Divine Author: God the Holy Spirit, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16).
Human Author: Not named, According to Jewish tradition, Jeremiah the prophet is the author.
Timeframe: 970 – 853 BC, The events of 1 Kings cover the last days of King David in 1 Kings 1, 2, through the conflict of Israel and Judah against Syria in 1 Kings 22.
Date of writing: c. 560 to 540 BC
Setting: The House of Solomon
Key Verse: 1 Kings 18:21, “And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.”
Theme: A Nation United; a Nation Divided
General Facts: 11th book of the Bible; 22 chapters; 816 verses
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Though united in the Jewish Bible, in the Protestant Bible, the Book of Kings is divided to continue the narrative of what happened to Israel. Under the leadership of David, the Lord has united all the tribes of Israel, forming a powerful and prosperous nation, which was advanced under King Solomon, David’s son.
The Lord had also promised that from the line of David would come a Messianic King. Study 2 Samuel 7:10, 12-16; 1 Chronicles 17:11-15; 2 Chronicles 6:16 There are important references to the Davidic Covenant in Jeremiah 23:5; 30:9; Isaiah 9:7; 11:1; Luke 1:32, 69; Acts 13:34; and Revelation 3:7.
The Davidic Covenant: Key Provisions
- Israel shall have a land.
- David shall have a child to succeed him and establish his throne.
- The son, Solomon, shall build the Temple unto the Lord.
- The throne of David shall be established forever in the Messiah King.
The Kings of Israel
As might be expected, the kings that came after David were a mixture of men. Some were good and walked in the righteous way of David, while others did evil in the sight of God. When the kingdom divided, the pattern of both good and bad rulers remained the same, as least in the Southern Kingdom, formed by the union of two tribes, Judah, and Benjamin. The ten tribes that formed the Northern Kingdom of Israel had only wicked kings. From the death of Solomon to the Babylonian Exile, twenty kings ruled over the Northern Kingdom of Israel, and twenty kings ruled over the Southern Kingdom of Israel.
Flexibility is needed when trying to date the reigns of the kings of Israel. Many traditional dates are accepted, though critical dates provide an alternative timeframe. There are several reasons why dating an event in the ancient world can be elusive, such as the existence of co-regencies, and rival reigns. Your own studies might lead to different dates than the ones suggested here.
KINGS OF THE UNITED NATION OF ISRAEL
King / Reign / How Long
Saul: 1020 – 1000, 40 years
Ishbosheth / David: 1000 – 991, 2 years
David: 1003 – 970, 40 years
Adonijah (pretender), 970
Solomon: 970 – 930, 40 years
KINGS OF THE NORTHERN NATION OF ISRAEL
King Main Characteristic Years of Reign
Jeroboam I Rebellious 931—910 BC 22
Nadab Wicked 910—909 BC 2
Baasha Wicked 909—886 BC 24
Elah Evil 886—885 BC 2
Zimri Sinful 885 BC 7 days
Omri (overlap) Evil 885—874 BC 12
Ahab Evil 874—853 BC 21
Ahaziah Disobedient 853—852 BC 1
Joram/Jehoram Bad 852—841 BC 11
Jehu Moderate 841—814 BC 28
Jehoahaz (Joahaz) Noncompliant 814—798 BC 16
Joash (Jehoash) Wayward 798—782 BC 16
Jeroboam II (overlap) Sinful 793—753 BC 40
Zechariah Evil 753 BC 6 months
Shallum Wicked 752 BC 30 days
Menahem Bad 752—742 BC 10
Pekahiah Idolatrous 742—740 BC 2
Pekah (overlap) Bad 752—732 BC 20
Hoshea Evil 732—722 BC 9
KINGS OF THE SOUTHERN NATION OF JUDAH
King Main Characteristic Years of Reign
Rehoboam Bad 931—913 BC 17
Abijah Wicked 913—911 BC 3
Asa Good 911—870 BC 41
Jehoshaphat (overlap) Righteous 873—848 BC 25
Jehoram/Joram (overlap) Terrible 853—841 BC 8
Ahaziah Bad 841 BC 1
Athaliah (queen) Evil 841—835 BC 6
Joash (Jehoash) Good 835—796 BC 40
Amaziah Good 796—767 BC 29
Uzziah/Azariah (overlap) Respectable 790—739 BC 52
Jotham (overlap) Honorable 750—731 BC 18
Ahaz Evil 735—715 BC 19
Hezekiah Good 715—686 BC 29
Manasseh Repentant 695—642 BC 55
Amon Evil 642—640 BC 2
Josiah (Josias) Very good 640—609 BC 31
Jehoahaz (Joahaz) Bad 609 BC 90 days
Jehoiakim Evil 609—597 BC 11
Jehoiachin Bad 597 BC 90 days
Zedekiah Unwise 597—586 BC 11
*Walk Thru the Bible
Five Main Narratives
The story of 1 Kings begins with Solomon building a Temple for the Lord in the Holy City. The book ends with the reign over Israel in Samaria by Ahaziah, the son of Ahab. For two years Ahaziah reigned and “did evil in the sight of the Lord, “and walked in the way of his father, and in the way of his mother, and in the way of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin: 53 For he served Baal, and worshipped him, and provoked to anger the Lord God of Israel, according to all that his father had done” (1 Kings 22:52 – 53).
