We have come to the end of David’s story. These last two chapters of 1 Chronicles bring us David’s final instructions to the leaders of Israel and to his son Solomon who will succeed him. The reading begins as David called all the leaders to Jerusalem. He gave them a brief history of wanting to build the temple himself and the Lord saying no. Because of that, David made it his mission to amass as many of the materials needed for the construction of the temple as he could. We will look at what he amassed in just a bit. David also spoke of how God had chosen him as a king. God chose the tribe of Judah first and then the family of Jesse, David’s father. From there you recall the account of Samuel going to Bethlehem to anoint the next king. We read how Jesse lined up seven of his sons for Samuel to choose from and none of them had the heart the Lord was looking for. When Samuel asked if Jesse had any other sons they scoffed. There was one more, but he was in the field keeping watch over the sheep. He was still young. Samuel waited patiently as David was brought to him and the Lord told Samuel…this is the one I want you to anoint. And so, the youngest of Jesse’s sons was anointed king.
In this telling by King David, we read that the Lord revealed to David that Solomon was to succeed him on the throne. This is the first time we have seen that bit of information. We also see that all of Solomon’s brothers swore their unwavering support to Solomon, but we know that did not happen. David took this opportunity with this gathering of leaders and his son Solomon to remind them that if they followed the Lord’s laws and statutes, commandments, and covenants, they would continue to prosper. But if they failed in this, God would remove Himself from their presence. King David handed over the blueprints for the temple to his son Solomon and shared with him the weights of gold and silver for each article to be used in serving in the temple. And again encouragement, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you…” Solomon is young. We do not know how young but building a temple for the Lord is quite a first undertaking for a new, young, king.
King David made it known that he had been amassing materials needed for the building of the temple and now he revealed just how much he had. We have seen some of the numbers before. David gave of his personal treasure as well. The numbers are staggering. He gave 110 tons of gold, and 260 tons of refined silver. This was his own personal wealth! Then he invited the leaders to give to this temple building project as well. And they gave 190 tons of gold plus 185 pounds, 375 tons of silver, 675 tons of bronze, and 3,750 tons of iron. Plus, countless precious stones. The people rejoiced at the response of their leaders because they had given freely and whole heartedly. And King David rejoiced. King David’s prayer gave all the thanks and praise and glory to the Lord. It is the Lord who has blessed His people with these riches to be able to give in the first place and it is the Lord who has moved in the hearts of the people to give. David’s prayer is really a song of praise to the Lord who is Sovereign, powerful, and exalted.
And again, David questions who he is in the sight of the Lord and who are these people that the Lord might bless them in such mighty ways. He clearly understands who God is and that the people are simply creatures who are to love and serve the Lord. He asks once again that the people would remain steadfast to the Lord and keep their hearts loyal to the Lord. On the second day of this gathering Solomon is once again acknowledged as the king and he is anointed before the Lord and the gathering of the people. All the leaders and David’s other sons pledge their submission to Solomon the king. The Lord highly exalted Solomon in the sight of all Israel and gave him royal splendor the likes of which no one has ever seen before or again. David ruled over Israel 40 years, 7 in Hebron and 33 in Jerusalem. He was not perfect by any means, but he served the Lord with all he had. He asked for forgiveness when he failed. And he accepted the punishment and pruning when it was needed and deserved. He is a good example for us and the way we are to live.
So, a bit about the temple. Temples were the first monumental structures ever built in the ancient world. They were viewed as the abodes of various deities and in the case of Israel, the temple was called the house of God. Temples were designed to be the royal palace of the gods. No other institution in ancient Israel enjoyed the prominence of the Jerusalem temple. It was the heart of the nation’s religious life, as well as the emblem of dynastic rule under Yahweh. The Jerusalem temple built by Solomon could be described symbolically as architecture in the service of declaring God’s kingship on earth. Solomon’s temple was built on the highest place in the city of Jerusalem. It was originally a threshing floor, and it has been identified as Mount Moriah, the place where Abraham went to sacrifice his son Isaac. Solomon hired Phoenician artisans to engineer and build the Jerusalem temple and its architectural design reflects other temple plans in the region. This is called a tripartite plan. The tripartite plan consisted of three courts representing an inward movement from least sacred space to most sacred space. The outer court served as the site of the sacrificial altar. The entrance to the temple was on the east, coming through a porch supported by two pillars. The forecourt opened into a main hall, at the back of which stood the innermost sanctuary. Multistoried side chambers were used as a place to keep offerings, tributes and sometimes they became places for people serving in the temple to stay.
The Jerusalem temple was approximately 165 feet long by 85 feet wide. Rock was quarried into rectangular blocks and dressed offsite. To dress stone means the quarried stones were worked into the shape and size needed for use. Stones such as granite were dressed with an axe because of the hardness of the stone. The faces of the dressed stone would have been smooth and ready to install. This allowed the stones to be delivered to the site and be ready to be put into place. The interior of the temple was paneled with cedar from Lebanon and the inner sanctuary, the Holy of Holies, was overlaid with pure gold from ceiling to floor. There were two free standing cherubim that were 15 feet tall, carved out of olive wood and covered with pure gold. Their outstretched wings spanned the room, creating the seat of a colossal throne. The decorative motifs of the Jerusalem temple were symbols of fertility and abundance with blooming flowers carved into the cedar paneling, embellished with gold. Pomegranate and gourd wreaths were fashioned onto the bronze column capitals. Buds formed the cups of the golden lampstands. They were designed to recall the paradise of the first garden, Eden. The furniture in the temple was modeled after that of the tabernacle the Israelites used in their desert wanderings, but this was on a much grander scale.
The inner sanctuary of Holy of Holies is the point at which Solomon’s temple departs from its ancient Near Eastern counterparts. Where other sanctuaries had niches that housed the god’s idol in order to represent the deity’s presence, the Israelite temple contained no image of the Lord. The ark of the covenant alone served as a symbol of Yahweh’s enthronement over His people. The temple was Yahweh’s palace on earth, the Holy Place was His audience hall, and the Most Holy Place was His throne room.
There may have been a couple of ways the Israelites were like their pagan neighbors but when it came to worshiping the Lord they were set apart, different, holy. They were to worship one God and one God alone. They were called to follow His laws, statutes, commands, and His covenant. To do these things would bring them prosperity and countless blessings. To disobey would mean God would remove His presence from among them and they would be left to fend for themselves against much stronger and fiercer peoples. We are called to be obedient as well. God may not leave us abandoned today but there will be consequences for our actions be they good, bad, or indifferent. Our God is a god of grace but that does not mean we get to live and do whatever we choose. We are still called to live as He would have us live and treat others the way He has taught us. There are still many who do not know the saving grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We have work to do. But we will not have to do it alone because Our God will go with us.
In His Grip
Pastor Matt W