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1 Kings Essentials

1 Kings Essentials


Solomon demonstrated that human wisdom is not sufficient to guarantee holiness and salvation. Of course, when used rightly, his wisdom did result in obedience and blessing. But Solomon’s vast knowledge of plants, animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, along with his collection of proverbs and songs (1 Kings 4:32–33) could not prevent him from disobeying God. He needed a transformed heart. Centuries later, the apostle Paul articulated the truth that Solomon illustrated when he declared in 1 Corinthians that the cross of Christ is the only means of salvation and called human wisdom “foolishness” in comparison (1 Corinthians 1:18–21).


Years of blessing

The transition of kingship from David to Solomon, just as promised (1 Chronicles 22:6-10), was somewhat unsteady (1:1-2:46). Solomon’s reign was characterised by:

Wisdom. When invited to choose his blessing, Solomon chose wisdom (3:5-15). His wisdom was both down-to-earth (3:16-28) and far-reaching (4:29-34). Proverbs records many of his sayings. Worship. Solomon built the temple David had planned (5:1-7:51). God’s presence filled it as Solomon dedicated it to God (8:1-66). God reaffirmed his covenant, but reminded Solomon to obey him (9:1-9). The temple remained the focus of worship until destroyed by Babylon in 586 bc. Wealth. Solomon became extremely wealthy (10:14-29), as the Queen of Sheba witnessed (10:1-13). Some wealth came from trade, but some from taxes. Wives. Solomon showed his wealth by having 700 wives and 300 concubines. This inability to rule his sexual appetite would be his downfall, for his foreign wives brought their foreign gods which stole Solomon’s heart (11:1-13).

Years of division

Sadly, Solomon sowed the seeds of Israel’s destruction, through crippling taxes and compulsory labour, which bore fruit in the reign of his son, Rehoboam. Rejecting the elders’ wisdom, he threatened to make things even harder for the northern tribes, on whom the greatest burden had fallen (12:1-15). They therefore rejected him, crowning instead Jeroboam, one of Solomon’s officials, and established a separate kingdom (12:16-24). God’s people split into two – Judah in the south and Israel in the north – never to come together again. To prevent people going to Jerusalem to worship, Jeroboam established shrines (12:25-33), a sin rebuked by prophets (13:1-14:20) and known thereafter as “the sin of Jeroboam”.

The author then deals with these two kingdoms in parallel – Judah first and then Israel. Israel’s kings were wicked; most of Judah’s were good.

Years of challenge

A major focus is Elijah (17:1-21:29; 2 Kings 2), who challenged Israel for adopting Baal worship, or at least trying to blend worshipping Baal with worshipping the living God. Miracles are associated with Elijah’s ministry, showing God’s provision (17:1-6), compassion (17:7-24; 21:1-29) and supremacy (18:16-46).



Key Verses: 1 Kings 9:4, 5; 11:11—“Now if you walk before Me as your father David walked, in integrity of heart and in uprightness, to do according to all that I have commanded you, and if you keep My statutes and My judgments, then I will establish the throne of your kingdom over Israel forever, as I promised David your father, saying, ‘You shall not fail to have a man on the throne of Israel’ ” (9:4, 5).

“Therefore the LORD said to Solomon, ‘Because you have done this, and have not kept My covenant and My statutes, which I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom away from you and give it to your servant’ ” (11:11).


Key People in 1 Kings

David —king of Israel; appointed his son Solomon to be the next king to rule (1–2:10)

Solomon —son of Bathsheba and David; third king to rule Israel and builder of the temple; God made him the wisest man ever born (1:10–11:43)

Rehoboam —son of Solomon; succeeded him as king of Israel; his evil actions led to the division of Israel into two kingdoms; later became king of the southern kingdom of Judah (11:43–12:24; 14:21–31)

Jeroboam —evil king of the northern ten tribes of Israel; erected idols and appointed non-Levitical priests (11:24–14:20)

Elijah —prophet of Israel; accomplished extraordinary acts of faith against the prophets of Baal (17:1–19:21; 21:17–28)

