Harry E. Shields


Kings presents the history of Israel’s monarchy, in the final days of the united kingdom and the later division into Israel and Judah. The book of 1 Kings opens at the end of the reign of David, Israel’s greatest king. The deportation to Babylon of Jehoiachin, Judah’s last king, closes the book of 2 Kings. The time span of the two books is a little more than 400 years (971–586 BC).

These historical narratives of Israel and Judah include interaction with the surrounding nations, the disasters of following false prophets, and the tragic Babylonian captivity. These books are a record of events in fulfilling God’s promise of blessing for obedience (Dt 17:14–20) and judgment for disobedience (Dt 28–29). During the monarchy the prophets, particularly Elijah, Elisha, and Isaiah, proclaimed God’s message. First and 2 Kings reveal God’s faithfulness to His Word and His people. They are books of theological truth and great spiritual issues which ultimately remind Israel of the Davidic covenant (see 2Sm 7:12–16), the failure of all the kings in fulfilling it, and the resulting encouragement for Israel to keep looking for the coming Son of David, the messianic King.

Author. The books of Kings give no indication of the author’s identity. However the style and word choice, recurring themes, and literary patterns in the book support the historic position of a single author. Rabbinic tradition ascribed authorship to Ezra or Ezekiel. The Babylonian Talmud says it was written by Jeremiah, since 2Kg 24:18–25:30 is exactly the same as the last chapter of Jeremiah (Jr 52). The actual writer is uncertain; however some facts about the author can be learned from the text.

It is clear that the author of Kings was familiar with the biblical text and other Jewish writings and referred to them in the composition of Kings. He referred to the "book of the acts of Solomon" (1Kg 11:41). He also referred to the "Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel" (cf. 1Kg 14:19; 15:31; 16:5, 14, 20, 27; 22:39; 2Kg 1:18; 10:34; 13:8, 12; 14:15; 15:6, 11, 15, 21, 26, 31) and the "Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah" (cf. 1Kg 14:29; 15:7, 23; 22:45; 2Kg 8:23; 12:19; 14:18, 28; 15:36; 16:19; 20:20; 21:17, 25; 23:28; 24:5). These Chronicles are not the OT books of 1 and 2 Chronicles but were official court records on the monarchy, no longer extant. Therefore the unidentified human author drew on a variety of secular records to record inspired history from God’s perspective.

Some critical scholars have suggested Kings had multiple author/editors from various time periods in Israel’s history who recorded events over this 400-year span from Solomon to Jehoiachin. Then a later editor added his own historical details and smoothed out rough transitions in the ultimate production of 1 and 2 Kings. The primary problem with multiple-author theories is that they do not provide sufficient evidence to explain the books’ consistency in presenting a unified theological perspective or linguistic structure. Nor do they explain how these various editors were able to pass information along for a final composition, especially with so many supposed editors involved over several hundred years.

Therefore, the viewpoint of this commentary is that a single author wrote during the time of the exile, compiling what is known today as 1 and 2 Kings. This unidentified author drew on a variety of secular sources to record Israel’s history. The people of Israel needed to understand theologically why they went into exile. Furthermore, all the failed kings of Israel and Judah reminded them to keep looking for the Davidic King, the Messiah, who was yet to come.

Date. The date of composition, like the author, is difficult to ascertain. Nothing is stated in 1 or 2 Kings that pinpoints an exact date of writing.

Internal evidence, however, indicates the books were written during the exile. One piece of evidence is the last recorded event in 2 Kings, the release of Jehoiachin from prison to live out his life in Babylon. This occurred in the 37th year of his exile (cf. 2Kg 25:27–30; 560 BC). However, there is no mention of the return from Babylon, indicating the book was written while the Jewish people were still in captivity.

A second support for dating the books to the time of the exile is the phrase "to this day," which appears 13 times throughout the books (cf. 1Kg 8:8; 9:13, 21; 12:19; 2Kg 2:22; 8:22; 10:27; 14:7; 16:6; 17:34, 41; 20:17; 21:15). The phrase is significant because it describes a variety of situations and historical markers that were still in place or practice at the time of the writing. Again a specific date is not given, but internal evidence indicates that the writing had to be sometime after those events occurred, but not so far distant that they were no longer recalled. A date sometime during the exile, but prior to the return, best fits with the events described in 1 and 2 Kings. Therefore, a probable date for the writing of the books is between 560 and 550 BC.

Key dates in Israel’s history are woven into the text: David died and Solomon became king in 971 BC; the kingdom was divided in 930 BC; the northern kingdom fell to Assyria in 721 BC; Judah fell to Babylon in 586 BC. However, an exact coordination of the kings of Israel and the kings of Judah can be confusing, despite chronology such as "in the third year that Jehoshaphat the king of Judah came down to the king of Israel …" (1Kg 22:2). This can be resolved in some cases by understanding coregency or vice-regency of kings. Also, Judah and Israel used two different systems of determining when the reign began, and even this system was sometimes altered over the years. Finally, Judah and Israel began their calendar years at different times, so the beginning of the new year does not coincide. (For a detailed discussion of this see, Edwin R. Thiele, The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings, rev. ed., Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983.) The accounts of the reigns of the kings of Judah and Israel often alternate throughout the two books of Kings, with more details given about some of the monarchs and very little detail given about others. The dates and years of the reigns of the kings, along with the key parallel passages in 2 Chronicles, are included in the commentary.

Recipients. The recipients of 1 and 2 Kings are not specifically stated. However, the content and message of the book suggests it was written to the faithful remnant of Jewish people who had gone into captivity. The message of the book explains how and why the nation went into captivity, because of their failure to follow the Lord. It also presents God’s faithfulness to His covenant to David to preserve a faithful remnant (cf. 2Sm 7:8–17). Although all of the kings of Judah had ultimately failed to fulfill the Davidic promise, the implication is that the people should keep looking forward for the messianic King, the greater Son of David.

Purpose and Theme. The historical narrative of Kings goes beyond a simple historical record of the 19 kings of Israel (all bad) and the 20 kings of Judah (only eight good—Asa, Jehoshaphat, Joash/Jehoash, Amaziah, Jotham, Azariah/Uzziah, Jotham, and Hezekiah). First, for the Jewish people in Babylon in 560 BC, and for the later Jewish community, reading Kings would provide insight into their circumstances, explaining the cause of the Babylonian conquest. The nation was taken into captivity for their wicked practice of idolatry: setting up a corrupted worship of the Lord with the golden calves in the northern kingdom, worshiping the gods of the pagan nations around them on the high places and in Jerusalem, and even sacrificing their children to Molech. After the return from exile, Israel would never again practice idolatry.

Second, these books are designed to reveal that each king failed, even the good kings of Judah, to be the ultimate heir to the Davidic throne promised by God in the Davidic covenant (cf. 2Sm 7:8–17). The messianic Son of David was yet to come. Furthermore, an understanding of Kings would give the Jewish people, and all readers up to today, renewed opportunity to fear God, live in devotion to Him, and look for the messianic King.

Background. The two books of Kings were originally viewed as one book in the Hebrew canon, called melakim (Hb. "kings"). The LXX (250 BC) divided both Samuel and Kings into two books most likely to make the length of the texts more manageable. The LXX referred to 1 and 2 Samuel as the "First and Second Reigns," while 1 and 2 Kings became the "Third and Fourth Reigns." The LXX division was quickly adopted by the Hebrew text and all subsequent translations.

The books of 1 and 2 Kings are similar in many ways to 1 and 2 Samuel. All four books were written primarily as historical narrative, but include the message of the prophets to the nation of Israel. In the Hebrew cannon, 1 and 2 Kings are placed with the last of the Former Prophets (Joshua, Kings, and Samuel), emphasizing the prophetic element of the books. The English canon places Kings between Samuel and Chronicles, thus emphasizing the historic element of these books.

The Latter Prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel) also have a close connection with Kings in that 1 and 2 Kings provide the historical framework for all that the Latter Prophets proclaim. Both Kings and Chronicles cover Israel’s history, yet they have different emphases. The books of Kings include details of all the kings from both the united and divided kingdoms. However, Chronicles focuses on the house of Judah during the Davidic monarchy. The northern kingdom of Israel is mentioned in Chronicles only in its relationship with Judah.

Note that equal length is not given to each of the kings identified in 1 and 2 Kings. The writer went beyond describing the various details of history to identify the spiritual condition of each king. Some of those spiritual conditions had great impact on the nation and were more important than others, earning more space in the text. After Solomon’s reign the various kings were described by a fairly consistent sixfold formula: (1) the time of a king’s ascension in relation to another king in Israel or Judah, (2) the length of the king’s reign and the place of his capital, (3) the name of the king’s mother in the case of the Judean kings, (4) a statement about whether the king was good or evil in the Lord’s sight, often in comparison to David, (5) the source of further information about the particular king described, and (6) the name of the person who succeeded the king (Gordon D. Fee and Douglas Stuart, How to Read the Bible Book by Book [Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002], 93).

The charts "Kings of Israel" and "Kings of Judah" provide an overview of the united monarchy, the kings of Judah and Israel. They include the years of reign and the text that records their history.


I. The United Kingdom under Solomon (1Kg 1:1–11:43)

A. Solomon Anointed and Establishes Kingdom (1Kg 1:1–2:46)

B. Solomon’s Wisdom, Building, and Success (1Kg 3:1–10:29)

1. Solomon Given Wisdom by the Lord (1Kg 3:1–28)

2. Solomon Wisely Organizes His Kingdom (1Kg 4:1–34)

3. Solomon’s Building Programs: The Temple and Other Structures (1Kg 5:1–8:66)

a. Solomon’s Alliance with King Hiram and Organization of Workers (1Kg 5:1–18)

b. Solomon Builds the Temple and His Palace (1Kg 6:1–7:51)

c. Solomon Dedicates the Temple (1Kg 8:1–66)

4. Solomon’s Warning from the Lord (1Kg 9:1–9)

5. Solomon’s Splendid Kingdom (1Kg 9:10–10:29)

C. Solomon’s Divided Heart and Spiritual Decline (1Kg 11:1–43)

II. The Divided Kingdom: Northern Israel and Southern Judah (1Kg 12:1–2Kg 17:41)

A. Rehoboam of Judah and Jeroboam of Israel (1Kg 12:1–14:31)

1. Rehoboam’s Reign: Foolish Choices and Their Consequences (1Kg 12:1–19)

2. Jeroboam’s Coronation as King of Israel (1Kg 12:20–24)

3. Jeroboam’s Self-Deception and Sinful Choices (1Kg 12:25–33)

4. Jeroboam, God’s Word, and Spiritual Rebellion (1Kg 13:1–34)

5. The Consequences of Jeroboam’s Disobedience (1Kg 14:1–20)

6. Rehoboam’s Reign in Judah (1Kg 14:21–31)

B. The Kings of Judah and Israel until the Fall of Israel to Assyria (1Kg 15:1–2Kg 17:41)

1. Abijam of Judah: A Bad King (1Kg 15:1–8)

2. Asa of Judah: A Good King (1Kg 15:9–24)

3. From Nadab through Omri: Increasing Spiritual Decline in Israel (1Kg 15:25–16:34)

4. Ahab and the Prophet Elijah: The Supremacy of God over Nature (1Kg 17:1–22:40)

a. Elijah and the Prophets of Baal (1Kg 17:1–18:46)

b. Elijah Fears for His Life and Is Comforted by the Lord (1Kg 19:1–21)

c. Ahab and God’s Supremacy over Military Power (1Kg 20:1–43)

d. Ahab Covets Naboth’s Vineyard and Learns of God’s Justice (1Kg 21:1–29)

e. Ahab Confronted by the Prophet Micaiah: God’s Supremacy over Plans (1Kg 22:1–40)

5. Jehoshaphat of Judah: A Good King (1Kg 22:41–50)

6. Ahaziah of Israel: Elijah, and God’s Supremacy over Health (1Kg 22:51–2Kg 1:1–18)

7. Elisha, Prophet to the Northern Kingdom (2Kg 2:1–6:23)

a. Elisha Given the Prophetic Office of Elijah (2Kg 2:1–25)

b. Elisha Confirms His Authority (2Kg 3:1–27)

c. Elisha Performs Miracles to Substantiate His Message from God (2Kg 4:1–6:23)

(1) The Miracle of the Widow’s Oil (2Kg 4:1–7)

(2) The Miraculous Healing of the Shunammite Woman’s Son (2Kg 4:8–37)

(3) The Miracle of Healing the Poison Stew (2Kg 4:38–41)

(4) The Miracle of the Feeding of a Hundred Men (2Kg 4:42–44)

(5) The Miraculous Healing of Naaman the Leper (2Kg 5:1–27)

(6) The Miraculous Recovery of the Axe Head (2Kg 6:1–7)

(7) God’s Miraculous Protection of Elisha (2Kg 6:8–23)

8. Elisha Predicts the Siege of Samaria Will End (2Kg 6:24–7:20)

9. Elisha Carries out the Prophecies Originally Spoken through Elijah (2Kg 8:1–9:13)

10. Jehu of Israel: A Bad King Who Takes Actions that Fulfill Prophecy (2Kg 9:14–10:36)

11. Athaliah and Joash of Judah: A Bad Queen and a Good King (2Kg 11:1–12:21)

12. Jehoahaz and Jehoash of Israel: Bad Kings in the Last Days of Elisha (2Kg 13:1–25)

13. Amaziah of Judah: A Good King; and Jehoash of Israel: A Bad King (2Kg 14:1–22)

14. Jeroboam II of Israel: A Bad King (2Kg 14:23–29)

15. Azariah (Uzziah) of Judah: A Good King (2Kg 15:1–7)

16. Zechariah, Shallum, Menahem, and Pekahiah of Israel: All Bad Kings (2Kg 15:8–26)

17. Pekah of Israel: A Bad King (2Kg 15:27–31)

18. Jotham of Judah: A Good King (2Kg 15:32–38)

19. Ahaz of Judah: A Bad King (16:1–20)

20. Hoshea of Israel: A Bad King and the Fall of the Northern Kingdom (2Kg 17:1–41)

III. The Kingdom of Judah after the Fall of Israel (2Kg 18:1–25:30)

A. The Kings of Judah Prior to the Babylonian Invasion (2Kg 18:1–23:30)

1. Hezekiah of Judah: A Good King (2Kg 18:1–20:21)

2. Manasseh and Amon of Judah: Two Bad Kings (2Kg 21:1–26)

3. Josiah of Judah: A Good King (2Kg 22:1–23:30)

B. The Last Kings of Judah Prior to the Babylonian Captivity (2Kg 23:31–25:7)

1. Jehoahaz and Jehoiakim of Judah: Two Bad Kings (2Kg 23:31–24:5)

2. Jehoiachin of Judah: A Bad King (24:6–16)

3. Zedekiah of Judah: A Bad King (24:17–25:7)

C. The Fall of Judah and Jerusalem (2Kg 25:8–30)


I. The United Kingdom under Solomon (1Kg 1:1–11:43)

The book begins with the transfer of the monarchy from David to Solomon and the latter’s subsequent decisions in securing his reign over all Israel. Although he met with internal challenges from his brother Adonijah, Solomon soon learned that God alone had authority over who would lead His nation (cf. Ex 19:5–6). In addition, Solomon learned that the overwhelming task of leadership required more than human skill and expertise. He, like all leaders in Israel, would need the supernatural wisdom of God, if God’s purposes were to be accomplished. And to carry out his father David’s wishes, Solomon set out to build an earthly dwelling place for the Lord. But in the end Solomon’s greatest accomplishments and his great wisdom would be overshadowed by his halfheartedness, led away by multiple pagan wives to worship other gods.

A. Solomon Anointed and Establishes His Kingdom (1Kg 1:1–2:46)

1:1–4. In typical narrative fashion a tension is established at the outset of 1 Kings, as King David was old, advanced in age, approaching seventy, and a new king would be required (cf. 2Sm 5:4; Ps 90:10). His strength and health in decline, the reign of Israel’s greatest king was coming to an end. David’s servants did everything in their power to care for the elderly monarch, but because of old age, and perhaps illness, he could not keep warm. So they sought out a young virgin to attend the king and become his nurse (v. 2). She may have been selected because she was old enough for care for an elderly person, but was not yet married with responsibilities to care for her own family. Her duties were not specified, other than to keep David warm, perhaps being sure he was kept covered with the duties of a constant attendant. The Hebrew term ‘amad for "attend" literally means "to stand before," or in this context, "to serve or nurse" the king. Even though Abishag the Shunammite … was very beautiful and served David, the king did not cohabit with her (v. 4).

1:5–7. David’s imminent death quickly became known to many people in the royal household. As a result, Adonijah the fourth son of David with his fifth wife Haggith (cf. 2Sm 3:2–5; 1Ch 3:2) sought to make himself king (v. 5). David’s older sons Amnon, Absalom, and Chileab (cf. 2Sm 3:3) were already dead (cf. 2Sm 13–18), so Adonijah exalted himself, saying, "I will be king." The Hebrew verbal form for "exalted" reveals that this was not a onetime event, but an ongoing activity on Adonijah’s part ("he kept exalting himself"). His brazen behavior was fueled by his father’s failure to never cross him (v. 6). This is yet another time in David’s life, as with Absalom, when either from negligence or guilt over previous sins he allowed a son to go undisciplined. As a result, Adonijah behaved like a king in waiting (he prepared for himself chariots) and allied himself with an entourage of fifty men (v. 5). Also he conspired with Joab, David’s military commander who had served faithfully for years (cf. 1Sm 26:6; 2Sm 2:13; 19:13; 20:10, 23), and Abiathar the priest (v. 7), who joined David after the Saul commanded Doeg to slaughter the priests (cf. 2Sm 22:18–20). Adonijah wanted them to help make him Israel’s next king.

1:8–10. However, Zadok the priest (cf. 2Sm 8:17), Benaiah, one of David’s mighty men (cf. 2Sm 8:18; 23:20; 1Kg 2:25), Nathan the prophet (cf. 2Sm 12:1–25), David’s trusted spiritual adviser, and the mighty men who belonged to David were not with Adonijah (v. 8). In a fashion similar to Absalom, another son of David who sought to usurp the throne (cf. 2Sm 15:11–12), Adonijah assumed he would be king and he called for a great celebration. He sacrificed … and he invited people who embraced the idea that he would be a worthy successor. But he did not invite Nathan the prophet, Benaiah, the mighty men (cf. 1Ch 11), and Solomon his brother (v. 10). He excluded these people who he knew would not support his grab for the crown, since they supported David and knew God had revealed to David that Solomon would succeed him as king (cf. 1Ch 22:9–10).

1:11–14. When Nathan, the prophet and David’s faithful adviser (cf. 2Sm 12:1–15; 1Ch 17:1–15), learned of Adonijah’s conspiracy, he organized a plan to use both his own influence and that of David’s wife, Bathsheba (cf. 2Sm 11; 12:24), to preserve what God had revealed years earlier regarding the successor to the Davidic line. Nathan said to Bathsheba, Please let me give you counsel and save your life and the life of your son Solomon (v. 12), for it was probable that Adonijah would kill any rivals to the throne if he became king. Nathan revealed the urgency of the situation by instructing her to Go at once to King David and say to him, ‘Have you not, my lord, O king, sworn to your maidservant … Solomon your son shall be king’ (v. 13). This oath is not recorded elsewhere; however, God told David who his successor would be, and possibly David had shared that news with Bathsheba (cf. 1Ch 22:9–10).

