Great and long preparation had been making for the building of the
temple, and here, at length, comes an account of the building of it; a
noble piece of work it was, one of the wonders of the world, and taking
in its spiritual significancy, one of the glories of the church. Here
I. The time when it was built
(1 Kings 6:1),
and how long it was in the building,
1 Kings 6:37,38.
II. The silence with which it was build,
1 Kings 6:7.
III. The dimensions of it,
1 Kings 6:2,3.
IV. The message God sent to Solomon, when it was in the building,
1 Kings 6:11-13.
V. The particulars: windows
(1 Kings 6:4),
(1 Kings 6:5,6,8-10),
the walls and flooring
(1 Kings 6:15-18),
(1 Kings 6:19-22),
(1 Kings 6:23-30),
(1 Kings 6:31-35),
and the inner court,
1 Kings 6:36.
Many learned men have well bestowed their pains in expounding the
description here given of the temple according to the rules of
architecture, and solving the difficulties which, upon search, they
find in it; but in that matter, having nothing new to offer, we will
not be particular or curious; it was then well understood, and every
man's eyes that saw this glorious structure furnished him with the best
critical exposition of this chapter.
The Building of the Temple.
B. C. 1011.
1 And it came to pass in the four hundred and eightieth year
after the children of Israel were come out of the land of Egypt,
in the fourth year of Solomon's reign over Israel, in the month
Zif, which is the second month, that he began to build the
house of the LORD.
2 And the house which king Solomon built for the LORD, the
length thereof was threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof
twenty cubits, and the height thereof thirty cubits.
3 And the porch before the temple of the house, twenty cubits
was the length thereof, according to the breadth of the house;
and ten cubits was the breadth thereof before the house.
4 And for the house he made windows of narrow lights.
5 And against the wall of the house he built chambers round
about, against the walls of the house round about, both of
the temple and of the oracle: and he made chambers round about:
6 The nethermost chamber was five cubits broad, and the
middle was six cubits broad, and the third was seven cubits
broad: for without in the wall of the house he made narrowed
rests round about, that the beams should not be fastened in the
walls of the house.
7 And the house, when it was in building, was built of stone
made ready before it was brought thither: so that there was
neither hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron heard in the house,
while it was in building.
8 The door for the middle chamber was in the right side of
the house: and they went up with winding stairs into the middle
chamber, and out of the middle into the third.
9 So he built the house, and finished it; and covered the house
with beams and boards of cedar.
10 And then he built chambers against all the house, five
cubits high: and they rested on the house with timber of cedar.
I. The temple is called the house of the Lord
(1 Kings 6:1),
because it was,
1. Directed and modelled by him. Infinite Wisdom was the architect, and
gave David the plan or pattern by the Spirit, not by word of mouth
only, but, for the greater certainty and exactness, in writing
(1 Chronicles 28:11,12),
as he had given to Moses in the mouth a draught of the tabernacle.
2. Dedicated and devoted to him and to his honour, to be employed in
his service, so his as never any other house was, for he manifested his
glory in it (so as never in any other) in a way agreeable to that
dispensation; for, when there were carnal ordinances, there was a
This gave it its beauty of holiness, that it was the house of
the Lord, which far transcended all its other beauties.
II. The time when it began to be built is exactly set down.
1. It was just 480 years after the bringing of the children of Israel
out of Egypt. Allowing forty years to Moses, seventeen to Joshua, 299
to the Judges, forty to Eli, forty to Samuel and Saul, forty to David,
and four to Solomon before he began the work, we have just the sum of
480. So long it was after that holy state was founded before that holy
house was built, which, in less than 430 years, was burnt by
Nebuchadnezzar. It was thus deferred because Israel had, by their
sins, rendered themselves unworthy of this honour, and because God
would show how little he values external pomp and splendour in his
service: he was in no haste for a temple. David's tent, which was clean
and convenient, though it was neither stately nor rich, nor, for aught
that appears, ever consecrated, is called the house of the Lord
(2 Samuel 12:20),
and served as well as Solomon's temple; yet, when God gave Solomon
great wealth, he put it into his heart thus to employ it, and
graciously accepted him, chiefly because it was to be a shadow of good
things to come,
2. It was in the fourth year of Solomon's reign, the first three years
being taken up in settling the affairs of his kingdom, that he might
not find any embarrassment from them in this work. It is not time lost
which is spent in composing ourselves for the work of God, and
disentangling ourselves from every thing which might distract or divert
us. During this time he was adding to the preparations which his father
(1 Chronicles 22:14),
hewing the stone, squaring the timber, and getting every thing ready,
so that he is not to be blamed for slackness in deferring it so long.
