Who wrote it?
The book of 1 Kings does not specifically name its author. The tradition is that it was written by the Prophet Jeremiah.
When(ish) was it written?
The book of 1 Kings was likely written between 560 and 540 BC.
Why was it written?
This book is the sequel to 1 and 2 Samuel and begins by tracing Solomon’s rise to kingship after the death of David. The story begins with a united kingdom, but ends in a nation divided into two kingdoms, known as Judah and Israel. 1 and 2 Kings are combined into one book in the Hebrew Bible.
Some Key Verses
As I swore to you by the Lord, the God of Israel, saying, ‘Solomon your son shall reign after me, and he shall sit on my throne in my place,’ even so will I do this day.
– 1 Kings 1:30
And the Lord said to him, “I have heard your prayer and your plea, which you have made before me. I have consecrated this house that you have built, by putting my name there forever. My eyes and my heart will be there for all time.”
– 1 Kings 9:3
And when all Israel saw that the king did not listen to them, the people answered the king, “What portion do we have in David? We have no inheritance in the son of Jesse. To your tents, O Israel! Look now to your own house, David.” So Israel went to their tents.
– 1 Kings 12:16
So the king took counsel and made two calves of gold. And he said to the people, “You have gone up to Jerusalem long enough. Behold your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.”
– 1 Kings 12:28
Now Elijah the Tishbite, of Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, before whom I stand, there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word.”
– 1 Kings 17:1
A Quick Summary
The book of 1 Kings starts with Solomon and ends with Elijah. The difference between the two gives you an idea as to what lies between. Solomon was born after a palace scandal between David and Bathsheba. Like his father, he had a weakness for women that would bring him down. Solomon did well at first, praying for wisdom and building a temple to God that took seven years to construct. But then he spent thirteen years building a palace for himself. His accumulation of many wives led him to worship their idols and away from God. After Solomon’s death, Israel was ruled by a series of kings, most of whom were evil and idolatrous. The nation fell further away from God, and even the preaching of Elijah could not bring them back. Among the most evil kings were Ahab and his queen, Jezebel, who brought the worship of Baal to new heights in Israel. Elijah tried to turn the Israelites back to the worship of Yahweh, challenging the idolatrous priests of Baal to a showdown with God on Mount Carmel. Of course, God won. This made Queen Jezebel angry (to say the least). She ordered Elijah’s death, so he ran away and hid in the wilderness. Depressed and exhausted, he said, “take away my life” (1 Kings 19:4). But God sent food and encouragement to the prophet and spoke to him in “a low whisper” and in the process saved his life for further work (1 Kings 19:12).
The Temple in Jerusalem, where God’s Spirit would dwell in the Holy of Holies, foreshadows believers in Christ in whom the Holy Spirit resides from the moment of our salvation. Just as the Israelites were to forsake idolatry, we are to put away anything that separates us from God. We are His people, the very temple of the living God. 2 Corinthians 6:16 tells us, “what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, ‘I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.’”
Elijah the prophet was for forerunner of Christ and the Apostles of the New Testament. God enabled Elijah to do miraculous things in order to prove that he was truly a man of God. He raised from the dead the son of the widow of Zarephath, causing her to exclaim, “Now I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in your mouth is truth” (1 Kings 17:24). In the same way, men of God who spoke His words through His power are evident in the New Testament. Not only did Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead, but He also raised the son of the widow of Nain (Luke 7:14-15) and Jairus’ daughter (Luke 8:52-56). The Apostle Peter raised Dorcas (Acts 9:40) and Paul raised Eutychus (Acts 20:9-12).
What does this mean?
The book of 1 Kings has many lessons for believers. We see a warning about the company we keep, and especially in regard to close associations and marriage. The kings of Israel who, like Solomon, married foreign women exposed themselves and the people they ruled to evil. As believers in Christ, we must be very careful about whom we choose as friends, business associates, and spouses. “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals’” (1 Corinthians 15:33).
Elijah’s experience in the wilderness also teaches a valuable lesson. After his incredible victory over the 450 prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel, his joy turned to sorrow when he was pursued by Jezebel and fled for his life. Such “mountaintop” experiences are often followed by a letdown and the depression and discouragement that can follow. We have to be on guard for this type of experience in the Christian life. But our God is faithful and will never leave or forsake us. The quiet, gentle sound that encouraged Elijah will encourage us.
Take a few minutes to review the Scripture from 1 Kings 18-19. What verses or ideas stand out to you from these passages? What questions do you have? What would you like to remember and apply to your life?
People often tend to piece together their belief system by picking and choosing different spiritual truth claims. What are some ways people do this? What in the Bible is easy to believe? What in the Bible is challenging to believe?
Read 1 Kings 18:21. In what ways are you tempted to “limp between two different opinions” in your life as a follower of Jesus?
In 1 Kings 19, we see that Elijah himself struggled to trust God in a difficult season of his life. When is it most challenging for you to have faith in God and trust him?
How can we apply the Gospel to ourselves as we continue “limping between different opinions” in our lives as Christ-followers? Take time to think about these solutions and pray for one another in your group.