Summary of the Book of 1 Kings
First Kings covers about 126 years of Israel’s history. This includes the death of David to the death of Jehoshaphat, or about 960 to 834 BC. This is the period of history in Israel from its greatest glory to its division into two kingdoms which eventually led to the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities by the end of the second book of Kings.
The author of the book is unknown but tradition says that it was Jeremiah the prophet. Jeremiah wrote another book bearing his name.
The end of the second book of Kings covers the Babylonian captivity and a few years beyond. Its contents end about 586 BC. The book is suspected to have been written sometime between 586 and 540 BC. The book of Jeremiah was written about the same time covering the previous 40 years from 626 to 586 BC.
Purpose of 1 Kings
Primarily the book of 1 Kings is a history book of the nation of Israel. It focuses on the kings of Israel for the first part of the book. These are the kings for both the united kingdom and later the divided kingdom. There is a great deal of time spent on Solomon’s kingdom and how it degraded through his reign. After Solomon the book shows the history of the divided kingdom through the reign of Ahab in the north and Jehoshaphat in the south. Later in the book the focus changes from the kings to the prophet Elijah.
Throughout the history of these kings there is a correlation shown that when the kings obeyed God there was peace and blessings. When the kings disobeyed God, or worshiped other gods, then there were wars and punishment.
1 Kings 1:30 “Even as I sware unto thee by the LORD God of Israel, saying, Assuredly Solomon thy son shall reign after me, and he shall sit upon my throne in my stead; even so will I certainly do this day.”
1 Kings 2:12 “Then sat Solomon upon the throne of David his father; and his kingdom was established greatly.”
1 Kings 9:3 “And the LORD said unto him, I have heard thy prayer and thy supplication, that thou hast made before me: I have hallowed this house, which thou hast built, to put my name there for ever; and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually.”
1Kings 11:13 “Howbeit I will not rend away all the kingdom; but will give one tribe to thy son for David my servant’s sake, and for Jerusalem’s sake which I have chosen.”
1 Kings 12:16 “So when all Israel saw that the king hearkened not unto them, the people answered the king, saying, What portion have we in David? neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse: to your tents, O Israel: now see to thine own house, David. So Israel departed unto their tents.”
1 Kings 12:28 “Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.”
1 Kings 17:1 “And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the LORD God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.”
- King – Used about 250 times.
- Prophet – Used 43 times.
David, Solomon, Elijah, Ahab and Jezebel.
Outline of 1 Kings
- Solomon’s Reign (1 Kings 1-11)
- The Divided Kingdom (1 Kings 12-16)
- Elijah (1 Kings 17-22)
Summary of 1 Kings
Near the time of David’s death he appointed Solomon to be the next king. David ruled in Israel for 40 years (1 Kings 2:11). There were already others wanting to take the kingdom from David and Solomon, however the priests anointed Solomon as the next king. (Chapters 1, 2)
In chapter 3 God offered Solomon wisdom or riches. Wisely, Solomon chose wisdom and understanding. God granted this and also promised riches. While Solomon reigned with great wisdom early in his kingdom, he began to waver towards the end of his life. He took on many wives from many foreign countries and belief systems. They convinced him to allow them to worship other gods and idols.
However, before Solomon became apostate, God fulfilled His promise to David by allowing Solomon to build the Temple (2 Samuel 7:8-16). The Temple was a permanent dwelling place for Jehovah. It was patterned after the Tabernacle, but was twice as large. (Chapters 5-8)
The kingdom was divided between Rehoboam and Jeroboam (chapter 12). Rehoboam reigned in the south, which was called Judah, and Jeroboam reigned in the north, or Israel. This section chronicles the different kings of each of the kingdoms until bringing the readers to king Ahab and his interactions with Elijah.
Chapters 17 through 22 has a shift of focus. While there is still talk about the kings, the main focus of the narrative is on the prophet Elijah.
Elijah appeared before wicked king Ahab and predicted a three-year drought. There were threats against Elijah for his announcement, though the person bringing the drought was God. Elijah was just the messenger. Elijah was miraculously cared for with food and water for a period of time by God. Then God sent him to meet a widow lady who took care of Elijah until it was time to return to the king and face the prophets of Baal. While with the widow lady, God supplied food for them and used Elijah to bring her son back to life.
Chapter 18 shows Elijah going against the prophets of Baal and wins a challenge by calling down fire from heaven. Even though Elijah won the challenge he became discouraged when he had to hide from Jezebel the queen.
The rest of the book (chapters 19-22) brings the focus back towards king Ahab. Elijah is still a main figure through the story though. The book closes with the death of Ahab in battle.