Here’s a summary of 1 & 2 Kings.
Israel’s monarchy failed miserably and led to a divided kingdom (1 Kings 12) and eventual exile (2 Kings 17:5; 2 Kings 25) because they sinned greatly (2 Kings 17:7) and rejected the word of the Lord (2 Kings 17:16) in spite of repeated warnings given by God’s prophets (1 Kings 18-19).
Explanation of Main Idea
As King David approaches death, he anoints his son, Solomon, to reign as king (1 Kings 1:30). Solomon starts off well, asking the Lord for wisdom (1 Kings 3:7-8), but soon disobeys God by marrying foreign women (1 Kings 11:3), worshipping foreign gods (1 Kings 11:7-8), accumulating massive amounts of possessions (1 Kings 10:14-29), and conscripting his fellow Israelites into slavery (1 Kings 9:15), all in direct defiance of the written word of God. Because of this, after his death the Lord tore the kingdom out of his son’s hand (1 Kings 11:11-13) and the people of Israel divide into two nations, the northern kingdom (Israel) and the southern kingdom (Judah) (1 Kings 12).
Both kingdoms degenerate into idolatry (1 Kings 12:25-33; 1 Kings 14:22-24), however Judah occasionally is led by a (somewhat) good king, like Jehoshaphat (1 Kings 22:43), Joash (2 Kings 12:2), Amaziah (2 Kings 14:3), and others who attempt to bring about reform, like Josiah (2 Kings 23:4-19) and even experience miraculous deliverance, like Hezekiah (2 Kings 19). On the other hand, Israel never has a godly ruler and looks more and more like the nations that were in the land before they possessed it (2 Kings 17:8).
Principal in the books of Kings is the role of the prophet. Notable among these, are Elijah and Elisha (1 Kings 17-19; 2 Kings 1-8). Zealous for the Lord, they perform many miracles, proving the power of God over false deities (1 Kings 18:19-39), and even raising the dead to life (1 Kings 17:22). For the most part, the prophetic word of the Lord falls on deaf ears as God raises up two enemy nations, Assyria and Babylon, to invade Israel and Judah respectively.
The books of 1 and 2 Kings were written to show what happens when God is forgotten. Because David had a heart for the Lord, his son Solomon, was able to lead Israel into a glorious season. His reign was marked by wealth, prosperity, and wisdom. But as he allowed his heart to be influenced by ungodly people, he started disobeying the word of the Lord. As a king, he should have read and meditated in God’s Word. He got off track and greatly compromised the kingdom. This led to the downfall of the entire nation!
Nonetheless, God still shows mercy and offers hope, as evidenced by the healing of Naaman (2 Kings 5:1-19), His observation that “the affliction of Israel was very bitter…(and) there was no one to help” (2 Kings 14:26), and Jehoiachin, the last king of Judah, and who went into captivity to Babylon, was allowed to get out of prison, dine with the king regularly, and received a (monetary) allowance for the rest of his life (2 Kings 25:27-30).
- The Temple
There is too much written regarding the temple in 1 & 2 Kings not to take note of it. 1 Kings 5-9 provide details about it’s elaborate design and dedication. It is not too hard to imagine the joy and vibrancy of the people as they worshipped there. The ensuing chapters make consistent reference to it’s plundering both by enemies of Israel (1 Kings 14:25-28) and even their own leaders (2 Kings 12:17-18). It seems that the state of the temple closely paralleled the people’s spiritual state.
- The Prophets
There are two leadership roles in Kings: prophets and kings. Bad kings delivered bad leadership, taking the nation farther from God. It was the role of the prophet to deliver God’s word of warning and judgement. On occasion, a good king, like Hezekiah, would seek the advice and intercession of a prophet, as he did with Isaiah (2 Kings 19). Prophets like Elijah and Elisha demonstrated the power. and thus the superiority, of God through miracles
- God and the Nations.
God moves the hearts of individuals, but He also moves nations to accomplish His will. Most notably, he used Assyria (2 Kings 17) and Babylon (2 Kings 25) to bring judgement upon the peoples of Israel and Judah. But we also see His sovereign hand in the division of Israel and Judah (1Kings 12:15), the raising up of Solomon’s enemies (1 Kings 11:14-25), and the defeat of the Assyrians against Hezekiah (2 Kings 19:35).