1:15–21. Bathsheba carried out Nathan’s plan (introduced in vv. 11–14). She demonstrated her own respect for David as she bowed and prostrated herself before the king (v. 16). Referring to a previous statement by David, she said, My lord, you swore to your maidservant by the Lord your God, saying, ‘Surely your son Solomon shall be king after me and he shall sit on my throne’ (v. 17). David did not dispute her statement. Bathsheba knew that if Adonijah came to the throne she and Solomon would be considered offenders (v. 21), possibly killed as usurpers of the throne. The Hebrew chatta’ (offenders) is frequently translated "sinner" and has a more secular connotation in v. 21, suggesting someone who is accused of breaking the laws of the state.

1:22–27. Part two of the plan (revealed in vv. 11–14) followed in quick succession. The only difference between Bathsheba’s speech and Nathan’s is that the prophet asked questions of David instead of making direct statements. He asked two diplomatic questions to alert David to the circumstances and motivate him to action: First, My lord the king, have you said, ‘Adonijah shall be king after me, and he shall sit on my throne’? (v. 24). Second, he asked a question implying that David had kept something from two of his most intimate confidants: Has this thing been done by my lord the king, and you have not shown to your servants who should sit on the throne of my lord the king after him? (v. 27).

1:28–31. Following Nathan’s inquiry David acted quickly. He called for Bathsheba and vowed in the strongest terms As the Lord lives … Your son Solomon shall be king after me (v. 30). Taking David at his word, Bathsheba bowed with her face to the ground, and prostrated herself before the king. Trusting David to do the right thing, she simply said, May my lord King David live forever (v. 31).

1:32–40. To demonstrate that Solomon had David’s blessings as king, David’s servants were to have Solomon ride on the king’s mule to Gihon, just outside Jerusalem in the Kidron Valley (v. 33). Then Nathan would anoint him there as king over Israel (v. 34). This would make David’s choice of Solomon known publicly.

A crowd gathered (v. 34). The people were rejoicing with great joy, so that the earth shook at their noise (v. 40). What David announced in the privacy of his bedroom was now known throughout Israel. The response of the people indicated that they approved of David’s choice in making Solomon their new king [970–930 BC; cf. 2Ch 1–9].

1:41–48. The news of Solomon’s coronation soon reached the ears of Adonijah and those who were prematurely celebrating with him (v. 41). The messenger, Jonathan the son of Abiathar the priest, reported what was happening (v. 42). He amplified the certainty and authority of Solomon’s ascension to the throne with four facts: (1) Solomon was made to ride on the king’s mule, which showed David’s authorization of the decree (v. 44). (2) Solomon had been anointed king in Gihon, which signified a public declaration of intent (v. 45). (3) David’s servants had extended a blessing, asking God to make the name of Solomon better than David’s name (v. 47). (4) David bowed himself on the bed, indicating his recognition of Solomon as the new king (v. 47). The evidence was clear to Adonijah: his intentions were rejected and Solomon was to be the legitimate heir to the throne.

1:49–53. In fear for his life, Adonijah fled to the tabernacle. The law provided that anyone seeking asylum could be safe by taking hold of the horns of the altar (cf. Ex 21:12–14). Mercifully, Solomon agreed to let Adonijah live, although he made it clear that Adonijah was to prove that he was a worthy man (v. 52). That is, he was to renounce any claim to the throne and accept Solomon as the rightful king. Adonijah was then led into Solomon’s presence, where he prostrated himself before the king (v. 53).

After Solomon’s anointing as king, the aged King David gave some final advice to the new king. Throughout chap. 2, the narrator made it clear that Solomon "established" his kingdom (vv. 12, 24, 45–46), and this firm establishment was a direct result of God’s plan and intervention.

2:1–4. Realizing the time to die drew near, David, as did Moses (cf. Dt 31:1–8), Joshua (cf. Jos 23:1–16), and Samuel (cf. 1Sm 12:1–2) near their time of death, charged, or gave important instructions to, his successor. The first challenge was for Solomon to be strong by depending on the Lord and His Word (Dt 31:7, 23; Jos 1:6–7, 9, 18) and to show himself a man (v. 2). The phrase "show yourself a man" literally means "to become a man." Solomon was to "become" all a king should be who would fulfill the conditions of Dt 17:14–20 by obeying the law. He was to walk in God’s ways, and keep His statutes … commandments … ordinances … and testimonies (v. 3). These terms are frequently used together for obedience to covenant obligations (cf. 6:12; 8:58; 2Kg 17:37; Dt 8:11; 11:1; 26:17; 28:15, 45; 30:10, 16). When Solomon made himself a man obedient to the law, David informed him that the Lord would carry out His promise of the Davidic covenant (v. 4; cf. 2Sm 7:8–17). In addition, the kind of obedience enjoined by David reflected the conditions God established for fulfilling the Davidic covenant (cf. Ps 132:12), conditions which Solomon ultimately failed to meet.

2:5–6. David’s second challenge for Solomon was to deal with the treacherous Joab. Although he had been a brave soldier in David’s army, he had aligned himself with Adonijah (cf. 1:7). During his years of service to David, Joab often took matters into his own hands and usurped the will of King David. For instance, as David was seeking to unite his army with Saul’s forces, Joab killed Saul’s commander Abner in violation of a peace treaty David had enacted with Abner (cf. 2Sm 3). Also, Joab rashly executed Amasa, David’s commander, for taking too long to return from a military assignment (cf. 2Sm 20). David told Solomon to exercise justice according to his wisdom, and not to let Joab’s gray hair go down to Sheol in peace (cf. 2:28–35).

2:7. David then told Solomon to be kind to the sons of Barzillai. This family had assisted David when he fled from the attempted coup of Solomon’s older brother, Absalom (cf. comments on 2Sm 19:31–39). David’s counsel was to let them be among those who eat at your table because of the favor they had shown David in a time of great crisis.

2:8–9. Although Shimei seemed to be supporting Solomon, David knew Shimei’s history and warned Solomon to protect himself from treachery. David remembered that Shimei was from Saul’s family, a Benjamite, and had originally opposed David’s kingship and then sided with Absalom against David. Shimei had cursed him with a violent curse (cf. 2Sm 16:5–13) in direct violation of the Mosaic command not to curse a ruler (cf. 2Sm 19:21; Ex 22:28). Later, after David defeated Absalom, Shimei hurried to meet David, pleading for mercy, and David spared his life (cf. 2Sm 19:18–23). Now with Solomon taking the throne, David again saw Shimei as a potential threat and cautioned for the good of Solomon’s kingdom, do not let him go unpunished. Solomon did take action to protect himself from Shimei’s treacheries (cf. 2:36–46).

2:10–12. Here are the first of several summary statements. David’s death was announced—he slept with his fathers and the length of his reign (1010–970 BC). Solomon sat on the throne of David his father, and his kingdom was firmly established.

2:13–18. Even though the kingdom was secure under Solomon’s control, when Adonijah approached Bathsheba … peacefully, he had a suspicious request. Adonijah’s request was tinged with bitterness and remorse as he told her, All Israel expected me to be king; however, the kingdom has turned about and become my brother’s, for it was his from the Lord (v. 15). He then asked her to ask Solomon to give him Abishag the Shunammite, who had been David’s nurse (cf. 1:1–4), as a wife (v. 17). This request recalls a similar plot when Ahithophel advised Absalom to prove his right to the throne by sleeping with David’s concubines (cf. 2Sm 16:21–23).

2:19–22. Apparently Bathsheba was unaware of Adonijah’s ulterior motive, for she presented his desire to marry Abishag to Solomon as one small request (v. 20). However, Solomon saw Adonijah’s treachery immediately, knowing there might be "wickedness" (cf. 1:52). Solomon realized although David had not had sexual relations with Abishag, her intimate contact with the aged king (cf. 1:1–4) would cause her to be regarded by the people as part of David’s harem. Marriage to her would strengthen Adonijah’s claim to the throne (cf. 2Sm 3:7; 12:8; 16:21), so Solomon told his mother, Ask for him also the kingdom—for he is my older brother (v. 22), since many in the kingdom already had supported Adonijah’s claim to the throne as the oldest heir (cf. 1:5–10). Solomon knew that if he granted Adonijah’s request, then his brother’s co-conspirators Abiathar and Joab (v. 22; cf. 1:7) would continue in the plot to seize the throne for Adonijah.

2:23–25. Solomon took swift and decisive action. He swore by the Lord (cf. comments on 1Sm 3:17) that Adonijah had declared his own death sentence (spoken this word against his own life) in making this grab for the kingdom. Solomon realized the Lord had set him on the throne of David his father (v. 24), so he sent Benaiah, David’s military commander who continued this leadership role under Solomon (cf. 1:8–10; 2Sm 3:20), to execute Adonijah.

2:26–27. Solomon dealt with other conspirators who sided with and assisted Adonijah’s plan to take the throne (cf. 1Kg 1:7). He ordered Abiathar the priest to be banished to Anathoth, his hometown three miles east of Jerusalem. Solomon reminded Abiathar that he deserved to die. But Solomon showed him mercy because of his loyalty to David over a number of years (e.g., 1Sm 22:20–23). He dismissed Abiathar from being priest … in order to fulfill the word of the Lord, a prophecy first mentioned regarding Eli’s household (cf. 1Sm 2:27–36.)

2:28–35. It didn’t take Solomon long to deal with a third individual of Adonijah’s co-conspirators (cf. 1:5–10). When the news came to Joab about Adonijah’s fate and Abiathar’s banishment, he fled to the tent of the Lord and took hold of the horns of the altar (v. 28). This was the same tactic Adonijah employed for sanctuary (cf. 1:51). However, the right of asylum did not apply in conspiracy against the king, and Solomon did not extend mercy to him (cf. Ex 21:14). He quickly sent Benaiah to execute Joab (v. 29). The aging Joab was asked to come away from the altar and surrender (v. 30). But he refused, saying, No, for I will die here (v. 30). Not knowing what to do, Benaiah sent word to Solomon of the standoff and asked what to do. Solomon told Benaiah to do as Joab has spoken and fall upon him (vv. 31, 34). Solomon was obeying David’s earlier warning about Joab, to "act according to your wisdom, and not let his gray hair go down to Sheol in peace" (2:5–6). Joab had shed blood without cause when he took the lives of both Abner and Amasa (v. 32; cf. 2Sm 3:27; 20:9–10). After wisely dealing with treachery in his administration, Solomon quickly appointed Benaiah the son of Jehoiada over the army in place of Joab, and the king appointed Zadok the priest in place of Abiathar (v. 35).

2:36–38. The final enemy about whom David warned Solomon was Shimei (cf. comments on 2:8–9), who cursed David when he was fleeing from Absalom and then became a reluctant ally when David returned to his palace. Solomon called for Shimei and offered him a plan of safety for life, as long as Shimei stayed within the boundary set by the king. He told Shimei to build … a house in Jerusalem and live there, and do not go out from there to any place (v. 36). However, on the day Shimei went beyond the brook Kidron, just east of Jerusalem before the Mount of Olives, he would be treated as an enemy and know for certain that you shall surely die (vv. 37–38). Keeping Shimei within the city of Jerusalem would allow Solomon to keep an eye on him and would prevent Shimei from gathering conspirators against Solomon.

2:39–46. Although Shimei agreed to the plan, after three years, when two of Shimei’s servants ran away to Gath, the region of Israel’s enemy, the Philistines (v. 39; cf. 1Sm 17), Shimei ignored his agreement with Solomon, went to Gath, and brought the escaped servants back to Jerusalem. He could have sent another servant to get the runaways, but foolishly took this opportunity to seemingly justify a trip to enemy territory beyond the limitation of his house arrest. When Solomon learned of the violation he summoned Shimei (v. 42) and reminded him of the oath of the Lord (vv. 41–43). Solomon also reminded Shimei of his past sins against David. So Solomon commanded Benaiah to execute Shimei (v. 46).

The section concerning the enemies of Solomon and of the house of David concludes with good news: the throne of David shall be established before the Lord forever. God was at work to fulfill His covenant and subsequently bless the reign of Solomon as promised (cf. 1Kg 1:47–48; 1Ch 22:9–10).

B. Solomon’s Wisdom, Building, and Success (1Kg 3:1–10:29)

These chapters portray the reign of one of the greatest monarchs of all time. Chapters 1 and 2 show how Solomon became David’s successor, but chaps. 3 and 4 reveal the reasons behind his legitimacy to the throne. His building programs are outlined in chaps. 4–9, with details about the building of the temple. Highlights of Solomon’s magnificent reign include the visit from the Queen of Sheba and the descriptions of his splendors in chap. 10.

1. Solomon Given Wisdom by the Lord (1Kg 3:1–28)

3:1. Although Solomon’s kingdom was established (cf. 2:46) and he would receive great wisdom from the Lord (cf. 3:6–15), he foolishly began his reign with the first of many marriages to foreign women who would eventually lead him astray into pagan worship (cf. 1Kg 11:1–8). Solomon formed a marriage alliance with Pharaoh. The clause literally reads "made himself a son-in-law of Pharaoh." Marriage alliances were common in the ancient world for a military and trade advantage; however they had been forbidden by the Lord (cf. Dt 17:17).

3:2–3. Although Solomon loved the Lord, he (along with the people of Israel who were sacrificing) sinned when he sacrificed and burned incense on the high places, pagan places of worship, instead of the one prescribed place, the tabernacle (cf. Dt 17:3–5).

3:4–5. At this time Solomon had a personal encounter with the Lord at Gibeon when he went to sacrifice there. Gibeon was a Levitical city about five miles from Jerusalem (Jos 18:25; 21:17). It was referred to as the great high place because the tabernacle of the Lord was there (v. 4; cf. 1Ch 16:39–40; 21:28–29; 2Ch 1:3, 5–6). Here in a dream God graciously appeared the first of two times in Solomon’s life (cf. 9:2) and posed the most significant offer he would ever be given: Ask what you wish me to give you. Solomon’s answer would change the course of his administration for good and for the good of the people.

3:6–7. Solomon responded to God by acknowledging that He had shown great lovingkindness to his father, David. He also hinted that the Davidic covenant was being fulfilled in him. But he quickly made his request, saying, Yet I am but a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. This expression (Hb. na’ar means "immature person") reflected Solomon’s youth and his virtual inexperience, not his chronological age. Since he reigned 40 years (970–930 BC) and did not die at a remarkable old age, he probably became king between the ages of 20 and 30 (cf. 1Kg 11:42–43). He felt overwhelmed by all that was placed on his shoulders in administering this kingdom.

3:8–9. Solomon proceeded to make his request, and God followed with an answer. First, Solomon identified himself as God’s servant, and one of Your people which You have chosen, reflecting the Lord’s unique relationship with the Jewish people (cf. Gn 12:1–3; Dt 7:7–8). He asked for an understanding heart to judge Your people to discern between good and evil. The word translated "understanding" comes from the Hebrew term shome’ and can also be translated "hearing." Throughout the OT the words "hearing" and "obedient" were often intertwined. So what Solomon was asking for was the ability to "obey" what God had said in the law, and then to be able to distinguish between good and evil for the good of the Lord’s people.

3:10–15. God responded that He had heard Solomon’s prayer and that He would bless the new king. Solomon’s request was pleasing to God because he had not asked for [him]self (v. 11), but was focused on the needs of the people to have discernment to understand justice (v. 11). God promised to give Solomon the discerning heart he requested, and He also promised that there would be no one like you before you, nor shall one like you arise after you (v. 12). God also promised Solomon he would have the very things he did not request—both riches and honor (v. 13).

Yet there was one conditional statement that Solomon would need to hear. It was the kind of condition his successors after him would also have to remember. These blessings would come If you walk in My ways, keeping My statutes and commandments (v. 14). God’s desire was to bless Solomon, but the king was under obligation to obey the Lord in accordance with the stipulations of Dt 17:14–20. When Solomon awakened from his encounter with the Lord, he knew it was a dream, but he also realized God had spoken to him. So as a new act of obedience he went to the ark of the covenant of the Lord in Jerusalem and offered up sacrifices that were given in view of his sin, and also in view of God’s great mercy (v. 15).

3:16–28. Immediately after the Lord gave Solomon great wisdom, the familiar story of the two harlots and the baby is recorded as evidence of King Solomon’s wisdom (v. 16). This was a common procedure to inquire of a monarch in the ancient world and ask him to settle disputes. Both women gave birth to sons on the same day. There were no witnesses of the events that transpired. But in the middle of the night, one of the sons died because, according to one of the women, she [the second mother] lay on it (v. 19). While the other mother slept with the child that was still living, the mother of the dead child came and stole the living child away, replacing the child she took with the dead son (vv. 20–21).

After listening to both women, Solomon shocked the women by asking for a sword and suggesting that he cut the living child in two and give half to each (vv. 24–25). Maternal compassion became evident, along with ruthless evil. It was in the differing response of each woman that Solomon was able to "discern between good and evil" (cf. 3:9). Consequently, he gave the child to the mother who was willing to give up her son rather than see him die. Solomon’s verdict not only impressed these women, but all Israel … feared the king, for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him to administer justice (v. 28). It was confirmation that Solomon was God’s choice to be king and that God was clearly working in his life by giving him great wisdom.

2. Solomon Wisely Organizes His Kingdom (1Kg 4:1–34)

Solomon’s divine wisdom was not only demonstrated in the execution of justice, but also in the way he brought order to the nation over which he was king. Prior to David’s reign and under the leadership of Saul, Israel was little more than a loosely knit tribal confederacy. Under David’s leadership the borders of Israel were expanded to come close to the land promises of the Abrahamic covenant. Captured nations were paying tribute, which brought great amounts of revenue into the nation. Under Solomon more administrative order was implemented.

4:1–6. Following David’s successful reign, Solomon was king over all Israel (cf. 2Sm 8:15) and administered it with a well-organized government. Within Solomon’s court, specific individuals were identified to provide the young king with spiritual, political, and military support. Perhaps Zadok (cf. 1:38) was too advanced in years to oversee the priesthood, so Azariah the son of Zadok was the priest (v. 2). The definite article "the" may indicate that Azariah was the high priest, while Zadok continued to serve in the priesthood. Benaiah replaced Joab as the commander over the army (v. 4). Although Abiathar had been dismissed as a priest by Solomon (cf. 1Kg 2:27), he apparently was given a somewhat emeritus role. It very well could be that some of the people mentioned served transitional roles in the new administration. Clearly, out of his God-given wisdom, Solomon saw a need to bring order to the daily activities of his court.

4:7–19. Solomon arranged for the financial support of his administration. Solomon had twelve deputies over all Israel, who provided for the king and his household (v. 7). These were not the twelve tribes of Israel, but administrative areas, perhaps based on agricultural productivity. Each of the twelve deputies had to provide for a month in the year (v. 7), as a means of providing equity in caring for the royal needs without overburdening any one area.

4:20–21. Solomon’s reign was closely connected with the provision of the Abrahamic covenant (cf. Gn 12:1–9). The Israelites, Judah and Israel, had multiplied to the extent that they were as numerous as the sand that is on the seashore in abundance (v. 20), and Solomon ruled over the area God had promised.

