1 Kings 9: the House of the LORD (pt. 4)

1(A) As soon as Solomon had finished building the house of the LORD(B) and the king’s house and(C) all that Solomon desired to build, 2(D) the LORD appeared to Solomon a second time, as he had appeared to him at Gibeon.

It is beautiful to see that the LORD’s two appearances to Solomon act as divine bookends to Solomon’s actions in between, marked with the very Wisdom which (and Whom!) Solomon received (back in 1 Kings 3:5; c.f. book of Proverbs, esp. Proverbs 8) and his fulfillment of the work which David had planned.  This Christophany undoubtedly confirms that Solomon now meets the visible LORD as confirmation of his status as typological anointed king of Israel who shall build the shadow of the everlasting throne, the shadow of the everlasting house.  Yet, more importantly, these Christophany-bookends highlights the typology of Solomon acting as the Christ who received the overflowing Spirit the Wisdom without measure (c.f. Augustine and Calvin’s commentary on John 3:34), as the Christ whose clean hands (1 Chronicles 22:8; Psalm 24:4) shall build the Father’s House; whose high-priestly prayer shall mediate on behalf of the spiritual Israelites who pray to the true Temple, Christ Himself (John 2:14-21).

3And the LORD said to him, “I have heard your prayer and your plea, which you have made before me. I have consecrated this house that you have built,(E) by putting my name there forever.(F) My eyes and my heart will be there for all time. 4And as for you, if you will(G) walk before me,(H) as David your father walked, with integrity of heart and uprightness, doing according to all that I have commanded you, and keeping my statutes and my rules, 5(I) then I will establish your royal throne over Israel forever, as I promised David your father, saying, ‘You shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.’

Many may read the LORD’s blessing as one built on the condition of works-salvation – but look at how the LORD describes David’s life in v.4, the murderer and adulterer, whose shame and sin caused the death of thousands and tens of thousands until Christ stayed his hand at the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite (2 Samuel 24). Rather, this is a man with integrity of heart and uprightness, who has done according to all that the LORD had commanded?

Much like James’ mandate in his letter (James 2:14, 3:13) and similarly Paul’s focus on good works in Ephesians (Ephesians 2:10) and Romans 6:15-23, here we find that the LORD does not seem to describe works in the way other religions put it.  The 613 commandments, in which we find the famous 10 Words, in which we find all of their distillation is to the two commandments (Matthew 22:36-40) ultimately stemming from the faith we have in Christ our object of faith whose intra-Trinitarian love overflows through us (1 John 4:7-21).  That is the faith which David walked in; that is the type of good works he did; that is the way of life he lived.  It is in that Christ-centered faith that Solomon is asked to walk in, that will establish David and Solomon’s royal throne over Israel forever, despite David and Solomon’s unfaithfulness as we have seen and shall later see.  Yet, the removal of the throne of Israel as a result of the Assyrian / Babylonian exile is not because they failed their covenant of works; rather, it is because Anointed Son – the Messiah and Lamb to come – no longer became the object of faith of the Israelite kings.

And even without having to go through various Scriptures to reach this point, v.3 by itself already speaks into the role of the House.  It is consecrated, and it is by the LORD’s name that people shall direct their prayer and plea.  It is not as if the faith of Adam, Seth, Noah, Abraham, Isaac or Jacob have been dispensed with in favour of the Israelites’ worship through the House (Genesis 4:26; Exodus 6:3 NIV translation); rather, the Name of the One who saves has always been the object of faith from the creation of the world, underlining the typology of the Israelite nation and tradition.  The House by itself means nothing; the Name means everything (Exodus 23:21; Acts 3:16) for it is by His Name that his eyes and heart shall be there at all time.  Such intimacy none can declare and none can experience, except through Jesus Christ at the bosom & right hand of the Father (Exodus 15:6; John 1:18; Hebrews 10:12).