In between chapter 1 and chapter 22 is the explanation of how the United Kingdom divided (chapters 12 – 16), the ministry of Elijah (chapters 17 – 20), and the treachery of Jezebel and Ahab against Naboth (chapter 21).
A Dying King 1 Kings 1
At 70 years of age, King David had lived an extraordinary life. The Lord took a shepherd of the hills, and made him a shepherd over a nation. For forty years David led the people of Israel. Study 2 Samuel 5:4, 5
During his reign, David had united all the tribes, expanded the territorial borders, built a majestic military force, and lay the groundwork for the construction of a Temple. “Now king David was old and stricken in years” (1:1).
The impending death of David led to court intrigue. Seizing the moment, Adonijah, the son of Haggith, promoted himself saying, “I will be king.” Preparations were made to that end. A day of coronation was set. Chariots and horsemen, and fifty men were appointed to run before him to make the royal announcement. Haggith had the support of Joab, the Commander in Chief of the Army of Israel (1:3-7).
However, Haggith did not have the support of the Lord, or the priests of Israel (1:8). It was the will of God that Solomon, the second son of Bathsheba be made king when David stepped from time into eternity. The prophet Nathan spoke to Bath-sheba and counseled her to go to David and remind the king of his previous commitment to make Solomon his successor. Bathsheba did as instructed. She was joined in her entreaty with David by Nathan. For a brief moment, the king revived. His strength returned and with wisdom he instructed his faithful servants how to handle the situation. Solomon would immediately be crowned king (1:11-39). The instructions of David were followed, and Solomon was made king. As king, he showed mercy to his rival brother, and civil war was avoided (1:40-53).
David’s Final Counsel 1 Kings 2
Knowing he was going to die, David charged his son Solomon to present himself as a strong leader to the people. David exhorted Solomon to fear the Lord God, and keep the statutes and commandments of God. That part of his drying counsel was good, and followed in the final words of Moses, Joshua, and Samuel (2:1-4).
The next part of David’s dying speech was not so honorable. David instructed Solomon to engage in political retaliation. Joab, the Commander in Chief of the army, was to be put to death because he had proven himself to be treacherous (2:5-6, 28-34). Shimei was to die, for he once cursed David (2:8-9, 36-46).
Solomon understood what his father wanted done, and complied. Then, in order to consolidate his new position as king, Solomon had Adonijah, his half-brother, put to death (2:10-25), and Abiathar, the priest who had opposed him, sent into political exile (2:26-27).
A Prayer that Pleased God 1 Kings 3 – 4
The initial phase of Solomon’s reign was characterized by retaliatory murder, political assassination, the installation of his own people in critical positions in society, forming an unholy alliance with Egypt, marrying a foreign woman, and allowing idolatry into the Land of Promise. (3:1-2). Then, Solomon did something which pleased the Lord. He prayed and asked God to give him wisdom to rule over Israel (3:3-14). The Lord promised to give Solomon the wisdom he needed.
