Introduction to 1 & 2 Kings

By James M. Rochford

Authorship

The history of 1 and 2 Kings stretches from 970 BC to at least 587 BC. Thus the author could not have been alive for this entire time period. The author probably used the Book of the Acts of Solomon (1 Kings 11:41), the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel (1 Kings 14:19; mentioned 17x), and the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah (1 Kings 15:23; mentioned 15x). These books were non-scriptural texts that were probably kept by the royal scribes (2 Sam. 8:16; 20:24-25).

The most likely candidate for the authorship of 1 and 2 Kings is the prophet Jeremiah. Patterson and Austel write, “Jewish tradition (Baba Bathra 15a) identifies that author as Jeremiah.”[1] Archer writes, “Since the author speaks from a consistently prophetic standpoint and is a man of great literary ability, it is possible that Jeremiah may have composed everything except the final chapter.”[2] Hill and Walton write, “This association may have been based on the similarities between Jeremiah 53 and 2 Kings 24-25.”[3] Moreover, Jeremiah is never mentioned in these two books—even when king Josiah is written about. However, the final chapter occurs in Babylon—not Egypt (where Jeremiah died). The author borrowed three entire chapters word for word (2 Kings 18-20) from the book of Isaiah (Isa. 36-39). So this would show that the author had dependence on the canonical books.

Major themes of 1 and 2 Kings

What should we look for as we read through 1 and 2 Kings? Several themes are prominent:

First, 1 and 2 Kings relays the history from the death of David to the fall of Jerusalem (971-562 BC). How did the kingdom go from being God’s chosen nation to a heap of rubble? 1 and 2 Kings explains how the kings constantly turned away from God.

Second, 1 and 2 Kings explains the turmoil of the kings, prophets, and priests. Archer writes, “The theme of these two books was to demonstrate on the basis of Israel’s history that the welfare of the nation ultimately depended upon the sincerity of its faithfulness to the covenant with Yahweh.”[4] Ultimately, where these men failed, Jesus would succeed—being the perfect King, Prophet, and Priest.

Third, 1 and 2 Kings give us two perspectives on history: human and divine. From the human perspective, it looks like free moral agents are carrying out their business, but from the divine perspective, we see that God’s plan is being carried out. Thus we’ll read that a king killed another king out of his own free will, but then we’ll read, “This fulfilled the word of the Lord.”

Fourth, 1 and 2 Kings give us a picture of a divided nation. Israel had 45 kings in its history, but 42 of these kings reigned over a divided kingdom. Sometimes when nations split, they will come back together. Not so with Israel. Saul, David, and Solomon were the only kings to reign over a united monarchy.

Chronology of Kings

The chronology of the kings is difficult, until we realize that there were coregencies of the kings. That is, some of the kings ruled alongside of each other. Archer writes, “In many instances the crown prince or immediate successor to the throne was formally crowned and his reign officially begun even in the lifetime of his father.”[5]

Picture1

See our article for a chart and chronological picture of the kings (see “General Chronology of the Kings”).

Key dates to remember

931: Northern and Southern kingdoms split

722: Israel is taken over.

587: Judah is taken over.

Conclusion

We are going to do a test at the end of this series. We need to thoroughly learn the story of Kings from the death of David 970 BC to the sacking of Jerusalem in 587 BC. This is key history in understanding the Major Prophets and Minor Prophets. Without this knowledge, the prophets become difficult to place in context. The books of the Kings really serve in the OT, as the book of Acts in the NT. It gives context for the prophets, as Acts gives context for the epistles. Therefore, to study the prophets, we really need to nail down 1 and 2 Kings.

At the end of this series, we are going to study and test ourselves on this history. We will test each other over:

  1. The order of the kings and their general century that they lived in (not their specific dates, but their general dates).
  2. Name one memorable thing about each king (e.g. how they died, what they did, were they good or bad, etc.).

We are going to split up into groups of two. Each pair of guys will study together, and they will take the test together. Since none of us are really familiar with the kings, anyone pair could win if they put the work in. The winning group will get the grand prize of coming over to my place for dinner. I will cook you a gourmet meal!

Teaching Rotation

Here is a way of teaching through this book below:

1 Kings

(1 Kings 1-6) Solomon takes the throne, and God gives him wisdom. Make sure to summarize at least two of these chapters, rather than reading through all of this material.

(1 Kings 7-12) Solomon’s downfall.

(1 Kings 13-16) For this teaching, split up into groups and have the groups write down what happens to each king in the story.

(1 Kings 17-18) Showdown between Elijah and false prophets—God and Baal.

(1 Kings 19-22) Elijah recuperates, and we see the death of Ahab—the evil king.

2 Kings

(2 Kings 1-3) Elisha takes over. Make sure to summarize large swathes of Scripture in this teaching.

(2 Kings 4-5) The widow and Naaman. The contrast between these two figures is clear: The widow has nothing, but needs help, while Naaman has everything, but still needs help.

(2 Kings 6-8) Warfare and death of Ben-Hadad.

(2 Kings 9-12) Split up into groups to summarize the stories of these various kings. Fill in notes for the test at the end of the study.

(2 Kings 13-16) Split up into groups to summarize the stories of these various kings. Fill in notes for the test at the end of the study.

(2 Kings 17-20) Split up into groups to summarize the stories of these various kings. Fill in notes for the test at the end of the study.

(2 Kings 21-25) Split up into groups to summarize the stories of these various kings. Fill in notes for the test at the end of the study.

