“Solomon was building his own house thirteen years, and he finished his entire house.”
1 Kings 7:1 ESV
Tara-Leigh said something in The Bible Recap podcast this morning that opened up a new understanding for me. I had noticed before that it took Solomon nearly twice as long to build his own house as it did the temple. But I had always imagined that he completed the temple and then started the palace.
1 Kings 5:13 tells us that Solomon conscripted 30,000 forced laborers from “all over Israel” (likely non Israelites from the Canaanite people groups). Then verse 14 describes how they were divided:
“And he sent them to Lebanon, 10,000 a month in shifts. They would be a month in Lebanon and two months at home. Adoniram was in charge of the draft.”
1 Kings 5:14 ESV
There is a note in the ESV Study Bible that in the Hebrew, “home” strongly suggests “Solomon’s home”
So, there are a few possibilities here. One is that Solomon could have completed the temple in a third of the time if all his workers had been focused on building God’s house rather than dividing their time between the temple and the palace.
But maybe you are thinking “but the temple was smaller than a Chick Fil A. 30,000 workers would have been stepping all over each other.” Fair enough. In which case, perhaps he could have gotten the work done with about twenty thousand fewer slaves. At least.
All this for a building that Solomon himself was quick to remind people the Lord didn’t actually live in:
““But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built!”
1 Kings 8:27 ESV
I love church buildings. I really do. I’m one of those people that visits the Holy Land and gets excited about all the ancient churches. Touring Europe to see all the cathedrals is high on my bucket list. But there are things that are more important than magnificent buildings. One is the focus of the one in charge. Is he single minded on bringing glory to God? Or is he more focused on his own house, as Solomon was?
Second, how are the people doing the building being treated? More important than what they are building for you is what you are building into them.