1 Kings-God’s lessons from history

About the Books of 1 Kings and 2 Kings

A Bible text and commentary on 1 Kings. Written by Philip Smith. September 2007.


We do not know who wrote the books. Some people say that Jeremiah did. He lived just before Jerusalem’s enemies overcame the city. 2 Kings 24:18-25:30 is the same as Jeremiah chapter 52. There is nothing about Jeremiah in the books of 1 Kings and 2 Kings. However, Jeremiah went to Egypt. 2 Kings ends with the events in Babylon. An unknown *prophet in Babylon probably wrote both 1 Kings and 2 Kings.

The writer or writers used a lot of information from other books. These books probably included Isaiah, Jeremiah and Chronicles. The book refers to an unknown book called the ‘Book of the acts of Solomon.’ It also mentions the ‘Books of the chronicles of the kings of *Israel and *Judah’. (A chronicle is a record of events in the order in which they happened.) It also uses collections of stories about the *prophets Elijah, Elisha, Micaiah and Isaiah.


The author gave a message. He did not just write history. He follows what the Book of Deuteronomy taught. Deuteronomy contains God’s law for his people. It directs how they should live. But most of the kings in *Judah and *Israel did not obey these instructions. (In fact, none of the kings in the northern *kingdom (called *Israel) were good kings.) And when the kings were evil, most of the people in their *kingdoms became evil too.

For example, the Book of Deuteronomy explains how the people should *worship God. But most kings and most people did not want to *worship the real God. They preferred to *worship images of false gods. Much of this evil *worship had a relationship with sex. People believed that such gods would give them large families and successful farms. And agriculture was very important in *Judah and *Israel.

So the kings and the people neglected the *worship of the real God. But there were important exceptions. *Judah had some good kings. And these kings had a good effect on their entire nation. In fact, Hilkiah the chief priest rediscovered the Book of Deuteronomy in the *Temple when Josiah was king (2 Kings chapter 22). Then Josiah stopped the *worship of false gods. He taught the people to obey God. And Josiah himself obeyed God completely. But Josiah’s son would be an evil king.

Deuteronomy taught the people about God’s laws. God intended his people to obey his laws and his *covenant. He intended that they would make his *worship pure. If they did, they would receive *blessing. If not, they would suffer a terrible punishment (Deuteronomy chapter 28).

The Books of 1 Kings and 2 Kings tell us about a period of nearly 400 years. This was from the time when David died to the *exile in Babylon. In 930 *B.C. (years before Christ) the *kingdom divided into two parts. This happened after the death of Solomon. This is the most important event in the book.

There is more about the northern kings (*Israel) than about the southern kings (*Judah.) The author writes a great deal about the kings who affected the religion of the country. He does not say much about the other kings. For example, he says a lot about Ahab who made people *worship *Baal. He says very little about Ahab’s father Omri, who was a much better king.

The author also says a lot about the *prophets, in particular Elijah and Elisha. He explains why God allowed his people to go into *exile. The book speaks badly about the people in the northern *kingdom. They did not give honour to God at Jerusalem. The kings of the southern *kingdom either obeyed or did not obey the laws in Deuteronomy. The book’s opinion of them depends on what they did.

The dates in 1 Kings and 2 Kings

The books describe the history of the kings and queens of *Israel and *Judah. They begin with the last days of David. They include Jeroboam’s revolution, when the *kingdom became divided. And they end with the *exile in Babylon.

After the *kingdom divided, the author writes about each part of the *kingdom in turn.

For example, he describes the rule of a king of *Judah. Then he describes the rule of the king of *Israel. He tells us in which year of one king’s rule the other king’s rule begins. Sometimes these numbers do not match. There are various reasons:

·    Sometimes they count the year that a king began to rule as a complete year. In fact, he may have begun his rule part of the way through the year.

·    Sometimes two kings ruled at the same time. For example, Uzziah became ill. Then his son ruled while he was still alive.

·    Also, the northern and southern *kingdoms began their years in different months. The northern *kingdom began its year in the month called Nisan (March/April.) The southern *kingdom began its year in the month called Tishri (September/October.)

For kings of *Israel, the author adds the name of the capital city where he ruled. He then says how long that king ruled. He also says what that king was like.

For the kings of *Judah, the author mentions the age at which each king started to rule. He also mentions the name of the queen mother (that is, the mother of the king). He tells us if the king obeyed God’s law. And he compares that king with David.

Plan of the Books

1 Kings 1:1-2:46 – The last days of David and how Solomon became king

1:1-53 The struggle for power

2:1-12 David gives advice to Solomon. The death of David

2:13-46 Solomon becomes king and he makes himself strong.