We are truly serving God when we are preparing for his service and
furnishing ourselves for it.
III. The materials are brought in, ready for their place
(1 Kings 6:7),
so ready that there was neither hammer nor ax heard in the house
while it was in building. In all building Solomon prescribes it as
a rule of prudence to prepare the work in the field, and
But here, it seems, the preparation was more than ordinarily full and
exact, to such a degree that, when the several parts came to be put
together, there was nothing defective to be added, nothing amiss to be
amended. It was to be the temple of God of peace, and therefore no iron
tool must be heard in it. Quietness and silence both become and
befriend religious exercises: God's work should be done with as much
care and as little noise as may be. The temple was thrown down with
axes and hammers, and those that threw it down roared in the midst
of the congregation
but it was built up in silence. Clamour and violence often hinder the
work of God, but never further it.
IV. The dimensions are laid down
(1 Kings 6:2,3)
according to the rules of proportion. Some observe that the length and
breadth were just double to that of the tabernacle. Now that Israel had
grown more numerous the place of their meeting needed to be enlarged
and now that they had grown richer they were the better able to enlarge
it. Where God sows plentifully he expects to reap so.
V. An account of the windows
(1 Kings 6:4):
They were broad within, and narrow without, Marg. Such should
the eyes of our mind be, reflecting nearer on ourselves than on other
people, looking much within, to judge ourselves, but little without, to
censure our brethren. The narrowness of the lights intimated the
darkness of that dispensation, in comparison with the gospel day.
VI. The chambers are described
(1 Kings 6:5,6),
which served as vestries, in which the utensils of the tabernacle were
carefully laid up, and where the priests dressed and undressed
themselves and left the clothes in which they ministered: probably in
some of these chambers they feasted upon the holy things. Solomon was
not so intent upon the magnificence of the house as to neglect the
conveniences that were requisite for the offices thereof, that every
thing might be done decently and in order. Care was taken that the
beams should not be fastened in the walls to weaken them,
1 Kings 6:6.
Let not the church's strength be impaired under pretence of adding to
its beauty or convenience.
11 And the word of the LORD came to Solomon, saying,
12 Concerning this house which thou art in building, if thou
wilt walk in my statutes, and execute my judgments, and keep all
my commandments to walk in them; then will I perform my word with
thee, which I spake unto David thy father:
13 And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will not
forsake my people Israel.
14 So Solomon built the house, and finished it.
I. The word God sent to Solomon, when he was engaged in building the
temple. God let him know that he took notice of what he was doing,
the house he was now building,
1 Kings 6:12.
None employ themselves for God without having his eye upon them. "I
know thy works, thy good works." He assured him that if he would
proceed and persevere in obedience to the divine law, and keep in the
way of duty and the true worship of God, the divine loving-kindness
should be drawn out both to himself (I will perform my word with
thee) and to his kingdom: "Israel shall be ever owned as my people;
I will dwell among them, and not forsake them." This word
God sent him probably by a prophet,
1. That by the promise he might be encouraged and comforted in his
work. Perhaps sometimes the great care, expense, and fatigue of it,
made him ready to wish he had never begun it; but this would help him
through the difficulties of it, that the promised establishment of his
family and kingdom would abundantly recompense all his pains. An eye to
the promise will carry us cheerfully through our work; and those who
wish well to the public will think nothing too much that they can do to
secure and perpetuate to it the tokens of God's presence.
2. That, by the condition annexed, he might be awakened to consider
that though he built the temple ever so strong the glory of it would
soon depart, unless he and his people continued to walk in God's
statutes. God plainly let him know that all this charge which he
and his people were at, in erecting this temple, would neither excuse
them from obedience to the law of God nor shelter them from his
judgments in case of disobedience. Keeping God's commandments is
better, and more pleasing to him, than building churches.
