Carpenter's Gallery


What about Solomon?

There is no doubt that Solomon was far from perfect; but was the intended picture of the temple adversely affected by his faults?  Obviously this is a very important question since if Solomon did not produce the temple accurately in accordance with God’s instructions to David, then it becomes unclear what the temple of God really was intended to be.  What does it then mean for me to be the temple of God if I can’t be sure what the temple of God was supposed to be?  Could it be that Solomon’s temple was less than, or different than what God intended it to be? 

First let’s look at I Chronicles 28:6b  where God says to David  “…Solomon thy son, he shall build my house and my courts…”  From this verse we see that Solomon is clearly the one chosen by God to accomplish the building.  

Early on in this book we mentioned how David had received the pattern of the house from God and had passed it on to his son.

“All this, said David, the Lord made me understand in writing by his hand upon me, even all the works of this pattern.”  I Chronicles 28:19

“Then David gave to Solomon his son the pattern…”  I Chronicles 28:11

So Solomon was indeed chosen to build the temple and was given the pattern that came from God. 

We are not told how detailed this pattern was.  Did God specify detailed features such as what to use for decorative carvings and where to place them?  Or did God give only very general broad instructions and entrust Solomon to work out the details in a way that would please God?  In either case, we can be sure that God gave proper instructions for the things that mattered to Him.

II Chronicles 3:3 through 5:1a  begins by stating “Now these are the things wherein Solomon was instructed for the building of the house of God.”  Then the passage goes into quite a list of all the various features of the house.  After each feature listed, over and over again, we see the word “and.”  This indicates that the feature listed was one of the things in the list.  At the end of the long list, we come to “thus all the work that Solomon made for the house of the Lord was finished…”  At first glance one would think that this whole passage explains that Solomon did everything in great detail according to instructions.  However the word “instructed” used in II Chronicles 3:3 actually would be better translated as “founded”.  So I think the word “founded” actually means that Solomon established and constructed the various parts of the temple rather than that he was instructed in all these details of how to build. 

So we return to our question.  Did Solomon build the temple the way God wanted it built?

If we believe that Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon were written by Solomon, and that they were inspired by God, then how can we explain why Solomon would have been any less inspired in the building of the temple?  Why would we think that he rejected the instructions from God that David passed on to him?  The Scriptures give no hint that that was the case. 

Some people think that the temple design was distorted because it had so many features that were different than the tabernacle.  Solomon’s temple indeed had larger dimensions; some different materials were used; there were carvings on the walls; the temple had cherubim statues, pillars, the sea carried by twelve oxen, and the doors.  All of these features were different than the tabernacle.  However, many of the same features can be found in the description of the millennial temple in Ezekiel.  If those features were a perversion, they would not have been repeated as part of the design in Ezekiel.  The tabernacle did not have a porch, however, that feature is specifically mentioned in 

I Chronicles 28 as one of the features that God instructed David to include in the temple.  The features of God’s temple that were different than the tabernacle were done by God’s instructions and/or Solomon was led to build the temple according to God’s intent. 

The tabernacle was designed to be a mobile, temporary place of worship.  You cannot incorporate some types of features into the design of a tent because it is just not realistic to do that.  For example, it would not have been practical for the tabernacle to have a soaring 180 foot tall gold covered porch as an easily mobile structure.  By building a permanent building, God could more fully express what he wanted His place of worship (and we as His temple) to be like.

One feature not mentioned in the list of II Chronicles 3 and 4 are the windows.  However, we do see windows used in the construction of the millennial temple.  (Ez 41:16)  Why would windows be okay in the millennial temple if they were not okay in Solomon’s temple? The tabernacle did not have windows, however, think about where the glory was.  The glory cloud was above the tabernacle, not inside.  But for the temple building, the glory cloud filled the building.  As I have already addressed in this book, I believe the windows were there to let a tiny bit of that glory shine forth.  

Since Satan wants to supplant God, and be worshipped like God, Satan often mimics what God does after some fashion.  It is quite possible that pagan temples included features that had been copied from God’s heavenly temple and given to pagan priests by Satanic sources.  It is quite likely that this is why some features of pagan temples may look similar to God’s temple design.  Solomon’s temple was indeed God’s original art.

The story of the building of the temple in I Kings 6 begins by telling us that it had been 480 years since the children of Israel had come out of the land of Egypt.  This reference to Egypt is not an indication that God is somehow associating the building of the temple with Egyptian ways of worship.  Rather the point of mentioning this time and referring to Egypt is to call to mind that the building of the temple is the culmination of the work of Moses, and the work of God through many generations.  It is the signal that Moses’s work has finally  been completed.  Moses’s objective was for the children of Israel to leave Egypt; go to the land God had promised them; and worship in the way in which God wanted for them.  Israel had been in the land for many years.  Now after nearly five hundred years, they were finally setting up their place of worship as God had intended.  The building of the temple was a very significant historic event.