1 Kings

 

1 Kings 1 (Adonijah tries to Usurp the Throne from Solomon)

When David became old, he couldn’t keep warm, so they put a young, virgin women in bed with him (v.2). David didn’t sleep with her though (v.4).

Adonijah tried to take over the kingdom (v.5), and this was because David didn’t discipline him (v.6). Nathan (the prophet) was worried that Adonijah was going to kill Solomon and Bathsheba, so he had Bathsheba go and tell David (v.12). She reminds him of the Davidic covenant (v.17). She rats out Adonijah. David takes action for Solomon (v.30). He had Zadok (the priest) and Nathan (the prophet) to anoint him as king (v.34), and they announced it publicly (v.39). When Adonijah’s group heard about this, they dispersed because they could be called traitors to the throne (v.49). Adonijah asked for amnesty for his maneuver for the throne, and Solomon granted it if he turns out to be a good man (v.52).

Application

We see that God’s covenant was still active in the next generation (v.17).

As believers, we need to take action when we sense that someone (even on the inside) is trying to go against God’s will.

1 Kings 2 (Solomon cleans house)

David gives a farewell speech to his son, Solomon (v.1). He summarizes the different people that are trustworthy and untrustworthy. Since his promises are null and void as king (after his death), he tells Solomon that he can kill whoever he wants. He tells him to keep a close eye on Shimei (vv.8-9). David dies (v.10). Adonijah asks for Abishag as his wife (v.17). Remember, Abishag was one of David’s concubines. Bathsheba gives Adonijah’s request to Solomon (v.20), and this sets him off (v.21). Adonijah was trying to take the harem of the king, which was a power play (v.22). He killed Adonijah (v.25), and he removed Abiathar from the priesthood (v.27). He also went to kill Joab, but Joab fled to the altar for amnesty (v.29). But Solomon had him killed anyhow (v.34). He put trusted people in their roles (v.35).

Solomon warned Shimei not to leave his house (vv.36-37), but Shimei decided to pick up his slaves anyhow. This was a sign to Solomon that he couldn’t trust him, so he had him killed (v.46).

Application

Solomon needed to clean house after David handed the kingdom off to him. David had warned him of who he could and couldn’t trust. Therefore, in this chapter, we see Solomon acting swiftly and strongly. He takes action, which is the sign of a good leader.

1 Kings 3 (Solomon gets Wisdom)

Solomon married women to make alliances with neighboring nations (v.1). God approaches Solomon and tells him to ask for anything that he wants (v.5). Solomon admits that he is buckling under the pressure of working with so many people (vv.8-9). So, he asks for discernment (v.9). God is pleased that he asks for this, rather than wealth or long life or victory in war (v.11). Solomon realized that this was a dream (v.15).

Two prostitutes argue about who a baby should belong to. A woman smothered her child in the night and switched out the baby with the neighboring woman. Who should the living child go to—without any witnesses? Solomon orders to have the child cut in half (v.25). The true mother came forward and tells him to stop, because she loves the baby (v.26). Solomon discerns the situation (v.27).

Application

Wisdom is more valuable that riches, wealth, or success. Do we believe this? When we’re going through failure or suffering, we are often building up stock in wisdom. Pray that God would give you wisdom, and he will deliver this (Jas. 1:5). Unfortunately, it usually comes through failure and suffering!

1 Kings 4 (Solomon’s Wisdom Leads to Prosperity)

The beginning covers Solomon’s officials that ruled with him (vv.1-19). The people were happy under Solomon’s rule (v.20), and he had a wide ruling (v.21). Solomon had incredible wisdom (v.30), and he knew a lot about science (v.33). All the nations came to hear his wisdom (v.34).

Application

One of the effects of wisdom is that it affects others (v.34).

1 Kings 5 (Solomon and Hiram)

Solomon gets a deal with Hiram for wood to build the Temple. Hiram was the king of Tyre (v.1). Hiram was happy to fill the order (v.7). This was a massive building project (vv.14-16).

1 Kings 6 (Solomon’s Wisdom Leads to Prosperity)

The author gives a description of the Temple’s dimensions (vv.2-6). God promises to stay with Solomon, if he follows God (vv.11-13). The inside of the Temple was covered with pure gold (vv.21-22). Cherubim were carved inside the Temple out of olive wood, and they were fifteen feet tall—with a fifteen foot wingspan (v.23)! They were covered with gold (v.28). It took him seven years to build the Temple (v.38).

Application

This shows that God has a delight in the aesthetic.

1 Kings 7 (Building the Palace)

While the Temple only took seven years, it took thirteen years to build his palace (v.1). This chapter explains the intricate details of building the palace.

1 Kings 8 (Temple Dedication)

Solomon called to bring in the Ark of the Covenant (v.1). The cherubim’s wings hung over the Ark (v.7). God entered the Temple (v.10-11). Solomon gives a speech and recounts how he got the commission to build the Temple. Solomon says that there is no one like God, and he bases this on the goodness and stability of God’s promises (v.23). He asks God to keep the promise that he made with David (vv.25-26). Solomon knows that God doesn’t actually live in the Temple (v.27, 39). Solomon predicts a time when the people will turn away, but prays that God would forgive them when they repent (vv.33-35). Solomon desires all people to know the Lord (v.43, 60). He emphasizes that God hasn’t failed in his promises (v.56).

After the speech, they offered copious amounts of sacrifices to God (vv.62-62). It lasted for two weeks (v.66).

Application

The Temple is a symbol for God dwelling with his people. Here we see that Solomon’s dedication unpacks the purpose of the Temple. For instance, he points out the faithfulness of God, God’s love for all people, and his desire to forgive us when we sin.