Unusual wisdom was needed to rule Israel, reflected in a situation involving a child. Two women asked the king to make a custody decision. Both claimed to be the mother of the baby. How was the matter to be decided? Calling for a sword, Solomon commanded the baby be cut in half. The maternal instincts of the child’s mother surfaced to protect the life God gave to her. Immediately the mother cried out not to kill the child. It was enough for Solomon to know to whom to give the baby (3:16-27). “And all Israel heard of the judgment which the king had judged; and they feared the king: for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him, to do judgment (3:28). Solomon’s wisdom became so well known that people from many nations came to visit with him (4:29-34).
In addition to wisdom, the Lord prospered Israel with wealth unimagined by the Exodus Generation, an explosive population (4:20). There was plenty of food to feed the royal court; they lacked nothing (4:22, 27). Twelve thousand horsemen protected the king (4:26).
A Beautiful Temple 1 Kings 5 – 8
With the nation at peace, home and abroad, and with economic prosperity for the people, Solomon built the Temple his father David had desired to construct. It was majestic in size, and breathtaking in beauty as described in Scripture. Best of all, God dwelt in the midst of His people.
Some of the descriptive images associated with Solomon’s Temple are reminiscent of the Garden of Eden where once more God and man meet. Once more God is in close fellowship with His people.
A Second Visitation from the Lord 1 Kings 9
Once Solomon had finished building the Temple, and his own splendid palace, once Solomon had pursued all that he wished to do in life, the Lord appeared to him a second time (9:1-2). God had a message in three paragraphs.
First Paragraph. God reminded Solomon that his prayer had been heard, and honored. Solomon had been blessed, and made secure (9:3).
Second Paragraph. God entered into a covenant with Solomon. If Solomon would walk with integrity before the Lord, his throne would be established forever (9:4-5)
Third Paragraph. If Solomon failed to walk with the Lord, and if he failed to enforce the holy will of God upon his family, and society, Israel would be dispersed as a national entity (9:4-9).
Additional Blessings from the Lord
Money. With the hand of God upon his life, the wealth and wisdom of Solomon continued to grow. Hiram, king of Tyre who had furnished Solomon with cedar trees, and fir trees, and gold to build the Temple, continued to pay tribute to the ruler of Israel. In addition, gold was received from other sources as well. “Now the weight of gold that came to Solomon in one year was six hundred and threescore and six talents of gold” (2 Chron. 9:13). Solomon’s 666 talents of gold translate to 25 tons of gold, weighing 49, 950 pounds. If an ounce of gold (troy weight) is valued at $393, the 666 talents of gold would be worth almost $287, 800, 000 in one year. Some of Solomon’s wealth came from tribute money collected from the traditional enemies of Israel (9:20-22).
Five Tribal-Nations in Canaan: Joshua 3:10; 1 Kings 9:20-21
Property. Having constructed The Temple and a palace for himself,Solomon built Gezer, Beth-horon, Baalath, Tadmor in the desert, and many other communities (9:17-19).
Apes and Peacocks. With a standing army which included charioteers, horses, a calvary, and foot soldiers, Solomon built a navy for protection, transportation of exotic animals, and exploration (9:26-28; 10:22).
Fame. Of the many nations that sent representatives to visit Solomon, and witness his wisdom, none became so memorable as the Queen of Sheba. She was impressed (10:1-10). “And king Solomon gave unto the queen of Sheba all her desire, whatsoever she asked, beside that which Solomon gave her of his royal bounty. So, she turned and went to her own country, she and her servants” (10:13).
Analyzing a Reversionist
Backsliding is the Biblical terms used by the prophets to describe the unfaithfulness to God by the Hebrew people. Study Proverbs 14:14; Jeremiah 2:19; 3:6, 8, 11, 12, 14, 22; 8:5; 14:7; 31:22
The Hebrew word for backslider is “meshuwab”. It refers to apostasy, or a falling away. To backslide is to fall away from the truth. It is to revert to sin, or wrongdoing. It is to lapse morally, in the practice of religion. To backslide is to revert to thinking and acting like an unconverted and ungodly person.
