1 Kings Overview

1 Kings Overview
An ancient proverb says, “A bad workman always blames his tools.” William Bennett, a contemporary writer, says, “Responsible persons are mature people who have taken charge of themselves and their conduct, who own their actions and own up to them—who answer for them.” Finding someone else to blame, denying irresponsibility, and hiding behind lies seem to be the order of the day. A comedian gets laughs when he says, “The devil made me do it.” In contrast, President Harry Truman had a sign on his desk that said, “The buck stops here.” He wasn’t afraid to take responsibility. “If you can’t stand the heat,” he said, “get out of the kitchen!” David knew what it meant to be a responsible leader, and so did his son Solomon, until the closing years of his reign. After Solomon’s death, the nation divided into the ten tribes of the northern kingdom of Israel and the two tribes of the southern kingdom of Judah. Out of twenty kings who reigned in Judah following Solomon, only eight could be called good kings and responsible men who sought to obey God. For the sake of David, the Lord kept the light shining in Jerusalem and a king on the throne of Judah until the nation was taken captive by Babylon. .

But it wasn’t only a dozen kings whose irresponsibility brought about the destruction of the city and temple and the captivity of the people. The prophet Jeremiah reminds us that “the sins of her prophets and the iniquities of her priests” also contributed to Israel’s downfall (Lam. 4:13, NKIV). Prophets, priests, and kings were God’s chosen and anointed leaders for His people, yet during the 450 years of Jewish national history before the fall of Jerusalem, most of the prophets and priests failed both God and the people.  Integrity is one of the vital foundations of society, but integrity involves taking responsibility and facing accountability. This includes leadership in the home and church as well as in the halls of academe and the political chambers. It’s one thing to make promises at the church altar or to take an oath of office, but it’s quite another to assume responsibility and act with courage and honesty and seek to please God. As we study 1 Kings, we will see over and over again the importance of moral character in leaders and the tragedy of leaving God out of national affairs. “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord” (Ps. 33:12).
A Suggested Outline of 1 Kings Theme: Irresponsible leadership destroys nations Key verses: 1 Kings 9:4–9 I. The kingdom protected (1 Kings 1:1–2:46) The last days of David (1:1–2:12) The first acts of Solomon (2:13–46) II. The kingdom enriched (1 Kings 3:1–10:29) God’s gift of wisdom (3:1–28) Organizing the government (4:1–34) Building the temple (5:1–6:38; 7:13–51) Dedicating the temple (8:1–9:9) Building the royal houses (7:1–12) Miscellaneous royal projects (9:10–24) Solomon’s glory (10:1–29) III. The kingdom divided (1 Kings 11:1–14:31) Solomon’s folly (11:1–43) Rehoboam’s folly (12:1–24; 14:21–31) Jeroboam’s folly (12:25–14:20) IV. The kingdoms destroyed (1 Kings 15:1–22:53) Judah (15:1–24) Israel (15:25–22:53)

The two books of Kings record about four hundred years of the history of Israel and Judah, while the two books of Chronicles see the history of the United Kingdom and then the kingdom of Judah from the priestly point of view. Besides recording history, these books teach theology, especially the faithfulness of God in keeping His covenant, the sovereignty of God in directing the destinies of all nations, and the holiness of God in opposing idolatry. Especially important is the way all four books magnify the Davidic dynasty and thus prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah. The books of Kings identify eight kings of Judah, descendants of David, who pleased the Lord: Asa (1 Kings 15:9–15); Jehoshaphat (22:41–43); Joash, or Jehoash (2 Kings 12:1–3); Amaziah (14:1–4); Azariah, or Uzziah (15:1–4); Jotham (15:32–38); Hezekiah (18:1–3); and Josiah (22:1–2). The rulers of the Northern Kingdom were not a godly lot and were not part of David’s dynasty.

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