Daily Bible Studies
Series Theme: Studies in 1 & 2 Kings
"The Kings of Israel" (The Northern Kingdom)
Chapter: 2 Kings 1
Passage: 1 Kings 22:51-53 / 2 Kings 1:1-18
A. Find Out:
1. List 4 things Ahaziah did as shown in the summary of v.51-53.
2. What happened to Ahaziah and what did he do? v.1,2
3. What message from God was sent to him? v.3-6
4. What did Ahaziah try to do and what happened? v.7-14
5. Why did Elijah eventually go to him? v.15
6. What message did he bring and what was the outcome? v.16-18
1. How was Ahaziah's folly seen in these verses?
2. What was the Lord's part in all this?
3. What do you think was the purpose of the fire from heaven?
Ahab has died and his son becomes king. He has obviously learnt nothing from Ahab's encounters with the Lord and is just as bad as his father. He is a foolish, superstitious idol worshipper and he thinks he can get away with it. Then he has an accident, he falls through the window lattice of an upper window and is seriously injured. It is when we have mishaps that our inner self is really revealed. Ahaziah is in fear of whether he will live and so wants reassurance. Does he turn to the Lord? No, he turns to pagan gods.
Whether the Lord provoked this accident is not clear, but He certainly uses the situation to speak to this foolish king. The word comes via an angel to Elijah and thus to messengers and thus to the king, because you have relied upon idols you will not recover. If the man had feared and sought the Lord it might have been very different. Then we see the dramatic account of the various soldiers who went out to apprehend Elijah. Now this is clearly the power of the Sovereign Lord protecting His servant but surely it is more than this.
Surely every power encounter is a warning to the king to repent. In a most amazing way this king is being given opportunity after opportunity to come to his senses. As the Lord was to say later through Ezekiel, “I take no pleasure in the death of anyone… Repent and live!” (Ezek 18:32). God is giving Ahaziah time and he squanders it!
1. God's judgement always gives time for repentance.
2. Judgement will come, don't squander the opportunity to repent.
Chapter: 2 Kings 3
Passage: 2 Kings 3:1-27
A. Find Out:
1. What was good and bad about Joram? v.1-3
2. What problem arose and what did Joram do about it? v.4-7
3. What difficulty arose and what did Jehoshaphat do about it? v.8-13
4. What instructions did Elisha give and what happened? v.14-20
5. What was the outcome? v.21-27
1. What are the 3 ‘problems' being faced in this story?
2. How did the water help in two ways?
3. What was the key to success in this story?
We move on now to the reign of king Joram, one of Ahab's sons. Right at the beginning of his reign he runs into trouble. Ahab had coerced Moab into providing meat and wool for Israel, and Israel were now reliant upon them. When Ahab dies, Moab rebels and stops providing for Israe. Joram decides to take steps to correct this and enlists the help of Judah and Edom. Moab were to the south of the part of Israel given to the tribe of Reuben on the east side of the Jordan and the Dead Sea .
Their northern border with Reuben would have been heavily fortified so the 3 kings decided to go round south of the Dead Sea to attack them on their vulnerable southern border. This takes them through Edom and through the desert. After 7 days they despair of water and need help. The king of Israel suggests they seek the Lord and they send for Elisha who is now the leading prophet (read chapter 2).
Elisha counsels digging ditches in the valley which they do. The next morning the ditches are filling with water as the Lord said. Their supply has arrived. More than that Moab see the water in the morning sun and wrongly assess what has happened and come out of their shelter, over the border and encounter Israel on their terms. Israel , Judah and Edom defeat them. The Lord has given Joram a lesson in reliance and obedience. Will he learn? Again and again in these chapters we find the Lord helping Israel . They have no excuse for their ongoing sin!
1. God seeks to reach out to His wayward people again and again.
2. If we fail, we have no excuse. God was for us!
Chapter: 2 Kings 5
Passage: 2 Kings 5:1-14
A. Find Out:
1. What was Naaman's problem and who suggested what? v.1-3
2. How did this become a problem for king Joram? v.4-7
3. Who ‘rescued' the king and how? v.8-14
1. What is the state of the nations at this time?
2. How are Aram and Israel drawn together again?
3. What is God's part in all that takes place?
We are looking at some of these passages with large brush sweeps rather that in detail, because in this particular set of studies we are focusing on the kings of Israel , and at this point their activity is almost peripheral to that of what is being show us by the writer.