When Solomon married his foreign wives, and allowed idolatry to flourish in Israel, he became a Backslider, One Who Falls Away from the Truth, a Reversionist. Study 1 Kings 9:24; 11:3
The sexual lust that burned in Solomon’s soul was insatiable. Not even 700 wives and 300 concubines could satisfy this proclivity. Despite a Divine prohibition, the wives and concubines were from heathen nations that opposed the worship of the Lord God of Israel. Solomon clave to his women in love.
“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” (1 Kings 11:2).
A Throne of Emeralds
To his insatiable appetite for sex, political wives, and free libido, Solomon made a great throne for himself, of ivory, and overlaid it with the best gold (10:18-20). It was impressive, intimidating, and immensely inappropriate. When Solomon built his throne, his heart was in a state of reversionism.
To his sexual sins, pride, and excessive personal wealth, Solomon added the horror of enslaving others to complete his many building projects. Solomon did this as a Reversionist, an Apostate, as one who has fallen away from walking with God. There were 80,000 hewers of stone, and 70,000 transporters forced into royal servitude to build the Temple. Study Deuteronomy 17; 1 Kings 5:13; 9:22
God’s Guidelines for the Kings of Israel: Deuteronomy 17: 14 –
- The king must be recognized as divinely appointed, v. 14
- The king must an Israelite, v. 15
- The king is not to multiply horses, v. 16
- The king is not to lead the people back to bondage in Egypt, v. 16
- The king is not to multiples wives for himself, v. 17
- The king is not to amass a great fortune for himself, v. 17
- The king is to keep a copy of the Law before him, v. 18
- The king shall read the Book of the Law of the Lord, v. 19
- The king must fear the Lord God, v. 19
- The king must keep diligently all the words of the Law, v. 19
Sin is like an octopus in that it has many tenancies reaching out to affect many facets of the soul. Having disregarded his marital responsibility to be the husband of one wife, Solomon allowed his wives to turn his heart away from the Lord. The wisest of all men foolishly embraced false gods. In doing this, Solomon did evil (Heb. ra’) in the sight of the Lord. Solomon did not make a mistake. He did not err in judgment. Solomon committed evil. For the evil he did, Solomon would be judged. Specifically, his majestic kingdom would be taken from him. Study 1 Kings 11:1-14
The Sins of the Parents 1 Kings 12-16
A Divided Nation
Name / Tribes / Capital / Place of Worship
- The Northern Kingdom of Israel / 10 / Samaria / Dan, Beer-sheba
- The Southern Kingdom of Judah / 2 / Jerusalem / Temple in Jerusalem
While every person is responsible for their own decisions in life, the sins of parents can be visited on the children, for children tend to imitate the parents. The greed and lasciviousness found in Solomon was conveyed to his son and successor, Rehoboam (Heb. “he enlarges the people”). He reigned c. 931 – 913 BC.
When Rehoboam tried to increase the tax burden on the people, there was a national revolt against such tyranny. The kingdom divided. The northern tribes revolted and appointed Jeroboam I to be their king. Only two tribes, Judah and Benjamin remained with the house of Solomon. For all of his loss, Rehoboam continued in doing evil, like his father before him. Study 1 Kings 14:21-24
Civil War in Israel
Much of the rest of the narrative in 1 Kings tells the story of civil war that ensured after the kingdom was divided because of the foolishness of Rehoboam. Like every civil war, the story is that of uncivil behavior. Each part of the divided Israel would have a succession of kings, indicating national uncertainty and political intrigue. The divine interest in each of the kings, about 20 in each nation, prior to their respective conquests, was whether or not the king worshipped the Lord God of Israel alone, or engaged in acts of idolatry. Heaven wanted to know who remained faithful to the covenant like David, and who became corrupt and unjust. The divine evaluation is that no good king was found in the Northern Kingdom, from Jeroboam I to Hosea. In the Southern Kingdom, only 8 of the 20 kings were found faithful.
The Prophets of God 1 Kings 17
While the country was tearing itself apart and careening from one king to another, God sent some important prophets to speak on behalf of the Lord. The primary role of the prophet was not to foretell the future, though some did, but to communicate the mind of God, and be the conscience of the nation. The prophets opposed foreign alliances, idolatry, witchcraft, and social injustice. The prophets reminded the people they were to be a light to the nations by precept and practice.
Generally speaking, the prophets were not popular. On one occasion Elijah cried out to God saying, “Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life. 4 But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal” (Rom. 11:3-4).
