Bible Book List
Matthew Henry's Commentary – Verses 10–18
Verses 10–18

Here is, I. The performance of the agreement between Solomon and Hiram. Each of the parties made good his engagement. 1. Hiram delivered Solomon the timber, according to his bargain, 1 Kgs. 5:10. The trees were Solomon’s, but perhaps—Materiam superabat opus—The workmanship was of more value than the article. Hiram is therefore said to deliver the trees. 2. Solomon conveyed to Hiram the corn which he had promised him, 1 Kgs. 5:11. Thus let justice be followed (as the expression is, Deut. 16:20), justice on both sides, in every bargain.

II. The confirmation of the friendship that was between them hereby. God gave Solomon wisdom (1 Kgs. 5:12), which was more and better than any thing Hiram did or could give him; but this made Hiram love him, and enabled Solomon to improve his kindness, so that they were both willing to ripen their mutual love into a mutual league, that it might be lasting. It is wisdom to strengthen our friendship with those whom we find to be honest and fair, lest new friends prove not so firm and so kind as old ones.

III. The labourers whom Solomon employed in preparing materials for the temple. 1. Some were Israelites, who were employed in the more easy and honourable part of the work, felling trees and helping to square them, in conjunction with Hiram’s servants; for this he appointed 30,000, but employed only 10,000 at a time, so that for one month’s work they had two months’ vacation, both for rest and for the despatch of their own affairs at home, 1 Kgs. 5:13, 14. It was temple service, yet Solomon takes care that they shall not be over-worked. Great men ought to consider that their servants must rest as well as they. 2. Others were captives of other nations, who were to bear burdens and to hew stone (1 Kgs. 5:15), and we read not that these had their resting times as the other had, for they were doomed to servitude. 3. There were some employed as directors and overseers (1 Kgs. 5:16), 3300 that ruled over the people, and they were as necessary and useful in their place as the labourers in theirs; here were many hands and many eyes employed, for preparation was now to be made, not only for the temple, but for all the rest of Solomon’s buildings, at Jerusalem, and here in the forest of Lebanon, and in other places of his dominion, of which see 1 Kgs. 9:17-19. He speaks of the vastness of his undertakings (Eccl. 2:4; I made me great works), which required this vast number of workmen.

IV. The laying of the foundation of the temple; for that is the building his heart is chiefly upon, and therefore he begins with that, 1 Kgs. 5:17, 18. It should seem, Solomon was himself present, and president, at the founding of the temple, and that the first stone (as has been usual in famous buildings) was laid with some solemnity. Solomon commanded and they brought costly stones for the foundation; he would do every thing like himself, generously, and therefore would have some of the costliest stones laid, or buried rather, in the foundation, though, being out of sight, worse might have served. Christ, who is laid for a foundation, is an elect and precious stone (Isa. 28:16), and the foundations of the church are said to be laid with sapphires, Isa. 54:11; compare Rev. 21:19. That sincerity which is our gospel perfection obliges us to lay our foundation firm and to bestow most pains on that part of our religion which lies out of the sight of men.