I Kings - The Kingdom Divided

  • I and II Kings were appropriately named as they are a record of the reigns of all the kings of Judah and Israel except Saul. They begin with David’s last days and the events of placing Solomon on the throne through the fall of the Jewish monarchy and the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. These two books were originally one volume, but later became two.
  • The setting for this book is that the chosen people had been conquered and were in exile; Babylon was in control of the Promised Land; Jerusalem lay in ruins; the temple had been destroyed; and Jehoiachin, David’s descendant, was a captive. In this time of disruption, the exiles wondered what had happened to God’s promises to His people.
  • The human authorship of I and II Kings is not known. It could have been Ezra, a priest who had strong feelings for the history of the people, or it could have been the prophet Ezekiel or the prophet Jeremiah. The Jewish Talmud states that Jeremiah wrote Kings.
  • More important is the fact that these books were not only written to record history, but also to teach the lessons of history. They reveal:
  1. The pitiful shortcomings of man. God repeatedly gave these rulers an opportunity to forsake sin and turn to Him, but again and again they resisted.
  2. The character of God. Dr. Charles Woodbridge once said, “His grace is amazing, his patience is enduring, His compassion is infinite, but His justice is inflexible."
  3. The importance of the prophets of God. False prophets were numerous, but great men of God such as Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Jonah crossed the pages of Jewish history with dignity and majesty.
  4. A true philosophy of history. These words were penned not only to record facts of historical significance, but also to reveal and preserve spiritual lessons that have timeless value.
  • The story of Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, is found in this book, along with accounts of other kings of this time. They provide us with both positive examples to follow and mistakes to avoid. It is here that we learn about the tragic division of Israel into the northern kingdom (Israel) and the southern kingdom (Judah). This division sets the stage for the rest of biblical history.

An outline of I Kings:

  1. United kingdom: Kingdom in tranquility (chapters 1-11).
  2. Divided kingdom: Kingdom in turmoil (chapters 12-22).