Notice that even the priests—the holy men—had to run and hide when God’s presence appeared (vv.10-11).

Solomon didn’t think that the Temple could really contain God (v.27). God really dwells in heaven (v.39; 49).

Part of the purpose of the Temple was to delegate justice (vv.31-32).

Part of the purpose of the Temple was evangelism (vv.41-43).

1 Kings 9 (God Speaks to Solomon a Second Time)

God warns what will happen, if they don’t follow him (vv.6-9). Hiram wasn’t pleased with the towns that Solomon had given him (v.12). Remember, Hiram was the man from Tyre that gave Solomon all of his lumber.

1 Kings 10 (Queen Sheba)

The queen of Sheba came to test Solomon’s wisdom (v.1). Solomon could answer everything she asked (v.3). Solomon’s success was evangelistic to her (vv.4-5, 9). Solomon was an evangelist to the nations (v.24).

1 Kings 11 (Solomon’s Downfall)

Solomon was a polygamist (v.1). God had warned about this (v.2). He turned away from Yahweh (v.4). He built temples for false gods (v.7). God became angry with him (v.9). God tells him that he is going to rip the kingdom from him (v.11) after he dies (v.12). He will leave him only one tribe to fulfill David’s covenant (v.13).

Hadad—the Edomite—came and fought Israel (v.14). Rezon (son of Eliada) came to fight Solomon, too (v.23). Jeroboam rebelled against Solomon (v.26). God promised to give 10 tribes to Jeroboam (v.35), making him king over Israel (v.37). Solomon tried to kill Jeroboam, but failed (v.40).

Application

This chapter shows the plight of seeking after idolatry.

It also shows how quickly we can fall away from God—even when he reveals himself to us.

It shows that God can fulfill his plan through other people, and we can miss out.

1 Kings 12 (Rehoboam Takes Over)

Rehoboam was going to be made king in Israel (v.1). Jeroboam came to him to ask him to be kinder with the people—not doing conscription for slavery. Jeroboam asked the elders what they thought (v.6). The elders told him to make a wise choice. Rehoboam should go light on the people, so that they will be a part of his kingdom (v.7). He didn’t like this answer, so he turned to the young men to get the answer he wanted (v.8, 10-11). The young men told him to be even crueler than his father. The people were in upheaval because of Rehoboam’s bombastic statements. They turned on the leadership. Rehoboam’s leader in charge of slavery was captured and stoned to death by the people, and Rehoboam barely escaped from the mob rule with his life (v.18).

Jeroboam made two golden calves in Bethel and Dan, so that the people wouldn’t travel to Jerusalem to worship (v.28). He did this to garner the people’s respect and attention away from Rehoboam. He was afraid of losing them. This quickly turned into full-fledged idolatry (vv.29-33).

Application

This shows how people have a tendency to talk with ear ticklers, rather than people that will give them good advice. Like Rehoboam, we will go to the person that will tell us what we want to hear. How can we avoid doing this?

1 Kings 13 (Jeroboam’s Hand Shrivels)

A prophet came forward to predict doom on Jeroboam’s altar (v.1). He said that Josiah would take over the throne, and the false priests would be killed over the altar (v.2). Jeroboam told the guards to seize the prophet, but his hand shriveled up (v.4). He asked the prophet to intercede for him (v.6). He tried to bribe him to come back with him after he was healed (v.7), but the prophet denied him (vv.8-9).

An old prophet lies to him, and tells him to go back to his house (v.18). God spoke through the false prophet, and predicted doom on the true prophet. He told him that he wouldn’t be allowed to be buried in the tomb of his fathers (v.22). In the next verse, he was killed by a lion (v.23). The old prophet buried him in his old tomb (v.29). Maybe he felt guilty for lying to him. Meanwhile, Jeroboam didn’t relent on his apostasy in Israel.

Application

Jeroboam was an evil king. He was trying to keep his people in the Northern Israel. He still refused to listen to the prophet (v.33).

The “man of God” (i.e. the prophet) should’ve known not to deny God’s word and trust the word of a man. He should’ve tested what the guy said (Deut. 13 and 18). Paul writes, “Examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; 22 abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thess. 5:21-22).

God is really severe on this prophet, because he didn’t explicitly follow his word—even though he was a courageous man at one point (speaking against Jeroboam).

It’s strange that this “old prophet” lies to the man of God. Why did he do this? Also, why isn’t he punished for lying to him (v.18)? Also, why does God use him to rebuke the man of God (vv.20-21)??

1 Kings 14 (Ahijah on Jeroboam’s Wife)

Jeroboam’s son, Abijah, becomes sick (v.1). Jeroboam sends his wife to ask Ahijah what will happen to him (vv.2-3). God told Ahijah what would happen (v.5). Ahijah foretells disaster for Jeroboam (v.10), because of his idolatry (vv.8-10). Ahijah predicts that Abijah will die, when he mother sets foot in the city (v.12). This was literally fulfilled (v.17). Nadab took over the thrown after his father (v.20).

Meanwhile, Rehoboam reigned in Judah, and it was an evil ruling (v.22). There was prostitution in the land (v.24). The north and the south (Jeroboam and Rehoboam) fought in constant civil war (v.30).

Application

This chapter seems like an episode of Jerry Spring or Maury Povich!

The takeaway point is that leadership is disintegrating, and this is ruining the nation. They even get into male prostitution and all of the evils of the Canaanites (v.24). Remember, it was for these moral reasons that God had the Canaanites killed. This is why God hands them over to Shishak (v.26).

