The great work which Solomon was raised up to do was the building of
the temple; his wealth and wisdom were given him to qualify him for
that. In this, especially, he was to be a type of Christ, for "he shall
build the temple of the Lord,"
In this chapter we have an account of the preparations he made for that
and his other buildings. Gold and silver his good father had prepared
in abundance, but timber and stones he must get ready; and about these
we have him treating with Hiram king of Tyre.
I. Hiram congratulated him on his accession to the throne,
1 Kings 5:1.
II. Solomon signified to him his design to build the temple and desired
him to furnish him with workmen,
1 Kings 5:2-6.
III. Hiram agreed to do it,
1 Kings 5:7-9.
IV. Solomon's work was accordingly well done and Hiram's workmen were
1 Kings 5:10-18.
Solomon's Agreement with Hiram.
B. C. 1014.
1 And Hiram king of Tyre sent his servants unto Solomon; for he
had heard that they had anointed him king in the room of his
father: for Hiram was ever a lover of David.
2 And Solomon sent to Hiram, saying,
3 Thou knowest how that David my father could not build an
house unto the name of the LORD his God for the wars which were
about him on every side, until the LORD put them under the soles
of his feet.
4 But now the LORD my God hath given me rest on every side, so
that there is neither adversary nor evil occurrent.
5 And, behold, I purpose to build a house unto the name of the
LORD my God, as the LORD spake unto David my father, saying, Thy
son, whom I will set upon thy throne in thy room, he shall build
a house unto my name.
6 Now therefore command thou that they hew me cedar trees out
of Lebanon; and my servants shall be with thy servants: and unto
thee will I give hire for thy servants according to all that thou
shalt appoint: for thou knowest that there is not among us any
that can skill to hew timber like unto the Sidonians.
7 And it came to pass, when Hiram heard the words of Solomon,
that he rejoiced greatly, and said, Blessed be the LORD this
day, which hath given unto David a wise son over this great
8 And Hiram sent to Solomon, saying, I have considered the
things which thou sentest to me for: and I will do all thy
desire concerning timber of cedar, and concerning timber of fir.
9 My servants shall bring them down from Lebanon unto the
sea: and I will convey them by sea in floats unto the place that
thou shalt appoint me, and will cause them to be discharged
there, and thou shalt receive them: and thou shalt accomplish
my desire, in giving food for my household.
We have here an account of the amicable correspondence between Solomon
and Hiram. Tyre was a famous trading city, that lay close upon the sea,
in the border of Israel; its inhabitants (as should seem) were none of
the devoted nations, nor ever at enmity with Israel, and therefore
David never offered to destroy them, but lived in friendship with them.
It is here said of Hiram their king that he was ever a lover of
David; and we have reason to think he was a worshipper of the true
God, and had himself renounced, though he could not reform, the
idolatry of his city. David's character will win the affections even of
those that are without. Here is,
I. Hiram's embassy of compliment to Solomon,
1 Kings 5:1.
He sent, as is usual among princes, to condole with him on the death of
David, and to renew his alliances with him upon his succession to the
government. It is good keeping up friendship and communion with the
families in which religion is uppermost.
II. Solomon's embassy of business to Hiram, sent, it is likely, by
messengers of his own. In wealth, honour, and power, Hiram was very
much inferior to Solomon, yet Solomon had occasion to be beholden to
him and begged his favour. Let us never look with disdain on those
below us, because we know not how soon we may need them. Solomon, in
his letter to Hiram, acquaints him,
1. With his design to build a temple to the honour of God. Some think
that temples among the heathen took their first rise and copy from the
tabernacle which Moses erected in the wilderness, and that there were
none before that; however there were many houses built in honour of the
false gods before this was built in honour of the God of Israel, so
little is external splendour a mark of the true church. Solomon tells
Hiram, who was himself no stranger to the affair,
(1.) That David's wars were an obstruction to him, that he could not
build this temple, though he designed it,
1 Kings 5:3.
They took up much of his time, and thoughts, and cares, were a constant
expense to him and a constant employment of his subjects; so that he
could not do it so well as it must be done, and therefore, it not being
essential to religion, he must leave it to be done by his successor.
See what need we have to pray that God will give peace in our
time, because, in time or war, the building of the gospel temple
commonly goes on slowly.
