1 Kings 6
In the four hundred and eightieth year after the Israelites came out of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month of Ziv, the second month, he began to build the temple of the Lord.
2 The temple that King Solomon built for the Lord was sixty cubits long, twenty wide and thirty high. 3 The portico at the front of the main hall of the temple extended the width of the temple, that is twenty cubits, and projected ten cubits from the front of the temple. 4 He made narrow windows high up in the temple walls. 5 Against the walls of the main hall and inner sanctuary he built a structure around the building, in which there were side rooms. 6 The lowest floor was five cubits wide, the middle floor six cubits and the third floor seven. He made offset ledges around the outside of the temple so that nothing would be inserted into the temple walls.
7 In building the temple, only blocks dressed at the quarry were used, and no hammer, chisel or any other iron tool was heard at the temple site while it was being built.
8 The entrance to the lowest[h floor was on the south side of the temple; a stairway led up to the middle level and from there to the third. 9 So he built the temple and completed it, roofing it with beams and cedar planks. 10 And he built the side rooms all along the temple. The height of each was five cubits, and they were attached to the temple by beams of cedar.
11 The word of the Lord came to Solomon: 12 ‘As for this temple you are building, if you follow my decrees, observe my laws and keep all my commands and obey them, I will fulfil through you the promise I gave to David your father. 13 And I will live among the Israelites and will not abandon my people Israel.’
14 So Solomon built the temple and completed it. 15 He lined its interior walls with cedar boards, panelling them from the floor of the temple to the ceiling, and covered the floor of the temple with planks of juniper. 16 He partitioned off twenty cubits at the rear of the temple with cedar boards from floor to ceiling to form within the temple an inner sanctuary, the Most Holy Place. 17 The main hall in front of this room was forty cubits[i] long. 18 The inside of the temple was cedar, carved with gourds and open flowers. Everything was cedar; no stone was to be seen.
19 He prepared the inner sanctuary within the temple to set the ark of the covenant of the Lord there. 20 The inner sanctuary was twenty cubits long, twenty wide and twenty high. He overlaid the inside with pure gold, and he also overlaid the altar of cedar. 21 Solomon covered the inside of the temple with pure gold, and he extended gold chains across the front of the inner sanctuary, which was overlaid with gold. 22 So he overlaid the whole interior with gold. He also overlaid with gold the altar that belonged to the inner sanctuary.
23 For the inner sanctuary he made a pair of cherubim out of olive wood, each ten cubits high. 24 One wing of the first cherub was five cubits long, and the other wing five cubits – ten cubits from wing tip to wing tip. 25 The second cherub also measured ten cubits, for the two cherubim were identical in size and shape. 26 The height of each cherub was ten cubits. 27 He placed the cherubim inside the innermost room of the temple, with their wings spread out. The wing of one cherub touched one wall, while the wing of the other touched the other wall, and their wings touched each other in the middle of the room. 28 He overlaid the cherubim with gold.
29 On the walls all round the temple, in both the inner and outer rooms, he carved cherubim, palm trees and open flowers. 30 He also covered the floors of both the inner and outer rooms of the temple with gold.
31 For the entrance to the inner sanctuary he made doors out of olive wood that were one fifth of the width of the sanctuary. 32 And on the two olive-wood doors he carved cherubim, palm trees and open flowers, and overlaid the cherubim and palm trees with hammered gold. 33 In the same way, for the entrance to the main hall he made doorframes out of olive wood that were one quarter of the width of the hall. 34 He also made two doors out of juniper wood, each having two leaves that turned in sockets. 35 He carved cherubim, palm trees and open flowers on them and overlaid them with gold hammered evenly over the carvings.
36 And he built the inner courtyard of three courses of dressed stone and one course of trimmed cedar beams.
37 The foundation of the temple of the Lord was laid in the fourth year, in the month of Ziv. 38 In the eleventh year in the month of Bul, the eighth month, the temple was finished in all its details according to its specifications. He had spent seven years building it.
As I read this description of the temple, I was struck by its size, the detail, the opulence and beauty. This amazing building was built to house the ark of the covenant and was where the presence of God would be. Yet I doubt that it could compare to the beauty of a hummingbird so intricately created by this God who we sometimes think can be contained by manmade structures and ideas.
Then, I think of this incredible temple which was destroyed, rebuilt and destroyed again because the Israelites just wanted to do their own thing, and did not obey God. I contrast that to the beauty of what Jesus did for us on that roughly hewed cross of wood. I am so grateful that the burden of having to try and keep countless laws and continual ritual sacrifices has been removed by Christ’s once and for all sacrifice.
Prayer : Dear Lord, thank You for Jesus and the beauty of that rugged cross. We are sorry for the times when we try and box You into what we think You ought to be. You, O God, are so big that You cannot be contained in our imaginations and boundaries; we are humbled that You reveal Yourself to us through Your Word, through the church, and indeed though the created world and universe around us. Thank You Lord that You dwell in us through Your Holy Spirit. Help us to realise that we should be men and women who live our lives in the light of what You have done for us and, that through that, we should be more beautiful to a fallen world than the temple that Solomon built. Amen.