1 Kings 15 (Kings)

Abijah becomes king (v.1). Even though he was an evil king (v.3), God kept him in office to preserve David’s line (v.4).

Asa later became king in Judah, and he was a righteous king (v.11). He expelled the male prostitutes, and he destroyed the idols (v.12). He even kicked out his grandmother for making an idol (v.13). Asa died, but he left behind a nice legacy (v.24).

Nadab became king (v.25). He was the son of Jeroboam, and he made all of Jeroboam’s mistakes (v.26). Baasha led a coup, and struck him down (v.27). He went on to wipe out all of Jeroboam’s family, so that he wouldn’t have a line or legacy (v.28). Baasha and Asa battled for their entire reigns (v.34).

Application

While these events seem to be just the result of human interaction, the text tells us that God was actually working behind this entire process (v.30). Likewise, when we develop a vertical perspective on events in our lives, we see that God is working through the entire process.

1 Kings 16 (More Kings)

God predicts the death of Baasha (vv.1-5). His son Elah took over (v.8). Zimri came in and slaughtered Elah (v.10) and Baasha’s whole family (v.11). Again, while this seemed like the acts of kings, it was according to God’s plan (v.12). Zimri commits suicide by torching the royal palace (v.18).

Omri bought and named the land of Samaria after Shemer—the name of the former owner (v.24). He was an evil king following Jeroboam (v.25).

Ahab took over after his father Omri (v.29). He married Jezebel, and served Baal (vv.31-32).

Application

While David becomes a model for good kings, Jeroboam becomes a standard model for bad kings.

1 Kings 17 (Elijah the Tishbite)

Elijah spoke out against Ahab’s reign, and he said that a drought would plague Israel because of his sins (v.1). After this happened, Elijah must have painted a real target on his forehead, because God told him to flee to the Kerith Ravine and go into hiding (v.3). God promised that he would provide for him with water and bread from ravines (v.4).

After the brook dried up, God directed him to go to a widow in Zarephath to provide for him. But when he gets there, the widow tells him that she doesn’t have any food (v.12). Elijah tells her to provide for him before her own son (v.13), and he promised that God would refill the jar for her (v.14). This miraculous event kept them all alive for some time.

Some time passes. The woman’s son dies, and she believes that this is because of her sin (v.18). Elijah takes the boy (v.19), and he prayed that the boy would come back to life (v.22). This miracle attests to his propheticity (v.24).

Application

Notice that the woman speaks of God as Elijah’s God—not her own (“as surely as your God lives…” v.12). She also says that her son died because of her sin (v.18). Was she worried that she had done something terribly wrong, and she couldn’t rely on God?

1 Kings 18 (Showdown with Ahab and Elijah)

God sends Elijah back to Ahab after three years in hiding (v.1). Ahab brought Obadiah in to talk with him. Obadiah was a believer (v.2), hiding 100 prophets (v.4). Ahab and Obadiah split up the land to find food (v.5). Elijah tells Obadiah to tell Ahab that he’s there. Obadiah is worried that Ahab will kill him (v.14), but Elijah consoles him, telling him that he’ll be there (v.15). Elijah asks for a showdown with the 450 prophets of Baal and Asherah (v.19). They meet on Mount Carmel. Elijah calls on the people to follow God if he is real (v.21). He comes up with a contest, where he gets two bulls to be put out. If one of the “gods” can cause it to light on fire, then it would prove who is real (v.24). The prophets called on Baal all day (v.26). Finally, Elijah taunted them to shout louder (v.27). Nothing happened (v.29).

Elijah’s turn. He repaired the altar (v.30) and put 12 stones out (v.31). He drenched the altar with water—just to prove that it wasn’t a trick (vv.33-34). Elijah simply prays that God would act (v.37), and God brought fire (v.38). The people repented (v.39), and Elijah commanded them to kill the prophets of Baal (v.40). A heavy rain came on Ahab, but Elijah out ran it (v.46).

Application

Great application for prayer!

We see that we need to pray to the right God—the God who is actually real.

Prayer isn’t about praying like the Gentiles (repetition) or showing sincerity (cutting ourselves!). It’s about trusting in the One who can answer.

It’s hard to imagine Elijah’s faith to come back to Ahab. This would be like coming right into the middle of Mordor. All of the video cameras are pointed at him, and he does what God called him to do anyway.

1 Kings 19 (Elijah Recuperates)

Ahab tells Jezebel everything that had happened (v.1). Jezebel calls for his death (v.2). Elijah runs for his life (v.3). He wants to die (v.4). He falls down exhausted (v.4). An angel feeds him and lets him sleep (v.5ff). He goes and sleeps in a cave in hiding, but God asks him what he is doing (v.9). Elijah explains the circumstances (v.10). God reveals himself to Elijah to encourage him. God asks him the same question: “What are you doing in this cave?” (v.13) God tells him to go back and anoint the kings and the prophet, Elisha as a successor. Elisha follows him (v.21).

Application

This chapter shows that sometimes it is the most “spiritual thing” to just get some rest and food. This should impact our theology of rest. Elijah had just come down off of a mountain top experience, seeing God triumph over the prophets of Baal. He ran at top speed (fully adrenalized) from Carmel out into the middle of nowhere. Here, he just needs to recuperate before he can start thinking clearly and serving again.

1 Kings 20 (Ben-Hadad)

Ben-Hadad (king of Aram) took over Samaria by force (v.1). He was going to loot Israel of its money and rape the women (v.3). The king of Israel rolled over and took it (v.4). Ben-Hadad wanted more, and this led to war with Israel.

