Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Hiram (1 Kings 5:1-12)

Hiram—A family friend (1 Kings 5:1-12)
Dr. Paul Manuel—2019

People are often oblivious to matters they do not think should concern them, a tendency that others may notice.
Karl listened from the other room as his wife patiently said to their five-year-old daughter, "Please pick up your toys." After a few minutes, she again said, "Please pick up your toys." Finally, and with some exasperation in her voice, his wife asked, "Why aren't you picking up your things?" Karl rolled his eyes when he heard their daughter's answer, "I'm playing house and I'm the dad...so I don't know where anything goes."
People are often oblivious to matters they do not think should concern them. That is not so with Solomon who is very concerned with a matter he inherits from his father— the task of building a temple.

When Solomon succeeds David on the throne of Israel he has an ambitious construction agenda, the most grandiose item being to replace the portable and temporary tabernacle with a stationary and permanent temple. David cannot take on this project because his administration is too involved in foreign military ventures. By the time Solomon comes to power, however, the kingdom is at peace, and the new king can focus on domestic matters, including building projects he wants to complete, such as the temple. Solomon says,
Because of the wars waged against my father David from all sides, he could not build a temple for the Name of the LORD his God until the LORD put his enemies under his feet. But now the LORD my God has given me rest on every side, and there is no adversary or disaster. I intend, therefore, to build a temple for the Name of the LORD my God, as the LORD told my father David. (1 Kgs 5:3-5)
Solomon accomplishes this project with considerable help from one of David's Companions, Hiram—A family friend. Hiram helps David build a "palace" (2 Sam 5:11) and will now help Solomon build a temple.

David does not have many friends among his Ancient Near Eastern neighbors. Most consider him their enemy. The reason for this is, in part, the adversarial role God's commandments require:
When you march up to attack a city, make its people an offer of peace. If they accept and open their gates, all the people in it shall be subject to forced labor and shall work for you. If they refuse to make peace and they engage you in battle, lay siege to that city....put to the sword all the men in it.... This is how you are to treat all the cities that are at a distance from you and do not belong to the nations nearby. In the cities of the nations the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance, do not leave alive anything that breathes. Completely destroy them.... Otherwise, they will teach you to follow all the detestable things they do in worshiping their gods, and you will sin against the LORD your God. (Deut 20:10-18)
Tyre is north of Israel, outside the sphere of God's primary concern for pagan influence, and Hiram, the ruler of Tyre, is on good terms with his neighbor to the south. So, when the Israeli government changes with Solomon's ascension to the throne, Hiram sends the new administration his good wishes.

I. Hiram congratulates Solomon upon his coronation (1 Kings 5:1).
1 Kgs 5:1 When Hiram king of Tyre heard that Solomon had been anointed king to succeed his father David, he sent his envoys to Solomon, because he had always been on friendly terms with David.
It is customary on such an occasion to send representatives with gifts, and these representatives may be diplomats wanting to secure for Hiram the same formal relationship he had with David.

A. The Tyrian king sends his delegates.
Their mission is evidently successful because "the two of them [make] a treaty" (1 Kgs 5:12). The agreement is easier because there is an uneventful transition of power in Jerusalem.
B. The Israelite king succeeds his father.
Unlike many other administrations in the Ancient Near East, the monarchy in Israel (i.e., before the division into north and south) is hereditary, passing from father to son. Furthermore, the transition is generally peaceful and, except for Absalom's brief coup attempt, it is a smooth change from David to Solomon.

Application: Sometimes, perhaps often, you may not appreciate or even notice how God has intervened to make your life easier because you have given Him priority. He is free to work His will without encountering resistance to it. You implement the sage's counsel, "In all your ways acknowledge Him [i.e., put Him first], and He will make your paths straight" (Prov 3:6). The formula for guaranteed success in life is not complicated. It is both simple and straightforward—Put God's interests ahead of your interests.

Some people might think that David does not reach his full potential because he does not build the temple. He prepares for it by gathering materials, but he does not see to its construction. Yet of all the people God puts forth as models of advancing His agenda, it is someone with but a single qualification. He is "a man after [God's] own heart" (1 Sam 13:14). That is, he puts God first. So, what he accomplishes, despite its not including temple construction, because of his desire to please God, was his full potential. If your greatest desire is to please God, then you, like David, will reach your fullest potential.

