Book Overview - 1 Kings
by Peter Pett
Commentary on KINGS (or 1 & 2 Kings)
By Dr. Peter Pett BA BD (Hons-London) DD
The Book of Kings (Kings 1 & 2).
The Book of Kings was originally one book, but was divided into two when it was translated into Greek. This was in order to fit it onto the available scrolls (unlike primitive Hebrew, Greek had vowels and thus required twice as much space). Like Samuel therefore it should be treated as one book. It covers the four hundred or so years from the last days of David (c.970 BC) to the judgment of the Exile and the subsequent evidence of God’s continuing mercy in the release of Jehoiachin (c.560 BC), which was seen as an earnest of what was to come.
In one sense its opening section can be seen as ‘the turning point’ in Israel’s long history, for, following the gradual growth in Israel’s fortunes which had resulted in the powerful Empire of David, the book describes the gradual slide of Israel and Judah away from outward conformity to God and His ways, (something which had reached its pinnacle in the time of David), into a condition where God could no longer allow them to continue, and would thus bring them to final destruction. One of its major lessons is thus that disobedience to God’s covenant with us, and to God’s Law (here the Law of Moses), can only result in disaster. Another is of God’s continual attempts to win His people over, even when they were least deserving.
In this sense therefore it mirrors the present day. It depicts all the obstacles in the way of the growth of the Kingly Rule of God as those who are supposed to be His people sink into formalism and even heresy, the equivalent of the ancient ‘high places’, while at the same time reminding us that God is at work in His own way behind the scenes, and will finally emerge triumphant. Thus as we read in Kings of the failure to deal with the ‘high places’ or even of the glad and willing acceptance of them, we should ask ourselves, ‘what are our high places today?’ And the answer lies in the realms of overindulgence in, or wrong usage of, sex (which was at the very heart of the religion at the high places), music, sport, and anything else which takes up our minds to the exclusion of God.
It is not, however, to be seen as intended to be ‘a history of Israel’ because too much is deliberately left out. While it does give us valid information about the history of both Israel and Judah, a large part of that history is ignored (and we are actually referred to contemporary history books for the information). The book is rather a prophetic interpretation of that history, (which is why the Jews included it within ‘the former prophets’), using carefully selected events, depicting how God worked within history and through it, in bringing about His judgments, and how He saw men in each age. It is seeking to see everything from God’s viewpoint. It describes history in terms of the working of God through time as He sought to lead His people in the way of righteousness. And it describes the way in which, apart from the few, they refused to follow Him because they were too taken up with their own interests.
Its Place In The Sequence of Prophetic History.
There is no doubt that it was intended to be a sequel to the history in Samuel, for it commences with an introductory ‘and’, and the first two chapters of 1 Kings describe the death of David, whose life was depicted in Samuel. Furthermore it takes up themes from Samuel (e.g. David’s dealings with Joab, Barzillai and Shimei). And it lays great emphasis initially on YHWH’s covenant with David about the everlasting kingship (2 Samuel 7), and in the fact that David’s ‘lamp’ is being maintained. Thus in a sense it can be said to take up the story of David from where Samuel leaves off. But it should be noted that there is no direct link in the book with any particular point in Samuel, (which ends with David’s kingdom flourishing, if a little chastened), and the closing events of David’s reign prior to his death are only described in Kings in so far as they affect the accession of Solomon. It is thus commencing a new section of history rather than finishing off an old.
One reason for the sense of continuity is that the first two chapters (or parts of them) of Kings are seen by many as using the same source for their information as 2 Samuel 9-20, a source often spoken of as coming from ‘The Court History of David’. We have no objection to that description as long as it is not carried too far. But it is going much too far to suggest that that was all that the court history of David consisted of, for in context 2 Samuel 11-20 is more a history of the troubles that came on David consequent on his sins in connection with Bathsheba and Uriah than a simple court history, while other important events in the latter part of David’s reign are undoubtedly omitted.
In fact the main stress of Samuel was unquestionably very different from that of Kings. Its concentration was on the establishment of the Davidic kingship, with an emphasis on both its successes and its failures, as brought about by the Spirit of YHWH (1 Samuel 16:13). In contrast in Kings we find that the Spirit is still at work. Not, however, through the kings but as passing from one generation to the next through the prophets (1 Kings 18:12; 2 Kings 2:9; 2 Kings 2:15-16). The Spirit is nowhere connected with kings (who only connect with lying spirits – 1 Kings 22:22), not even Solomon. On the whole it explains why that kingdom failed. The Spirit of YHWH had to take up a new avenue for His work because the old had been closed to Him through their disobedience. And this comes out in the fact that there are continual reference to prophets throughout the history, whilst the Elijah/Elisha cycle takes up one third of the book.
This brings us to one remarkable fact about the reign of Solomon. Although he was helped to the throne by Nathan the prophet (1 Kings 1) during the life of David, and it is through the writings of Nathan the prophet that we know much about his reign (2 Chronicles 9:29), there is no indication anywhere of the activity of the prophets during his reign. And even though the final verdict on him was that he ‘did evil in the sight of YHWH’, no prophet is depicted as having arisen to give him any warning. In fact throughout the whole account of his life he only has qualified approval, for there are continual indications of something not quite right, and yet no prophetic voice comes to warn him. Given the continual reference to prophets throughout the Book of Kings this must be seen as quite surprising. Was this because he was so confident in his own prophetic ability that he had somehow silenced the prophets? Had they been sidelined and indeed not included within the ministry of the new Temple? Why was the voice of prophecy silent? Towards the end of his reign Ahijah was to be found in Shiloh informing Jeroboam that through him Solomon’s house was to be punished (1 Kings 11:29), and when Rehoboam commenced his reign, Shemaiah the prophet came to warn him against civil war with Israel (1 Kings 12:22), but no prophetic voice ever spoke directly to Solomon. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that in some way the prophets were suppressed and prevented from speaking during his reign.
The Relationship Of Samuel To Kings.
In spite of many who think so, there are no real grounds for seeing behind the Book of Samuel the same set of hands as was responsible for Kings, even though Kings does build on Samuel. We would, of course, expect to find some indication of Samuel’s contents simply because Samuel was by then looked on as Scripture, but there is no attempt to refer back, and what are often pointed to as evidences of a single editor can just as easily be seen as resulting simply from the fact that the earlier writings have influenced the later writers so that they worked within the same mode and along the same lines. This comes out, for example, in that the ascriptions to Saul (1 Samuel 13:1) and David (2 Samuel 4:4-5) in Samuel at the commencement of their kingship may appear to be similar to those in Kings. But they are in fact only in an outline form compared with what eventually comes to full fruition in Kings where the name of the mother is regularly also given for kings of Judah, and a verdict is given on the king’s reign (e.g. 1 Kings 15:1-3). The latter has built upon the former. And yet it is noteworthy that even in Kings the ascriptions concerning Solomon and Jeroboam do not follow what would later become the normal pattern, coming rather in connection with their deaths than at their accession (1 Kings 11:42-43; 1 Kings 14:19-20). It is only following this that the ascriptions begin being shown at the commencement of the reign. Thus the writer of Kings may well have utilised the primitive pattern found in Samuel as he planned the final production of his own history, but if he did so it was in order later to develop it into his own more detailed pattern which he began to apply from 1 Kings 14:21 onwards, not because he had consciously taken up and was continuing a pattern. It was because it best suited his purpose. The parallel theology can also be seen as having arisen on a similar basis, with the later inspired prophets simply following up on the earlier ones because they acknowledged the truth of what they said. They would not be the first to tailor their writings to those of their predecessors, and in those days plagiarism was admired rather than discouraged. No single ‘editor’ of both Samuel and Kings is thus required. Such an idea arose from holding a particular view of history which is not justified by the text.
