1 Kings

Theme: Civil War; Key Verses: 1 Kings 9:4-5; 1 Kings 11:11

History of Solomon’s Time

  • David left an enlarged and strong kingdom to his son, Solomon. But pride, hostility, and the seeds of rebellion were simmering. David had conquered Edom, Moab, Ammon, and Zobah. Jerusalem was the capital.
  • First Kings opens in 970 BC with David in old age (1.1). He soon died (2.10).
  • When Solomon was chosen as king, the major problems he faced were trouble makers from David’s time. He quickly removed those who might prove a threat to him: Adonijah (1 Kings 2.13-25), Abiathar the priest was banished (2.26-27), Joab was executed by Benaiah (2.29-34), and Shimei was confined the city and when he left, he was executed (2.36-46). He faced no other serious threat from external enemies.
  • His job was clear: to consolidate his rule, build the temple for the Lord, and lead Israel under God’s word (1 Kings 2.2-9)
  • Solomon’s kingdom and influence extended from the Euphrates River in the North to Egypt in the South (4.21).
  • Primarily because of Solomon’s later spiritual failure, his kingdom had civil war and divided into Judah and Israel (11.9-13).
  • With a few exceptions, the kings that followed Solomon were characterized by revolution, bloodshed, and idolatry.

History—Author of 1-2 Kings

  • Many evangelicals consider Jeremiah the most likely author of most of 1 and 2 Kings, though there are differences in style between Jeremiah’s known writings and Kings.
  • Jeremiah did have the qualifications to write these particular books: priestly origin, prophetic ministry, access to kings and others in authority, and he was closely involved in the activities of Judah until the Babylonians destroyed her.
  • Whoever the author, he was one who had access to the historical records and history of Israel and Judah, and he wrote during the last days Judah.
    • The Book of the Acts of Solomon (1 Kings 11.41).
    • The Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel (1 Kings 14.19-15.31, 17 times).
    • The Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah (1 Kings 14.29-2 Kings 24.5, 15 times).
    • Biographies of David, Elijah, Elisha.

Theme of 1 Kings: Civil War

  • God’s people, Israel led by their kings and prophets, followed either the path of faith and obedience to the Lord or unbelief and rebellion against Him. The period of the kings beginning with Solomon played out, through apostasy and civil war, what God said through Moses: “I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity….So choose life.” With the exception of a few kings and prophets, Israel chose death and adversity.

Key Verses: 1 Kings 9.4-5; 11.11

  • 1 Kings 9:4, “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, 
  • 1 Kings 9:5, 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.’
  • 1 Kings 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.

1 Kings Overview Outline

  • Solomon and his great kingdom, 1-11
  • The divided Kingdom—idolatry, chaos, bloodshed, 12-22

Trace the Theme of 1 Kings

  • Just before David died, he had to stop Adonijah’s attempt to supplant Solomon (1), and then he charged Solomon to keep God’s word (2.1-9). As soon as Solomon took the throne he removed internal threats to his rule: Adonijah (1 Kings 2.13-25), Abiathar the priest was banished (2.26-27), Joab was executed by Benaiah (2.29-34), and Shimei was confined the the city and when he left he was executed (2.36-46).
  • Next, Solomon began what was to doom his kingdom—he began making alliances with other nations through marriage (3.1 with 11.1-8). It was at this time that the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream, and told Solomon to ask what he wished. Solomon requested understanding and wisdom (3.9). God was pleased; not only did He give Solomon wisdom, he also gave riches and honor (3.11-13). So, Solomon had the chance to please God, rule righteously, and at his death, leave a strong and godly nation.
  • Solomon gained wealth, fame, and a strong kingdom (4). About this time he hired Hiram, King of Tyre, to supply the materials to build the temple in Jerusalem (5). The temple was built between 966 and 959 BC (6-7) and dedicated (8). At the same time Solomon had other building projects going. The LORD now appeared again to Solomon with a promise of blessing or adversity (9).
  • Solomon increased his bureaucracy, his building project, his wealth, his harem, his taxes, and his fame (9-10). Details of life controlled him. His wives turned him to idolatry; the adversities came (11). Solomon appointed Jeroboam, one of his valiant men, to be secretary of labor (11.23). He rebelled against Solomon and then fled to Egypt. At Solomon’s death, his son Rehoboam became king. Jeroboam returned; he asked Rehoboam to lighten the tax load that Solomon has imposed. If that were done Jeroboam and his followers would serve Rehoboam.
  • The adversity continues. Rehoboam rejected the elders advice to right some policies. Instead, he listened to the young rebels in Judah. At this point civil war broke out. The northern tribes followed Jeroboam, while Judah stayed with Rehoboam (12).
  • From this time on God’s nation was divided. The two kingdoms were ruled by mostly evil kings interspersed with a few good kings (13-22). Elijah served as God’s prophet during the reign of evil Ahab (874-853); Elijah’s ministry highlighted the battle between false prophets and God’s true prophets during the history of the divided kingdoms.

