In First Kings we have the record of the death of David, the reign of Solomon, the building of the temple, the death of Solomon, the division of the kingdom under Rehoboam and Jeroboam, and part of the history of the two kingdoms of Judah and Israel. It also contains an account of some of the ministry of Elijah.
The book can be divided into five main sections:
1. Chs. 1 to 2:11. From the rebellion of Adonijah to the death of David.
2. Chs. 2:12 to Ch.8. From the accession of Solomon to the dedication of the temple.
3. Ch. 9 to 11. From the confirmation of the Davidic Covenant to the death of Solomon.
4. Chs. 12 to 22. The division of the kingdom, and the kings of Judah and Israel to the
Accession of Jehoram over Judah and Ahaziah over Israel.
5. Chs. 17 to 19 and 21:17-29. Partial record of the ministry of Elijah.
FROM THE REBELLION OF ADONIJAH TO THE DEATH OF DAVID.
ďDavid was old and stricken in years.Ē So commences the first chapter of the First Book of Kings. A promise had been made by David to his wife Bath-sheba that her son Solomon should succeed him on the throne. Adonijah, a son of another wife of David, sought to take advantage of the kingís age and tried to get the throne for himself, vs. 5,9. Nathan the prophet advised Bath-sheba to appeal to David in the matter and remind him of his promise that Solomon should be next king. While she spoke to the king, Nathan, by pre-arrangement, came in and confirmed the report that Adonijah had himself proclaimed king, vs. 11-14, 22-35. David immediately gave orders that the choice of Solomon should be publicly announced, vs. 33-34. This was done and Adonijah humbled himself and was conditionally pardoned according to his future behavior, vs. 39-40, 50-53. Shortly after this king David died, Ch. 2:10-11.
FROM THE ACCESSION OF SOLOMON TO THE DEDICATION OF THE TEMPLE.
Solomon took the throne and his kingdom was established greatly, Ch. 2:12. Shortly after this. Adonijah made himself troublesome and was executed by King Solomonís orders, v.25.
In Ch.3, we read of how Solomon dreamed that God gave him the privilege of making a special request for whatsoever he might desire. When he prayed for wisdom and understanding God was greatly pleased and thereafter endowed him with same above his fellows, vs. 5-12. While this was a dream or vision, see 2 Chronicles 1:7, the thing came to pass, for Solomon was in a spirit of prayer and had real communion with God through his spirit. The balance of this chapter and Ch.4 contain some examples of Solomonís wisdom.
In Chs. 5 to 8 we have an account of the building of the temple and also Solomonís own house. When the temple was finished and the Ark was put in the Most Holy Place, the cloud of Godís glory filled the tabernacle so that the priests could not stand to minister, Ch. 8:10-11. Solomon preached to the people and then offered a prayer of dedication, beseeching God to mercifully help His people when through sin they should get into trouble, and from whatever place they turned toward the temple and prayed, that He would grant them deliverance. After prayer Solomon blessed the people, and for fourteen days they rejoiced and feasted together.
FROM THE CONFIRMATION OF THE DAVIDIC COVENANT TO THE DEATH OF SOLOMON.
The prayer of Solomon brought forth a kind response from God who confirmed the covenant made with David, and also promised to be everything to Solomon and to his people if they would walk in His ways, Ch. 9:1-9, otherwise disaster would overtake them. For twenty years Solomon prospered as he walked with the Lord. During that time the queen of Sheba came to see him. So amazed was she at the wisdom of Solomon, and at the magnificence of his court that ďthere was no more spirit in herĒ, Ch.10:5. King Solomon increased in splendor, but toward the latter part of his life he began to turn away from God. We are told that he had seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines chosen from among the heathen, and he was prone to lean toward idolatry to please all these women, Ch.11:4-8. Because of this, the Lord foretold that the kingdom would be divided in the days of the son of Solomon, but that God would preserve one tribe and Jerusalem for the throne of David because of the covenant, vs.11-13. After that, trouble began to loom up on the horizon. Among other things Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, who had previously fled from Solomon into Egypt, began to consider what a prophet had told him at one time that he should be the ruler of ten of the tribes of Israel, vs. 26, 29-31. Solomon passed away after a rein of forty years, and Rehoboam his son reigned in his stead, vs. 42-43.
THE DIVISION OF THE KINGDOM, ETC.
After Rehoboam came to the throne a delegation from the people waited on him and asked for an easing of their heavy burdens, Ch. 12:3-4. The king consulted first with the older councilors who advised him to hearken to the people and give them fair consideration, vs.6-7. Rehoboam then counseled with the younger men who told him to answer the people roughly and not heed their request. The king foolishly followed the younger menís advice and as a result the kingdom was divided, vs. 15-16. Ten tribes chose Jeroboam as their king. They were afterwards know as the kingdom of Israel. Rehoboam was greatly diminished and had only the tribe of Judah for his kingdom., from then on the two kingdoms had their separate lines of kings. Israelís reigning house was changed many times, but Judah always had a descendent of David on the throne. The following is the list of kings of both kingdoms, which are mentioned, in this First book of Kings:
Judah: Rehoboam, Abijam, Asa, Jehoshaphat, and Jehoram.
Israel: Jeroboam, Nadab his son, Baasha, Elah, Zimri, Omri, Ahab and Ahaziah.
PARTIAL RECORD OF THE MINISTRY OF ELIJAH.
Blended with the history of the kings of Israel is the ministry of the prophet Elijah. The outstanding events are the three years of drought and the calling down of fire from heaven. In Ch. 17:1, we read how Elijah went to King Ahab and foretold that there would not be dew or rain but according to his word. God then provided for His prophet, Nadab his son, Baasha, Elah, Zimri, Omri, Ahab and Ahaziah, first by sending him bread and flesh morning and evening by the help of ravens, vs.6-7. After the brook Cherith dried up, Elijah was sent to a widow woman and along with her son lived by a miraculous renewal of meal and oil day by day until rain fell, vs. 14-16. The drought was sent because of the idolatry of the nation. When this judgment had taken its course, the prophet appeared to King Ahab and asked for a public test between the worship of Baal and the worship of the true God. The one who answered by fire would thereby prove himself as the god the people ought to worship. Baalís priests labored in vain to call down fire, Ch. 18:29. Then Elijah made preparations, and after a simple short prayer of twenty seconds the fire fell. The prophets of Baal were then slain, and rain fell, v.25. Jezebel, the wife of Ahab, a wicked idolatrous woman, was very angry and threatened the life of Elijah. He became panicky and ran away. God strengthened him again and he continued in his ministry.