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1 Kings




BOOK : 1 Kings

Description : historical book recounting the reign of Solomon, the break-up of the nation into northern and southern kingdoms, the kings of both those kingdoms in their early days, and the ministry of the prophet Elijah. (Probably written initially as 1 book with 2 Kings)

Author: unknown

Date written : some suggest about 560 or 550BC

Chapters : 22


Brief Synopsis:

•  Gets its name, very obviously, from the fact that the two books cover the whole period of the kings of Israel and Judah , the northern and southern kingdoms that divided after Solomon.
•  Solomon started out with great hopes, a man given wisdom by God which enabled him to rule wisely (if not somewhat harshly) and produced a very rich kingdom. He himself was probably the richest man in the world at that time.
•  Sadly, Solomon disobeyed and disregarded God's wisdom and married many women from other nations and allowed their worship to enter the palace and eventually he drifted away from the Lord and ended up jaded and cynical (see Ecclesiastes).
•  Because of this the Lord said he would divide the kingdom and only leave his family with two tribes.
•  When he died, his son Rehoboam foolishly disregarded the wisdom of the elders and provoked a rebellion against him resulting in the ten northern tribes setting up independently under Jeroboam.
•  The book follows the two sets of kings with the northern ones being bad without exception, allowing (if not guiding) the northern kingdom to worship idols.
•  At chapter 17 we are introduced to the prophet Elijah and follow his activities for a while in the time of the reign of Ahab of Israel.
•  Two other kings follow before the end of the book.





Ch.1-12 King Solomon's Reign

Ch.1 & 2 Succession

Ch.3 Wisdom

Ch.4-9 Government, Success, and building & establishing the Temple

Ch.10 Queen of Sheba visits

Ch.11 Solomon's folly and throne threatened

Ch.12 Rehoboam succeeds to the throne

Ch.12-16 Israel and Judah from Jeroboam I/Rehoboam to Ahab/Asa


Of Israel

Of Judah

12:25 - 14:20

Jeroboam I














15:33 - 16:7















Ch.17-22 The Ministries of Elijah and Other Prophets from Ahab/Asa to Ahaziah /Jehoshaphat
17:1 - 22:40 Elijah (and Other Prophets) in the Reign of Ahab
Ch. 17 Elijah and the drought
Ch. 18 Elijah on Mount Carmel
Ch. 19 Elijah's flight to Horeb
Ch. 20 A prophet condemns Ahab for sparing Ben-Hadad
Ch. 21 Elijah condemns Ahab for seizing Naboth's vineyard
22:1-40 Micaiah prophesies Ahab's death; its fulfilment 
22:41-50 Jehoshaphat of Judah
22:51-53 Ahaziah of Israel


For the sake of continuity in understanding we continue into 2 Kings :


Ch.1-8 The Ministries of Elijah and Elisha during the Reigns of Ahaziah and Joram
Ch.1 Elijah in the Reign of Ahaziah

Ch.2 Elijah's Translation; Elisha's Inauguration

Ch.2-8 Elisha in the Reign of Joram
2:19-25 Elisha's initial miraculous signs 

Ch.3 Elisha during the campaign against Moab 

Ch.4 Elisha's ministry to needy ones in Israel 

Ch.5 Elisha heals Naaman 

Ch.6 Elisha delivers one of the prophets & Joram  from Aramean raiders

Ch.6&7 Aramean siege of Samaria lifted, as Elisha prophesied

8:1-6 The Shunammite's land restored

8:7-15 Elisha prophesies Hazael's oppression of Israel

 Ch.8-17 Israel and Judah from Joram/Jehoram to the Exile of Israel

Ch.8 Jehoram & Ahaziah of Judah

Ch.9 & 10 Jehu's Revolt and Reign in Israel

Ch.11 & 12 Athaliah and Joash of Judah ; Repair of the Temple

Ch.13 Jehoahaz of Israel , Jehoash of Israel ; Elisha's Last Prophecy


Of Israel

Of Judah





Jeroboam II





























17:7-41 Exile of Israel ; Resettlement of the Land


Ch.18-25 Judah from Hezekiah to the Babylonian Exile

Ch.18-20 Hezekiah

Ch.21 Manasseh & Amon

Ch.22,23 Josiah

Ch.23 Jehoahaz Exiled to Egypt 

23:36 - 24:7 Jehoiakim: First Babylonian Deportation 

24:8-17 Jehoiachin: Second Babylonian Deportation 

24:18 - 25:21 Zedekiah: Third Babylonian Deportation 

25:22-26 Removal of the Remnant to Egypt 

25:27-30 Elevation of Jehoiachin in Babylon



Key Verses :