The Sources For The Information In Kings.
The fact that the history in Kings is written from a theological viewpoint does not necessarily make it unreliable (all histories, even the most objective, are written from a particular viewpoint). In reality it suggests that the opposite is the case. For the prophets would have been concerned to ensure that they kept to factual history precisely because the whole truth of their position depended on the fact that what they described really happened like they said, and they were fully aware that what they said could be checked against official records, to which the prophetic author of Kings regularly refers. Nor (unlike the annals of other nations) were they out to exaggerate in order to boost the king’s ego. They were out to reveal the truth, because the truth of the history brought out the truth about YHWH.
Furthermore they were quite well aware that they were open to being contradicted if they strayed from the facts. For the historical facts contained in what they wrote were obtained from detailed records maintained throughout the period of which they speak, such as The Book Of The Acts (Words/Deeds) Of Solomon, The Record Of The Words/Deeds Of The Days Of The Kings Of Judah, and The Record Of The Words/Deeds Of The Days Of The Kings Of Israel (1 Kings 11:41; 1 Kings 14:19; 1 Kings 14:29 and often). And these were available to their readers, who were specifically referred to them. The original records were thus clearly preserved and available in the author’s time, for like all the nations the kings of Israel and Judah had had their own recorders who had kept a record of their own histories (compare the Assyrian Lists and Annals; the Babylonian Chronicles; and so on), as indeed David had previously (2 Samuel 8:16). It is probable also that there were other prophetic writings which had been written in order to preserve details of the activities of the prophets such as Elijah and Elisha, the writing and maintenance of such being no doubt seen by ‘the sons of the prophets’ as one of their key responsibilities (Isaiah 8:16). It was they who were called on to maintain truth in Israel and Judah.
The Viewpoint Of The Narrative
It is important, however, to recognise that what would have been considered as important by a secular historian is often ignored by the author(s) of Kings. Apart from in the case of Solomon (and even then it was from a religious viewpoint), the writer(s) was not interested in the greatness of the kings from a secular viewpoint, or in their worldly achievements. Omri and Jeroboam II, who were undoubtedly two of Israel’s greatest kings (as evidenced by external sources) were dismissed in a few lines, simply because they were not considered theologically important. And we will soon discover that even in the cases of kings where we are given more detail, it is the religious aspects of the reigns and activities of those kings which are dealt with in detail rather than the secular. The secular only comes in when it results in a theological lesson, and that is why, when we come across a piece of secular history we have to ask, ‘what is the author trying to tell us from this?’
That is also why each reign begins with a verdict on how the king was looked at by YHWH, and on the basis of whether they had done what was good or what was evil in the sight of YHWH, a verdict reached simply by considering their attitude towards pure Yahwism and the covenant, although we may undoubtedly affirm that that attitude would unquestionably have affected their behaviour and how they judged the people, and the behaviour of the people themselves. Under good kings the covenant flourished because their ways and their interest in it caused it to do so, under bad kings it withered. Thus the writer was not out to exalt or debunk the kings of Israel and Judah for their own sake, but to appraise them from YHWH’s viewpoint. To him their history was only important in so far as they either advanced Yahwism, and the keeping of the covenant that went with it, or brought judgment on Israel through their behaviour. And his final message was one of God’s judgment on both Israel and Judah, even though it was with the hint of better things to come.
Accuracy and Chronology.
The writer(s) proceeded on the basis that they would extract their information from the records that they consulted without substantially altering them. This comes out specifically if we compare 2 Kings 18:13, 2 Kings 17:1 to 2 Kings 20:19 with Isaiah 36-39 (both probably taken from a common source), and by the fact that when the lengths of reigns were given at different times no attempt was made to reconcile them with the lengths of reigns elsewhere in 1 Kings. Whatever figure was stated to be true by each record from which they were obtaining their information was written down, even if outwardly it conflicted with other figures. This inevitably causes confusion for us (and apparent contradictions) because in regard to dating the lives of kings the recorders of the original sources involved had used different bases on which to assess their information. Thus, for example, their figures were affected by the fact that:
Israel and Judah commenced the year at different points.
Judah regularly excluded the part year of accession (up to the New Year) from their calculations whereas Israel included it as one year. This was sometimes, however, seemingly not always so where accession took place close to the New Year.
Some recorders dated the reigns from when a king commenced a joint regency with his father. This practise of joint-regency appears to have been common practise in Judah and is specifically instanced in the cases of Solomon and Jotham (2 Kings 15:5). It was a lesson learned from what happened towards the end of David’s life. It prevented controversy and upheaval on the death of the king, for it meant that his officially appointed regent was already in place. It thus prevented a great deal of civil strife and dissatisfaction at changeover periods, in total contrast with what happened in Israel.
The application of these basic principles to the reign statistics in Kings on the whole serves to explain why what at first sight appear to be contradictions in statistics concerning reigns do occur, while at the same time enabling us to establish their accuracy.
The Basis Of The Writings.
It has often been pointed out that the writer(s) subscribed to many of the principles referred to in the Book of Deuteronomy. This is, of course, what we would expect if Deuteronomy was looked on as Scripture, for in the writer’s view Deuteronomy would be seen as containing Moses’ words as they were considered to be specifically applicable to the people in a live situation. It was a ‘popularisation’ of the covenant in vivid terms. But we must not overlook the fact that the writer in Kings does also subscribe to the whole of the Law of Moses, and saw that as also needing to be observed (1 Kings 2:3; 1 Kings 3:14; 2 Kings 10:31; 2 Kings 11:12; 2 Kings 14:6; 2 Kings 17:37; 2 Kings 18:6; 2 Kings 21:8; 2 Kings 22:8; 2 Kings 23:3; 2 Kings 23:32; etc). We must beware of becoming too tunnel-visioned in our thinking (or of just excising the verses which get in the way of our theory). The Book of Deuteronomy was very much a popularising, and expanding on, what was written elsewhere in the Law. It was a putting it all into one covenant form, in preparation for Moses’ death and for their entering into the land, and the law of blessing and cursing was typical of all such covenants. But the same principles of choice and retribution that are found in Deuteronomy, are also found in the remaining books of Moses, and the idea of retribution clearly expounded in Leviticus 26:3-45 parallels in some detail anything found in Deuteronomy. While there it is not directly connected with ‘cursing’ (something which arose from the covenant nature of Deuteronomy) it is equally noteworthy that similarly no thought of retribution as ‘cursing’ arises as a principle in Kings. Indeed the only references to cursing in Kings relate to Shimei’s cursing of David (1 Kings 2:8), (someone whom the writer actually sees as blessed), and the reference in 2 Kings 22:19, where Huldah the prophetess informs Josiah of YHWH’s intention to make the inhabitants of Jerusalem ‘a desolation and a curse’. This one reference can hardly be seen as confirming that the curses of Deuteronomy are the pattern for Kings. That is not, of course, to deny a Deuteronomic contribution. We would, of course, expect to find some hints of Deuteronomy in Kings, because there is no good reason for denying that Moses was the source of what was put on his lips in Deuteronomy, even though it was probably put in writing and brought to its completion by his recorder, Joshua (Exodus 24:13; Exodus 33:11; Deuteronomy 34:9). It is no accident that Deuteronomy is structured on a 12th century BC covenant form. But much of the language of Kings also presupposes, and contains indications of, the other Mosaic literature (consider, for example, the concept of forgiveness (salach) in Solomon’s prayer in 1 Kings 8, a concept found only in Leviticus and Numbers, but not in this way in Deuteronomy, or the idea of the ‘hallowing of the Sanctuary’ an idea found previously only in Exodus, or the idea of Israel’s being ‘cut off’, which while a prominent feature in Exodus/Leviticus/Numbers does not occur in Deuteronomy).
