First Kings – Walk Before God with Integrity

first kings

Last Updated on May 7, 2023 by David H Mercer

The main events of First Kings are David’s death, Solomon’s reign, the division of the kingdom, and Elijah’s ministry. As Solomon ascended the throne, David charged him to obey God’s laws and to walk “in his ways.” This Solomon did; and when given the choice of gifts from God, he humbly asked for discernment. As a result, Solomon’s reign began with great success, including the construction of the temple – his greatest achievement. Unfortunately, Solomon took many pagan wives and concubines who eventually turned his heart away from the lord to their false gods.

Solomon was a botanist, zoologist, architect, poet, and philosopher.  He was the wisest king in the history of Israel, but his wives led to the introduction of false gods and false worship in Israel.  It is good for us to have wisdom, but that is not enough.  The highest goal in life is to obey the Lord.  Patient obedience to God should characterize our lives.

When the northern kingdom of Israel was being led by wicked kings, God raised up a prophet to proclaim his messages.  Elijah singlehandedly challenged the priesthood of the state religion and had them removed in one day.  Through the dividing of the kingdom and the sending of Elijah, God dealt with the people’s sin in powerful ways.  Sin in our lives is graciously forgiven by God.  However, the sin of an unrepentant person will be handled harshly.  We must turn from sin and turn to God to be saved from judgment.

Elijah is surely one of the greatest prophets and chapters 17 through 22 feature his conflict with wicked Ahab and Jezebel in Israel. In one of the most dramatic confrontations in history, Elijah defeated the prophets of Baal at Mount Carmel. In spite of incredible opposition, Elijah stood for God and proves that one plus God is a majority. If God is on our side, no one can stand against us (Romans 8:31).

Writer of First Kings

The author is not known. A Jewish tradition says it was Jeremiah. Whoever the author, he makes frequent reference to state annals and other historical records existent in his day; such as, “The book of the acts of Solomon,” “The book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah,” “The book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel.” It seems as if there was an abundance of Written Records to which the sacred writer had access.

Purpose of First Kings

Contemplating the horror of the exile of God’s people, the author compiles First and Second Kings to answer the looming question of why both the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah have been taken captive. He writes with a prophetic message, showing that this punishment by captivity to foreign pagan nations was the inevitable consequence of the persistent violation of God’s covenant with them. Kings was written to move the exiles to reflect on their history and return to the Lord. Perhaps this prophetic perspective is one reason why it was included in the “earlier prophets” in the Hebrew Bible.

Historical Setting

The four centuries covered by 1 and 2 Kings were times of change and political upheaval in the ancient work as the balance of power shifted. The Assyrian threat was particularly strong during the last 50 years of the northern kingdom. Under Tiglath-Pileser III, this conquering nation launched three devastating campaigns against Israel in 734, 733, and 732 B.C. The nation fell to Assyrian forces 10 years later in 722 B.C.

While Syria and Assyria were threats to Judah at various times, their worst enemy turned out to be the nation of Babylon. The Babylonians took captives and goods from Jerusalem in three campaigns – in 605 and 597 B.C. and in a two-year siege beginning in 588 B.C. in which Jerusalem finally fell in 587 B.C. The Temple was destroyed and thousands of Judah’s leading citizens were carried into captivity in Babylon.

Theological Contributions

The Books of First and Second Kings present an interesting contrast between King David of Judah and King Jeroboam I, the first kings of the northern kingdom of Israel. Jeroboam established a legacy of idol worship by mixing false religion with worship of the one true God, and each succeeding king if Israel was measured against the standard of Jeroboam’s idolatry. But King David was used as a standard of righteousness and justice.

 



 

Special Consideration

The Books of First and Second Kings describe several miracles wrought by God through the prophets Elijah and Elisha. In addition to proving God’s power, these miracles are also direct attacks on the pagan worship practices of the followers of Baal. Elijah’s encounter with the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel, for example, was a test of the power of Baal. Baal was silent, but God responded as Elijah had predicted.


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