Solomon’s wisdom was given him, not merely for speculation, to entertain himself (though it is indeed a princely entertainment), nor merely for conversation, to entertain his friends, but for action; and therefore to action he immediately applies himself. Observe,
I. His resolution within himself concerning his business (2 Chron. 2:1): He determined to build, in the first place, a house for the name of the Lord. It is fit that he who is the first should be served—first a temple and then a palace, a house not so much for himself, or his own convenience and magnitude, as for the kingdom, for the honour of it among its neighbours and for the decent reception of the people whenever they had occasion to apply to their prince; so that in both he aimed at the public good. Those are the wisest men that lay out themselves most for the honour of the name of the Lord and the welfare of communities. We are not born for ourselves, but for God and our country.
II. His embassy to Huram, king of Tyre, to engage his assistance in the prosecution of his designs. The purport of his errand to him is much the same here as we had it 1 Kgs. 5:2-6, only here it is more largely set forth.
1. The reasons why he makes this application to Huram are here more fully represented, for information to Huram as well as for inducement. (1.) He pleads his father’s interest in Huram, and the kindness he had received from him (2 Chron. 2:3): As thou didst deal with David, so deal with me. As we must show kindness to, so we may expect kindness from, our fathers’ friends, and with them should cultivate a correspondence. (2.) He represents his design in building the temple: he intended it for a place of religious worship (2 Chron. 2:4), that all the offerings which God had appointed for the honour of his name might be offered up there. The house was built that it might be dedicated to God and used in his service. This we should aim at in all our business, that our havings and doings may be all to the glory of God. He mentions various particular services that were there to be performed, for the instruction of Huram. The mysteries of the true religion, unlike those of the Gentile superstition, coveted not concealment. (3.) He endeavors to inspire Huram with very great and high thoughts of the God of Israel, by expressing the mighty veneration he had for his holy name: Great is our God above all gods, above all idols, above all princes. Idols are nothing, princes are little, and both under the control of the God of Israel; and therefore, [1.] “The house must be great; not in proportion to the greatness of that God to whom it is to be dedicated (for between finite and infinite there can be no proportion), but in some proportion to the great value and esteem we have for this God.” [2.] “Yet, be it ever so great, it cannot be a habitation for the great God. Let not Huram think that the God of Israel, like the gods of the nations, dwells in temples made with hands, Acts 17:24. No, the heaven of heavens cannot contain him. It is intended only for the convenience of his priests and worshippers, that they may have a fit place wherein to burn sacrifice before him.” [3.] He looked upon himself, though a mighty prince, as unworthy the honour of being employed in this great work: Who am I that I should build him a house? It becomes us to go about every work for God with a due sense of our utter insufficiency for it and our incapacity to do any thing adequate to the divine perfections. It is part of the wisdom wherein we ought to walk towards those that are without carefully to guard against all misapprehension which any thing we say or do may occasion concerning God; so Solomon does here in his treaty with Huram.
2. The requests he makes to him are more particularly set down here. (1.) He desired Huram would furnish him with a good hand to work (2 Chron. 2:7): Send me a man. He had cunning men with him in Jerusalem and Judah, whom David provided, 1 Chron. 22:15. Let them not think but that Jews had some among them that were artists. But “send me a man to direct them. There are ingenious men in Jerusalem, but not such engravers as are in Tyre; and therefore, since temple-work must be the best in its kind, let me have the best workmen that can be got.” (2.) With good materials to work on (2 Chron. 2:8), cedar and other timber in abundance (2 Chron. 2:8, 9); for the house must be wonderfully great, that is, very stately and magnificent, no cost must be spared, nor any contrivance wanting in it.
3. Here is Solomon’s engagement to maintain the workmen (2 Chron. 2:10), to give them so much wheat and barley, so much wine and oil. He did not feed his workmen with bread and water, but with plenty, and every thing of the best. Those that employ labourers ought to take care they be not only well paid, but well provided for with sufficient of that which is wholesome and fit for them. Let the rich masters do for their poor workmen as they would be done by if the tables were turned.