1 Kings 5:1 (ESV)

1 Now Hiram king of Tyre sent his servants to Solomon when he heard that they had anointed him king in place of his father, for Hiram always loved David.

The chapter opens with the action of a Gentile king, Hiram of Tyre, in his sending servants to Solomon in honour of Solomon’s ascending the throne of Israel. A careful reader of the Old Testament will recall that throughout most of the history of Israel and Judah, Tyre appears as a wicked, proud, and idolatrous nation on which the wrath of God rests. Many prophets denounced it and predicted the terrible judgment of God coming on it to destroy it and its sister city Sidon.

Yet, at the period of time that 1 Kings now records, there was a period of cordial relations between Israel and Tyre. This is because of warm personal relations existing between the two kings, Hiram and David. The writer says, Hiram always loved David. Some translations have moderated the language to say that there were friendly relations between Hiram and David. The original language, however, justifies the ESV’s rendering, even though friendly relations may be a legitimate interpretation of the words of the writer.

The basis of the good relations is not spelled out in 1 Kings, but a probable explanation is not difficult to find. Tyre was a Phoenician city located on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea. The cities of the Philistines were located on the same sea some kilometres to the south. Both nations were seafaring and so were rivals in trade. David’s conquest of the Philistines served the interests of the Phoenicians. Yet, though this fact probably had a part in the good relations, it is difficult to believe that self-interest is the only matter of concern to Hiram.

It is noteworthy that the writer of 1 Kings places this act of diplomacy on the part of Hiram to stand as the beginning of the negotiations between Solomon and Hiram regarding the building of the temple. We might find this order of things unexpected since Hiram was a Gentile, who worshipped his own gods. However, we ought to remember that Hiram had no way of knowing that his sending of the envoys would lead to the negotiations concerning the building materials for the temple’s construction. We learn, therefore, that, though a Gentile king played a part in the temple’s construction, it was constructed.