1 Kings 5:1 - 8:66


Solomon’s claim to fame was in the building of the Temple.  History has labeled it “Solomon’s Temple,” but it was really meant to be the house of the Lord.  Throughout the history of Israel, the Lord had manifested His presence in the Tabernacle.  This was the place where God had mandated that He be worshiped.  And yet, the Tabernacle was a temporary structure.  It was a tent.  It was portable and could be moved from place to place.  There were several designations for the Tabernacle.


1.         Tabernacle:   Mishkan (Exodus 25:9; Psalm 15:1).  Taken from the Hebrew verb meaning “to dwell.”


Dr. Laird Harris points to a similarity between the structure of the Tabernacle and the layout of the innermost chapel surrounding the sarcophagus in the tomb of Tutankhamen.


·        The sides were portable.

·        They were made of a framework of boards covered with gold and fastened with sliding bolts.

·        A linen curtain was placed over the structure.


2.         Tent of Meeting (Exodus 27:21; 28:43; 29:4-ff; 33:7).


The significance of this title is that the God of the universe has made provision for meeting with man.  The Tabernacle was the one place which this formal approach to God was to be made.


3.         Tent of Testimony (Numbers 9:15; 17:7-8).


The Tabernacle was to serve as a physical testimony to the covenant which God had made with his people.  Its very structure was a living picture of God’s work of redemption in and among His people.  Hebrews 9 takes us on a visual tour through the Tabernacle to show how it illustrates the plan of salvation.  In the same way that the high priest would go once a year into the holy of holies to offer a sacrifice for the sins of the people, so also Jesus went into the presence of God once and for all, offering the sacrifice of His own life in our place.


4.         Sanctuary (Exodus 25:8).

Taken from the Hebrew word meaning, “to sanctify or make holy.”  Because this was a place that was identified with God, it was set apart for that special and exclusive use and to be considered holy unto God.


It is not by chance that the New Testament teaches that God has “tabernacled” with us in the person of Jesus.  Each of these four also have a correlation with the church.



Jesus Christ

The Church

Tabernacle: Dwelling Place

The word became flesh and dwelled among us (John 1:14)

We are the dwelling-place of the Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 6:16)

Tent of Meeting

Jesus is our provision for meeting God

Our fellowship is in Christ (1 John 1:7)

Tent of Testimony

The Tabernacle pointed to the saving work of Jesus

We are to be witnesses of Him (Acts 1:8)

Sanctuary: Holy Place

We enter into the holy presence of God through the blood of Christ (Hebrews 10:19)

We are called to be holy (1 Peter 1:15-16)


David had expressed the desire to build a permanent structure to house those elements of worship contained within the Tabernacle.  But God had told him that it would be left to his son to engage in this work.  Ultimately it is Jesus, the Son of David, who has built an enduring house to the Lord.


Solomon had secured the throne and had established his rule over Israel.  He was now ready to embark upon this work to which he had been called.





Solomon secures the Throne

Solomon’s Wisdom & Wealth

Solomon builds the Temple


Chapters 5-8 shall detail the construction of the Temple from the initial gathering of building supplies to its final dedication.







Preparations for building the Temple

Construction of the Temple

Solomon’s own house

Ornamentation in the Temple

Dedication of the Temple





1.         Construction Materials (5:1-12).


            Now Hiram king of Tyre sent his servants to Solomon, when he heard that they had anointed him king in place of his father, for Hiram had always been a friend of David. (1 Kings 5:1).


To the north of Israel were a series of coastal cities belonging to a sea-going people known as the Phoenicians.  They were known for being world-class merchants and their trading ships plied the Mediterranean, bringing cargo from as far away as England.


Diodorus of Sicily writes in the 1st century B.C. of how the Phoenicians had sailed beyond the Pillars of Hercules to discover a fruitful land across sea with navigable rivers and mountains.


The mountains of Lebanon were renown for their forests of cedar, the great logs of which had been instrumental in building the Phoenician cargo ships.


Hiram of Tyre had sent wood and carpenters to David for the construction of his palace in Jerusalem (2 Samuel 5:11).  Now he offers the same services to Solomon for the building of a Temple.


            So Hiram sent word to Solomon, saying, “I have heard the message which you have sent me; I will do what you desire concerning the cedar and cyprus timber.

            “My servants will bring them down from Lebanon to the sea; and I will make them into rafts to go by sea to the place where you direct me, and I will have them broken up there, and you shall carry them away.  Then you shall accomplish my desire by giving food to my household.” (1 Kings 5:8-9).