The Central Sanctuary.
One of the parallels that is often brought out as existing between Kings and the Book of Deuteronomy is the concept of the Central Sanctuary as the only legally acceptable place of worship. Interestingly, however, no such concept is ever clearly stated, either in Deuteronomy or Kings. For while the Central Sanctuary and its legality is certainly prominent in both, once what is said is considered carefully, the doctrine that it was seen as the only legally acceptable place of worship is not specifically taught in either. We must carefully distinguish in this regard between the Central Sanctuary as the focal point of Israel’s oneness in the covenant on the one hand, something which made it unique, and places in Israel where worship to YHWH could legitimately be offered on the other. The one is not to be seen as exclusive of the other. Elijah for one clearly recognised certain sites other than the Central Sanctuary as legitimate places for worshipping YHWH and it is inconceivable that the writer of Kings, who so fully supports Elijah, would want to have been thought of as having denounced him for establishing worship at ‘high places’.
Furthermore, it is a mistake to assume that the concept of the Central Sanctuary first appeared in Deuteronomy. Deuteronomy simply accepted that the Central Sanctuary around which Israel was established as a tribal confederacy, would be established at whatever ‘place’ (maqom) YHWH would choose to place it. The Central Sanctuary was in fact a concept that originally arose in Exodus, and was firmly established many years before Deuteronomy was written, for it was assumed in the instructions given for the construction of the Tabernacle to which all Israel should assemble, and at which all Israel were to regularly worship, and this view was confirmed by the reaction of all Israel to the memorial altar set up in Ed where the suggestion of having a multiplicity of central altars was firmly repudiated (Joshua 22:9-34). It was also implicit within the idea of the covenant by which all the men of Israel were to gather three times a year at the Central Sanctuary to worship YHWH together (Exodus 23:17; Exodus 34:23; Deuteronomy 16:16), and all in Israel were regularly to gather at seven year intervals to hear the covenant being read out, which again would be at the Central Sanctuary (Deuteronomy 31:10-13; compare Joshua 8:34-35 where ‘the Law’ spoken of certainly included Exodus 20, for which see Joshua 8:31). The men of Israel were also expected to respond to the call to arms made by any of the tribes, a call no doubt often made through or with the authority of the Central Sanctuary, (the call clearly had to come from someone with the authority to make it, not just anyone), when they needed help (consider Judges 3:27; Judges 5:13-23; Judges 6:33-35; Judges 8:1; Judges 19:29 to Judges 20:1; Judges 21:5; 1 Samuel 11:7). Thus the idea of one unique Central Sanctuary was in no way exclusive to Deuteronomy. It is rather witnessed to everywhere (even if we restrict it originally to primitive forms).
But neither Deuteronomy nor Kings ever specifically exclude worship at any other sanctuaries apart from the Central Sanctuary. What is truer to say is that worship elsewhere was strictly limited to sites ‘where YHWH had recorded His Name’. What Deuteronomy did rather stress was the importance of maintaining the concept of the Central Sanctuary in the life of Israel, wherever it was sited, no matter what other sanctuaries might be recognised because YHWH had recorded His Name there. It nowhere bans other altars at places where YHWH has recorded His Name, but limits itself to explaining how to deal with animals slain where no such altar is available (Deuteronomy 12:15-16), while the author of Kings, for example, certainly approves of Elijah for ‘repairing the altar of YHWH which had fallen down’ on Mount Carmel (1 Kings 18:30), which he saw as one of a number of such approved altars (1 Kings 19:10), an altar which unquestionably represented a separate ‘sanctuary’ from Jerusalem. Elijah himself thus approved of certain sanctuaries other than the Central Sanctuary, sanctuaries which were presumably seen by him as ones at which YHWH had recorded His Name (1 Kings 19:10; compare Exodus 20:24), sanctuaries which the Israelites had in fact destroyed! At these sanctuaries worship at different levels would no doubt be conducted in a way which was in line with the teaching and practise of the central Sanctuary.
Indeed with the tribes of Israel so far flung, and separated over long periods by their enemies, such sanctuaries would have been essential. What were being condemned in Kings were not genuine satellite sanctuaries, ‘where YHWH had recorded His Name’, but unregulated high places which had been bastardised, or had been raised up at the instigation of men, or of unruly priests, and the proliferation of Canaanised high places which could only lead men into error, together with the deliberate ignoring of the Central Sanctuary to which all should have continued to come under the covenant regardless of who reigned where. For the aim of the Central Sanctuary was in order to preserve the covenant of YHWH intact, and maintain the purity of worship, and the unity of the people of YHWH.
This concept of the Central Sanctuary was in fact witnessed to regularly prior to the time of Samuel (who himself initially served at the Central Sanctuary). It not only appears regularly in the Law of Moses but there are also indications a number of times in Joshua (Joshua 5:10; Joshua 7:14; Joshua 8:30-35; Joshua 10:15; Joshua 10:43; Joshua 14:1-6; Joshua 18:1; Joshua 19:51; Joshua 24:1-28), Judges (Judges 1:1; Judges 2:1-6; Judges 3:27; Judges 6:34-35; Judges 10:10; Judges 10:16; Judges 11:39-40; Judges 18:31; Judges 20:1-2; Judges 21:2; Judges 21:4; Judges 21:12; Judges 21:19), and the early chapters of Samuel (1 Samuel 1:3; etc.) even though it did fall into disuse for a period due to the destruction of the Central Sanctuary at Shiloh by the Philistines and the parallel storage of the Ark in the house of Abinadab. That was something which resulted in Samuel having to arrange for worship in the places chosen for him by YHWH, places where he no doubt saw YHWH as having ‘recorded His Name’, possibly through a prophetic vision. Both Gilgal and Bethel had ancient sacred associations, and the Ark had been present at both places, and Mizpah had been a place where YHWH had come to Samuel within his own lifetime, and was clearly seen as a holy place (Judges 20:1; 1 Samuel 7:5-6; 1 Samuel 7:9-10), while Ramah was where YHWH revealed Himself to Samuel. The Central Sanctuary was later partially restored by Saul (1 Samuel 21), and while the appointment of two High Priests due to Saul’s persecution of the priests of Nob, and David’s setting up of a separate ‘kingdom’, no doubt resulted for a time in two Central Sanctuaries, one at Ziklag and then eventually for Judah at Hebron under Abiathar, the official High Priest by succession, of the house of Ithamar, and the other for Israel under Zadok of the house of Eliezer, the two were eventually reunited by Solomon. The situation under David where there was the Tabernacle at which was found the bronze altar and the other Tabernacle furniture (probably originally at Hebron and then at Gibeon), and also the Sacred Tent in Jerusalem where the Ark was situated, was clearly neither orthodox (on the basis that all the sacred furniture was intended to be together in one Sanctuary) nor on the basis of previous indications expected to be permanent. David intended to unite the two in Jerusalem. Indeed he was probably initially prevented from doing this by the deep-felt conservatism of the people who still saw Jerusalem as not having the right credentials to house the Tabernacle. This situation of two Tents was allowed by YHWH because of David’s eventual intention to unite the two.
Thus all through Israel’s history the concept of the Central Sanctuary was prominent. It was not, however, intended to prevent the erection of altars at places where YHWH ‘had recorded His Name’ (Exodus 20:24; compare 1 Kings 18:30; 1 Kings 19:10; 1 Kings 19:14). But that these were not over-numerous should be obvious, and it is significant how little mention is made throughout their history of offering sacrifices away from the Central Sanctuary while it was operative, with the exception of times when the Ark was present, or when there was a specific theophany, or when it had been specifically commanded by YHWH Himself (all therefore at places in which YHWH had recorded His Name). Any exceptions to this that we know of are cases were the sacrifices were expressly disapproved of, and therefore not examples of regular practise.