4:22–28. The extent of Solomon’s wealth is evident in the size of the provision for one day required for his court; one kor equals 10 bushels. So each day he needed 300 bushels of fine flour and 600 bushels of meal, plus hundreds of animals for meat to feed the royal house and administrative staff (v. 23). So Judah and Israel lived in safety, and they enjoyed individual prosperity as well from Dan even to Beersheba, meaning all across the land north to south (v. 25; cf. Jdg 20:1; 1Sm 3:20). Solomon had a military might of 40,000 stalls of horses for his chariots, and 12,000 horsemen (v. 26). However, Solomon’s multiplication of horses, a sign of military might, directly violated the Lord’s command to depend on Him for security, and it would become a great problem in Solomon’s later reign (cf. Dt 17:16; 1Kg 10:26–29).

4:29–34. Solomon was affirmed as having wisdom in the management of his kingdom greater than the men of the east, of Egypt, and the surrounding nations (vv. 30–31). His literary skills were also cited, since he wrote 3,000 proverbs, and his songs were 1,005 (v. 32). Solomon was also noted for his wisdom and expertise in plant and animal sciences (v. 33). As a result, men came from all peoples to hear the wisdom of Solomon (v. 34). Whether they knew it or not, Solomon’s wisdom was really God’s wisdom given to a young king to rule righteously.

3. Solomon’s Building Programs: The Temple and Other Structures (1Kg 5:1–8:66)

a. Solomon’s Alliance with King Hiram and Organization of Workers (1Kg 5:1–18)

Solomon’s wisdom was displayed in the way he administered justice (cf. 3:16–28) and in the way he united the citizens into a highly functioning social unit. In chaps. 5–7 Solomon’s wisdom and glory were put on display in his major building projects, the temple in particular.

5:1–12. News of Solomon’s wise leadership reached Israel’s northern neighbor. Hiram king of Tyre sent his servants to Solomon when he heard that they had anointed him king in place of his father. Hiram had always been a friend of David and had provided the wood for the construction of David’s palace (cf. 2Sm 5:11). David had not been allowed by the Lord to build His house, the temple (v. 3), but now Solomon would build a house for the name of the Lord my God (v. 5). Solomon wanted only the best wood for the project, cedars from Lebanon (v. 6). The basis for this first building project was Solomon’s obedience to the Davidic covenant (cf. 2Sm 7:12–13).

Hearing of Solomon’s plans, Hiram affirmed that the Lord had given David a wise son and agreed to do what you desire concerning the cedar and cypress timber (vv. 7–8). Hiram would cut and transport the wood in the form of bundled rafts on the water, and then unload them at a designated site along the Mediterranean coastland. In turn, Solomon’s workers would transport the wood after Hiram disassembled the logs at an appropriate place (v. 9). Payment for the wood and the work of transportation was to be carried out by giving food to my [Hiram’s] household (v. 9). For this great building project the Lord gave wisdom to Solomon to start the construction of the temple. A covenant of peace between Hiram and Solomon sealed the transaction (v. 12).

5:13–18. Gathering resources for the temple was a major task. Solomon organized 30,000 forced laborers to work in relays of 10,000 men per team. The workforce came from all Israel (vv. 13–14). They would spend one month in Lebanon and two months in Israel. Also 70,000 individuals transported materials from their place of origin to a place of preparation, and 80,000 individuals served as stonecutters in the mountains (v. 15). Some of the workers were taken from the descendants of those whom the Israelites were not able to drive out of the land, while others were conscripted Israelites, but Solomon "did not make slaves of the sons of Israel" (1Kg 9:22; cf. 2Ch 8:9).

b. Solomon Builds the Temple and His Palace (1Kg 6:1–7:51)

6:1. The starting date for building the temple has three specific chronological markers associated with it. Scholars debate whether the four hundred and eightieth year was a rounded number or a symbolic expression of the number of generations from the exodus to the time of construction begun here. This brief time reference connects what Solomon was doing with the ongoing work of God’s redemption for Israel, and the nation’s promise from God to dwell in the land. The most important piece of information is that construction started in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel. Most scholars believe that this would have been 967–966 BC. Therefore, a literal reading of the four hundred and eightieth year would make the date of the exodus to be 1447–1446 BC. Along with these two chronological markers is the fact that Solomon started this project in the second month of Ziv (April/May). It took Solomon seven years (seven years and six months) to build the temple (cf. 6:38).

6:2–10. By modern standards the temple was a fairly small worship facility: its length was sixty cubits [90 feet] and its width twenty cubits [30 feet] and its height thirty cubits [45 feet] (v. 2). A porch was in front of the temple, and the temple had several windows, and stories encompassing the walls … around both the nave and the inner sanctuary (v. 5). The stones used in the basic structure were prepared at the quarry, so that no sound of tools was heard in the house (v. 7). The basic structure of the temple indicates from its outward appearance that it was a place of reverence (vv. 5, 8) and functionality (v. 7). The temple was enclosed completely with the construction of a roof or covering of beams and planks of cedar (v. 9).

6:11–13. As the temple was under construction the word of the Lord came to Solomon reminding him of the most important aspect of the house which you are building. Solomon was certainly building a great temple, but God was much more concerned with the condition of the heart—Solomon’s heart, the hearts of his royal descendants, and the hearts of the people. God offered Solomon the following: if you will walk in My statutes and execute My ordinances and keep all My commandments by walking in them, then I will carry out My word with you which I spoke to David your father (v. 12). Obedience to the Mosaic and Davidic covenants was necessary for God to carry out His Word to the king and for Him to dwell among the sons of Israel (v. 13).

This passage plays a significant role in the development of the book’s messianic message. In essence, God was offering Solomon that if he obeyed the Torah completely, God would fulfill the Davidic covenant through him (cf. 2Sm 7:12–16). At this point in the narrative, it appears that Solomon would be the son of David, the Promised One who would build the house for the Lord, who would have an eternal house, kingdom, and throne (cf. 2Sm 7:13). Further, he would go on to build the temple (but not the eschatological, messianic temple the prophets foresaw; cf. Zch 6:11–15; Ezk 40–48). The author’s purpose was to raise the hope that the promise would be fulfilled in Solomon, but then reveal that Solomon would fail. He would multiply pagan wives who would turn his heart away from the Lord and cause him to follow foreign gods.

Clearly, Solomon was not to be the fulfillment of the promise to David. Afterwards, every Davidic king was compared to David, the ideal king, to see if he would be the promised Son of David. And in each case, even those who were deemed "good," the Davidic king would ultimately fail. Thus, at the end of the book of 2 Kings, the only conclusion to be drawn was that the promise to David had not yet been fulfilled. As a result, the message of the books of 1 and 2 Kings would be to keep looking for the fulfillment of the messianic promise to David in the future. In this way, 1 and 2 Kings point to the future with hope for a messianic Son of David who will yet fulfill the messianic promises, build the temple of the Lord (cf. Zch 6:11–15), and have an eternal house, kingdom, and throne.

6:14–18. Following God’s reminder about the importance of obedience, details were given about the interior design and construction of its most revered sections. Solomon took the instructions given to him by his father David (cf. 1Ch 28:11–12) and prepared a structure that pointed to the glory and grandeur of God. The entire interior was covered with cedar and cypress wood, covering all the stone from the floor of the house to the ceiling (v. 15). These wooden paneled walls were also carved in the shape of gourds and open flowers, which pointed to God as the author of all creation. The whole stone building was covered by cedar and there was no stone seen (v. 18).

6:19–36. The most important part of the temple was the inner sanctuary, or the holy of holies, where the ark of the covenant (cf. Ex 25:10–22) would be kept (v. 19). The inner sanctuary was twenty cubits (30 feet) in length, width, and height (v. 20). In the center of the inner sanctuary were two wooden cherubim overlaid with gold. They were placed within the inner sanctuary in such a way that the wing of one cherub would touch one wall and the wing of the other would touch the other wall (vv. 23–28). The walls were also carved with engravings of cherubim, palm trees, and open flowers in both the outer and inner sanctuaries (v. 29). The grandeur of the gold-plated inner sanctuary along with the fact that Solomon overlaid the floor of the house with gold (v. 30), indicates that God was to be seen as exalted and majestic above all other gods. The inner sanctuary was His throne room where He would dwell with His people.

6:37–38. Solomon started temple construction in the fourth year of his reign, in the month of Ziv (cf. 6:1). The construction was completed in the eleventh year, in the month of Bul, which is the eighth month (Oct/Nov 959 BC). So it took the king seven years and six months to finish what he was commissioned by God to do.

7:1–12. Yet the construction of Solomon’s own house took thirteen years, twice as long as it took to build the temple. The contrast in time devoted to the temple versus time spent on Solomon’s private quarters and administrative buildings may indicate that he was already being tempted by his own self-importance (cf. Dt 17:19–20). Solomon’s other building projects included five specific structures, three of which related to his administrative responsibilities as Israel’s king (vv. 2–7). Two of the structures were designed for his own residential needs (vv. 8–12). The house of the forest of Lebanon, meaning it was built from the cedar trees of Lebanon (cf. 5:1–8), was 150 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high, and served as an armory (cf. 10:17, 21; Is 22:8).

In addition there was the hall of pillars, which may have been part of a large palace complex (v. 6). This hall or colonnade served as a kind of portico that led into the hall of the throne or the hall of judgment … paneled with cedar, where Solomon rendered verdicts on issues of justice brought before him (v. 7).

The last two buildings are simply described as his house and a house like this hall for Pharaoh’s daughter (v. 8). No detail is given, but Solomon may have gone to great expense and effort to build an individualized home for this wife above all the other women mentioned in 11:1. All five buildings were constructed out of costly stones and cedar beams (vv. 9–12). The complex would have been an impressive sight for the Israelites and foreign visitors to behold (cf. 10:11–13).

7:13–14. After describing the temple building, the inner sanctuary, and Solomon’s palace, the author gave details of the temple furnishings. Solomon wanted the best craftsman, so he sent for Hiram from Tyre. Although they have the same name, this was not King Hiram (cf. chap. 5). This Jewish craftsman who lived in Tyre, also known as Huram-abi, was the son of a Danite woman (cf. 2Ch 2:13–14). He is identified as a widow’s son from the tribe of Naphtali, and his father was a man of Tyre (v. 14). His genealogy is not a contradiction because by Solomon’s time the tribe of Dan had moved north from their original allotment area in central Israel (cf. Jos 19:40–50; Jdg 18) and were incorporated into the general region of Naphtali (cf. Jos 19:32–39), making Hiram’s mother’s tribal identity both Dan and Naphtali. Hiram was filled with wisdom and understanding and skill for doing any work in bronze. This statement parallels the description of Bezalel (cf. Ex 31:1–5; 35:31), who built the tabernacle. The pairing of wisdom and understanding are often used to describe spiritual qualities, not just craftsmanship (e.g., Pr 4:7; 9:10; Is 11:2). A structure fit for the presence of God needed the influence of men who were also empowered by God.

7:15–22. Hiram designed two pillars of bronze about 30 feet high. Both pillars had carefully crafted capitals made for their tops and accompanying lily design (v. 22). But the striking feature of the pillars was that they were given names: Jachin (Hb. "he will establish") and Boaz (Hb. "in him is strength"). The names would serve as a reminder to the king and the citizen/worshiper that it was the Lord who would establish His people in accord with His strength as they lived lives of obedient worship.

7:23–26. Hiram also crafted a large sea, or basin, as a laver for the priests to wash as part of their ceremonial duties (cf. Ex 30:18–21; 40:30–32; 2Ch 4:6). It was ten cubits around and five cubits high (about 15 feet across and seven and one-half feet high, v. 23) and stood on twelve oxen (v. 25). This massive basin held two thousand baths, about 11,000 gallons of water (v. 26).

7:27–39. Hiram also crafted ten stands of bronze moveable on four bronze wheels, each one six feet square and about five and one-half feet high (four cubits square and height of three cubits). They were decorated with lions, oxen, and cherubim (vv. 27–30). On top of the stand was a basin, which held forty baths of water (v. 38), 230 gallons, used in the ceremony of the temple for purification.

7:40–47. Although no specific detail is given regarding their functions in the temple, Hiram made the basins and the shovels and the bowls used by the priests in temple service. The impressive nature of Hiram’s work was seen in the statement: Solomon left all the utensils unweighed, because they were too many; the weight of the bronze could not be ascertained (v. 47).

7:48–51. The temple built by King Solomon, a permanent structure similar in design and parallel in purpose to the temporary tabernacle (cf. Ex 40), was now complete and ready to be used in worship of the true King, God Almighty.

c. Solomon Dedicates the Temple (1Kg 8:1–66)

With the temple construction completed, Solomon dedicated the temple to the worship of the Lord. The focus of the dedication was the greatness of God, and the fulfillment of His promises made to David and now completed under Solomon’s reign (cf. 8:20–21). Solomon’s desire was that "all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God; there is no one else" (8:60).

8:1–2. For the sacred assembly Solomon called in the elders … all the heads of the tribes and the leaders of the fathers’ households. Everyone in Israel, from the leadership to each family, was to be represented at the event. The focus of the assembly was to bring up the ark of the covenant of the Lord to the temple. It had been in the house of Obed-edom, the Gittite (2Sm 6:10), in the city of David, the part of Jerusalem built on the original Jebusite area, south of the Temple Mount. From now on the ark would reside in the holy of holies in the temple (cf. 2Sm 6:16–17). The dedication occurred at the time of sacred assembly at the feast, in the month Ethanim (Sept/Oct, also known as Tishri) … the seventh month, at the Feast of Booths (cf. Lv 23:33–36).

8:3–9. The ark and all the holy utensils from the tent of meeting (cf. Ex 40), the tabernacle, were brought into the temple by the Levites (vv. 3–4; cf. Nm 3; 4; 7; 2Sm 6:6–7). At the dedication of the temple there was so much sacrificing occurring simultaneously that the sheep and oxen … could not be counted (v. 5). As the priests carried the ark on the poles, it was eventually placed under the wings of the cherubim (vv. 6–8; cf. Ex 25:10–22). If Kings was written or ultimately completed during the time of the exile, then the phrase they are there to this day (v. 8) could not be referring to the existence of these poles at the time of the book’s completion because the temple and its sacred contents were destroyed in 586 BC. However, as noted in Introduction: Date for this commentary, the author used several sources to compile 1 and 2 Kings. House suggests that when the author referred to these sources he used a phrase like "they are there to this day." In that sense the phrase is a kind of "footnote" referring to an original source (Paul R. House, 1, 2 Kings, NAC [Nashville: Broadman and Holman, 1995], 30).

8:10–21. Once the ark was in place, the cloud filled the house of the Lord (V. 10), a phenomenon frequently associated with the Lord’s presence (e.g., Ex 13:21–22; 16:10; 40:33–35; Ezk 10:3–5). Here the manifestation was so overpowering that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud (v. 11). God, Israel’s Great King, had come to dwell with His people. Solomon explained the supernatural phenomenon as a sign of God’s fulfilling His promises to David: Now the Lord has fulfilled His word which He spoke … as the Lord promised (v. 20; cf. 2Sm 7:8–16; 1Ch 22). Solomon also associated the presence of the glory of the Lord with the covenant made with our fathers when He brought them from the land of Egypt (v. 21; cf. Ex 15:1–18). Solomon’s purpose was to remind the people that God had been true to His Word all along.

8:22–26. In view of God’s faithfulness, Solomon offered a lengthy prayer of intercession for himself and his subjects standing before the altar of the Lord (vv. 22–53). He acknowledged the Lord’s uniqueness: God of Israel, there is no God like You. He reiterated God’s faithfulness: keeping covenant … with Your servant, my father David (vv. 23–24).

8:27–30. Solomon also emphasized God’ great power: The highest heaven cannot contain You (v. 27). Yet intercession directed toward the temple was appropriate, since that was where God said, My name shall be there (v. 29; cf. 5:5). God’s character was epitomized by the phrase "My name" (cf. Ex 33:19; Dt 12:5; 2Sm 6:2; 7:13; Ps 61:8). Here Solomon established the Jewish custom of turning toward Jerusalem, the location of the temple, when they pray toward this place and ask God to hear in heaven Your dwelling place; hear and forgive (v. 30; cf. 8:38, 44, 48; Dn 6:10; Ps 5:7).

8:31–40. Solomon interceded on behalf of citizens and underscored their relationship to the Lord as living in the land He gave them (vv. 34, 36, 40; cf. Gn 12:1–9). The people were to depend on Him in legal disputes with one another, coming before Your altar in this house (v. 31), asking that God would hear in heaven and act and judge (v. 32). He also asked for mercy when the nation sinned and were defeated in battle when there is no rain or famine (vv. 33–37). Solomon asked for forgiveness of sin, and for God to teach them the good way in which they should walk (v. 36). He asked that they would fear You (v. 40), recognizing God’s great power and therefore obediently serve Him.

8:41–45. Solomon then prayed for Israel’s relationship with non-Jewish people. First, he prayed for mercy for the foreigner who learns of Your great name (v. 42). This is a prime example of God’s desire for the nations, the Gentiles, in the OT to know the Lord, in order that all the peoples of the earth may know Your name, to fear You, as do Your people Israel (v. 43). Next Solomon prayed for military victory when following the Lord’s direction in battle … whatever way You shall send them, that He would hear their supplication, and maintain their cause (v. 45).

8:46–49. This part of Solomon’s prayer was an instruction and warning that looked to the future regarding Israel’s exile from the land. When they sin and they are taken away captive, an event that occurred almost 400 years later at the Babylonian captivity (586 BC), the people were pray to God toward their land (v. 48) and repent.

8:50–53. Then Solomon asked God to have compassion on the people and listen to them whenever they call to You (v. 52; cf. v. 29; Dn 6:1; Ps 137). However, the prayer was not based on the merit of the king or the people, but on the reality that God had separated Israel from all the peoples of the earth as Your inheritance (v. 53).

8:54–61. With the prayer completed, Solomon turned and blessed the people, saying Blessed be the Lord (V. 56). This benediction had two elements. First Solomon wanted the prayer to be fulfilled so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God; there is no one else (v. 60). In that sense his prayer had an outward, evangelistic focus to it. Second, He challenged the people to be wholly devoted to the Lord our God, having an inward spiritual focus (v. 61).

8:62–66. Solomon’s prayer was followed by a series of sacrifices. The number of animals offered up to the Lord was so great that a minor change of venue had to occur. The king consecrated the middle of the court … for the bronze altar that was before the Lord was too small to care for the many offerings (v. 64). Great care and caution were undertaken to ensure that God was given the respect that His holy nature deserved. What started out as the observance of the annual seven-day feast of booths (8:2) ended up lasting for fourteen days (v. 65). However, the ongoing activities were not exhausting to either Solomon or his subjects, because he sent the people away and they blessed the king. They were joyful and glad of heart because they realized that God, their true King, had blessed them from the days their forefathers experienced Him at Sinai to the completion of the great temple (v. 66).

4. Solomon’s Warning from the Lord (1Kg 9:1–9)

Solomon’s reign as king had been magnificent in so many ways. God granted him wisdom beyond his years (cf. 1Kg 3:6–15). He had dedicated the temple, and his building projects were fast becoming world renowned (chaps. 6–8). Little did Solomon realize, even with all his wisdom, that he was in danger of making foolish, disastrous decisions. Yet, God would take the initiative to alert Solomon to dangers ahead.