Josephus tells us that these letters of correspondence between Solomon and Hiram were still kept in the archives of Tyre in his day (Antiquities 8:2:6).


These barges of wood were transported down the coast to a place where they could be cut apart and the wood hauled overland to Jerusalem.

In return, Solomon entered into a trade agreement with Hiram in which Israel supplied Tyre with wheat and oil; products that grew readily in Israel but which were difficult to grow in the mountains of Lebanon.


2.         Construction Workers (5:13-18).


            Now King Solomon levied forced laborers from all Israel; and the forced laborers numbered 30,000 men.

            And he sent them to Lebanon, 10,000 a month in relays; they were in Lebanon a month and two months at home. (1 Kings 5:13-14).


Solomon established a draft system in which men from all the tribes of Israel were conscripted into a labor force and sent in shifts of 10,000 to work in this construction project.  Each shift stayed one month at a time, so that each man worked for Solomon four months out of each year. The other eight months he worked on his own fields.


            Now Solomon had 70,000 transporters, and 80,000 hewers of stone in the mountains, 16 besides Solomon’s 3,300 chief deputies who were over the project and who ruled over the people who were doing the work. (1 Kings 5:15-16).


According to 2 Chronicles 2:17-18, this secondary force of 70,000 carriers and 80,000 stonecutters were taken from the ranks of non-Israelites who lived in the land.





1.         The Date of its Construction.


            Now it came about in the four hundred and eightieth year after the sons of Israel came out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month of Ziv which is the second month, that he began to build the house of the Lord. (1 Kings 6:1).


This verse provides one of the major evidences for the dating of the Exodus of Israel from Egypt.  Thiele places the end of Solomon’s 40-year reign at 931 B.C.  This would suggest the following chronology:


1447 B.C. - Exodus of Israel from Egypt

971 B.C.   - Beginning of Solomon’s reign

967 B.C.   - 4th Year of Solomon

931 B.C.   - Solomon’s death


The site of the Temple is not mentioned here.  2 Chronicles 3:1 states that it was “in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the Lord had appeared to his father David, at the place that David had prepared, on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite.”  This was the same spot on which Abraham had once been prepared to offer up his son Isaac as a sacrifice (Genesis 22:2).  It was located on a rocky prominence on the north side of the old Jebusite city of Jerusalem.


2.         The Outer Structure (6:2-10).


These measurements are given in cubits.  A cubit was considered to be the distance from a man’s elbow to the tip of his fingers - about 18 inches.  There was also a Royal Cubit which measured an extra inch or two.





Area of the Entire Temple Structure

















Inner Sanctuary


















The dimensions of the Temple were exactly twice the size of the dimensions of the Tabernacle (Exodus 26:15-30).


Dimensions of the Tabernacle




Area of the Entire Tabernacle Structure










Holy of Holies











The Temple was a rather small structure when compared to many of the modern churches of today.  But it was not designed to hold an assembly of people.  The congregation was not supposed to meet within the Temple - they were to direct their worship TOWARD the Temple and the One whose presence was signified therein.  There were also windows in the upper part of the Temple (6:4) as well as storerooms surrounding the Temple.


The main structure was built of stone.  But the stone was not shaped at the construction site.  Each stone was prepared at the place of quarrying so that there was neither hammer nor axe nor any iron tool heard in the house while it was being built (6:7).  One can imagine this structure being raised in a reverent silence.


3.         The Lord’s Promise (6:11-13).


In the midst of this description of the building process, we are given a promise from the Lord.  It is a promise which concerns the Temple which Solomon is building.  It is a conditional promise.  As such, it contains an “if clause” as well as a “then clause.”


a.         The Protasis:   “If you will...

   Walk in My statutes

   Execute My ordinances

   Keep all of My commandments by walking in them


b.         The Apodosis:   “Then I will...”

   Carry out My word with you which I spoke to David your father

   Dwell among the sons of Israel

   Will not forsake My people Israel


This promise provides the central point in a chiastic pivot.  The terms of the covenant which are set forth here are central to the entire construction of the Temple.



The Date of the Beginning of the Work (6:1)



The Outer Structure of the Temple (6:2-10)



The Covenant Conditions (6:11-13)


The Inner Structure of the Temple (6:15-36)


The Date of the Completion of the Work (6:37-38)



Here is the point.  The Temple is only beneficial to the people of God as the people of God are obedient to the terms of the covenant.  When the people of the covenant turn their backs on that covenant, the Temple will become a place of ruin and destruction rather than a place of blessing.


4.         The Inner Structure of the Temple (6:15-36).


a.         The walls:   Lined with cedar.


