Five key events in 1 Kings
- First, God’s establishing of Solomon on David’s throne and the way He greatly blessed him (chs. 1-4). Solomon sees in his accession the faithfulness of God to his father David (3:6).
- Second, Solomon’s building of the Temple and all of its dedicatory prayers and festivities (chs. 5-8). Building the Temple was not just a whim of Solomon’s but rather the fulfillment of a promise God had made to David (2 Samuel 7:13; 1 Kings 8:10-21).
- Third, Solomon’s weakness for foreign wives and how his sin in this regard resulted in the division of the kingdom during the reign of his son, Rehoboam (11:1-12:24).
- Fourth, the counterfeit worship that Jeroboam established in the Northern Kingdom and how it led to his demise and, ultimately, the deportation of the entire kingdom (12:25-14:20).
- Fifth, the rise of Ahab’s dynasty, his introduction of Baal worship into Israel (on top of Jeroboam’s counterfeit worship), and God’s counter-answer through the prophet Elijah and other servants of His (16:23-22:40). God raised up one of His greatest servants (Elijah) during the time of Israel’s greatest apostasy.
Four important themes in 1 Kings
Woven in and out of these and other events of 1 Kings are the following recurring four themes:
1. David as God’s standard of spiritual excellence.
God repeatedly holds David up before future kings as the king who followed Him with a perfect heart (3:14; 11:4, 33-34; 15:3-5, 11). God, in fact, says that David obeyed him in everything except for the matter of Uriah the Hittite (15:5). David’s flesh was as weak as any man’s, but his heart was unusually God’s, and his example of obedience is one that every Christian should emulate.
2. The multigenerational impact of Jeroboam’s golden calf worship.
God extended an extraordinary promise of dynasty to Jeroboam. Jeroboam turned from that promise to his own understanding and established a counterfeit worship at Dan and Bethel that became a stumbling block to Israel for the duration of its existence. Virtually every king of the Northern Kingdom “walked in the way of Jeroboam” (15:26, 34; 16:2, 19, 26, 31; 22:52)—even Zimri who reigned for only ten days (16:19).
3. Dynastic continuance conditioned upon obedience.
In 1 Kings, we see that dynasties rise and fall based on their obedience to God. Even the Davidic monarchy would continue uninterrupted if each king obeyed God (2:4; 3:14; 8:25), and God would perpetuate His dwelling in the Temple if Solomon walked in His statutes (6:11-13). The continuance of Jeroboam’s dynasty also hinged upon an “if clause” (11:38). Baasha forfeited any opportunity for a lasting dynasty by his sinful actions (16:1-4), and God decrees a brutal end to Ahab’s dynasty because of all his spiritual atrocities (21:20-24).
4. The rise of the prophetic office as counselors to the monarchy and the exact fulfillment of whatever they declare in God’s name.
Prophets already act as advisors to the monarchy in the books of Samuel but their prominence in Israel seems to increase proportionately to Israel’s apostasy. The prophets almost seem to run the kingdom at times. Nathan oversees the plan that lands Solomon safely on David’s throne (1:11-27). The prophet Ahijah awards the ten tribes to Jeroboam (11:29-39) and later announces the doom of Jeroboam’s entire house. Shemaiah prevents Rehoboam from warring against Jeroboam. Elijah tells Ahab when it will rain, when he should ride his chariot down Mount Carmel, and how he and his wife Jezebel will die.
Particularly emphasized in 1 and 2 Kings is how whatever the prophets declare in God’s name comes to pass. God rules the kingdoms by His words as spoken by His messengers. This theme dominates both 1 and 2 Kings. At least eighteen times, 1 Kings records that something God said came to pass (2:27; 8:53-56; 12:15; 13:5, 26; 14:18; 15:29; 16:12, 34; 17:6, 16; 18:45; 20:21, 26, 29, 36; 22:36, 38). The full formula is something like this: “it happened according to the word of the Lord which He spoke by the hand of His servant [the prophet’s name].” Moses, Joshua, Ahijah, Jehu, Elijah, and Micaiah, among others, all spoke words of God that came to pass. In chapter 20, unnamed prophets make five predictions, and all five happen. The bizarre death of the disobedient man of God from Judah, who died just as God said he would, confirmed the future fulfillment of the prophecies he had uttered against the altar at Bethel (13:21-32).
The books of Samuel reminded us that God reigns sovereign over the leaders of kingdoms. 1 Kings makes clear how: God rules over these men by means of His words. His voice, even uttered at a whisper, is more powerful than earthquakes or fire (19:11-13). All He says will come to pass. Mankind has only two choices: heed those words or reap the consequences of not doing so. Even wicked King Ahab, in all his stubborn ingenuity, could not stop God’s words from coming to pass (22:34-38).
- How does a biblical author of historical narrative communicate his emphases?
- What five key events does the author of 1 Kings emphasize?
- Why was Solomon’s accession to the throne so important? What attribute of God does it reveal?
- What is God’s assessment of David? How is David an example to all kings that followed him (and to all believers as well)?
- How does a passage like Proverbs 3:5-6 relate to Jeroboam’s decision to ignore God’s promise and introduce a counterfeit worship in Israel? (See particularly his reasoning in 12:26-30.)
- How did Jeroboam’s sin affect all the kings that followed him? (Do one person’s sins sometimes have multi-generational impact? How might sins of yours affect the generations of descendants that follow you?)
- What worship did Ahab introduce into Israel?
- Was God silent during Ahab’s reign? Who did God raise up to warn Ahab?
- What prophetic formula occurs repeatedly in 1 Kings and what important theme does it communicate?