It was not long after the temple was constructed that the corruption of sin set in and the condition of the temple went downhill.  The building and dedication of Solomon’s temple is captured in Scriptures as a snapshot of one moment in time (that this book has focussed on).  It was an ideal moment unlike any other moment in history, when the temple was new and God was pleased and glorified in His temple.  We are given a brief glimpse of what true, beautiful worship of God looks like.  This is the kind of worship we want to have in our church and in our own hearts.  

I Kings 3:3, which describes the time right after Solomon became king, and before he began building the temple, says “And Solomon loved the Lord, walking in the statutes of David his father, only he sacrificed and burnt incense in high places.”  Verse 2 explains that the people sacrificed in high places because the house of God wasn’t built yet.  At this point the Scripture is not critical of Solomon for his method of worship since there was no other alternative for worship.

Some are critical of Solomon for building a great palace that was larger and took much longer to build than the temple.  At first glance this seems to make sense.  Why should Solomon deserve a bigger, nicer house than God did?  However, did not David consider God’s promises when he instructed Solomon?  God had promised to establish David’s kingdom forever.  (II Sam 7:13-16)  Watch for it while reading the Psalms, and you will notice that one of the main themes David was thinking about much of the time was when the Lord would rule as King on this earth (especially see Psalm chapters 29, 72 and 145 ).

In I Chronicles 29:1b, David says “…for the palace is not for man, but for the Lord God.”  We are not told for sure, but it seems very possible that David instructed Solomon in the building of the entire temple and palace complex believing God’s great eternal King would someday dwell, be worshipped, and judge the nations there.    

The greatest King would be a descendent of David.  Was it wrong for David and Solomon to prepare a beautiful place for the Lord to live?  Was the palace Solomon built a selfish indulgence, or was it really a great gift and an act of faith, obediently built in preparation for the coming King?

Keeping this in mind, however, on the other hand, Solomon’s palace is several times referred to as “his own house.”  This seems to indicate that perhaps Solomon’s intent was perhaps not so noble, and that his intent was for the palace to be his own house.  It is difficult to know which is the case.   

Either way, we should not be critical of Solomon for amassing riches, for this was a blessing given to him by God for unselfishly requesting understanding to judge the people.  (I. Ki 3:13, II Chron 1:1). When God granted riches to Solomon, would it not have been God’s intent for Solomon to enjoy those riches?  Solomon’s enjoyment of God’s blessing of riches simply took the form of a palace.  We do see a foreshadowing of Solomon’s coming downfall in the design of his palace in that he constructed a special part of the palace as a dwelling for his wife from Egypt.  Though Solomon’s temple was smaller than the palace, the temple still would have been the focus of the entire area.  The magnificent height of the porch would have captured everyone’s attention and drawn them to the temple.    

Solomon was the man that God chose to write three books of the Bible.  He was led by God’s spirit, capable, and faithful in accurately carrying out tasks assigned to him by God.  Solomon was led by God’s Spirit; and was given wisdom from God while he acted as master builder of the temple; instructing the workers in how to complete the building.  

Since Solomon had wisdom from God, he certainly would have realized how important it was for the health of the nation to have a place for all to worship as God intended in the type of building that God intended.  As he judged the nation with God’s wisdom, Solomon would have understood the importance of the required sacrifices in God’s temple that were necessary to deal with sin.  We can be confident that the description of the temple we are given is an accurate depiction of what God designed. 

If the temple was not built per God’s specifications, would not God have dealt with the issue on the day of the temple’s dedication?  Would the glory have filled the temple if it were corrupted and only half right?  God approved the temple building by His glorious acceptance of it at the dedication and by the preservation of its description in the Bible.

Sadly, after the temple and palace were built, and after the Queen of Sheba had visited, we come to I Kings 11:4.  “For it came to pass when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods:  and his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father.”  Notice that it was not until Solomon was “old” that his heart turned to false gods.  Solomon began temple construction when he was only four years into his forty year reign.  Since Solomon’s heart turned away from God when he was old, does that not mean that prior to that event his heart was toward God.  During the time of temple construction, when he was younger, Solomon loved God.