So those which were approved of were either connected with theophanies or with the presence of the Ark or occurred where directly commanded by YHWH. What therefore were being forbidden in Kings were tainted and syncretistic sanctuaries such as that in Judges 18:30-31; and those at Bethel and Dan which had become connected with the golden calves and were clearly syncretistic (1 Kings 12:28-29) and were intended to isolate the worshippers from the Central Sanctuary in Jerusalem (1 Kings 12:27). And it included rejection of the proliferation of syncretistic high places around the country which had resulted by popular demand (and which were very much influenced by Canaanite practise) at places where YHWH had not ‘recorded His Name’.
The places where YHWH could be publicly worshipped, apart from at the Central Sanctuary, were thus to be seen as strictly regulated in terms of being where YHWH had recorded His Name, which included worship in the presence of the Ark wherever it might be, for the Ark represented ‘the Name’ (2 Samuel 6:2). Having the Temple as a Central Sanctuary was not therefore a totally new idea, (except in the fact that by becoming a building it would become totally permanent), being rather a continuation of normal practise, although now in permanent form. And what was abhorrent to many in that case was that it was being established at what they saw as a blatantly Canaanite Sanctuary.
As a matter of fact, as a permanent and grand structure the Temple does not appear to have been fully approved of by YHWH Himself (2 Samuel 7:5-7). He appears rather to have allowed it as a concession to David. For there YHWH was specifically stated to be satisfied with the Tabernacle, and as far more concerned with the building of David’s ‘house’ (his dynasty), than with a building of brick and timber. Nor are there any grounds at all for thinking that the Temple was specifically what Deuteronomy had in mind. The concern in Deuteronomy was simply that of requiring that there always be a Central Sanctuary somewhere, to which all the assembly of Israel would gather at certain times of the year, and which would centralise worship, evidence of the fact that YHWH was present with them in the land.
Incidentally, as regards the Temple, it was not the building of a Temple that was unusual, (every nation had its Temples), it was the building of one as the one and only Central Sanctuary. But that it was not as the only place where YHWH could be worshipped, Elijah made clear.
The Jerusalem Temple.
It is made very apparent in Samuel and Kings that the Temple was not YHWH’s brainchild but David’s. YHWH nowhere at any stage requested the building of a Temple and indeed initially rejected the idea (2 Samuel 7:5-7) and sought to turn David’s thoughts rather towards the importance of his future dynasty through which YHWH would finally introduce His everlasting kingdom (2 Samuel 7:8-16). But it was an idea that had taken hold of David’s mind, and when he had seen the angel of YHWH poised to destroy Jerusalem, and had been called on to build an altar at the threshingfloor of Ornan, he had determined to build the Temple there. And the result was that YHWH eventually went along with the idea out of His love for David (1 Chronicles 22:1-10). It was to please David that He ‘chose Jerusalem out of all the tribes of Israel to set His Name there’. It had been similar with the kingship in the time of Samuel. That too had been a concession.
The thought of the Central Sanctuary being established in ex-Canaanite Jerusalem, however, went very much against the grain with many of the people. That was why the attempt to establish Jerusalem as the place where the Central Sanctuary would be established had had to take place in stages. It was accomplished firstly by bringing the Ark of the Covenant of YHWH into Jerusalem, and establishing it there for a number of years in its own sacred Tent, at the same time as the official Central Sanctuary was operating in parallel with it, probably at first in Hebron, and then in Gibeon. This was a brilliant concept of David for it would gradually reconcile the people to the idea of Jerusalem as a place where YHWH ‘had recorded His Name’ (because the Ark which represented His Name (2 Samuel 6:2) was firmly established there), an idea which would then later be ‘reinforced’ by bringing the Tabernacle and all its furniture, together with the Ark, into the new Temple at Jerusalem, once Jerusalem had become ‘more acceptable’ religiously.
But even then Solomon apparently had to try to justify the idea to the people, which is why, in his initial ‘blessing’ on the occasion of the dedication of the Temple (1 Kings 8:15-21), he carefully builds up his argument as to why the Temple should be seen as being established with YHWH’s full agreement. In that blessing he stresses, not that YHWH has chosen a city, but rather that He has chosen a king to rule His people Israel (1 Kings 8:16). And his justification for building the Temple and making it the Central Sanctuary lies firstly in the fact that he, Solomon, is the duly appointed successor of that king under YHWH’s covenant made with David, which he then connects back to the covenant of Sinai. (1 Kings 8:20-21), and secondly, by means of using a ‘wide’ interpretation of certain words in the Davidic covenant (1 Kings 8:19-20).
It is the Chronicler who later brings out how determined David had been to establish a Temple in Jerusalem, and how YHWH had therefore gone along with it to please David (1 Chronicles 22:1-19. Note that it is after the incident of the numbering of Israel), and it is he who describes the words of Solomon by which Solomon reinterpreted the Davidic covenant in terms of the Temple. Once, however, YHWH had graciously gone along with David and Solomon in their desire, and had given them permission to build the Temple in Jerusalem, He then adopted the Temple and Jerusalem into His purposes as comprised within His choice of David. Thus in 1 Kings 11:13 he could declare to Solomon, ‘I will not rend away all the kingdom, but will give one tribe to your son for David My servant’s sake, and for Jerusalem’s sake which I have chosen’. (Note how the choice of Jerusalem, David’s city, arises out of and results from His choice of David). That was why in 1 Kings 11:32; 1 Kings 11:36 He could say of Jerusalem, as closely connected with David, that it was ‘the city which I have chosen for Myself out of all the tribes of Israel to put My Name there’, which, of course, He had done from the very moment when He had allowed the Ark to be established in Jerusalem, and even more so when He had allowed the Tabernacle to be removed to Jerusalem, the first at the instigation of David, and the second at the instigation of Solomon. But it should be carefully noted that the emphasis is always on the fact that YHWH had chosen David, rather than on the fact that He had chosen Jerusalem, and that He nowhere sought or demanded the building of the Temple. His choice of Jerusalem was very much secondary, being based on the fact that it was the city of ‘David His chosen’. It had no past history to support it.
Tabernacle Or Temple?
In 2 Samuel 7:5-7 YHWH asks David, “Shall you build Me a house for Me to dwell in? For I have not dwelt in a house since the day that I brought up the children of Israel out of Egypt even to this day, but have walked in a Tent and in a Dwellingplace (shaken - Tabernacle). In all the places in which I have walked with the children of Israel, did I speak a word with any of the tribes of Israel, whom I commanded to feed My people, saying, ‘Why have you not built me a house of cedar?’ ” And He then went on to point out rather that He would build a house for David, a house of flesh and blood which would inherit the throne. The emphasis in 2 Samuel 7:11-16 is on that house (2 Samuel 7:11; 2 Samuel 7:13; 2 Samuel 7:16). While 2 Samuel 7:13 may be slightly ambiguous out of context, in the context it is quite plain. There is not the slightest indication anywhere else in Samuel that a literal Temple was in mind. The ‘house’ that Solomon was to build was to result in the establishing of the kingdom and the permanent occupation of the throne (The Temple accomplished neither).
In view of this lack of positive reference to the building of the Temple we should perhaps compare the two in the light of what we find in Exodus and Kings.
1). The Tabernacle Was To Be Built Of Free-will Offerings From Those Whose Hearts Were Willing. The Temple Was Built Out Of Enforced Taxation.
