2 Kings 5-6, 1 Chronicles 2-3: Building Temples on the Backs of People

The reading today is, in general, a glorious retelling of Solomon’s faithfulness to build a temple for the Lord, but in the midst of all the gold and pillars and rigorous attention to details, there is one very glaring error on the part of Solomon. 2 Kings 5:13:

13 King Solomon drafted forced labor out of all Israel, and the draft numbered 30,000 men.

In his efforts to build the temple, Solomon made slaves of the people of Israel. Contrast this with the building of the tabernacle in the wilderness in Exodus 34, where the people gave so much to the building effort that Moses actually turned people away.

What changed?

Solomon lost sight of why David wanted to build the temple in the first place. It was not because God needed it. It was because he wanted to honor the Lord with what he had been given. Solomon did not stop to consider the cost of such a build and used the people as tools rather than encouraging them to contribute on their own. He was too focused on the building than the Lord to whom the building pointed.

We can too easily become focused on our service of the Lord, rather than the Lord Himself. Serving God does not replace knowing Him, it flows out of knowing Him. We have to remember that above all else, Jesus went to the cross for the glory of His Father’s name. The greatest act of service in history kept in view the glory of God and did not become distracted by the act. We must seek to do the same. God does not need our service and He did not need forced labor to build His temple. God wants our hearts turned toward Him in praise of His great name.

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