We have here a further account of the furniture of God's house. I. Those things that were of brass. The altar for burnt-offerings (ver. 1), the sea and lavers to hold water (ver. 2-6), the plates with which the doors of the court were overlaid (ver. 9), the vessels of the altar, and other things, ver. 10-18. II. Those that were of gold. The candlesticks and tables (ver. 7, 8), the altar of incense (ver. 19), and the appurtenances of each of these, ver. 20-22. All these, except the brazen altar (ver. 1), were accounted for more largely, 1 Kings vii. 23, &c.
The Furniture of the Temple.
B. C. 1012.
1 Moreover he made an altar of brass, twenty cubits the length thereof, and twenty cubits the breadth thereof, and ten cubits the height thereof. 2 Also he made a molten sea of ten cubits from brim to brim, round in compass, and five cubits the height thereof; and a line of thirty cubits did compass it round about. 3 And under it was the similitude of oxen, which did compass it round about: ten in a cubit, compassing the sea round about. Two rows of oxen were cast, when it was cast. 4 It stood upon twelve oxen, three looking toward the north, and three looking toward the west, and three looking toward the south, and three looking toward the east: and the sea was set above upon them, and all their hinder parts were inward. 5 And the thickness of it was a handbreadth, and the brim of it like the work of the brim of a cup, with flowers of lilies; and it received and held three thousand baths. 6 He made also ten lavers, and put five on the right hand, and five on the left, to wash in them: such things as they offered for the burnt offering they washed in them; but the sea was for the priests to wash in. 7 And he made ten candlesticks of gold according to their form, and set them in the temple, five on the right hand, and five on the left. 8 He made also ten tables, and placed them in the temple, five on the right side, and five on the left. And he made an hundred basons of gold. 9 Furthermore he made the court of the priests, and the great court, and doors for the court, and overlaid the doors of them with brass. 10 And he set the sea on the right side of the east end, over against the south.
David often speaks with much affection both of the house of the Lord and of the courts of our God. Both without doors and within there was that which typified the grace of the gospel and shadowed out good things to come, of which the substance is Christ.
I. There were those things in the open court, in the view of all the people, which were very significant.
1. There was the brazen altar, v. 1. The making of this was not mentioned in the Kings. On this all the sacrifices were offered, and it sanctified the gift. This altar was much larger than that which Moses made in the tabernacle; that was five cubits square, this was twenty cubits square. Now that Israel had become both numerous and more rich, and it was to be hoped more devout (for every age should aim to be wiser and better than that which went before it), it was expected that there would be a greater abundance of offerings brought to God's altar than had been. It was therefore made such a capacious scaffold that it might hold them all, and none might excuse themselves from bringing those temptations of their devotion by alleging that there was not room to receive them. God had greatly enlarged their borders; it was therefore fit that they should enlarge his altars. Our returns should bear some proportion to our receivings. It was ten cubits high, so that the people who worshipped in the courts might see the sacrifice burnt, and their eye might affect their heart with sorrow for sin: "It is of the Lord's mercies that I am not thus consumed, and that this is accepted as an expiation of my guilt." They might thus be led to consider the great sacrifice which should be offered in the fulness of time to take away sin and abolish death, which the blood of bulls and goats could not possibly do. And with the smoke of the sacrifices their hearts might ascend to heaven in holy desires towards God and his favour. In all our devotions we must keep the eye of faith fixed upon Christ, the great propitiation. How they went up to this altar, and carried the sacrifices up to it, we are not told; some think by a plain ascent like a hill: if by steps, doubtless they were so contrived as that the end of the law (mentioned Exod. xx. 26) might be answered.
2. There was the molten sea, a very large brass pan, in which they put water for the priests to wash in, v. 2, 6. It was put just at the entrance into the court of the priests, like the font at the church door. If it were filled to the brim, it would hold 3000 baths (as here, v. 5), but ordinarily there were only 2000 baths in it, 1 Kings vii. 26. The Holy Ghost by this signified, (1.) Our great gospel privilege, that the blood of Christ cleanseth from all sin, 1 John i. 7. To us there is a fountain opened for all believers (who are spiritual priests, Rev. i. 5, 6), nay, for all the inhabitants of Jerusalem to wash in, from sin, which is uncleanness. There is a fulness of merit in Jesus Christ for all those that by faith apply to him for the purifying of their consciences, that they might serve the living God, Heb. ix. 14. (2.) Our great gospel duty, which is to cleanse ourselves by true repentance from all the pollutions of the flesh and the corruption that is in the world. Our hearts must be sanctified, or we cannot sanctify the name of God. Those that draw nigh to God must cleanse their hands, and purify their hearts, Jam. iv. 8. If I was thee not, thou hast no part with me; and he that is washed still needs to wash his feet, to renew his repentance, whenever he goes in to minister, John xiii. 10.
