Solomon built a grand temple for the Lord, fulfilling the commission given to him by God Himself (1 Chron. 22:6–10; 2 Chron. 3). And the great amount of attention paid to this construction project in both 1 Kings and 1–2 Chronicles indicates that Solomon truly was dedicated to building a sanctuary worthy of the Lord Himself. However, we must ask whether this was the foremost goal in Solomon’s life, for today’s passage indicates that Solomon placed other concerns first.
Today’s passage occurs at the midpoint of the account of the temple’s construction found in 1 Kings 6–7. In the middle of the story of how Solomon built the temple and its furnishings, the author of 1 Kings pauses to tell us about the construction of Solomon’s palace. Two details stand out. First, Solomon took seven years to finish the temple in Jerusalem, but he spent thirteen years building his palace, spending nearly twice as long on his own house as he did on the holy sanctuary (6:37–7:1). This suggests that for all of Solomon’s devotion to the work of temple building, he was more concerned with the details and size of his palace than with the sanctuary where God would be worshiped. In some ways, Solomon was more devoted to his own glory than he was to the glory of the Lord.
Second, the author of 1 Kings notes that Solomon “finished his entire house” (7:1). One commentator notes that this word “entire” also suggests that Solomon’s heart was more focused on his own palace than on the temple. His attention, in some ways, was more exhaustively concentrated on the royal palace for David’s line than on God’s heavenly palace on earth, namely, the temple.
The remainder of today’s passage describes the palace of Solomon, a structure that was much larger than the temple and featured several buildings (vv. 2–12). We do not know the function of every building, but the name “House of the Forest of Lebanon” suggests that cedarwood from Lebanon was particularly prominent there (vv. 2–5). The “Hall of Judgment” was the place where Solomon heard legal disputes and judged between competing parties (v. 7). Beyond that, the purposes of the other buildings are obscure, but they likely would have included the living quarters and other such areas for the royal household. Whatever the case, costly stones, beautiful cedar, and other fine materials featured in the palace’s construction (vv. 8–12).