(David’s Death; Disruption of the Kingdom)
The author is unknown, though the Jews credit its writing to Jeremiah. As Ryrie points out: Whoever the author or compiler of these books was, he used historical sources (11:41;
14:19, 29). He likely was one of the exiles who lived in Babylon, perhaps an unknown one, or Ezra or Ezekiel or Jeremiah (though someone other than Jeremiah would have had to write the last chapter of 2 Kings, since Jeremiah apparently died in Egypt, not Babylon; Jer. 43:6-7). 9
About 550 B.C. The release of Jehoiachin from prison is the last event recorded in 2 Kings. This took place in the 37th year of his imprisonment (560 B.C.). Therefore 1 and 2 Kings could not have been writ- ten before that event. It seems unlikely that the return of the Jews from the Babylonian captivity in 538 B.C. had taken place when 1 and 2 Kings were written; had it occurred, the author would probably have referred to it. Probably 1 and 2 Kings were completed in their final form between 560 and 538 B.C. 10
Title of the Book:
First and Second Kings, originally one book (like 1 and 2 Samuel and 1 and 2 Chronicles) and simply called “Kings” in the Hebrew tradition (Melechim), are appropriately titled since they trace the history of the kings of Israel and Judah from the time of Solomon to the Babylonian captivity. First Kings abruptly ends with the beginning of the reign of Ahaziah in 853 B.C.
Theme and Purpose:
After David’s death (chaps. 1-2), his son Solomon became king. Chapters 1-11 trace the life and reign of Solomon, including Israel’s rise to the peak of her glory, the spread of the nation’s kingdom, and the construction of the temple and palace in Jerusalem. But in Solomon’s later years, he drifted from the Lord because of his pagan wives who wrongly influenced him and turned his heart away from the worship of God in the temple. As a result, the king with the divided heart leaves behind a divided kingdom. For the next century, the book of First Kings traces the twin histories of two sets of kings and two nations of disobedient people who are growing indifferent to God’s prophets and precepts. The next king was Rehoboam, who lost the northern part of the kingdom. After this the Northern Kingdom, which included 10 tribes, was known as Israel, and the Southern Kingdom, which included the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, was called Judah. In the last chapters of 1 Kings, the focus is on the evil of King Ahab and righteous prophet Elijah who condemned Ahab’s wickedness and Israel’s disobedience. The central theme, therefore, is to show how disobedience led to the disruption of the kingdom. The
welfare of the nation depended on the faithfulness of its leadership and people to the covenants of God with Israel. First Kings not only gives a record of the history of these kings, but it demonstrates the success of any king (and of the nation as a whole) depends on the measure of the king’s allegiance to God’s law or truth. The book truly illustrates how “righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people” (Prov. 14:34). Unfaithfulness to God’s covenant resulted in decline and captivity.
9:3-7 And the LORD said to him, “I have heard your prayer and your supplication, which
you have made before Me; I have consecrated this house which you have built by putting
My name there forever, and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually. 4 And as for
you, if you will walk before Me as your father David walked, in integrity of heart and
uprightness, doing according to all that I have commanded you and will keep My statutes
and My ordinances, 5 then I will establish the throne of your kingdom over Israel forever,
just as I promised to your father David, saying, ‘You shall not lack a man on the throne of
Israel.’ 6 But if you or your sons shall indeed turn away from following Me, and shall not
keep My commandments and My statutes which I have set before you and shall go and
serve other gods and worship them, 7 then I will cut off Israel from the land which I have
given them, and the house which I have consecrated for My name, I will cast out of My
sight. So Israel will become a proverb and a byword among all peoples.
11:11 So the LORD said to Solomon, “Because you have done this, and you have not
kept My covenant and My statutes, which I have commanded you, I will surely tear the
kingdom from you, and will give it to your servant.”
Chapters 11 and 12: The key chapters are 11 and 12 which describe the demise of Solomon and the division of the kingdom. Other significant chapters that have key roles are 3 and 4 dealing with Solomon’s choice of wisdom and wise rule, chapter 8 the dedication of the temple, chapters 17 through 19 recording the great ministry of Elijah.
Solomon, Jeroboam, Rehoboam, Elijah and Elisha, Ahab and Jezebel.
Christ as Seen in 1 Kings:
Like David, Solomon is one of the greatest types in the Old Testament of Christ, portraying Messiah in His future reign on earth. Solomon especially does this as his fame, glory, wealth, and honor all speak of Christ in His earthly kingdom. Solomon also portrays Christ in the great wisdom he demonstrated.
First Kings naturally falls into two sections: the united kingdom (1-11) and the divided kingdom (12-22).
I. The United Kingdom: The Forty Year Reign of Solomon (1:1-11)
A. Solomon’s Accession (1:1-3:1)
B. Solomon’s Wisdom (3:2-4:34 )
C. Solomon’s Temple (5:1-8:66; cf. 2 Chron. 2:1-7:22)
D. Solomon’s Fame (9:1-10:29; cf. 2 Chron. 8:1-9:28)
E. Solomon’s Decline and Downfall (11:1-43)
II. The Divided Kingdom: The First Eighty Years of the Two Kingdoms (12-22)
A. The Cause of Division (12:1-24)
B. The Reign of Jeroboam in Israel (12:25-14:20)
C. The Reign of Rehoboam in Judah (14:21-31)
D. The Reign of Abijam in Judah (15:1-8)
E. The Reign of Asa in Judah (15:9-24)
F. The Reign of Nadab in Israel (15:25-31)
G. The Reign of Baasha in Israel (15:32-16)
H. The Reign of Elah in Israel (16:8-14)
I. The Reign of Zimri in Israel (16:15-20)
J. The Reign of Omri in Israel (16:21-28)
K. The Reign of Ahab in Israel (16:29-22:40)
L. The Reign of Jehoshaphat in Judah (22:41-50)
M. The Reign of Ahaziah in Israel (22:51-53)