A comparison between the Tabernacle and the Temple soon brings out the discrepancy between the two, and is in fact deliberately and patently brought out at one stage by the writer of Kings. Consider for example the Tabernacle. It was to be built of free-will offerings; ‘of every man whose heart makes him willing you will take my offering’ (Exodus 25:2). What a contrast with the building of the Temple where Hiram’s ‘gifts’ turned out to be very expensive indeed (1 Kings 5:10-12), helping to cripple the economy of Israel, and none of the people had any choice in the matter. And there was very little of free-will offering in the levies that Solomon raised out of Israel for the purpose (1 Kings 5:13-18). Indeed we learn very clearly about the ‘goodwill’ involved in 1 Kings 12:4; 1 Kings 12:14. As the author makes clear they lay at the root of the division that occurred between Israel and Judah.
2). The Tabernacle Was Built At YHWH’s Specific Request According To His Pattern. The Building Of The Temple Was Never Specifically Requested.
Then YHWH adds, ‘And let them make me a Sanctuary that I may dwell among them. According to all that I show you, the pattern of the Dwellingplace (Tabernacle), and the pattern of all its furniture, even so shall you make it’ (Exodus 25:8-9). So it was to be made of freewill offerings, gladly given, and was to be made according to YHWH’s pattern, and we have already noted that it was said to be in total contrast to David’s idea for a Temple (see above). Here in Exodus YHWH had asked them to make Him a Sanctuary. In 2 Samuel 7:5-7 YHWH specifically says that He has NOT asked for a Temple, while in 1 Kings 5:5 it is Solomon who says, ‘I purpose to build a house for the Name of YHWH my God’, (with the emphasis on the ‘I’), relying on a misinterpretation of 2 Samuel 7:13.
Furthermore it will be noted that far from being built on a pattern determined by YHWH, the furniture of the new Temple was very much seen to be a combination of the ideas of Solomon (1 Kings 6:14-23; 1 Kings 7:47-51) and Hiram The Metal-worker (1 Kings 7:13-29) as the author specifically brings out.
3). The Tabernacle Was Built Under The Jurisdiction Of A Trueborn Israelite Who Was Filled With The Spirit Of God, And By Willing, Responsive, Workers, The Temple Was Built Under The Jurisdiction Of A Half-Pagan With The Deliberate Omission Of Mention Of The Spirit Of God, And By Enforced Levies.
Having commanded the building of His Sanctuary YHWH later then called to Moses again and said, ‘See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship’ (Exodus 31:2; compare Exodus 35:31). And Moses then called men in order to give instructions as to how the work was to proceed, ‘and Moses called Bezalel and Oholiab and every wise-hearted man, in whose heart YHWH had put wisdom, even everyone whose heart stirred him up to come to the work to do it’ (Exodus 36:2). Note how voluntary it all was.
In contrast the account in 1 Kings 7:13-14 commences with Solomon sending for a man named Hiram (not the king) whom he fetches out of Tyre. And here there appears to be a deliberate attempt in the description of him to bring to mind Bezalel, the skilled worker who made the Tabernacle furnishings and embellishments (Exodus 35:30-33), for Hiram is described as being ‘filled with wisdom (chokmah), and understanding (tabuwn), and skill (da’ath) to work all works in bronze’. With this we can compare the description of Bezalel, ‘He has filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom (chokmah), and in understanding (tabuwn), and in knowledge (da’ath), and in all manner of workmanship --.’
But it is the differences that are significant:
o Bezalel was called by YHWH from among His people Israel, from the very heart of the camp, Hiram was sent for by Solomon out of pagan Tyre, being only half Israelite.
o Bezalel was ‘filled with the Spirit of God’ in wisdom, understanding and knowledge, Hiram was simply filled with wisdom, understanding and knowledge (mention of the Holy Spirit is consciously dropped).
It will be noted indeed that the author of Kings makes no attempt to pretend that Hiram was filled with the Spirit of God.
4). The Tabernacle Was Built Of Freely-given Cloth And Jewels Which Displayed All Their Pristine Glory, The Temple Was Built Of Blood-stained And Sweat-stained Stones, Which Were Then Covered Over With Timber And Gold, Bought With Taxation or Resulting From Tribute And Trade.
Especially in view of the facts in 3). we find it very difficult to avoid in all this the suggestion that these contrasts were all in the mind of the author of Kings. He wanted us to see the distinction. They would appear to reveal that as a prophet he was not so entranced by the Temple as many of his compatriots appear to have been, seeing rather within it the seeds of its own destruction. Nowhere does he suggest that it was their attitude towards the Temple itself which lay at the root of the failure of the kings of Israel and Judah. His theme with regard to both was rather their attitude towards the setting up of false high places in contrast with the true. In view of the fact that Elijah set up genuine high places which the author clearly saw as acceptable, we cannot argue that his generally expressed attitude towards ‘high places’ necessarily reflected on their attitude towards the Temple. It reflected on their deviation from the truth. And in so far as it did reflect on the Temple it was not because of the Temple per se, but because of its position as the Central Sanctuary.
By his day, of course, an open attack on the Temple would not have been wise (as Jeremiah discovered), but what he was certainly doing was laying seeds of doubt as to how much its building had really been of God. The only Temple which YHWH is in fact specifically said to have required was the Second Temple, outwardly a far inferior version to Solomon’s, but built with willing hands and hearts (Haggai 1:2; Haggai 1:14; compare how the author of Kings would appear to approve of this approach - 2 Kings 22:4).
The Structure And Framework Of Kings.
Standing amidst the ruins of a collapsing nation, a prophet of YHWH looked back on the history of his people, and as he did so he could only ask himself, how have we come to this? Four hundred years earlier, in the time of David, the future had seemed so bright. The living God, the Redeemer from Egypt, had made a firm covenant with David as he ruled over his large empire (in terms of his day), and had promised that through his seed the throne of the kingdom would be perpetuated, until it issued in the everlasting kingdom. And when this had resulted in what had seemed like a golden era in the time of the mighty Solomon it must have appeared, at least to the better off amongst God’s people, as if they were almost on top of the world. It had seemed that nothing could go wrong. A glorious future lay before them.
But now all had turned sour. Israel was no more, with its people scattered, and Judah had almost reached its nadir as a mere petty vassal state of Babylon, taxed to the hilt, and experiencing much turmoil. Looking back on their history there had been times when things had appeared bright, but somehow their progress at such times had always resulted in their going even further backwards. And now they had come to this present state, when the land was drained of hope, and they themselves felt utterly bruised and battered and simply awaiting possible disaster.
It was possibly then that the prophet who was the main author of Kings arose. Making use of the sources that were available to him through the state records and the writings of the prophetic schools which had come down to them, the prophet sought to give an answer to the questions that were bewildering YHWH’s people. He sought to bring home to them that what had happened to them was precisely what Moses in the Law had warned. He based his argument on five things;
1). The exclusive right of YHWH as their Deliverer from Egypt, and as the One Who had chosen them from among all people to be His own, to their unqualified obedience and worship (Exodus 3:7; Exodus 3:10; Exodus 4:22; Exodus 6:7-8; Exodus 19:5-6; Exodus 20:2-18; Exodus 22:31; Leviticus 11:44-45; Leviticus 19:2; Deuteronomy 7:6-8 (which has Exodus 19:5-6 in mind); compare Amos 3:2). This also comes out in YHWH’s continued reiteration throughout the Torah that they should obey His Laws because ‘I am YHWH your God’.
2). His requirement that they maintain that worship free from all idolatrous connections, especially with regard to ‘high places’ (Leviticus 26:27-30; Numbers 33:52; compare Exodus 20:3-5; Exodus 23:24; Exodus 23:32-33; Exodus 34:12-17; etc. etc.).