There are 16 times in the Old Testament when dbr is used to describe the Holy of Holies.  Evidently it is used in the sense of an oracle - a place from which God manifests Himself and makes Himself known.

b.         The Inner Sanctuary.


In verse 16 it is also called “the most holy place” (literally - the “holy of holies”).  When you wish to emphasize something in Hebrew, you do so by means of repetition.  This was the place that was VERY holy.


The Holy of Holies was in the shape of a perfect cube.  The original Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle had been 10 cubits by 10 cubits by 10 cubits (a room 15 feet cubed).  The Holy of Holies in the Temple was twice the size - 20 cubits by 20 cubits by 20 cubits (a room 30 feet cubed).  It is interesting that these are the same proportions of the dimensions given for the New Jerusalem in Revelation 21:16.


Most Holy Place

New Jerusalem

Signified the presence of God

Signifies the Bride - the wife of the Lamb.

Overlaid with pure gold (1 Kings 6:20)

Made of pure gold (Revelation 21:18)

Filled with the glory of God (1 Kings 8:10)

Illuminated by the glory of God (Revelation 21:23)


c.         The Cherubim.


            Also in the inner sanctuary he made two cherubim of olive wood, each ten cubits high. (1 Kings 6:23).


The word “Cherub” is an old word of uncertain origin.  It has been thought to be related to the Akkadian word for “bless or praise.”  Albright believed all of the cherubim to be in the form of sphinxes but there is little actual evidence that this is the case.


There were already statues of two cherubim on the lid of the Ark of the Covenant which faced one another and looked down toward the lid with their wings extended.


The two cherubim in the Temple were much larger - each standing 10 cubits high (15 feet) and looking out toward the worshipers.  Between the two of them, their wings spanned the distance from one wall to its opposite.


Cherubim in the Tabernacle

Cherubim in the Temple

Made of solid gold

Made of olive wood overlaid with gold

Placed on the top of the Ark of the Covenant (smaller size)

Stood on either side of the Ark of the Covenant with their wings over the Ark

Faced one another as they looked toward the mercy seat

They seem to face outward toward the worshipers


d.         The Doors to the Holy of Holies.


            And for the entrance of the inner sanctuary he made doors of olive wood, the lintel and five-sided doorposts.

            So he made two doors of olive wood, and he carved on them carvings of cherubim, palm trees, and open flowers, and overlaid them with gold; and he spread the gold on the cherubim and on the palm trees. (1 Kings 6:31-32).


2 Chronicles 3:14 adds that there was in addition to the doors a great certain of violet, crimson and fine linen which permanently separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the Temple.  Only the high priest on the Day of Atonement was permitted to pass through the veils and into the Holy of Holies.  It was this same veil that was torn from top to bottom on the day that Jesus died.


In the description of the New Jerusalem, we read that its gate shall never be closed (Revelation 21:25).  The way into the throne of God has been made open through the blood of Christ.


5.         The Completion of the Work.


            In the fourth year the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid, in the month of Ziv.

            And in the eleventh year, in the month of Bul, which is the eighth month, the house was finished throughout all its parts and according to all its plans.  So he was seven years in building it. (1 Kings 6:37-38).


Just as the creation of heaven and earth and the rest that followed had taken seven days, so now the work of the building of the Temple took a corresponding seven years.  There is a sense in which the Temple was to serve as a prototype of the earth that served as God’s footstool.





Now Solomon was building his own house thirteen years, and he finished all his house. (1 Kings 7:1).


It would take Solomon almost twice as long to build his palace complex as it had taken to build the temple.  The temple and the palace were included in one large complex and were enclosed within one courtyard (verse 12).   There was no separation between church and state.  Both were recognized as being under the authority of God.  This is important.  The duty of the king was to act on behalf of God as a “minister of God” (Romans 13:4).  He was to walk in God’s ways and, as shepherd of the people, lead them and direct them to God.  As he did this, he was a type of Christ, the Son of David, establishing his rule from Jerusalem and extending that rule outward to the whole earth.





1.         The Pillars of Bronze.


            And he fashioned the two pillars of bronze; eighteen cubits was the height of one pillar, and a line of twelve cubits measured the circumference of both.

            He also made two capitals of molten bronze to set on the tops of the pillars; the height of the one capital was five cubits and the height of the other was five cubits. (1 Kings 7:15-16).


These two bronze pillars were free standing on the porch in front of the entrance to the Temple.  They were topped with the images of flowers and ringed with graven pomegranates, a fruit which symbolized fertility.  The pillars were given specific names.


a.         Jachin:   This was the name of the son of Simeon (Numbers 26:12).  The name means “he shall establish.”


b.         Boaz:   This was the name of the great grandfather of David.  His name means “strength.”


