Never had any man so much of the spirit of building as Solomon had, nor to better purpose; he began with the temple, built for God first, and then all his other buildings were comfortable. The surest foundations of lasting prosperity are those which are laid in an early piety, Matt. 6:33. 1. He built a house for himself (1 Kgs. 7:1), where he dwelt, 1 Kgs. 7:8. His father had built a good house; but it was no reflection upon his father for him to build a better, in proportion to the estate wherewith God had blessed him. Much of the comfort of this life is connected with an agreeable house. He was thirteen years building this house, whereas he built the temple in little more than seven years; not that he was more exact, but less eager and intent, in building his own house than in building God’s. He was in no haste for his own palace, but impatient till the temple was finished and fit for use. Thus we ought to prefer God’s honour before our own ease and satisfaction. 2. He built the house of the forest at Lebanon (1 Kgs. 7:2), supposed to be a country seat near Jerusalem, so called from the pleasantness of its situation and the trees that encompassed it. I rather incline to think that it was a house built in the forest of Lebanon itself, whither (though far distant from Jerusalem) Solomon (having so many chariots and horses, and those dispersed into chariot-cities, which probably were his stages) might frequently retire with ease. It does not appear that his throne (mentioned 1 Kgs. 7:7) was at the house of the forest of Lebanon, and it was not at all improper to put his shields there as in a magazine. Express notice is taken of his buildings, not only in Jerusalem, but in Lebanon (1 Kgs. 9:19), and we read of the tower of Lebanon, which looks towards Damascus (Song 7:4), which probably was part of this house. A particular account is given of this house, that being built in Lebanon, a place famed for cedars, the pillars, and beams, and roof, were all cedar (1 Kgs. 7:2, 3), and, being designed for pleasant prospects, there were three tiers of windows on each side, light against light (1 Kgs. 7:4, 5), or, as it may be read, prospect against prospect. Those whose lost i cast in the country may be well reconciled to a country life by this, that some of the greatest princes have thought those the most pleasant of their days which they have spent in their country retirements. 3. He built piazzas before one of his houses, either that at Jerusalem or that in Lebanon, which were very famous—a porch of pillars (1 Kgs. 7:6), perhaps for an exchange or a guard-house, or for those to walk in that attended him about business till they could have audience, or for state and magnificence. He himself speaks of Wisdom’s building her house, and hewing out her seven pillars (Prov. 9:1), for the shelter of those that, three verses before (1 Kgs. 8:34), are said to watch daily at her gates and to wait at the posts of her doors. 4. At his house where he dwelt in Jerusalem he built a great hall, or porch of judgment, where was set the throne, or king’s bench, for the trial of causes, in which he himself was appealed to (placita coram ipso rege tenenda—causes were to be adjusted in the king’s presence,) and this was richly wainscoted with cedar, from the floor to the roof, 1 Kgs. 7:7. He had there also another court within the porch, nearer his house, of similar work, for his attendants to walk in, 1 Kgs. 7:8. 5. He built a house for his wife, where she kept her court, 1 Kgs. 7:8. It is said to be like the porch, because built of cedar like it, though not in the same form; this, no doubt, was nearer adjoining to his own palace, yet perhaps if it had been as near as it ought to have been Solomon would not have multiplied wives as he did.
The wonderful magnificence of all these buildings is taken notice of, 1 Kgs. 7:9-12 All the materials were the best of their kind. The foundation-stones were costly for their size, four or five yards square, or at least so many yards long (1 Kgs. 7:10), and the stones of the building were costly for the workmanship, hewn and sawn, and in all respects finely wrought, 1 Kgs. 7:9, 11. The court of his own house was like that of the temple (1 Kgs. 7:12; 1 Kgs. 6:36); so well did he like the model of God’s courts that he made his own by it.