We’re ba-ack! This season Big Word is diving into First Kings. Well, that’s the plan, but the study will actually have us bouncing around much of the Old Testament.
You see, these stories are so intricately entwined that, in order to get a full, 3-dimensional picture, we need to incorporate all the passages that relate to them. That means that, while we will be focusing on First Kings, we’ll also take a few jogs through the books of Samuel (to remember what brought these characters to this point), Deuteronomy (to remember what God’s instructions to the people were), Chronicles, Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. Whew! That sounds like a LOT! It is … but I promise to keep it manageable. God’s Word is big and shallow dives miss too much of its beauty.
One of the intents of Big Word is to equip you to dive deeply into His Big Word in the midst of your crazy, full life. That’s why we only meet twice a month. That’s why the homework is free and easy to download. That’s why it’s all here, accessible for you.
When you look at the schedule, remember that most of the work is just reading. The homework questions covers only a few pages for each two-week period. Last night most agreed that can complete each batch in about two hours. That’s only one hour a week … less than ten minutes a day … if you choose to do it that way.
All right. Let’s get started.
Introduction to First Kings
Just like 1st and 2nd Samuel, 1st and 2nd Kings were originally one book. The four actually go together with Kings being a continuation of Samuel. The Septuagint (early Greek translations of the Old Testament) divided them into separate books not because of content (as evidenced by the abrupt endings of each), but simply for convenience. Smaller books meant lighter, more manageable scrolls. The stories all thread together, but the book and chapter breaks make for more bite-size studies.
First Kings easily breaks into two parts. The first half is about Solomon and his reign. The second half is about the divided kingdom that follows Solomon’s reign.
“Judah’s nineteen kings were all descendants of David and reigned 345 years. Israel had nineteen kings of nine dynasties, reigning 210 years, eight of whom were either slain or committed suicide. Judah had frequent revivals; the divided Israel, none.” – C.I.Scofield
Author: Unknown, though many believe it to be Jeremiah
Date: The events detailed within 1 Kings cover a span of about 130 years, from the death of King David (971 B.C.) to the end of Ahaziah’s reign. The books were written circa 550 B.C.
Key Characters: Several characters fill the pages of Kings, but some receive a bit more stage.
- Solomon: the last king to reign over a united Israeli kingdom
- Rehoboam, a king of Judah
- Jeroboam, a king of Israel
- Ahab, a king of Israel
- Elijah, a prophet in the time of Ahab
- King David dies and Solomon becomes king.
- Solomon builds the temple.
- The Kingdom divides, ten tribes to the north (Israel) and two to the south (Judah).
- Ahab (married to Jezebel) institutes worship of Baal.
- Elijah confronts over 400 prophets of Baal.
Themes: Several themes can be found in these books, but two stand out more than the others.
- A king with a divided heart will produce a divided kingdom.
- God is the only King that matters; His kingdom, the only one that stands.
Humans are fallable. While we want to believe that a king who seeks God will forever be blessed, we must remember that no king apart from God is perfect. That means no king will ever fully seek God.
We found this to be true with David. He loved God with all his heart, but he still made mistakes. Big mistakes. Those mistakes received big forgiveness (because we serve a big God), but his kingdom still suffered.
We will see similar themes in Solomon. He loves God and wants to serve Him, but his heart is divided. The result: a divided kingdom.
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
— Luke 16:13 (NIV)
“If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” — Mark 3:25 (NIV)
This truth applies to kings, to leaders, to families. Disunity, even if hidden in the heart, will bring destruction.
I don’t want to end on a bitter tone, so let me remind you of the second theme, one that pervades all of Scripture: GOD IS BIGGER. He is bigger than our faults, bigger than our divided, distracted hearts. He is bigger than all we face, all that challenges us and surrounds us and fills our existence with fear. He is bigger and He will have His way. There is great comfort in this!
Your Turn: What is the biggest obstacle for YOU when studying the Bible? Time? Resources? Motivation? What?