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The State of Faith
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Renewing Your Mind


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Old Testament Survey

1 Kings

Key Verses


Key Chapters

Chapters 3, 4
Chapter 8
Chapters 11, 12
Chapters 17-19

Key Concepts

Division (Loss)

Thoughts for Reading

Who will follow David as king?
How will they act?

1 Kings 11:11
Wherefore the LORD said unto Solomon, Forasmuch as this is done of thee, and thou hast not kept my covenant and my statutes, which I have commanded thee, I will surely rend the kingdom from thee, and will give it to thy servant.


In the Hebrew Scriptures the two book of Kings were originally one book. Kings was broken into two books for convenience sake because of its length. As mentioned in the introduction to 1 Samuel, at one point in time the Samuel’s and Kings were known as the Kingdoms. The books of 1 and 2 Kings take their titles from the point of their focus, the kings of Israel following David.

The Books of Samuel and Kings cover Israel&s period as a nation under a king:

The “author”is an anonymous Editor-Compiler-Author. Jewish tradition holds that Jeremiah is this person. It is clear from the book itself that several sources were used in the construction of the books of kings. Specifically mentioned are:

The books of Kings were written between 560 and 538/539 B.C. The last event recorded in 2 Kings 25:27-30 is the release of Jehoiachin from prison during the thirty-seventh year of his imprisonment (560 B.C.). This is the earliest possible completion date for the combined books. Further, since there is no mention of a return to Jerusalem after the captivity, the combined books were written before that event in 538/539 B.C. The books cover a period from the end of David&s reign (c. 970 B.C.) to the captivity of Israel (587/586 B.C.) and then the release of Jehoiachin (560 B.C.).

That Solomon was to be David’s successor is not the surprise that one might assume from the opening pages of 1 Kings. In 1 Chron 28 all of the elders were instructed of Solomon’s succession as part of the plans for building the Temple. Earlier David had Solomon anointed as king (1 Chron 23:1).

The book of 1 Kings starts with both promise and the hint of trouble to come. Another near tragedy strikes at David’s family. The king is old, unable to care for himself and stay warm. The solution, in typical fashion for this family, is to find him a new virgin, Abishag, to keep him warm (1 Kings 1:1-4). As death approaches, his son, Adonijah, plots to seize the throne. Nathan the prophet and Bathsheba rush to David’s side to assure the proper anointing and appointment of Solomon as successor to the throne. The plot is averted, although Adonijah makes a final effort after David’s death by requesting that the virgin Abishag be given to him. In that day and age, the taking of a king’s wives and concubines was a symbol of claiming the right to the throne. Solomon ultimately has Adonijah killed (2:13-25).

Solomon also has Abiathar removed from the priesthood, finally resulting in a complete removal of Eli’s family from the position of high priest, fulfilling God’s prophecy (1 Sam 2:27-36). Chapter 2 also records Solomon evening other scores of David’s.

Solomon commences his reign as the perfect man of God. His early prayer is for wisdom and knowledge (3:5-9). God answers this prayer with the promise of not only wisdom, but also of earthly riches (3:10-15). The story of the two harlots and the one living child quickly demonstrate Solomon’s wisdom and the entire world flocks to his doorstep, bringing with it the riches of the world. The nation of Israel grows in wealth and fame on the shoulders of the young king. is described as loving “the Lord, walking in the statutes of David , his father” (3:3).

Solomon builds the Temple of God according to the plans and with the materials and relationships prepared by David (chps 5-6; 1 Chron 22-29). The Ark of the Covenant is brought to the House of God and the Shekinah glory of the wilderness fills the Temple following Solomon’s prayer of dedication (chp 8). God appears to Solomon a second time and issues a conditional mise to the king. If Solomon will walk “as David, thy father, walked, in integrity of heart, and in uprightness, to do according to all that I have commanded thee, and wilt keep my statutes and mine jments,” (1 Kings 3:14) then God would establish Solomon’s throne forever. But the seeds of destruction had already been sown.

1 Kings 3:1
And Solomon made affinity with Pharaoh king of Egypt, and took Pharaoh’s daughter, and brought her into the city of David, until he had made an end of building his own house, and the house of the LORD, and the wall of Jerusalem round about.

1 Kings 11:1-4
But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites; 2 Of the nations concerning which the LORD said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love. 3 And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart. 4 For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father.

For these sins and the immoral condition of his heart, God would rip the nation away from Solomon (11:11-13). Solomon dies, his son, Rehoboam becomes king (12:1), and Jeroboam, Solomon’s captain of the laborers, revolts, taking the ten northern tribes with him (12:16ff). The divided kingdom has been formed. Jeroboam’s actions were taken in direct step with the words of the prophet Ahijah, whom God had sent to the future king (11:29-40).

One reason for the division of the nation is the burden placed upon the people by the huge governmental bureaucracy formed by Solomon (4:1-19; 10:14, 15)

The Kingdoms

Following the death of Solomon, the nation of Israel divided into two kingdoms.

One retained the house of David as its ruler. This kingdom is known as Judah or the Southern Kingdom. It is comprised of Judah and Benjamin.

The other kingdom is known as Israel or the Northern Kingdom, or sometimes as Ephraim or Samaria. It is comprised of the other ten tribes.

The Levites generally seemed to have followed Judah (because the Temple was there?) and because of the false worship created by Jeroboam.

For the most part, the material of 1 & 2 Kings is presented in chronological order from the rise of Solomon to the fall of Jerusalem. There are some thematic sections, such as the summary of Solomon’s administration (1 Kings 4) and his architectural achievements (1 Kings 5:1-7:12), but these sections do not detract from the basic chronological pattern.

