Solomon is ready to begin the process of building the House of the Lord. Everything David had supplied is in place. He preparations put in place; people and support.
We are not told how long after Solomon took the throne that he started these preparations. We are told in 1 Kings 6:1 that he laid the foundation in the fourth year of his reign. But his planning period that we are visiting today could have taken up those four years or happened right before the foundation was laid. He used a census of resident aliens that David did to identify his work force so there were probably not that many years between these two events.
Did you notice that the “resident aliens” were the ones taxed with the work of building the Temple? The number assigned to the ‘grunt work’ is given twice; once in verse two and again in verse 18. But verse 17 tells us who these people are. They are NOT Israelites but “resident aliens who were in the land of Israel” (verse 17a). Talk about keeping unemployment low!
There was probably plenty of work to go around for everyone, including the Israelites. The hardest jobs though seemed to be given to the resident aliens. The jobs in the mines. David set the precedent before his death by appointing the resident aliens to these tasks in 1 Chronicles 22:2. I don’t know for sure but this was probably a forced labor task. One that reminds me of the Israelites while still in Egypt. A people given the hardest jobs because they were the outsiders. I’m praying it was MUCH better working conditions than what I imagine slave labor was like; constantly under the whip of the overseer.
Solomon was prepared to pay handsomely for woodsmen from Tyre. Solomon hired the same ‘building consultant’ his father had; King Hiram of Tyre. Hiram had designed David’s house and had supplied all the building materials. Solomon knew of Hiram’s skill and asked for his help in obtaining materials for the House of God and a palace of his own. The price Solomon quoted was great. There were “20,000 cors of crushed wheat, 20,000 cors of barley, 20,000 baths of wine, and 20,000 baths of oil” (verse 10b). We are not told if this was a ‘one-time’ payment, an ‘annual’ payment, or even a ‘per person’ payment. I’m more inclined to believe it was a one-time contractional payment. It could be considered the ‘bid price’ for the job. Whatever the case, it was acceptable to Hiram.
I have a feeling that Hiram’s enthusiasm in helping in this building project came more from his love for Israel’s God than anything else. He did praise Solomon though. “Because the Lord loves His people, He has made you king over them”…”Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, who made heaven and earth, who has given King David a wise son, who has discretion and understanding, who will build a Temple for the Lord and a royal palace for himself” (verses 11b-12). Hiram was excited to help but could also see the wisdom God had imparted to Solomon at work. It isn’t clear if he recognized the source of Solomon’s wisdom though as he was praising Solomon for it instead of God.
So the task of actually completing his father’s dream is now firmly underway. All hands are on deck and the stage is set. It is not just the resident aliens working away at getting materials ready. It is the people of Israel, the woodsmen of Tyre, and anyone else the kings see fit to contribute. Those skilled in work in gold, silver, bronze, iron, stone, wood, fabrics of purple, blue and crimson, and engravers are all needed. But Hiram supplies the one man who is skilled in ALL these areas. He will be the overseer of ALL the craftsmen and the teacher. He came from Tyre but he was a child of Israel, of the tribe of Dan.
Once the arrangements are made and the deal is struck work begins in earnest. Solomon made his payments and the Temple building program is off and running.
When thinking about what I could take from today’s text I was reminded of one of Jesus’ parables. The one about counting the cost of following Him. Solomon was counting his costs at this point in his project. We are not told if he ever came to a tough place in this project but we will in our lives somewhere. Solomon didn’t stop until ALL that he had set his heart on was completed. He did whatever it took to see this project through. We have to be that committed in our walk with Jesus. Whatever it takes, it IS worth the price! And the BEST part is that God will direct the ‘resources’ needed at just the right time.
Father God, thank You for ‘building Your House’ in my heart. I know the task has not always been easy and I have thrown roadblocks up from time to time. THANK YOU for not giving up on me! Keep working Lord for there is still more to be done. Help me to become the beautiful servant You created me to be.