First here, note the historical context. At the end of 1 Kings, Ahab had been killed in battle against Aram (or Syria as it may otherwise known). In chapter 19 Elijah had been sent to Damascus to anoint a new king of Aram (v.15). In chapter 20 the king of Aram besieged Samaria (v.1-) but was defeated by Israel with God's help. Thus there had been ongoing conflict with Aram and Aram would raid Israel and carry away people and plunder. Thus it is that when the great army commander Naaman contracts leprosy, an Israelite slave girl in his home provides hope with talk of the prophet of Samaria . At this point it becomes political. Naaman sends to king Joram – who panics! Joram may not be as bad as his predecessors but he really still hasn't a spiritual clue! It takes Elisha himself to dig the king out of a potentially unpleasant international incident!
Now why are we looking at this? Because it shows the ongoing witness and activity of the Lord in the land, despite the ongoing unfaithfulness of the kings of Israel . It is amazing that the Lord maintains His presence with Israel despite their indifference to Him. They will never be able to say, we didn't know. They did know because God kept speaking, kept acting on their behalf. Amazing!
1. God maintains a testimony despite national unfaithfulness.
2. Will we be part of that testimony?
Chapter: 2 Kings 6
Passage: 2 Kings 6:8-23
A. Find Out:
1. How was Elisha helping the king of Israel ? v.8-10
2. What did the king of Aram do about this? v.11-14
3. What reality did Elisha show his servant? v.15-17
4. How did Elisha deal with the enemy army? v.18-20
5. What was the outcome? v.21-23
1. What was God doing for Israel via Elisha?
2. What did God do for Elisha and Israel at Dothan ?
3. Does anything about this surprise you?
The whole of this period of Israel 's history seems to have been blighted by the ongoing presence of Aram ( Syria ) in the north who kept attacking Israel . Now we come to perhaps one of the Bible's greatest illustrations of the word of knowledge being used again and again. Every time Aram came down to attack and ambush the king of Israel , the Lord, through Elisha, warned him what was happening so he could avoid the ambush. The word eventually got back to the king of Aram what was happening and he decided to go and sort out this meddling prophet who was in the fortified town of Dothan.
We then come to a really remarkable revelation: Elisha allows his fearful servant to see the true picture – the presence of the angelic army of God with them! How wonderful! So when Elisha prays the army of God simply blinds each of the enemy soldiers who are rendered instantly helpless. Elisha leads them in this state to Samaria where the king of Israel is and then gives them back their sight once they are in the city centre, presumably without weapons but surrounded by Israel 's soldiers. King Joram of Israel now enquires of Elisha what to do with them and ends up having mercy on them and releasing them. What is at the heart of all this?
It is the activity of the Lord on behalf of Israel ; that is what is so amazing. As we've commented before, here was Israel in a poor spiritual state and yet God comes on their behalf. Amazing!
1. Salvation is all grace. It is God coming to win sinners. (Rom 5:8)
2. God's mercy is meant to win our hearts. May it be so.
Chapter: 2 Kings 6/7
Passage: 2 Kings 6:24 - 7:20
A. Find Out:
1. What then happened with Aram ? v.24,25
2. How bad was it? v.26-31
3. Who did the king blame but what was he told? v.32 – 7:2
4. Who discovered what had happened? v.3-11
5. What did the king suspect & how did they find the truth? v.12-15
6. What happened to the disbelieving officer? v.16-20
1. What was ‘the problem' facing the king of Israel now?
2. How did the Lord deal with that?
3. What other spiritual lesson was being imparted and how?
OK, it was a long reading but we felt the impact only comes when you see the whole picture. Previously Ben-Hadad of Aram ( Syria ) had besieged Samaria in Ahab's day and now he does it in Joram's reign. The situation within Samaria gets very bad as food runs out; so much so that out of desperation people were killing and eating their children. The king appears to have been showing signs of remorse towards God (wearing sackcloth) and has presumably been praying, but God isn't answering yet, so he blames Elisha.
Elisha brings a word about deliverance within twenty four hours. It is at this point within the story that we have a challenge over belief. One of the officers close to the king derides Elisha, saying that such a thing is not possible. He is awarded a death sentence – which happens. In a remarkably low-key manner we are told how God put fear into the army of Aram who fled in total disarray. The siege is lifted and Israel are free.
What is remarkable about this, as we've commented a number of times already, is the way the Lord intervenes on behalf of Israel despite their idolatry and unfaithfulness. In the judgement of history, Israel will stand condemned. In the judgement of history it can never be said that God didn't try again and again to win the hearts of this unfaithful people. Never speak badly of God being a God of judgement!
