Here we read about Solomon’s building of the temple. The detailed description of the temple is astounding. We see Solomon building something that must have been full of astonishing beauty. He built walls of stone covered with intricately carved Cedar. He laid a wood floor of Cypress, and to top it all off, he overlaid the entire interior with gold.
Cedar is a slow-growing tree that takes about 200 years to reach maturity. This slow maturing process makes it an extremely high quality wood. It is also a natural insect repellant. Cypress is very durable and resistant to harsh conditions. It was a great choice for flooring. It also produces cypressine, oil that is a natural preservative. Solomon took great care to use the highest quality products to ensure that the temple would endure.
The temple took seven years to build, and Solomon spared no expense. One webpage I visited estimated the cost of building this temple today to be around $174 billion. It was large, elaborate, and full of exquisite design and artistry. It was a lavish house of God. I think one would be hard-pressed to find an equivalent today.
What lessons for our personal lives can we glean from this? First, the things we do for God shouldn’t be second-rate. We should honor him with our best. Our work for God should be more than average and it should be done with the finest quality products and include beauty and artistry. We should use our God-given talents to give our utmost to his work.
Secondly, we no longer have an earthly temple made of stone and wood. The dwelling place of God is within us. Our bodies have replaced Solomon’s temple. Ouch! That gives me painful pause. If my body is God’s dwelling place, then I should be doing all that I can to take care of it. I have some growing to do in this area.
Stephen is confronted with false accusations of blasphemy against Moses and the law. How does he answer these accusations? He answers with a history lesson. He starts his rebuttal with a discussion of the great patriarchs and the story of each one’s place in Israel’s history. Through this speech, Stephen is exhibiting his great knowledge of Jewish history and scripture. He is also reminding them of where they came from, and their need for a savior. Tomorrow’s reading will give us the rest of the story.
I am inspired by Stephen’s knowledge. We too should be learned people. We should know our scripture and be able to use it appropriately.
I see three valuable lessons in this Psalm. One, without God we labor in vain. Without God’s protection, our own futile efforts will fail. I am reminded of a story that Tony Campolo told me one time. I spent one of my summers during college working as a volunteer with the Evangelical Association for the Promotion of Education in Philadelphia. Campolo is the director of this ministry. The base of the ministry is a large house in the inner-city. The year-round interns live there, and there was a period of time where they had a rash of break-ins and vandalism. They prayed over the building, and then posted signs around the property that stated, “This building is the property of Jesus Christ,” or something to that effect. The vandalism and break-ins stopped. God became their guard.
Secondly, being a work-a-holic is counter-productive. We should work hard, but God also desires that we take time to rest. So often there are those who work so hard that they miss out on important things in life, and after their children are gone and they retire, they realize that they have no relationship with their family because they spent so much time on the job. We need to stop, and take time to rest.
The third important point is that children are God’s gift to us. They have value and should be treated as such. And, having many children is not crazy, but a blessing.
There is a good reminder for all of us here that gossip causes damage. We can lose friends over loose-lipped speaking and cause strife for ourselves and others.