In the Northern Kingdom of Israel, the most prominent prophets were Elijah, and his disciple Elisha. Study 1 Kings 17 – 2 Kings 8
The main antagonist Elijah had to face was King Ahab, who had been corrupted by his wife Jezebel. This foreign queen began to serve the Phoenician god Baal, and worshipped him. To appease his wife, Ahab set up an altar for Baal in a special temple he built in Samaria (1 Kings 16:31-32).
The Battle of the Gods 1 Kings 18
A dramatic confrontation came when Elijah, the prophet of God, challenged the priests of Baal to a spiritual dual in order to bring rain to Israel. King Ahab gathered all of Israel to Mt. Carmel, along with 450 prophets of the false god Baal, supported by 400 prophets of the false goddess Asherah (18:19).
Once the prophets of Baal, and the people of Israel had gathered, Elijah rose to say, “How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word” (18:21).
Because the people of Israel were non responsive, and led by the Spirit of God, Elijah suggested an altar be prepared by the prophets of Baal with a sacrificial bull to be offered to their god. However, no fire could be lit on their altar. The God who answered with fire from the sky would be considered to be the one and only true God. “And all the people answered and said, It is well spoken (18:22-24).
The great contest began.
The prophets of Baal called upon their god, to no avail. In mockery Elijah suggested that perhaps Baal was asleep. Perhaps he was gone on a long vacation (18:27). The prophets of Baal cried louder, and cut themselves to show their own personal blood sacrifice. “And it came to pass, when midday was past, and they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that there was neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded” (18:29). There was only the sound of silence. There was no fire from heaven.
When the prophets had exhausted themselves, Elijah had the people pour twelve large jars of water over the altar to saturate the wood, and fill the trench (18:30-35). Then, Elijah prayed, and God answered. There was fire from heaven (18:36-39). The prophets of Baal were proven to be false, and were properly executed according to the Law of Moses. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. Study James 5:16
Murder and Mayhem in the Royal Court 1 Kings 19
When the Lord sent rain because Elijah prayed, and when Jezebel heard that her prophets had been judicially executed, she was enraged. She would exact the law of lex talionis, the law of retaliation, whereby a punishment resembles the offense committed in kind and degree. Jezebel determined there would be an eye for an eye, and a life for a life to avenge her god, Baal, and his prophets. “Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time” (1 Kings 19:2).
The Lord protected his servant Elijah in a miraculous way, but not before Elijah went through a period of great depression to the point he wanted to die. While fleeing from Jezebel, Elijah came to Beer-sheba in Judah, and sat down under a juniper tree. Fearful for his life, exhausted from running, Elijah prayed and said, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers” (19:4).
Then, falling into a fitful sleep, Elijah was touched by an angel after he had rested. When he was fully awake he noted there was food and water to refresh him. Here was a meal cooked by an angel from heaven (19:5-8).
Making his way to a cave, Elijah paused to rest. Once more the Word of the Lord came to him. This was a day of divine visitation (19:9-14). Elijah was informed he was not going to die. The Lord had much work for him to do. Specifically, Elijah must go and anoint Hazael to be king over Syria, and Jehu to be king over Israel. The point is established. It is the Lord God who appoints the rulers of all nations on earth (19:15-16).
By faith, Elijah believed the Lord, and went forth to obey, believing God had a faithful remanent who had not bowed before Baal (19:17-18).
Finding a Faithful Helper
Leaving the security of his cave, Elijah departed and found a faithful follower in Elisha who was plowing in his field. “Elijah passed by him, and cast his mantle upon him” (19:19). Elisha understood the significance to the prophetic mantle. After a fellowship meal, Elsha “arose, and went after Elijah, and ministered unto him” (19:20-21).
War Between Syria and Israel 1 Kings 20
Soon after the call of Elisha to full time ministry by Elijah, Ben-Hadad, the king of Syria, waged war against Ahab, king of Northern Israel. Beh-hadad believed he had a superior military force because he besieged Samaria (the capital of the Northern Kingdom) with horses and chariots (20:1). Beh-hadad then engaged in propaganda warfare by sending messengers to Ahab, king of Israel, saying, “Thy silver and thy gold is mine; thy wives also and thy children, even the goodliest, are mine” (20:2-3). What Ben-Hadad wanted was a bloodless victory for, “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting” (Sun Tzu).