A prophet told Ahab that God would give him victory (v.13). Ahab assembled his army (v.15), and he set out to fight Ben-Hadad who was drunk (v.16). The Arameans fled away from the Israelite army (v.20).

The Aramean counselors believed that Yahweh was located in the hills—not the plains (v.23). They came back to fight the Israelites, but the prophet again told Ahab that God was going to win the battle for them (v.28). They killed 100,000 Arameans (v.29). The Arameans realized that the Israelite kings were merciful compared to the other ancient Near Eastern kings (v.31). They surrendered to Ahab, and they made a treaty to spare Ben-Hadad his life (v.34).

A prophet came and pretended to be a wounded soldier (v.39). He told Ahab that he was supposed to kill Ben-Hadad, and he said that Ahab would die in his place (v.42).

Application

In these serious situations, there is no room for weakness. We can’t be naïve about human nature. In this situation, Ben-Hadad was a raping, murdering thief, and Ahab was a fool for letting him go.

1 Kings 21 (Naboth’s Vineyard)

Ahab wanted to take Naboth’s vineyard, because it was his inheritance (vv.1-3). He told Jezebel (his wife) what happened, and she promised to get the vineyard for him (v.7). She set up a trap, framing Naboth for blasphemy against God and the king (v.10). The law required two witnesses for a capital crime (v.13), and Naboth was executed (v.14). Ahab came down to take over the vineyard (v.16).

God spoke to send Elijah (the prophet) there (v.17), and he told Elijah to predict Ahab’s death (vv.20-22). The author tells us that Ahab was an extremely wicked king (v.25). His wife was a real cause of this, too (v.25). Because Ahab repents, God changes his mind about what to do with him (v.29). He still promises to bring doom on his family line though (v.29).

Application

Even though Ahab was an incredibly wicked king (v.25), God spared him for his repentance (v.29).

1 Kings 22 (Death of Ahab)

There was peace between Aram and Israel for three years (v.1). Remember, Aram was the nation led by Ben-Hadad (chapter 20). The kings of Israel realized that they should take back Ramoth Gilead from the Arameans. Jehoshaphat asked for God’s counsel, and he asked the prophets of the Lord for guidance (v.5). They all told him to go to war. Jehoshaphat wanted to talk with a real prophet though, and he asked if there was one (v.7). The king of Israel said that Micaiah was a real prophet, but he didn’t like him because he never said anything good (v.8)! He wasn’t an ear-tickler! But they brought him in any way to hear what he had to say (v.9).

Again the false prophets were saying that they would have victory over the Arameans (vv.11-12). There would be tremendous pressure on Micaiah to tickle their ears. He tells them that this wouldn’t be good (v.17). God put a lying spirit in the mouths of the prophets (v.23). The king ordered him to put Micaiah in prison (v.27). He went on to go to battle anyhow (v.30).

The armies targeted the king (v.31). A soldier “randomly” shot the king of Israel (v.34), and he died (v.35). This was a short term fulfillment of prophecy (v.38). Jehoshaphat was a decent king.

Application

Was this really a “random” shot (v.34) that killed Ahab (v.35)? From the human perspective, it looked this way, but from God’s perspective, it wasn’t.

2 Kings

 

2 Kings 1 (Ahaziah Dies)

In the wake of Ahab’s death, Moab sees an opportunity to attack Israel (v.1). Ahaziah asks Baal for help. God sends Elijah to predict Ahaziah’s death (v.4). The king demands to meet with Elijah (v.9). Elijah prayed for fire to come down and kill the men who came to capture Elijah (v.10). Ahab sent another 50 men, but they were killed too (v.11). When Ahab sent another 50 men, the captain pled with Elijah to spare his life, and he did (vv.13-15). Elijah came to the king in person, and he predicted his death (v.16).

Application

This shows the severity of consulting false god. Ahaziah dies. It also shows the stubbornness of Ahaziah, because he sends troop after troop of men to kill Elijah.

2 Kings 2 (Elisha Takes Over)

Elisha replaces Elijah as the prophet. Elisha doesn’t want Elijah to leave, so he follows him wherever he goes. They finally walk to the Jordan (v.7). Elijah parted the river by slapping it with his cloak (v.8). Elisha asks for a double-portion of his spirit (v.9). Elijah was taken up in a whirlwind of fire (v.11). His clothes were left behind (v.13). When he struck the water of Jordan with Elijah’s cloak, it separated again (v.14). He healed the water so it was good for irrigation and drinking (v.22).

A group of boys surrounded Elisha, and they called him “baldy” (v.23). Elisha cursed them and the 42 boys were mauled by bears (v.24).

2 Kings 3 (Joram and Jehoshaphat)

Joram reigned for 18 years, and he was evil (vv.1-2). The author makes Jeroboam a type of evil kings (v.3). Joram went to battle with Moab, and he got the king of Judah to back him up (v.7). They ran out of water (v.10). Jehoshaphat sent for Elisha (v.11). Elisha calls for a harpist, and he prophesies (v.15). He predicts that there will be water for them (v.17) and victory over Moab (v.18). This was fulfilled on the next day (v.20). Israel retreats at the fierce fighting of the Moabites (v.27).

Application

It’s interesting to see that God keeps working with these people who are so sinful.

2 Kings 4 (Widow)

 

Miracle #1: Creating oil (vv.1-7)

A widow is about to lose her sons, and she pleads with Elisha for help (v.1). Elisha (mimicking Elijah in 1 Kings 17) tells the impoverished woman to collect empty jars (v.4) and to pour oil into each. This miraculously happens, and she sells the oil to survive (v.7). This must have been a lot of oil, because it paid off the debt of her sons. The oils stops producing once the debt was paid.