3). The need for them to look to the Central Sanctuary as the means by which they would all unite in worship towards YHWH in accordance with the Torah of Moses (established through the making of the Tabernacle and assumed in all the main ordinances with regard to feasts and official daily offerings found throughout the Torah, and stressed in Deuteronomy 12:5).
4) The necessity for them to observe the whole Law of Moses (1 Kings 2:3; 1 Kings 3:14; 2 Kings 10:31; 2 Kings 11:12; 2 Kings 14:6; 2 Kings 17:37; 2 Kings 18:6; 2 Kings 21:8; 2 Kings 22:8; 2 Kings 23:3; 2 Kings 23:32; etc).
5). The dire warning of the repercussions that would come on them if they failed to respond rightly to YHWH (Leviticus 18:25-28; Leviticus 20:22; Leviticus 26:14-45; Deuteronomy 28:15-68; ).
In a very real sense the fourth incorporates the previous three. Moses had pointed out to them in Exodus 19:6 that they were YHWH’s holy nation, and that as such YHWH had brought them into covenant relationship with Himself (Exodus 20:1-18). But that was something already demonstrated by His unique deliverance of them from Egypt. Indeed in their history they looked back to how YHWH had chosen them for Himself as ‘the God of their fathers’ (Exodus 3:7; Exodus 3:10, ‘MY people’; Exodus 4:22, ‘Israel is My son, My firstborn’; Exodus 6:7-8, ‘I take you to Me for My people’). And He had stressed that they were His special treasure, His chosen people (Exodus 19:5). If they would but respond to Him and remain faithful to Him, then their future would be secure. On the other hand if they turned away from His Law, and looked to other gods, then they would have no hope. They would simply be bringing on themselves the retribution that their rebellion deserved.
YHWH was freely giving them an inheritance in the land of Canaan, but it would only become theirs, and would only remain theirs, if they eschewed the worship of the people of the land, avoiding worshipping at their high places (bamoth), and keeping themselves true to YHWH (Leviticus 26:27-30; Numbers 33:52; compare Exodus 23:24; Exodus 23:32-33; Exodus 34:12-17; Leviticus 18:5) otherwise certain retribution would follow (Leviticus 20:22; Leviticus 26:1-45). It was accepted that there were genuine altars of YHWH other than the Central Sanctuary (1 Kings 18:30; 1 Kings 19:10), but these were only at places where YHWH had recorded His Name, and worship at general ‘high places’ was forbidden. Deuteronomy gives similar warning but without reference to the ‘high places’ which are such a central feature of the warnings in Kings.
The maintenance of the Central Sanctuary, not as the only sanctuary at which YHWH could be worshipped, but as the central one around which would be fulfilled the requirements of the cult, was clearly required in Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers, and reinforced in Deuteronomy.
It is on this basis that the writer of kings has built up his narrative around a central framework delineating the course taken by the various kings of Israel and Judah in direct contravention of Moses’ warnings. This was in order to explain the decline and fall of the people of God, which had occurred in spite of His covenant made with David after what had outwardly appeared to have been a promising beginning, although the author subtly brings out the cracks that were appearing.
Thus from one viewpoint the book can be seen as divided up into two sections. The first section, a kind of introductory section, is one which takes up their ‘history’ from the final days of David and deals with the establishment and splendour of the kingdom of Solomon, a kingdom which is depicted as outwardly gloriously successful as he is established on the throne of David. But even that success is always looked on by the author with clear reservations, and these reservations include from the beginning the fact that Solomon turns to the old ‘high places’ (1 Kings 3:3), something which later becomes his besetting sin (1 Kings 11:1-8), and that he gets involved with ‘strange wives’ (1 Kings 3:1; 1 Kings 11:1-3), resulting finally in the verdict that he did ‘evil in the sight of YHWH’. They also include reservations about the Temple and about the unnecessary pain that Solomon inflicted on the people as a result of his own ambitions. And the inevitable consequence of all this he sees as the subsequent division of the kingdom into two kingdoms under Rehoboam and Jeroboam, something which arises out of the fact of Solomon’s waywardness and extravagance.
In each of these two kingdoms the king is then called on to recognise and serve YHWH with all his heart, something which in both cases they will fail to do. And the second section, the remainder of the book, will deal with the response of the various kings of Israel and Judah to these demands of YHWH in view of their situation.
So the whole second section deals with the subsequent failure of the kings of Israel and Judah who followed on after Solomon to live up to YHWH’s requirements, some more, some less (and with some bright spots), and stresses how they failed to live up to YHWH’s demands upon them, and why judgment followed. From 1 Kings 14:21 onwards this is especially brought out in an opening formula which commences the reign of each king, and measures them up against the Davidic or Mosaic standard.
In the case of kings of Judah this is expressed as - ‘(he) was -- years old when he began to reign, and he reigned --- years in Jerusalem, -- and his mother’s name was --.’ The verdicts on their reigns then follow in terms of how they behaved in the sight of YHWH, with special concentration being laid on what they did about worship at false ‘high places’, a concept referred to only in Leviticus/Numbers (and later in the inscription of Mesha of Moab). In a number of cases they are directly compared with David. One reason for the mother’s name being given was because it was important that they were seen to be rightly born of the house of David. Indeed, Isaiah’s great threat on the house of Ahaz was that God would ensure that the Coming Expected King would be miraculously born outside the expected channel (Isaiah 7:14).
The kings of Israel, who would only survive for two centuries, were more easily dealt with. The formula with regard to them was simpler, explaining how long they reigned, and passing a judgment on that reign, but on the whole they were condemned because of their failure to even attempt to respond to the Central Sanctuary, and because they encouraged worship at syncretistic high places (following the example of Jeroboam the son of Nebat). They were thus necessarily in breach of YHWH’s commandments. But the presence of Elijah and Elisha suggests that some solution could have been found if only they had remained faithful to YHWH.
This then brings us to another aspect of Kings and that is the emphasis of the writer on the activities of the prophets. Throughout the book he continually brings out how both true and false prophets sought to affect Israel’s destiny. Fortunately he had a good basis for this in the Elijah/Elisha cycles, which had no doubt been preserved in the prophetic circles, but he also appears to have had access to other records describing the activities of various prophets throughout the period, no doubt from similar sources. Thus we must always carefully observe the two streams, the one describing the behaviour of the kings, and the resulting downward slide, and the other keeping constantly in mind the activities of the prophets which maintained the hope of Israel.
What Major Lessons Does The Book Have For Us Today?
The first lesson learned from the book of kings is that the Kingly Rule of God could never be successfully introduced by human kings and authorities. While sometimes there was seeming potential for the establishment of the Kingly Rule of God under an earthly king, for example during the early years of Solomon, and at times in the reigns of Hezekiah and Josiah, it never came to fruition, simply because it could not. The book in fact demonstrates most clearly that force of arms and human authority could never result in the Kingly Rule of God, because for the Kingly Rule of God to be introduced on earth hearts have to be changed. That is why when the true King came He would not come in armed power but would work through preaching, teaching and revealing the spiritual power of God. He above all knew that the Kingly Rule of God could never be applied from outside. It had to result from the work of God within the hearts of men. And that is why He called on men to respond to the Kingly Rule of God by obeying God’s word and His own teaching, and sent out His Apostles and disciples to proclaim it throughout the world. It was a Kingly Rule of God entered by faith, but the outward test of whether men and women were in the Kingly Rule of God was they ‘do what He said’ (Matthew 7:21-27; Luke 6:46). And today the Kingly Rule of God on earth is found wherever there are men and women whose hearts are right towards Him. But even now we have this treasure in earthen vessels which is why in the end the final manifestation of the Kingly Rule of God can only be in the new Heaven and the new earth in which dwells righteousness. It can never be truly established on earth.
