1 Kings 6 Explained: Construction of Solomon’s Temple

1 Kings 6 Explained

The sixth chapter of 1 Kings provides a detailed account of one of ancient Israel’s most significant projects – the construction of Solomon’s Temple.

This chapter not only chronicles the architectural magnificence and elaborate designs but also intertwines these physical elements with profound spiritual symbolism and marks a pivotal moment in Israelite history, capturing the fulfillment of divine promises and the embodiment of religious devotion.

As we jump into the meticulous details of the Temple’s construction, we uncover layers of cultural, religious, and historical significance that defined Solomon’s reign and shaped Israel’s identity.

1 Kings 6:1-10, The Construction of Solomon’s Temple Begins

The construction of Solomon’s Temple, a significant event in Israel’s history, began in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel. This marked 480 years after the Israelites had come out of Egypt, emphasizing the long-awaited fulfillment of God’s promise for a permanent dwelling place.

In the four hundred and eightieth year after the people of Israel came out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month of Ziv, which is the second month, he began to build the house of the Lord. The house that King Solomon built for the Lord was sixty cubits long, twenty cubits wide, and thirty cubits high.

1 Kings 6:1-2, ESV

In these verses, the detailed dimensions and specifications of the Temple are given. The use of cedar wood from Lebanon signifies the importance and grandeur of this construction. The description of the Temple’s size and materials reflects the glory and reverence attributed to God’s dwelling place.

The vestibule in front of the nave of the house was twenty cubits long, equal to the width of the house, and ten cubits deep in front of the house. And he made for the house windows with recessed frames. He also built a structure against the wall of the house, running around the walls of the house, both the nave and the inner sanctuary. And he made side chambers all around. The lowest story was five cubits broad, the middle one was six cubits broad, and the third was seven cubits broad. For around the outside of the house he made offsets on the wall in order that the supporting beams should not be inserted into the walls of the house.

When the house was built, it was with stone prepared at the quarry, so that neither hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron was heard in the house while it was being built.

The entrance for the lowest story was on the south side of the house, and one went up by stairs to the middle story, and from the middle story to the third. So he built the house and finished it, and he made the ceiling of the house of beams and planks of cedar. He built the structure against the whole house, five cubits high, and it was joined to the house with timbers of cedar.

1 Kings 6:3-10, ESV

Solomon’s dedication to building the Temple is evident in the elaborate construction details. The mention of the surrounding structures, including side rooms, indicates the comprehensive nature of this project. This effort underscores the importance of the Temple as the center of religious and national life in Israel.

The construction of the Temple represents not just a physical building, but a symbol of God’s presence among His people and a testament to Solomon’s faithfulness and commitment to God’s command.

1 Kings 6:11-14, God’s Promise to Solomon During the Construction

As Solomon was building the Temple, God’s message to him was a pivotal moment, intertwining divine promise with a call for obedience.

Now the word of the Lord came to Solomon, “Concerning this house that you are building, if you will walk in my statutes and obey my rules and keep all my commandments and walk in them, then I will establish my word with you, which I spoke to David your father.

1 Kings 6:11-12, ESV

God promised that He would dwell among the children of Israel and would not forsake His people, provided they remained faithful to His commandments. This promise was a reinforcement of the covenant relationship between God and Israel.

And I will dwell among the children of Israel and will not forsake my people Israel.”

So Solomon built the house and finished it.

1 Kings 6:13-14, ESV

God’s assurance to Solomon was conditional, hinging on Solomon’s adherence to God’s statutes and ordinances. The completion of the Temple by Solomon, as stated in verse 14, signifies Solomon’s initial obedience to God’s commands.

These verses emphasize the conditional nature of God’s promises, reliant on the faithfulness of His people and illustrates the intertwining of divine favor and human responsibility.

1 Kings 6:15-22, Interior Features and Decorations of the Temple

The interior of Solomon’s Temple was as impressive as its structure. The detailed description of the interior reflects the reverence and honor attributed to the house of God.

He lined the walls of the house on the inside with boards of cedar. From the floor of the house to the walls of the ceiling, he covered them on the inside with wood, and he covered the floor of the house with boards of cypress. He built twenty cubits of the rear of the house with boards of cedar from the floor to the walls, and he built this within as an inner sanctuary, as the Most Holy Place. The house, that is, the nave in front of the inner sanctuary, was forty cubits long. The cedar within the house was carved in the form of gourds and open flowers. All was cedar; no stone was seen.