(2.) That peace gave him an opportunity to build it, and therefore he
resolved to set about it immediately: God has given me rest both
at home and abroad, and there is no adversary
(1 Kings 5:4),
no Satan (so the word is), no instrument of Satan to oppose it,
or to divert us from it. Satan does all he can to hinder temple work
(1 Thessalonians 2:18,Zec+3:1),
but when he is bound
we should be busy. When there is no evil occurrent, then let us
be vigorous and zealous in that which is good and get it forward. When
the churches have rest let them be edified,
Days of peace and prosperity present us with a fair gale, which we must
account for if we improve not. As God's providence excited Solomon to
think of building the temple, by giving him wealth and leisure, so his
promise encouraged him. God had told David that his son should build
him a house,
1 Kings 5:5.
He will take it as a pleasure to be thus employed, and will not lose
the honour designed him by that promise. It may stir us up much to
good undertakings to be assured of good success in them. Let God's
promise quicken our endeavours.
2. With his desire that Hiram would assist him herein. Lebanon was the
place whence timber must be had, a noble forest in the north of Canaan,
particularly expressed in the grant of that land to Israel--all
So that Solomon was proprietor of all its productions. The cedars of
Lebanon are spoken of as, in a special manner, the planting of
being designed for Israel's use and particularly for temple service.
But Solomon owned that though the trees were his the Israelites had not
skill to hew timber like the Sidonians, who were Hiram's
subjects. Canaan was a land of wheat and barley
which employed Israel in the affairs of husbandry, so that they were
not at all versed in manufactures: in them the Sidonians excelled.
Israel, in the things of God, are a wise and understanding
people; and yet, in curious arts, inferior to their neighbours.
True piety is a much more valuable gift of heaven than the highest
degree of ingenuity. Better be an Israelite skilful in the law than a
Sidonian skilful to hew timber. But, the case being thus, Solomon
courts Hiram to send him workmen, and promises
(1 Kings 5:6)
both to assist them (my servants shall be with thy
servants, to work under them), and to pay them (unto thee
will I give hire for thy servants); for the labourer, even in
church-work, though it be indeed its own wages, is worthy of his
hire, The evangelical prophet, foretelling the glory of the church
in the days of the Messiah, seems to allude to this story,
where he prophesies,
(1.) That the sons of strangers (such were the Tyrians and
Sidonians) shall build up the wall of the gospel temple,
Ministers were raised up among the Gentiles for the edifying of the
body of Christ.
(2.) That the glory of Lebanon shall be brought to it to
All external endowments and advantages shall be made serviceable to the
interests of Christ's kingdom.
3. Hiram's reception of, and return to, this message.
(1.) He received it with great satisfaction to himself: He rejoiced
(1 Kings 5:7)
that Solomon trod in his father's steps, and carried on his designs,
and was likely to be so great a blessing to his kingdom. In this
Hiram's generous spirit rejoiced, and not merely in the prospect he had
of making an advantage to himself by Solomon's employing him. What he
had the pleasure of he gave God the praise of: Blessed be the Lord,
who has given to David (who was himself a wise man) a wise
son to rule over this great people. See here,
[1.] With what pleasure Hiram speaks of Solomon's wisdom and the extent
of his dominion. Let us learn not to envy others either those secular
advantages or those endowments of the mind wherein they excel us. What
a great comfort it is to those that wish well to the Israel of God to
see religion and wisdom kept up in families from one generation to
another, especially in great families and those that have great
influence on others! where it is so, God must have the glory of it. If
to godly parents be given a godly seed
it is a token for good, and a happy indication that the entail of the
blessing shall not be cut off.
(2.) He answered it with great satisfaction to Solomon, granting him
what he desired, and showing himself very forward to assist him in this
great and good work to which he was laying his hand. We have here his
articles of agreement with Solomon concerning this affair, in which we
may observe Hiram's prudence.
[1.] He deliberated upon the proposal, before he returned an answer
(1 Kings 5:8):
I have considered the things. It is common for those that make
bargains rashly afterwards to wish them unmade again. The virtuous
woman considers a field and then buys it,
Those do not lose time who take time to consider.
[2.] He descended to particulars in the articles, that there might be
no misunderstanding afterwards, to occasion a quarrel. Solomon had
spoken of hewing the trees
(1 Kings 5:6),
and Hiram agrees to what he desired concerning that
(1 Kings 5:8);
but nothing had been said concerning carriage, and this matter
therefore must be settled. Land-carriage would be very troublesome and
chargeable; he therefore undertakes to bring all the timber down from
Lebanon by sea, a coasting voyage. Conveyance by water is a great
convenience to trade, for which God is to have praise, who taught man
that discretion. Observe what a definite bargain Hiram made. Solomon
must appoint the place where the timber shall be delivered, and thither
Hiram will undertake to bring it and be responsible for its safety. As
the Sidonians excelled the Israelites in timber-work, so they did in
sailing; for Tyre and Sidon were situate at the entry of the sea
they therefore were fittest to take care of the water-carriage.