9:1–5. After Solomon had finished building the temple, God appeared a second time, as He had appeared to him at Gibeon (vv. 1–2; cf. 3:4–15). God assured Solomon that He had heard his prayer at the temple dedication. God’s statement, My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually (v. 3) refers to His constant presence with His people in the temple. Even though the highest heavens could not contain the living God, He would show His covenant love to His people by residing in a unique way in the temple. However, God’s promise was tempered by two conditional warnings. The first warning was stated positively. God promised Solomon that if he would walk … in integrity of heart and uprightness, then God would establish his throne and he would not lack a man on the throne of Israel (vv. 4–5).

9:6–9. The second warning was stated negatively. If Solomon or his sons were to turn away from following God they would be cut off from the land and the house (i.e., the temple, v. 7). All would be lost if idolatry replaced the worship of God in the temple. After all, the behavior of the king was the example that the people were to follow (Dt 17:18–20), and that example was to be upright in every way. If the nation followed after other gods, Israel would become a proverb and a byword among all peoples (v. 7). That is, Israel would become the proverbial example of what life would be like when the Lord is abandoned. These exact predictions were fulfilled when Jerusalem fell to Babylon (cf. Jr 52).

5. Solomon’s Splendid Kingdom (1Kg 9:10–10:29)

After the account of Solomon’s second encounter with the Lord, there follows a rather lengthy description of what Solomon completed at the end of twenty years of his reign. This is the midpoint of Solomon’s 40-year reign from 970–930 BC. Although his kingdom looked glorious, there were early indications of disaster ahead due to Solomon’s attraction to foreign women and their idolatry.

9:10–14. After a long trade relationship with Hiram, king of Tyre, who had supplied the cedar and cypress timber and gold for Solomon’s building projects (v. 11; cf. 5:1–12), instead of paying Hiram with cash and provisions Solomon gave Hiram twenty cities in the land of Galilee, the area of northwest Israel not far from Tyre (v. 12). However, these cities did not please Hiram, so he called them Cabul, a Hebrew word meaning "as good as nothing" (v. 13). Although the cities were worthless to Hiram, he supplied Solomon with 120 talents of gold (v. 14). Solomon was the dominant monarch in the relationship, and his heart was revealed back in v. 11 in the statement that Hiram gave Solomon wood and gold according to all his [Solomon’s] desire. Material desires were starting to influence Solomon’s actions.

9:15–19. This section (vv. 15–24) provides clarification about the forced labor Solomon used in his building projects (cf. 5:13). These workers built the house of the Lord, as well as Solomon’s own house. His other projects included Millo, probably Solomon’s fortifications of Jerusalem, as well as his three chariot cities of Hazor, Megiddo, and Gezer (v. 15). These archaeological sites have been identified by their extensive stable areas and matching Solomonic gates. Some of the motivation for building may have come from Solomon’s father-in-law, Pharaoh king of Egypt who captured Gezer (about 20 miles west of Jerusalem), and then gave it as a dowry to his daughter (v. 16). So Solomon rebuilt Gezer (v. 17) indicates that the gift led to Solomon’s rebuilding of the city, perhaps a subtle pressure placed on Solomon by his wife or father-in-law. His other building projects include cities for his chariots … and all that it pleased Solomon to build … in all the land under his rule, indicating the self-focus of his projects.

9:20–24. The laborers who carried out these various building projects were the people who were left of the Amorities, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites after the conquest under Joshua (cf. Dt 7:1–2). He used manpower not of the sons of Israel (v. 22) because Solomon did not turn his own people into slaves. His building projects, although impressive, did not endear him to his subjects (cf. 12:4).

9:25. In obedience to the law, three times a year, at the three annual pilgrim festivals (the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks, and the Feast of Booths; cf. Ex 23:14–17; Lv 23:34–43) Solomon offered burnt offerings and peace offerings on the altar. Because he was not a priest, he did not personally make these offerings, but the priests made them on his behalf, as they did for everyone who brought his or her offering to the temple.

9:26–28. Hiram not only supplied lumber for Solomon’s buildings, he also supplied gold (9:14). Tyre was a sea merchant empire (cf. Is 23:1–8), so when Solomon needed sea power, he asked Hiram to send his sailors to man the ships. Solomon built a fleet of ships on Israel’s Red Sea port of Ezion-geber, which is near Eloth (Israeli’s modern port city of Eilat). In partnership with Hiram, ships were sent to Ophir (v. 28; the actual location is unknown, but the Arabian coast, the African coast, or India have all been suggested) to acquire four hundred and twenty talents of gold, about 16 tons. God had said He would give Solomon riches (cf. 3:13), but there was the serious danger of violating the precautions placed on Israel’s king in Dt 17:17b.

10:1–5. Solomon’s fame spread across the nations, and people wanted to have an audience with him. One such person was the queen of Sheba. Sheba was located in southwest Arabia in modern-day Yemen, about 1,200 miles from Jerusalem (not Ethiopia, as commonly suggested). Her arrival in Jerusalem was prompted by what she heard about Solomon’s fame in connection with the name of the Lord (v. 1). She wanted to test him with difficult questions, meaning that she tested him with riddles. The Hebrew word translated difficult questions refers to a type of dialogue carried out by heads of state in the ancient world. In the course of her visit, the queen of Sheba asked questions and observed all that he had done. What she saw so moved her that there was no more spirit in her (v. 5), that is, she was overwhelmed with the splendor of Solomon’s kingdom.

10:6–9. The queen of Sheba admitted that what she was told of the king was a true report, although she did not believe the reports until she heard of Solomon’s wisdom firsthand. This led her not only to praise Solomon but also to proclaim the greatness of God. She said, Blessed be the Lord your God who delighted in you … and made you king, to do justice and righteousness (v. 9). Solomon was given a subtle reminder through this wise woman’s words that what he had accomplished was the Lord’s doing.

10:10–13. Sheba ended her visit by giving to Solomon gifts before returning home: Never again did such abundance of spices come in as that which the queen of Sheba gave King Solomon. Solomon joined again in partnership with Hiram to bring gold from Ophir; Solomon was accumulating gold from a variety of sources (vv. 10, 11, 14; cf. 9:11). And yet God had warned all the kings of Israel to avoid what appeared to be the ever-increasing power of self-indulgence (cf. Dt 17:17)

10:14–25. Solomon’s accumulation of gold is a key idea, mentioned 11 times in this section (vv. 14, 16–18, 21–22, 25). In one year alone Solomon received 666 talents of gold, about 25 tons (v. 14). But in addition, Solomon was receiving tax revenues from traders … merchants and all the kings of the Arabs and the governors of the country (v. 15). Solomon put his accumulating wealth to impressive use in making shields (vv. 16–17), his great throne (vv. 18–20), and even drinking vessels (v. 21) out of gold. In comparison to the gold in his kingdom, silver was not considered valuable in the days of Solomon (v. 21). Those who were around Solomon in Jerusalem were impressed with his buildings, his gold and silver, ivory and apes and peacocks (v. 22). Not only had he been blessed with great wisdom, but also King Solomon became greater than all the kings of the earth in riches and in wisdom (v. 23). Yet no one except God, the true King, would see how all these material things were influencing Solomon’s heart. Apparently, large amounts of wealth also came from those monarchs like the queen of Sheba when they had an audience with Israel’s king (vv. 24–25).

10:26–29. The final section of chap. 10 summarized the high point of Solomon’s reign. What God had promised Solomon (chaps. 3–5) had surely come to pass. However, Solomon appeared to be motivated perhaps more by material accumulation than by spiritual allegiance. Solomon imported horses … from Egypt and Kue, probably Cilicia in modern Turkey (v. 28). The king who was to meditate on God’s law daily (cf. Dt 17:18–19) was living contrary to this same law by sending merchants back to Egypt, a place where the Lord told them to "never go back that way again" (Dt 17:16). Instead of growing closer to the Lord spiritually, Solomon’s heart was headed in a different direction, propelled by luxury and fame.

C. Solomon’s Divided Heart and Spiritual Decline (1Kg 11:1–43)

After an initial impressive reign, Solomon’s monarchy came to a tragic end because he turned to the worship of idols. God had used him to build the temple and unite the people. People everywhere came to Israel’s king to interact with his wisdom and to observe the great building projects he undertook. But in spite of great accomplishments, Israel’s glory would never again be the same, for at the end of his reign Solomon’s kingdom would be divided. Solomon’s choices, both good and bad (but especially bad), would be repeated by his offspring. The people in exile, for whom 1 and 2 Kings were written, would read of Solomon’s exploits and grieve over the consequences of his sin. But the ultimate aim of this record would be for the readers in exile to ponder the severe consequences of sin, to return to the Lord consistent with Solomon’s prayer at the dedication of the temple (cf. 8:46–53), and to keep looking forward to the promised messianic King.

11:1–5. Solomon’s downfall politically and spiritually was the result of his heart being turned away for the Lord because of his love for many foreign women along with the daughter of Pharaoh. He took these wives from the nations concerning which the Lord had clearly said, You shall not associate with them … for they will surely turn your heart away after their gods (v. 2; cf. Dt 7:3–4; 17:17). The magnitude of his spiritual betrayal was evident in the multitude of women whom Solomon married or had in his harem—seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines (v. 3). A concubine was a female companion or slave with whom her master had rights to sexual relations, but who was not a legal wife; whereas a queen was a wife legally married to the king, and her children were legitimate heirs. Although the Lord created marriage to be between one man and one woman (cf. Gn 1:27; 5:2; Mk 10:5–9), by the patriarchal period it was not unusual for men to have more than one wife, often with disastrous consequences. However, in Solomon’s case his multiple wives/concubines were unheard of in magnitude, and the disastrous results were likewise monumental. The severity of the problem was also amplified with the acknowledgement that Solomon held fast to these pagan women in love, and his wives turned his heart away after other gods (vv. 3–4).

11:6–13. The king’s love for foreign women caused him to take even more heinous action. He built high places for Chemosh the detestable idol of Moab and for Molech the detestable idol of the sons of Ammon (v. 7; cf. Lv 18:21). These religions demanded vile worship practices including child sacrifice to these gods. Solomon made provision for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and sacrificed to their gods (v. 8). At the same time, God was true to His Word regarding punishment for idolatry (cf. 9:6–9). The Lord was angry with Solomon because his heart was turned away from the Lord (v. 9). The judgment for his sin was Solomon’s loss of the kingdom, as the Lord said, I will surely tear the kingdom from you, and will give it to your servant (v. 11). The only comfort Solomon had was that God would not do it in his lifetime, but in the lifetime of his son (v. 12). The unexpected reprieve was for the sake of My servant David because of David’s loyalty to God, and for the sake of Jerusalem, the city God had chosen as the place where His name would be exalted (v. 13; cf. 9:3; 2Sm 7:13; 2Kg 19:34; 21:4–8; Ps 132).

This entire section is the narrative proof that Solomon, despite building the first temple, did not fulfill the messianic promise of 2Sm 7:12–16. Hence, Israel was to keep looking for the Son of David who would obey the law perfectly and fulfill the promises made to David (cf. 2Sm 7:12–16, see discussion at 1Kg 6:11–13).

11:14–22. The Lord raised up three enemies as adversaries against Solomon. First, Hadad the Edomite was from the royal line in Edom. His bitterness toward the house of David originated when Joab, David’s military commander, had gone to Edom to bury the slain (2Sm 8:13–18). Joab apparently went beyond his assignment and struck down every male in Edom (vv. 14–16). Hadad fled to Egypt with certain Edomites (v. 17) as well as men from Paran. While in Egypt, Hadad gained the favor of Pharaoh, who gave him a house … land … and a wife (vv. 18–19). He also had a son, Genubath (v. 20), whose name means "to steal," which may reflect Hadad’s thinking that the household of David had stolen the lives and lands of people he loved. However, on learning of both David’s and Joab’s deaths, Hadad sought permission from the pharaoh to return to his own country (vv. 21–22). He was only one of three enemies of Solomon in the remaining years of his reign.

11:23–28. The second adversary God raised up was Rezon, who had fled from his lord Hadadezer king of Zobah, a city-state south of Damascus (v. 23; cf. 2Sm 8:3–6; 10:8) Apparently sometime after his escape from Hadadezer, Rezon organized a marauding band that became a thorn in Solomon’s side all the days of Solomon (vv. 23–25). This was in the second half of Solomon’s monarchy, since there was "safety" in the land during the earlier part of his reign, while he was building the temple (1Kg 4:25). Instead of being adored by visiting heads of state, now Solomon was confronted with the likes of Rezon, who abhorred Israel (v. 25) and her king from his kingdom in Aram (in modern-day Syria).

11:26–28. A third adversary was Jeroboam the son of Nebat, an Ephraimite and a servant of Solomon. This was the adversary who would eventually become king. The reason Jeroboam rebelled against the king is detailed (v. 27). Jeroboam was a valiant warrior and industrious (v. 28a). So Solomon appointed him over all the forced labor of the house of Joseph (v. 28b). As an Ephraimite, Jeroboam was a descendant of one of the sons of Joseph (cf. Gn 41:52; Joseph was not given his own tribal land allotment, but each of his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, was awarded territory, as detailed in Jos 16–17). Ephraim was one of the northern tribal areas in Israel. So it was expedient for Solomon to place Jeroboam over the forced labor of the house of Joseph; however, setting up Jeroboam in this area would lead to a division of Solomon’s kingdom.

11:29–37. Jeroboam’s life and the future of Israel are brought into focus by the God-ordained meeting with the prophet Ahijah (v. 29; cf. 12:15). Ahijah’s presence was a subtle introduction to the influence that prophets would have in the two new kingdoms that were about to emerge. The prophet’s message to Jeroboam took the form of an object lesson using the prophet’s new cloak, which Ahijah took hold of in Jeroboam’s presence and tore it into twelve pieces (v. 30). Jeroboam was then instructed to take ten of the pieces, because the prophecy informed Jeroboam that he would rule over ten tribes and Solomon’s successor would rule over one tribe (vv. 31–32). But what about the twelfth tribe? The small tribe of Benjamin was viewed in such close association with Judah that it was counted together (cf. 12:21).

Ahijah said the reason for the upcoming division was because they, the people of Israel, had forsaken the Lord and worshiped the idols of the Sidonians … Moab … and Ammon (v. 33). However, the tribe of Judah would maintain a part of the kingdom, one tribe, that My servant David [his descendants] may have a lamp [a perpetual presence] always before the Lord in Jerusalem, the city where I have chosen for Myself to put My name (vv. 34–36; cf. 8:44, 48; 11:13, 32; 2Ch 6:34, 38; Zch 3:2). Even at the declaration of the division of the kingdom, God confirmed the Davidic covenant. The prophecy to Jeroboam was repeated to add emphasis to what was about to transpire: Solomon’s kingdom would be divided and Jeroboam was to be king over Israel (v. 37).

11:38–40. Ahijah the prophet informed Jeroboam that if he was obedient to the Lord, He would give him an enduring house, that is, a lasting dynasty. However, the Lord’s promise to David would not be broken, for although Judah would be afflicted, it would be temporary, but not always (v. 39). When Solomon learned of this prophecy of Jeroboam taking over the kingdom he sought therefore to put Jeroboam to death. The future king of the northern tribes fled to Egypt to live until the death of Solomon (v. 40). Because a new pharaoh, Shishak—not Solomon’s father-in-law—was now ruler in Egypt, Solomon no longer had a matrimonial alliance with Egypt. This reference to another potential adversary heightened the political tensions for Solomon, who years earlier experienced peace all around his borders (1Kg 4:25).

11:41–43. The closing account of Solomon’s reign introduced a formula that appears throughout the remaining accounts of the kings in 1 and 2 Kings. Four elements in the formula appear frequently. First, there is the identification of a resource for further inquiry. In this case the resource was the book of the acts of Solomon (v. 41). This first element subtly implied that the author was writing about historical events to provide theological insight as to why the nation would eventually end in exile. The original readers could check out historical facts through any one of three source documents—"the book of the acts of Solomon," "the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel" (cf. 14:19), and "the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah" (cf. 15:7). These chronicles were not the same as the biblical books of 1 and 2 Chronicles and are no longer extant. They were independent sources that monarchs in the ancient world kept for historical documentation (cf. 14:19).

The second element to define a given king’s reign was the length of his reign and the place where he ruled. In Solomon’s case it was in Jerusalem for forty years (v. 42). The third element identified the place of burial. When Solomon died, or slept with his fathers (v. 43), he was buried in the city of his father David, the original part of Jerusalem captured by David, where he had built his palace (cf. 2Sm 5:7–11). And the final element was the naming of the king’s successor. In this case Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, would rule in his place. But his reign would differ greatly from Solomon’s. In fact, the days of Israel’s glory were now gone, and a new age of spiritual, political, and economic decline was about to begin.

II. The Divided Kingdom: Northern Israel and Southern Judah (1Kg 12:1–2Kg 17:41)

The account of the divided kingdom of Israel begins in 1Kg 12:1, tracing the northern kingdom of 10 tribes under non-Davidic kings and the southern kingdom of Judah and Benjamin under kings from the line of David. However, there were two story lines in the record, one explicit and one implicit. The first had to do with the decisions that the human kings made in exercising what they assumed were their legitimate rights and responsibilities. At another level, the true King, God Almighty, was exercising His full authority over His people who were increasingly rebelling against His covenant reign over the nation and their lives. From this point onward, throughout 1 and 2 Kings, the kingdoms of Israel and Judah were in decline because of their disobedience to the Lord. The original audience of 1 and 2 Kings, the people in the Babylonian exile and beyond, could see why the nation ended up in exile, without a Davidic king on the throne, and needed to continue to wait for the promised messianic Son of David.

A. Rehoboam of Judah and Jeroboam of Israel (1Kg 12:1–14:31)

1. Rehoboam’s Reign: Foolish Choices and Their Consequences (1Kg 12:1–19)

12:1–5. Rehoboam was 41 years old (cf. 14:21) when he went to Shechem to be made king (931–913 BC; 2Ch 9:31–12:16). Shechem was an important city in the northern tribal territory of Ephraim (cf. Gn 12:6; 33:18–20; Jos 8:30–35). It was here that Joshua renewed the covenant between the Lord and His people near the end of his ministry (Jos 24). Perhaps Rehoboam chose that location to identify himself with that former leader of Israel. Whatever the case, the majority of the nation’s leaders, all Israel, gathered there to make him king (v. 1).

When Jeroboam heard of Rehoboam’s coronation, he returned from living in Egypt, where he had fled from King Solomon (v. 2; cf. 1Kg 11:30–40). Jeroboam, along with the assembly of Israel, appealed to King Rehoboam to lighten the hard service (the yoke was hard) Solomon had placed on them (v. 4). They told Rehoboam we will serve you if he would meet their request. This was not an unreasonable request in view of the massive building projects Solomon had undertaken that taxed the citizens in the form of labor and money. Rehoboam agreed to take their request under advisement for three days, then give them his answer (v. 5).

