The books of 1st and 2nd Kings give us a glimpse into the nation and kingdom of Israel. As 1st and 2nd Samuel introduced us to the beginning of the monarchy by focusing on the lives of Saul and David, 1st and 2nd Kings is the continuing saga of the Israelites under the rule of the kings.
David’s son, Solomon, took the throne after David died. Early in the book of 1st Kings, we are introduced to Solomon and his reign. He began as a man who sought after God, much like his father. When offered riches, he chose wisdom instead. Solomon wrote many proverbs and songs, which we have some of those writings recorded for us in the Bible. However, the latter portion of his life is disappointing. He was led away by his many wives and concubines. He propagated idolatry because of those marriages. In many ways, Solomon becomes a picture of Israel—he began well, but turned away from God later in life. The nation of Israel also began well and was blessed during the reign of David and Solomon. However, later they would be divided and suffer unfaithfulness from her leaders and kings.
The reigns of Saul, David, and Solomon are known as the period of the united kingdom. After Solomon died, his son Rehoboam took the throne (1 Kings 12). After the beginning of his reign he acted foolishly and the kingdom was divided. Ten of the twelve tribes of Israel made up the northern kingdom of Israel; only two of the twelve tribes constituted the southern kingdom of Judah. It was the southern kingdom which maintained Jerusalem and the Davidic lineage.
During the divided kingdom, the people of God suffered. Israel never had a godly king; Judah had a few godly men lead them. Both kingdoms were influenced by the ungodly nations around them. So, God sent prophets to the kings to help them understand the need to repent and turn back to God. Elijah is the notable prophet in 1 Kings. He mentored Elisha to follow in his steps. Elisha becomes the notable prophet in 2 Kings. During the divided kingdom years, many prophets preached and wrote their proclamations—we have their messages presented to us in the major and minor prophets of the Old Testament.
The books of 1st and 2nd Kings weaves the story of the kings of Israel and the kings of Judah. Israel suffered much for their sin, ungodliness, and idolatry. Their were political coos, conspiracies, upheaval, and bloody overthrow of power. Judah, while they had evil kings, was much more stable. God judged Israel for her sin and refusal to repent by allowing the Assyrians to capture them. Read 2 Kings 17 and you will get a sobering picture of why God judged them. The book of 2nd Kings ends with God’s judgment against Judah and the Babylonians coming in, exerting their authority against the children of Israel. Jerusalem was destroyed and they were judged for their iniquities and sins.
These books are a sobering reminder of how far sin will take us and how God will deal with sin, even among the people of God. We must not be deceived. We need to take the warnings seriously and determine we will obey God.
by Sean P. Cavender