- The Cost of Compromise
Solomon strayed away from the word of God. In fact, he completely ignored God’s commands. He let his heart be influenced by his ungodly wives which led to his horrible downfall. It is likely that he reasoned that he was just being like all the other kings around him, or that God would approve of his behaviour since He had appeared to him. But his compromise came at a high price, not just for himself and his subjects, but for future generations.
- The Impact of Leadership
David’s leadership impacted the generations after him. God tore the kingdom apart, partially because He wanted one tribe to remain in David’s line (1 Kings 11:13). But the greater example here is that each of Judah’s and Israel’s kings were responsible before the Lord for the direction of their respective kingdoms. If any of them would seek the Lord with all their heart, He would be faithful to protect and bless them.
How Does This Relate To Us?
1 & 2 Kings exposes the depths to which mankind in relationship to God can fall. King Solomon was a man blessed by the Lord, yet he allowed compromise to ruin him. Most of the kings after him failed to serve God with all their heart and consequently brought down the nation. This is a sober reminder to give a high priority to read and meditate upon God’s Word, and to obey it at all costs. Otherwise, we will make excuses and, like Solomon, take advantage of opportunities that don’t please the Lord. The consequences would be devastating, not just for our lives but for future generations.
These books also provide an interesting perspective of spiritual activity related to international politics. In 1 & 2 Kings, God’s hand is clearly involved in moving nations around to achieve his purposes. In Hezekiah’s case in 2 Kings 19, a whole war was stopped as a result of prayer. The exiles to Babylon and Assyria are other examples of this. Does God do this today? To what extent is He bringing judgement or aligning nations to achieve some divine purpose that we may or may not know?
1 & 2 Kings also brings up the question of the role of prophets. Like Elijah and Elisha that tried to shape the nation by bringing God’s Word to certain kings, is it possible that God has people today that are speaking with a prophetic voice to certain world’s leaders? We should also ask ourselves the question of what is God’s message that I am being called to proclaim in my sphere of influence, understanding of course, that we have God’s written word to steward.
Lastly, and importantly, 1 & 2 Kings causes us to marvel at God’s plan of bringing Jesus to the world through the line of David. Israel is all but destroyed. They are out of their land and living as refugees. But they are not without hope. They have failed and fallen to such a degree that there survival is a miracle. And that is the point. God kept them alive and together in such a way that the One from the line of David that is the Eternal King will still come and be the perfect King.
- What advice did David give his son, Solomon, in 1 Kings 2:1-4? Did Solomon take this advice?
- Look in the opening chapter of 1 Kings. How many chapters are devoted to describing the temple and events associated with it’s construction and dedication? Why do you think the author is placing this emphasis on it?
- According to 1 Kings 13:33-34, what sin caused the house of Jeroboam to be cut off? Why do you think this was important to God?
- Who met Elijah on Mt. Carmel for the showdown between YHWH and Baal, according to 1 Kings 18:19? What do you think God was trying to accomplish, based on 1 Kings 18:21.
- There are many prophets mentioned in 1 & 2 Kings. The two notable ones are Elijah and Elisha. Look up the following verses to see who the other ones are: 1 Kings 1:22, 1 Kings 11:29, 1 Kings 13:11, 1 Kings 16:7, 2 Kings 14:25, and 2 Kings 20:1.
- Why do you think there are so many (53) occurrences of the word “prophet” in these two books? Why is their presence and ministry in Israel so important?
Life Application Questions
- What did God say to Solomon in 1 Kings 3:5? If God appeared to you and said, “What should I give you?” what would you say? What would you like God to give you?
- According to 1 Kings 11:4, who turned away Solomon’s heart from the Lord? How are your friends or family affecting your walk with the Lord?
- Read 1 Kings 15:2-5. What impact did David’s life have on Judah? What impact would you like your life to have on future generations? Be specific.
- After Elijah’s great victory on Mt. Carmel, he faced a situation that caused him to fear for his life (See 1 Kings 19:1-5). Have you noticed any similar patterns in your life, maybe a time where fear and failure came after a great victory?
Copyright © 2018 Pat Sieler