12:6–11. During the three-day interim, Rehoboam consulted with two groups. He first contacted the elders who had served his father (v. 6) and had observed the consequences of Solomon’s extravagance. The elders counseled young Rehoboam to speak good words (v. 7) to his subjects, with the prospect of winning these citizens as his servants forever. But Rehoboam refused their counsel and sought the advice of the young men who grew up with him (v. 8). His peers suggested that even though Solomon had surely made their yoke heavy, Rehoboam was to add to their yoke. The words echoed the suffering that the Israelites had experienced at the hands of the Egyptians many years earlier when they were forced to make bricks without straw (vv. 10–11; cf. Ex 5:7–18). The Mosaic law instructed the king to fear the Lord and never put himself above his countrymen (cf. Dt 17:20), but Rehoboam’s young advisers suggested that he was to say (v. 11), My father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions. Rehoboam’s young advisers were using hyperbole to make the point that life under his rulership would be even more demanding that what Solomon’s reign had been.

12:12–15. On the third day Rehoboam answered the people harshly, just as his young men had advised (vv. 13–14). Although he refused to listen to the people, what was taking place was a turn of events from the Lord (cf. 11:11). This is one of the clear texts in Scripture that reveals God’s sovereignty in bringing about His will, while also operating within what appears to be a personal sinful choice on the part of human beings. God had foretold what would happen to the kingdom (cf. 11:29–38). Yet, God also set before Rehoboam two choices—one that would endear him to the people, and another that would bring about serious harm to the kingdom that David and Solomon had united over the years.

12:16–19. Hearing of King Rehoboam’s decision, all Israel gave their own verdict on what they had just heard. It is best to understand that all Israel referred to all the tribes of Israel, the majority of the people as a group. By responding, What portion do we have in David? (v. 16), they indicated they no longer felt allegiance to Rehoboam, the Davidic king. Then the people declared, We have no inheritance in the son of Jesse (cf. 1Sm 16:18; 1Ch 29:26). Solomon had placed the nation under oppressive economic conditions, and Rehoboam would make it worse. Therefore Israel departed to their tents, an idiom for their homes, rather than rallying in support of Rehoboam. Now, because of Rehoboam’s foolish decision, the once-glorious kingdom of David was divided between 10 tribes who would sit under the reign of Jeroboam as Israel and two tribes of the cities of Judah that would follow Rehoboam as Judah (v. 17).

The prophet Ahijah stated that 10 tribes would come under the leadership of Jeroboam and one tribe would remain loyal to Rehoboam (cf. 11:31–32). Yet Rehoboam ruled over two tribes: Judah and Benjamin. At this time the tribe of Benjamin was counted as part of Judah (cf. 12:21, 23) because of its geographic proximity, its small size, and its loyalty to the house of David (see comments above on 11:29–37). Most important in the unfolding of God’s revelation, and the record of the kings, is the significant role that Judah played in God’s plan. Ten tribes would constitute the northern kingdom and one tribe, Judah, would be the primary player in the spiritual and political events of the southern kingdom, because the Davidic kings were from the line of Judah. The significance of the kings of Judah is apparent in the parallel texts of 1 and 2 Chronicles.

When King Rehoboam saw he had lost the majority of the nation, he apparently sent Adoram (cf. 2Sm 20:24; 1Kg 4:6; 5:14) as his representative to the rebels in a hopeful attempt to reunite the kingdom; however, all Israel stoned him to death (v. 18). Rehoboam made haste … to flee to Jerusalem for his safety.

So Israel has been in rebellion against the house of David to this day (v. 19). The term "rebellion" (pasha’) is often used in both a theological and a political sense. Certainly the ten northern tribes rebelled against the rule and reign of Rehoboam, the Davidic king. But the term implies spiritual rebellion as well. The temple was still in Jerusalem, and the people were to worship God in accord with His commandments in this one place (cf. 8:12–30; Dt 12:13–14). Failure to do so would be more than political treason; it would also be spiritual rebellion.

2. Jeroboam’s Coronation as King of Israel (1Kg 12:20–24)

12:20–24. In response to Rehoboam’s harshness, when all Israel heard that Jeroboam had returned … they made him king over all Israel, the 10 northern tribes (931–910 BC; cf. 2Ch 9:29–13:22). However, the tribe of Judah followed the house of David, ruled by Solomon’s son, King Rehoboam (v. 20; cf. 12:17). After attempting to bring the tribes back into unity through his servant Adoram (v. 18), Rehoboam rallied 180,000 chosen men who were warriors from Judah and Benjamin … to fight against the house of Israel to restore the kingdom (v. 21). Rehoboam tried to reunite his kingdom by force, but God had another plan. The word of God came to Shemaiah the man of God (v. 22; cf. 2Ch 12:15) to inform Rehoboam, You must not … fight against your relatives the sons of Israel (v. 24). Although Rehoboam had already refused wise counsel that led to division in the kingdom, he listened to the word of the Lord and civil war was temporarily prevented (cf. 14:30).

3. Jeroboam’s Self-Deception and Sinful Choices (1Kg 12:25–33)

12:25. To defend his new kingdom, Jeroboam built Shechem, the key city in the hill country of Ephraim (v. 25; cf. 12:1) and made it his capital. This city was important not only for religious reasons, but also was on the main east-west trade route, making it a strategic city of the northern kingdom. The city of Penuel (also called Peniel, v. 25; cf. Gn 32:30–31) was also on a caravan route that went from Gilead to Damascus, a south to north route, and a key defensive city against attack from Damascus.

12:26–27. Jeroboam was concerned about defection as well as defense. He realized the kingdom (the people) would return to the house of David because they needed to go up to offer sacrifices in the house of the Lord at Jerusalem. To prevent the people from going back to Rehoboam, and worshiping in Judah, Jeroboam devised a plan in his heart for a whole new religious scheme (vv. 26–27, 33). Years later Jeremiah reminded the people that nothing good would come out of a corrupt, sin-infested heart (cf. Jr 17:9). And in Jeroboam’s case, his unbridled fear of losing his kingdom (v. 27) led to a loss of faith in the Lord and the development of a new national religions system, a corrupted worship of the Lord, and increasing faith in his own devices.

12:28–33. Jeroboam’s new religious system involved five elements: (1) new objects of worship in the form of the golden calves (v. 28); (2) new places of worship at Bethel, the center, and Dan, in the far north of his kingdom (v. 29); (3) new buildings of worship in the form of houses on high places (v. 31); (4) a new non-Levitical priesthood to lead in the newly established worship (v. 31); and (5) a new feast to compete with the Feast of Booths (v. 32). In affirming his new religion, King Jeroboam said: Behold your gods, O Israel, that brought you up from the land of Egypt (v. 28). Jeroboam combined the pagan calf symbol, familiar to the Arameans and Canaanites, with the worship of the Lord, and he used the same idea as Aaron had with the worship of the golden calf at the exodus (cf. Ex 32:4–5). The parallel account indicates that the Levitical priests sensed the corrupted religious practices in Jeroboam’s plan, because they left the northern kingdom and joined with Rehoboam (cf. 2Ch 11:13–17). This thing became a sin, for the people went to worship before the one as far as Dan (v. 30), the farthest northern city. Jeroboam would soon have to face the consequences of his lack of faith and disobedience against Israel’s true King.

4. Jeroboam, God’s Word, and Spiritual Rebellion (1Kg 13:1–34)

God had promised Jeroboam that obedience to His Word would bring him an "enduring house," similar to the one He promised to David (cf. 1Kg 11:38). But the preceding chapter indicated that Jeroboam had greater fear of people than he did of God. This chapter now shows the serious consequences of refusing to take God at His Word.

13:1–10. The phrase Now behold is a rhetorical device to draw attention to the lesson given to Jeroboam as he stood by the pagan altar he had built at Bethel (cf. 12:32). Three primary characters appear in the narrative of chap. 13: a man of God from Judah (v. 1); Jeroboam, the king (v. 4); and an old prophet … living in Bethel (vv. 11–34). The man of God was a prophet who came with a special calling from God. Four times it is said he either came by the word of the Lord or delivered it (vv. 1–2, 5, 9), indicating both his calling from God and the authority behind his message. The prophet gave two signs to add powerful credibility to his words. A sign (Hb. mopheth, "wonder" or "portent") denotes a miracle that communicates a message from God. These were the same kind of miraculous interventions God worked through Moses and Aaron when they appeared before the pharaoh in Egypt (see the use of the same word in Ex 4:21; 7:3).

First, he gave a long-range sign, crying out against the altar, that a future son would be born to the house of David who would sacrifice the priests of the high places and human bones on this same altar (v. 2). He even went so far as to identify this future king as Josiah, who reigned about 100 years later and fulfilled the prophecy exactly (cf. 2Kg 23:15–20).

To prove the long-range prophecy would occur, he also gave a prophecy that had an immediate fulfillment. The prophet from Judah gave the sign that the altar shall be split apart and the ashes which are on it shall be poured out (v. 3). When Jeroboam ordered his guard to seize the prophet, the king’s hand was paralyzed, dried up (v. 4). Immediately, the altar split apart, in front of King Jeroboam and those who came to worship with him, according to the sign which the man of God had given by the word of the Lord (v. 5). The destruction of the altar at Bethel demonstrated the Lord’s rejection of this syncretistic worship (cf. Lv 6:10–11) This man who was attempting to exercise both political and religious power suddenly found himself under the power of Almighty God. Jeroboam sensed his helplessness, and in a panic he sought the aid of the prophet. Please entreat the Lord your God, and pray for me, that my hand may be restored to me (v. 6). God answered his request and the king’s hand was restored. Significantly, Jeroboam referred to the Lord as your God, not as his God.

Apparently impressed by his hand being cured, King Jeroboam may have thought he could persuade the man of God to join forces with him. So he invited him to come to the king’s home to refresh himself and to receive a reward (v. 7). But the prophet was under orders that came by the word of the Lord (v. 1). God had informed him that he was to eat no bread, nor drink water, nor return by the way which he came (v. 9). In other words, he was not to linger once his task was accomplished. The word "return" plays a key role in the rest of chap. 13 (it recurs in vv. 9, 10, 16, 17, 22, 33). However, he did "return" to another prophet’s house and would face the consequences of disobeying God (vv. 18–19). And Jeroboam "did not return from his evil," and his high-handed disobedience would cost him his kingdom (v. 33).

13:11–19. The third major character in the narrative was introduced as an old prophet … living in Bethel (v. 11). He learned about the events at Jeroboam’s altar through the eyewitness testimony of his sons. This prophet was not identified as a prophet of the Lord and his behavior indicated he was not a man of God. After learning the direction in which the man of God headed, the old prophet set out to meet him (v. 13). When the two men met, the old prophet asked the man of God, Come home with me and eat bread (v. 15). The man of God recited the same statement he had given to Jeroboam earlier, I cannot return with you (v. 16; cf. vv. 8–9 above). However, to add force to his invitation the old prophet stated that he had received information from an angel (v. 18) telling the man of God that he was to return. Surprisingly, the prophet from Judah did not inquire of the Lord or ask further questions, but accepted the invitation. But the text reveals that the old prophet lied to him, and the prophet of Judah believed the lie without question (vv. 18–19). God had spoken to a king and to a prophet from Judah. But both took the path of disobedience toward destruction.

13:20–25. After deceiving the man of God from Judah, the word of the Lord came to the [old] prophet (v. 20). The statement is strikingly familiar to what the man of God had originally received as the word of the Lord (cf. vv. 1–2, 5, 9). Just as the prophet from Judah had spoken God’s very words to Jeroboam, now the old prophet cried to the man of God who came from Judah (v. 21). Two words capture the essence of this second prophecy. The man from Judah was told, Because you have disobeyed the command of the Lord … your body shall not come to the grave of your fathers (vv. 21–22).

The word translated "disobeyed" literally means "to rebel"; he had rebelled by failing to obey the word of the Lord spoken to him. His sin was as wicked as Jeroboam’s, and it was ultimately against Israel’s true King. The Hebrew word "grave" (qeber) refers to the family tomb. For a person to be buried away from the family tomb was a sign of dishonor, and in this case it was also an indication of the severe judgment of God. Although the prophet from Judah left the old prophet safely, a lion met him on the way and killed him (v. 24). However, contrary to usual lion behavior, it did not devour the prophet or kill the donkey, but was standing beside the body. As people passed by, they observed this strange scene and reported it in the city where the old prophet lived (v. 25).

13:26–32. Word eventually reached the old prophet, who said, It is the man of God, who disobeyed the command of the Lord; therefore the Lord has given him [the prophet from Judah] to the lion … according to the word of the Lord (v. 26). God was demonstrating to the residents of the northern kingdom that His Word is holy and that disobedience brings dire consequences. So the old prophet brought the body and placed it in his own grave (v. 30), bringing the younger prophet some respect despite his careless disobedience. But the old prophet recognized the gravity of all that had happened: For the thing shall surely come to pass which he cried by the word of the Lord against the altar in Bethel and against all the houses of the high places which are in the cities of Samaria (v. 32). The city of Samaria, seven miles northwest of Shechem (cf. 12:1), became the capital of the northern 10 tribes (cf. 16:24), but the name was more generally applied to the central area of Israel.

13:33–34. Although confronted by such dramatic examples of prophecy and judgment, Jeroboam did not repent of his sin of establishing an alternate religious system in Israel. Instead, he did not return from his evil way (v. 33). As a result, This event became sin to the house of Jeroboam, even to blot it out and destroy it from off the face of the earth (v. 34). The conditional promises in 1Kg 11:38 would not be fulfilled. God’s word was to be heeded! Again disobedience resulted in serious consequences.

5. The Consequences of Jeroboam’s Disobedience (1Kg 14:1–20)

14:1–5. Even though Jeroboam returned to his evil ways, God was not yet done with the first king of the northern kingdom. A third prophecy came to Jeroboam during the sickness of his son Abijah. So Jeroboam sent his wife to Shiloh, north of Bethel (cf. Jos 18; Jdg 21:19) to inquire of the now aged prophet Ahijah (cf. 11:29–39). The king apparently thought he could control his own destiny, or perhaps even manipulate the prophet of God, so he told her to disguise herself so that the prophet would not know that she was the wife of Jeroboam (v. 2). He also sent a personal gift to the prophet (v. 3). However, Jeroboam either forgot or simply did not know that God sees everything. Thus the Lord informed the aged, blind prophet (v. 5) that the king’s wife was on her way to inquire of him. Ahijah was told, say thus and thus to her, a rhetorical device used for dramatic effect to condense the message that would be revealed in vv. 6–16. The Lord also told Ahijah, she will pretend to be another woman (v. 5).

14:6–11. Jeroboam’s wife was met with a harsh message from Ahijah. The prophecy moved from the immediate situation in Jeroboam’s life to the ultimate fate of the northern kingdom. Judgment was about to be delivered with: (1) the cause stated in vv. 7–9, (2) the impact of the judgment on Jeroboam’s household, specifically in vv. 10–11, and (3) the impact for the northern kingdom of Israel in vv. 12–16. Ahijah announced that Jeroboam had done more evil than all who were before him by devising the religion of the golden calves (v. 9; cf. 12:25–33). Jeroboam had made … other gods and molten images to provoke the Lord to anger. The severity of his actions was captured in the words you have cast Me behind your back (v. 9). The series of metaphors highlights the gravity of what God was about to do in Israel. The Lord also announced through Ahijah that He would cut off from Jeroboam every male person … and … make a clean sweep of the house of Jeroboam (v. 10). The Lord would end Jeroboam’s family line from any future leadership of Israel because of Jeroboam’s wicked plan of leading Israel into idolatry.

The cause of the upcoming judgment was Jeroboam’s establishment of the pagan alternative worship of the Lord with the golden calves—a direct violation of the Word of God (cf. Ex 34:17; Dt 27:15). Because of Jeroboam’s sin, the dogs would eat his offspring who died in the city, a disgusting, tragic end (v. 11; cf. 16:4; 21:19, 24). In the ancient world, dogs were not domesticated pets. Left unfed, they became scavengers, roaming in feral packs, ready to eat anything. In Ahijah’s prophecy the dogs amplify the defilement brought on by Jeroboam’s religious apostasy, an apostasy that was deserving of the judgment God.

14:12–14. Only Jeroboam’s son, Abijah (v. 1), would be spared the horrid judgment because the child would die when his mother returned home from inquiring of the prophet, and all Israel shall mourn for him and bury him (v. 13). Despite Jeroboam’s wickedness, his son was identified as a person in whom something good was found toward the Lord God of Israel in the house of Jeroboam. The treatment given the son indicated that there was grace from God even in the application of divine judgment. After the respectful burial of the child, the Lord will raise up for Himself a king over Israel who will cut off the house of Jeroboam (v. 14).

14:15–18. After God’s condemnation of the house of Jeroboam, the prophecy expanded to include the future of the entire northern kingdom. The sinful acts propagated by Jeroboam would permeate the behavior of the entire citizenry. The nation would be unstable, the way a reed is shaken in the water (v. 15). They would be scattered beyond the Euphrates River. This scattering was fulfilled when the northern kingdom fell to Assyria in 721 BC (cf. 2Kg 17). Again the reason for God’s condemnation was idolatry, specifically their Asherim, provoking the Lord to anger (v. 15; cf. v. 23; 15:13; 16:33). Asherim were wooden poles, phallic symbols, located near groves of trees and part of a pantheon of Canaanite gods. Asherah was one of the fertility goddesses worshiped by the northern tribes at their high places. When Jeroboam’s wife returned to Tirzah, their home (cf. 1Kg 16:23), as she crossed the threshold of the royal household, the boy died. This was according to the word of the Lord … through His servant Ahijah the prophet (vv. 17–18; cf. v. 12 above).

14:19–20. The acts of Jeroboam were written the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel, not the biblical book of Chronicles, but a history of the kings of Israel, no longer extant, frequently referred to in 1 and 2 Kings (e.g., 15:31; 16:5, 14, 20, 27; 22:39; 2Kg 1:18; 10:34; 13:8, 11). The monarchy of the first king of Israel was summarized as the time that Jeroboam reigned was twenty-two years (v. 20). The mention of the succession of "Nadab his son" was a temporary reign that lasted two years (cf. 15:25), when Nadab was killed "according to the word of the Lord, which He spoke by His servant Ahijah" (15:29).

6. Rehoboam’s Reign in Judah (1Kg 14:21–31)

The account of the reigns of the kings of Israel and Judah are often given in alternating sections in 1 and 2 Kings, and often their reigns were overlapping (cf. Introduction: Background). The following section continues the rule of Rehoboam in Judah (cf. 12:1–24).

14:21. King Rehoboam, after his foolish choices (cf. 12:1–19) at the time of his ascension (age forty-one), reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city which the Lord had chosen from all the tribes of Israel (v. 21; cf. comments above at 8:29; 11:13).

14:22–24. A spiritual assessment of the kings is made throughout 1 and 2 Kings. From the outset of the divided kingdom, even Judah did evil in the sight of the Lord (v. 22). One would think that this would be said of Rehoboam, but the evaluation is of the whole southern kingdom—Judah—to show that what the king chose to do spiritually affected the entire nation. And the nation’s choices provoked the Lord to jealousy. In terms of God’s character, this emotion is related to His right to exclusive love and worship. His jealousy leads Him to warn His people about being spiritually unfaithful to Him. When they are unfaithful, He becomes "jealous"—a virtual synonym for "angry"—because His people have attached their affections to some false god, and He then judges them for their spiritual adultery.