It is with incredulity that we look at the end of Solomon’s life.  A great deal of his life had been spent serving God up to this point.  He had met with God twice.  (I Kings 9:2).  How can a person meet with God, hear his voice so vividly, and not live a holy life?  Solomon had witnessed the glory of God filling the temple.  He had seen physical evidence of the majestic wonderfulness and beauty of God.  He had written three books of the Bible by God’s inspiration.  How can a person experience that and not have a mind that is focussed on the one true God?  He had the wisdom of God speaking in his heart as he ruled for many years.  Obviously he knew better than to go against God’s law.  Solomon had amassed a vast fortune as God had promised that he would.  He had everything that he could possibly want.  He was surrounded by beauty and comfort.  God had massively blessed him on every front.  God had directly warned Solomon not to go after false gods.  How could he ignore God’s warning?  For a king to be married in those days was a move to gain political power.  But certainly God was quite capable of blessing Solomon without marriage alliances.

Sadly Solomon still chose to marry many wives.  He still went after the false gods his wives worshipped.  Having witnessed the splendor and wonderfulness and reality of the one true God, how could he now be following hideous, false, pretend gods. Our heart sinks to see someone who seems to be knocking it out of the park fail so badly.  How could he go against every evidence he had of the one true God?  How could he betray the God who had blessed him so richly?  

Isn’t this supposed to be the wisest guy in the world?    Why would Solomon do this, was he nuts?  Indeed, this seems to be the message.  Sin doesn’t make sense.  Sin goes against reason.  Choosing to sin is dumb, and yet everyone, even a Biblical author, is susceptible to it.   Even the wisest man in the world can choose to sin, and the result is foolishness.  

Solomon elaborated in his writings about what a fool was like.  In general, the message is that the fool abandons wisdom and does that which does not make sense.  Foolishness is not just some silly thing people do, it is dangerous.  Foolishness is destructive.  God had warned Solomon that if he turned aside from following God that the temple would become a heap of ruins. (I Ki 9:8)  For Solomon to turn aside from God and serve idols certainly did not make sense.  He did it at the cost of destruction of the elegant and glorious building in which he and his nation had invested so much.  “One who is wise is cautious and turns away from evil, but a fool is reckless and careless.”  Prov 14:16 

Foolishness is not just destructive, it is self-destructive.  “The fool folds his hands and eats his own flesh”. Ec. 4:5.  Sadly all sin is self-destructive in some way. 

Self-destructiveness is being played out on a global scale before our eyes in our day.  We have been blessed with vastly more than we need.  The knowledge of God is widely available.  His Word is easily found.  We have tremendous evidence of God’s existence through vast amounts of scientific knowledge.  And yet our society chooses to believe foolishness and go after false gods.  Many choose to believe the lie of evolution.  Sin is blinding, and sin is stupefying.  The proud “experts” seem to be the blindest of all.  Rather than opening their eyes and acknowledging the truth, men would rather believe in fake gods.  Rather than doing what is healthy and right, our society chooses the self-destructiveness of immoral  sin on so many fronts.  How long can it be until everything falls apart?  It should burden our hearts to take the wisdom of the truth of God’s Word to them.   

Solomon was probably the most glorious king in the history of man.  By recording Solomon’s decline, God is showing how even though Solomon was glorious, he was still a sinner.  There is a great contrast between the Lord, who is truly the greatest most glorious King whose eternal light shall fill the earth; and the kings of men whose glory is lost to the darkness of sin.  Solomon in all His glory is a mere flicker when placed next to the eternal radiance of the magnificent Christ.

So what are some things we can learn from Solomon’s downfall?  

  1. Be faithful to God to the end of your life.  Finish the race well.
  2. Guard your heart against the deceptive appeal of false gods.  False god worship permeates our society in many ways even today, and is becoming more blatantly obvious.  You can find it expressed in some of our customs, holiday traditions, certain religions, sporting events, monuments, advertisements, entertainment, etc.  It is practiced by many wealthy powerful people in our world, and they are subtly pushing it forward into society.  Become aware of it and do not be deceived or coerced into it.  Put God first in your life.  Don’t create your own idols.
  3. Solomon was influenced to worship false gods by his many wives.  Guard your heart against the appeal of lust and sexual immorality.  It will pull you away from God.  Be careful who you choose for your friends.  Be especially careful whom you choose to marry.  
  4. Solomon married many of his wives with the objective to gain wealth and power by making political alliances.  Just because you can get wealth and power by doing a thing, does not mean you should.
  5. Don’t put your hope in any person.  People can let you down.  Even the wisest man in the world can do something very foolish.  Put your hope in God.
Ed Brill
Ed Brill

Mr. Brill has spent many years as a tool engineer for plastic injection molds working closely with craftsmen. This experience has given him unique insight into the character traits involved in craftsmanship. His engineering background has taught him to sort through things not readily apparent and get to the heart of the real issue. Mr. Brill has done a good deal of work on buildings, having remodeled an old house and having been on the board of trustees and then as a deacon at his church for many years. He has been a student and teacher of the Bible for many years as he serves in his local church.

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