He then made ten bronze basins, each holding forty baths and measuring four cubits across, one basin to go on each of the ten stands. He placed five of the stands on the south side of the temple and five on the north. He placed the Sea on the south side, at the southeast corner of the temple. He also made the pots and shovels and sprinkling bowls. So Huram finished all the work he had undertaken for King Solomon in the temple of the Lord : the two pillars; the two bowl-shaped capitals on top of the pillars; the two sets of network decorating the two bowl-shaped capitals on top of the pillars; the four hundred pomegranates for the two sets of network (two rows of pomegranates for each network decorating the bowl-shaped capitals on top of the pillars); the ten stands with their ten basins; the Sea and the twelve bulls under it; the pots, shovels and sprinkling bowls. All these objects that Huram made for King Solomon for the temple of the Lord were of burnished bronze. – 1 Kings 7:38-45
Water was clearly prominent in Solomon’s new temple for the Lord. Bronze seas and sprinkling bowls…Solomon was expressing his own unique style of worshiping God through the design of the temple. What does this tell us about Solomon and the relationship he will have with God? My cynical side would tell me Solomon is favoring style over substance, but a more generous reading would be that Solomon is trying to create a place of reflection (literally in the case of the pools of water) and reverence. I suspect time will tell where Solomon’s true heart lies.
It is not clear to me why the sprinkling bowls are called “sprinkling bowls”. Was the sprinkling part of being clean or unclean? Who was sprinkled – the priests or the people? Some churches have a permanent baptismal. We use a temporary baptismal at our church, which is setup once or twice a year. In the summer we gather at Lake Michigan and people are baptized amid the waves and sand…this one of my favorite events in our Christian community.
The idea of having a bowl of water at our places of worship is intriguing… why not? I think they have basins of holy water in catholic churches, but I am not Catholic so I am not sure what is done with the holy water. Perhaps this is a tradition worth adopting in non-Catholic churches. The “holy water” would not be made holy by a blessing from clergy, but it could serve as a reminder that we are called to bless one another every time we gather. A symbol of the living water within each of us that we are called to share.
Prayer: God help us to sprinkle one another with Your Spirit that is within us.