This passage shows that God will meet our need—not our greed (v.6).

Miracle #2: Resuscitation (vv.8-37)

Elisha wanted to give this Shunammite woman a child—even though she was elderly. He predicted that she would conceive a son—even though she was old and she did (v.17). But the boy died at a young age (v.20, 32). Gehazi can’t raise him with the staff (vv.29-31). This could have been a way to show the people that “magic staffs” won’t work in raising the boy. Instead God authenticated his power through Elisha—not the staff. It’s also possible that Elisha sent Gehazi to do this to delay the people from burying the body.

Elisha laid on top of the boy and prayed over him (vv.33-34), and he came back to life (v.35). Elijah (1 Kings 17:21) and Paul (Acts 20:9-10) both used the same practice to raise dead people. Elisha needs to do this seven times.

Miracle #3: Fed the people (vv.38-44)

Someone makes bad stew that was inedible, but Elisha adds flour to it to make it edible (v.40). This is similar to the feeding of the 5,000. It’s different in that its 100 people with 20 loaves of bread.

2 Kings 5 (Naaman)

Naaman was a commander of Aram—a former enemy of Israel. He was well respected and powerful, but he had leprosy (v.1). A captive Israelite woman told him that Elisha could heal him (v.3). He brought tons of money to pay the prophet (v.5). Dilday estimates this money at 1.2 million dollars today.[6] The king of Israel wasn’t happy with this (v.7), but Elisha welcomed him (v.8). Elisha told him to bathe in the Jordan River seven times (v.10). Naaman expected him to cure him by fiat (v.11), but Elisha didn’t. This made Naaman very angry, but he went through with and was cleansed (v.14). Elisha wouldn’t accept any money for what happened.

Naaman asked for forgiveness to continue to worship the false gods (v.18) back home. He needed to bow down in front of the king to worship Rimmon. Elisha was okay with this.

Gehazi tracked Naaman down and went to collect some money. Naaman gave him two talents of gold (v.23). Gehazi lied about this later to Elisha (v.25). Elisha cursed Gehazi with leprosy (v.27).

Application
  1. Naaman had all of the money and prestige in the world, but he was still mortal and weak. People today falsely lean on their own prestige, but they can realize their need for God in times of crisis like this.
  2. It was probably hard for Naaman to take off his clothes and dip himself in the Jordan. This would’ve involved humiliating himself by taking his clothes off.
  3. Elisha didn’t take the money, because he wanted to show that healing was a “free gift” (Rom. 6:23).
  4. Gehazi was cursed from trying to profit off of God’s work. Like a modern televangelist, he tries to profit off someone’s spiritual desire to give.
  5. The servants point out that Naaman had nothing to lose. Similarly, what do we have to lose in accepting God’s forgiveness?

2 Kings 6 (Spiritual Warfare)

The company of the prophets wanted to go with Elisha to the Jordan (v.1). They cut down trees, and the axe head fell into the water (v.5). He made the axe head float, so that the man could grab it (v.6).

The king ordered to have Elisha captured (v.13). His men surrounded Elisha (v.15). Elisha prayed that the prophets could see the spiritual warfare around them (v.17). He prayed that the army would be struck blind (v.18). He led the men to Samaria (v.19). Elisha didn’t have them killed (v.22). Instead, they were fed and sent back home (v.22). This caused peace (v.23).

Ben-Hadad came to siege Samaria (v.24). It inflated prices (v.25). They were even cannibalizing their own children (v.28). The king called for Elisha to be decapitated (v.30).

Application
  1. Wouldn’t it be incredible if God could pull back the veil, so that we could all see the spiritual warfare raging around us?
  2. Seeing spiritual battles through the eyes of faith.
  3. The king could rationalize killing Elisha.

2 Kings 7 (Siege of the City)

When people went over to the Aramean camp, they were all gone (v.6). God had spooked them to believe that a big army was coming to kill them. The lepers came and looted the tents (v.8), and then they came back and told the city (v.10). The leaders were worried that this was a Trojan Horse to take the city (v.12), but they realized they were safe (v.16).

Application
  1. Why does God let them wait and starve?
  2. The woman tried to cannibalize her son, and solve her suffering herself, rather than waiting on God. She took the easy way out! She should’ve waited on God!
  3. The king didn’t have faith. Instead, during suffering, he wanted to rebel against Elisha’s prediction—the word of God. During suffering, there is a temptation to reject God’s word.

2 Kings 8 (Ben-Hadad Killed)

Elisha told the woman whose son was resuscitated that there would be a seven year famine (v.1). Ben-Hadad was worried that he wouldn’t recover from his sickness (vv.7-8). He asked for Elisha to find this out (v.9). Elisha told him that he would recover (v.10), but he would die eventually (v.11). Elisha predicts that Hazael will become a killer, and Elisha knows this (v.12). Hazael told Ben-Hadad that he would recover, but he suffocated Ben-Hadad and took over the throne (v.15).

2 Kings 9 (Jehu Takes over)

Elisha sends a man to Jehu—a commander (v.5)—to anoint him as king (vv.1-3) and This is in fulfillment of 1 Kings 21:23. The prophet tells Jehoshaphat to kill Ahab (v.7). He predicts that Jezebel will be killed by dogs (v.10), and then he runs for it (v.11). The people accepted Jehu as king (v.13). Jehu came to fight Joram. When Joram’s messengers came to talk with Jehu, they ended up joining him. Jehu would rather fight than live with the idolatry and witchcraft (v.22). Ahaziah escaped but died in Megiddo (v.27). Jehu next came for Jezebel (v.30). Jehu called on her eunuchs to betray her and join him (vv.32-33). The eunuchs threw her over the wall (v.33), and she was eaten by dogs (vv.36-37).

