<< 1 Kings 6:7 : The Building of the Temple of Solomon >>
“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 too of iron heard in the house, while it was in building.” -I KINGS vi. 7.
THE whole universe is the Temple of the Lord; the sublime outbirth and the dwelling-place of His infinite Love and Wisdom. His wisdom made the heavens: their movements are from the pulsations of His Love. The Lord hath prepared His throne in the heavens: and His kingdom ruleth over all. Bless the Lord, all His works in all places of His dominion: bless the Lord, O my soul. (Ps. ciii. 19, 22.)
Were men in true harmony with the Divine Being they would see and feel His majesty, truth, and tenderness all around them, for “in Him we live and move and have our being.” But only as men become like God do they see God in all things, and perceive His Love encircling them in every object great and small, for “whatsoever the Lord pleases, that does He in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places.” Yet only when men themselves have become regenerated, and, dwell in love, do they really know by experience that divine love is expressing itself in every object, and in each event. They then taste and see that the Lord is good, and are certain that the man is blessed that trusteth in Him. Each discovery one makes that the earth is full of the goodness of the Lord, comes like a voice from our Saviour repeating the tender remonstrance He uttered to Philip, “Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me ;” I was with thee when thou wast fearfully and wonderfully made in thy creation. I was with thee in thy mother’s love, and thy father’s care. I was with thee in all thy joys and thy sorrows, thy waywardness, thy pains, and thy penitence. Surely goodness and mercy have followed thee all the days of thy life; and thou shalt dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
To reveal what man must become to be attuned to the harmony and bliss of the universe, and thus by Divine aid build himself up for heaven, the pattern of heavenly things was shewn to Moses in the Mount, and it was enjoined upon him that he should make a tabernacle, and all instruments suitable for worship exactly according to the pattern there exhibited. “Look that thou make them after their pattern, which was shewed thee in the Mount.” (Ex. Xxv. 40.)
The temple was a still more complete and full pattern of the constitution of heaven; and because it was a likeness of heaven, it was also a pattern for the church, which is the Lord’s heaven among men, and likewise a pattern for a heavenly human mind, for this is a heaven in its least form. For all, then, who desire to become heavenly, the study of the Temple as the model of order amongst heavenly things, both amongst angels and men, may well become an object of meditation and earnest thought.
‘The divine direction was not only given to Solomon to build the Temple, for which David had stored up many of the materials, but it was expressly said, “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: and I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will not forsake my people Israel.” During the days of the typical church it would be the Lord’s peculiar dwelling-place among them,-the centre of protection and blessing. There they should adore the Lord, and ask from Him direction and guidance in the things belonging to their peace, and there He would fulfil His gracious promise, ” I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy-seat, from between the two cherubim which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment.” (Ex. Xxv. 22.)
The temple at Jerusalem was the visible sign and symbol of that still more glorious and celestial building. THE CHURCH, which in due time would be formed among men, and of which the apostle. speaks when He says, “Now, therefore, ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but, fellow-citizens with the saints and with the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone: in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto a holy temple, in the Lord: in whom also ye are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. (Eph. ii. 19, 22). And, again, “Know ye not that ye are the Temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you. If any man defile the Temple of God, him will God destroy: for the Temple of God is holy, which Temple, ye are.” (I Cor. iii. 16, 17).
The Temple was very moderate in dimension. A building thirty yards long, ten broad, and fifteen high can only be considered modest in relation to the wonderful structures of ancient and great numbers of those of modern times; but it was magnificent in the richness of its materials and above all in the divine order and arrangement of all its parts, to represent perfectly the order of heaven: and the church. Every part was full of significance, and spoke of heaven. This will equally appear if we consider the general configuration of the temple and also the materials of which it was constructed.
The temple was threefold in all its proportions. There were the Holy of holies, the Holy place and the Porch. Inside the temple there were three galleries on three sides, one rising above the other, each gallery being wider than the one below it, the higher jutting over the lower, being supported by three rows of pillars, each row increasing in height towards the outside, and the lowest gallery front within the temple resting on cedar pilasters or half-pillars. The galleries were filled with small chambers. The chambers of each upper gallery being larger than those of the gallery beneath. The lower gallery was five cubits in width, the middle six, and the highest seven.
The temple was surrounded on all sides but the front with three rows of pillars, forming three passages between them all round, for exercise and meditation.
This general description can hardly fail to exhibit to the thoughtful Christian that the heavenly world represented by this temple with its three galleries has three grand degrees in it, the lowest heaven, the middle, and the highest, called elsewhere the heaven of heavens. The little chambers in each gallery will represent the specific societies in each heaven, for “in our Father’s house there are many mansions.” Variety in harmony is the order of divine works in all things, in the heavens, as well as on the earth, and may we not say on all the earths of the universe.. “Each star differeth from each other star in glory.” The number FIVE is used in Scripture when things of small value are treated of, and was the measure of the width of the lowest gallery: the number SIX, derived from the six days of labour, represents the attainments of the spiritual man, which are of great value, but have something of labour associated with them; while the number SEVEN, the width in cubits of the highest gallery, reminds us of the day of rest, and is expressive of the celestial state, the state of the perfect angel; the state of full peace enjoyed by those who are more than conquerors through Him that loved them. The number seven is also the Hebrew word for perfect. The uppermost gallery was ordained to be seven cubits in width, because it represented the highest heaven, and the perfection in love of the angels who are there.