6(J) But if you turn aside from following me, you or your children, and do not keep my commandments and my statutes that I have set before you, but go and serve other gods and worship them, 7(K) then I will cut off Israel from the land that I have given them,(L) and the house that I have consecrated for my name I will cast out of my sight,(M) and Israel will become a proverb and a byword among all peoples. 8And this house will become a heap of ruins.[a] Everyone passing by it will be astonished and will hiss, and they will say,(N) ‘Why has the LORD done thus to this land and to this house?’ 9Then they will say, ‘Because(O) they abandoned the LORD their God who brought their fathers out of the land of Egypt and laid hold on other gods and worshiped them and served them. Therefore the LORD has brought all this disaster on them.'”

Thus, following in the vein of the flow of what the LORD has been driving at since v.3, He firmly declares that David’s walk is in the one God, following the substance of the first commandment (check) (v.6).  This is indeed true of Israel who later turned to worship other Baalim (Hosea 2:13, which literally means lord / husband), other “husbands” and as a result the physical House of the LORD is no longer the mediating object for the Israelites today (despite efforts to return to the “Holy Land” to rebuild the temple a third time).  Yet, is it not true that the true new creation temple spoken of in Ezekiel and in Revelation (Ezekiel 40-48; Revelation 21) can only be secured by the LORD Himself, the Son of the Father whose name is in the House and the only one who shall have unwavering faith in the Father thus ensuring that Israel shall no longer be cut off (Romans 11:17-24), the new Jerusalem forever consecrated and Israel thus becoming a blessing among all peoples (Isaiah 2:3). Only Christ can effectuate such a reversal, yet the human kings are but shadows, especially so when they no longer return to Christ their Saviour as they continue to live lives of wickedness turning away from the one LORD (2 Kings 17:11).

10(P) At the end of(Q) twenty years, in which Solomon had built the two houses, the house of the LORD and the king’s house, 11and Hiram king of Tyre had supplied Solomon with cedar and cypress timber and gold, as much as he desired, King Solomon gave to Hiram twenty cities in the land of Galilee. 12But when Hiram came from Tyre to see the cities that Solomon had given him, they did not please him. 13Therefore he said, “What kind of cities are these that you have given me, my brother?” So they are called the land of(R) Cabul to this day. 14Hiram had sent to the king 120 talents[b] of gold.

It is often at this point in the narrative that we come to a strange interaction.  After building the two houses, Solomon of all gifts decides to give Hiram king of Tyre twenty cities in the land of Galilee.  Why Galilee?  This land has not been often mentioned in Scripture prior to 1 Kings 9 – what possible symbolism, wealth or blessing can Solomon give to Hiram in these twenty cities of Galilee?  Apparently none – observe Hiram’s reaction in v.13: “What kind of cities are these that you have given me, my brother?”, and thus labeled as the land of Cabul (meaning “worthless” or of small stature).

Yet, there is no reason to immediately jump to the conclusion that Hiram and Solomon were on terrible terms thereafter; after all, Hiram still called Solomon “brother”, a king of what would have been a pagan nation would not embrace Solomon as such (not to mention that in v.27-28 of this same chapter, Hiram still sends with Solomon’s fleet several servants and seamen to accompany Solomon in his quest for precious minerals and gold from Ophir) – the king who sent to the king 120 talents of gold (v.14), a sign of blessing and respect mirrored by the Queen of Sheba in the following chapter.  Indeed, Hiram’s reaction is not necessarily one of contempt; rather, it is one of surprise – what indeed will come out of these twenty insignificant cities?  Note John Calvin’s commentary on this Galilee, or otherwise known as “Galilee of the Gentiles” in Isaiah 9:1 –

By the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the Gentiles. He calls it the way of the sea, because Galilee was adjoining to the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, and on one side it was bounded by the course of the Jordan. It is called Galilee of the Gentiles, not only because it was contiguous to Tyre and Sidon, but because it contained a great multitude of Gentiles, who were mingled with the Jews; for from the time that Solomon granted this country to King Hiram, (1 Kings 9:11,) it could never be subdued in such a manner as not to have some part of it possessed by the Gentiles…”

