Books of 1st and 2nd Kings

National Association of Christian Ministers Summary Series

The Books of 1st and 2nd Kings continue the historical narrative of Israel’s monarchy, picking up where the Books of 1st and 2nd Samuel left off. These books chronicle the reigns of various kings in Israel and Judah, highlighting their faithfulness or lack thereof to God’s commands. Here is a summary of each book:

1st Kings:

The book begins with the elderly King David on his deathbed, and his son Solomon is anointed as the next king of Israel. Solomon becomes renowned for his wisdom and wealth, overseeing the construction of the magnificent temple in Jerusalem. Under Solomon’s rule, Israel experiences a period of prosperity and peace.

However, Solomon’s later years are marked by a departure from God’s laws. He allows foreign wives to turn his heart away from God, and he begins worshipping their gods. As a result, God raises up adversaries against Solomon, and after his death, the kingdom is divided into two: the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah.

The majority of 1st Kings focuses on the reigns of subsequent kings in both Israel and Judah. Many of these kings turn away from God and lead their nations into idolatry and wickedness. Prophets, such as Elijah and Elisha, rise during this time to confront and challenge the idolatrous practices of the kings and call the people back to God.

The book ends with the reign of Ahab, one of the most wicked kings in Israel, and his encounter with the prophet Elijah. Elijah challenges the prophets of the false god Baal to a contest on Mount Carmel, where God proves His supremacy and Elijah slays the prophets of Baal.

2nd Kings:

The book continues the narrative of the divided kingdoms of Israel and Judah. It recounts the reigns of various kings in both kingdoms, highlighting their faithfulness or disobedience to God.

In the northern kingdom of Israel, the majority of the kings continue to lead the people into idolatry and evil. God sends prophets like Elisha to warn and perform miracles, but the people largely refuse to repent. As a result, God allows foreign nations, particularly the Assyrians, to conquer Israel and exile the Israelites.

In the southern kingdom of Judah, there is a mixture of good and bad kings. Some kings, like Hezekiah and Josiah, lead the nation in spiritual reform and seek to restore worship of the true God. However, there are also wicked kings who continue the idolatrous practices of their predecessors.

The book includes accounts of remarkable events and miracles, such as the raising of the dead, miraculous provisions, and deliverance from enemies. It also portrays the ministries and prophecies of several prophets, including Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah, and Jeremiah.

The narrative reaches its climax with the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple by the Babylonians in 586 BCE. Many people are taken into exile, marking the end of the monarchy in Judah.

In summary, the Books of 1st and 2nd Kings chronicle the reigns of various kings in Israel and Judah, depicting their faithfulness or disobedience to God. The books emphasize the consequences of idolatry and unfaithfulness, and they highlight the work of prophets who called the people to repentance. Ultimately, the books show the decline and downfall of both kingdoms due to their abandonment of God’s commands.