- 1 Kings
by Donald C. Fleming
BACKGROUND TO 1 & 2 KINGS
The two books of Kings (originally one book) carry on the history of Israel from the books of Samuel. They cover a period of about four centuries from the closing years of David's reign to the time the people were taken into captivity in Babylon. They describe the division of the kingdom into two, and the history, decline and fall of the separate kingdoms.
Characteristics of the books
As with the books of Joshua, Judges and Samuel, the two books of Kings have been written as prophetic history. That is, the author's main concern was not merely to record events, but to show the meaning of those events in the purposes of God. (For further discussion on the features of prophetic history see introductory notes to the book of Joshua.)
Because of this concern to see the meaning to Israel's history, the writer does not record all the events of any one era. Nor does he always place events in their chronological order. He selects and arranges his material according to its religious, rather than its political, significance. He might mention a politically important king only briefly (e.g. Omri; 1 Kings 16:21-28), but deal with politically unimportant events in some detail (e.g. the ministry of Elijah and Elisha). He deals with the affairs of surrounding kingdoms only as they are of significance in God's purposes for Israel.
The author of Kings has chosen to remain anonymous. He may have been a prophet, and he probably used the official court records, along with the records of the prophets, in preparing his book (1 Kings 11:41; 1 Kings 15:7; 1 Kings 15:23; 1 Kings 15:31; cf. 2 Chronicles 9:29; 2 Chronicles 33:19). Lengthy sections of the prophetical books Isaiah and Jeremiah are found also in Kings (e.g. Isa 36:1-39:8; Jeremiah 39:1-10; Jeremiah 52:1-34). The whole work was probably completed after the collapse of the Israelite nation, when the people were in captivity in Babylon.
OUTLINE OF 1 KINGS
1:1-4:34 Solomon establishes his kingdom
5:1-9:25 Solomon's building program
9:26-11:43 Other features of Solomon's reign
12:1-16:28 Early days of the divided kingdom
16:29-22:53 Ministry of Elijah
the Second Week after Easter