As Solomon grew older, his wives beguiled him with their alien gods and he became unfaithful—he didn’t stay true to his God as his father David had done. 1 Kings 11:4 (The Message)
“I will humble David’s descendants because of this, but not forever” 1 Kings 11:39 (NIV)
What’s Going On?
I kings continues the story where 2 Samuel left off. We saw the Nation of Israel established under King Saul, at its height under King David, and here we see David’s son Solomon take the throne. Each of these three kings will reign approximately forty years, so for about 120 years we see Israel as one united nation under one king. In the first half of 1 Kings we are going to see the nation prosper under King Solomon who will be remembered for his wisdom (and his women) and for finally building the Temple, a spectacular dwelling place for the Ark of the Covenant and all the ritual and formality that will go with it.
Chapters 11 and 12 are the turning point where we see Solomon’s greatest folly result in Israel being split and becoming two Divided Kingdoms. Solomon’s son Rehoboam is next in line to inherit the throne but a group of rebels in the north choose to split apart and form their own nation. The northern ten tribes will retain the name of Israel under their new king Jeroboam (Jerry) and the southern kingdom will be named after the largest tribe where Jerusalem is located, Judah, and will be led by Solomon’s son Rehoboam (Rey). The kings in Israel will mostly become king by killing the king before him, while the kings in Judah will be passed from father to son and will carry the lineage of David for several hundred years. (hint – the genealogy will appear in Mathew 1 showing the connection from David to Jesus and showing that Jesus was technically in the line of the kings)
We’ll also be introduced to several prophets. While the second half of the Old Testament is filled with stories of different prophets, Elijah’s story is told here. The prophets play a very important role in the Old Testament, speaking God’s will to the people of Israel. They will constantly be calling God’s people to restore their broken relationship with God, reminding them of both God’s love and His demand for faithfulness. God had brought His people out of Egypt in order to be a holy nation, and within just a few generations of the height of the glory of Israel, we will see it begin to spiral out of control, falling further and further away from the Lord. (There is a wonderful oratorio by Mendelssohn called Elijah)
When and Where Are We?
1 Kings covers a little over a hundred years, from about 900-800 BC. The great territory of Israel that David had built up will continue to grow and then split into two distinct nations: Israel in the north will choose Samaria as its capital. Judah in the south with keep Jerusalem as its capital. While we don’t have exact dates, there is a system of stating how many years one king had been on the throne when another king rises to power in the other nation. Pay attention to which kingdom is which as the narrative tends to bounce from north to south but try not to get caught up in the chronology and exact timing of events. There are going to be two parallel stories unfolding during the time of the divided kingdom in 1-2 Kings.
- Northern Kings/Israel: Jeroboam, Nadab, Baasha, Elah, Zimri, Tibni, Omni, Ahab, Ahaziah
- Southern Kings/Judah: Rehoboam, Abijah, Asa, Johoshaphat
- Prophets: Nathan, Ahijah, Shemaiah, an unnamed prophet, Jehu, Elijah, Elisha, Micaiah
- Foreign Kings: Hiram (Tyre), Hadad (Edom), Rezon (Aram), Shishak (Egypt), Ben-Hadad (Aram)
“If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” Mark 3:25
Weekly Reading Assignment:
- Monday: 1 Kings 1-4
- Tuesday: 1 Kings 5-8
- Wednesday: 1 Kings 9-12
- Thursday: 1 Kings 13-16
- Friday: 1 Kings 17-20
- Saturday: 1 Kings 21-22