It is indeed remarkable that Solomon decides to gift these cities of the Galilee of the Gentiles to Hiram – it is a prophetic of this unison between Solomon the King of Israel and Hiram the King of Tyre; Solomon the representative of the church of Christ, and Hiram he who represents the head of those who shall enjoin Solomon’s kingdom from outsiders to that of God’s family.  However, Solomon’s rejection here is a sign that the time has not yet come – for it is not until Acts 1:11 that the men of Galilee look up to Christ, not until such cities are restored under the banner of Solomon (2 Chronicles 8:2) that the healing of the Gentiles cannot come through Hiram, but must come through Solomon who shall be over Hiram.  And only Solomon, the builder of the two great houses, can build these Gentile houses from Cabul to Galilee, from nothing to becoming a circuit whereby the Christ’s activities are most prevalent throughout the period of His incarnation.  Matthew Henry similarly does not see this as necessarily denoting Hiram’s distaste towards Solomon, but rather that of God’s providence of the rebuilding of Cabul not by Hiram but by Solomon:

It should seem, these were not allotted to any of the tribes of Israel (for the border of Asher came up to them, Josh. xix. 27, which intimates that it did not include them), but continued in the hands of the natives till Solomon made himself master of them, and then made a present of them to Hiram. It becomes those that are great and good to be generous. Hiram came to see these cities, and did not like them (v. 12): They pleased him not. He called the country the land of Cabul, a Phoenician word (says Josephus) which signifies displeasing, v. 13. He therefore returned them to Solomon (as we find, 2 Chron. viii. 2), who repaired them, and then caused the children of Israel to inhabit them, which intimates that before they did not; but, when Solomon received back what he had given, no doubt he honourably gave Hiram an equivalent in something else. But what shall we think of this? Did Solomon act meanly in giving Hiram what was not worth his acceptance? Or was Hiram humoursome and hard to please? I am willing to believe it was neither the one nor the other. The country was truly valuable, and so were the cities in it, but not agreeable to Hiram’s genius. The Tyrians were merchants, trading men, that lived in fine houses, and became rich by navigation, but knew not how to value a country that was fit for corn and pasture (that was business that lay out of their way); and therefore Hiram desired Solomon to take them again, he knew not what to do with them, and, if he would please to gratify him, let it be in his own element, by becoming his partner in trade, as we find he did, v. 27. Hiram, who was used to the clean streets of Tyre, could by no means agree with the miry lanes in the land of Cabul, whereas the best lands have commonly the worst roads through them. See how the providence of God suits both the accommodation of this earth to the various dispositions of men and the dispositions of men to the various accommodations of the earth, and all for the good of mankind in general. Some take delight in husbandry, and wonder what pleasure sailors can take on a rough sea; others take as much delight in navigation, and wonder what pleasure husbandmen can take in a dirty country, like the land of Cabul. It is so in many other instances, in which we may observe the wisdom of him whose all souls are and all lands.

15And this is the account of(S) the forced labor that King Solomon drafted to build the house of the LORD and his own house and(T) the Millo and the wall of Jerusalem and(U) Hazor and(V) Megiddo and Gezer 16(Pharaoh king of Egypt had gone up and captured Gezer and burned it with fire, and had killed(W) the Canaanites who lived in the city, and had given it as dowry to(X) his daughter, Solomon’s wife; 17so Solomon rebuilt Gezer) and(Y) Lower Beth-horon 18and Baalath and Tamar in the wilderness, in the land of Judah,[c] 19and all the store cities that Solomon had, and(Z) the cities for his chariots, and the cities for(AA) his horsemen, and whatever Solomon(AB) desired to build in Jerusalem, in Lebanon, and in all the land of his dominion. 20All the people who were left of the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, who were not of the people of Israel— 21(AC) their descendants who were left after them in the land,(AD) whom the people of Israel were unable to devote to destruction[d](AE) these Solomon drafted to be(AF) slaves, and so they are to this day. 22But(AG) of the people of Israel Solomon made no slaves. They were the soldiers, they were his officials, his commanders, his captains, his chariot commanders and his horsemen.