The specific sins that motivated God to engage in His righteous jealousy were identified in as the high places and sacred pillars and Asherim (v. 23; cf. comments on 14:15 above). These were religious objects that probably had existed in the land for centuries, since Israel failed to dispossess the nations and their evil ways, according to 1Kg 9:20–21. The "sacred (stone) pillars" represented the presence of various gods, and the Asherah poles were symbols of various fertility gods, forbidden by the Lord (cf. Ex 23:24; Lv 26:1; Dt 16:21–22). There were also male cult prostitutes, as part of the pagan worship, according to all the pagan practices of the nations (v. 24). All of these practices prompted the Lord in righteous jealousy to act on behalf of His name (cf. 1Kg 5:5; 11:36; Is 48:11).

14:25–28. The Lord then raised up an adversary against Rehoboam, Shishak the king of Egypt. Prior to the reign of Shishak, peaceful relations existed between Egypt and Israel, especially after Solomon’s marriage to Pharaoh’s daughter (cf. 3:1). Paul House points out that the once-declining nation of Egypt experienced a short political and military revival when Egypt’s 21st dynasty was overthrown by a popular Libyan noble named Shishak (House, 1, 2 Kings, 195). No information was given as to why he attacked Judah, but for whatever reason, he came against Rehoboam and took away the treasures of the house of the Lord and the treasures of the king’s house (vv. 25–26). The specific items that were surrendered to Shishak to avoid devastation of the city were the shields of gold which Solomon had made (cf. 10:17). To replace these, Rehoboam made shields of bronze. The change from gold to bronze, a much less expensive metal, indicated the decline in the wealth of the kingdom under Rehoboam after great glory under David and Solomon.

14:29–31. The details, the rest of the acts of Rehoboam during his reign of 17 years are recorded in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah (cf. the comments on 11:41–43; 14:19). Two items of particular significance were mentioned. First, there was war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam continually. Despite the Lord’s having forbidden civil war (cf. 12:14), there were battles between Israel and Judah until the alliance between Ahab and Jehoshaphat (cf. 2Ch 18:1–19:3). Second, Rehoboam’s mother was Naamah the Ammonitess (v. 31; cf. v. 21; 2Ch 12:13), one of Solomon’s wives from Ammon (cf. 1Kg 11:1). This pagan nation east of the Jordan was frequently in conflict with Israel (cf. Gn 19:30–38; Dt 23:3; 1Sm 11:1–15), and Ammonites were specifically forbidden to be part of the assembly of Israel (cf. Dt 23:3; Neh 13:1–2). Rehoboam’s failure to follow the Lord was compounded by his mother’s pagan influence. And what impacted the king would also have spiritual consequences for the people.

B. The Kings of Judah and Israel until the Fall of Israel to Assyria (1Kg 15:1–2Kg 17:41)

The reigns of Rehoboam and Jeroboam’s successors demonstrated the consequences of spiritual compromises. Through the kings, God was calling His covenant people to rely on Him for all things. After all, He is the true King and protector of His people.

1. Abijam of Judah: A Bad King (1Kg 15:1–8)

15:1–2. The next king over Judah was Abijam, or Abijah as a variant spelling in some translations (913–911 BC; cf. 2Ch 13:1–22). The typical pattern for identifying the kings of Judah, including their mothers’ names, follows: Abijam’s mother was Maacah the daughter of Abishalom (v. 2). Since she is also identified as the daughter of Uriel (2Ch 13:2), it is likely she is the granddaughter of Abishalom, (that is David’s son, Absalom), since biblical genealogical references often skip one or more generations.

15:3–8. Abijam walked in all the sins of his father, implying that the idolatrous practices Rehoboam modeled were now practiced by his son. And the reason for this was that his heart was not wholly devoted to the Lord his God, like the heart of his father David (v. 3), his great-grandfather. Although David fell into grievous sin (cf. 1Sm 11), he never swerved into paganism, but always worshiped only the Lord. Thus, David was the standard for devotion through Kings and Chronicles (cf. 1Kg 11:4, 6; 15:3, 11; 2Kg 14:3; 16:2; 18:3; 2 Ch 29:9).

Mention of David was important because on one hand the severity of sin was increasing, but on the other hand God was gracious to Judah for David’s sake (v. 4). This was a subtle reference to the Davidic covenant (cf. 2Sm 7:12–14). God was gracious to Abijam in spite of his idolatrous ways because He had promised to give David a lamp in Jerusalem (v. 4; cf. 11:36)—an ongoing heir to the Davidic throne. The reason for God’s kindness to David was because David did what was right in the sight of the Lord (v. 5). He had committed adultery and the horrible murder of Uriah the Hittite (2Sm 11:14–27), but David had never resorted to idolatry.

One consequence of the division of the kingdom was war between the tribes of Israel and Judah. The conflict was stated both as war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam (v. 6) and war between Abijam and Jeroboam (v. 7). That is, the northern and southern kingdoms, Israel and Judah, were engaged in a sin-induced conflict.

2. Asa of Judah: A Good King (1Kg 15:9–24)

15:9–10. Following Abijam’s death after only a three-year reign (v. 2), Asa succeeded him as king in Judah (911–870 BC; cf. 2Ch 14:1–16:14). He reigned forty-one years in Jerusalem. A surprising introductory statement about Asa was that his mother’s name was Maacah the daughter of Abishalom (v. 9). Possibly this is a statement of generational lapses as in Abijam’s case (cf. 15:1–2). However, Provan makes the case that in view of all the idolatrous sins that Asa had to deal with in 1Kg 15, and in view of the removal of Maacah (v. 13), it is highly probable that Asa was the product of an incestuous relationship between Abijam and his mother, Maacah (Iain W. Provan, 1 and 2 Kings, NIBC [Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1995], 126).

15:11–15. Asa was one of the eight good kings of Judah. He was commended because he did what was right in the sight of the Lord, like David his father (v 11; cf. comments above on 15:3–8). David was identified again as the great model of spiritual devotion. Whereas David fought against Israel’s pagan enemies and ultimately united the tribes of Israel into one great nation, Asa was portrayed as the one who fought against idolatry. He put away the male cult prostitutes … and removed all the idols which his fathers had made (v. 12). Of particular note were his dealings with Maacah his mother, whom he removed as the queen mother because she had made a horrid image as an Asherah (v. 13; cf. 14:15, 23). Asa burned the horrid image (idol) she made at the brook Kidron outside of Jerusalem.

Asa attacked idolatry with a vengeance, and in turn, out of his devotion to the Lord, he even brought into the house of the Lord the dedicated things (v. 15). These were items presented as offerings and gifts in honor of God. The only apparent shortcoming in Asa’s reign was that the high places were not taken away (v. 14), perhaps because they were so well established as part of the society (v. 14). This is another example of even the good kings of Judah failing to follow the Lord perfectly.

15:16–22. Asa also made important political decisions regarding his kingdom. There was war between Asa and Baasha king of Israel all their days (v. 16). The severity of Baasha’s threat to Judah was that he started to fortify Ramah in order to prevent anyone from going out or coming in to renew an alliance with Asa (v. 17). Ramah was an important city in the tribal territory of Benjamin (cf. Jos 18:25), the other tribe allied with Judah against the 10 northern tribes (cf. 12:21). Ramah was also just four miles north of Jerusalem, making Baasha’s activities a very serious threat to King Asa’s reign. In an attempt to strengthen his kingdom, Asa took all the silver and the gold which were left in the treasuries of the house of the Lord … and the king’s house and sent them by his servants to Ben-hadad … the king of Aram on Israel’s northern border (v. 18). Asa sought to make a treaty with Ben-hadad, and also asked him to break an earlier treaty with Baasha (v. 19).

Ben-hadad agreed to the offer and sent … his armies against the cities of Israel and conquered the northern cities of Ijon, Dan … and all the land of Naphtali (v. 20). As a result, Baasha … ceased fortifying Ramah (v. 21). There is no mention here of a prophet who came and rebuked Asa for not seeking the Lord’s help, and for relying instead on one who would become a growing threat against the tribes of Israel (cf. 2Ch 16:7–12). The broad purpose of Kings is history, while the purpose of Chronicles concerns the spiritual decision of the house of David (see Introduction). The omission of the record of a prophet’s visit shows the political emphasis of Kings. However, the information in Chronicles reveals that even though most of his life was one of devotion to the Lord, Asa also suffered from bouts of spiritual amnesia, trusting in men rather than the promised strength of the Lord (cf. 2Ch 16:7–10; Dt 28:7).

15:23–24. Even though Asa was identified as a good and devoted king, his last years were not without difficulty. Because of his failure to call on the Lord for help, Asa faced war throughout his reign. Asa reigned 41 years (15:10), and in the 39th year of his reign, in his old age he was diseased in his feet, yet "he did not seek the Lord, but the physicians" to relieve his pain (2Ch 16:12). This health report, coupled with Asa’s failure to seek the Lord’s help from all his enemies, indicates his overall failure to depend upon the Lord in a variety of circumstances. This reminded the exilic audience that Asa was partially negligent in seeking the strong support of the Lord—physically, politically, and spiritually (cf. 2Ch 16:9), and that there were serious consequences as a result.

3. From Nadab through Omri: Increasing Spiritual Decline in Israel (1Kg 15:25–16:34)

This final section about the early days of the divided kingdom describes an obvious downward political and spiritual free fall. Seven kings over a period of 56 years are described in terms of their rise to power and horrid demise. But there is a phrase that holds the section together and explains why these historical events happened as they did. That phrase, "according to the word of the Lord," appears three times (15:29; 16:12, 34). What took place was not by chance. The Lord God of Israel ordained and predicted the ultimate outcome, and it happened in every case just as He said it would. The background to these events was Ahijah the prophet’s rebuke of King Jeroboam for his idolatrous actions, telling the king’s wife that God was about to "make a clean sweep of the house of Jeroboam" (14:10; cf. vv. 6, 20). Ahijah also prophesied events beyond Jeroboam’s family. God consistently warned Jeroboam through the prophet that as evil increased, political stability would decrease, and that "the Lord will strike Israel, as a reed is shaken in the water" (14:15).

15:25–26. The end of the house of Jeroboam is recorded by reintroducing his son, Nadab (cf. 14:19–20). His reign lasted only two years (910–909 BC). As with all those who ruled in the northern kingdom, Nadab did evil in the sight of the Lord, and walked in the way of his father.

15:27–31. In fulfillment of Ahijah’s earlier prophecy, Baasha (909–886 BC; cf. 2Ch 16:1–6) was also reintroduced after the brief explanation about his wars with Asa in 15:17–22 (cf. v. 32). Baasha conspired against his predecessor Nadab and struck him down while the reigning king was attacking the Philistine-occupied town of Gibbethon, located between Jerusalem and Joppa (v. 27; cf. Jos 19:43–45). Baasha assassinated Nadab, and also struck down all the household of Jeroboam, not leaving a single heir alive (v. 29; cf. 14:10).

God in His providence ordained the demise of Jeroboam’s kingdom and even the elimination of his heirs, but His providence never excludes the choices of people. Because God is sovereign, even the sinful acts of human beings coincide with His sovereign plans. Indeed, God uses people’s sinful actions to accomplish His purposes. But this does not relieve the sinner of the guilt for his sin; God cannot be charged with the evil human beings commit (cf. Jms 1:13). This is one of the most profound mysteries in the Bible. Baasha’s own determination was directly connected to his own spiritual decisions and the annihilation of Nadab’s family (cf. 16:7). (For a brief discussion of the interaction between God’s sovereignty and human responsibility, see the comments on Rm 9:18–23.) The details of the acts of Nadab are written in the Book of Chronicles of the Kings of Israel (v. 31; cf. comments above on 11:41–43; 14:19).

15:32–34. The account of Baasha’s rise to power serves as a transition from the reign of Jeroboam to the lengthy reign of the dynasty of the house of Omri in 16:16. Even though Baasha was fulfilling the prophetic statements of Ahijah recorded in chap. 14, he did evil in the sight of the Lord, and walked in the way of Jeroboam (v. 34; cf. 16:2, 26; 22:52), worshiping idols. This phrase is in stark contrast to walking in the way of David (cf. 15:3).

16:1–5. Like his predecessor Nadab, Baasha pursued the idolatrous ways of Jeroboam. As a result, God sent a prophet in the person of Jehu to announce judgment on Baasha. Jehu informed him that as with Jeroboam God would consume … his house (v. 3). One reason for this divine judgment was Baasha’s idolatrous lifestyle and because he "struck down all the household of Jeroboam" (15:29; 16:7). This was not simply a matter of removing Nadab from power. God was also condemning the intense brutality with which Baasha carried out his actions. This reveals the sovereignty and omniscience of God over human responsibility.

16:6–14. The transition to the dynasty of Omri continued with the rise of Baasha’s son, Elah (886–885 BC) who became king over Israel at Tirzah (v. 8). He reigned only two years, until he was assassinated by Zimri his commander (vv. 8–10). When Zimri (885 BC) became king in Elah’s place, he destroyed all the household of Baasha, according to the word of the Lord, which He spoke against Baasha through Jehu the prophet (16:12; cf. 16:7).

16:15–24. But Zimri’s reign as king was one of the shortest of all of the kings of Israel. He ruled for only seven days at Tirzah (v. 15). When the people who were fighting against the Philistines heard of what happened, all Israel made Omri (885–874 BC) the commander of the army, king over Israel (v. 16). Ahijah’s prophecy that Israel would be like a "reed shaken in the water" (14:15) came true. For a period of time there was political instability in the northern kingdom on several fronts.

First, Zimri realized that his power base was extremely weak. So he went into the citadel of the king’s house and burned the king’s house over him with fire, and died (i.e., he committed suicide, v. 18). But this was not simply an act of desperation, for this happened because of his sins which he sinned (v. 19). Zimri, like those before him, followed the idolatrous ways of Jeroboam.

Second, the people of Israel were divided (v. 21); half wanted to make Tibni king, while the other half followed Omri. Omri eventually prevailed and a second major dynasty to replace Jeroboam’s rule came into existence. The record is simple: Tibni died and Omri became king (v. 22). Very little historical detail was given about Omri’s rule, except that he reigned twelve years; he reigned six years at Tirzah (v. 23). Perhaps because a royal palace in Tirzah had been previously burned by Zimri, Omri may have felt compelled to establish a new royal palace. So he bought the hill Samaria from Shemer … and built on the hill the city of Samaria (v. 24). Samaria would become the key city that identified the place of residence for the northern kings, but also a symbol of intense religious apostasy against the Lord.

Although the biblical text is brief regarding Omri’s reign, extrabiblical history indicates that he was a man of international importance. His name appears on the Moabite Stone, the black basalt memorial stone erected about 850 BC memorializing the deeds of King Mesha of Moab. There Omri is referred to as the one who captured a fertile and militarily strategic region known as the Moabite Plains (R. D. Patterson and Hermann J. Austel, "1 & 2 Kings," in vol. 4 of EBC [Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1988], 135). When Tiglath-pileser II of Assyria captured Israel, he referred to Israel in his annals as "the house of Omri."

16:25–28. Omri did evil in the sight of the Lord, and acted more wickedly than all those who were before him, thus showing the downward spiral of the kings of Israel (v. 25). After all, he walked in all the way of Jeroboam … (v. 26). After his death, Ahab his son became king in his place (v. 28).

16:29–33. Ahab (874–853 BC; cf. 2Ch 18:1–34), the son of Omri, Israel’s most wicked king, reigned in Samaria for twenty-two years. As did his father before him, Ahab pursued a life of spiritual rebellion. He participated in evil more than all who were before him (v. 30). His sins are evident in four specific acts. (1) He married Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians (v. 31). Like Solomon before him, Ahab’s decision to marry Jezebel, who introduced Baal worship to Israel, was a clear violation of Scripture (cf. Dt 7:1–5). In Ahab’s mind it was a trivial thing to commit sins such as marrying a pagan wife (v. 31). The word "trivial" is from the Hebrew word qalal, meaning "swift," "trifling," or "insignificant." Ahab did not care if his choice of a wife offended the Lord. (2) Ahab also went to serve Baal and worshiped him (v. 31). He did not just drift toward idolatry, he intentionally went to serve the fertility god of the Canaanites, and led the nation to follow in his idolatry (cf. 18:1–46; 22:53). (3) He also erected an altar for Baal in a temple he built in Samaria (v. 32). (4) He also made the Asherah (v. 33, cf. 14:15, 23). Thus Ahab is remembered as Israel’s most wicked king because he did more to provoke the Lord God of Israel than all the kings of Israel who were before him (v. 33).

16:34. Jericho had been rebuilt as an unwalled city after Joshua’s day (cf. Jos 18:21; Jdg 3:13; 2Sm 10:5). However, when Hiel the Bethelite built Jericho … Abiram his firstborn son died when he laid the foundations of the city and his youngest son Segub died when he set up the gates. His plan to rebuild a fortified city ended in tragedy, just as the Lord predicted. The rebuilding of Jericho was forbidden according to the word of the Lord, which He spoke by Joshua after God’s supernatural destruction of that city, and the warning of the death of the firstborn was specific (cf. Jos 6:26). God had clearly spoken in Joshua’s day, and He was still speaking in Ahab’s lifetime. Rejecting God’s ways was no "trivial thing" (cf. 1Kg 16:31). God was still the true King of Israel, and His word was to be heard and heeded. If the kings would not model God’s will and ways, then the Lord would send His prophets, Elijah and Elisha, to call the people back to God’s reign in their lives.

4. Ahab and the Prophet Elijah: The Supremacy of God over Nature (1Kg 17:1–22:40)

Following Solomon’s spiritual demise, 1 and 2 Kings record few monarchs who were faithful representatives of God and His covenant. As a result, the Lord sent prophets to call the kings and the people to return to Him and His covenant promises. The two most notable prophets to the northern kingdom were Elijah and Elisha. Their mission was to bring various indictments against the northern kingdom. God used them to announce judgments and also to demonstrate His supremacy over absolutely everything.

a. Elijah and the Prophets of Baal (1Kg 17:1–18:46)

Although the divisions of chaps. 17 and 18 may imply different themes, the chapters together constitute one narrative unit. Chapter 17 introduces the tension of a famine brought on by God and introduced through the prophet Elijah. Chapter 18 brings resolution to the famine and demonstrates that God is supreme over nature and Baal, the god that Ahab and Jezebel so wickedly served. Baal worshipers believed that their god made rain and was responsible for fertility throughout the land. If a drought occurred, Baal worshipers believed that their god was residing in the place of the dead and needed to be brought back to life. However, Elijah would show that Baal was not dead or incapacitated for a season. He simply did not exist.

17:1–7. Elijah, whose name means "the Lord is my God," appeared on the pages of biblical history unannounced. He was Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the settlers of Gilead. Gilead was east of the Jordan River across from the Jezreel Valley (cf. Dt 34:1), but the exact location of Tishbi cannot be identified with any certainty. The prophet quickly announced to Ahab that there would be no dew or rain, except by the word of Elijah.

