—These were over the bondmen; other 550 captains were over the 30,000 Israelites (1 Kings 9:23).

1 Kings 5:18. The stone squarers וְהַגִּבְלִים—The Giblim (Joshua 13:5), i.e., inhabitants of גְּבַל—These Giblites (see Ezekiel 27:9) were specially skilful in shipbuilding. Thenius suggests that the slightly changed word וַיַּגְבִּלוּם be accepted, and then reads, “they wreathed the stones, put a border round them.” i.e., “And Solomon’s builders and Hiram’s builders did hew them and bevel them.” Such grooved or bevelled stones, twenty or thirty feet long by six feet, are now visible to Palestine explorers as the basement stones of the ancient temple, and are probably the original stones used “to lay the foundation of the house” (1 Kings 5:17).—W. H. J.

HOMILETICS OF 1 Kings 5:1-18


I. That the preparations for a great work are facilitated where a genuine friendship exists.

1. The friendship of a worthy father it often continued to his posterity. “For Hiram was ever a lover of David” (1 Kings 5:1). The friendships formed by a good man are a precious legacy to his children. He may have many and bitter enemies; but the faithful few will love him to the end of his days, and after his death will honour his memory even in his offspring. A son will sometimes receive signal advantages in life, for his father’s sake. David rejoiced to show kindness to Mephibosheth, the crippled son of his friend Jonathan (2 Samuel 9:3; 2 Samuel 9:13). “A fast friend is a rare bird. Most friends now-a-days are like Joab’s dagger, as soon in and as soon out. The love of foster-brothers in Ireland far surpasseth—saith one, but I believe him not—all the loves of all men. They only love truly that love one another out of a pure heart fervently (1 Peter 1:22). This love lasteth.”—Trapp.

2. A genuine friendship it strengthened and perpetuated by mutual acts of courtesy and service (1 Kings 5:3-11). Solomon responds with great cordiality to the congratulatory embassage of Hiram, and, at the same time, suggests the way in which the Tyrian king can help in his great work of building a house for the Lord. Hiram cheerfully falls in with the arrangement, and the terms of contract are speedily and satisfactorily settled. A friendship where the giving is all on one side, and the receiving all on the other, will soon come to an irreparable breach. The quid pro quo may not always be the same in kind; but a true courtesy will ever be ready to acknowledge the preponderance of obligation.

II. That in the preparation for a great work the choicest materials should be obtained (1 Kings 5:6; 1 Kings 5:10; 1 Kings 5:17, compared with 2 Chronicles 2:7-8). Cedar, gold, and costly stones—the choicest timber, the choicest metal, and the choicest stone—were to be used in the building of the temple. Many wonderful properties are ascribed to the cedar, such as resisting putrefaction, destroying noxious insects, remaining sound for a thousand years, yielding an oil famous for preserving books and writings, &c. The wood is extremely hard, which caused the ancients to believe it incapable of decay. In whatever work we do for God, the best material should be used. Nothing is too good for Him. Some men will spend enormous sums on jewelry, on house furnishing, or on architectural decoration, and yet be content to see the ugliest and shabbiest material used in the service of God. David spared neither time, nor pains, nor expense in gathering together the costliest materials for the projected building, though he well knew he would not be permitted to take part in its erection. Let us not grudge to do the preparatory work by which posterity will principally benefit. He who does something to enrich the future of humanity has not lived in vain.

III. That in the preparation for a great work the best talent should be sought. “There is not among us any that can skill to hew timber like unto the Sidonians” (1 Kings 5:6 compared with 1 Kings 5:18). Sidon was a part of the territories of Hiram, and its inhabitants appear to have been the most expert workmen. Much skill is needed in the felling and treatment of timber. According to Vitruvius, a contemporary of Julius Cæsar, and author of a celebrated treatise on architecture, timber must be cut in the autumn or in the winter, when it is free from a moisture which is apt to make it rot, and it should be cut in such a manner as to allow the sap to distil away. It should never be exposed to a hot sun, high winds, or rain, nor drawn through the dew; and it should be in like manner guarded for three years before being used in building. Probably these and other similar precautions gave the Sidonians their fame for skill in felling timber. They were also celebrated as builders, and as dextrous in the working of all kinds of metals. Strabo ascribes to them great knowledge in philosophy, astronomy, geometry, arithmetic, navigation, and in all the fine arts. Sidon had glass works, linen, and other manufactures, that furnished very ingenious and far-sought commodities. Homer represents the most precious and valuable of the great metal wine bowls, in which the Greeks of the heroic age delighted, as imported from Sidon (Odyss. iv. 614–618; xv. 425), and made by Sidonian workmen (Iliad. xxiii. 743, 741). He also ascribes to Sidonian women the production of the beautifully embroidered robes which were worn by Asiatic ladies of the first rank (ib. vi. 289–295). Both Herodotus and Homer attest the general nautical skill of the Phœnicians; and the former assigns the palm to Sidon. Talent is the gift of Heaven, and its best efforts and most masterly productions should be consecrated to the noblest ends. The work of God affords scope for the exercise of the most accomplished and fertile genius.