II. The work Solomon did for God: So he built the house
(1 Kings 6:14),
so animated by the message God had sent him, so
admonished not to expect that God should own his building unless he
were obedient to his laws: "Lord, I proceed upon these terms, being
firmly resolved to walk in thy statutes." The strictness of God's
government will never drive a good man from his service, but quicken
him in it. Solomon built and finished, he went on with the work, and
God went along with him till it was completed. It is spoken both to
God's praise and his: he grew not weary of the work, met not with any
did not out-build his property, nor do it by halves, but, having begun
to build, was both able and willing to finish; for he was a wise
15 And he built the walls of the house within with boards of
cedar, both the floor of the house, and the walls of the ceiling:
and he covered them on the inside with wood, and covered the
floor of the house with planks of fir.
16 And he built twenty cubits on the sides of the house, both
the floor and the walls with boards of cedar: he even built
them for it within, even for the oracle, even for the most
17 And the house, that is, the temple before it, was forty
18 And the cedar of the house within was carved with knops
and open flowers: all was cedar; there was no stone seen.
19 And the oracle he prepared in the house within, to set there
the ark of the covenant of the LORD.
20 And the oracle in the forepart was twenty cubits in
length, and twenty cubits in breadth, and twenty cubits in the
height thereof: and he overlaid it with pure gold; and so
covered the altar which was of cedar.
21 So Solomon overlaid the house within with pure gold: and he
made a partition by the chains of gold before the oracle; and he
overlaid it with gold.
22 And the whole house he overlaid with gold, until he had
finished all the house: also the whole altar that was by the
oracle he overlaid with gold.
23 And within the oracle he made two cherubims of olive tree,
each ten cubits high.
24 And five cubits was the one wing of the cherub, and five
cubits the other wing of the cherub: from the uttermost part of
the one wing unto the uttermost part of the other were ten
25 And the other cherub was ten cubits: both the cherubims
were of one measure and one size.
26 The height of the one cherub was ten cubits, and so was
it of the other cherub.
27 And he set the cherubims within the inner house: and they
stretched forth the wings of the cherubims, so that the wing of
the one touched the one wall, and the wing of the other cherub
touched the other wall; and their wings touched one another in
the midst of the house.
28 And he overlaid the cherubims with gold.
29 And he carved all the walls of the house round about with
carved figures of cherubims and palm trees and open flowers,
within and without.
30 And the floor of the house he overlaid with gold, within and
31 And for the entering of the oracle he made doors of olive
tree: the lintel and side posts were a fifth part of the
32 The two doors also were of olive tree; and he carved upon
them carvings of cherubims and palm trees and open flowers, and
overlaid them with gold, and spread gold upon the cherubims,
and upon the palm trees.
33 So also made he for the door of the temple posts of olive
tree, a fourth part of the wall.
34 And the two doors were of fir tree: the two leaves of the
one door were folding, and the two leaves of the other door
35 And he carved thereon cherubims and palm trees and open
flowers: and covered them with gold fitted upon the carved
36 And he built the inner court with three rows of hewed stone,
and a row of cedar beams.
37 In the fourth year was the foundation of the house of the
LORD laid, in the month Zif:
38 And in the eleventh year, in the month Bul, which is the
eighth month, was the house finished throughout all the parts
thereof, and according to all the fashion of it. So was he seven
years in building it.
I. We have a particular account of the details of the building.
1. The wainscot of the temple. It was of cedar
(1 Kings 6:15),
which was strong and durable, and of a very sweet smell. The wainscot
was curiously carved with knops (like eggs or apples) and flowers, no
doubt as the fashion then was,
1 Kings 6:18.
2. The gilding. It was not like ours, washed over, but the whole
house, all the inside of the temple
(1 Kings 6:22),
even the floor
(1 Kings 6:30),
he overlaid with gold, and the most holy place with pure
1 Kings 6:21.
Solomon would spare no expense necessary to make it every way
sumptuous. Gold was under foot there, as it should be in all the living
temples: the abundance of it lessened its worth.