1 Kings 6:15-18, ESV

The use of cedar wood, carved with figures like gourds and open flowers, and overlaid with gold, signifies the opulence and sanctity of the Temple. These decorations were not merely ornamental but symbolic, representing the beauty and holiness of God’s dwelling place.

The inner sanctuary he prepared in the innermost part of the house, to set there the ark of the covenant of the Lord. The inner sanctuary was twenty cubits long, twenty cubits wide, and twenty cubits high, and he overlaid it with pure gold. He also overlaid an altar of cedar. And Solomon overlaid the inside of the house with pure gold, and he drew chains of gold across, in front of the inner sanctuary, and overlaid it with gold. And he overlaid the whole house with gold, until all the house was finished. Also the whole altar that belonged to the inner sanctuary he overlaid with gold.

1 Kings 6:19-22, ESV

The inner sanctuary, the Most Holy Place, held the Ark of the Covenant. This was the core of the Temple, where the presence of God was believed to reside. The gold overlay on everything in this area further emphasized the sanctity and divine nature of this space.

Through these verses, we see a blend of grandeur and sacredness, underscoring the Temple’s role as a place of worship and a physical manifestation of God’s presence among His people.

1 Kings 6:23-29, Construction of the Inner Sanctuary (Cherubim and Palm Tree Carvings)

The inner sanctuary of the Temple, designed to house the Ark of the Covenant, was adorned with elaborate carvings and artistic designs, symbolizing both the majesty and the approachability of God.

In the inner sanctuary he made two cherubim of olivewood, each ten cubits high. Five cubits was the length of one wing of the cherub, and five cubits the length of the other wing of the cherub; it was ten cubits from the tip of one wing to the tip of the other. The other cherub also measured ten cubits; both cherubim had the same measure and the same form. The height of one cherub was ten cubits, and so was that of the other cherub.

1 Kings 6:23-26, ESV

The two cherubim, made of olive wood and overlaid with gold, stood in the inner sanctuary. Their size and positioning, with outstretched wings, symbolized their role as guardians of the Ark and represented the divine presence.

He put the cherubim in the innermost part of the house. And the wings of the cherubim were spread out so that a wing of one touched the one wall, and a wing of the other cherub touched the other wall; their other wings touched each other in the middle of the house. And he overlaid the cherubim with gold.

Around all the walls of the house he carved engraved figures of cherubim and palm trees and open flowers, in the inner and outer rooms.

1 Kings 6:27-29, ESV

The carvings of cherubim, palm trees, and open flowers on the walls of the inner sanctuary further added to the sacred atmosphere. These artistic elements brought together natural imagery and divine symbols, creating a space that was both awe-inspiring and inviting for worship.

This section highlights the artistic and symbolic efforts taken to create a space that was fitting for the presence of God, blending artistic expression with religious symbolism.

1 Kings 6:30-38, Finalization and Completion of the Temple

The completion of Solomon’s Temple was a monumental achievement, representing not just a physical structure but a fulfillment of God’s promise and a symbol of Israel’s identity.

The floor of the house he overlaid with gold in the inner and outer rooms.

For the entrance to the inner sanctuary he made doors of olivewood; the lintel and the doorposts were five-sided. He covered the two doors of olivewood with carvings of cherubim, palm trees, and open flowers. He overlaid them with gold and spread gold on the cherubim and on the palm trees.

So also he made for the entrance to the nave doorposts of olivewood, in the form of a square, and two doors of cypress wood. The two leaves of the one door were folding, and the two leaves of the other door were folding. On them he carved cherubim and palm trees and open flowers, and he overlaid them with gold evenly applied on the carved work.

1 Kings 6:30-35, ESV

The attention to detail in the flooring, walls, doors, and carvings, with the extensive use of gold, reflects the high value placed on this holy place. The incorporation of artistic elements like carved cherubim and flowers signifies a blend of beauty and sanctity.

He built the inner court with three courses of cut stone and one course of cedar beams.

In the fourth year the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid, in the month of Ziv. And in the eleventh year, in the month of Bul, which is the eighth month, the house was finished in all its parts, and according to all its specifications. He was seven years in building it.

1 Kings 6:36-38, ESV

The construction took seven years to complete, indicating both the scale of the project and the dedication to creating a magnificent and enduring house for God. The completion of the Temple during the month of Bul, which corresponds to October-November, marks a time of harvest and fruition, symbolizing the fulfillment of God’s promise to David and Israel.

Finishing the Temple was not just a testament to Solomon’s architectural and administrative prowess but also a testament to God’s faithfulness and the fulfillment of His covenant with David and Israel.