IV. That in the preparations for a great work respect should be had to the condition and wants of the workers. (Compare 1 Kings 5:6; 1 Kings 5:9; 1 Kings 5:11; 1 Kings 5:13-16.) The labourers were well officered, and the toil and drudgery mitigated by a methodised system of relays (1 Kings 5:14). Without some such system so vast a number of workers would relapse into a confused, tyrannical mob, and inflict on each other much oppression and suffering. Organisation lightens labour, while it consolidates it. The wants of the workers were supplied. In addition to the provisions sent to the royal court of Tyre (1 Kings 5:9; 1 Kings 5:11), Solomon furnished to the servants of Hiram 20,000 cors (about 222,000 bushels) of beaten wheat, 20,000 cors of barley, 20,000 baths of wine, and 20,000 baths of oil (2 Chronicles 2:10). The land of Israel was rich in grain and oil, while in this respect Phoenicia was poor, the steep mountain ranges of Lebanon affording very little space for arable land. Honest labour should be honestly recompensed. In all work for God the utmost diligence and fidelity are demanded; but He will take care the humblest labourer shall not go unrewarded. “No house, even though it be the church and temple of God, should be built to the hurt and oppression of one’s fellow-creatures.” Every country has its staple commodity, by exchange of which intercourse is maintained with its neighbours. It is the happiness of a nation when, with the corn of Canaan, it possesses also the shipping of Tyre.

V. That in the preparations for a great work help may be obtained from all available sources (1 Kings 5:6; 1 Kings 5:8-10; 1 Kings 5:12; 1 Kings 5:18). The world may be used as the servant of the church. The unbeliever is often called upon to contribute to a work the spiritual significance and end of which he does not apprehend. The Tyrians, though Gentiles, were employed about the work of the Temple, and thus prefigured the vocation of the Gentiles and their future helping to build up the spiritual temple. Pellican, in allegorising this fact, observes that the Sidonians and the proselytes among the Jews were the workmen, but the rulers of the work were Israelites; thus showing forth that the spiritual temple should be built by disciples among the Gentiles, but the Apostles, who were Israelites, should be the chief workmen and governors therein. Solomon “knew that the Tyrians’ skill was not given them for nothing. Not Jews only, but Gentiles, must have their hand in building the temple of God: only Jews meddled with the Tabernacle, but the temple is not built without the aid of Gentiles; they, together with us, make up the church of God (Ephesians 2:18; Ephesians 2:14). Even pagans have their arts from heaven: how justly may we improve their graces to the service of the God of heaven! If there be a Tyrian who can work more curiously in gold, in silver, in brass, in iron, in purple and blue silk, than an Israelite, why should he not be employed about the temple? Their heathenism is their own, their skill is their Maker’s. Many a one works for the church of God that yet hath no part in it.—Bp. Hall. The varied talent and material riches of all nations should be made serviceable to the interests of Christ’s kingdom, not for ostentation, for that would be “to make a calf of the treasure gotten out of Egypt.”


1. A great work necessitates corresponding forethought.

2. A great work it made up of numberless little efforts.

3. Labour is dignified by the greatness of the end it seeks to accomplish.

4. The work of one generation is completed by another.


1 Kings 5:1. “For Hiram was ever a lover of David.” The influence of a good man.

1. Operates irrespective of distance.
2. Attaches to himself men of widely different creeds.
3. Makes known the character and worship of the true God.
4. Secures valuable friendships for his posterity.

1 Kings 5:1-5. Solomon’s purpose to build a house to the Lord.

1. The motive. 1 Kings 5:3-5. Notambition, the love of glory, the love of pomp; but the divine will and the charge of his father. In every weighty undertaking one must examine and be assured that it do not proceed from selfish motives, but is the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God (Romans 12:2).