3. The oracle, or speaking-place (for so the word signifies),
the holy of holies, so called because thence God spoke to Moses,
and perhaps to the high priest, when he consulted with the breast-plate
of judgment. In this place the ark of the covenant was to be
1 Kings 6:19.
Solomon made every thing new, and more magnificent than it had been,
except the ark, which was still the same that Moses made, with its
mercy-seat and cherubim; that was the token of God's presence, which is
always the same with his people whether they meet in tent or temple,
and changes not with their condition.
4. The cherubim. Besides those at the ends of the mercy-seat, which
covered the ark,
(1.) Solomon set up two more, very large ones, images of young men (as
some think), with wings made of olive-wood, and all overlaid with gold,
1 Kings 6:23-28,
&c. This most holy place was much larger
than that in the tabernacle, and therefore the ark would have seemed
lost in it, and the dead wall would have been unsightly, if it had not
been thus adorned.
(2.) He carved cherubim upon all the walls of the house,
1 Kings 6:29.
The heathen set up images of their gods and worshipped them; but these
were designed to represent the servants and attendants of the God of
Israel, the holy angels, not to be themselves worshipped (see thou
do it not), but to show how great he is whom we are to worship.
5. The doors. The folding doors that led into the oracle were but a
fifth part of the wall
(1 Kings 6:31),
those into the temple were a fourth part
(1 Kings 6:33);
but both were beautified with cherubim engraven on them,
1 Kings 6:32,35.
6. The inner court, in which the brazen altar was at which the priests
ministered. This was separated from the court where the people were by
a low wall, three rows of hewn stone tipped with a cornice of cedar
(1 Kings 6:36),
that over it the people might see what was done and hear what the
priests said to them; for, even under that dispensation, they were not
kept wholly either in the dark or at a distance.
7. The time spent in this building. It was but seven years and a half
from the founding to the finishing of it,
1 Kings 6:38.
Considering the vastness and elegance of the building, and the many
appurtenances to it which were necessary to fit it for use, it was soon
done. Solomon was in earnest in it, had money enough, had nothing to
divert him from it, and many hands made quick work. He finished it (as
the margin reads it) with all the appurtenances thereof, and with all
the ordinances thereof, not only built the place, but set forward the
work for which it was built.
II. Let us now see what was typified by this temple.
1. Christ is the true temple; he himself spoke of the temple of his
God himself prepared him his body,
In him dwelt the fulness of the Godhead, as the Shechinah
in the temple. In him meet all God's spiritual Israel. Through him we
have access with confidence to God. All the angels of God, those
blessed cherubim, have a charge to worship him.
2. Every believer is a living temple, in whom the Spirit of God dwells,
1 Corinthians 3:16.
Even the body is such by virtue of its union with the soul,
1 Corinthians 6:19.
We are not only wonderfully made by the divine providence, but more
wonderfully made anew by the divine grace. This living temple is built
upon Christ as its foundation and will be perfected in due time.
3. The gospel church is the mystical temple; it grows to a holy
temple in the Lord
enriched and beautified with the gifts and graces of the Spirit, as
Solomon's temple with gold and precious stones. Only Jews built the
tabernacle, but Gentiles joined with them in building the temple. Even
strangers and foreigners are built up a habitation of God,
The temple was divided into the holy place and the most holy, the
courts of it into the outer and inner; so there are the visible and the
invisible church. The door into the temple was wider than that into
the oracle. Many enter into profession that come short of salvation.
This temple is built firm, upon a rock, not to be taken down as the
tabernacle of the Old Testament was. The temple was long in preparing,
but was built at last. The top-stone of the gospel church will, at
length, be brought forth with shoutings, and it is a pity that there
should be the clashing of axes and hammers in the building of it.
Angels are ministering spirits, attending the church on all sides and
all the members of it.
4. Heaven is the everlasting temple. There the church will be fixed,
and no longer movable. The streets of the new Jerusalem, in allusion to
the flooring of the temple, are said to be of pure gold,
The cherubim there always attend the throne of glory. The temple was
uniform, and in heaven there is the perfection of beauty and harmony.
In Solomon's temple there was no noise of axes and hammers. Every
thing is quiet and serene in heaven; all that shall be stones in that
building must in the present sate of probation and preparation be
fitted and made ready for it, must be hewn and squared by divine grace,
and so made meet for a place there.
Matthew Henry "Verse by Verse Commentary for '1 Kings' Matthew Henry Bible Commentary".