To the surprise of Ben-Hadad, the king of Israel agreed! Ahab completely capitulated saying to the messengers of Syria, “My lord, O king, according to thy saying, I am thine, and all that I have” (20:4). It was an astonishing moment. Ahab really thought that his appeasement to the ruthless king, Beh-Hadad, would bring peace in his time. It was an illusion.
Fortunately, wise counsel was given to Ahab by his advisers and the capitulation was rescinded (20:7-9). There would be war. However, the battle did not go as Ben-Hadad had envisioned (20:10-12). Ben-Hadad had not counted upon the Lord God of Israel to become involved in the matter. Sending a prophet to Ahab, the king of Israel was assured of divine victory (20:13-21).
A Second Syrian Campaign
Despite his loss on the field of battle, king Ben-Hadad of Syria did not learn from his mistake. As a result, he determined to repeat his error and waged a second war against Israel, with disastrous results (20:22-30). Finding himself destitute of soldiers and fearful of his life, Beh-Hadad cast himself on the mercy of King Ahab of Israel. The appeal to mercy worked. Not only was Ben-Hadad given his life, Ahab restored to him many cities, including Damascus. A formal peace treaty was signed (20:31-34).
However, what Ahab did in making a covenant with Ben-Hadad of Syria was displeasing to the Lord. A prophet of God was sent to Ahab to tell him of his great transgression. And the prophet said unto King Ahab, “Thus saith the Lord, Because thou hast let go out of thy hand a man whom I appointed to utter destruction, therefore thy life shall go for his life, and thy people for his people” (20:42).
On this note, the king of Israel went to his house with a heavy heart, and angry. Ahab returned to his capital in Samaria to consider his situation (20:43).
Legal Thievery 1 Kings 21
Such is the strength of sin that no matter how harsh the judgment of God may be manifested, individuals will sin again. Instead of repenting of the evil of idolatry, Ahab simply moved on to another sin, the sin of covetousness.
The sin of the sovereign of Israel began when Ahab noticed a piece of land that produced a rich harvest of grapes However, the property was owned by Naboth.
When Naboth refused to sell the land to the king, went to his royal chambers and pouted like a spoiled child that could not have his way (21:1-4).
When Jezebel discovered the source of her husband’s unhappiness, she devised a plan to steal the desired property from Naboth. It was a simple plan. Naboth would be formally accused of blaspheming God and the king. Two men, the children of Belial, would testify against him, as the Law of Moses demanded. Naboth would be found guilty, taken outside the city, and stoned to death. The plan Jezebel devised was carried out, Naboth was murdered, and his land was confiscated (21:5-16).
However, the legal thievery of Jezebel and Ahab did not bring them peace, or happiness. God sent Elijah the Tishbite to the royal couple saying, “Thus saith the Lord, Hast thou killed, and also taken possession? And thou shalt speak unto him, saying, Thus saith the Lord, In the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick thy blood, even thine” (21:19).
The royal madness did not end with the death of Naboth. Many more despicable acts were done so that it was said, “there was none like unto Ahab, which did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of the Lord, whom Jezebel his wife stirred up” (21:25).
A Blood Lust for Battle 1 Kings 22
Having fought in war, Ernest Hemingway could personally note, “There is no hunting like the hunting of man, and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never care for anything else thereafter.” The Confederate general, Robert E. Lee said, “It is well that war is so terrible, otherwise we should grow too fond of it.”
After three years of peace between Syria and Israel, Ahab wanted another war. There was a longing for battle that could not be satiated with peaceful co-existence among his neighbors. It is possible the king was simply bored. He needed a diversion, and a pretext to use his vast military complex.
When Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah, visited Ahab, the king of Israel, a proposal was made to take Ramoth in Gilead from the king of Syria. Would King Jehoshaphat become a formal ally with the King of Israel to wage war against Syria? “And Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, I am as thou art, my people as thy people, my horses as thy horses” (22:4).