From David to Solomon

1:11,15,17,18,29,30 Then Nathan asked Bathsheba, Solomon's mother, "Have you not heard that Adonijah, the son of Haggith, has become king without our lord David's knowing it?.... So Bathsheba went to see the aged king in his room….. She said to him, "My lord, you yourself swore to me your servant by the LORD your God: `Solomon your son shall be king after me, and he will sit on my throne.' But now Adonijah has become king, and you, my lord the king, do not know about it. The king then took an oath: "As surely as the LORD lives, who has delivered me out of every trouble, I will surely carry out today what I swore to you by the LORD, the God of Israel: Solomon your son shall be king after me, and he will sit on my throne in my place."
2:1-4 When the time drew near for David to die, he gave a charge to Solomon his son. "I am about to go the way of all the earth," he said. "So be strong, show yourself a man, and observe what the LORD your God requires: Walk in his ways, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and requirements, as written in the Law of Moses, so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go, and that the LORD may keep his promise to me: `If your descendants watch how they live, and if they walk faithfully before me with all their heart and soul, you will never fail to have a man on the throne of Israel.'
3:1-3 Solomon made an alliance with Pharaoh king of Egypt and married his daughter. He brought her to the City of David until he finished building his palace and the temple of the LORD, and the wall around Jerusalem . The people, however, were still sacrificing at the high places, because a temple had not yet been built for the Name of the LORD. Solomon showed his love for the LORD by walking according to the statutes of his father David, except that he offered sacrifices and burned incense on the high places.


The Lord gives Solomon Wisdom

3:5-14 At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, "Ask for whatever you want me to give you." Solomon answered, "You have shown great kindness to your servant, my father David, because he was faithful to you and righteous and upright in heart. You have continued this great kindness to him and have given him a son to sit on his throne this very day. "Now, O LORD my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?" The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. So God said to him, "Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be. Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for--both riches and honor--so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings. And if you walk in my ways and obey my statutes and commands as David your father did, I will give you a long life."


Building the temple and installing the Ark

6:37,38 The foundation of the temple of the LORD was laid in the fourth year, in the month of Ziv. In the eleventh year in the month of Bul, the eighth month, the temple was finished in all its details according to its specifications. He had spent seven years building it
8:3-6 When all the elders of Israel had arrived, the priests took up the ark, and they brought up the ark of the LORD and the Tent of Meeting and all the sacred furnishings in it. The priests and Levites carried them up, and King Solomon and the entire assembly of Israel that had gathered about him were before the ark, sacrificing so many sheep and cattle that they could not be recorded or counted. The priests then brought the ark of the LORD's covenant to its place in the inner sanctuary of the temple, the Most Holy Place , and put it beneath the wings of the cherubim.
8:10,11 When the priests withdrew from the Holy Place , the cloud filled the temple of the LORD. And the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled his temple.
8:22-53 Solomon's Prayers at the dedication of the Temple – essential reading!
9:1-9 The Lord speaks to Solomon about obedience – essential reading


The Queen of Sheba recognises the work of God in Solomon's activities

10:1,4,5,8,9 When the queen of Sheba heard about the fame of Solomon and his relation to the name of the LORD, she came to test him with hard questions….. When the queen of Sheba saw all the wisdom of Solomon and the palace he had built, the food on his table, the seating of his officials, the attending servants in their robes, his cupbearers, and the burnt offerings he made at the temple of the LORD, she was overwhelmed….. How happy your men must be! How happy your officials, who continually stand before you and hear your wisdom! Praise be to the LORD your God, who has delighted in you and placed you on the throne of Israel . Because of the LORD's eternal love for Israel, he has made you king, to maintain justice and righteousness."

Solomon's failure

11:1-6 King Solomon, however, loved many foreign women besides Pharaoh's daughter--Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians and Hittites. They were from nations about which the LORD had told the Israelites, "You must not intermarry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods." Nevertheless, Solomon held fast to them in love. He had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines, and his wives led him astray. As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been. He followed Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molech the detestable god of the Ammonites. So Solomon did evil in the eyes of the LORD; he did not follow the LORD completely, as David his father had done.


