Solomon’s House and Biblical “Hinting”

At times my wife has made an observation. “The trash is getting really full.” Beneath that statement is not-so-subtle suggestion, “Honey, please take the trash out…now would be a good time!”

At times the authors of Scripture hint to us. The reader could mistake the narrative for a simple statement of the facts, but a careful reading unearths the real message being communicated. An example of this occurs in I Kings 6:37-7:1.

“In the fourth year the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid, in the month of Ziv. And in the eleventh year, in the month of Bul, which is the eighth month, the house was finished in all its parts, and according to all its specifications. He was seven years in building it. Solomon was building his own house thirteen years, and he finished his entire house.”

The chapter division in our Bibles skews the subtlety of this statement. The narrator, who has already given us a few other hints, juxtaposes these two seemingly benign historical facts. But the real message lurks just beneath the surface.

Paul House comments on this passage, “The palace takes nearly twice as long to finish. Presumably it is also larger and more costly. Some of these differences are natural, given the constant use of the royal residence and hall of justice. Still, the close proximity of 6:37-38 and 7:1 make the contrast quite obvious, even startling. The author leaves no doubt about the king in the reader’s mind…” (1, 2 Kings, NAC, 130).

As the story of Solomon unfolds, his misplaced priorities become more and more apparent and ultimately culminate in his demise. All the while, the narrator wishes for us to note that the extreme consequences of Solomon’s sin (the dividing of the kingdom, among other things) began with the subtle misplacement of Solomon’s priorities.

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