Day 148: Solomon's Wealth
1 Kings 6:1-38 Construction of the Temple began about 966 BC, and meticulous care for detail was observed at every stage of the process; it was completed in 959 BC. In the inner sanctuary of the Temple, called the Holy of Holies, was placed the Ark of the Covenant, with its treasures and its mercy seat, as the sign of the presence of God in Israel. (CCC 2580)
Ch 6:11-13 This digression from the narrative reiterates what God and David had already said to Solomon about the many blessings that would be lavished on Israel as long as the people were faithful to God’s Commandments. It is believed that the two Books of Kings were compiled and edited many years later after the Babylonians had destroyed the Temple and exiled many of Israel’s citizens. This insertion into the text may have served to remind the readers that the destruction of the Temple, together with the massive exile of the people, was due to Solomon’s egregious infidelity and the subsequent infidelities of the Israelites.
Ch 6:23-28 The figures of the Cherubim surrounding the Ark of the Covenant DID NOT VIOLATE the Commandment against idolatry since their purpose was to serve as a powerful reminder of the sacred presence of the ONE, TRUE, and TRANSCENDENT GOD. At that time, almost all of the other ancient peoples worshipped the graven images THEMSELVES. We find multiple examples in the Old Testament where God permitted or commanded the fabrication of images as a means to serve his people in worshipping the one true God; these include the BRONZE SERPENT, the ARK OF THE COVENANT, and the CHERUBIM in the sanctuary of Solomon’s temple. The First Commandment’s prohibition of idolatry DOES NOT FORBID the use of SACRED IMAGES to cultivate devotion and piety. Sacred images of Christ, Mary, the saints, and other subjects are not themselves the focus of Christian prayer; rather, they serve as VISUAL REMINDERS that direct us to God or the saints, who assist us as intercessors. Given what the images represent, they may be VENERATED-NOT WORSHIPPED-since they ultimately lead us to the contemplation of God. (CCC 2130)
2 Chronicles 9:1-31 Most of this chapter is similar to 1 Kings Chapter 10, with some alterations that are primarily hagiographic in nature. This account, however, gives figures that emphasize Solomon’s wealth more than the inventory stated in 1 Kings. The visit of the Queen of Sheba, like the collaboration with Hiram of Tyre in building the Temple, attest to the kind of notoriety, good will, and respect that Solomon enjoyed among the nations during his reign.
Ch 9:23 Wisdom is a gift from the Holy Spirit that deepens faith and is a guide for actions that reflect love of God. (CCC 2690)
Psalm 4 The psalmist found himself “in distress” and prayed to God in confidence that he would hear and answer him.
God of my right: God is just and gives every person what is needed.
Joy...peace: These are the kind of joy and peace that flow out of Christ’s Resurrection and are included among the fruits of the Holy Spirit. They are gifts from Christ that the world cannot give nor can be obtained by human effort alone. (CCC 736, 2657, 2717,2718)
(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)
The Jerusalem Temple
After the Exodus, Moses and Israel prophetically sing:
“Thou wilt bring them in, and plant them on thy own mountain, the place, O Lord, which thou hast made for thy abode, the sanctuary, O Lord, which thy hands have established. (Ex 15:17)
Moses knew from the outset that the tabernacle, the tent of meeting, was a temporary arrangement, and he looked forward to the establishment of a permanent sanctuary in the Promised Land, as Deuteronomy proclaims:
“But when you go over the Jordan, and live in the land which the Lord your God gives you to inherit...then to the place which the Lord your God will choose, to make his name dwell there, thither you shall bring all that I command you: your burnt offerings and your sacrifices, your tithes and the offering that you present, and all your votive offerings which you vow to the Lord. (Dt 12:10-11)
In the Temple of Jerusalem, we find Solomon’s greatest contribution to the history of Israel, the fulfillment of God’s promise to David that his son would build a house for the Lord, and the fulfillment of Moses’ prophetic words uttered so long before.
The construction narrative of this massive building project is framed by mention of the assistance given him by Hiram, the king of Tyre, at its beginning (1 Kgs 5) and by the visit of the Queen of Sheba at its end (1 Kgs 10:1-13), thus presenting the edifice as a monument to the multinational impact and expansion of the Solomonic years.
Many modern readers bypass the architectural details of the Temple.
These seemingly trivial bits of information, however, contribute to an important dimension of Israel’s understanding of the Temple.
God is pervasive.
Large quantities of cedar and cypress go into the walls, ceiling, floor, and altar.
And there is a dominant floral motif throughout: palm trees, pomegranates, lily-work on the main pillars.
These three architectural features combine to present the Temple as a model of Eden.
The wood and floral motif, taken together with the carvings of lion and oxen on various panels, suggest a garden, the first garden.
The gold recalls the land of Havilah, which was irrigated by the river of Eden (Gn 2:11) and was known for its gold.
There are depictions of cherubim in the Temple, recalling the cherubim guarding the gates of Eden (Gn 3:24).
Adam and Eve were to fellowship with God and creation in their avodah (work).
Israel is now to fellowship with God and creation in the avodah (worship) of the Temple liturgy.