Almost as quickly as Elijah was introduced, he disappeared from King Ahab’s presence because the Lord told him to hide yourself by the brook Cherith, east of the Jordan River (v. 3). In the first of several demonstrations of His power over nature, the Lord commanded the ravens to provide for Elijah and they brought bread and meat to Elijah in the morning and evening (vv. 4–6). However, God was about to show His power to the prophet and a small Sidonian household in a still more dramatic way. So to move the prophet to his next task, the brook dried up, because there was no rain in the land (v. 7). God was using several aspects of nature to manifest His superiority over Baal.

17:8–16. A second miracle of provision occurred unexpectedly through a poor widow. Again God’s influence was made known when He commanded a widow … to provide for Elijah (v. 9), and He enabled her to do so with a miraculous provision. The event occurred in Zarephath, a town in Sidon about 45 miles northwest of the Sea of Galilee on the Mediterranean coast. This was a Gentile region outside of Israel in the very center of Baal worship.

On his arrival Elijah met the woman appointed by God to provide for his physical needs (v. 10). When the woman proceeded to meet his request for water, Elijah asked the woman, Please bring me a piece of bread in your hand (v. 11). The request would reveal how severe the famine was both in Israel and in Sidon, as the woman acknowledged that she had no bread, and only a handful of flour (v. 12). In fact, the woman informed the prophet that she was about to prepare a final meal for herself and her son, so that they could eat it and die. However, Elijah encouraged her: Do not fear what might happen, but simply obey his request. She would then be able to make bread for herself and for her son (v. 13). Elijah informed her that if she did so the flour would not be exhausted … or the oil empty (v. 14). Miraculously, the bowl of flour was not exhausted nor did the jar of oil become empty (v. 16). There was an unending supply of four and oil to make plenty of bread. Her obedience quickly led to the revelation of God’s power and faithfulness.

17:17–24. A third miracle-laden event soon followed: Now it came about after these things (v. 17). Good things had happened to Elijah, the widow, and her son. But now an even more severe crisis occurred when the widow’s son became sick and eventually died. The widow interpreted her son’s death as simply Elijah’s way of bringing her iniquity to remembrance (v. 18). The widow felt that Elijah’s presence in her home had caused God to recall her (unnamed) past sins, and the Lord was punishing her by putting her son to death.

Instead of answering her, Elijah confidently said, Give me your son and carried him to the upper room of the house where he was living (v. 19). He inquired of the Lord regarding the calamity (v. 20) and engaged in an unusual act in which life seemed to have been transferred from himself to the boy. He stretched himself upon the child three times, and called to the Lord … to let this child’s life return to him (v. 20). In answer to his prayer, the Lord heard the voice of Elijah, and the life of the child returned to him and he revived (v. 21). As a result of the Lord’s supernatural intervention, the woman made two important conclusions: (1) that Elijah was a man of God, and that (2) the word of the Lord … is truth (v. 24). The Lord was progressively building the case that He, not Baal, was the One who is supreme over nature and life.

18:1–2. A fourth miracle is introduced to convince the people of Israel that the covenant-keeping God is sovereign over everything. This miracle took place in the third year, which refers to the third year of the famine (cf. 17:1). In accord with the Lord’s command, Elijah was told that he was to show yourself to Ahab, and in turn God would send rain on the face of the earth to end the drought and bring the famine, which was severe in Samaria, to a close. Obeying the Lord’s command, Elijah proceeded to show himself to (meet) Ahab.

18:3–16. Although most of the northern kingdom had abandoned the Lord to follow paganism, a remnant remained faithful to the God of Israel. One of Ahab’s servants, Obadiah, who was over the household, a high-ranking position, feared the Lord greatly (v. 3). Obadiah even risked his life by hiding a hundred prophets of the Lord in a cave to protect them from the annihilation policies of Jezebel (vv. 4, 13). Ahab had sent Obadiah to search for springs of water … and keep the horses and mules alive (v. 5). On the way, this godly servant met Elijah (v. 7), who had been in hiding from Ahab who was searching for him in every nation and kingdom (v. 10; cf. 17:3–24). The prophet told Obadiah to go announce to the king that Elijah is here (v. 8). Obadiah understood the command as an indictment of some sin in his life, because Elijah apparently had a reputation for appearing in one place and then disappearing to another (cf. 2Kg 2:16).

Obadiah was sure that if he announced Elijah was coming to Ahab, but then Elijah failed to appear, he [Ahab] will kill me (vv. 12, 14). Elijah reassured Obadiah that as the Lord of hosts lives (v. 15), he would surely appear before Ahab. Obadiah obeyed the prophet’s order then, and Ahab went to meet Elijah (v. 16).

18:17–19. When the two men met, a debate ensued that centered on who was the true cause behind the devastating famine. Ahab called Elijah the troubler of Israel. Elijah in turn indicted Ahab as the real culprit, because he had forsaken the commandments of the Lord and … followed the Baals (v. 18). The word for "troubler" translates the Hebrew word ‘oker, used elsewhere in the OT to refer to individuals who brought spiritual pain and tragedy to the nation (cf. Jos 6:18; 7:25). To verify his claim that Ahab was the troublemaker, Elijah proposed a test to take place on Mount Carmel. Ahab was to bring from among the corrupt spiritual leaders of Israel 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of the Asherah (v. 19). Apparently only the prophets of Baal showed up (vv. 22, 25, 40).

18:20–24. In response, Ahab … brought the prophets together at Mount Carmel (v. 20), a hill close to modern-day Haifa that comprises the northwestern end of a range of hills known as the Carmel range. When the prophets of Baal arrived, Elijah spoke to all the people, for apparently there was a crowd assembled there to see the confrontation between the prophets and Elijah. The prophet challenged the populace immediately by asking them, How long will you hesitate between two opinions? (v. 21). The word translated as "hesitate" (Hb. pasach) literally means "to limp" or "to dance." It is used again to refer to the type of ritual dance the prophets of Baal engaged in to get their god’s attention (v. 26). Overall, the word refers to the spiritual indecision that existed in the minds of the people.

For dramatic effect Elijah did two things. First, he stated that he alone was the only prophet of the Lord who was left with courage enough to come to meet the prophets of Baal (v. 22). The other prophets were in hiding (vv. 4, 13). Second, he proposed that the prophets of Baal would be given an ox for sacrifice, and he would also be given an ox. Then each would prepare the ox for sacrifice with wood but not put a fire under it (v. 23). He and the prophets of Baal would call on their respective deities to answer by fire to consume the respective offerings. Elijah stated, the God who answers by fire, He is God (v. 24). The people agreed that Elijah’s proposal was good.

18:25–29. The subsequent events took place over an entire day. The prophets of Baal called on their god first, from morning until noon saying, O Baal, answer us (v. 26). By midday there was no answer, and Elijah mocked his opponents: Call out with a loud voice … either he is occupied or gone aside, or is on a journey, or … asleep (v. 27). The prophets of Baal cried with a loud voice and cut themselves according to their custom, as part of their religious ritual (v. 28). Although they raved until … evening there was no voice in answer from Baal (v. 29).

18:30–35. Then it was Elijah’s opportunity to call on the Lord. He repaired the altar of the Lord which had been torn down, perhaps by Israelites who no longer worshiped the God of Israel but had torn down the Lord’s altars to worship pagan gods (v. 30; cf. 19:14). Thus the construction of an altar was not a contradiction of earlier statements where the high places were condemned (cf. 12:31–32; 15:14). This was the altar of the Lord, not an altar for Baal worship. Elijah used twelve stones in its construction to symbolize the twelve tribes of Israel, the tribes of the sons of Jacob, and reminded the people that the Lord had said, Israel shall be your name (v. 31). Also when the fire of the Lord fell, it even consumed the stones that Elijah had used for his temporary altar (cf. v. 38).

Before actually calling on the Lord, Elijah heightened the tension even further by constructing what would appear like an impossible task. After arranging the wood and the sacrifice he poured water … on the wood and the sacrifice three different times so that the water flowed around the altar and … also filled the trench (vv. 33–35). It might seem that Elijah was sabotaging his own challenge for God to answer by fire. However, God was about to show His power and to force the people to identify with either Baal or the Lord.

18:36–40. After everything was in place, Elijah prayed (cf. Jms 5:18), addressing the Lord by his covenant name O Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel (v. 36). He wanted four things to happen as a result of the upcoming miracle: (1) that the people would know that only the Lord was God in Israel, (2) that Elijah was His servant, (3) that all that was about to happen was according to the Lord’s word, and (4) that the Lord would have turned their heart back again to follow Him (vv. 36–37).

Almost immediately and without Elijah having to cajole his God as the Baal prophets did with their god, the fire of the Lord fell and consumed everything on the altar—the burnt offering, the wood, the stones, and the dust and even licked up the water in the trench (v. 38). Without any prompting on Elijah’s part, when all the people saw it, they fell down in worship and declared, The Lord, He is God; the Lord, He is God (v. 39). The verdict was in, and Baal had been defeated. Elijah immediately ordered, Seize the prophets of Baal and had them executed at the brook Kishon at the foot of the Carmel range (v. 40). The elimination of the prophets may have seemed like a brutal act, but these same individuals had been misleading God’s covenant people for years, and drastic action had to be taken (cf. Dt 13:1–11). False prophets could not be allowed to exist in company with God’s people.

18:41–46. The dramatic events at Mount Carmel led Elijah to take the first steps in announcing that the famine was about to end. In spite of Ahab’s obvious humiliation, Elijah said to Ahab, to celebrate the end of the drought, Go up, eat and drink; for there is the sound of the roar of a heavy shower (v. 41). God’s grace was being extended to the land. Elijah went up to the top of Carmel, where he crouched down on the earth (v. 42). The text does not give any further detail as to what Elijah was actually doing when he crouched down, but Jms 5:18 connects the events of 1Kg 18:43–44 with prayer (see the comments on Jms 5:15–18).

Finally a small cloud appeared on the seventh watch. With this small cloud in view, Elijah ordered Ahab to take his chariot to his palace in the Jezreel Valley (where he had his winter capital between Mount Carmel and Samaria; cf. 21:1), so that the heavy shower does not stop you (v. 44), making it impossible to travel by chariot. The prophet, apparently thinking that idolatry had been finally defeated, also headed in the same direction on foot. And because the hand of the Lord was on him, Elijah outran Ahab to Jezreel (v. 46). Baal worship had suffered a significant setback, but Elijah was soon to face a new challenge of his own when he finally arrived in Jezreel (cf. 19:1–2).

b. Elijah Fears for His Life and Is Comforted by the Lord (1Kg 19:1–21)

19:1–8. Elijah and the people of Israel had just witnessed the power of God over nature and the gods of Ahab and Jezebel. At Mount Carmel the people echoed the words, "the Lord, He is God; the Lord, He is God" (18:39). But things were about to change at Jezreel when Jezebel learned all that Elijah had done, particularly that he had killed all the prophets of Baal (v. 1). She sent a messenger to Elijah threatening to end his life by the next day (v. 2). Despite Elijah’s recent victory over the false prophets, and the Lord’s miraculous display of power, Jezebel now caused the prophet to be afraid, and he ran for his life (v. 3). He ran 120 miles south to Beersheba, one of the southernmost towns in Judah (cf. 1Sm 3:20). He concluded that he was no better than his deceased fathers (v. 4), a statement that simply means "Take my life; I am as good as dead already."

However, the Lord dealt with him the same way He did earlier (chap. 17), by providing him with food and protection. On this occasion an angel came to him twice to minister to his physical needs, saying, Arise, eat (vv. 5, 7). The Lord understood the emotional and physical exhaustion Elijah experienced after his confrontation with the prophets of Baal and the escape to Beersheba, because the journey is too great for you (v. 7). Under orders from the angel, Elijah arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mountain of God (v. 8). Horeb, an alternate name for Mount Sinai, is in the wilderness about 250 miles south of Beersheba (cf. Ex 3:1; 19:1–3). Elijah was nourished the same length of time as Moses on Mount Sinai (cf. Ex 24:18; 34:28) and Jesus in the wilderness (cf. Mt 4:2, 11).

19:9–10. Elijah left Beersheba and came to a cave somewhere near Mount Horeb. This was the very same place where God had revealed His covenant stipulations to Moses, and here Elijah needed a renewed perspective on life. The word of the Lord came to him, asking a question to get his attention and to change his perspective. The Lord twice asked, What are you doing here, Elijah? (vv. 9, 13). In despair, Elijah concluded that his zeal for the Lord was futile. All he could think about was that, of all the prophets, he alone [was] left, and his life was in jeopardy (vv. 10, 14).

19:11–14. While still in a state of despair, Elijah was told to stand on the mountain before the Lord. The scene was similar to the one when God passed by Moses so that he could catch a glimpse of God’s glory (cf. Ex 33:21–23). However, here Elijah was about to receive insight into how Israel’s covenant-keeping God was able to reveal Himself. It was not in a great and strong wind, in an earthquake, or in a fire (vv. 11–12). The text does not even say that the Lord was in the gentle blowing. But by implication it seems that Elijah experienced a variety of natural forces on the mountain to show him that God can reveal Himself in a variety of ways. Elijah explained to the Lord the reason for his depression: I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the sons of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars and killed Your prophets with the sword. And I alone am left; and they seek my life (v. 14).

There are some remarkable parallels between Elijah’s experience at Mount Horeb and Moses’ experiences. First, while Moses spent 40 days on Mount Horeb (Ex 34:28), Elijah took 40 days to get there (1Kg 19:8); Elijah was in a cave (19:9), probably an allusion to the "cleft of the rock" in which Moses found himself in Ex 33:22. God was said to "pass by" both Moses (cf. Ex 33:22) and Elijah (1Kgs 19:11), the same word in both passages, and both received a vision of God (for Moses, see Ex 34; for Elijah, see 1Kg 19:11–13). Furthermore, like Moses, Elijah contended on behalf of God against apostates, called for a decision to follow God, and went to Horeb for reassurance. Elijah’s theophany shared with the theophany given to Moses and Israel the elements of wind, earthquake, and fire (for these elements in Moses’ experience, see Ex 19:9; 20:18–19; Dt 4:9–10; 5:24–25).

Despite these parallels, however, the writer of 1 Kings probably showed a fundamental disparity between the two individuals, not a correlation. In the exposure he had to God, Moses received encouragement for his work (cf. Ex 6; 19:1–25; 32:7–17; 33:23), but the interaction of Elijah and God was essentially a decommissioning of Elijah as a prophet. Elijah did not appear to have learned much, if anything, in the theophany he experienced, nor did he hear much in the gentle blowing (v. 12). Elijah was decidedly pessimistic about his brethren (1Kg 19:14 is a veiled condemnation of Israel by Elijah; see Rm 11:2, where Paul said Elijah "pleads with God against Israel"), rather than an intercessor on behalf of the people as Moses was. The question asked twice by God in 1Kg 19:9 and 13 suggests that God had not actually approved Elijah’s trek to Mount Sinai. These differences indicate that Elijah was not a new Moses, and that God was not beginning a radically new movement through him.

All of this tends to emphasize the point made overtly in 1Kg 19:18, namely, that God Himself would preserve a faithful remnant that would not worship Baal, and that He would do this sovereignly and graciously apart from Elijah’s work. Elijah was certainly a hero, but apparently toward the end of his ministry he had become worn out and needed to transfer the prophetic ministry to another (for more on this section, see Michael G. Vanlaningham, "Paul’s Use of Elijah’s Mount Horeb Experience in Rom 11:2–6: An Exegetical Note," The Master’s Seminary Journal 6 [Fall, 1995]: 223–32).

19:15–18. The word of the Lord came again to Elijah, telling him to return on his way to the wilderness of Damascus (v. 15). He was God’s messenger to the northern kingdom and needed to be about God’s work. Specifically, he was to anoint three individuals: Hazael king over Aram (v. 15); Jehu … king over Israel (v. 16); and Elisha … as prophet in Elijah’s place (v. 16). Only the last anointing was actually carried out by Elijah, while Elisha actually anointed the two kings, leading some commentators to ponder whether Elijah lived out his earthly ministry in disobedience (Provan, 1, 2 Kings, 147), or that God chose to curtail Elijah’s ministry in light of Elijah’s determination to appoint himself as Israel’s "new Moses" (see the comments on 19:11–14 above; Vanlaningham, "Elijah’s Mount Horeb Experience," 229–30, n. 17).

However, the text does not actually condemn Elijah’s behavior, and the nature of biblical prophecy does not demand that Elijah would actually anoint all three individuals identified in vv. 15–16. Both Elisha and John the Baptist would minister "in the spirit and power of Elijah" (Lk 1:17; and see the comments on Mt 11:13–15), that is, they would both serve with a special anointing from God and with a ministry akin to Elijah’s. Elisha would complete the ministry of Elijah, but he would not be alone in following the Lord, for there would be 7,000 in Israel … that have not bowed to Baal … or kissed him (v. 18), that is, they had not worshiped Baal. God was about to establish a new order in accord with His ways, and Elijah was the first to hear about it.

19:19–21. Elijah obeyed and found Elisha, the son of Shaphat, who would be the next major prophet to the northern kingdom. The fact that this farmer, who was about to become a prophet, had so many oxen—Elisha … was plowing with twelve pairs of oxen before him (v. 19)—indicated that he and his family were people of substantial financial means. Elijah … threw his mantle on Elisha (v. 19), symbolically showing that the prophetic power was passing from one man to another. Also of significance is the fact that just as God passed by Elijah (v. 11) to reveal His ways to the prophet, now Elijah also passed by Elisha (v. 19) to communicate God’s will.

Elisha left the oxen and ran after Elijah, indicating his desire to enter the prophetic office. His only request was that he might kiss his father and mother as a farewell gesture. He was abandoning his former life to become Elijah’s servant and protégé (vv. 20–21). Elijah may have sensed that, despite his victory at Mount Carmel, Baal was not defeated. But God had now revealed that He was present and still about to do a mighty work in the northern kingdom.

c. Ahab and God’s Supremacy over Military Power (1Kg 20:1–43)

Following the prophecies made to Elijah in 1Kg 19:15–16, one would expect that Hazael or Jehu would be anointed for their respective posts. But the narrative takes an unexpected turn as God continued His dealings with Ahab. The LXX reverses chaps. 20 and 21, apparently in an attempt to keep the relationship between Elijah and Ahab intact. However, the Hebrew text makes a strong connection between the king’s attitude in 20:43 and what was revealed about him in 21:4. The reader must keep in mind the primary focus of the chapter, namely, that it was the Lord’s intention to show His power to Ahab once again, so that the king would know that the Lord was God, the true King of Israel (20:13, 26).

20:1–6. One of the constant threats the northern kingdom faced was frequent invasions from Aram (Syria) in the north. Ben-hadad assembled an army of thirty-two kings and went up and besieged Samaria and fought against it (v. 1). Ancient extrabiblical records indicate that confederations of kings were common in the ancient Near East (Patterson and Austel, "1 & 2 Kings," 153). This Ben-hadad was not the same king of Aram identified earlier (cf. 15:17–20). More likely this is Ben-hadad II (c. 860–843 BC), because of the statement that he agreed to return to Ahab the cities his father had taken (cf. 20:34). Ben-hadad’s military tactic was one of intimidation. He sent messengers to Ahab, telling him that he was about to take his silver … gold … and your most beautiful wives and children (vv. 2–3). Ahab agreed to the demands, saying, I am yours, and all that I have (v. 4). Then Ben-hadad sent messengers a second time to announce that he was coming tomorrow to take everything that was desirable in Ahab’s eyes. The threat indicated that Ben-hadad wanted to reduce Ahab to his vassal (vv. 5–6).