2. The time—rest and peace (1 Kings 5:4). A time of peace is the time for building in general, but especially for building houses of God, which are a memorial of thanksgiving for the blessings of peace and prosperity.

3. The request for assistance (1 Kings 5:6). In important undertakings which are agreeable to the will of God and propose his honour, we may and should not hesitate to trust in Him. Who directs men’s hearts, to ask others for aid and assistance.—Lange.

1 Kings 5:4. National peace.

1. A blessing from God to be gratefully acknowledged.
2. The most favourable period for carrying out great undertakings.
3. Gives greater weight and influence in negotiating with other nations.
4. Is conducive to the free and healthy development of the best qualities of the people.
5. Is an emblematic representation of the universal peace to be.

—“So that there is neither adversary.” The Vulgate hath it. Non est Satan. We use to say, seldom lieth the Devil dead in a ditch. He is the troublous one, and delighteth to hinder anything that is good; but at this time God had chained him up, and Solomon had nothing to hinder him. “The Lord is with you whilst ye are with Him,” saith one prophet (2 Chronicles 15:2). “And the Lord will be with the good,” saith another (2 Chronicles 19:11).—Trapp. Satan doth all he can to hinder temple-work (1 Thessalonians 2:18; Zechariah 3:1); but when he is bound (Revelation 20:2) we should be busy.

1 Kings 5:5. A dutiful Song of Song of Solomon 1:0. Cherishes the memory;

2. Maintains the reputation; and
3. Executes the wishes of his deceased parent.

—“I purpose to build a house unto the name of the Lord my God.” There is no building of the ancient world which has excited so much attention since the time of its destruction, as the temple which Solomon built at Jerusalem, and its successor as rebuilt by Herod. Its spoils were considered worthy of forming the principal illustration of one of the most beautiful of Roman triumphal arches; and Justinian’s highest architectural ambition was, that he might surpass it. Throughout the middle ages it influenced to a considerable degree the forms of Christian churches, and its peculiarities were the watchwords and rallying points of all associations of builders. Since the revival of learning in the sixteenth century, its arrangements have employed the pens of many learned antiquarians, and architects of several countries have taxed their science in trying to reproduce its forms. But it is not only to Christians that the temple of Solomon is so interesting; the whole Mohammedan world look to it as the foundation of all architectural knowledge, and the Jews still recall its glories, and sigh over their loss with a constant tenacity unmatched by that of any other people to any other building of the ancient world.—Smith’s Dictionary.

—If it cannot come into the mind of every one to build a house of wood and stone unto the Lord, nevertheless, every one to whom God has given wife and children is in a condition to vow and to build a house unto the Lord out of living stones. I and my house will serve the Lord (Joshua 24:15). Israel knew not how to plan great buildings, especially works of art, but they did know how to serve the living God. Better to live without art than without God in the world.—Lange.

1 Kings 5:6. The cedars of Lebanon are the most celebrated of all the trees of Scripture, the monarchs of the vegetable kingdom. The prophets refer to them as emblems of greatness, majesty, and splendour. Ezekiel (chap, 31) presents us with a most graphic description of their grandeur and beauty when he makes them representatives of the Assyrian power and glory. The wood was used for beams, pillars, boards, masts of ships, and carved images. Not only did David and Solomon import it for their building purposes, but the king of Assyria and Persia, and, perhaps, of other nations, did the same. The modern cedar of Lebanon is usually from fifty to eighty feet high, and often covers with its branches, when standing alone, a space the diameter of which is greater than the height of the tree. It is an evergreen, and its leaves are produced in tufts. Its branches, disposed in layers, spread out horizontally, and form, as they approach the top, a thick pyramidal head. The profane writers represent the cedar wood as specially noted for its durability, and the cedar roof of the great temple of Diana at Ephesus is said to have lasted four hundred years.

1 Kings 5:7-12 (See also 2 Chronicles 2:11-16). Hiram and Solomon.

1. Gratification. Hiram “rejoiced greatly” when he heard the words of King Solomon. This arose partly from the love he bore to his father David; we are always attracted to them who are loved by those whom we love. “For David’s sake”—the principle of substitution is every where to be seen in human life. An illustration in support of the doctrine of justification by faith. The gratification of Hiram sprang also from a recognition of Solomon’s wisdom: gratification in another’s good.