The job of building the temple falls to Solomon. It is a monumental task, and he asks Hiram to be part of that venture.

II. Solomon requests help with temple construction (1 Kgs 5:2, 6).
1 Kgs 5:2 Solomon sent back this message to Hiram: ...6 "Give orders that cedars of Lebanon be cut for me. My men will work with yours, and I will pay you for your men whatever wages you set. You know that we have no one so skilled in felling timber as the Sidonians."
Some of Hiram's subjects have a reputation for being able to work with timber native to the northern region.
A. The king needs materials.
While Israel does have some trees (e.g., "the forested hill country" Josh 17:18), "the cedars of Lebanon"° are better suited for construction than are "sycamore-fig trees" (1 Kgs 10:27), and Solomon knows Hiram can supply some of the best lumber available for large projects.
B. The king needs workers.
Solomon has people to do the construction, but he can also use more help. Hiram is not merely shipping the lumber, he is also providing the laborers skilled in working with this resource, a service he may not offer to every customer.

Application: You might start a new project without realizing how much effort or money it will require. If you begin a project of which God would approve, then you can depend on His support throughout, although you may still need to count the cost. Whether or not Solomon thinks he will need help from Hiram, God knows how big this project is. Since building the temple does have God's approval, Solomon can rely on His support throughout, even if some unexpected challenges arise along the way. As Paul writes, "God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches" (Phil 4:19).

Hiram provides raw materials for Solomon's temple project: "Hiram kept Solomon supplied with all the cedar and pine logs he wanted" (1 Kgs 5:10).

III. Both men cooperate for temple construction (1 Kgs 5:10-12).
1 Kgs 5:10 Hiram kept Solomon supplied with all the cedar and pine logs he wanted, 11 and Solomon gave Hiram twenty thousand cors of wheat as food for his household, in addition to twenty thousand baths of pressed olive oil. Solomon continued to do this for Hiram year after year.... 12b There were peaceful relations between Hiram and Solomon, and the two of them made a treaty.
Although there are no contemporaneous accounts outside the Bible, this temple project must be one of the most impressive structures in the Ancient Near East: "The temple that King Solomon built for the LORD was sixty cubits long [= 90], twenty wide [= 35] and thirty high [= 45]" (1 Kgs 6:2).
A. They agree on the cost.
In the negotiations that ensue, Hiram and Solomon come to terms for the purchase of building materials. At last, all the work is carried out, "from the day the foundation of the temple of the LORD [is] laid until its completion" (2 Chr 8:16). But this collaboration between Hiram and Solomon is more than an exchange of goods and services.
B. They agree on a treaty.
God does not forbid His people from having contact with their pagan neighbors, God does, however, caution His people that establishing contracts with their pagan neighbors can be detrimental: "Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land where you are going, or they will be a snare among you" (Exod 34:12). Israel's close relationships with pagan neighbors ("in the land") can jeopardize the nation's relationship with God if His people adopts the behavior of its pagan neighbors.

Application: It is God's desire that you have a positive affect on other people, attracting them to Him. Nevertheless, He recognizes that other people may have a negative affect on His people (you), turning them from the path of righteousness He has set before them. As the sage recommends, "If sinners entice you, do not give in to them.... If they say, "Come along with us...." Do not go along with them...for their feet rush into sin." (Prov 1:10-11, 15-16) Set an example for others. Be a trend fashioner not a trend follower; do not let your peers dictate your priorities.

Conclusion: Building the temple is Solomon's great task, a project he does not undertake alone but with help from one of David's Companions, Hiram—A family friend, whose acquaintance comes through a relationship his father establishes. Rarely, if ever, does what you endeavor start with you. It is often the culmination or continuation of something God began earlier, perhaps much earlier, and you are simply the latest participant, and "He who began a good work...will carry it on to completion" (Phil 1:6).

For the Footnotes and Bibliography see the pdf here.

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Relevant and civil comments are welcome. Whether there will be any response depends on whether Dr. Manuel notices them and has the time and inclination to respond or, if not, whether I feel competent to do so.
Jim Skaggs