The detail and the description of the building of the temple is esquisite. You can’t read these chapters in Solomon without recognizing the wealth that was poured into the temple for the sake of the Lord. This is something that a lot of people struggle with. Why pour money into the temple when you can easily use that money for the poor, for programs that reach out to children an youth, for widows and other pastoral ministries? That is a question that hits to the core of many decisions that are made at the session level. How do you discern what is to be spent for the Lord’s work and what is exactly the Lord’s work?
Not to compare material things to what Solomon is doing, like the organ or some other improvement made to our buildings, but there is a sense that what is done by Solomon is important work which is required of the Lord. I know that I can say personally no more important work have I done than when I was in a setting where we did not own our own buildings but rather used all of our resources for the work of the kingdom of God which did not go into any physical plant. But that is not where we find ourselves today.
I did think it was interesting that after the temple is built and Solomon asks the Lord to remember his people he does not say that the Lord resides in the temple, but rather look at 8:49 where Solomon describes the dwelling place of God as “heaven”. He asks God that when the people come to the temple to pray that God, from heaven, would hear their prayer. The temple serves not as the home for God, but rather as a gathering place for the people of God in order to do one thing in common, seek the Lord, call upon his name. Of course, you can do that in other places and by yourself, but Solomon’s temple, and I would say church for that matter, is a place that is set apart specifically for that purpose and that purpose alone.
In Proverbs you see the moral benefits of wisdom which the king lays out very clearly. Oh, one more thing I wanted to say about I Kings. Not very often in Scripture do we find the reference to the wife of the king of Israel. But here we see that Solomon marries the wife of a Pharaoh. Now while this might be a problem historically, in the Scripture it provides a very clear path to peace with Egypt and also a clear path to Solomon’s wealth and influence in the land. It also reminds us that clearly there were Jewish men and women of color since the very beginning.