Ahab —eighth and most evil king of Israel; committed more evil than any other Israelite king (16:28–17:1; 18:1–19:1; 20:1–22:40)

Jezebel —married Ahab and became queen of Israel; promoted Baal worship (16:31; 18:4–19; 19:1–2; 21:5–27)


Key Doctrines in 1 Kings

God’s judgment of the apostate nations (9:3–9; Deuteronomy 4:26; 28:37; 2 Samuel 14–16; 2 Chronicles 7:19–20; Psalm 44:14; 89:30; Jeremiah 24:9; Hosea 5:11–12; Matthew 23:33–36; John 3:18–19; 12:48; Romans 2:5–6; 2 Peter 3:10; Revelation 18:10)

Fulfilled prophecies of God (13:2–5; 22:15–28; Numbers 27:17; 2 Kings 23:15–20; 2 Chronicles 18:16; Matthew 9:36; Mark 6:34; John 2:18)

God’s faithfulness to His covenant with David (11:12–13,34–36; 15:4; 2 Samuel 7:12–16; Luke 1:30–33; Acts 2:22–36)

God’s Character in 1 Kings

God fills heaven and earth —8:27

God is glorious —8:11 God is merciful —8:23

God is a promise keeper —8:56

God is provident —21:19; 22:30,34,37–38

Christ in 1 Kings

The wisdom of Solomon typifies Christ who “became wisdom from God” (1 Corinthians 1:30). Yet, in the book of 1 Kings, Solomon led his kingdom into apostasy by marrying many foreign women (11:1). In contrast, Christ Himself proclaimed that He was “greater than Solomon” (Matthew 12:42). The future kingdom of Christ will not pass away.

Key Words in 1 Kings

Baal: Hebrew ba’al ––16:31; 18:19,21,26,40; 19:18; 22:53—literally means “master,” or “husband.” Baal refers to pagan gods of fertility and storms throughout the ancient Middle East. Canaanite literature links Baal with the fertility goddess Asherah, who is mentioned numerous times in the Old Testament (2 Kings 21:7). Worship of these pagan deities included self-mutilation, ritual prostitution, and infant sacrifice. God punished the Israelites for adopting the worship of Baal and Asherah (Judges 2:11–15; Jeremiah 19:4–6).

Supplication: Hebrew techinnah–– 8:28,33,45,47,52,54,59; 9:3—refers to the petitioning of God or a specific person for favor or mercy (Jeremiah 37:20; 38:26). Solomon uses this word repeatedly in his dedication prayer over the temple (8:23–9:3; 2 Chronicles 6:14–42). Supplication is often used in relation to impending distress in the midst of one’s enemies (Psalms 55:1–3; 119:70; Jeremiah 36:7). The Bible describes the supplications of David (Psalm 6:9), Solomon (9:3), and of wicked King Manasseh, who humbled himself before God (2 Chronicles 33:12–13).

Name: Hebrew shem ––1:47; 3:2; 5:5; 7:21; 8:17; 9:3; 11:36; 18:24—most likely means “to mark.” In biblical history, a person’s name often described personal characteristics such as destiny or position (see 1 Samuel 25:25 for the explanation of Nabal’s name, which meant “Fool”). Sometimes, God renamed people to reflect a change in their character or status (see Genesis 35:10). The various names of God reveal important aspects of His nature (for example, God Most High, Almighty God, I AM). The name of God should be used with honor and respect (Exodus 20:7). God shared His name with Israel to express His intimate covenantal relationship with them (Exodus 3:13–15).

Gold: Hebrew zahab ––6:21,28; 7:49; 9:28; 10:14; 12:28; 15:15; 20:3—describes both the substance and the color of gold (1 Kings 10:16; Zechariah 4:12). Gold, usually mentioned with silver, symbolized wealth (Genesis 13:2; 2 Chronicles 1:15; Ezekiel 16:13). Most references to gold in the Old Testament relate to Solomon’s temple and palace (Exodus 25:3; 2 Chronicles 2:7; 9:13–27). However precious gold appears, nothing compares to the value of wisdom (Job 28:17), loving favor (Proverbs 22:1), and the commandments of the Lord (Psalms 19:9–10; 119:72,127).



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