However, there was one condition. Ahab must ask a prophet of God what to do. “And Jehoshaphat said unto the king of Israel, Enquire, I pray thee, at the word of the Lord to day” (22:5).
Ahab was hesitant to honor this reasonable request. Perhaps he knew his blood lust for battle was inappropriate. Nevertheless, to appease his potential ally, King Jehoshaphat of Juda, Ahab, king of Israel, gathered the prophets in the entrance of the gate of Samaria. The prophets were in agreement. “Go up to Ramoth-Gilead, and prosper for the Lord shall deliver it into the king’s hand” (22:10-12).
This was encouraging news for Ahab. The religious leaders of Israel were confirming his political and military ambitions. All the prophets were in agreement, except one, Micaiah. When his opinion was asked, Micaiah concurred with sanctified sarcasm, which was not lost on King Ahab. “And the king said unto him, Micaiah, shall we go against Ramoth–gilead to battle, or shall we forbear? And he answered him, Go, and prosper: for the Lord shall deliver it into the hand of the king. 16 And the king said unto him, How many times shall I adjure thee that thou tell me nothing but that which is true in the name of the Lord?” (22:13-16,18).
“No,” King Ahab, “you should not go to battle.” That was the real counsel of Micaiah, who had the mind of the Lord on this matter (22:17).
A Lying Spirit
It was a logical inquiry for King Ahab of Israel, and King Jehoshaphat of Judah to ask Micaiah how so many others could be wrong, and he be right. The answer, according to Micaiah was this. The majority party of prophets were lying (22:19-23).
For telling the truth, Zedekiah went over to Micaiah and struck him on the cheek in unholy anger (22:24). But Micaiah did not recant his testimony. It would be as he had predicted if war was waged against Syria (22:24-25).
For standing firm in his divine message, Micaiah was sent by King Ahab of Israel to prison (22:26). Then, the king of Israel, and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah waged war against Syria with predictable results. Ahab was killed in battle, despite a disguise, and Jehoshaphat reined over Judah. He was thirty-five years old. His reign would last for twenty-five years, living in peace with the northern kingdom of Israel (22:27-44).
One of the most important polices Jehoshaphat carried out during his reign was to remove the sodomites, the homosexuals from the land (22:46). No nation can surived when homosexuality is prevelant and allowed to flourish.
The Book of 1 Kings ends with the death of Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, and the reign of Ahaziah, son of Ahab, king of northern Israel. Like his father Ahab, Ahaziah “did evil in the sight of the Lord. He served Baal, and provoked the anger of the Lord God of Israel (22:52-53).
Lessons to Learn 1 Kings
Conditional and Unconditional Covenants
A Conditional Covenant is made when two or more parties promise to perform certain actions, with stated consequences if the conditions are not honored. The Covenant God made Israel concerning the Land of Promise was conditioned upon gospel obedience. Study Exodus 19 – 24
An Unconditional Covenant is an agreement between two or more parties without stipulations recorded for fulfillment of the agreement. Reformed Theologians point to the Covenant of Grace to illustrate this idea, whereby God promised to send the seed of the woman to crush the head of the serpent. “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel” (Gen. 3:15).
Jesus fulfilled this Covenant of Grace when He rose from among the dead. “Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. 32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me” (John 12:31 – 32). The reason Jesus came to earth was to destroy the works of the devil. “He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose, the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8).
Only God Can Exalt a Person
The actions of Haggith (Heb. “festival”), a wife of David, reminds Christians that if the Lord does not honor someone, and appoint them to a position, they are not promoted. Seeking a place of honor is specifically forbidden by Jesus, for His disciples. The Christian is not to engage in self-promotion. “And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted” (Matt. 23:12). Rather, the Christian is to seek to serve others.
Sowing the Seeds of Personal and National Destruction
In the early days of his reign as King of Israel, Solomon violated the known will of God, despite David’s exhortations to keep the Law. Instead of depending solely on the Lord for national protection, Solomon made an alliance with Egypt. Instead of marrying someone of like faith, Solomon married an Egyptian princess. Instead of getting rid of idols in Israel, Solomon allowed the people to sacrifice in high places. Nevertheless, where sin abounded, God’s grace did much more abound.