2. Consideration (1 Kings 5:8). The demand of Solomon was no small one, and deserved consideration. It involved, in all probability, a great sacrifice on the part of the Tyrians. It is true that in the eleventh verse we are told that “Solomon gave,” &c., yet that was for his household, or servants who were engaged in work for Solomon’s own benefit. How would this great sacrifice affect Hiram’s subjects? Would they be willing to give to the people of another nation so much of their property, and especially for the erection of a temple for the worship of (to them) a strange deity? All these things Hiram must have taken into consideration. Most of the mischief of life is the result of a want of thought and consideration. “Evil is wrought by want of thought, as well as want of heart.”

2. Satisfaction. “All his desire” (1 Kings 5:10). There was not one thing which Solomon asked, which Hiram did not grant. It is not right to ask or expect unreasonable things. It is right to grant reasonable requests, even if they should occasion sacrifice; unreasonable requests should not be granted, even if it should be more easy to do so than to refuse.

4. Recognition. “Endued with understanding” (2 Chronicles 2:13). Knowledge, genius, skill, are of heavenly birth, and to despise them is to be guilty of a sin.

5. Combination. Solomon and Hiram were not independent of each other. No one can serve God properly in isolation: “Two are better far than one,” &c. Query, Have Christians a right to remain detached from the church of Christ?

6. Distribution. (See 2 Chronicles 2:16.) Each did the part allotted to him; the result was success.—F. Wagstaff.

1 Kings 5:7. It proves a noble heart when a man, free from envy and jealousy, sincerely praises and thanks God for the gifts and blessings which He grants to others. When God wishes well to a nation He bestows upon it godly rulers; but when He wills to chastise it He removes them. Hiram praises God that He bestows upon another people a wise monarch: how much more should that people itself thank God, since He bestowed upon it a wise and pious king?

1 Kings 5:7-10; 1 Kings 5:10. The heathen king Hiram.

1. His rejoicing over Solomon and his undertaking.
2. His praise of the God of Israel.
3. His willingness to help. How far stands this heathen above so many who call themselves Christians!—Lange.

1 Kings 5:12. Kingly Wisdom

1. Is a divine gift.

2. Is honourably employed in cultivating peaceful relations with neighbouring kingdoms.
3. Encourages a prosperous commerce.
4. Promotes the best social interests of the people.
5. Conserves and extends the religious life of the church.

The league between Solomon and Hiram.

1. Its object—a good God-pleasing work begun in the service of God. Like kings and nations, even so individual men should unite only for such purposes.

2. Its conditions—each gave to the other according to his desire; neither sought to overreach the other; the compact was based upon honesty and fairness, not upon cunning and selfishness. Only upon such compacts does the blessing of God rest, for unjust possessions do not prosper.—Lange.

1 Kings 5:13-18. The workmen at the temple building.

1. Israelites. Solomon acted not like Pharaoh (Exodus 2:23). He laid no insupportable burdens upon his people, but permits variety in the work, and Israel itself undertakes it without murmurs or complaints. How high do those Israelites stand above so many Christian communities, who constantly object or murmur when they are about to undertake any labour for their temple, or must needs bring a sacrifice of mercy or time!

2. Heathen (Psalms 22:29). Jew and heathen together must build the temple of God, according to divine decree—a prophetic anticipation of fact as set forth Ephesians 2:14; Ephesians 2:19-22; Ephesians 3:4-6. The great preparations of Solomon must naturally remind us of the far greater preparations and arrangements which God has made for the building of the spiritual temple of the New Testament. How many thousand faithful labourers, how many wise and good men, has he placed in every known part of the world: how has he furnished them with wisdom and many other gifts of the Spirit, so that the great work of the glorious building may be completed!—Lange.

1 Kings 5:17. “And they brought costly stones to lay the foundation.” Now is the foundation laid, and the walls rising of that glorious fabric which all nations admired, and all times have celebrated. Even those stones which were laid in the base of the building were not ragged and rude, but hewn and costly: the part that lies covered with earth from the eyes of all beholders is no less precious than those that are more conspicuous. God is not all for the eye: He pleaseth Himself with the hidden value of the living stones of His spiritual temple. How many noble graces of His servants have been buried by obscurity! not discerned so much as by their own eyes! which yet as He gave, so He crowneth. Hypocrites regard nothing but show; God nothing but truth.—Bp. Hall.

Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on 1 Kings 5". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/phc/1-kings-5.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.
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