The temple was wider as it became higher. (1 Kingsvi. 6. Ezek. xli. 7). And, this was to denote doubtless the greater power and the influence of the angels, as they belong to higher states in the regenerate life, and so possess the higher homes of the blessed. The angels of obedience who inhabit the lower courts of our Heavenly Father are happy to the utmost of their power of reception, and their ministering influence is employed by the Lord to sustain the virtue of novitiates who have been won from darkness to light, for there is joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth. But the angels of light have a wider vocation and a vaster power. They awaken the intellect, and extend the view. They scatter doubts and allay fears, as ministers of the blessed Saviour. They aid the “children of the light,” to see the Word in its inner beauty, and from them flashes many a gleam of brightness into the hours of gloom and sorrow. They enable the soul to realize the gracious words, ” Unto the upright there ariseth a light in the darkness.”
But, above all are the ANGELS OF LOVE. These have passed through much tribulation and the deepest states of self-denial, and received from the Lord Jesus the holiest likeness of Himself. They are meek and lowly, from Him, the meekest and the lowliest. They have sought to be lambs from the innocence of the Lamb of God, and their gentle spheres enter more deeply, and affect more widely than any other order of angelic being, and to represent this the upper gallery of the temple was the widest of all.
A similar order exists in the church on earth. The discerning eye can easily discriminate and delineate three great classes of Christians. There are nicer shades innumerable, for there are no two souls alike. But, just as we distinguish between the three kingdoms of nature markedly enough, although on their confines they shade off one into the other, by almost imperceptible lines so can we perceive three definite stages of the regenerate life: and three well-defined groups of Christians. There are men of the letter of the Word, men of the Spirit of the Word and men of deep humility and holy love. These latter who have passed through the former grades of the Christian life and been tried and found faithful again and again, acquire a maturity and gentleness, which affects sometimes a whole generation, and many a generation for good. Like the scented violet, their fragrance fills the air, though they themselves are little seen. They are celestial babes and sucklings, whose youth is renewed like the eagles (Psa. ciii. 3). They be like John, near to the Redeemer’s breast, and like him, they dwell in love, and are beloved.
The three materials of which the temple was chiefly constructed were, stones for the foundations and the walls, cedar wood for wainscotting and covering the stone within (v. 14-18), and gold plates with which the whole interior of the house was covered -floor, walls, and ceiling alike (v. 22).
The appearance of the temple within must have been indeed magnificent, and its costliness when erected, was truly a mark of the devotion of both king and people. This also was representative Gold, the best of metals, the purest, most ductile, and most valuable, was the inmost everywhere, because the celestial state of the church is strictly represented, in which love to the Lord is the chief and all pervading principle.
We have treated hitherto of the temple as representing the heavens in general, and the church in general; and indeed the same divine order which prevails in general, prevails in each particular and in every part. But, we must now notice that specifically the temple of Solomon represented the celestial church and the church as its principles exist in a celestially minded man. In such a one the golden spirit of love to the Lord Jesus, derived from Him, is everywhere within. He adores from love, he thinks from love, he acts from love. He heeds continually the gracious words, “I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire that thou mayest be rich.” (Rev. iii. 19.)
The cedar-wood which was laid between the gold and the stone represented rational good. The grand old cedar-trees with their outstretched branches and boughs are the symbol in Scripture of the protective power of the rational mind. The Assyrian was a cedar in Lebanon, it is written, with fair branches, and a shadowing shroud and of a high stature. (Ezek. xxxi, 3.) That keen and reasoning people were thus represented by the cedar, and they became magnificent like those noble trees.
The cedar-wood was everywhere placed underneath the gold to teach us that what love dictates is always truly rational. There is often a great difference between reasoning, and being rational. When a person loves rightly and does rightly, he is truly rational, whether he can give a reason to others or not. He has got the cedar-wood under his gold. He reasons best, who does best, though he may never be able to wrangle. To teach this it was that Solomon sent his hewers, thirty thousand men into Lebanon, with the assent of Hiram the king of Tyre, and obtained abundance of cedar and overlaid the whole of the stone with its wood.
The stones themselves got from the neighbouring mountains by fourscore thousand hewers, are called great stones, costly stones, and hewed stones. They were prepared by exact rule in the mountain quarries probably near at hand, and they fitted so exactly, that in the words of our text, neither hammer, nor axe, nor any tool of iron was heard in the house, while it was in building.
