1 Kings

There are many stories in 1 Kings. And they explain about sin. Sin spoils things. Sin causes trouble.

The book begins with one king. David ruled the whole kingdom. Then Solomon, his son, was king. And after Solomon, Rehoboam was king. But his actions were careless. He did not have any proper plans. And this made people very angry. It was because of this that the kingdom divided. It became two kingdoms. There was Israel in the North. And there was Judah in the South.

The book has another subject. It is about the prophets of that period. The writer tells us about many of them. Most of them were not famous. We do not even know some of their names. But the nation needed prophets. They were important for the Jews. They had a vital part in their religious life. (Read 1:22; 12:22-24; 13:1-10, 11-33; 14:4-5; 16:1-4, 7; 17:1-19:21; 20:13, 22, 28, 35; 21:17-28.)

So, this book is about two sorts of people. There were kings who did not serve God. And there were prophets who were loyal to God.

The Kingdom Unites (Chapters 1-11)

This is about a time of unity. There was unity for the Jews. This was before they separated. (That sad event came later. At that time, they would have two kings. There was Rehoboam. He would rule Judah. Then, there was Jeroboam. He would rule Israel.)

David as ruler (1:1-2:11). Absalom had a brother who was called Adonijah (1:5-7). He tried to become king and Joab assisted him. However, Adonijah did not succeed.

We read David's last words. They are disappointing. His anger remained against Shimei. We read about this in 2:8-9. Shimei still had a chance. But he died because he did not obey (2:36-46).

Solomon as ruler (2:12-11:43). The writer concentrated on five main things:

  • Solomon's wisdom (3). Compare 3:5 with James 1:5 and Proverbs 2:6; 3:13.
  • Solomon's officials (4).
  • Solomon's Temple (5-8). The king of Tyre supplied wood to build it (5:6-10). The workers were from the land of Israel (5:13-17). Compare 2 Chronicles 2:2, 17-18. We see Solomon's true character. The history writer was careful to show it. Yes, Solomon was wise. But he was selfish too (6:38-7:1). He took seven years to build God's Temple. Then he took 13 years to complete his own palace.
    Solomon's prayer in the Temple (8) affects the emotions. It shows two universal facts. First, there was the fact of man's sin (8:30, 33-34, 46). Then, there was the fact of God's mercy (8:41-43). It is a prayer for the people of other nations too. (Read Isaiah 2:2; 56:7-8.)
  • Solomon's kingdom (9-10). Solomon taxed the people very much. And he forced his people to work for him. The work was very hard too (4:6; 5:13-14; 12:4). And this caused them to suffer much. The writer said that Solomon's wealth was a lesson. He said that it had a spiritual principle. When Solomon gave honour to God, he succeeded in everything (3:11-13; Matthew 6:33). Then, something happened. As he succeeded, he changed. He depended on money instead of God. He even trusted in idols (9:6. Compare 11:4).
  • Solomon's sin (11). At the beginning of the book, the writer was happy because Solomon loved God (3). But the same writer changed. He became sad. He wrote: ‘Solomon loved many foreign women’ (11:1). And he ruined his life by these marriages. Compare Deuteronomy 17:17 and 2 Corinthians 6:14.

The Kingdom Divides (Chapters 12-22)

Things get worse (12-16). The kingdom divided. And one man was the cause. His name was Rehoboam. There was some good advice (12:6-8). And everyone knew this. But Rehoboam still refused it. This made some people angry. And they wanted a revolution. So Jeroboam became their leader (12:16-19).

These chapters are the history of those times. As the years passed, Judah had four kings. Two of them were good. Two of them were bad. During the same years, Israel had eight kings. But all of them were bad!

[Note: God's people divided into two kingdoms. Ten tribes became Israel and they lived in the North. Two tribes became Judah and they lived in the South.]

The whole story is sad. Many bad things happened. The people worshipped idols (12:28; 14:22-24). There was wrong sex (14:24). And God's people pretended to have great wealth in the Temple (14:25-28). They tried to please other people even when it did not please God (15:17-19). There was also murder (15:25-29; 16:8-10). And someone killed himself (16:7-18). Things in the North become worse and worse (16:25-33). Remember that the North was the kingdom of Israel.

Prophets Protest (17-22). This is the last section. There was much sin. The section shows the prophets’ reactions. There were many prophets. But Elijah was the most famous. Notice some things about him:

  • Elijah was loyal (17:1). He was loyal as a servant of God. And he was loyal as a citizen too.
  • Elijah was a hero (17:1). He had courage. And he warned Ahab. He was not afraid of the evil king.
  • Elijah obeyed (17:3, 5). He did what the Lord told him to do.
  • Elijah had faith (17:13). He had complete confidence in God.
  • Elijah prayed (17:17-24). Elijah laid the boy on his bed. He thought about the child before he thought about his own rest. His prayer took time and effort. We should pray like that too. Also, compare 18:42-44 and James 5:17. Elijah prayed hard.
  • Elijah had trust (18:31-39).
  • Elijah was patient (18:43-44). And do not forget that:
  • Elijah could become sad. Things could depress him (19:4-5). He was a man just like us (James 5:17).

The last chapters are about two sorts of people. There were cruel kings. There were prophets who had no fear. And they had an effect on each other.

Ahab won (20). He defeated the king of Syria whose name was Ben-Hadad.

Ahab was greedy (21). He wanted something that he did not have. He chose not to obey the Law of Moses. And he did this without any shame.

We can see this in four ways:

  • He desired the fruit field (21:4). ‘You shall not want to take anything that belongs to another person’ (Exodus 20:17).
  • He accused Naboth. This was unjust (21:8-10). ‘You must not be a false witness against your neighbour’ (Exodus 20:16).
  • He plotted to kill Naboth (21:13). ‘You must not murder anyone’ (Exodus 20:13).
  • He took the fruit field (21:15-16). ‘You must not steal anything’ (Exodus 20:15).

A message came from the Lord to this royal thief (21:19). ‘Ahab! You killed the man Naboth. Now you are taking his land. So I tell you this! In the same place,…you will also die’.

Ahab died (22).

Ahab's evil influence continued (22:51-53). We read about Elijah and Ahab in these stories. And the writer had a purpose for doing this. Somebody could be a good influence on other people. But he or she could be a bad influence on them.

[Note: To have an influence on people means to have an effect on them.]
We should be good examples. When we die, other people should want to be like us. (Read Hebrews 11:4; 13:7 and Revelation 14:13.)