Hiram, the Master Builder
1 Kings 7:13-14
And king Solomon sent and fetched Hiram out of Tyre.…

I. HIRAM WAS A BORN MASTER BUILDER. The influence of heredity needs no more signal illustration. He combines his mother's heart and his father's mind. Strange, that in a correspondence between Eastern kings of antiquity, with whom woman's fame was of less than cypher value, Hiram's mother should be mentioned at all; stranger still, that the premier place is given to her, implying that, while both parents were eminent, the mother was pre-eminent. Who was she? "A woman of the daughters of Dan" (2 Chronicles 2:13, 14). The Danites bore the brunt of all the Sidonian incursions, until, driven from hearth and home for refuge to the hills, privation and isolation but varied the form of the disasters that dogged them. Finally, submitting to capture or surrender, they were taken across the border into Tyre to suffer further ignominy amid alien surroundings. But never did the sons and daughters of Dan forget their tribal ancestry or affinities. Their traditions and Pride became a splendid inheritance, and their faith sustained them under the sharpest persecution. Even their oppressors grew to respect them, and permitted them to thrive in their midst. Hiram's mother had the tribal grit, the unswerving courage of her people, so that when named at the Tyrian Court, it is as "a woman of the daughters of Dan." And, in his letter to Solomon, Hiram the King lets drop this bit of feminine biography that is a tribute to her fine fidelity to conscience. Do not think that this passes in the record as of no account. You can prophesy with tolerable certainty as to Hiram's future when you read his mother's story, and you can as surely anticipate as much for every child of promise whose mother is true to the form of faith that holds her to the people of God — call it what you will, whether Danism or Methodism. Keep your eyes open for these embryo workers, who are, like poets, born, not made. It is the self-constituted man we want. It is character, and not birth, that mainly tells. The river has its source in the mountain torrent, but the true test of its strength is in the assimilative power with which, while preserving its identity, it absorbs its tributaries. Therefore we judge Hiram as we would judge ourselves, at the bar of self-examination — and he emerges from the ordeal admirable.


1. He was a cunning man. When the Saxons said a man was "cunnen" they meant that he was knowing — that he had his wits about him. And they implied more. The root of the word obtained amongst the Latins also. It means a wedge, and we get its signification in the word cuneated, which precisely hits off the disposition of the man Hiram. He was a wedge-shaped man. Let opportunity give him but the smallest conceivable opening, and in he went, especially if the hammer of necessity but tapped home the wedge. Every Christian worker should be of wedge-shaped character.

2. Hiram, the cunning man, was endued with understanding. To have an understanding is to be able to get to the bottom of things; and to Re endued with understanding, as Hiram was, is to exercise this faculty from circumference to centre. It means that he had not only a mental bias, but also a mental equipment, thoroughly comprehensive.


1. Hiram wrought in gold, to him the most precious of metals; of supreme quality, of standard value, capable of sovereign impress, non-rusting, non-corroding. Gold is the one mineral that does not depreciate; it is immutable amid all change of time and circumstance; it is gold — always gold. This he used for overlay work, for the decoration of the holy place, and for the consecrated vessels. We, too, work in gold when we work in Divine truth. We cannot alter the material, but do we make its presentation attractive or repellant? Is the image and superscription of the King upon it? When we use it in the holy place, does it shine as the wings of a seraph or an overlaid panel would when Hiram wrought? Are the "vessels unto honour sanctified, and meet for the Master's use"?

2. Hiram wrought also in silver — fair and chaste. Silver is subject to market fluctuation, but it is increased manifold in value when it receives a sovereign impression. It is the rich man's plenty, and the poor man's wealth. We, too, work in silver, when we serve in human sympathy, that is brightened by use, and that, when beautified with the Divine likeness, as "the liquid drops of tears that you have shed," "brings ten times double gain of happiness." And, when you work your silver into the Gospel trumpet, the world will hear sounds that for thrill and cadence will rival the music of a thousand harps.

3. Hiram wrought in brass. The word is used technically for a compound of metals, that should be rendered bronze. It is a fusion of copper — the only alloy with gold — and tin. And our thoughts, like the sea, must be wide and deep, generous and cleansing. Join prayer and thought, and you will get a spiritual amalgam of the utmost use in temple service.

4. Hiram wrought in iron, that is rough, resistant, obdurate; but in his hands it became ductile, and exceeding serviceable. When we forge these our wills, we, too, toil in iron. Proud, repellant, unlovely they are; yet, when, by the grace of God, they become wrought-work, they are marvels of resource, strength, control, support.

5. He worked upon stone, rugged and hard; but, by patient continuance in well-doing, he formed the useful block that helped to make the temple, and brought out upon it the artistic form and beauty of the sculptured decoration. This is just what we do.

6. Hiram wrought upon timber, that supported the roof, that panelled the holy place, that formed the tables for the shewbread, which was the symbol for the bread of life.

7. Hiram wrought upon textiles, and in their subdued colours he could see mysteries. Perhaps only mysteries; whereas, to you and me, the mysteries seem revealed. But, small blame to the worker Hiram. It was the purpose of his dispensation to make the marvel, and sustain it.

IV. HIRAM HAD THE MASTER SPIRIT. He came to Solomon a man skilful "to grave every manner of graving, and to find out every manner of device." Nothing issues from his master mind that is not a sublimely pure conception; the Divine touch glorifies everything he fashions. That is true sacrifice; it is the master art, and you know it to be true, for it is your Master's art.

V. FOR SUCH SERVICE AS HIRAM'S, WHAT WAS THE REWARD? No man labours as he did without recognition, for no man serves God for naught. The upraised temple; its outer ornamentation; its inner splendour; its acknowledgment of the people; the accepted sacrifice, and the consummate approval of the Divine presence — surely these tokens were enough? Shall we each be a master builder? Then let us remember that he who would seek to fulfil this high calling must have a master mind; that he who would have the master mind must have the Master's spirit; that he who would have the Master's spirit must be much in the presence of the Master. There, amid the silences, he will hear the Master's voice: there are the hidden victories that overcome the world.

(J. R. Jackson.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And king Solomon sent and fetched Hiram out of Tyre.

WEB: King Solomon sent and fetched Hiram out of Tyre.

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