20:7–12. Ahab, the king of Israel, suddenly realized the consequences of Ben-hadad’s threat and sought the counsel of the elders of the land (v. 7). Their advice was to not listen or consent (v. 8). When Aram’s king learned of Ahab’s decision, he increased the verbal intimidation. Ben-hadad said, May the gods do so to me and more also, if the dust of Samaria will suffice for handfuls for all the people who follow me (v. 10). He was saying that total and complete destruction of Samaria would not satisfy his army. Ahab in turn cautioned Ben-hadad, Let not him who girds on his armor boast like him who takes it off (v. 11). The battle had not yet been fought, and Aram’s king needed to remember not to boast too soon (v. 12).

20:13–21. Ahab had not sought the counsel of the Lord, but God in His grace sent a prophet to inform Israel’s king that God would deliver him. Ahab in turn would know that I am the Lord (v. 13). When he inquired as to who would lead the battle, the prophet informed him that it would be the young men and Ahab himself (v. 14). The Hebrew term for "young men" (na’are) throughout 1 Kings always refers to those unschooled in military affairs; a youth in contrast to a trained warrior (cf. 1Sm 17:33). This lends itself to the drama of the passage where the enemy seemed to be overwhelmingly large and Israel appeared to be weak and inexperienced. The number 7,000 (v. 15) is the same as the number of the faithful remnant in 19:18. While these are not the same people, the writer of 1 Kings may be indicating that God has the power to preserve 7,000 faithful to Him, and He proved it by giving victory to Ahab’s 7,000 soldiers.

Ahab clearly did not deserve this victory. God’s spiritual preservation of the 7,000 faithful people and victory by the 7,000 soldiers of Ahab both exhibit God’s profound grace. At the same time that Ahab talked with the prophet (vv. 13–14), Ben-hadad was drinking himself drunk along with his thirty-two kings, his army confederates (v. 16). When Aram’s king heard that Men have come out from Samaria, he commanded, If they have come out for peace, take them alive; or if they have come out for war, take them alive (vv. 17–18). His command played into the hands of Israel’s army and the will of the Lord. Ben-hadad barely escaped with his life (v. 20). The king of Israel went out and struck … and killed the Arameans with a great slaughter (v. 21).

20:22–25. The same prophet who informed Ahab of the first battle plan came with a second, warning him that at the turn of the year, the spring time, Aram’s king would return. Ben-hadad himself decided on a different strategy, having mistakenly been advised that Israel’s gods were gods of the mountains (v. 23). His servants proposed that he fight against Israel on the plains and that he replace the kings he employed earlier and put captains in their place (v. 24). From a strictly military point of view the strategy seemed wise since Aram’s military was larger and stronger, with many more horses and chariots than Israel would be able to assemble.

20:26–30. A second battle took place near Aphek, a few miles east of the Sea of Galilee. The contrast in armies was shocking: Israel’s army was like two little flocks of goats, while Aram’s army filled the country (v. 26). A man of God appeared to Ahab, the king of Israel, to again inform him that Aram’s multitude would be given into his hand, so that he would know that the Lord had brought about the victory, not Ahab or Baal (v. 28). When the battle eventually took place Israel killed 100,000 foot soldiers in one day (v. 29). Another group of Arameans fled to Aphek, where a wall fell on 27,000 men (v. 30). The scene hearkens back to other battles like Joshua’s victory at Jericho. God’s people went to battle, against great odds, but it was God who actually fought and gave the victory.

20:31–34. Ben-hadad also fled to Aphek to find protection (v. 30). Realizing that their lives were in jeopardy, some Arameans counseled Ben-hadad to consider terms of peace because they had heard that the kings of the house of Israel are merciful (v. 31). So to show their desire to surrender and not to fight, they girded sackcloth on their loins and put ropes on their heads (v. 32) in an attempt to find mercy (chesed), a Hebrew term consistently associated with covenant-keeping. However, God’s covenant promises with Israel did not apply to their enemy neighbors. As in the case with Joshua (cf. Jos 6:15–20), Israel’s pagan neighbors were to be destroyed, especially when God was the One who won the battle. Unfortunately Ahab forgot or simply did not know the ways of God and accepted Ben-hadad’s pleas for mercy, saying of the king of Aram, He is my brother (v. 32). Ben-hadad made a deal with Ahab to restore territory and give him access to Damascus, so that Ahab made a covenant with him and let him go (v. 34).

20:35–43. Again Ahab was confronted by one of God’s messengers—this time by a certain man of the sons of the prophets (v. 35). These men were students studying in the schools of the prophets, and this unnamed prophet was among them (cf. 2Kg 9:1). This prophet had a message for Ahab regarding his failure to punish Ben-hadad (vv. 32–34), and he delivered the message in the form of a drama. In a scene similar to 13:21–25, the one who received information by the word of the Lord asked a fellow prophet to strike him so as to give the impression that he had been one of the soldiers in battle against the Arameans (v. 35). When the second prophet refused to do so, he was told that a lion would kill him. And as soon as he departed … a lion found him and killed him (v. 36) as God had predicted. The prophet eventually found another man to assist him, and so the confrontation was put in place.

When the king met the prophet who had disguised himself with a bandage over his eyes (v. 38), the prophet told him a story about letting a prisoner escape. Ahab was told one of two things would happen to him: either he would have to pay with his life, or he would have to pay a talent of silver, about 75 pounds, an impossible sum for an ordinary soldier to pay (v. 39). The king of Israel was merciless, telling the prophet in disguise that the judgment would stand. At that point the prophet hastily took the bandage away and revealed his true identity to Ahab (v. 41). As the prophet Nathan had done when he told the parable to David regarding Bathsheba (cf. 2Sm 12), this prophet used his story of the escaped prisoner to accuse the king. Ahab was informed that because he had let his enemy go out of his hand, even though Ben-hadad was devoted to destruction, Ahab’s life would be taken in place of Ben-hadad’s (v. 42). The verdict was rendered, and Ahab was again aware that God alone is King! So he went to his house sullen and vexed as he came home to Samaria (v. 43). His emotional despair would follow Ahab as he now understood he was destined to live the remainder of his days under the judgment of God.

d. Ahab Covets Naboth’s Vineyard and Learns of God’s Justice (1Kg 21:1–29)

One would think that after seeing both God’s judgment on Baal worship (cf. 18:30–40) and God’s powerful deliverance over Aram (cf. 20:1–30), Ahab would have repented from his sinful ways. But Israel’s king had consistently failed to acknowledge the Lord as King, and that Judah’s and Israel’s human monarchs were His servants. And so the spiritual education of the Babylonian exiles, the audience for whom 1 and 2 Kings was written, continued through yet another chapter related to Ahab’s life.

21:1–4. The narrative history of Ahab’s life continued with the transitional words after these things (v. 1). Ahab had been rebuked by one of the sons of the prophets and was sulking in Samaria over the thought that his end was at hand with little glory to accompany it. The king saw a garden belonging to Naboth the Jezreelite and wanted it for his own possession. Ahab offered Naboth what he thought was a reasonable deal—a better vineyard or the price of it in money (v. 2). Naboth refused all offers, claiming that the garden was the inheritance of his fathers (v. 3). Apparently Naboth understood that God said the land was His personal possession and He only entrusted it to His people (cf. Lv 25:23). The land was not to be traded as disposable real estate, but was to stay in the care of the families to which it was allotted (cf. Dt 25:5–10). When Ahab realized his wants would not be met, he again became sullen and vexed and went to bed and would not eat (cf. 20:43).

21:5–14. When Jezebel realized why Ahab was sulking (vv. 5–6), she came up with a plan. The queen resorted to a political power play, saying to him, Do you now reign over Israel? (v. 7). Perhaps she knew about the prophecies against him, but for now he was the king, and she was encouraging him to take advantage of his power base. Even more to her liking, Jezebel informed Ahab, I will give you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite (v. 7). She then proceeded to send letters under the king’s seal to the elders of Jezreel, encouraging them to proclaim a fast and invite Naboth (v. 9). The call for a citywide fast implied that some serious sin or legal infraction had occurred. In addition the elders were to invite two worthless men who would accuse Naboth of cursing God and the king (v. 10). Once the charges were made, Naboth was to be stoned to death. Jezebel’s plan was executed perfectly, at least in her mind, and word came back to the queen that Naboth was dead (v. 14).

21:15–24. Jezebel then told Ahab that he could go take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite (v. 15). The property was still identified as belonging to Naboth, no matter what Ahab and Jezebel conspired. They assumed that all was going well with their scheme, but the word of the Lord came to Elijah (v. 17). He was told to go and confront Ahab who was on his way to take possession of the stolen vineyard. Elijah was told to inform Ahab that where the dogs licked up the blood of Naboth the dogs shall also lick up Ahab’s blood (v. 19). Ahab realized he had been found by Elijah, and called him O my enemy, recognizing that the prophet spoke for the Lord, who had become the enemy of the wicked king. Elijah delivered his message: pronouncement of a horrible death that appears eight times in 1 and 2 Kings against those who would rebel against the precepts of the Lord (cf. 1Kg 14:11; 16:4; 21:19, 23–24; 22:38; 2Kg 9:10, 36).

Elijah made it clear that Ahab’s demise was coming about because he had sold himself to do evil in the sight of the Lord (v. 20; cf. v. 22). Ahab had abandoned any righteous qualities he might have had to do evil for his own benefit and to the detriment of the kingdom. Therefore, the Lord would make Ahab’s house like the house of Jeroboam … because you have made Israel sin with the worship of Baal (v. 22). Furthermore, Jezebel would also be judged for her wickedness in inciting Ahab to lead the nation into Baal worship and the dogs shall eat Jezebel in the district of Jezreel, a prophecy fulfilled exactly during the reign of Jehu (cf. 2Kg 9:30–37).

21:25–29. Here is an unexpected summary to Ahab’s life. Surely there was no one like Ahab who sold himself to do evil (v. 25). Yet once Ahab heard Elijah’s words … he tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and fasted (v. 27). The Lord acknowledged the king’s repentant behavior to Elijah, and His willingness to extend mercy to Ahab. Specifically God would not bring the evil (ra’ah, "the disaster"), previously announced, to Ahab in his lifetime (v. 29). It would be Ahab’s son, Joram/Jehoram, who would ultimately have to experience the fulfillment of the prophecies announced through Elijah against Ahab (cf. 2Kg 9:1–37). This event raises the question of the mercy and plan of God. Although God had pronounced judgment on Ahab, within His own plan He allowed for the modification of that judgment, all within His own omniscience.

e. Ahab Confronted by the Prophet Micaiah: God’s Supremacy over Plans (1Kg 22:1–40)

Even though Ahab seemed to have a change of heart after Elijah confronted him (21:27–29), the events that followed indicate that a sinful worldview had control over much of the king’s thinking. Ahab had been an eyewitness to God’s supremacy over nature (chap. 17), over the prophets of Baal (chap. 18), and over his own secretive, unjust ways (chap. 21). In this section, Ahab would learn the hard way that God’s prophetic word is superior to the manipulative words of his self-appointed prophets.

22:1–4. At this time there was a short-lived peace between Israel and Aram while they were in an alliance against the Assyrian king, Shalmaneser III, so three years passed without war between Aram and Israel (v. 1). A decisive victory against Shalmaneser took place at Qarqar in northern Syria in 853 BC. With the Assyrian campaign completed, Ahab wanted to complete the agreement made with Ben-hadad (cf. 20:34). He had specific concerns for Ramoth-gilead, one of the main cities belonging to Gad, about 30 miles east of the Jordan River and 15 miles south of the Sea of Galilee. Ahab asserted this area belonged to Israel but was still in the hand of the king of Aram (v. 3). At the same time Ahab was visited by Jehoshaphat, king of Judah (v. 4); because the daughter of Israel’s king was married to the Judean king’s son, there was a marriage alliance between Israel and Judah (cf. 2Ch 18:1). Military threats and a royal marriage brought the two men together.

22:5–12. Even though Jehoshaphat was willing to supply people and horses for the battle (v. 4), he insisted that the two kings inquire first for the word of the Lord (v. 5). The dialogue between the kings indicated that Jehoshaphat was much more spiritually sensitive to the Lord’s wishes than was Ahab. So Ahab assembled about four hundred prophets (v. 6). This was about the same number as the prophets of Asherah who did not appear at Mount Carmel for the confrontation with Elijah; consequently they had escaped execution alongside the 450 prophets of Baal (cf. 18:19, 40). These pagan prophets clearly communicated to Ahab what he wanted to hear: Go up, for the Lord will give victory into the hand of the king (v. 6). But when Jehoshaphat challenged their report, the only prophet of the Lord Ahab could identify was Micaiah son of Imlah (v. 8). Ahab stated that his reluctance to bring Micaiah into his presence was that he does not prophesy good concerning me, but evil (ra’, i.e., "distress; calamity"). However, Jehoshaphat insisted that Micaiah be consulted, and plans were implemented to bring him to the royal assembly (v. 9). The tension of the meeting was heightened with the knowledge that another prophet, Zedekiah, and several other prophets encouraged Ahab and Jehoshaphat to fight for Ramoth-gilead by saying, the Lord will give it into the hand of the king (v. 12).

22:13–18. The messenger who went to summon Micaiah (v. 13) warned him that the other prophets were giving the kings a favorable report about going into battle. Their confidence resulted from the victories attained three years earlier, as well as the most recent victory against Shalmaneser III. But Micaiah did not have the same confidence. When the messenger warned him to speak favorably to Ahab, the prophet stated, As the Lord lives, what the Lord says to me, that I shall speak (v. 14). When Micaiah finally appeared before the two kings, he sarcastically agreed with the other prophets, saying: Go up and succeed (v. 15). But Ahab certainly detected something in Micaiah’s voice or demeanor and demanded: How many times must I adjure you to speak … the truth? (v. 16). Micaiah then told of a vision that he had been given, revealing Israel’s utter defeat at the hands of the Arameans. I saw all Israel scattered on the mountains (v. 17). Again Ahab whined that this prophet never said anything good, but evil.

22:19–28. Micaiah then explained how his prophecy came about. He referred to a heavenly vision with the Lord sitting on His throne, an image of the Lord in royal command (cf. Is 6:1; Jr 23:16–20; Ezk 1:26–28), a startling contrast to the two kings sitting on their thrones (v. 10). In this heavenly vision the prophet described a dialogue between the Lord and the host of heaven (v. 19). The Lord asked, Who will entice Ahab to go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead? (v. 20). Here entice means "to persuade or attempt to persuade." The Lord does not deceive people to accomplish His purpose. Micaiah’s vision should be understood as the imagery of an ancient Near Eastern monarch seated upon his throne with his attendants and counselors around him. The Lord was not seated literally on His throne since He is an incorporeal spirit (cf. Jn 4:24), and as the One who is omniscient, He would not have required the input of other beings. The deceiving spirit is also unlikely to have been necessary for the sovereign God to accomplish something.

Instead, in this passage the deceiving spirit (v. 22) provides a theological "layer" between God and the false prophets. Because of the deceiving spirit, God is not depicted as directly causing the deceit Himself, though the writer of Kings clearly intended to indicate that He was superintending this situation (v. 23). In a mysterious way, God governed and ordained this event without Himself producing it as the direct, immediate cause (since "He Himself does not tempt anyone," Jms 1:13). Instead, He brought to fruition the episode as the "indirect," "ultimate cause," and the false prophets, who were responsible for their own moral deeds, are blamed for the guilt of their actions, not God.

The prophets and their words fed into the very thing that Ahab wanted to hear. But the vision was clearly made known to Ahab (vv. 17–23), and he had an opportunity to repent and do what was right before the battle. But Ahab refused to do so, choosing instead to put Micaiah in prison, and not be released until I return safely (v. 27). Micaiah had spoken the truth for the Lord; however, he suffered mistreatment at the hands of Ahab, and perhaps was left to die in prison because the prophet said, If you indeed return safely, the Lord has not spoken by me (v. 28). Ahab refused to listen and then marched to his death.

22:29–40. The prophecy must have had some sort of lingering impact on Ahab’s thinking, because he proposed that he disguise himself before entering the battle, while Jehoshaphat would remain in his royal garments (v. 30). He wanted the king of Judah to be the target of the enemy, while he could move about the battlefield anonymously. The king of Aram gave specific orders for his thirty-two captains to fight only against Israel’s king Ahab (v. 31). It was their mission to find and kill him. As the battle ensued, a certain man drew his bow at random and stuck the king of Israel in a joint of the armor (v. 34). This may have seemed like a random shot, but the arrow landed exactly where God wanted it to land. Despite being disguised in the battle, Ahab was mortally wounded and died propped up in his chariot (v. 35), as the blood from the wound ran into the bottom of the chariot. The prophecy of his death and that the dogs licked up his blood was fulfilled exactly (v. 38; cf. 21:19). Even his opulent ivory house and accomplishments as a monarch (v. 39) paled in contrast to the fact that Ahab tried to live his life independent of the God who is supreme over absolutely everything. After Ahab’s death, Ahaziah his son became king in his place (v. 40). Ahaziah’s reign is detailed in 2Kg 1.

5. Jehoshaphat of Judah: A Good King (1Kg 22:41–50)

22:41–50. The book closes with the account of Jehoshaphat the son of Asa becoming king over Judah (873–848 BC; cf. 2Ch 17:1–20:37). Unlike his counterpart in the northern kingdom, Jehoshaphat walked in all the way of Asa his father; he did not turn aside from it, doing right in the sight of the Lord (v. 43). Jehoshaphat was one of the good kings of Judah, although, like Asa, he failed to remove the high places (v. 43; cf. 15:14). By and large he was a king who sought to obey the Lord’s will. His attempt to go to Ophir for gold failed because the ships were broken at Ezion-geber (v. 48; cf. comments on 10:20 and 2Ch 20), yet Jehoshaphat was not willing to enter into an alliance with Ahab’s son, Ahaziah (v. 49).

6. Ahaziah of Israel: A Bad King (1Kg 22:51–2Kg 1:18)

22:51–53. In contrast to the righteousness revealed in Jehoshaphat’s reign, the book of 1 Kings closes with a commentary on King Ahaziah (853–852 BC; cf. 2Ch 20:3–37), the son of Ahab, who became king over Israel in Samaria in the seventeenth year of Jehoshaphat king of Judah (v. 51). Like Ahab his father, Ahaziah did evil in the sight of the Lord (v. 52). He continued to serve Baal and provoked the Lord God of Israel to anger (v. 53). The details of his reign continue in 2Kg 1. His wicked behavior, along with that of the rest of the kings of Israel, led to the northern kingdom’s demise (cf. 2Kg 17) and eventually led to the deportation of the southern kingdom of Judah to Babylon. In these closing verses the text gives sufficient evidence that the coming Babylonian captivity was deserved. God alone was their only righteous, sovereign King (cf. Ex 19:4–6; 1Sm 8:7). The Lord God of Israel alone deserves worship and allegiance, and the nation should continue to look for the messianic king, the Son of David.

The historic account and theological details of Israel’s and Judah’s kings continues uninterrupted in 2 Kings, beginning with details about Ahaziah’s death.


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