While not wanting to take sin lightly, or suggest behavior that violates the known will of God is not serious, the lesson is learned that God remains faithful to His covenant. The Lord continues to engage with souls, like Solomon, saturated in sin. Such is the nature of God’s love and longsuffering. Though Christians do not love the love as completely as they should, God loves His own and remains faithful.
“For Jesus shed His precious blood
Rich blessings to bestow;
Plunge now into the crimson flood
That washes white as snow.
Come to Jesus, come to Jesus,
Come to Jesus now,
He will save you, He will save you,
He will save you now.”
—John H. Stockton
God Still Gives Wisdom
The wisdom God gave to Solomon is not above the wisdom God gives to Christians. The promise of God is that if the believer will ask for wisdom, it shall be granted. “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him” (James 1:5).
God Keeps His Word
The Lord made a covenant with Abraham regarding a specific piece of land, of God’s own choosing (Acts 17:20). The borders of that land were stated in Genesis 15:8. “In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates:” During the days of Joshua, David, and Solomon, the land which God promised was recognized as belonging to Israel.
Joshua. “And the Lord gave unto Israel all the land which he sware to give unto their fathers; and they possessed it, and dwelt therein” (Joshua 21:43).
“And the Lord gave them rest round about, according to all that he sware unto their fathers: and there stood not a man of all their enemies before them; the Lord delivered all their enemies into their hand” (Joshua 21:44).
David. “He restored the coast of Israel from the entering of Hamath unto the Sea of the Plain [Dead Sea], according to the word of the Lord God of Israel, which he spake by the hand of his servant Jonah, the son of Amittai, the prophet, which was of Gath–Hepher” (2 Kings 14:25).
Solomon. “And Solomon reigned over all kingdoms from the river unto the land of the Philistines, and unto the border of Egypt: they brought presents, and served Solomon all the days of his life” (1 Kings 4:21).
The possession of the land was a conditional covenant, and depended upon Israel’s obedience to the Law.
“I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that ye shall soon utterly perish from off the land whereunto ye go over Jordan to possess it; ye shall not prolong your days upon it, but shall utterly be destroyed. 27 And the Lord shall scatter you among the nations, and ye shall be left few in number among the heathen, whither the Lord shall lead you. 28 And there ye shall serve gods, the work of men’s hands, wood and stone, which neither see, nor hear, nor eat, nor smell” (Deut. 4:26-28).
An Honest Vocabulary
The Bible says that Solomon did evil in the sight of the Lord. In the modern world, a rich vocabulary has been developed to avoid conveying the idea there is evil in the world which people commit of their own free will, relish in their behavior, and applaud others who boldly engage in inappropriate behavior. Study Romans 1
If Christians would use biblical terms and concepts in evangelism, the Church would have a greater impact on society. Homosexuality is evil. Greed is evil. Gluttony is evil. There is behavior that God hates by name. Study Proverbs 6:16-19
A Word of Caution
Whether or not God will once more give to Israel the borders of His ancient people is a matter of Divine mystery. Care must be taken not to equate the modern state of Israel with ancient prophesies or promises. Neither modern Israel, America, Germany, Italy, Russia, China, North Korea, or any other modern nation is spoken about in the New Testament. It is wrong to take passages from the Old Testament, dismiss history, and say that prophesy is being fulfilled today, or shall soon be fulfilled.
Be Careful with Comprehensive Words in Scripture
1 Kings 9:5 uses the word forever (Heb. ‘owlam [o-lawn], properly concealed, i.e., the vanishing point; generally, time out of mind [past or future]). Care must be taken not to read too much into this term. the term “forever” is used in a limited sense in Scripture, as well as an expansive one.
Circumcision was to be a sign of the covenant forever, until it was no longer a requirement, for the Mosaic Law ended. Study Genesis 17:7-13; Romans 2:25-29
The Sabbath was to be observed forever by the people of God, until the resurrection of Jesus. Then, the disciples met on the first day of the week. Study Exodus 31:16; Galatians 4:11-14
The Lord would establish the throne of Solomon forever, provided Solomon and his descendants obeyed the statutes and commandments of God.
The Land of Promise was given to Abraham and his descendants forever, as long as they obeyed the Lord. Study Genesis 17:8; 35:12; Deuteronomy 4:26-28