We have in this chapter the congratulations of Hiram, king of Tyre, which he sent to Solomon on his accession to the throne, Solomon's answer. Hiram furnisheth timber at Solomon's request to build the temple. An account of Solomon's workmen and laborers for the service.
(1) В¶ 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.
It should seem from what is here said, that Hiram, king of Tyre, was always a lover of David, and that this must have been on account of his religion; or if not on this account, it was the Lord which inclined this man's heart to a regard for David, and so it was David's religion which gave rise to it. When a man's ways please the Lord, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him. Proverbs 16:7.
(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 an 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 an 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.
Solomon's embassy to Hiram being on so important a subject as the building of the temple, every part of it becomes interesting for the pious Reader to regard. Herein Solomon was eminently a type of Jesus, of whom the prophet predicted that he should build the temple of the Lord, and he should bear the glory. Zechariah 6:13. It is worthy of remark that Lebanon was in Solomon's territories, but Hiram's servants were more expert in hewing timber than the Israelites. Now the prophet Isaiah explains this in reference to gospel times. The sons of strangers shall build up thy walls; and their kings shall minister unto thee; that is, unto Jesus. See Isaiah 60:10. And Solomon, as a type of Christ, had the ministry of those servants of Hiram, the men of Tyre and Sidon; and Hiram himself is brought in upon this occasion to minister as an instrument in the Lord's hand to the service of Solomon, in building his temple. But Reader! there is still a greater beauty in the subject considered as typical of the gospel church of Jesus. Oh! Reader! think what sons of strangers in our Gentile church the ministers of Christ are, whom the Lord hath employed to build the walls of his Zion!, may not everyone of this description exclaim, My birth and my nativity is of the land of Canaan; my father was an Amnonite, and my mother an Hittite, See Ezekiel 16:3. Oh! how marvellous and distinguishing is the grace of God! if the Reader be desirous to see more of the beautiful figures made use of concerning Lebanon, etc. I refer him to Isaiah 60:1. throughout.
(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 people. (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.
The Lord disposed the heart, no doubt, of this prince to put an helping hand to so good a work. And as the workman is worthy of his hire, he bargains with Solomon for the food of his household. Jesus our Solomon keeps a good house; and they that wait at the altar are made partakers with the altar. 1 Corinthians 9:13. The place of delivery which Hiram agreed to deposit the timber at, the mouth of Tyre, was the very spot which in after ages became so memorable by our Lord's personal visit, and the exercise of his ministry there. See Matthew 15:21, etc.
(10) В¶ 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 league together. (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.
There is somewhat so truly amiable in the character of Hiram, and particularly as his zeal in this service seems to have been with an eye to the temple, that one cannot help expressing an hope that the league between him and Solomon was founded in Jesus.
(17) And the king commanded, and they brought great stones, costly stones, and hewed stones, to lay the foundation of the house. (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.
It is impossible to behold Solomon laying the foundation stone for the temple without carrying our thoughts to the contemplation of that foundation stone which God hath laid in Zion: a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation. Oh! precious Jesus! thou art indeed a foundation stone, for other foundation can no man lay. Thou art most firm, most durable, most strong, and lasting, even eternal. And as thou art so precious in God my Father's view; so, dearest Lord, be thou everlastingly in mine. On thee hath Jehovah built his church. On thee do I, through his blessed Spirit, build my whole salvation. And as Solomon's builders, and Hiram's builders, did hew and square the stones for the temple, so, blessed Jesus, thou almighty master-builder, (for thou hath chosen and hewn me out of the quarry of nature), do thou polish my soul by regeneration, and rear up a structure of grace in my heart, that I may be an holy temple to the Lord. Ephesians 2:21.
READER! let us pause over what we have read in this chapter, and in the view here afforded us of such workmen as Hiram's servants, behold how striking a representation it bears to numbers in the present day, to whom abilities of nature and of art are given, but to whom perhaps is given no grace! how many possess the ordinary gifts of the Spirit, who know nothing of his gracious work upon the heart! how many minister in holy things, who are yet no partakers in the spirit of holy things! of all the awful scriptures to this amount we meet with in the word of God; none can exceed in terror that declaration of Jesus: Many will say unto me in that day, Lord! Lord! have we not prophesied (that is preached) in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils; (that is perhaps have been made instrumental to others in the delivery of the word of salvation, by which the strong man armed is cast out of the soul) and in thy name done many wonderful works. And what can be more wonderful than to behold sinners awakened and converted through the instrumentality of a preached gospel? And then, saith Jesus, will I profess unto them, "I never knew you:" that is, perhaps never knew them in a way of vital union, their own souls never having been savingly brought into fellowship and communion with the Lord Jesus. Oh! Reader, what an awful consideration, to have been made helpful to the salvation of others, while uninterested for our own. To be daily ministering in the temple without a real connection with the Lord of the temple!
Let us turn our thoughts from the contemplation of a state so dreadfully alarming, to the consideration of the reverse side of the subject, and in the happy, the inexpressibly happy state of the souls built upon the same foundation as the apostles and prophets are, which is the Lord Jesus Christ, the chief corner-stone; look up to our God and Father in Christ Jesus, with an humble hope that he is our portion. Yes! dearest Jesus! I would say for myself, and all thy people, thou art the foundation of all my hopes, all my desires, all my wishes, and all my joys. God, my Father, of his infinite love laid this foundation. On thy glorious person, as the God-man, the whole structure rests; thy blood and righteousness is the grand cement which unites and keeps it eternally together; and in thee the whole building, thy church, which is thy body, fitly framed together, groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord. Come, then, blessed Jesus! carry on, complete, adorn and finish, the work in my soul; let thy mercy be built up forever, and let the top stone of the spiritual building be brought forth with shoutings of grace, grace unto it.