These two names were to serve as a reminder of the fact that it was the strength of God which had established the people of this Temple.


2.         The Sea.


            Now He made the sea of cast metal ten cubits from brim to brim, circular in form, and its height was five cubits, and thirty cubits in circumference. (1 Kings 7:23).


This was a large round basin of water measuring 15 feet across.  It was supported by the bronze statues of 12 oxen, 3 of which faced toward each of the four points of the compass.  This took the place of the laver in the Tabernacle.


The Sea was used by the priests for ceremonial cleansing (2 Chronicles 4:6).  This ritual taught an important lesson - that he who would approach the presence of God must be cleansed from his sins.


·        Paul speaks in Titus 3:5 of the fact that we have been saved by “the washing of regeneration.”  Water baptism pictures our identification with Christ as well as the promise of His cleansing work on our behalf.


·        John’s vision of heaven was one of the Lord sitting on a throne surrounded by a rainbow before “a sea of glass like crystal” (Revelation 4:6).  This sea of cleansing is seen in contrast to the storm-tossed sea out of which rises a series of terrible beasts (Daniel 7:2-3; Revelation 13:1).


3.         The Furniture within the Temple.


            And Solomon made all the furniture which was in the house of the Lord: the golden altar and the golden table on which was the bread of the Presence;  49  and the lampstands, five on the right side and five on the left, in from of the inner sanctuary, of pure gold; and the flowers and the lamps and the tongs, of gold;  50  and the cups and the snuffers and the bowls and the spoons and the firepans, of pure gold; and the hinges both for the doors of the inner house, the most holy place, and for the doors of the house, that is, of the nave, of gold. (1 Kings 7:48-50).


In the Tabernacle, there had been an altar of incense, a single lampstand and a single table of shewbread.  This was now multiplied where appropriate.


a.         The Golden Altar.


This altar was made of wood and overlaid with gold.  It seems to have been of the same design as the one within the original Tabernacle (Exodus 30:1-8).  It measured a single cubit squared and two cubits high.  It was used to burn incense each morning and each evening as well as for the atonement sacrifice once each year on Yom Kippur.


b.         The Golden Table.


2 Chronicles 4:8 tells us that there were 10 golden tables each holding the Bread of the Presence.  There had originally been a single table holding 12 loaves of bread symbolizing the 12 tribes of Israel.  Jesus is The Bread of the Presence.  He is the Bread of Life who is today in the presence of God.


c.         The Golden Lampstands.


Whereas there had originally been a single lampstand in the Tabernacle, now there were ten.  These lampstands were fashioned in the form of trees with oil lamps styled to resemble upturned flowers.


This combination of symbols - the tree of life and the light of the world are combined in the One who was the Light who was the Life of men (John 1:4).





1.         The Ark comes to the Temple (8:1-9).


David had long since brought the Ark to Jerusalem where it continued to reside within a tent.  But now it was time for the Ark to come to a final resting place.


a.         The significance of its coming.


            Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel and all the heads of the tribes, the leaders of the fathers’ households of the sons of Israel, to King Solomon in Jerusalem, to bring up the ark of the covenant of the Lord from the city of David which is Zion. (1 Kings 8:1).


The Ark was the most important artifact in all of Israel.  It symbolized the throne of God.  Bringing the Ark to the Temple was paramount to God’s coronation within His kingdom.  This was a fulfillment of the covanental promise - God had both established the nation and was now fulfilling His promise to be the God of Israel.


b.         The time of its coming.


            And all the men of Israel assembled themselves to King Solomon at the feast, in the month Ethanim, which is the seventh month. (1 Kings 8:2).


The Feast of the seventh month is the Feast of Tabernacles - Succoth, the Feast of Booths.  It is at such a time that the people of Israelites gather to Jerusalem and, for a period of a week, make temporary booths in which they camp as a reminder that there was a time when they were wanderers without a home or a country.


It was appropriate for the Ark to be moved into the Temple at the time of this Feast since the Ark had been a wanderer, residing in a tent for all these years.  But now it was coming home.


The New Testament teaches us that we presently live in an earthly tent (2 Corinthians 5:1).  But there is coming a day when we will also move into a house - not one made with hands, but a dwelling from heaven.


c.         The place of its resting.


            Then the priests brought the ark of the covenant of the Lord to its place, into the inner sanctuary of the house, to the most holy place, under the wings of the cherubim (1 Kings 8:6).