And so this naturally flows into v.15-22, that of Hiram’s rejection of these cities of Galilee and his continual material and manpower provision to Solomon as a sign of the Christ taking back what Satan had only temporarily held; the illusion of Satan’s power which is above all subdued by the Christ – for indeed, blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5).  Who indeed is the meek except for Christ Himself, for He shall inherit not only Israel but also Cabul and the men of Cabul which is where we should belong?  See here in these verses a fulfillment of that prophecy in Genesis 15:16 that Canaan shall no longer belong to such Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites; instead, the times of the exodus are long past and the Israelites are now the nation of blessing.  And like the house of the LORD which was contributed largely by the two Hirams, so also these landmark locations (Millo, Hazor, Megiddo; Gezer (symbolically restored by Pharaoh even though it was initially won by Joshua for the tribe of Ephraim: “This city Joshua had taken from the Canaanites, Josh. x. 33; xii. 12, and it was divided by lot to the tribe of Ephraim, and was intended to be one of the Levitical cities; but it appears that the Canaanites had retaken it, and kept possession till the days of Solomon, when his father-in-law, Pharaoh king of Egypt, retook it, and gave it to Solomon in dowry with his daughter.” – Adam Clarke; Lower Beth-horon; Baalath; Tamar) were built by the hands of Gentiles but in the direction of the typological son of God.  Such is the contribution of the wealth of Satan that we are the ones who inherit just as Abraham inherited the Abimelech’s wealth (Genesis 20:14-18), just as the wealth of the Philistinian camp is for us to plunder for it is no longer in the hands of the enemy but won for us by the true king David (1 Samuel 17:53).  Note Matthew Henry’s observance of Solomon’s employing of these non-Israelites:

Solomon employed those who remained of the conquered and devoted nations in all the slavish work, v. 20, 21. We may suppose that they renounced their idolatry and submitted to Solomon’s government, so that he could not, in honour, utterly destroy them, and they were so poor that he could not levy money on them; therefore he served himself of their labour. Herein he observed God’s law (Lev. xxv. 44, Thy bondmen shall be of the heathen), and fulfilled Noah’s curse upon Canaan, A servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren, Gen. ix. 25. 2. He employed Israelites in the more creditable services (v. 22, 23): Of them he made no bondmen, for they were God’s freemen, but he made them soldiers and courtiers, and gave them offices, as he saw them qualified, among his chariots and horsemen, appointing some to support the service of the inferior labourers. Thus he preserved the dignity and liberty of Israel and honoured their relation to God as a kingdom of priests.

23These were the chief officers who were over Solomon’s work:(AH) 550(AI) who had charge of the people who carried on the work.

24But(AJ) Pharaoh’s daughter went up from the city of David to(AK) her own house that Solomon had built for her.(AL) Then he built(AM) the Millo.

25Three times a year Solomon used to offer up burnt offerings and peace offerings on the altar that he built to the LORD, making offerings with it[e] before the LORD. So he finished the house.

26King Solomon built a fleet of ships at(AN) Ezion-geber, which is near Eloth on the shore of the Red Sea, in the land of Edom. 27And Hiram sent(AO) with the fleet his servants, seamen who were familiar with the sea, together with the servants of Solomon. 28And they went to(AP) Ophir and brought from there gold, 420 talents, and they brought it to King Solomon.

This chapter therefore ends on two high notes – the tri-annual offering of burnt offerings and peace offerings on the altar he built to the LORD (the new altar in the temple courtyard) in the three landmark celebrations of the feast of Passover, of Pentecost, and of Tabernacles (c.f. Exodus 23); and the obtaining of the gold from Ophir by Hiram’s servants and seamen with Solomon’s fleet from the base of the wood of man (Ezion-geber), near the shore of the Red Sea.  These are stark with symbolism, indicating the victory of Christ on the wood, bringing upon the golden blessing as shadowed by the parting of the Red Sea in the joining of the church of spiritual Israelites of both those born in Israel & born-again in Israel.

1 Kings 9: the House of the LORD (pt. 4)

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