Its design taught the people of Israel to see the Temple as a mini-cosmos, and the cosmos as a macro-Temple in which they are to offer to God the avodah of their daily labors, just as they offer to God the avodah of the liturgy in the Jerusalem Temple.
God’s concern that his people understand the connection and integrity between life and liturgy is shown in 1 Kings 6:11-13, when God reminds Solomon that what he truly desires is not the Temple in itself, but an obedient heart.
The divine presence will dwell among Israel, not because of any attraction of the Temple but because the king leads his people in the ways of the Torah.
Scripture notes that Solomon built the house of the Lord “in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah” (2 Chr 3:1).
It was in the land of Moriah that Abraham climbed a mountain and was willing to offer his son Isaac.
Now Solomon will build the Temple at this location, and all the sacrifices offered there will recall a father’s faithfulness and his son’s willing sacrifice, and will call forth God to provide the promised lamb.
Ultimately, God the Father will provide the lamb in his Son, Jesus Christ.
(*Walking With God: A Journey Through The Bible by Tim Gray and Jeff Cavins)
Today we are talking a lot about King Solomon’s Temple with all the cubits and such so if you need help visualizing the Temple, Google “Dimensions of King Solomon’s Temple” for a visual aid (Or use Bing, or Yahoo, or for those of you leaders of the old school, AOL 🤪)
Starting tomorrow, we are taking a 2 week break from 2 Chronicles to start Ecclesiastes, one of the books of Wisdom of Solomon and that will take 5 days
This is a big moment because it’s the end of Solomon’s life
When we reconvene for 2 Chronicles Ch 10 and 11 and 1 Kings Ch 12 the timelines will more or less match up
We will learn about the new king, Rehoboam and that is going to be a disaster
After THAT, we will read the Gospel of Mark for our 2nd Messianic Checkpoint
So 2 Chronicles Ch 9 is the end of Solomon’s life
Solomon is known as the GREAT BUILDER, so says Jeff Cavins 😉
Solomon doesn’t just BUILD
Solomon also amasses GREAT WEALTH for the People of Israel as well as the Temple of the Lord
If there is a word that is a “motif” for the building of this magnificent Temple in
1 Kings Ch 6, it is GOLD
The other word is CUBITS
So Fr. Mike’s stream of consciousness is strong today I noticed
Look up what the Temple looked like
Reread that part of today’s chapters while looking at that artistic rendition
That’s what the stone looked like!
This is kind of remarkable!
Everything is remarkable!
So ok I think I caught up with Fr. Mike’s train of thought now
What was one of the commandments that Solomon gave to the workers?
They were to quarry the stones for the Temple and cut them AT THE QUARRY
They will not bang away at the stones at the site of the Temple
This is just one of those small things that if we miss it, we miss it because we don’t know what we are looking for
What is Solomon saying?
He is basically saying, “This is not MY house. This is not YOUR house. This is going to be GOD’S HOUSE.”
Because of that, there is a certain amount of sacred silence
Now it wasn’t TOTAL silence
We recognize the banging of rocks that did not happen there to highlight the fact that the FOUNDATION underneath all the gold, cedar, and cypress, was STONE that was DEDICATED TO THE LORD
There is something about the fact that it came there somewhat silent and was just put into place ready to go
St. Peter later on says, “You have been living stones in the Temple of the Lord.”
We are not put in place READY TO GO
But we ARE put into place to be that LIVING TEMPLE of the Lord
Not one piece of stone was seen because everything was overlaid with wood and gold
Because this is for the Lord
People wouldn’t really see the inside of the Temple
If you came to worship, you would more or less stay on the outside
The PRIESTS were the ones who went into the temple
We recognize all this gold, artwork, carved fruits, palm trees, incredibly massive cherubims, ALL OF THIS was basically UNSEEN BY ALL THE PEOPLE
What does that highlight?