The second lesson of the book is that failure to respond rightly to God can only result in judgment. Again and again the lesson comes over that if we disobey God we can in the end only expect punishment.
The third lesson of the book is that while God is longsuffering, and gives men every opportunity, in the end he will deal with men in final judgment. Jerusalem and the Temple, which appeared to offer so much hope at the beginning of the book, both ended up as smoking ruins.
Chiasmus In Kings.
Chiasmus is when written material is presented in a structured form following the pattern a b c d e d c b a. It will be noted that in the commentary we have sought to demonstrate that like so many books of the Old Testament Kings is throughout divided up into such chiasmi. This was not just a passing fancy. It was an important element of the text. Ancient Hebrew had no punctuation and many writers therefore made use of chiasmus in order to indicate where ‘paragraphs’ began and ended. It was used to divide up the material in a continuous text. The parallels in the chiasmus were, however, not so much literary parallels (they did not have sentences or verses) as parallels in subject matter (either similar or by way of contrast). However, in order to try to bring this out we have had to do so by literary structure which can produce an unfortunate over-emphasis on the wrong thing and to some extent disguise the main pattern which is of comparative subject matter, something which the trained reader learned to look out for.
Analysis Of The Book.
SECTION 1. The Last Days Of David And The Crowning Of Solomon.
a David’s Condition In Old Age And His Association With Abishag (1 Kings 1:1-4).
b Adonijah’s Attempt To Seize The Kingship (1 Kings 1:5-28).
c David Arranges For The Crowning Of Solomon (1 Kings 1:29-40).
b The Conspirators Disperse And Adonijah Obtains Mercy (1 Kings 1:41-53).
a David’s Final Dying Exhortation (1 Kings 2:1-12).
Note that in ‘a’ David is clearly dying, and in the parallel we have hid dying exhortation. In ‘b’ Adonijah seeks to seize the kingship, and in the parallel he obtains mercy from the true king. Centrally in ‘c’ we have the crowning of YHWH’s chosen king.
SECTION 2. The Life Of Solomon, Its Triumphs And Disasters (2:13-11:43).
a Adonijah seeks surreptitiously to supplant Solomon and is sentenced to death (1 Kings 2:13-25).
b Solomon banishes Abiathar to his estate in Anathoth and passes judgment on Joab because of their act of rebellion and attempt to cause trouble and do mischief to Solomon, reducing the status of Abiathar and sentencing Joab to death (1 Kings 2:26-35).
c Shimei is confined to Jerusalem but breaks his covenant with Solomon by visiting Gath, from which he returns and is sentenced to death (1 Kings 2:36-46 a).
d An introductory snap summary of Solomon’s glories, which does, however, contain criticism on the religious level because of worship in high places (1 Kings 2:46 to 1Ki_3:4).
e A description of the divine provision of God-given wisdom to Solomon by YHWH, which is then illustrated by an example (1 Kings 3:5-28).
f A description of the magnificence of Solomon’s court, and the prosperity enjoyed by Judah and Israel as a whole, which is brought out by a description of his administration of Israel and of the quantity of provisions resulting from its activities, which were regularly consumed by the court, followed by a brief summary of Judah and Israel’s prosperity (1 Kings 4:1-28).
g A description of the great practical wisdom of Solomon as contrasted with that of the great wise men of the Ancient Near East (1 Kings 4:29-34).
h A description of the building of Solomon’s grand and magnificent Temple, a venture which was one of the ways in which great kings regularly demonstrated their greatness, which however resulted in his calling up compulsory levies of Israelites for the work, including a description of the building of Solomon’s own magnificent palace (1 Kings 5:1 to 1 Kings 7:12).
i A further expansion on the building of the Temple in terms of Hiram the meatl-worker and his innovations (1 Kings 7:13-51).
j A description of the dedication of the Temple in which Solomon refers to YHWH’s covenant with David (1 Kings 8:1-21).
k A description of Solomon’s intercession before YHWH which made all the people rejoice and be glad (1 Kings 8:22-66).
j A description of the renewal of the conditional everlasting covenant by YHWH concerning the everlastingness of his family’s rule which was, however, accompanied by warnings of what the consequences would be of falling short of YHWH’s requirements (1 Kings 9:1-9).
i A description of Solomon’s generosity towards Hiram in giving him cities, which was linked with the building of the Temple but was, however, at the same time depleting Israel of some of its own prosperous cities which were a part of the inheritance of YHWH (1 Kings 9:10-14).
h A description of Solomon’s further magnificent building programme, which involved making slave levies on tributary nations (1 Kings 9:15-25).
g A description of Solomon’s trading activities which included a visit from the Queen of Sheba to test out the wisdom of Solomon, which resulted in him giving her splendid gifts (1 Kings 9:26 to 1 Kings 10:13).
f Further details of Solomon’s great wealth and prosperous trading (1 Kings 10:14-29).
e A description of Solomon’s folly with examples illustrating his lack of wisdom (1 Kings 11:1-8).
d YHWH’s anger is revealed against Solomon because he worships in illicit high places and he is warned that YHWH will reduce the kingdom ruled by Solomon’s house down to Judah and one other tribe (1 Kings 11:9-13).
c Hadad the Edomite flees to Egypt and returns to Edom on hearing of the deaths of David and Joab in order to ‘do mischief’ (1 Kings 11:14-22).
b Rezon become leader of a marauding band and becomes king in Damascus and reigns over Syria causing trouble and mischief for Solomon (1 Kings 11:23-25).
a Jeroboam becomes Solomon’s taskmaster over Judah and is informed by Ahijah the prophet that he is to supplant Solomon and become king over ten of the tribes of Israel at which Solomon seeks to kill him but he escapes to Egypt until the death of Solomon (1 Kings 11:26-43).
We note first that the section opens with a description of three rebels and how Solomon disposed of them, and closes with a description of three rebels and how Solomon failed to deal with them. In ‘a’ Adonijah sought to supplant Solomon, and in the parallel Hadad is promised that he will supplant the house of Solomon in regard to ten out of the twelve tribes of Israel. In ‘b’ Abiathar and Job sought to cause mischief for Solomon, and in the parallel Rezon caused mischief for Solomon. In ‘c’ Shimei went abroad and returned to be treated as a traitor, and in the parallel Hadad the Edomite went abroad and returned to cause Solomon continual trouble. In ‘d’ YHWH was angry because Solomon and Israel worshipped in illicit high places, and in the parallel the same applies. In ‘e’ we have a description of Solomon’s wisdom and an example of his wisdom, and in the parallel we have a description of Solomon’s folly and examples of his folly. In ‘f’ we have a description of the wealth that poured into Solomon’s court from taxation, and in the parallel we have a description of how wealth poured in through trading. In ‘g’ the great wisdom of Solomon is described in comparison with other wise men, and in the parallel the Queen of Sheba tested out and admired the wisdom of Solomon. In ‘h’ we have a description of Solomon’s building projects and in the parallel a description of further building projects. In ‘i’ we have a description of Hiram the builder’s contribution towards the building of the Temple, and in the parallel Hiram the king received his reward for the building of the Temple. In ‘j’ Solomon reminded the people of the covenant that YHWH had made with David and in the parallel he himself is reminded of God’s covenant with David. Centrally in ‘k’ we have a description of Solomon’s great prayer to YHWH on the dedication of the Temple.