Tractant fabrilia fabri--Every artist has his trade assigned.
[3.] If Hiram undertake for the work, and do all Solomon's desire
concerning the timber
(1 Kings 5:8),
he justly expects that Solomon shall undertake for the wages: "Thou
shalt accomplish my desire in giving food for my household
(1 Kings 5:9),
not only for the workmen, but for my own family." If Tyre supply Israel
with craftsmen, Israel will supply Tyre with corn,
Thus, by the wise disposal of Providence, one country has need of
another and is benefited by another, that there may be mutual
correspondence and dependence, to the glory of God our common
10 So Hiram gave Solomon cedar trees and fir trees according
to all his desire.
11 And Solomon gave Hiram twenty thousand measures of wheat
for food to his household, and twenty measures of pure oil:
thus gave Solomon to Hiram year by year.
12 And the LORD gave Solomon wisdom, as he promised him: and
there was peace between Hiram and Solomon; and they two made a
13 And king Solomon raised a levy out of all Israel; and the
levy was thirty thousand men.
14 And he sent them to Lebanon, ten thousand a month by
courses: a month they were in Lebanon, and two months at home:
and Adoniram was over the levy.
15 And Solomon had threescore and ten thousand that bare
burdens, and fourscore thousand hewers in the mountains;
16 Beside the chief of Solomon's officers which were over the
work, three thousand and three hundred, which ruled over the
people that wrought in the work.
17 And the king commanded, and they brought great stones,
costly stones, and hewed stones, to lay the foundation of the
18 And Solomon's builders and Hiram's builders did hew them,
and the stonesquarers: so they prepared timber and stones to
build the house.
I. The performance of the agreement between Solomon and Hiram. Each of
the parties made good his engagement.
1. Hiram delivered Solomon the timber, according to his bargain,
1 Kings 5:10.
The trees were Solomon's, but perhaps--Materiam superabat opus--The
workmanship was of more value than the article. Hiram is therefore
said to deliver the trees.
2. Solomon conveyed to Hiram the corn which he had promised him,
1 Kings 5:11.
Thus let justice be followed (as the expression is,
justice on both sides, in every bargain.
II. The confirmation of the friendship that was between them hereby.
God gave Solomon wisdom
(1 Kings 5:12),
which was more and better than any thing Hiram did or could give him;
but this made Hiram love him, and enabled Solomon to improve his
kindness, so that they were both willing to ripen their mutual love
into a mutual league, that it might be lasting. It is wisdom to
strengthen our friendship with those whom we find to be honest and
fair, lest new friends prove not so firm and so kind as old ones.
III. The labourers whom Solomon employed in preparing materials for the
1. Some were Israelites, who were employed in the more easy and
honourable part of the work, felling trees and helping to square them,
in conjunction with Hiram's servants; for this he appointed 30,000, but
employed only 10,000 at a time, so that for one month's work they had
two months' vacation, both for rest and for the despatch of their own
affairs at home,
1 Kings 5:13,14.
It was temple service, yet Solomon takes care that they shall not be
over-worked. Great men ought to consider that their servants must rest
as well as they.
2. Others were captives of other nations, who were to bear burdens and
to hew stone
(1 Kings 5:15),
and we read not that these had their resting times as the other had,
for they were doomed to servitude.
3. There were some employed as directors and overseers
(1 Kings 5:16),
3300 that ruled over the people, and they were as necessary and useful
in their place as the labourers in theirs; here were many hands and
many eyes employed, for preparation was now to be made, not only for
the temple, but for all the rest of Solomon's buildings, at Jerusalem,
and here in the forest of Lebanon, and in other places of his dominion,
of which see
1 Kings 9:17-19.
He speaks of the vastness of his undertakings
I made me great works), which required this vast number of
IV. The laying of the foundation of the temple; for that is the
building his heart is chiefly upon, and therefore he begins with that,
1 Kings 5:17,18.
It should seem, Solomon was himself present, and president, at the
founding of the temple, and that the first stone (as has been usual in
famous buildings) was laid with some solemnity. Solomon commanded
and they brought costly stones for the foundation; he would do
every thing like himself, generously, and therefore would have some of
the costliest stones laid, or buried rather, in the foundation, though,
being out of sight, worse might have served. Christ, who is laid for a
foundation, is an elect and precious stone
and the foundations of the church are said to be laid with
That sincerity which is our gospel perfection obliges us to lay our
foundation firm and to bestow most pains on that part of our religion
which lies out of the sight of men.
Matthew Henry "Verse by Verse Commentary for '1 Kings' Matthew Henry Bible Commentary".