Chapter Titles:

Solomon and his great kingdom, 1-11

  • Chapter 1: David makes Solomon king
  • Chapter 2: David commissions; Solomon established
  • Chapter 3: Solomon requests wisdom
  • Chapter 4: Solomon’s peace, prosperity, wisdom
  • Chapter 5: Temple building materials
  • Chapter 6: Temple built, 966-959 BC
  • Chapter 7: Temple furnishings
  • Chapter 8: Ark, prayer, challenge, sacrifice
  • Chapter 9: LORD charges Solomon. Building projects
  • Chapter 10: Queen of Sheba
  • Chapter 11: Wives, idolatry, Ahijah, death

Divided kingdom—idolatry, chaos, and bloodshed, 12-22

  • Chapter 12: Rehoboam vs Jeroboam
  • Chapter 13: The man of God
  • Chapter 14: Abijah, Jeroboam, and Rehoboam die
  • Chapter 15: Abijam and Asa of Judah; Nadab and Basha of Israel
  • Chapter 16: Baasha, Elah, Zimri, Omri, Ahab of Israel
  • Chapter 17: Elijah at Cherith and Zarephath
  • Chapter 18: Elijah and Baal’s prophets; rain
  • Chapter 19: Elijah, the juniper, Horeb’s cave; Elisha
  • Chapter 20: Ahab of Israel, Ben-hadad of Aramaea
  • Chapter 21: Naboth and his vineyard
  • Chapter 22: Ahab dies in his chariot