SECTION 3 The Division Of The Kingdom - Jeroboam I and Rehoboam (12:1-14:31).
a Rehoboam’s Intransigence Alienates Israel (1 Kings 12:1-16).
b Rehoboam Is Rejected By Israel And Jeroboam Becomes King of Israel In Accordance With YHWH’s Covenant (1 Kings 12:17-24).
c In Disobedience Jeroboam Sets Up The Golden Calves, Appoints Alien Priests And Establishes Alien High Places (1 Kings 12:25-32).
d The Alien Altar Is Condemned By A Man Of God (1 Kings 12:33 to 1 Kings 13:10).
c In Disobedience The Man Of God Eats And Drink In Israel And Is Slain (1 Kings 13:11-32).
b Jeroboam’s House Loses The Kingship Because Of The Sins of Jeroboam (1 Kings 13:33 to 1 Kings 14:20).
a The Unhappy Reign Of Rehoboam Which Is The Consequence Of His Intransigence (1 Kings 14:21-31).
Note that in ‘a’ Rehoboam’s reign commenced unhappily and in the parallel it continued unhappily. In ‘b’ Jeroboam received the Kingship through YHWH’s covenant, and in the parallel his house loses the kingship because of his sin. In ‘c’ Jeroboam acts in disobedience against YHWH and in the parallel the man of God acts in disobedience against YHWH. Central in ‘d’ is the condemnation of the alien altar by the man of God.
SECTION 4 Seven Kings From Abiyam To Omri (15:1-16:28).
The Short Reign Of Abiyam, King of Judah c. 913-911/910 BC (15:1-8).
The Longer Reign Of Asa, King of Judah c. 911/910-870 BC (15:9-24).
The Short Reign Of Nadab, King Of Israel c.910-908 BC (15:25-31).
The Longer Reign Of Baasha, The Usurper Of Israel c.908-885 BC (15:32-16:7).
The Short Reign Of Elah, King of Israel c. 885-884 BC (16:8-14).
The Seven Day Reign Of Zimri, King Of Israel c. 884 BC (16:15-20).
The Longer Reign Of Omri, King of Israel c. 884-872 BC (16:21-28).
Apart from the appearance of Jehu the son of Hanani to Baasha (1 Kings 16:1-7), this was a period of prophetic silence in Kings, which explains the brevity of the accounts of their reigns. However, we do know from Chronicles that the prophets were active (e.g. 2 Chronicles 15:1; 2 Chronicles 16:7).
SECTION 5 The Reign Of Ahab And His Conflicts With Elijah (16:9-22:40).
a 1). Initial summary of the reign of Ahab (1 Kings 16:29-34).
b 2). WARNING OF FAMINE. Elijah Warns Of The Coming Famine Which Duly Occurs. The First Flight Of Elijah (1 Kings 17:1 to 1 Kings 18:2 a).
A. Elijah flees and is fed by ravens indicating YHWH’s control of the living creation in the midst of famine (1 Kings 17:2-7).
B. Elijah is sustained by the miraculous provision of meal and oil indicating YHWH’s control over the inanimate creation in the midst of famine (1 Kings 17:8-16). |
C. Elijah raises the dead son of the widow to life indicating YHWH’s control over life and death in the midst of famine and death (1 Kings 17:17-24).
c 3). AHAB’S FIRST REPENTANCE. The Contest on Mount Carmel between the prophets of Baal and Elijah indicating YHWH’s power over storm and lightning (purportedly Baal’s forte) (1 Kings 18:2-40). This leads to Ahab’s first change of heart (although not repentance).
d 4). Elijah flees from Jezebel and meets God at Horeb leading on to the command to anoint of Hazael, Jehu and Elisha as symbols of YHWH’s judgment and mercy on Israel through war, assassination and ministry (1 Kings 19:1-21).
e 5). Two wars with Benhadad of Aram (Syria) before each of which a prophet of YHWH promises that YHWH will give him victory (1 Kings 20:1-34).
d 6). YHWH’s final declaration of judgment on Ahab through a third prophet for failing to execute the captured king who had been ‘devoted to YHWH’ (1 Kings 20:35-43).
c 7). AHAB’S SECOND REPENTANCE Naboth is falsely accused and murdered in order that Ahab might take possession of his vineyard, an incident that brings home how YHWH’s covenant is being torn to shreds and results in Elijah’s sentence of judgment on Ahab’s house, which is delayed (but only delayed) because of his repentance (1 Kings 21:1-28).
b 8). WARNING OF DEATH. Micaiah warns Ahab of his coming death. War over Ramoth-gilead results in Ahab’s death as warned by Micaiah the prophet of YHWH and the humiliation of his blood by contact with scavenger dogs and common prostitutes (1 Kings 22:1-38).
a 9). Ahab’s Obituary (1 Kings 22:39-40).
SECTION 6. The Reigns Of Jehoshaphat And Ahaziah (1 Kings 22:41 -2 Kings 1:18).
The Reign Of Jehoshaphat King Of Judah c. 870-848 BC - co regent from 873 BC (1 Kings 22:41-50).
The Reign Of Ahaziah King Israel c. 853-852 BC (1 Kings 22:51 - 2 Kings 1:18).
SECTION 7. Commencement Of Elisha’s Ministry After Elijah Is Taken Up Inot Heaven (2:1-3:27).
1). The entry of Elisha into Canaan against a rebellious Israel, and his provision of fresh water for the believing, and his cursing of the unbelieving (1 Kings 2:1-25).
A. The taking up of Elijah and entry into Canaan of Elisha (1 Kings 2:1-18).
B. The purifying of the waters at Jericho (1 Kings 2:19-22).
C. The cursing of the mockers at Bethel (1 Kings 2:23-25).
2). The entry of Israel Judah and Edom into Moab against a rebellious Moab and the provision of fresh water by YHWH for His people, while the king of Moab had to offer up his own son as a burnt-offering bringing a curse on himself and wrath on Israel (1 Kings 3:1-27).
A. Introduction To The Reign of Jehoram, King Of Israel (1 Kings 3:1-3).
B. Mesha of Moab Seeks To Free Moab From Being Tributary To Israel (1 Kings 3:4-7).
C. The Invasion Plan Goes Wrong And The Invaders Find Themselves In Jeopardy Through Lack Of Water With The Result That Jehoshaphat Desires The Advice Of A Prophet Of YHWH (1 Kings 3:8-14).
D. YHWH’s Provision For The Alliance Forces And The Subjugation Of Moab Which Has However An Unfortunate Consequence In Mesha’s Child-Sacrifice (1 Kings 3:15-27).
SECTION 8. The Ministry Of Elisha (4:1-8:6).
a A prophet’s widow comes to Elisha in her destitution and Elisha multiplies oil for her (1 Kings 4:1-7).
b Elisha raises to life and restores to a Shunammite her only son (1 Kings 4:8-34).
c Elisha restores a stew for his followers and feeds a hundred men on twenty small cakes of bread (1 Kings 4:38-44).
d The skin of the skin-diseased Naaman of Aram, who comes seeking Elisha in peace, is made pure as a babe’s (1 Kings 5:1-18).
e The borrowed axe-head is made to float, a symbol of the need for Israel to have its sharp edge restored by Elisha (1 Kings 6:1-7).
d The Aramaeans, who came seeking Elisha in hostility, are blinded (1 Kings 6:8-23).
c Elisha restores food to the people at the siege of Samaria, and feeds a large number on Aramaean supplies (1 Kings 6:24 to 1 Kings 7:20).
b The king restores to the Shunammite her land (1 Kings 8:1-6).
a Benhadad of Aram sends to Elisha in his illness and is assured that he will not die of his illness, but Elisha declares that nevertheless he will die, as it turns out, through assassination by Hazael (1 Kings 8:7-15).
the Third Week after Epiphany