3. There were ten lavers of brass, in which they washed such things as they offered for the burnt-offerings, v. 6. As the priests must be washed, so must the sacrifices. We must not only purify ourselves in preparation for our religious performances, but carefully put away all those vain thoughts and corrupt aims which cleave to our performances themselves and pollute them.
4. The doors of the court were overlaid with brass (v. 9), both for strength and beauty, and that they might not be rotted with the weather, to which they were exposed. Gates of brass we read of, Ps. cvii. 16.
II. There were those things in the house of the Lord (into which the priests alone went to minister) that were very significant. All was gold there. The nearer we come to God the purer we must be, the purer we shall be. 1. There were ten golden candlesticks, according to the form of that one which was in the tabernacle, v. 7. The written word is a lamp and a light, shining in a dark place. In Moses's time they had but one candlestick, the Pentateuch; but the additions which, in process of time, were to be made of other books of scripture might be signified by this increase of the number of the candlesticks. Light was growing. The candlesticks are the churches, Rev. i. 20. Moses set up but one, the church of the Jews; but, in the gospel temple, not only believers, but churches, are multiplied. 2. There were ten golden tables (v. 8), tables whereon the show-bread was set, v. 19. Perhaps every one of the tables had twelve loaves of show-bread on it. As the house was enlarged, the house-keeping was. In my father's house there is bread enough for the whole family. To those tables belonged 100 golden basins, or dishes; for God's table is well furnished. 3. There was a golden altar (v. 19), on which they burnt incense. It is probable that this was enlarged in proportion to the brazen altar. Christ, who once for all made atonement for sin, ever lives, making intercession, in virtue of that atonement.
11 And Huram made the pots, and the shovels, and the basons. And Huram finished the work that he was to make for king Solomon for the house of God; 12 To wit, the two pillars, and the pommels, and the chapiters which were on the top of the two pillars, and the two wreaths to cover the two pommels of the chapiters which were on the top of the pillars; 13 And four hundred pomegranates on the two wreaths; two rows of pomegranates on each wreath, to cover the two pommels of the chapiters which were upon the pillars. 14 He made also bases, and lavers made he upon the bases; 15 One sea, and twelve oxen under it. 16 The pots also, and the shovels, and the fleshhooks, and all their instruments, did Huram his father make to king Solomon for the house of the Lord of bright brass. 17 In the plain of Jordan did the king cast them, in the clay ground between Succoth and Zeredathah. 18 Thus Solomon made all these vessels in great abundance: for the weight of the brass could not be found out. 19 And Solomon made all the vessels that were for the house of God, the golden altar also, and the tables whereon the showbread was set; 20 Moreover the candlesticks with their lamps, that they should burn after the manner before the oracle, of pure gold; 21 And the flowers, and the lamps, and the tongs, made he of gold, and that perfect gold; 22 And the snuffers, and the basons, and the spoons, and the censers, of pure gold: and the entry of the house, the inner doors thereof for the most holy place, and the doors of the house of the temple, were of gold.
We have here such a summary both of the brass-work and the gold-work of the temple as we had before (1 Kings vii. 13, &c.), in which we have nothing more to observe than, 1. That Huram the workman was very punctual: He finished all that he was to make (v. 11), and left no part of his work undone. Huram, his father, he is called, v. 16. Probably it was a sort of nickname by which he was commonly known, Father Huram; for the king of Tyre called him Huram Abi, my father, in compliance with whom Solomon called him his, he being a great artist and father of the artificers in brass and iron. He acquitted himself well both for ingenuity and industry. 2. Solomon was very generous. He made all the vessels in great abundance (v. 18), many of a sort, that many hands might be employed, and so the work might go on with expedition, or that some might be laid up for use when others were worn out. Freely he has received, and he will freely give. When he had made vessels enough for the present he could not convert the remainder of the brass to his own use; it is devoted to God, and it shall be used for him.