First and Second Kings
Key to Words: The Word of the Lord; Key Verse: (2 Kings 1:17) Devotion - Downfall - Disruption:
The Book of Kings sets forth the two kingdoms: (a) The Two Tribes, (b) The Ten Tribes. It is the history of the kings of Israel and Judah, from David to Ahab and Jehosphaphat, covering a period of about 125 years. This is seen in 1 Kings. The second Book treats of the history of Israel and Judah from Ahab to the captivity, a period of about 300 years.
The author of the Book is unknown. Tradition assigns it to Jeremiah, others to Ezra during the captivity. It is a compilation of records taken from 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), and the book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah (1 Kings 14:29).
The Books are best understood by observing the following:
In the original Hebrew, 1 and 2 Kings formed one book, as also did 1 and 2 Samuel, and 1 and 2 Chronicles. They were first divided by the LXX Translators, when they translated the Old Testament into Greek. The explanation given is this: Greek requires at least one third more space than Hebrew, therefore the translators were compelled to divide them, either because they were of limited length, or to make the scrolls easy to handle. Dr. Bullunger: “The Book begins with King David and ends with the King of Babylon; opens with the Temple built and closes with the Temple burnt; begins with the successor of David on the throne of the kingdom, and ends with David’s last successor released from the house of his captivity.”
It is imperative to recognize the various aspects of the kingdom: (1) The United Kingdom. (2) The Divided Kingdom. (3) The Single Kingdom.
The United Kingdom lasted one hundred and twenty years, having three kings who each reigned for forty years (1095-975): David, Saul and Solomon.
The Divided Kingdom: This embraces the history of the disruption, covering about 250 years. The kingdom divided into two parts which were spoken of as Judah, the Southern Kingdom, with its capitol at Jerusalem; and Israel, the Northern Kingdom with its capitol at Schehem and then at Samaria. This division was predicted and carried out to completion (1 Kings 11:26-40). It was due to the idolatry and disloyalty of the nation, and for this sin both parts of the Kingdom were sent into ultimate captivity; Israel to Assyria (721 B.C.) and Judah to Babylon in 586 B.C.
During this time the two kingdoms were either antagonistic or allied to each other. (a) From Rehoboam to Asa in the south, and from Jeroboam to Omri in the north, a period of 57 years they were antagonistic (975-918) (1 Kings 12-16).
(b) Jehosophat’s son then married Ahab’s daughter and they were allied for 79 years (1 Kings 16-2 Kings 13).
(c) From Amazia to Hezekiah in the south, and from Joash to Hoshea in the north 118 years, they were again antagonistic (839-721 B.C.; 2 Kings 13-18:12).
In the Southern Kingdom there was but one dynasty, the Davidic, but in the Northern Kingdom there were nine dynasties. In the South 19 Kings, 1 Queen.
In the North, 19 Kings. In the South some kings were good, unstable and bad. In the North all were bad. In the South there were three revivals — reign of Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah and Josiah. In the North there were no revivals. The tribes in the South were taken into captivity by Nebuchadnezer; and the tribes in the North, into Assyrian Captivity by Chalmaneser.
The best Kings of Judah were Asa, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, Josiah.
The worst Kings of Judah Ahaz and Manasseh.
Each of the good kings made a serious mistake:
· Asa — allied with Syria against Israel.
· Jehoshaphat — allied with the House of Ahab.
· Hezekiah — friendly to the Babylonian messengers.
· Josiah — His march against Pharaoh Necho of Egypt.
(3) The Single Kingdom: This is a most important period of the Monarchy. After Israel (The Ten Tribes) had gone into Assyrian captivity, the kingdom of Judah continued for 135 years. During this time there were two attempts to turn the people from idolatry, Hezekiah 721 -640 B.C., and Josiah 640 - 586 B.C.
These seemed successful for a while, but repentance was not deep and the kingdom ran on to its doom.
(4) Prophets: The Ministry of the Prophets is most instructive.
(a) Oral Prophets: Elijah and Elisha.
(b) Minor Prophets: Ahijah, Jahaziel, Eliezer, Iddo, Jehu, Micaiah, Shemaiah, Hanani, Azariah.
(c) Written: Joel, Jonah, Amos, Hosea, Micah, Isaiah.
(d) Written: Isaiah, Jermiah, Micah, Nahum, Zephaniah, Habakkuk.
5 Points To Ponder
1. The altar used as a place of safety (1:50; 2:28).
2. The first instance of kneeling at devotions (viii:54) he knelt — Baal worshippers bent their knees. This explains (Judges 7:5, 7). Kneeling sanctified today by our Lord’s use (Luke 22:41).
3. The chronology of (6:1) should be 573 years instead of 480 years. Why? The period of 93 years difference is exactly the period covered during the captivities in Judges. Such time is not counted in God’s timetable — wasted and of no account.
4. Note the spiritual conception of God (v:5; viii:27). The temple built not as a House for the Lord, but for the Name of the Lord. Pagan temples were built for the actual residence of their gods. Not Solomon’s temple.
5. Again in (8:3) only mention of priests carrying the Ark.
6. Jehoshaphat dwelling in thick darkness (8:12) — great comfort.
7. The Divine Mission of Israel in the world (8:43; 8:60).
8. The New standard “as David his father” (3:3; 9:4; 11:4, 33; 14:8, 15; 15:3, 11).
1. The title, “Man of God” found here more than other books in the Bible: thirty-six times (36).
2. The Phrases, “Did that which was evil — Lord” occurs 21 times: —(3:2; 8:18; 12:2, 14:24; 15:9, 18, 24, 28; 17:2, 17; 21:2, 6, 15, 16, 20: 23: 32, 24:9, 19).
3. The Phrase, “That which was right — Lord” occurs 8 times: —(3:18; 13:2; 14:3; 15:3, 34; 18:3; 20:3; 22:2).
4. The Phrase, “The Word of the Lord” — and equivalent occurs 24 times: -- (1:17; 4:44; 7:1, 16; 8:19; 9:26, 36: 10:10; 14:25; 15:12; 19:21).
5. The Feelings of the Lord: —Anger: (13:3; 17:18; 23:26; 24:20). Wrath: (22:13, 17; 23:26).