This is the story of the continuation of Israel’s desire for a king. The kingdom becomes split into two – Southern and Northern and goes through a series of rulings with varying degrees of faithfulness to God. All of the kings are described by measure to King David. Many rely on the foretelling of the prophets, including Elijah, in order to determine how to battle. Some enter into covenants at the beginning of their kingship to be faithful and eventually fall into temptation to worship other gods. The style of the book is written in narrative format, giving an archived account of events. Its intent is to complete the written history of the Hebrew kingship, show repeated divine reasons for the fall of the Jewish nation and the divided monarchies, legitimize Davidic dynasty, and to provide some hope for Israel that the two historical appendices God would yet fulfill his promise to the house of David.
The Northern Kingdom is called Israel, the Southern, Judah. There were nine different ruling families in the northern kingdom and it only existed as an independent nation for 209 years. All are characterized as evil in the eyes of the Lord because they continued the golden calf cult of Jeroboam. There were nine different ruling families, and the fate of all the kings was tragic ranging from suicide to assassination.
The southern kingdom was the more stable kingdom, called Judah. It was in existence fro 345 years, and had nineteen kings. The Davidic family was the only family that claimed the throne, with one interruption with Queen Athaliah. They also all had tragic ends. There were 8 who were considered good because they followed David’s example of worshipping YHWH faithfully including: Asa, Jehosaphat, Jehoash, Amaziah, Azariah, Jothan, Hezekiah, and Josiah.
Kings 12:1-14:31 – The *kingdom divides
12:1-24 Rehoboam becomes king after Solomon.
12:25-33 Jeroboam *rebels and he persuades the northern *tribes to support him.
13:1-32 Jeroboam appoints priests. A *prophet warns him about *disaster.
13:33-14:20 Ahijah warns Jeroboam’s wife about *disaster. Jeroboam dies.
14:21-31 Egypt attacks Rehoboam. Rehoboam dies.
1 Kings 15:1-16:28 – The wars between *Israel and *Judah
15:1-8 Abijam, king of *Judah
15:9-24 Asa, king of *Judah
15:25-32 Nadab, king of *Israel
15:33-16:7 Baasha, king of *Israel
16:8-14 Elah, king of *Israel
16:15-20 Zimri, king of *Israel
16:21-28 Omri, king of *Israel
1 Kings 16:29 - 2 Kings 1:18 – Ahab and Elijah
16:29-34 Ahab, king of *Israel
17:1-19:21 God provides for Elijah when there is no rain. Elijah opposes Ahab on *Mount Carmel. Elijah runs away. Elijah appoints Elisha.
20:1-43 Ahab defeats the king of Syria and then makes *peace with him.
21:1-29 Ahab and Naboth’s *vineyard
22:1-40 Ahab’s final war with Syria
22:41 - 2 Kings 1:18 Elijah *challenges Ahaziah.
(information from www.easyenglishbiblecommentary.com)
Call and Response
In Chapter 11, it is predicted by Ahijah that after Solomon’s reign the kingdom will be torn apart, though not forever (11:39). A covenant is made with Jereboam (11:35) similar to the one with Solomon. The covenant stipulates that Jereboam will listen to God’s commands and walk in God’s ways and God will be with him. The “plan” of God predicted is fulfilled, as Reheboam (Solomon’s son), declares to the people he will be more harsh upon them than Solomon, and they turn against him and instead crown Jereboam. Jereboam in turn, becomes fearful of the Israel’s continued worship in Jerusalem and makes a calf for them to worship in Dan and Bethel, so they do not have to travel as far. This sinful act of idolatry, coupled with the celebrations he instigates, break the covenant he made with Ahijah to be faithful to God. This cycle of kings is repeated over and over again as Israel continues to be disloyal to God.
The story of “the man of God” in Chapter 13, sheds light onto the demanding nature of following the call specifically that the Israelites understood, but also serves as a prediction of what will become of Jereboam for his sinful acts. This call and response theme is continued with the death of Jereboam’s son as punishment for not following the covenant.
Nature of God
The story of the test of Elijah to proclaim which God is the most powerful reveals God’s prominence over the other gods. It is a very dramatic/ miraculous story about God’s power revealed against the other idols. We find out thorough Elijah’s encounter with God in Chapter 19, that God will preserve the lives of all those in Israel whose knees have not bowed down to Baal.
Ahab’s response to God’s condemnation of him taking over Naboth’s vineyard reveals that God will accept the penitence and forgive of a contrite heart (21)
Therefore, despite the punishment of generations of kings for their lack of following the covenant, grace is also revealed in a time of contrite repentance.
The story of Elijah’s visit to the widow is also a powerful reminder of God’s outreach beyond the people Israel and the understanding that Elijah had the power to perform miraculous healing as God’s vessel. God saves Elijah’s life by provisions for him during this time of persecution.
Our Human condition
The author’s intent of this book is to not just write history, but to direct people how to live. It reveals the human condition to make commitments and then waver and often times fail. It reveals our desire to serve, and yet in failing receive grace when confession and repentance is made. It reveals the temptation of other gods, as most of the gods worshipped at this time were gods related to sex, fertility and prosperity.
“All the people saw this and feel on their faces: “The Lord is the real God! The Lord is the real God!” they exclaimed. (18:39)
When my faith is sometimes waning and I wander beyond your ways, give me the humility to ask for forgiveness. Help me to remember the amazing ways you have revealed yourself in the past as a way to strengthen my faith for the future.
The people who saw them miraculous fire of Elijah were turned from idolatry to belief. What moments in our faith have brought us from a place of idolatry back to faithfulness?