Application

Jehu would rather fight with the sin in the nation and cause trouble, than be peaceful and let things fall apart. He views it as the culprits being the ones to break the peace—not him.

2 Kings 10 (Jehu)

The sons of Ahab surrendered to Jehu (vv.1-5). Jehu called for the heads of the seventy princes (v.6)! Jehu also killed all of Ahab’s friends and comrades (v.11). He wiped out all of Ahab’s family in Samaria (v.17). Jehu said that he was going to serve Baal, and he called all of the prophets of Baal to come forward (v.18). He surrounded the Temple of Baal with 80 men (v.24), and they slaughtered all of the prophets of Baal (v.25). It was turned into a latrine (v.27)!

Jehu continued to worship golden calves (v.29). God promised him the throne because of his (relative) faithfulness (v.30).

Application

This chapter is bloody, but it shows that worshipping Baal was serious. We tend to think of false religion as pretty innocuous, but it isn’t! It called for drastic measures back during this time.

Why didn’t Jehu wipe out the golden calves as well? God didn’t specifically command this, so maybe this seemed normal to him. Was he minimizing this?

2 Kings 11 (Athaliah Slain)

Jehosheba hid Joash for six years (v.3), so that Athaliah couldn’t kill him (v.1). Jehoiada crowned him king secretly (v.12). Athaliah called this treason (v.14), but she was killed (v.16). The people torn down the idols to Baal (v.18). Joash was only 7 when he began to reign (v.21).

2 Kings 12 (Joash)

Joash reigned for 40 years (v.1), and he was a good king (v.2). He wanted the Temple to be repaired (v.7). The money was put toward rebuilding it (v.8-16). His officials assassinated him (v.20). His son (Amaziah) succeeded him (v.21).

2 Kings 13 (Jehoahaz)

Jehoahaz became king in Israel, but he was a bad king (v.2). Yet he sought after God’s grace, so God provided a deliverer (v.5). Immediately after God saves them, they return right back to rebelling.

Jehoash wept over Elisha being sick (v.14). Elisha told him to shoot an arrow out of the east window (v.17), which was symbolic of destroying Aram. He predicted that Jehoash wouldn’t completely destroy Aram (v.19). Elisha died (v.20). Patterson and Austel write, “Keil (p. 378) estimates that Elisha had ‘held his prophetical office for at least fifty years.’”[7] It’s interesting to contrast his death with Elijah’s—being carried away into heaven (2 Kings 2). Elisha’s prediction was fulfilled (v.25).

2 Kings 14 (Amaziah)

Amaziah becomes king (v.1). He was a good king (v.3). He learned from his father (v.3). The high places still existed (v.4). He killed his enemies but not their children (v.6). Amaziah challenged Jehoash—the king of Israel (v.8). They didn’t kill each other though (v.16-17). Amaziah was killed by traitors (v.19).

We’re seeing a pattern that the kings are killed by their own people.

The kings keep failing the people (v.26), but God had not failed them (v.27).

2 Kings 15 (Azariah)

Azariah becomes king at age 16 (v.2). He was the son of Amaziah, and he was a good king (v.3). Shallum assassinates Zechariah in front of all of the people (v.10). This would be akin to someone killing Barack Obama at the State of the Union—then making the assassin President! Menahem assassinated Shallum (v.14), then he led a campaign in Tiphsah (a city in northern Israel—1 Kings 4:24) to rip open the pregnant women (v.16).

Notice, in Judah, we are in the 52nd year of Azariah, while Israel is seeing a new king every few months! This rapid turnover of kings in Israel shows the instability of this kingdom. In reality, this nation is going to be destroyed very, very soon! This is foreshadowing of this event.

2 Kings 16 (Ahaz)

Ahaz became king at age 20 (v.2), but he was a wicked king (v.2), sacrificing his own son (v.3). Ahaz asked for help from the king of Assyria (v.7), bribing him (v.8). The Assyrian king killed the king of Damascus (v.9). Ahaz built a new altar (vv.12-14). This shows a tremendous lack of faith—trusting in the Pagan nations rather than Yahweh. Ahaz wants the high priest to change the practice of sacrifices. Ahaz has two nations against him: Israel and Assyria. So he’s under pressure and forfeiting God’s protection.

This would be like being a shop owner in a bad neighborhood, where thugs are spray painting your shop and looting your stock. Instead of turning to the Police for help, you turn to the mafia for help. This is making a deal with the Devil. This lines up with Isaiah 7.

He buys Assyria’s allegiance, which destroys Aram for him (v.9).

Hezekiah took over after him (v.20).

Application

Turn to God for help—not other sources of security.

It seems that Ahaz loses it from dabbling and then trusting in Assyria. He flirts with them at first, but then he’s seduced by them.

2 Kings 17 (Shalmaneser Takes Over Israel)

Hoshea was an evil king (v.2). Shalmaneser (Assyrian King) placed him in prison (v.4). He took over Israel (v.6). God allowed this takeover because of their sin (vv.7-23). Have the group read through this chapter and identify the reasons for the exile. Judah was spared because of good preaching from Isaiah and Jeremiah in the north (v.18).

Assyria brought foreign peoples into the land (v.24). God even judged the people who came in to learn the God of Yahweh and manipulate him not to send lions (v.26). Their sin was not refusing to worship God, but pluralism (v.34, 41).