It highlights that ALL OF THIS WORK, ALL OF THIS EFFORT, was simply FOR GOD HIMSELF
ALL THIS BEAUTY
ALL THIS GOLD
ALL THIS WEALTH
Was put into place so that the Temple of the Lord would be EXTRAORDINARY FOR THE LORD
We make churches now that can be REMARKABLY beautiful
One of the things that we can criticize is the EXTRAVAGANCE
We recognize that this is a place not only for the Lord
There is a guy named St. John Vianney (for a second, I thought Fr. Mike said St. John Bon Jovi 🎸🤣)
He was extremely poor
For the last 40 years or so of his life, he subsisted on a half a boiled potato, a cup of milk, and the Eucharist (which is better than the slop I had to eat in the cafeteria at med school in India I guarantee you that 😉)
All of the wages he got from being a priest, he spent on buying stuff for the Church
Beautiful things overlaid with gold (or just looked that way)
He wanted to make the church beautiful
We recognize in the New Covenant that we actually get to ENTER into the Holy of Holies
We get to APPROACH the sanctuary
We get to SEE into the HOUSE OF GOD
Not only are churches FOR GOD
They are also there for us to have ACCESS to the beauty of worship
We get to PARTICIPATE in the BEAUTY of the churches that we are invited into
We don’t stand OUTSIDE for worship
We enter INTO worship
Our churches are meant to be BEAUTIFUL FOR GOD, YES
So that we can PARTICIPATE in that beauty
So that we can ENTER INTO that beauty
And therefore enter into WORSHIP
It’s something REMARKABLE
This is what it was to live in the kingdom under King Solomon
What is also true is that NOT EVERYONE got to experience the joy of the king being so wealthy and all these business deals the king had with the nations around him
There is something about these prosperous days of Kings David and Solomon
2 Chronicles Ch 9 show examples of Solomon’s wealth and prosperity
Solomon made 200 large shields of hammered gold
Not gold plated
Not fools gold
600 shekels of hammered gold went into EACH LARGE SHIELD
The smaller 300 shields were made of 300 shekels of gold eah
The large shield would be worth maybe $150,000 a piece
The smaller shields would be worth maybe $77,000 a piece
So in total, they would all be worth $53,000,000
The shields were mainly decorative and put on display to show the beauty and power of the kingdom and of the king himself
Those shields would be USELESS in battle
Gold is very dense so the shields would be very heavy
Gold is a very soft metal so they would not make for good defense versus swords or spears (or lightsabers 🤓)
So this was just for show?
When King Solomon is assembling and building the Temple, he is doing it for the Lord
It was NOT just for show
King Solomon did it for GOD HIMSELF
But all the amassing of treasure was an issue
He had SO MUCH SILVER AND GOLD
Silver counted for NOTHING in the days of King Solomon
So who is King Solomon amassing all this other wealth for?
Who is he creating these 500 ornamental gold shields for?
Is this posturing?
Is this showing off?
Is Solomon becoming an IMAGE of strength who is NOT ACTUALLY STRONG?
King David was ACTUALLY strong
IMAGES OF STRENGTH
BUT NOT ACTUALLY STRONG
We aren’t asking these questions to CONDEMN King Solomon or anyone else
But we are asking these questions to really expose OUR OWN HEARTS
Where do I want to give off an IMAGE of GOODNESS, or HOLINESS, or WISDOM, or STRENGTH where it’s because I don’t believe that I am GOOD or HOLY, or WISE, or STRONG
We want to be TRULY WISE
We want to be TRULY GOOD
We want to be TRULY HOLY
We want to be TRULY STRONG
We want to TRULY BELONG TO THE LORD
That is a KEY THING
We don’t want to just give off an image of something for the Lord or anyone else IF THAT IS NOT WHO WE ARE
Of course, there are times where...
We are WEAK
We are NOT AS HOLY AS WE OUGHT TO BE
We are NOT AS GOOD AS WE OUGHT TO BE
We are NOT AS STRONG AS WE OUGHT TO BE
We are NOT AS WISE AS WE OUGHT TO BE
In that case we say,
“Ok God, make my internal reality match up with the desire of my heart. Help me to become a holy person, a good person, a wise person, and a strong person in your sight. For my family. For my friends. For your Church. And for your Glory. Amen”
That’s a great prayer 😉 so pray it for each other
PRAY FOR EACH OTHER
PRAY FOR FR. MIKE
Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven we thank you and we give you praise. We thank you so much for the gift of your Word, we thank you for the gift of peace and deliverance, Lord God, because you do deliver us from our enemies. Now, even when we are in distress, even when it seems like the world is crashing around us, even when it seems there are obstacles and truly there are obstacles in our lives, you make us lie down and sleep. Lord God, when we can’t sleep, when we cannot find rest, when our minds are so busy, are so scattered, and we feel so stretched so thin, then we can realize that we need to rely upon your grace and your mercy. God, when we pray, ‘Deliver me from this thorn. Deliver me from this trial,’ you speak to us the words that you spoke to St. Paul, ‘My Grace is sufficient for you. Power is made perfect in weakness.’ And so, we acknowledge our weakness so that we can accept your power. And we know it’s true, your Grace is sufficient for every one of our days, for every one of our moments. And so we give you praise. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”
1 Kg. 6:
6:18 Such horticultural imagery was iconic of the Garden of Eden. See 6:29.
2 Chron. 9:
9:9 As with 1 Kg. 5:22, this prefigures the Gentiles contributing their gifts for the edification of the Church.
9:14 See note on 9:9.
9:17 Solomon’s throne mystically prefigures the All-Holy Theotokos, who bore her son, the King, in her lap. That it is made of ivory, being white, is a symbol of her purity, the fine gold representing her virtues and holiness.
9:18 The two lions guarding the throne are iconic of the Cherubim guarding the Ark of the Covenant. They mystically represent the truth that Mary, the true Ark of God, is protected from sin.
9:19 The twelve lions which guard the throne signify the College of Apostles, who guard the deposit of Faith handed to them by Jesus Christ.
My Study Color Code
■ Suffering, Martyrdom ■ Places ■ The Church, Sacraments, Divinity ■ Horticultural Imagery ■ People ■ Messianic Kingship ■ Sin, Death, Decay