1. When God gives second chances – take them!
2. Don't presume on God's grace and mercy.
Chapter: 2 Kings 8-10
Passage: 2 Kings 8:28 - 10:17
A. Find Out:
1. What was Joram doing and what happened to him? v.28-29
2. What did Elisha instruct to be done? v.1-3
3. What message was conveyed? v.4-10
4. What followed? v.11-13,21-26
5. What then did Jehu do? v.27-37
6. What further did Jehu do? 10:1-17
1. Who, in these passages did Jehu kill?
2. How many things were seen as prophetic fulfilments?
We've had to make an even greater sweep of Scripture to cover the remarkable removal of Ahab's dynasty. It all starts because Elisha sends one of the younger prophets to anoint Jehu, an army commander, as the next king of Israel . The young prophet seems to be carried away, presumably in the Spirit, for he speaks words of judgement over the house of Ahab, including the Queen Mother, Jezebel.
Jehu rises to this word and the end result is that he is acclaimed king by his men and then goes to Jezreel where Joram is recovering from a battle wound. Going out to meet him, Joram is killed by an arrow from Jehu's bow and the body is left on Naboth's old plot of land. Two prophetic fulfilments! Then he goes into Jezreel and orders the Queen Mother killed. A further prophetic fulfilment. But there's still more to be done. There are still all Ahab's family left in Samaria and he has them killed. Yet a further prophetic fulfilment.
Ahab and his sons had ruled for some time. During that time God had warned them again and again but they had disregarded the warnings. Now the warnings have come to pass in a very short period of time, all at the hands of a bloodthirsty man. The evil has been purged from Israel , but will this new commander learn from all of this?
A. Find Out:
1. What did Jehu do that was good? v.18-28
2. Yet how did he fail? v.29
2. What did the Lord declare to him? v.30
3. Yet how did Jehu not live up to possibilities? v.31
4. So what did the Lord start doing? v.32,33
5. How long did Jehu reign? v.34-36
1. How was there now a new opportunity for Israel ?
2. How did Jehu fail to take that opportunity?
3. How was the Lord's grace shown?
Jehu has done all that was prophesied over him in respect of Ahab and Ahab's family. This evil dynasty has been completely removed. More than that, he had completely destroyed all those who were leading the nation into Baal worship. Now in our day we may consider all this bloodthirsty and terrible, but to keep it in perspective we need to remember we are talking about a threat to the very existence of this special people called to be a people of God. Baal worship had completely undermined their covenant relationship with the Lord and you would almost expect the Lord to allow them to be completely over run by an enemy – that does happen eventually but not before the Lord gives them further opportunity after opportunity to put things right.
The present moment in this history is one such opportunity. Having dealt with the false worship, Jehu has the opportunity to lead this people back into right relationship with the Lord, yet his heart is not for that. He still permits the counterfeit form of religion with idols and Dan and Bethel and a wrong priesthood, just as Jeroboam had instituted from the outset. So a further 28 years pass while the Lord waits and watches and quietly allows Aram to whittle away parts of their land to the north east and east. This should cause them to call out for the Lord's help against their enemy, but it doesn't!
1. Is my heart whole hearted or half-hearted towards the Lord?
A. Find Out:
1. How was Jehoahaz summarised? v.1,2
2. So what did the Lord do? v.3
3. So what did Jehoahaz eventually do? v.4
4. So how did the Lord help them? v.5
5. Yet what did Israel continue to do? v.6
6. How had the power of Israel been reduced? v.7
1. What positive move did Jehoahaz make?
2. What 2 things did the Lord do in this passage?
3. What does this tell us?
Something of this passage is reminiscent of the days of the judges where, again and again, Israel drifted away from the Lord, the enemy rose against them, Israel cried to the Lord and the Lord sent them a deliverer.
Here we have a new king, the son of the previous king who has now died. He is no better than any of the previous kings of Israel and so they incur the discipline of the Lord, for that is really the only way to describe what takes place. The Lord again and again uses the king of Aram (Syria) to come and put pressure on Israel. These marauders are God's way of getting Israel to seek Him. He knows that He has designed them to function best when they are in a living relationship with Him and if the only way to get them to seek His help is to allow them to have pressure in their lives, then that is what He will do. Eventually Jehoahaz gets the point and seeks the Lord.