The Lord's declarations about the future because of Solomon

11:9-13 The LORD became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice. Although he had forbidden Solomon to follow other gods, Solomon did not keep the LORD's command. So the LORD said to Solomon, "Since this is your attitude and you have not kept my covenant and my decrees, which I commanded you, I will most certainly tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your subordinates. Nevertheless, for the sake of David your father, I will not do it during your lifetime. I will tear it out of the hand of your son. Yet I will not tear the whole kingdom from him, but will give him one tribe for the sake of David my servant and for the sake of Jerusalem , which I have chosen."
11:29-39 About that time Jeroboam was going out of Jerusalem , and Ahijah the prophet of Shiloh met him on the way, wearing a new cloak. The two of them were alone out in the country, and Ahijah took hold of the new cloak he was wearing and tore it into twelve pieces. Then he said to Jeroboam, "Take ten pieces for yourself, for this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: `See, I am going to tear the kingdom out of Solomon's hand and give you ten tribes. But for the sake of my servant David and the city of Jerusalem , which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel , he will have one tribe. I will do this because they have forsaken me and worshiped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, Chemosh the god of the Moabites, and Molech the god of the Ammonites, and have not walked in my ways, nor done what is right in my eyes, nor kept my statutes and laws as David, Solomon's father, did. " `But I will not take the whole kingdom out of Solomon's hand; I have made him ruler all the days of his life for the sake of David my servant, whom I chose and who observed my commands and statutes. I will take the kingdom from his son's hands and give you ten tribes. I will give one tribe to his son so that David my servant may always have a lamp before me in Jerusalem , the city where I chose to put my Name. However, as for you, I will take you, and you will rule over all that your heart desires; you will be king over Israel . If you do whatever I command you and walk in my ways and do what is right in my eyes by keeping my statutes and commands, as David my servant did, I will be with you. I will build you a dynasty as enduring as the one I built for David and will give Israel to you. I will humble David's descendants because of this, but not forever.' "

Solomon dies, Rehoboam, succeeds him and the kingdom divides

11:42,43 Solomon reigned in Jerusalem over all Israel forty years. Then he rested with his fathers and was buried in the city of David his father. And Rehoboam his son succeeded him as king.
12:8 But Rehoboam rejected the advice the elders gave him and consulted the young men who had grown up with him and were serving him
12:15- 17 So the king did not listen to the people, for this turn of events was from the LORD, to fulfill the word the LORD had spoken to Jeroboam son of Nebat through Ahijah the Shilonite. When all Israel saw that the king refused to listen to them, they answered the king: "What share do we have in David, what part in Jesse's son? To your tents, O Israel! Look after your own house, O David!" So the Israelites went home. But as for the Israelites who were living in the towns of Judah , Rehoboam still ruled over them.


Institutional idolatry set up in Israel

12:26-30 Jeroboam thought to himself, "The kingdom will now likely revert to the house of David. If these people go up to offer sacrifices at the temple of the LORD in Jerusalem , they will again give their allegiance to their lord, Rehoboam king of Judah . They will kill me and return to King Rehoboam." After seeking advice, the king made two golden calves. He said to the people, "It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem . Here are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt ." One he set up in Bethel , and the other in Dan. And this thing became a sin; the people went even as far as Dan to worship the one there.


Judah was not much better

14:22-25 Judah did evil in the eyes of the LORD. By the sins they committed they stirred up his jealous anger more than their fathers had done. They also set up for themselves high places, sacred stones and Asherah poles on every high hill and under every spreading tree. There were even male shrine prostitutes in the land; the people engaged in all the detestable practices of the nations the LORD had driven out before the Israelites. In the fifth year of King Rehoboam, Shishak king of Egypt attacked Jerusalem .


The kings of Judah , bad and good

15:1-5 In the eighteenth year of the reign of Jeroboam son of Nebat, Abijah became king of Judah , and he reigned in Jerusalem three years. His mother's name was Maacah daughter of Abishalom. He committed all the sins his father had done before him; his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his forefather had been. Nevertheless, for David's sake the LORD his God gave him a lamp in Jerusalem by raising up a son to succeed him and by making Jerusalem strong. For David had done what was right in the eyes of the LORD and had not failed to keep any of the LORD's commands all the days of his life--except in the case of Uriah the Hittite.
15:8-14 And Abijah rested with his fathers and was buried in the City of David . And Asa his son succeeded him as king. In the twentieth year of Jeroboam king of Israel, Asa became king of Judah, and he reigned in Jerusalem forty-one years. His grandmother's name was Maacah daughter of Abishalom. Asa did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, as his father David had done. He expelled the male shrine prostitutes from the land and got rid of all the idols his fathers had made. He even deposed his grandmother Maacah from her position as queen mother, because she had made a repulsive Asherah pole. Asa cut the pole down and burned it in the Kidron Valley . Although he did not remove the high places, Asa's heart was fully committed to the LORD all his life.