The Ark had the statues of two cherubim affixed to its lid.  Now it was placed between the two much larger statues which stood in the Holy of Holies in the Temple.


            But the poles were so long that the ends of the poles could be seen from the holy place before the inner sanctuary, but they could not be seen from outside; they are there to this day. (1 Kings 8:8).


There were rings affixed to the Ark through which there were poles inserted so that the Ark could be moved without touching it.  The staves, or carrying poles, were not to be removed from the Ark, even when it was immobile (Exodus 25:15).  These poles were so long that they could be seen from a place near the entrance of the Holy of Holies.


d.         The contents of the ark.


            There was nothing in the ark except the two tablets of stone which Moses put there at Horeb, where the Lord made a covenant with the sons of Israel, when they came out of the land of Egypt. (1 Kings 8:9).


The Ark had originally contained Aaron’s rod that budded, a pot of manna in addition to the tablets of stone.  Now only the tablets remained.  They were a written reminder of the covenant into which God had entered with His people.


2.         The Holy Cloud (8:10-11).


            And it came about when the priests came from the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the Lord,  11  so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord. (1 Kings 8:10-11).


This was the same cloud that had led the Israelites through the wilderness.  It was the same cloud that had filled the Tabernacle as the time of its inauguration (Exodus 40:34-35).  This was the cloud which the rabbis called “the Shekinah Glory,” from the Hebrew root meaning “to dwell.”  It signified that God had taken up residence within the Temple, dwelling in the midst of His people.


3.         The Blessing of Solomon (8:12-21).


Solomon blesses the assembly of Israel and he blesses the Lord who has brought the nation into the land.


4.         The Prayer of Solomon (8:22-61).


Solomon’s prayer of dedication recognizes that God cannot be limited to the confines of a temple.


            “But will God indeed dwell on the earth?  Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain Thee, how much less this house which I have built? (1 Kings 8:27).


God does not need a temple; it is the temple that needs God.  The same is true of the church.  God does not need the church - it is the church that needs God.

In building this Temple, Solomon realizes that it is not meant to be a shelter or a house in which God is to live.  Rather, it is to be a place which will provide a local manifestation of the eternal and infinite God of the universe.  To this end, Solomon asks that the prayers which are directed toward this place be heard and answered by the God who is much greater than this place.


            “Thou hast said, ‘My name shall be there,’ to listen to the prayer which Thy servant shall pray toward this place” (8:29).

            “Listen to the supplication of Thy servant and of Thy people Israel, when they pray toward this place; hear Thou in heaven Thy dwelling place; hear and forgive” (8:30).


            “Then hear Thou in heaven and act and judge Thy servants” (8:31).


            “...if they turn to Thee again and confess Thy name and pray and make supplication to Thee in this house” (8:33).


            “Then hear Thou in heaven...” (8:34).


            “...they pray toward this place...” (8:35).


            “Then hear Thou in heaven...” (8:36).


            “Whatever prayer or supplication is made by any man... spreading his hands toward this house” (8:38).


            “Then hear Thou in heaven Thy dwelling place...” (8:39).


            “...when he comes and prays toward this house” (8:42).


            “Hear Thou in heaven Thy dwelling place...” (8:43).


            “...they pray to the Lord toward the city which Thou hast chosen (8:44).


            “Then hear Thou in heaven their prayer...” (8:45).


            “If they return... and pray to Thee toward their land which Thou hast given to their fathers, the city which Thou has chosen, and the house which I have built for Thy name” (8:48).


            “Then hear their prayer and their supplication in heaven Thy dwelling place...” (8:49).


There are seven specific requests made by Solomon in verses 32-53.  The background to these requests are found in the warnings given in Leviticus 26 of cycles of discipline that will fall upon the people of God should they depart from observing His covenant.  These cycles of discipline grow steadily worse, culminating in their being cast out of the land.  Even such a situation is not without hope, for Leviticus 26:40-45 promises that, when they are cast out of the land, if they will repent, then God will hear their prayer and restore them to the land.

Solomon follows the same outline, basing his prayer upon the word of God.



1st Request

That God would judge any who wrongfully make an oath before the altar of the Lord


2nd Request

That God would forgive repentant people when they have been defeated


3rd Request

That God would bring rain when a drought has come because of sin


4th Request

That God would answer prayers in the face of famine and plagues


5th Request

That God would hear their prayers when they go out to battle


6th Request

That God would hear the prayers of those who are in a foreign land and not able to come to the Temple


7th Request

That God would hear the prayers of his people even if they have been taken into captivity in a foreign land because of their persistent disobedience.



About the Author

Return to Stevenson Bible Study Page