Verse 5 is frustratingly simple – “The Lord provided a deliverer for Israel”. The recorder doesn't tell us who but history suggests that this was in the form of the king of Assyria who attacked Aram who in turn had to desist their action against Israel . How simple: Israel seek the Lord and the Lord delivers them – and they still continue their idolatry. Grace and sin seen so clearly in one short passage!
1. Seek the Lord with all your heart and He WILL be found.
2. God blesses seeking sinners. Amazing!
A. Find Out:
1. How is Jehoash summarised? v.10,11
2. Who made what challenge to Jehoash? 14:8
3. How did Jehoash reply? v.10
4. What was the outcome? v.11,12
5. So what was Jehoash able to do? v.12,14
6. Who succeeded him? v.16
1. What does the order of Scripture tell us here?
3. What was the state between the two nations?
In our reading in this study we catch something of the existence of the two parts of the original nation of Israel . Jehoash is now the king of the northern kingdom, Israel , and within two years of him succeeding his father, Jehoahaz, in the southern kingdom Amaziah succeed his father, Joash. In neither kingdom was everything right spiritually. In the northern kingdom, with which we are principally concerned in these studies, the new king allows the existence of the idols in Bethel and Dan to remain, together with the substitute priesthood.
It's important to note, though, that the new king of Judah didn't completely clean away the false spiritual practices that were going on there. It's important to note that because of what follows – an incident where the Lord is patently absent! The king of Judah defeated Edom and then turned his eyes on Israel . The king of Israel basically says, “Don't be silly, don't do this!” but the southern king continues to turn towards the north. Israel take the initiative of defeat Judah so that even Jerusalem is damaged and plundered.
It would appear that a state of war probably existed between the two for the 14 years the two reigned alongside each other. Neither is in a good state and the Lord doesn't intervene to help either. Such is life without the Lord!
1. A life without the Lord is full of conflict.
2. The Lord allows us to get on by ourselves in such cases.
A. Find Out:
1. How long did Jeroboam reign? v.23
2. How is Jeroboam summarised? v.24
3. Yet what did he do? v.25a
4. Why was he able to do this? v.25b
5. Why was change coming about? v.26,27
6. What further did Jeroboam do? v.28
1. How did Jeroboam re-establish Israel ?
2. How did he go further than that in respect of Aram ?
3. Why did all this happen?
The biggest danger here that we have is to look upon historical events and assume they ‘just' happened, but the books of Kings are not just records of the comings and goings of the various kings; they are the record of a people, now divided into two, who are the people of God, and for whom God acts.
God has a plan and it is to bring as many people as possible into relationship with Him. Part of the expression of that plan in this present passage is to maintain His people Israel while at the same time disciplining them to bring them back to Himself. That disciplining involved using the city-state of Damascus , known as Aram , to wear away at Israel in the hope Israel will call on their God. However, there was obviously a fine balance to be achieved. Too much of the enemy would mean Israel destroyed and so now, we see the Lord intervenes to redress the balance and emboldens the new king, Jeroboam, to reclaim the periphery areas of Israel and restore the boundaries.
Understand that this is an act of God taking place. Moreover He emboldens Jeroboam to actually go against and overrun Damascus during his reign. During his time, therefore, there would have been a lightening of the load from enemy attack. If only Jeroboam could have gone the whole way and fully restored Israel in their proper relationship to the Lord, but he didn't!
1. As Jesus said, God is constantly working (Jn 5:17 )
2. Can we see the hand of God in today's affairs?
RECAP - "Moab and Aram" - 2 Kings 1-14
In this third group of 10 studies we have seen the following kings :
For a table of the conflicts with Aram, CLICK HERE. Aram has already been a thorn in Israel's side previously. As we move on in the 2 nd book of Kings we see more of their activity. In Ahaziah's reign Moab revolted against Israel . When Joram becomes king, he gets Judah's help and goes against Moab and defeats them with God's help. Aram is constantly attacking Israel throughout his reign and it takes Elisha's activity to deal with them. Nevertheless they later come back and besiege Samaria and it is only the Lord who delivers them. Joram is eventually killed by Jehu. In his reign the Lord reduces Israel using Aram and they remain subdued in the reign of Jehoahaz. It's only with Elisha's guidance that Jehoash triumphs over them and it's only with God's help that Jeroboam finally deals with them. It seems that God uses them to constantly chastise these ungodly kings of Israel .
Thank the Lord that He disciplines those He loves.
PART 4 : "The Last Kings"
In this next Part we'll see the pace picking up until the point where the Lord completely removes Israel. A tough time!