1 Kings 3:1-11:43 – The rule of Solomon

3:1-28 Solomon’s wisdom

4:1-34 Solomon’s government and his riches

5:1-7:51 Solomon builds his *temple and his palace.

8:1-66 Solomon gives the *temple to God.

9:1-28 God answers Solomon’s prayer. Solomon’s buildings and trade

10:1-29 The visit of the Queen of Sheba

11:1-43 Solomon loses much of his power and then he dies.

1 Kings 12:1-14:31 – The *kingdom divides

12:1-24 Rehoboam becomes king after Solomon.

12:25-33 Jeroboam *rebels and he persuades the northern *tribes to support him.

13:1-32 Jeroboam appoints priests. A *prophet warns him about *disaster.

13:33-14:20 Ahijah warns Jeroboam’s wife about *disaster. Jeroboam dies.

14:21-31 Egypt attacks Rehoboam. Rehoboam dies.

1 Kings 15:1-16:28 – The wars between *Israel and *Judah

15:1-8 Abijam, king of *Judah

15:9-24 Asa, king of *Judah

15:25-32 Nadab, king of *Israel

15:33-16:7 Baasha, king of *Israel

16:8-14 Elah, king of *Israel

16:15-20 Zimri, king of *Israel

16:21-28 Omri, king of *Israel

1 Kings 16:29 – 2 Kings 1:18 – Ahab and Elijah

16:29-34 Ahab, king of *Israel

17:1-19:21 God provides for Elijah when there is no rain. Elijah opposes Ahab on *Mount Carmel. Elijah runs away. Elijah appoints Elisha.

20:1-43 Ahab defeats the king of Syria and then makes *peace with him.

21:1-29 Ahab and Naboth’s *vineyard

22:1-40 Ahab’s final war with Syria

22:41 – 2 Kings 1:18 Elijah *challenges Ahaziah.

2 Kings 2:1-10:36 – Stories about Elisha

2:1-25 God takes Elijah to heaven. Elisha becomes a *prophet in his place.

3:1-27 The war with Moab

4:1- 8:15 Elisha’s *miracles

8:16-24 Jehoram, king of *Judah

8:25-29 Ahaziah, king of *Judah

9:1-10:36 Jehu’s revolution. Elisha makes him king. Jehu kills Joram, Ahaziah and Jezebel and the family of Ahab. He removes the *worship of *Baal.

2 Kings 11:1-17:41 – From Jehu’s revolution to the end of the northern *kingdom

11:1-20 Athaliah, queen of *Judah

11:21-12:21 Joash, king of *Judah; Joash repairs the *temple.

13:1-9 Jehoahaz, king of *Israel

13:10-13 Jehoash, king of *Israel

13:14-25 The death of Elisha

14:1-22 Amaziah, king of *Judah

14:23-29 Jeroboam II, king of *Israel

15:1-7 Azariah (Uzziah), king of *Judah

15:8-31 Revolutions in *Israel

15:32-38 Jotham, king of *Judah

16:1-20 Ahaz, king of *Judah

17:1-41 Assyria *captures the Northern *Kingdom. The author explains why it happened.

2 Kings 18:1-21:26 – *Judah and Assyria

18:1-12 Hezekiah, king of *Judah

18:13-19:37 Sennacherib attacks Jerusalem.

20:1-21 God cures Hezekiah. Hezekiah makes a foolish friendship with Babylon. He dies.

21:1-18 Manasseh, king of *Judah

21:19-26 Amon, king of *Judah

2 Kings 22:1-23:30 – The good changes that Josiah made

22:1-20 Josiah repairs the *temple. Someone discovers the book of the law.

23:1-30 Josiah’s improvements and his death

2 Kings 23:31-25:30 – The last years of *Judah

23:31-35 Jehoahaz, king of *Judah goes into *exile in Egypt

23:36-24:7 Jehoiakim, king of *Judah. The rulers of Babylon take control of *Judah for the first time.

24:8-17 Jehoiachin, king of *Judah. The rulers of Babylon take control of *Judah for the second time.

24:18-25:7 Zedekiah, king of *Judah. Soldiers from Babylon take the people from *Judah into *exile.

25:8-30 Soldiers from Babylon destroy Jerusalem. The *exile.

Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5
Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8 Chapter 9 Chapter 10
Chapter 11 Chapter 12 Chapter 13 Chapter 14 Chapter 15
Chapter 16 Chapter 17 Chapter 18 Chapter 19 Chapter 20
Chapter 21 Chapter 22