There is a “formula” structure to the presentation of the accounts of the kings, at least, after Solomon. The kings of Judah are introduced by name, the name of the king’s father, a report of the king’s accession (almost always synchronized with his Northern Kingdom counterpart), and then his biographical data. This includes the king’s age at accession, the length of his reign, the name of his mother, Jerusalem as the capital of the king, and an evaluation of the king’s moral character and spiritual leadership. It is this facet of the king’s life which is tied to David as the model. The closing information on each king includes the naming of any additional sources of documentation about his reign, a death and burial statement, and an announcement of the king’s successor.

The formula for the Israelite (Northern Kingdom) is essentially the same. Noticeable differences are the lack of the naming of the queen mother and the naming of Samaria as the royal city. And, of course, the reign is synchronized to the ruling king of Judah.

In keeping with the “prophetic” nature of Samuel and Kings, the kings are usually evaluated in line with the Mosaic law. Did the kings keep the commandments of God? Compared to this, the Chronicles emphasize the priestly elements and response to the revealed standards of God. The Chronicles follow the kings of Judah, acknowledging the kings of Israel only when required by the context. The evaluation of the kings is in reference to David and the worship of God.


The combined books of Kings present a united purpose in the continuing revelation of God’s Word. Some of these purposes may be viewed as:

Map of the Divided Kingdom



Israel, the Northern Kingdom, is the less stable of the two. Jeroboam is promised an everlasting kingdom if he will follow in God’s commandments. He gets off to a poor start. While making what may be a shrewd policitical move, Jeroboam seals his fate before the ink dries on his anointment (Chp 12). Fearing the house of David would win the people back when they traveled to Jerusalem for the three annual religious festivals, Jeroboam builds two golden calves and places them at the northern and southern ends of his kingdom. The people will not have to travel to Jerusalem. They can worship God here, right where they live.

Then, to solidify this hold on his subjects, the king appoints priests to oversee these new worship centers. While it may all look like what God had established, the priests are not Levites and the centers of worship are not the Temple. God strikes quickly with a prophet delivering the message of doom and gloom to Jeroboam (Chp 13). The new king has forfeited his kingdom. The pattern of all of the future kings of the Northern Kingdom has been established.

While Judah is the more stable kingdom, its credentials are not that much greater.

Eight of Judah&s rulers were "good" because they walked in the steps of David. They are:


Along with David, Hezekiah and Josiah are the only two kings to make a public showing of their renewed faith.


Joash [Jehoash]


Azariah [Uzziah]




The Prophets

While Moses and Samuel are characterized as prophets, it is during the period of the divided kingdom that the prophets come to the forefront. While the priests were to be the people’s voice to God, the prophets became God’s voice to the people. God’s appointed kings failed to provide this voice, so God went “outside” the system to communicate with the kings, priests, and the common people. Men of God appear throughout the Old Testament. David had two in his court, Nathan and Gad. But it is during this period of the divided monarchy that the prophet becomes the true hero of the moment.

All of the written books of the prophets fit into this time frame. It helps to grasp this concept fully, for the words spoken by the prophets and recorded in Scripture are delivered against the background of this portion of Jewish history. It is only by reading the prophets “in their place” that their message may be seen as a true Word from God to the people. And, even though they have not written any portion of the Bible, no prophets display more firmly the nature of the true prophet and the message they carried from God than do Elijah and Elisha.

Miracles seem like a fact of life within the pages of the Bible. A careful reading, however, shows three great periods of signs and wonders performed at the hand of God’s people. The first of these comes with Moses and the period before, during, and after the Exodus. The third of these comes with Christ and the Apostles. Sandwiched in-between are the ministries of Elijah and Elisha.

Jesus in 1 Kings

As was his father, Solomon is a type of Christ, the picture of the future reign of the Messiah on earth, a time of fame, glory, wealth, and honor, a time of great wisdom.

An Outline of 1 Kings

A. The Cause of Division (12:1-24)

B. The Reign of Jeroboam in Israel (12:25-14:20)

C. The Reign of Rehoboam in Judah (14:21-31)

D. The Reign of Abijam in Judah (15:1-8)

E. The Reign of Asa in Judah (15:9-24)

F. The Reign of Nadab in Israel (15:25-31)

G. The Reign of Baasha in Israel (15:32-16:7)

H. The Reign of Elah in Israel (16:8-14)

I. The Reign of Zimri in Israel (16:15-20)

J. The Reign of Omri in Israel (16:21-28)

K. The Reign of Ahab in Israel (16:29-22:40)

L. The Reign of Jehoshaphat in Judah (22:41-50)

M. The Reign of Ahaziah in Israel (22:51-53)

Ahab is described as the most evil of the northern kings, at least to this point in time. His wife, Jezebel, is a Gentile and brings Baal worship with her. Ahab’s greatest crime is that he builds a temple to Baal. He worships the false god. Still, when he repents, God is faithful to accept the repentance and delays the judgment upon him (21:17-29).

It is to the Northern Kingdom, during the reign of Ahab, that Elijah the Teshbite arrives. He has no given beginning in Scripture. His parents are not even named. He is the true man of God, willing to stand before the king and condemn his actions. Yet, although he takes on and defeats 450 prophets of Baal (Chp 18) and witnesses the glory of God in the “still, small voice,” Elijah runs from Ahab’s wife, Jezebel. He is human, like all of us.

Elijah is a symbol of what God can do when we present Him with a vessel which may be molded and shaped for God’s purposes.

2 Timothy 2:19
Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.

How often do you run when you ought to stand still and rely upon God?




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