Key People in 1 Kings

  • Adonijah was David’s fourth son. He attempted to take the throne when David was old. Nathan the prophet, Zadok the priest, and Benaiah the commander of the king’s bodyguard stopped the attempt. When David authorized Solomon to follow him as king, Solomon allowed Adonijah to live as long as he was loyal. Soon after David died Adonijah revived his ambitions, so Solomon executed him (1 Kings 1-2).
  • Nathan the prophet served both David and Solomon. He advised David that not he, but Solomon would build the temple (2 Samuel 7). Nathan also confronted David about his sin with Bathsheba and against Uriah (2 Samuel 12). Nathan was instrumental in having Solomon made king in the face of Adonijah’s takeover attempt (1 Kings 1).
  • Abiathar, son of Ahimelech (chief priest at Nob who helped David) escaped Saul’s revenge against the priests of Nob (1 Samuel 22). He was descended from Eli. He served as high priest for David (1 Samuel 30.7) and with Zadok brought the ark to Jerusalem (1 Chronicles 15.11-15). Abiathar supported Adonijah’s rebellion against Solomon, so was removed as priest (1 Kings 2.26-27). Solomon spared his life because of faithfulness to David when Absalom rebelled (1 Kings 2.26).
  • Zadok served as priest in David’s court along with Abiathar. He and Nathan anointed Solomon King (1 Kings 1.45). Solomon appointed Zadok as court priest at the time he removed Abiathar (1 Kings 2.27, 35). The family of Zadok served as priests until the destruction of the temple in 586 BC, and then in the second temple until 171 BC, when Antiochus transferred the priesthood to Menelaus. Ezekiel has the sons of Zadok serving in the millennial temple (Ezekiel 33.15).
  • Benaiah was a member of David’s band of 30 elite soldiers (2 Samuel 23.18-23). He helped stop Adonijah’s coup. Solomon appointed him commander of his army. Solomon ordered him to execute Adonijah, Joab, and Shimei—all traitors—which he did (1 Kings 2.23-46).
  • Shimei was the son of Gera the Benjamite from Bahurim (a town just east of the Mount of Olives). When Absalom pursued David, Shimei followed David from a parallel hillside and cursed him and threw rocks at him (2 Samuel 16). For this, Solomon confined Shimei to Jerusalem. Three years later, Shimei took a trip to Gath. Because Shimei broke the agreement, Solomon had Benaiah execute him (1 Kings 2).
  • Hiram, king of Tyre (c. 970-936 BC), supplied Solomon with cedar wood, grain, wine, gold, and workers for the temple and his other building projects (1 Kings 5.1-12). As a part of their border treaties, Solomon gave Hiram 20 cities in Galilee (which Hiram did not like) for which Hiram sent Solomon 120 talents of gold. Hiram and Solomon also engaged in joint commercial shipping operations (1 Kings 10.22).
  • Queen of Sheba
    • The Queen of Sheba was ruler of the Sabaeans, a kingdom in SW Arabia (1 Kings 10). She heard of Solomon’s wisdom and wealth and made a 1200 mile trip to meet him. She posed riddles to him, all of which he answered. She was even more impressed with Solomon than she expected: “behold, the half was not told me” (10.10; 2 Chronicles 9.4). They exchanged gifts and made commercial treaties.
    • Jesus contrasted her to His present generation: the Queen of Sheba recognized the evidence of God’s blessing to Solomon, while Jesus’ generation did not recognize God’s blessings to them in Him—God’s Messiah (Luke 11.31).
  • Ahijah was the prophet who told Jeroboam that God would divide Israel and give him the 10 northern tribes (1 Kings 11.29-39).
  • Jeroboam
    • Jeroboam (1 Kings 11.26-12.33; r. 931-910 BC) was the son of Nebat and an Ephramite from Zereda. He was apparently wealthy, and a strong and brave man whom Solomon found working at Millo (a part of the Jebusite city=Jerusalem). Solomon made him his chief of labor for the northern tribes. Due to Solomon’s oppressive rule and Ahijah’s prophecy, Jeroboam rebelled against Solomon. Jeroboam escaped to Egypt when Solomon heard of this. When Solomon died, Jeroboam returned.
    • Israel and Jeroboam then petitioned Rehoboam to stop the oppressive measure that Solomon had put in place. When Rehoboam refused, Israel made Jeroboam king over the northern tribes. Shechem (31 miles north of Jerusalem in the hills of Ephraim) was his capital. To hold Israel together, Jeroboam set up a golden calf at Bethel and at Dan. Thus, the civil war that was to last until the destruction of Israel by Assyria in 722 BC.
  • Rehoboam
    • Rehoboam (1 Kings 12-14; 972-913; r. 931-913 BC) was Solomon’s son who took the throne of Judah upon Solomon’s death. Soon after his installation Jeroboam and leaders of Israel petitioned him to reduce the oppressive measures that his father Solomon had imposed.
    • Rehoboam’s elder advisors counseled him to grant the request, but his friends—those with whom he grew up—told him to ignore the request and impose harder measures. He followed his friends advice, and as a result, the northern kingdom, Israel, rebelled against him—thus the civil war.
    • Soon after Israel broke from Rehoboam, he marshaled a 180,000 man army to force Israel back under his authority. Shemaiah the man of God prevented this battle when he delivered God’s word not to fight against their brothers. But, civil war continued throughout his reign, besides wars with the Philistines and Egypt.
    • Rehoboam allowed pagan religious practices—idolatry, cult prostitution, pagan high places—to invade and prosper in Judah and Jerusalem. About 926 BC, Pharaoh Shishak invaded Judah and Jerusalem. Shishak carried off the temple and palace treasures.
    • He died in 913 BC. His son, Abijam became king in his place.
  • Shemaiah was the man of God who, when Rehoboam had gathered an army of 180,000 men to fight Israel and break the rebellion, told the army of Rehoboam not to go to war against their brothers, the Northern Kingdom. They obeyed him (1 Kings 12.21-24).
  • Elijah the prophet (see the Elijah study) served during Ahab’s reign. He prophesied to Ahab about the coming drought, went to the brook Cherith, spent time at Zarephath, challenged the prophets of Baal, went to Beersheba and then into the wilderness where he slept under the Juniper tree, then went to a cave on Mt Sinai (Horeb) where the Lord corrected his attitude, passed his ministry to Elisha, confronted Ahab about the theft and murder of Naboth, and went to heaven in a whirlwind (1 Kings 17-19; 21; 2 Kings 1-2).
  • Ahab was the seventh king of Israel (reign 874-852 BC). He married Jezebel, the daughter of Ethbaal, king of Sidon. He promoted the worship of Baal and “did more to provoke the Lord God of Israel than all the kings of Israel who were before him” (1 Kings 16.33). He was king during the ministry of Elijah. He was killed in battle at Ramoth-gilead—he had rejected the prophet Micaiah’s warning—and was buried in Samaria. Dogs licked his blood from his chariot as Elijah had predicted (1 Kings 16.28-ff).
  • Micaiah
    • Micaiah the prophet was called before Jehosphaphat King of Judah and Ahab King of Israel to give advice as to whether they should go to war to regain Ramoth-gilead. Ahab’s first bunch of prophets told him what he wanted to hear—just do it. Jehoshaphat objected that the prophets just said what Ahab wanted to hear.
    • He asked if there was a prophet who would tell the truth. Ahab said there was one—Micaiah—but Ahab did not like his prophecies. At Jehosphaphat’s urging, Ahab called Micaiah. Micaiah said, don’t go into battle. Ahab rejected the prophet’s word. They went to war: Jehoshaphat was not harmed, but Ahab was killed (c. 852 BC; 1 Kings 22).
  • Solomon
    • Solomon was the son of David and Bathsheba. Solomon was established as king (2.12) in 970 BC. He brought Israel to her greatest fame and wealth; yet at his death the kingdom tore itself into two because he allowed details of life (his were mainly wealth and foreign wives) to control him, resulting in spiritual failure. Judah and Israel and their kings that followed Solomon were characterized by revolution, bloodshed, and paganism and idolatry.
    • Solomon was not a warrior like his father, and he did not need to be. He faced no serious threat from external enemies, though he was harassed by Edom and Syria; nor did he have to enlarge his nation. His job was to consolidate and hold the nation together. Solomon concentrated on forming alliances, and he did this by marrying foreign nobility, hence his large harem (11.1-3). Tyre was his most important alliance (5.1-12).
    • Though not a warrior, he did establish military bases to protect his territory (9.15-22), and developed a chariot corp in his army (10.26). He developed his industry and international trade (10.1-15, 28). The highpoint of his construction was the temple, though he built many other sites (7). Solomon wrote enduring literature: Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon (4.29-34; 11.41).
    • But Solomon’s reign also brought extensive bureaucracy (9.23), high state expenditures, and repressive taxes (12.1-7). In his personal life, he went through a period when he chose details of life (wealth, foreign wives, and pagan religion) over the Lord and because of that the Lord tore his kingdom apart after his death (11.1-13).
    • Solomon brought Israel to her greatest fame and wealth; yet at his death the kingdom tore itself into two because of evil kings, idolatry, and bloodshed. Solomon wrote Ecclesiastes at the end of his life. In it he recorded that details of life did not give him satisfaction. He finally wrote his conclusion about life: “fear God and keep his commandments” (Ecclesiastes 12.13).

