Wednesday, November 10

Book Overview: 1st Kings

The Book of Kings, which was originally one book and not two separate books, picks up the history of Israel. It begins where 2nd Samuel ended, and it covers the following four centuries. The infamous accounts of Solomon the Wise, building God's Temple, to the rift that became the Northern and Southern Kingdoms of Israel, to the destruction of Israel in 587 BC at the hands of the Babylonians. (Photo credit to: Jewish Apple Seed)

The book itself covers a period from around 1000-600 BC. The book contains 22 Chapters, and includes the many infamous stories, as aforementioned, of King Solomon and his exploits - as well as the prophets Elijah and Elisha and their miracles. 

This is the tenth Book Overview in a series of 66 Books. These overviews are written so that it may provide readers with details about the book, things that they may have missed, and will hopefully peak your interest so that you will read the book, the entire Bible in fact, as God wants us to do. Now, onto the Book of 1st Kings.

Title: 1st Book of Kings (English), Sefer melakhim, ספר מלכים (Hebrew) 

Authorship/Written: Jeremiah is traditionally credited as the author of 1st and 2nd Kings. There are many similarities in the style of writing used in 1st and 2nd Kings compared to the Book of Jeremiah. The Book of Kings was written whilst the First Temple still stood. (1st Kings 8)  Jeremiah lived before the Babylonian Captivity of Israel which began in 587 BC. 

This is also indicated by the phrase, "to this day." (1st Kings 8:8; 12:19; etc) Kings is written from a prophetic view, putting emphasis on the idolatry and immorality that brought the judgment of God upon Israel. 2nd Kings 24:18-25:30 is the same as Jeremiah 52. Jeremiah, inspired by God, who worked in and through him as he did with all authors of his word, was given what we would call "source material." 

Solomon's Temple
He used the "Acts of Solomon" (1st Kings 11:41), the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah (1st Kings 15:7), a possible source in Isaiah 36-39, as large portions appear in 2nd Kings 18-20. He also used the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel. (1st Kings 14:19) 

Summary: "1 Kings tells the history of the kings of the united kingdom of Israel, and the history of the kings of the divided kingdom of Israel and Judah. Most of the kings were completely corrupt and led their kingdoms into sin. 1 Kings shows the importance of godly leadership, and that God expects those who lead to take care of his people." (NIV) 

1st Kings 1-2 - Establishment of the Kingdom
1st Kings 3-11 - The Reign of King Solomon (Glory of the Kingdom)
1st Kings 2 - The Death of King David
1st Kings 3 - Solomon Asks for Wisdom 
1st Kings 3:16-28 - The Two Women and the Baby
1st Kings 12-End of Book - Kings of Israel and Judah
1st Kings 5-8 - Solomon's Temple
1st Kings 8 - The Glory of God fills Solomon's Temple
1st Kings 10 - The Queen of Sheba
1st Kings 11 - The Wickedness of Solomon
1st Kings 12-14 - The Kingdom of Israel Splits into Two
1st Kings 17 - The Prophet Elijah's Introduction
1st Kings 18 - Elijah Challenges Ahab and Jezebel to Hilltop "faceoff"; God burns Offering 

1st Kings nails in several points. The book was written to show the reasons for the establishment and the decline of the empire itself. The point is made that when Israel was loyal to God, they would flourish, but when they departed from his ways, the kingdom declines. As God is Sovereign, he dispenses mercy and grace to the obedient and penitent - but for those who have shunned and rejected him, or not truly accepted him, punishment and chastisement. 

The book gives the account of the death of King David and the reign of King Solomon. When God asked Solomon what he wanted, he asked for wisdom. Solomon proceeded to write some of the Psalms, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs (Song of Solomon), and Proverbs. 

Points: We ought to be careful to observe that the Temple was not built as a House for God, but for the "Name of the Lord." When Pagans built their temples for their gods, the intention was for the god to dwell there. Thankfully, Solomon, in this regard, knew better. Yes, God dwelled within the Temple, but he did not live there, nor was he ever bound to that location. 

Elijah the prophet comes into the picture in this book. Elijah is known as one of the major figures in Judaism - among Moses and Abraham. An entry on Elijah is in the works, so he will not be discussed in depth here. However, the key events of his life can be found in 1st Kings. Elijah being fed by the ravens, having it not rain for three years, going to Mt. Carmel, the eventual flee to Horeb. (1st Kings 17-18)

When Elijah flees to Mt. Horeb, God appears to Elijah. He sends a powerful wind, an earthquake, fire, but none of them were God. But then God speaks to Elijah in a still, small voice. A gentle whisper. It was soon after when God told Elijah to go out and find Elisha, son of Shaphat. (1st Kings 19) 

The pillars of Solomon can be found in the hills of the desert near Eilat. Not very far from the pillars are the Copper Mines, also known as King Solomon's Mines, used and worked by Solomon - the new mines worked by modern-day Israelis.
Possible Elijah's Cave at Mt. Horeb (Jebel Musa)
A common theme of life can be found in 1st Kings: Corruption, Decline, and Restoration. Often people find themselves in situations where they have come to a low point in life, a spiritual decline, and must pray to God as King David did, "restore unto me..." so that their souls may be restored and they may have peace. 1st Kings also illustrates God's forgiveness. No matter how many times we fall, he will always help us back up.

The many miracles of Elijah are also found within this book. The story of the widow and her boy, for example, are found within these pages. 1st Kings 17:7-24 gives the account.  There had been no rain in the land, and Elijah was told to go to Zarephath, where God had sent a widow. Elijah asked for water and bread, but the woman replied that she only had enough bread for her and her son. Elijah commanded her to make the bread, and her supply, day to day, never ran out.

The son of the widow, however, became sick, and died. Elijah spread him out on his bed, cried out to the Lord, and stretched himself out on the boy three times - and the Lord returned the breath of life unto the boy. Astonished the mother said, "Now I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the Lord from your mouth is the truth." (1st Kings 17:24

Interestingly enough, some Jewish tradition holds that this boy later grew up to become known as the prophet Jonah, who had been in the belly of a huge fish, and was to deliver a message to Nineveh. Whether this boy was the same Jonah at a younger age or not is uncertain - but God does work in mysterious ways.

King Solomon builds the 1st Temple. Technically, there have been three Temples. The first, built by Solomon. It was destroyed in the Babylonian attack upon Jerusalem in 587 BC. When the Israelites returned from the Exile, with the aid of Ezra and Nehemiah, they re-built the Temple. This was the second. The "third" was merely major enhancements made to the temple by King Herod before 4 BC. The temple was destroyed in 70 AD by the Romans and has not been rebuilt since, though prophecy from Jeremiah, St. John, St. Paul, Daniel, and many others indicates that in the end times, a Fourth (or third, depending on how you look at it) Temple will be erected. (For more information, see entry: "What is the 'Holy Temple?'")

It is apparent that one could do an overview on each aspect of 1st Kings - from the wisdom and exploits of King Solomon, to the long line of Kings, to the miracles and accounts of Elijah and Elisha, and what have you. Be that as it may, this is a mere Book Overview, something to hopefully provide you with just enough information about the book that you will want to read more. 

Next Book Overview: Book of 2nd Kings
Previous Book Overview: Book of 2nd Samuel

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