2 Kings 18 (Hezekiah)

Hezekiah was 25 when he became king (v.2). He was a good king (v.3), probably from his mother’s influence (v.2). He trusted God (v.5). For discussion, have the group read through verses 1-8 and discern what was the key to Hezekiah’s success. Hezekiah gave the king of Assyria all of the Temple gold to get him off of his back (vv.14-16).

An emissary from the king of Assyria came to taunt Israel, and he was trying to intimidate them. The king asked him who Hezekiah was depending on in battle (v.19-37). Have the group discern what the king is saying to defeat Hezekiah. What is his argument? What is he trying to do to get the people to lose courage? Put his argument into your own words.

2 Kings 19 (Isaiah)

Isaiah was prophesying during this time (v.2). Isaiah supported Hezekiah and the Lord (vv.6-7). He predicts that the king of Assyria will be killed in his own homeland (v.7). Hezekiah prayed. Have the group discern the key to his prayer (vv.15-19). Isaiah spoke back and gave Hezekiah encouragement (v.20ff). Isaiah predicts a future remnant and deliverance for Judah (v.30). He also predicts that the king of Assyria will not take over the city (v.32). The angel of the Lord killed 185,000 men in the Assyrian camp. Sennacherib was killed by his sons in Ninevah (v.37).

2 Kings 20 (Hezekiah Dies)

When Hezekiah was on his deathbed, Isaiah told him to put his house in order (v.1). God adds fifteen years to Hezekiah’s life, because of his prayer (v.5). God gave him a sign that the shadow would go back ten steps (v.9). Isaiah also predicted that Hezekiah’s descendants would be destroyed by Babylon (v.18). Eventually he died (v.21). Manasseh took over after him.

2 Kings 21 (Manasseh)

Manasseh became king at age 12 (v.1), and he was an evil king (v.2). He undid all of the great work of his father Hezekiah (v.3), putting an Asherah pole in the Temple (v.7)! The people were worse than the Canaanites (v.9), so God promised to judge them. God brings disaster on Israel, so that the nations would realize God wasn’t behind this (v.12). Ammon took over after his death (v.21). He was an evil king, too (v.20). Ammon was assassinated, and Josiah took over after him (v.24).

2 Kings 22 (Josiah)

Josiah was only eight when he became king (v.1), and he was a good king (v.2). They rebuilt the Temple, and Hilkiah rediscovered the law (v.8). When Josiah read this, he tore his robes (v.11). He realized just how far off the people were (v.13). God heard this repentance (v.19), so he spared Josiah of the disaster by letting him die before this happened (v.20).

2 Kings 23 (Josiah Cleans House)

Josiah read the book of the Law to the people (v.2) and renewed the covenant (v.3). He purged all of the idols (v.4). He killed the pagan priests (v.5). He practiced the Passover (v.23). He practiced the Shema (Deut. 6:4; v.25). Yet, it was too late for God to judge (v.26). Josiah was killed in battle with Egypt (v.29).

Jehoahaz took over after his father, Josiah (v.31), and he was an evil king (v.32). He was captured by the Pharaoh who killed his father (v.33).

Jehoiakim took over after Jehoahaz (v.36), but he was an evil king too (v.37).

Application

This chapter shows the power of the word to change people en masse. Josiah’s culture was heavily against God. But Josiah was willing to go against the grain because of God’s word.

2 Kings 24 (Nebuchadnezzar)

Nebuchadnezzar took over Jerusalem (v.1). God was unwilling to forgive the nation (v.4). Jehoiachin became king (v.8), but he was an evil king (v.9). Nebuchadnezzar took him over (v.12). He made him a prisoner of war and took him and his wives and mother back to Babylon (v.15), as well as his army and artisans (v.16). Zedekiah became king, and he tried to rebel against Babylon (v.20).

2 Kings 25 (Jerusalem Sacked!)

Nebuchadnezzar responded to Zedekiah’s rebellion by sieging the city (v.1). The famine was miserable (v.3). Babylon took the city (v.4). Zedekiah was captured, and he had to watch his sons killed in front of him as punishment; then, they cut out Zedekiah’s eyes (v.7). The last image Zedekiah ever saw was his sons being killed before his eyes! The people were carried into exile (v.11). They sacked all of the valuables in the city (v.17). At the end of the book, Jehoiachin was released from prison and had a seat at the table of the Babylonian king (vv.29-30).

Why is Jehoiachin let off so easy? It could be a foreshadowing that the nation would be brought back.

[1] Patterson, R. D., & Austel, H. J. 1, 2 Kings. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: 1 & 2 Kings, 1 & 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House. 1988. 5.

[2] Archer, Gleason. A survey of Old Testament introduction (3rd. ed.). Chicago: Moody Press. 1994. 319.

[3] Hill, Andrew, & Walton, John. A Survey of Old Testament Introduction (2nd Ed.). Grand Rapids, MI. Zondervan. 2000.

[4] Archer, Gleason. A survey of Old Testament introduction (3rd. ed.). Chicago: Moody Press. 1994. 317.

[5] Archer, Gleason. A survey of Old Testament introduction (3rd. ed.). Chicago: Moody Press. 1994. 320.

[6] Dilday, Russell H., and Lloyd John. Ogilvie. 1, 2 Kings. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1987. In location.

[7] Patterson, R. D., & Austel, H. J. (1988). 1, 2 Kings. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: 1 & 2 Kings, 1 & 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job (Vol. 4, p. 226). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.