Key Words Used

  • House, 171 times. Family (2.24, 27), personal house (1.53; 2.36), Temple (5.3; 6.2).
  • Walk or walked, 27 times. The way one lived (2.3,4; 6.12; 8.58; 11.33; 22.52).
  • Evil, 22 times (2.44; 3.9; 11.6; 13.33; 16.19; 21.25).
  • Kingdom, 19 times (1.46; 2.12; 2.46; 4.21; 10.20; 11.11, 34, 35).
  • King, 338 times (1.1; 2.23; 14.27; 16.29).

Key Doctrines

  • Evil refers to the ungodly presuppositions and viewpoint, plans, actions, and goals of life that stand apart from God’s will, direction, and influence because of a rejection of Him and His Word. Evil includes human viewpoint, human good, and sin. Evil seemed to touch every part of Israel’s life (1 Kings 3.9; 11.6; Proverbs 15.3; Ecclesiastes 12.1).
  • Apostasy is a departure or defection from the faith and the truth. Israel’s kings made apostasy a habit (1 Kings 11.6 with 3.3; Jeremiah 8.5).
  • Details or things in life can be a blessing or a curse. When they control one, they become a curse. When they are used within the context of God’s will they are a blessing. Solomon became so occupied with details in his life that he brought on unhappiness and human and divine judgment (1 Kings 10.1-11.8).

Lessons For Us Today

  • We need to get the biblical worldview and make it our own. Our worldview determines how we think and what we think, our purpose, and how we spend our time. Our worldview tells us what we value or what is important to us, and what we believe and what we do not believe. The biblical worldview comes from the Bible (2 Corinthians 10.3-6; Hebrews 5.11-14).
  • We need to make good decisions, one after another, to prevent self induced disasters and to prepare us for severe tests that come along. When disaster strikes due to things that we can control, we are ready for God to use us and bless us. And remember, self induced disasters usually do not happen from one bad decisions, but from a series of bad attitudes and choices. Solomon and the kings of Israel and Judah teach us this (1 Kings 22.25-35; Matthew 6.24; James 4.13-17; Philippians 4.5-9).
  • Details of life include many things. Keep a proper perspective about them. Do not allow them to control your life. Solomon did and it just about destroyed him. They will not bring lasting happiness nor will they solve the big questions in life. Ecclesiastes teaches this (Ecclesiastes 8.11; 1 John 2.15-17; Matthew 6.29, 31-34; Philippians 4.11-13).

Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. 1 Corinthians 10.12