Upheavals in Israel

15:25,26 Nadab son of Jeroboam became king of Israel in the second year of Asa king of Judah, and he reigned over Israel two years. He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, walking in the ways of his father and in his sin, which he had caused Israel to commit.
15:28-30 Baasha killed Nadab in the third year of Asa king of Judah and succeeded him as king. As soon as he began to reign, he killed Jeroboam's whole family. He did not leave Jeroboam anyone that breathed, but destroyed them all, according to the word of the LORD given through his servant Ahijah the Shilonite-- because of the sins Jeroboam had committed and had caused Israel to commit, and because he provoked the LORD, the God of Israel, to anger.
16:8-13 In the twenty-sixth year of Asa king of Judah, Elah son of Baasha became king of Israel , and he reigned in Tirzah two years. Zimri , one of his officials, who had command of half his chariots, plotted against him. Elah was in Tirzah at the time, getting drunk in the home of Arza, the man in charge of the palace at Tirzah. Zimri came in, struck him down and killed him in the twenty-seventh year of Asa king of Judah . Then he succeeded him as king. As soon as he began to reign and was seated on the throne, he killed off Baasha's whole family. He did not spare a single male, whether relative or friend. So Zimri destroyed the whole family of Baasha, in accordance with the word of the LORD spoken against Baasha through the prophet Jehu-- because of all the sins Baasha and his son Elah had committed and had caused Israel to commit, so that they provoked the LORD, the God of Israel, to anger by their worthless idols.
16:16,25,26 When the Israelites in the camp heard that Zimri had plotted against the king and murdered him, they proclaimed Omri , the commander of the army, king over Israel that very day there in the camp…. But Omri did evil in the eyes of the LORD and sinned more than all those before him. He walked in all the ways of Jeroboam son of Nebat and in his sin, which he had caused Israel to commit, so that they provoked the LORD, the God of Israel, to anger by their worthless idols.
16:29,30 In the thirty-eighth year of Asa king of Judah, Ahab son of Omri became king of Israel, and he reigned in Samaria over Israel twenty-two years. Ahab son of Omri did more evil in the eyes of the LORD than any of those before him.


Elijah the prophet declares a drought

17:1 Now Elijah the Tishbite, from Tishbe in Gilead , said to Ahab, "As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word."
18:1,2 After a long time, in the third year, the word of the LORD came to Elijah: "Go and present yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the land." So Elijah went to present himself to Ahab.
18:21 Elijah went before the people and said, "How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him."
18:36-39 At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: "O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. Answer me, O LORD, answer me, so these people will know that you, O LORD, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again." Then the fire of the LORD fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench. When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, "The LORD--he is God! The LORD--he is God!"


Elijah on the run

19:1-3 Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, "May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them." Elijah was afraid and ran for his life.
19:13-18 Then a voice said to him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" He replied, "I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too." The LORD said to him, "Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus . When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram. Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel , and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet. Jehu will put to death any who escape the sword of Hazael, and Elisha will put to death any who escape the sword of Jehu. Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel --all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him."

Elijah passes the prophetic mantle to Elisha

19:19-21 So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat. He was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen, and he himself was driving the twelfth pair. Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him. Elisha then left his oxen and ran after Elijah. …. He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his attendant


The next kings

22:41-43 Jehoshaphat son of Asa became king of Judah in the fourth year of Ahab king of Israel . Jehoshaphat was thirty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem twenty-five years. His mother's name was Azubah daughter of Shilhi. In everything he walked in the ways of his father Asa and did not stray from them; he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD.
22:50 Then Jehoshaphat rested with his fathers and was buried with them in the city of David his father. And Jehoram his son succeeded him.
22:51-53 Ahaziah son of Ahab became king of Israel in Samaria in the seventeenth year of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, and he reigned over Israel two years. He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, because he walked in the ways of his father and mother and in the ways of Jeroboam son of Nebat, who caused Israel to sin. He served and worshiped Baal and provoked the LORD, the God of Israel, to anger, just as his father had done.



Concluding Comments

•  If the kings of Israel and Judah represent humanity in general, this book is like putting a magnifying glass over humanity and having their sinful frailty revealed.

•  At the beginning of the book Solomon has everything going for him: he has the example of a godly father, he has the support of others close to him, and he receives a gift of wisdom from the Lord. It all ought to go well!

•  Tragically, despite that wisdom he disregarded god's warnings about foreign wives and ends his life in a godless place with the judgment of God declared that will not let his family carry on ruling over all Israel . Yet for the sake of David, his father, his son will be allowed to continue to reign over two of the twelve tribes.

•  When the division takes place, the Lord speaks through His prophet to Jeroboam, who leads the northern ten tribes, and you would have thought that that encounter would have set him up to be a godly king – but no! He reasons with human wisdom that because Jerusalem the focus of the Lord is in the south, he will need to establish religion that is strictly in the north, and establishes idols at the northern and southern boundaries that lead the nation into ongoing idolatry.

•  The northern kings are a disaster and the southern ones not much better.

•  With the advent of the ministry of Elijah (and later Elisha) you would have thought that the guidance and direction of the Lord was so strong that it would be heeded – but largely not!

•  Israel are on the path for destruction and it is only the advent of some good kings in the south that mean that Judah are a couple of centuries behind in their own downfall (both of which will appear in the second book).

•  From reading these accounts it can never be said that God did not try with these people. They are given opportunity after opportunity to get on the right track, but the presence of Sin in the human race is too strong. Not a happy conclusion!

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