The mountains represent the Divine Love of the Lord in all its manifestations as Creator, Provider, Redeemer, Saviour and Regenerator. Thy righteousness is like the great mountains. (Ps. xxxvi. 6.) I will look to the mountains from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord who made heaven and earth. (Ps. cxxi. 1.) The stones represent the truths of religion, and their being hewed out of the mountains and prepared there for the building, was to be a lesson for ever, that when Christians have arrived at the celestial state they perceive all the truths of religion to be derived from the Love of God. They see the Lord as their Father, their Saviour, their all in all.
Men of celestial love perceive that the truths of religion must be as they are represented. They understand what the Lord Jesus meant when He said, “Let your communication be yea, yea, and nay, nay, Whatsoever is more than this cometh of evil.” The law is written on their hearts, and in building up their Temples, there is no noise heard. They love, they meditate, they build up, and make themselves into living Temples of the Lord. Love thinketh no evil, but thinketh all good, rejoices in the truth. Love knows what Divine Love will do, because the likeness of Divine Love is in itself.
The hammer, axe, and tool of iron are symbols of the Word, which when compared to the spiritual sense is as iron compared to silver. The hammer represents the letter of the Word employed to overcome errors of the will. Hence it is said, Is , not my Word like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces? (Jer. xxiii, 29.) The axe represents the letter of the Word when employed to remove intellectual difficulties, as the woodcutter fells the trees of the forest. The tool of iron represents the sharpened intellect when employed upon smaller faults, and particular errors and the work of these things has been done long before in the regenerate life. Hence they have nothing to do in the celestial state. In former days there was work for hammer to break down-evils in abundance, the axe had often to be brought into play, and of many a corrupt tree it needed to be said; “cut it down why cumbereth it the ground. The chisel had often been required to make the crooked straight and the rough places plain. But now there is no need of that. The soul is at peace. It seeks to be all love, and loving adoration. Nothing ofself mingles in its desire to be wholly the Lord’s. As the stones are made ready in the mountains, as the truths of heaven descend from the Divine Love, it desires no alteration from self-conceit, prejudice, or vain imagination, but with peaceful, quiet, holy readiness it accepts them and builds them up in the soul into a Temple of the Lord. Nothing of mere science in divine things, nothing of the mere letter of the Word need be consulted; the perception that has been attained is enough to bring the headstone of the inner Temple forth with the exulting, the adoring outpouring of the heart. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His Holy Name.
The Oracle or Most Holy place, the central and most sacred object, containing the ark enclosing the tables of the law, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and surrounded by the Mercy-Seat, and the Cherubim, all of’cedar-wood covered with gold, represented the Lord’s inward dwelling-place in man. From this divine abode in the soul the Lord is ever a God at hand, a gracious presence in our hours of joy,and a very present help in trouble. In Him is the Fountain of Life, and in His light we see light. How excellent is thy loving kindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings.
We have considered generally the wonderful structure Solomon was inspired and directed to build; and the heavenly lessons it was intended constantly to represent among men; but there are two additional portions which were striking objects while the Temple stood, and respecting which very minute and copious descriptions are given. These are the two great pillars which supported the vestibule of the Temple, and were called Jachin and Boaz. Jachin, which was the pillar on the right-hand side, signifying in Hebrew, He that make stedfast ; and Boaz, He who is in strength. The right referring to the strength of good in act, the left to the strength of truth.
They were formed of molten copper, and like everything else in three portions. They were hollow, the metal being of the thickness of a handbreadth. The shaft or main portion of each pillar was eighteen cubits high; this was surmounted by another portion five cubits high, surrounded and ornamented with SEVEN strands of network decorated with one hundred figures of pomegranates: over this again was the capital of the column crowning the whole in the shape ofa lily, four cubits high. They were in all, twenty seven cubits in height, and four cubits or six feet in diameter.
Being the prominent objects which would meet the view of everyone about to enter the Temple, they would represent religion as it should present itself in the world. The pillars represent integrity in work and word.
Copper represents the GOOD of a virtuous life. It is the symbol of the external of that religion, in which gold is the symbol of the essence. Where brass occurs in the Old Testament it would be more correctly rendered copper, for the mixture called brass was not at that time known. When the Lord, by the prophet Isaiah, declared that for mere moral virtue he would bring in among men goodness flowing from love to Him, He said, “For copper I will bring gold, and for iron silver.”
The constituents of this religion in daily life, this integrity in deed and word, and we should remember that words are also deeds, and deeds of weighty responsibility, the chief elements are represented by the lily at the top of the column, which our Lord desires us to regard and thus dismiss anxious care. Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, neither do they spin, yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. The network beneath represented the adaptation of means to ends, the busy lacings and weavings of the intellect, while the solid shaft represented the solid integrity of the result. “What doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly.” Let this be always the entire embodiment of thy religion; and thou wilt be like these two pillars in the Temple of thy God,-Jachin and Boaz.
Author: Jonathan Bayley— The Divine Wisdom of the Word of God (1892)