By J.R. Miller
1 Kings 5
The temple was David's thought. He was not permitted to build it, however, because his work was conquest, the establishing of the kingdom. But his thought was not rejected; it was approved and commended. He was allowed to make vast preparation for the work. He purchased the site for the building and gathered gold and other materials for it. In the fourth year of his reign, when Solomon was secure in his kingdom, he began to build the temple. He entered upon the work with great enthusiasm. He was a lover of magnificence, and spared nothing in making the sacred building the most splendid in the world.
Solomon received help from the king of Tyre. It was more than a commercial league that existed between these two kings--there was also a close personal friendship between them. So when work on the building was about to begin, Hiram sought an opportunity to assist. This is another of the blessings which came down to Solomon from his father. Hiram had been a lover of David, and he wished to continue with David's son, the friendship which he had maintained so long with the father. A father's friends become the inheritance of the children. This is a rich legacy when a man has lived a true and worthy life and has made good friends.
Of course, everyone really has to win his own friends. No son can go very long on his father's friendships. He must make them his own by a true life, by worthy conduct, by an unselfish spirit. But those who have been the father's friends--are disposed to be friendly to the son. He can make them his friends--if he desires. They are ready to become his friends for his father's sake. The "good will" of a long-established business, is the result of a man's wise, liberal, and honest dealing through his lifetime. He has built his own character into it. This the son may make his own--if he will maintain his father's character and principles and continue his father's honesty and truthfulness. So in all life--it is a great thing to have a good and worthy father, and the son may enjoy the benefit from the friendships his father has formed, unless by his own lack of worth and worthiness, he flings away his blessings.
Solomon reminded Hiram, that David had desired to build a temple to the Lord, and told him that now, since peace had come to his kingdom, he was going to build it. This rest from war and strife made the present, the time for the work. The temple could not be built in time of war.
Just so, times of quiet and restfulness in one's life should not be idle times. There is other work to do then, besides rushing activity. These are days for temple building. True living is not all struggle, conflict, conquest, gathering money, toiling with one's hands. Building of character is the great work of life. This goes on best in the quiet.
A man who had been himself occupied in business for a great while, with scarcely a day's rest or pause, was stricken down with a partial paralysis. He was compelled to lie still for months. His mind was clear and active, while his body was inactive. One day he said to his pastor, "I have grown more in these quiet months--than I did in all my long years of rushing activity!" He was now really building up the temple of God in his own soul. Ofttimes days of suffering, or pain, or sickness--are one's very best days. We ought not to wait for necessary inactivity to compel us to be still; we should get the quiet into our life--even in our busiest times. We should train ourselves to it. We should teach our hearts to be still--amid all possible confusion. Only thus, can we be ready for our best work. We must have a restful spirit, if we would build up the inner temple of our lives. There should be "silent times" in every day's life.
The secret of Daniel's noble character, while carrying a great part of the burden of the kingdom of Babylon, was that he never forsook the quiet place of prayer. Not even the threat of the lions' den could make him neglect the season of devotion. There is no other secret of a true and noble life, amid the world's strifes and trials. We must keep quiet within--that we may build up in our hearts the temple of God.
Solomon told Hiram of the work he had in hand for God. He purposed to build a house for Him. He knew what God's plan for his life was, and he purposed now to realize it. He knew that God wanted him to build a temple--and he set about building it. We should all seek to know our duty--and then do it. God has a plan for every life. For every child that is born in the worldj there is some purpose in God's thought, something which He wishes that child to do, some place He wishes it to fill.
But how can we ever find out what God's plan for our life is? Solomon knew what God's plan was in this case, for God had told David, and David had told his son. But most of us do not have such direct revealings of our duty. How then can we know what God wants us to do? The answer is, that if we will quietly follow Christ day by day--He will make known to us what His plan for us is. He may not tell us at the beginning what He would have us do years and years hence. But as we go on, doing each day the things that He gives--we shall in the end accomplish all His plan.
God's purpose begins with the little child. He found David when he was only a boy, keeping sheep. It was a long while before David would be a king--but every day of his shepherd life, was a part of God's plan in his preparation for being king. So we need not worry about what God wants us to do; we may simply do each day--the things He gives us to do, and then at the close of our life, if we have been faithful all the while, we shall be able to say, "I have finished the work which You gave me to do." We may not know in advance what we shall have to do any day--but as we go on, we shall know. Doing God's will as far as we know it--we come to know more and more of it, and thus finish it at last!
Solomon sent to Lebanon for cedar trees for the temple. Why did he not use the trees that grew in his own country? The reason was that the cedars which grew on Mt. Lebanon were the finest woods that could be found anywhere in the world. Solomon was determined to put into the temple, nothing but the best. He must have the finest stones, the best timbers, the purest gold, the richest precious stones, the most beautiful works of art in all departments. The temple must contain in its materials the best things the world could furnish. Nothing imperfect, nothing poor, nothing unworthy must go into that noble building!
We get a lesson here for ourselves. In the building of our character, nothing that is not beautiful, that is not the best, should be used. We should read the best books, so as to build into our life-temple the greatest and noblest thoughts in the world. Nothing stained or unholy should ever be used.
Our friendships have very much to do with the making of our character, and we should have only good, true, and worthy friends. Unworthy companionships build blotched stones into our life temple. Above all we should read the Bible, for it contains God's thoughts and God's words, which make the best building material. They are all white and of the purest marble, and there is no blemish or flaw anywhere in them!
Then above all companionships, we should have that of Christ, for He is the truest, the most inspiring Friend that any mortal can have. Let us be sure that we build only the best things into our temple fabric.
We should put into God's work what we do in other lives--only the best. We should never give a touch to any character, through word, or disposition, or act, or influence of ours--that is not clean enough to appear before Christ's holy eyes.
The laborers of Hiram brought the trees from the mountains of Lebanon to the sea. Thus the men of Tyre and Sidon became helpers in building the temple. It is interesting to notice that not only were many of the materials brought from heathen lands--but much of the work was done by heathen builders and artists. This suggests to us, that in the great temple of God that is rising in heaven, men of all nations do their part. Today the missionaries are carrying the gospel to all parts of the earth, to every nation under heaven, and many converts from heathen lands, are at work on the walls of the great temple. It will be seen at last, that there has been no nation under heaven which has not furnished some souls for heaven's great family.
Solomon devoted himself with enthusiasm to the work of building the temple. He did what God gave him to do--and then God gave him wisdom for each new duty and responsibility. God always keeps His promises--but His promises depend upon our obedience. If we will not do our part, neither can we have God's promised blessing. The lepers were cleansed "as they went." That is, they obeyed Christ's command to go and show themselves to the priests, and as they departed, healing came.
God promises us guidance in all our life's paths--but to get His guidance--we must go on, taking each step as He shows it to us. The guidance comes--only as we obey. God promises us strength according to our day--but to get the strength we must do the duty which the day brings. The strength is not given in advance--but it comes only as it is needed. If we will not go forward in the way of God's commands--we must not expect to get God's help.
There is a promise which says, "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God." But if we would get this wisdom, we must do our part. Wisdom is given--only as it is used. The lesson is one we should never forget, that all God's blessings depend upon our obedience and faithfulness.