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Tuesday, June 18th, 2024
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
1 Kings

Gaebelein's Annotated BibleGaebelein's Annotated

- 1 Kings

by Arno Clemens Gaebelein



In the introduction to the books of Samuel we stated that the first and second books of the Kings are called in the Greek version of the Old Testament the third and fourth books of Kingdoms and in the Latin version the third and fourth books of the Kings. The two books, which were originally undivided and formed one book, contain the history of Israel under the government of the kings. The same period of history is also covered in the two books of the Chronicles. However there is a great difference between the books of the Kings and the books of the Chronicles. The books of the Kings were written before the captivity; the books of the Chronicles after that event (1 Chronicles 6:15 ). The books of the Kings trace the history of the kings from the prophetic viewpoint; the books of the Chronicles from the priestly. Kings gives the history from a human point of view, Chronicles from the divine standpoint. After Solomon’s wonderful reign and the division of the kingdom the history of the kings of Israel is mostly given while much less is said of the kings of Judah. The books of the Chronicles are characterized by an almost entire absence of the history of the kings of Israel; they are mentioned only in case of absolute necessity. After the genealogical tracings the history of the kingdom of David is followed in detail down to the Babylonian captivity. The blessing and grace of God as manifested towards the house of David is beautifully given in Chronicles. The story centers around the temple. In the introduction to Chronicles and more so in the annotations we shall point out more fully these interesting and striking differences, the blessed marks of inspiration.

The Authorship of Kings

Much has been written on the possible instrument who was used in putting these records together as we have them now. Critics have much to say on the different compilers, redactors, editors, etc., who all had a hand in putting these histories together. They speak of proximate sources and primary sources and later additions and redactions. To say the least it is bewildering and unprofitable to follow, what they term, their scientific method. That the author of these two books had certain sources or documents, besides traditional accounts at his disposal, cannot be denied. But we maintain that he was chosen by the Lord to write these records of the kings and was guided by the Holy Spirit as he wrote. The books of the Kings have the mark in every way of being the work of one person and not a number of persons, followed by others who edited their writings. Unity of style can be clearly followed throughout the books; there is uniform mode of expression which would be quite impossible with a number of authors or compilers. See and compare 1 Kings 22:43 with 2 Kings 14:3-4 ; 1 Kings 12:31 with 2 Kings 17:32 ; 1 Kings 11:43 with 2 Kings 13:13 . Jewish tradition declares that the prophet Jeremiah was the instrument chosen to write the two books of the Kings. While no one can say with certainty that this is true, much is in favor of this view. There is a striking similarity of style and idiom between the language of Kings and the language employed by Jeremiah. Perhaps no one was better fitted to write the wonderful history of Solomon’s failure, the division of the Kingdom, the apostasy of Israel, the chastisements of the Lord, than the prophet of tears, the man of God whose loving messages were to a backslidden Israel.

Spiritual And Prophetic Truths

There is much spiritual and prophetic truth to be found in these records. Solomon’s wonderful reign, and the building of the house of the Lord contains great foreshadowings of the coming kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ. Solomon’s reign of peace marks the climax of the history of Israel. In him the promise made unto David (2 Samuel 7:0 ) found its first fulfillment. As head over the people, as king of righteousness ruling in righteousness, as king of peace, exercising also priestly functions, furthermore, in taking Pharaoh’s daughter and the Gentiles seeking after him and much else he is a type of the coming King in whom the covenant promises made to David will be fully realized. There are many spiritual lessons to be found in the decline among Israel. Elijah’s and Elisha’s ministries, their messages and miracles, have a deeper prophetic and spiritual meaning. To write a large volume on these two great historical books and trace in them God’s way in government as well as the prophetic foreshadowings would be a far easier work than to condense them in brief annotations. However we hope and pray that even these few hints we could give will be used by our Lord to help His people into a better knowledge of His Word. The chronological table of the kings of Judah and Israel, and of contemporary events, which follows this introduction should be freely consulted in the study of the text.

The Division of the First Book of the Kings

The first book of the Kings contains the record of the reign of Solomon and the glory of his great kingdom of peace. But that glory soon passed away through the failure of Solomon and the great united kingdom becomes a divided kingdom. In the last six chapters we read of Elijah, the Tishbite, the great prophet of God and his activity during the reign of wicked Ahab. We make the following division:


1. Adonijah’s Exaltation to be King (1 Kings 1:1-27 )

2. The Anointing of Solomon and Adonijah’s Submission (1 Kings 1:28-53 )

3. David’s Charge to Solomon and David’s End (1 Kings 2:1-11 )


1. The Righteous judgment of Solomon (1 Kings 2:12-46 )

2. Jehovah Appears to Solomon-His Prayer and the Answer (1 Kings 3:1-28 )

3. Solomon’s Princes and Officers: The Prosperous Kingdom and the King’s Great Wisdom (1 Kings 4:1-34 )

4. The Building of the Temple and Its Dedication (1 Kings 5-8)

5. Jehovah Appears unto Solomon and the Greatness of the King (1 Kings 9:1-28 )

6. Solomon and the Queen of Sheba: His great Riches and Splendour (1 Kings 10:1-29 )

7. Solomon’s Failure: judgment Announced and the Beginning of the Disruption (1 Kings 11:1-43 )


1. Rehoboam and the Revolt of the Ten Tribes (1 Kings 12:1-33 )

2. Jeroboam and Rehoboam and their Reign (1 Kings 13-14)

3. Abijam and Asa: Kings of Judah (1 Kings 15:1-24 )

4. Kings of Israel (1 Kings 15:25 )


1. Elijah’s Prediction and His Miracles (1 Kings 17:1-24 )

2. Elijah on Mount Carmel: The Answered Prayer (1 Kings 18:1-46 )

3. Elijah in the Wilderness and on Mount Horeb (1 Kings 19:1-21 )

4. King Ahab, His Wicked Reign and Downfall (1 Kings 20-22)

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